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Yossarian

Pulp Cthulhu - first impressions or reviews?

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Yossarian

Hi there!

 

I just started reading through the impressive-looking pdf of Pulp Cthulhu (it's really here!). Has anyone read through it yet, or at least parts of it? What are your impressions? What did it do well, and what could it have done better? Are the adventures good?

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mvincent

I too just started reading, but some of the main points:

x2 HP for PC's

about x5 the luck recovered each session (and added options for spending luck)

Higher starting stats

'Feat'-like abilities

Added magic options

Stylistic advice for Keepers

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yronimoswhateley

I've been helping to look for typos in it, as far as the first scenario.  My half-baked impressions so far:

  • This book looks as good as the other new CoC books - the upgrade to full-colour artwork, etc. has really done a lot to help these books look great.
  • Not as many new rules as I expected - this is still the Call of Cthulhu you know and love, with a few tweaks to help the characters last longer, and the addition of new optional rule or two in the form of, for example, "Pulp Talents" and "Traits".
  • My early impression is that the bulk of the book seems to have been dedicated to the history of Pulp Fiction, sample characters, a little advice on running Pulp campaigns, descriptions of organizations both evil and heroic, and Scenarios (Scenarios alone take up about half the book) - new rules seem quite mimimal; coming from me, that's not a complaint, and in fact I found the reading quite entertaining (though some gamers might be baffled or even disappointed by the high "fluff-to-crunch" ratio).  It's essentially a setting source book, in spirit.
  • I would have to look back over the rules to be sure, I I'm pretty sure "traits" is little more than descriptive material, but "Pulp Talents" seem like a nice addition; I think they'd make fun additions to a "realistic" game, in fact (especially the psychic abilities, exorcism, and such), and I don't think I'd have minded seeing these as an optional rule in the core rule-book (though your mileage may vary).
  • On the other hand, I still suspect they might have been able to move the core rule-book's new chase rules to Pulp Cthulhu, and nobody would have complained:  the chase rules seem like they'd be right at home in pulp-style adventures, and might have been more welcome there as an optional rule than they seem to have been in the the core rule-book, if the reviews I've seen of the chase rules were anything to go by.
  • The fact that it's so easy to pick-and-choose the "pulp" rules and the degree to which they are used to fit a wide variety of different "pulp" styles is a very nice touch.
  • I think I might like "pulp" Cthulhu games better than I thought I would.
  • I rather liked the first scenario I've seen so far - if the other scenarios are like this, I think this book will be worth the price for the scenarios alone, with the other cool stuff being icing on the cake.
  • There were a lot of (minor) typos - they wouldn't have ruined this book, but I'm really glad the backers have a chance to spot so many of them before the book goes to print.
  • In a way, it's kind of a shame they didn't devote any space to Pulp Dreamlands (which is sort of how I think of the Dreamlands stories by, for example, Lumley, which could be an interesting change of pace in its own right).  I wonder if they'll touch on that in a future "Dreamlands" source book?

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Travern

How does it compare to Chaosium's earlier BRP supplement "Astounding Adventures"? Although that volume concentrates on creating a pulp-y flavor for adventures, it has genre-applicable rules for game features such as "Action Points" (a replacement themselves for Fate Points in BRP), easily disposable "Mook" class NPCs, and gadgets, powers, and resources for PCs.  Is there much overlap between Pulp Cthulhu's "Pulp Talents" and Astounding Adventures's powers and resources, for example?

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yronimoswhateley

I'm afraid I've never seen "Astounding Adventures", but "Pulp Cthulhu" does mention "mook" NPCs; I'm away from my copy of the "Pulp Cthulhu" PDF, but, from what you describe,  it wouldn't surprise me if "Astounding Adventures" were credited with some ideas (I'm pretty sure that other sources were - I remember "Cthulhu: Dark Ages" being mentioned in the credits alongside others I don't remember.)

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Travern

it wouldn't surprise me if "Astounding Adventures" were credited with some ideas

 

Troy Wilhelmson is the author of Astounding Adventures (as well as the BRP Weird Wild West supplement, Devil's Gulch), but I can't dig up any sign of his involvement in Pulp Cthulhu, though his name certainly isn't on the cover.  If he's thanked or otherwise acknowledged inside, I'd assume there's some recycling.

 

EDIT: I suppose my underlying question is whether Pulp Cthulhu is a good buy if I already have Chaosium's previous BRP pulp handbook, which already has sixty-odd pages on character creation, the era, and running a pulp-flavored game.  Thanks for the feedback.

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DAR

I've been reading it, and it has some similarities to how I've handled Pulp in the past and some differences, also in addition to the list above it also has a pretty massive Skill Point bonus for characters based on thier Pulp Archtype. In general I like things - while the archtype thing isn't quite the flavor I like, I can see how it is useful and may run with it for simplicities sake. The extra HP and Luck Rules are actually something I hadn't done, but like for the mechanics and the flavor. My biggest problem is with the Traits/Talents - have definitely used something similar in my own games, but this system leaves me kind of "meh" - I'm just finding myself curiously uninspired by what should be perhaps the most inspiring part of the rules additions.

 

Before buying it I would wait for it to come out physically so you can look at a copy in your FLGS - not having the other Pulp rules I have no idea how they compare.

 

Overall, I'm still happy with it. It isn't quite what I expected, but it's good resource for people interested in the topic.

 

D.

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yronimoswhateley

I've been reading it, and it has some similarities to how I've handled Pulp in the past and some differences, also in addition to the list above it also has a pretty massive Skill Point bonus for characters based on thier Pulp Archtype. In general I like things - while the archtype thing isn't quite the flavor I like, I can see how it is useful and may run with it for simplicities sake. The extra HP and Luck Rules are actually something I hadn't done, but like for the mechanics and the flavor. My biggest problem is with the Traits/Talents - have definitely used something similar in my own games, but this system leaves me kind of "meh" - I'm just finding myself curiously uninspired by what should be perhaps the most inspiring part of the rules additions.

 

 

I think I can see where you are coming from.  For my part, I think they work fine as a rules-light, out-of-the-box, one-size-fits all solution, and with only a little tweaking and improv I think it could serve as a model for home-brewing most special abilities Pulp fans will likely want to give their characters.  That said, I thought the rules were OK, but the fluff, advice, and scenarios seem like the book's stronger points so far.

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yronimoswhateley

If it helps:

 

 

Written By:  Mike Mason, Alan Bligh, James Lowder, Jeff Tidball, Glyn White, Paul Fricker, Wolfgang Baur, Matt Sanderson, and Dan Kramer.

 

Original Concept:  Dustin Wright

 

Clear Credit:  Elements used from Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying, with thanks to: Jason Durall, Sam Johnson, Steve Perrin, Steve Henderson, Warren James, Greg Stafford, Sandy Petersen, Ray Turney, Lynn Willis, Ken St. Andre, William Barton, Bill Dunn, William Jones, Ben Monroe, Gordon Monson, Sam Shirley, Mark Morrison, Richard Watts and diverse others. Elements used from Chaosium’s Astounding Adventures, with thanks to Troy Wilhelmson. Mike Mason penned the Introduction; James Lowder and Alan Bligh wrote The Pulps; Creating Pulp Heroes, Game System, Pulp Magic, Psychic Powers and Weird Science, and Running Pulp Games were written by Mike Mason, with some rules developed from work by Paul Fricker; Chad Bowser originally wrote the optional dodging rules for Cthulhu Dark Ages (2nd ed.), The Vanguard Club was written by James Lowder, with other Pulp Organizations written by Mike Mason and Alan Bligh; Pulp Insanity and the optional dual wielding rule was written by Paul Fricker; The 1930s was written by Jeff Tidball; the Arkham Narrative was written by Dan Kramer, Villains and Monsters was written by Mike Mason with Alan Bligh; Slow Boat to China was written by Wolfgang Bauer, The Disintegrator was written by Alan Bligh, Waiting for the Hurricane was written by Matthew Sanderson, and Pandora’s Box was written by Glyn White.

 

 

 

TL;DR:  "Elements used from Chaosium’s Astounding Adventures, with thanks to Troy Wilhelmson."

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Mysterioso

Troy Wilhelmson is the author of Astounding Adventures (as well as the BRP Weird Wild West supplement, Devil's Gulch), but I can't dig up any sign of his involvement in Pulp Cthulhu, though his name certainly isn't on the cover.  If he's thanked or otherwise acknowledged inside, I'd assume there's some recycling.

 

EDIT: I suppose my underlying question is whether Pulp Cthulhu is a good buy if I already have Chaosium's previous BRP pulp handbook, which already has sixty-odd pages on character creation, the era, and running a pulp-flavored game.  Thanks for the feedback.

 

This might help answer your question:

http://basicroleplaying.org/topic/4430-pulp-cthulhu/

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Mankcam

I think it is a great take on the Pulp genre, and I love that it has alot of plug-in rules that you can pick and choose from. 

 

Talents are a great idea, and they really needed something like that in the BRP Astounding Adventures book. However my only gripe with Talents being how they are, I have essentially used something similar until recently in my own pulp game and sometimes they feel almost like low level super powers rather than pulpy abilities.

 

My remedy for this is simply to amend the rate of Luck depletion for particular activites, so it switches the emphasis from having a Pulp Talent as a 'power' to it being more of a trademark situation where the character is more lucky than usual. But that's just my personal preference. 

 

I definitely think this is a more solid release than Astounding Adventures, however I do like the pulp plot generator and the mook rules better in Astounding Adventures.

The inclusion of Archetypes in the char gen really helps set the pulpy take on things, I really like that.

 

Pulp Cthulhu is a great supplement, and I will use at least half of the rules for my pulp games.

 

It's very colourful and evocative of the setting, I think it's a good way to kick off CoC 7E, and I really hope it's going to attract new comers to the game  :?

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yronimoswhateley

Troy Wilhelmson is the author of Astounding Adventures (as well as the BRP Weird Wild West supplement, Devil's Gulch), but I can't dig up any sign of his involvement in Pulp Cthulhu, though his name certainly isn't on the cover.  If he's thanked or otherwise acknowledged inside, I'd assume there's some recycling.

 

EDIT: I suppose my underlying question is whether Pulp Cthulhu is a good buy if I already have Chaosium's previous BRP pulp handbook, which already has sixty-odd pages on character creation, the era, and running a pulp-flavored game.  Thanks for the feedback.

 

I've just finished an updated write-up for Pulp Cthulhu in the YSDC Wiki, which includes most of the table of contents, credits, and front/back cover text.  (I don't yet have an updated cover image, though.)

 

I can now confirm that Troy Wilhelmson and Astounding Adventures are definitely included in the credits (among other sources) for providing some elements used in Pulp Cthulhu.

 

The version of the PDF of Pulp Cthulhu I saw (not the final edit) is about 274 pages long (including covers and endpapers), with lots of full-colour images and detailed maps, etc., and four scenarios with pages of handouts.

 

It's always hard to answer a question of whether you "need" to "upgrade" an older CoC book to a new one, especially in cases like this where I'm not familiar with the earlier version.  Keeping in mind that the new Pulp Cthulhu only borrows a little bit from the earlier Astounding Adventures and they're not necessarily identical/compatible rules sets, my take on it is:

  • If you have one book, you won't really need the other, unless you'll be gaming with a group that prefers the other book's rules. 
  • That should be more or less true, even if you're using a different edition of CoC from the one the book was designed for:  I don't think there's very much going on in the rules for Pulp Cthulhu that won't be backwards-compatible with earlier versions of CoC with a little attention to detail and some minor tweaking, and I'm sure that much the same thing is true of adapting Astounding Adventures to 7th Edition rules. 
  • If you don't have either book, then the new book is probably the one to go for, especially if you're using 7th Edition, since it expands on the earlier foundations, seems to have more content (if I understood the "sixty-odd pages" remark above), is designed with the newest core rules in mind, has the benefit of fan proof-reading, and has some great modern, professional artwork, layout & design, etc. in line with that seen in 7th Edition CoC (sure, we could all live without that, but it's still a nice touch). 
  • If you don't have either book, but you are familiar with Astounding Adventures and really really liked its take on "pulp", and/or don't care for 7th Edition for whatever reason, you're probably just as well off looking for an old copy of Astounding Adventures somewhere:  I've not seen it, but I'm sure it's a fine book. 
  • I doubt that any collectors who can afford both would regret having both in their collection.

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Travern

This might help answer your question:

http://basicroleplaying.org/topic/4430-pulp-cthulhu/

I've just finished an updated write-up for Pulp Cthulhu in the YSDC Wiki, which includes most of the table of contents, credits, and front/back cover text.  (I don't yet have an updated cover image, though.)

 

I can now confirm that Troy Wilhelmson and Astounding Adventures are definitely included in the credits (among other sources) for providing some elements used in Pulp Cthulhu.

Many thanks! That's all most helpful!  It looks like I'll be buying Pulp Cthulhu once it's available to the general public.

 

If you don't have either book, but you are familiar with Astounding Adventures and really really liked its take on "pulp", and/or don't care for 7th Edition for whatever reason, you're probably just as well off looking for an old copy of Astounding Adventures somewhere

 

I found Astounding Adventures to be a solidly enjoyable work. My one caveat is that it's definitely a intended as only a supplement to the BRP Rulebook, as clearly stated on its back cover. In such topics as character creation, powers, NPCs, chases, etc., it tells you to refer to the BRP core rulebook (something I already have), and there's only a partial overlap between BRP and CoC rulebook.  (Both have rules on chases, for instance, but only BRP has descriptions for psychic powers like mind control or telepathy.)  From what I can see here, I don't think Astounding Adventures would be a substitute for Pulp Cthulhu as a supplement, although it could definitely add some two-fisted flavor to a CoC campaign.

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numtini

I like most parts, but I think the pulp talents are lacking. They're relatively powerful, but I would have made them more of a centerpoint and a bit more flashy. It seems like most of the rules changes are just "easier to survive." There are a lot of little things in there though. No unconsciousness check for major wounds is huge and IMHO people are underestimating how dangerous they are in stock 7th edition. I don't feel like I have a real handle on the survival thing yet, but I'm set to run the Hurricane scenario a week from today.

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DAR

I think I can see where you are coming from.  For my part, I think they work fine as a rules-light, out-of-the-box, one-size-fits all solution, and with only a little tweaking and improv I think it could serve as a model for home-brewing most special abilities Pulp fans will likely want to give their characters.  That said, I thought the rules were OK, but the fluff, advice, and scenarios seem like the book's stronger points so far.

 

Agreed - though I would have preferred something I didn't have to homebrew. That said, I suppose I don't have to change things, but I will because of my inveterate need to tinker...

 

D.

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BigJackBrass

Astounding Adventures has a lot going for it; and you could absolutely use it and BRP to run a full-on Pulp Cthulhu adventure, particularly if you prefer your Lovecraftian beasties to be more enigmatic and concentrate the two-fisted battling on the cultists.

 

It's a pity that after waiting for it ever since it was announced, Pulp Cthulhu has arrived for an edition of the game I shan't be using. Luckily, I think that Astounding Adventures will fill the gap for me.

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PoC

The PDF version of Pulp Cthulhu is now available from Chaosium's web site, priced $22.50 (US).

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mvincent

No unconsciousness check for major wounds is huge and IMHO people are underestimating how dangerous they are in stock 7th edition. 

 

Yup: going unconscious in CoC can often be a death sentence (since you can no longer run away, or contribute to the fight). fwiw though: in systems like D&D 4e (where the PC's almost always win fights handily), going unconscious long before you are in danger of dying (due to HP loss) actually kept PC's alive (as they were no longer targets).

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Butters

Yup: going unconscious in CoC can often be a death sentence (since you can no longer run away, or contribute to the fight). fwiw though: in systems like D&D 4e (where the PC's almost always win fights handily), going unconscious long before you are in danger of dying (due to HP loss) actually kept PC's alive (as they were no longer targets).

 

Weird I've always thought that it was a cool mechanic that could save your character as you were no longer a threat whilst unconscious so no one would attack you and you couldn't hear or see anything so were safe from any Sanity loss. If your party won or just dragged you away whilst retreating you were fine and if captured it just led to some hopefully cool roleplaying and a crazy escape plan.

Being upright and conscious whilst on low HP just seems dangerous as you are still a target and even a badly aimed shot might hit and take you out.

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mvincent

Weird I've always thought that it was a cool mechanic that could save your character as you were no longer a threat whilst unconscious so no one would attack you 

 

In most genres: absolutely. In CoC though: many times the party needs to run away. Also, even 'balanced' CoC battles can be dangerous and 'swingy', such that a PC (or two) down early on can result in a TPK.

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Butters

In most genres: absolutely. In CoC though: many times the party needs to run away. Also, even 'balanced' CoC battles can be dangerous and 'swingy', such that a PC (or two) down early on can result in a TPK.

 

True to some extent but that's a stone cold Keeper you've had that has gone straight for the jugular.

 

I can't remember which supplement or rulebook it was in but basically there was a sentence or two which kinda said that these creatures are so beyond human understanding that nothing they do makes any sense so they may just remove the little finger from the left hand instead of finishing off an Investigator and to be honest I've always thought that was pretty cool and a fun roleplay hook as the player has to come to terms with the fact that they are still alive, why were they spared? are they tainted and what the hell is that monster doing with their little finger? ahh the san loss.

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mvincent

that's a stone cold Keeper you've had that has gone straight for the jugular.

 

I'm the Keeper in question, and thank you for the compliment : ), but I actually *want* the PC's to live (my campaigns are always very long). It's just that this is a game of bad situations, and my players would not want the appearance of coddling.

 

Anecdote: in one adventure, Mr. Shiny and a PC were both running away from an angry Great Old One (Rhan-Tegoth). Knowing that they wouldn't be able to outrun the Great Old One, Mr. Shiny pulls out his gun, and shoots the PC in the knee.

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Butters

I'm the Keeper in question, and thank you for the compliment : ), but I actually *want* the PC's to live (my campaigns are always very long). It's just that this is a game of bad situations, and my players would not want the appearance of coddling.

 

A man after my own heart Cthulhu should be dangerous and weird and wonderfully bizarre, though if you are still killing/eating unconscious Investigators then eeek! :shock: 

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Gaffer

Being upright and conscious whilst on low HP just seems dangerous as you are still a target and even a badly aimed shot might hit and take you out.

You can still always drop and feign unconsciousness. ;)

 

I've got it and I like, though I won't be using 7th edition.

 

However, I did a 6th edition/Pulp Cthulhu mashup that I'm trying out.

 

It's a play-by-post game, so it will be gong on for a long while. Chargen went fine.

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