The World’s Best Game Of Intrigue, Mystery & Horror!
The Old Ones ruled the earth aeons before the rise of humanity. Traces of their cyclopean cities can still be found on remote islands, buried amid the shifting desert sands, and in the frozen wastes of the polar extremes. Originally they came to this world from the stars. They sleep now, some deep within the earth or beneath the sea.
An Elder Horror RPG (That's Far From Young Itself) [ edit ]
First released in 1981, Call of Cthulhu is simultaneously the oldest horror RPG still published and an RPG about ancient horrors (from other dimensions, a subgenre known as "cosmic horror").
While characters in Cthulhu stories may fight lesser foes such as cultists or zombies, ultimately their opponent is always an "elder god" or "ancient one", such as Nyogtha, Dagon, or the titular Cthulhu. These elder gods were originally created by author H. P. Lovecraft (who also had a short story titled "Call of Cthulhu"), but after his death they were further expanded on by others.
Just as Lovecraft's stories were set in his time period (the 1920's), the game Cthulhu was originally set in that time period, and it remains the game's signature setting. However, over it's history support has been added for other time periods, and GMs using the latest (7th) edition will find support for playing in modern times. Also the Cthulhu Through the Ages supplement offers a variety of alternative time periods and settings to base a Cthulhu campaign.
Ordinary Humans, Slowly Losing Their Sanity [ edit ]
While characters in CoC are heroic, they are not "super heroes" in any sense: they are simply ordinary people facing extraordinary evil. Think Indiana Jones, not Hellboy (although the latter faced very Cthulhu-esque foes).
If a character in CoC does obtain any sort of magical power, it comes from some sort of ancient foreign source, and comes with a cost. In fact "comes with a cost" is a sort of theme in CoC: one of the game's more unique mechanics is that sanity is a score which can be lost (like a sort of a "mental hit points"). And using magic is only one way to do so: simply witnessing a horrific alien creature can also drive a character mad.
Between the setting's inherently dark nature and the game's "descent into madness" mechanics, Call of Cthulhu is very much not a game where victory is assured, and even when it is achieved it often comes at great sacrifice. Such is the nature of battling fantastically powerful cosmic evil forces, but the game's challenge is also an important part of it's appeal.
Call of Cthulhu, Call of Cthulhu (7th Edition) - Rules SummaryCollapse
An Internationally Popular RPG ... For a Reason [ edit ]
Now in it's 7th edition, Call of Cthulhu would not still be in print without at least some fanbase. But CoC has more than just a few fans, and in fact in Japan it is actually more popular than even Dungeons and Dragons! Back here in America CoC regularly shows up at the top of game popularity lists, second right after D&D. On RPG Geek, the web's largest RPG database, Call of Cthulhu's 7th edition ranks as their #1 rated RPG ... out of thousands of competitors!
While fans may debate small details of 7the edition's changes (eg. its new chase mechanics), the large consensus is that this latest edition is the game's best ever. If you're looking to start a "cosmic horror" campaign of any sort, whether in the 1920's or modern times, Call of Cthulhu should be the first (and probably last) RPG you consider.