I recently watched a video by Seth Skorkowsky where he discussed Call of Cthulhu. In it, he mentioned three internet rumors that initially kept him away from Call of Cthulhu:
- There is no combat in CoC
- Every CoC session must end with everyone dead or insane
- CoC must be Lovecraftian
Now, I got into Call of Cthulhu before the internet was a thing. I’m not sure Neuromancer had even been written. So my reactions were:
- Well, I see where you’re coming from…
- What does that even mean?
Okay. Let’s get a little more detailed:
There’s no combat in CoC? Have they looked at the rules? There are combat rules in the core rules! Yes, Mythos creatures and other monsters have _distinct_ advantages over squishy investigators but why would they get hit points of you could take those hit points away with guns, knives and explosives?
Yes, there is a Mythos game (Cthulhu Dark) that explicitly doesn’t have combat rules but I literally have no idea how anyone with any exposure to CoC could have that idea about CoC.
Everyone is dead and/or insane at the end of every session. Yeah, that’s an older joke the head of Vecna. And if you are playing a one-shot, I think that’s worth going for.
But campaign play is baked into the game. Heck, Chaosium has been selling campaigns pretty much from the start. And campaign play works for every flavor of CoC. If you are are playing a purist game of cosmic horror and despair, you want to take time to grind down your characters’ souls.
Call of Cthulhu has to be Lovecraftian. I’m not quite sure what this means? If you mean everything has to be centered around the Mythos, that doesn’t even work for Lovecraft’s own writing! That sentence is simultaneously vague and limiting (and possibly condescending) all at the same time.
I have run and played a few different Call of Cthulhu campaigns and it’s safe to say that none of them followed any of those memes.