Most of my convention games of Call of Cthulhu have been pretty good, but this weekend’s games gave me some food for thought on Call of Cthulhu as a game system, genre, and what has and hasn’t worked for cosmic horror gaming for me in the past.
I’ve had some kinda meh experiences with Call of Cthulhu. Granted I haven’t played much of it and I think it lends itself too much to a really slow build of mystery, and if you don’t come up with “the right way” to investigate the clues you end up spinning your wheels for a while.
Conversely, someone ran a kids only call of Cthulhu game at Gary Con that my son was in and I’ve never seen such an exuberant table. Watching them play was pure magic.
I think horror games at a convention setting have some pros and cons. Pro because you typically don’t know the other players so there is a meta level of unease around strangers which can be used to ratchet up tension, but on the other hand you rarely are able to set an appropriate mood in a hall with a dozen other loud tables in a brightly lit room.
I played in a game with the guy who runs Campaign Coins, and it was tricky because the other tables were loud and the character exposition took forever, but since the game went late, the other tables left for the night, and the gm turned the lights down really low and used our and quiet voice to try to startle and build dread and it was getting really good. At that point it was the best of both worlds, uncertainty with other players but still a intimate setting where the atmospherics could be controlled for effect.
I’m not a big CoC guy either. I agree that a lot of times the “right way” path is an issue. There are outs, such as the Alexandrian’s Three Clue Rule, or Gumshoes “you can’t NOT find the clue, so long as you looked for it”.
I will say the break away for me was @Kevthulhu’s game, which in ONE SLOT made me a True Believer. That is a man who knows Call of Cthulhu. Not the system. The pure essence that people try to PUT in the system.
Strikes me as a hard system to just “get right”, but when done well, simply wow.
Never played CoC until the “Lock Down”. I had purchased the 7e Starter kit on a whim, just before things went down.
The Starter kit is great for learning CoC! The solo scenario is nice way to learn character creation. My 20 year old was the Keeper for myself, my wife, and our 18 and 16 year old. He ran us through the included scenarios and we had a great time! Now we’ve purchased the books and other scenarios and kept playing.
I like the System (and now BRP) and the control it gives players.