My thoughts on Call Of Cthulhu 7th Edition

CoC 7th Edition KS It’s no secret that I have enjoyed playing Call of Cthulhu for many years now. Even though the rules are a bit dated and somewhat clunky, Call of Cthulhu feels like an old pair of shoes. They are not looking that great anymore, but they are extremely comfortable. That’s why I come back to Call of Cthulhu again and again, even though I think games like Trail of Cthulhu or tremulus might actually be superior in many ways.

Recently Chaosium has announced a 7th Edition of the CoC rules. I was actually very surprised that they are planning to make some major changes to the rules. The system powering the game hasn’t changed much since 1986, so this is quite a big deal. I haven’t followed the development of the 7th Edition that closely, but from what I’ve heard attributes are ranked from 01 to 100 now, skills rolls can now be “pushed”, and there’s now a mechanism in place that helps to avoid the awkward situation when the player characters miss all the clues. And they finally came up with new rules to get rid of the “opposed roll table”. Yay!
It doesn’t seem as if Chaosium is trying to fix things that aren’t broken and old adventure modules should still be more or less compatible. As a long time Call of Cthulhu fan, I am pretty sure I’ll get me a copy of the new rules as soon as they are out.

What I am not too fond off is the Kickstarter project Chaosium is currently running to fund this new edition of Call of Cthulhu. It’s basically just a regular preorder. There are no stretch goals and the pledge levels are uninspired. A huge part of the “Kickstarter experience” for me have been interesting stretch goals and to a lesser extent exclusives. The only exclusives listed on the CoC KS are two boring t-shirts. Chaosium, really, is this the best you could come up with? If I had to sum up the CoC Kickstarter in one word, I’d probably pick boring.

That said, even though I probably won’t back this project myself, I still hope Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition will be funded. It’s just that I don’t see a reason why I should invest my money now. I’ll probably wait till release and then get my copy of the two new rulebooks at my favorite online game store. What are your thoughts on that subject? Please share your thoughts below.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

19 thoughts on “My thoughts on Call Of Cthulhu 7th Edition”

  1. I completely concur. Especially when you look at the other Kickstarter Chaosium is running as badly as could be expected.

  2. Maybe the reason this kickstarter is so ‘boring’ is because of the problems they are having with their other kickstarter and all the extras. Personally, I’m not much interested in the extras and am happy that because this campaign is so simple I’m more likely to see the books delivered on time.

      1. The Horror on the Orient Express one was awesome, but I think they went overboard on the strech goals, which is probably what Gordon andAlexander are talking about. They got lots of money, but had to mail out minis, tote bags, etc, etc.

        I don’t care too much about stretch goals, as I basically never can afford to buy a high enough level for them. I’m lucky to be able to afford the basic book.

  3. I haven’t reviewed this kickstarter, but often the per item price for backers is slightly lower than the eventual retail price, which in this example may be the only justification for backing it.

    1. I doubt that the price for backers will be that much lower then than retail price when you add $20 for international shipping. That’s why I prefer to wait until I can get it locally.

  4. Well, I think d100 system is f**king old. I can’t imagine myself playing / mastering such systems anymore.
    ESPECIALLY when you are playing very specific type of adventures (i.e. almost all Cthulhu adventures, ’cause they are mainly investigation type), and an obsolete system like d100/d20/interlock etc. is NOT made for that type of adventures.

    Sorry men, throw away all that old junk!
    Gumshoe / Fate / Coretex+ / Apocalyse World, these are systems worth playing (IMHO, obviously). Of course, Gumshoe system really SHINE for Cthulhu adventures.

    1. I actually like d%-based systems. And you have to admit that the BRP system actually aged pretty well compared with other games from that era. I agree that Gumshoe shines when it comes to investigative adventures, but there’s nothing wrong with CoC aside from a few rules tweaks which we’ll hopefully see in the 7th Edition.

  5. I haven’t looked at this KS specifically, but the description you gave has me in complete agreement. Using KS as a mere “pre order” is kind of lame, and misses the real excitement of a good KS. Evil Hat seems to have really hit a good formula for their KS projects, and their wild success (as the ratio of funding goal vs actual funds) shows it.

    Some of the older game companies DO get it. Flying Buffalo did a pretty good job for their Tunnels and Trolls revival, for example. But if a company just approaches his as a new online store for the same old sales model, and gathering enough pre-sales to justify a print run, then they’re not going to be wildly successful.

  6. But the demand for extras often results in kickstarters offering so much that they lose control and, at best, suffer delays or, at worst, end up not delivering (just see for examples).

    Even Fate Core has just sent out an update advising how shipping (in particular, international shipping) means they are having to take a hit and there will likely be delays. Fortunately, because they are a relatively big fish in the RPG world and the Kickstarter was so successful, they can soak this up…but most small publisher (one-man bands) would not be able to do so.

    Keeping things simple means the book actually gets published (as the one-man band/small publisher couldn’t afford to do so without some money up-front) and there are likely to be no hiccups along the way. That’s a result, in my book.

  7. I have yet to try CoC, but I’m curious and disappointed they’re changing things. I’ll probably end up with 6e or 5e. : /

  8. I’m not interested in this Kickstarter, but I agree with Gordon R. Some Kickstarters have gotten into trouble by offering too many and too complicated stretch goals. Maybe it’s wiser just to stick to the core product that you want to get to people. If that product isn’t enough to sell itself well . . .

  9. @Andrea – A game’s age has nothing to do with how good it is. Some people, like myself and Michael based on his reply to you, like d%-based systems. I like the underlining simplicity to them that starts to shine once you start to play them (roll d100 and try to get a certain percentage or lower to succeed).

    Also, I don’t know if you meant to come off this way, but your “systems worth playing” statement had an air of smugness to it. I personally find Apocalypse World to be kind of bland. However, like I said, that’s a personal opinion and I’m not going to look down on someone who enjoys it. Everyone has the right to play and enjoy any game system they like, whether it be old, new, rules-light, rules-heavy, “mainstream”, or “indie”.

    P.S. Sorry if I sound confrontational, that was never my intent. I just find the “old stuff is obviously bad” argument annoying. Like you, I’m looking forward to seeing what Chaosium does with 7th Edition. I’ve been wanting to run a Cthulhu game for awhile, but I can never get my group to okay it.

    1. @Cody – Sorry, maybe I was kind of rude (writing in a foreign language doesn’t help). However that was simply my thoughts, my point of view exposed to the world.
      True, old is not every time equal bad. BUT there is evolution. I’m not playing the same rpgs I was playing 20 years ago. I’m not playing the videogames I played 20 years ago. And I’m not reading the same comics / books I read in those years.
      Evolution. I’m getting older, I hope wiser. Also, now that I read a lot of “new gen” system, I cannot play anymore with “old gen”.
      Take a videogame: you discover the 3rd dimension, and you can’t look at that flat 2d in the same way (ok, sometime there is nostalgia, but this is not the point).
      Take a tabletop game: you discover the clever low-random mechanics of Catan, or Smallworld, and you cannot return to play Monopoli… etc.
      Regarding rpgs, returning to Cthulhu, how can you still play (here I say “you”, but I mean “me”, of course) with a system that need to roll a % to discover clues? A system that not TEACH the Master to do his work, that not give real RULES, but simply a mockery of “simulated reality”, useless in a good game based on investigation and with scenes like a good book / movie?
      Also, I start learning that a failed roll MUST EVERYTIME mean something in the fiction (lesson learned mainly from AW), and that isn’t a simple “failure”. Now i know that when a character fail a climbing roll, the Master answer is not a dull, stupid FAILED CLIMB > YOU FALL > CHECK DAMAGE TABLE. I know that I can make a offscreen move “While you clinging on the rocks, you hear the chants over the hill are growing. Also you hear a woman voice” (and I mark a tick in the clock of the Front… AW style – also, the woman arrived BECAUSE/WHEN the player failed the clim roll). I know that I can take something from them “You hit hard the stone wall, your glasses are destoyed, add the tag (or Fate-aspect?) Now-I’m-like-a-mole!”. I know that I can offer an hard choice (speaking to another player) “You see your friend that is falling down, you could catch him, but you’ll lose a lot of meters along the climb, so maybe you can’t arrive in time on the top of the hill. What do you do, catch your friend or keep climbing?”
      And this is not “Master freeform”, not “Master Improvvisating”, these are RULES, and these are the good rules that create fiction, create suspance, and make the Master playing TRUE with his players, not along HIS story, not along that railroading that make the rpg like “the story as the Master almost impose”, but a good game where even the Master play for “discover what happen”.
      This are not rules where, when you try to hit an enemy, and roll badly that d%, the master’s answer is “you missed”.

      I’d like to write for hours about that, but I’m really slow and limited with this keyboard or mine and this funny english of mine, so I’m sorry, I have to stop here.
      I’m not saying I’m good, you are not; I’m saying “I can’t play that way anymore, and I’m a little amazed that, after 20 years or so, those rules are still there”.

      I hope I expressed my feeling with love and passion, not with hate, and I hope some Master that never discovered this different way to play the rpgs could find what I found before.

      1. I can understand your stance Andrea and I do agree with parts of it. While I appreciate older things, I don’t let my nostalgia blind me to their faults and like to see things evolve over time. If we didn’t evolve, we’d still be stuck using telegraphs and writing physical letters to people.

        However, I’m also a fan of “It is isn’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it.” I’m a fan of taking a system and slowly changing the parts of it that don’t work, but keeping the elements that do, which is what Chaosium seems to be doing with the 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu.

        Also, I don’t believe you have to use newer games to achieve what you are talking about in the latter half of your comment. For example, depending upon how baldy a character fails at something, there might be a chance for them to still succeed at the action. However, I tend to add a complication to the situation because they still failed their roll. For example, a rogue wants to unlock a door. I say he has to make a DC 15 Disable Device check to succeed without any complication. Unfortunately, he rolls a 12. So, I’d say that he manages to unlock the door, but breaks his lock-pick in the process. The story continues, but the player still feels the repercussions of failure. I can do this when running Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, or FATE. The system itself doesn’t matter, but how you use it.

        1. @Cody: you write “depending upon how baldy a character fails at something, there might be a chance for them to still succeed at the actio. I tend to dea add a complication to the situation because they still failed their roll… The story continues, but the player still feels the repercussions of failure. I can do this when running Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, or FATE. The system itself doesn’t matter, but how you use it.”
          Here I disagree, ’cause the system you read should give you nice rules to manage those situations, while those systems don’t give you that kind of idea you are using. You are going AGAINST the rules they was teaching you. You do this to put a patch on systems that have that kind of limit. Gumshoe gives you that kind of rules. Apocalypse World gives you that. Fate Core (last edition of Fate) does it too (‘ cause they “copied” from the former). So you need this kind of “new gen” system to manage that situation at his best.
          I’m like you. I play Savage Worlds when I need to play a “traditional” Rpg, however I have to integrate it heavily with those “new gen” rules.

  10. Personally i completely disagree with your post. With the benefit of being able to look back on their kickstarter, i found it a great experience. Most of the stretch goals were awesome, they engaged and listened to their backers, and it was certainly more than just a pre-order.

    I understand why you may have thought this, but i thing you really jumped to too many conclusions too quickly. If you had waited a few days, or even revisited it a bit later, you would have seen some of your conclusions were in error.

    Also, i suspect the other project some people referred to is Cthulhu Wars which is not.being made by Chaosium but a totally different company.

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