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Random CoC Heartbreaker BS Ruminations

 
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:26 am    Post subject: Random CoC Heartbreaker BS Ruminations Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yes, yes, Call of Cthulhu is a garbage fire. But I can't turn my brain off tonight.

One of the main problems is the magic...not quite a system...which ties in to the Cthulhu Mythos skill and Sanity. People want to cast spells. Arguably, players need to cast spells to deal with some of the problems they encounter. You don't get rid of the Dunwich Horror with a shotgun and dynamite. So every frickin' scenario has at least one critically-placed tome, which takes time and effort to read, erodes sanity, yadda yadda.

That's all bullshit.

Trail of Cthulhu - especially the Bookhounds of London variant - has an interesting take on this. You have a pile of unassigned points, and at a story-appropriate moment you blow some to pull an appropriate book out of your ass. This is actually kind of useful: you comb the shelves, find a copy of something that has the counterspell you need, and Bob's your uncle.

Now, lots else of ToC is also a garbage fire, but I was thinkin'... if I ever made a CoC heartbreaker. An honest one, not Space Madness! which is still unfinished because I am a horrible person with a full-time job and part-time writing another book and articles and shit... here's what I'm thinking:

1) Tomes do not drive you insane, or add to your Cthulhu Mythos skill.

2) Tomes give a bonus to researching Mythos stuff. Literally, instead of adding to your Cthulhu Mythos skill, you flip through your copy of the Necronomicon or Unaussprechlichen Kulten looking for insight on your current dilemma. More books, more bonus, because you can cross-reference. This encourages building a library.

3) While you CAN buy spells from tomes, mostly the tome is there so you can find the spell you need when you need it, and you can cast spells from the tome. Figure out what the Dread Curse of Azathoth is doing to you and how to counter it, that sort of thing.

4) PCs can buy a starter tome, either a pre-packaged one (Feery's Original Notes on the Necronomicon, Liber Ivonis, etc.) or build their own at chargen.
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hogarth
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Saying that Call of Cthulhu's magic system is bullshit because it doesn't allow PCs to cast spells is like saying unicycles are bullshit because they don't have four wheels and an engine.
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Orca
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

How specific do you want the spells to be? In CoC they range anywhere from 'completely useless' through 'fix a problem in this adventure only' to 'swiss army elder sign'.

The last is the only type a player would buy up front, but if you could grab a spell with unassigned points you might get a very specific spell if it cost few enough points.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Would your heartbreaker allow for playing as inhabitants of the dreamlands like those 100+ year old priests?

Will I be able to control catswarms?
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Antariuk
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

AH, how would you then deal with the 'knowledge is dangerous' trope, if tomes become mere tools for the investigators? I think I agree with all your above points, but that is the first question that jumped into my mind because CoC - from my very limited perspective - loves to fap to the lure of knowledge that'll destroy you. Or something.
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Maxus
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Antariuk wrote:
AH, how would you then deal with the 'knowledge is dangerous' trope, if tomes become mere tools for the investigators? I think I agree with all your above points, but that is the first question that jumped into my mind because CoC - from my very limited perspective - loves to fap to the lure of knowledge that'll destroy you. Or something.


Well, the eldritch gods that slumber dormant know everything that goes on in the world, and can pass on who knows too much into their followers' dreams. Learning too much or being too successful in shutting them down makes you a target on their hit list, as well as ruining your sleep in practical terms.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 4:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hogarth wrote:
Saying that Call of Cthulhu's magic system is bullshit because it doesn't allow PCs to cast spells is like saying unicycles are bullshit because they don't have four wheels and an engine.

Call of Cthulhu claims their unfinished plank of wood is a hoverboard; it does not even *aspire* to being a unicycle, because there are no moving parts. If you're going to have magic in the game - and you might as well, because several of the critters cannot effectively be summoned, banished, exorcised, warded off, or battled otherwise - then it should be a system where it can effectively be used to do that. Like, say, Lovecraft had it in "The Dunwich Horror."

Quote:
How specific do you want the spells to be? In CoC they range anywhere from 'completely useless' through 'fix a problem in this adventure only' to 'swiss army elder sign'.

The last is the only type a player would buy up front, but if you could grab a spell with unassigned points you might get a very specific spell if it cost few enough points.

CoC spells as they stand are burning trash, and the fact that some people can discern one mound of burning trash from another does not mean they have an effective system; as written, each spell is it's own unique snowflake, with some of them sharing broad similarities.

That has to go. You can have a quasi-Vancian system or you can have a streamlined Shadowrun-esque system, but there has to be some effort made for at least D&D 3.x style standardization. We're not talking full-on spell levels, but effects, costs, components, NAMES, etc. have to be standardized in presentation, at bare minimum.

That means, you're going to have some spells that people don't pay to learn. That's fine. That is, in fact, perfectly functional. It is why you have reference materials. When Dr. Henry Armitage of Miskatonic University needs a banishing spell, he doesn't spout it from memory, he cracks open the Necronomicon and reads it from there. Presumably he would do the same thing if he needed to cast Call Fish.

Quote:
Would your heartbreaker allow for playing as inhabitants of the dreamlands like those 100+ year old priests?

Will I be able to control catswarms?

I am not actually building a CoC Heartbreaker at the moment.

Quote:
AH, how would you then deal with the 'knowledge is dangerous' trope, if tomes become mere tools for the investigators? I think I agree with all your above points, but that is the first question that jumped into my mind because CoC - from my very limited perspective - loves to fap to the lure of knowledge that'll destroy you. Or something.

People might like to fap to it, but "going made from the revelation" from reading a book is both inaccurate both in Lovecraft's fiction and real-life. At worst it should take a page from Terry Pratchett's book where reading it gives you some strange ideas for a while (temporary Stress points, maybe).
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Judging__Eagle
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 23, 2016 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ancient History wrote:

People might like to fap to it, but "going made from the revelation" from reading a book is both inaccurate both in Lovecraft's fiction and real-life. At worst it should take a page from Terry Pratchett's book where reading it gives you some strange ideas for a while (temporary Stress points, maybe).


This is mostly why I always told CoC referees.... people who generally don't read Lovecraft (& lets be honest, most people who play CoC, have sure as madness never bothered to read The Call of Cthulhu, Dream-Quest in Unknown Kadath, or any of HPL's short stories*; instead they implement their prejudices for what would be "creepy" in an adventure, whether it's Lovecraftian, or Whateverthefuckian) that their concept of tomes as madness-inducing is invariably totally ass and counter to the source material. Only when a ref: knows HPL & sticks to source material or sticks strictly to a published adventure; does CoC cleave closer to the source material.

The only CoC referee who I've ever known to concede the above point on HPL's use of tomes as a source of information (not madness): also reads HPL's work; and does't have PCs make Sanity checks when the PCs are trying to solve the mystery of the adventure.

*:For which there is no excuses except illiteracy, laziness, or a lack of internet access. While the website Dagonbytes.com is now dead, there are now pdfs , and replacement webpages.
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virgil
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What if you had a spell design system like something out of Ars Magica? Your library not only serves as your ranks in Mythos Lore, but as your resource pool that dictates how many spells you can 'design' and what kinds of spells you are able to.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Then you're just doing a slightly more cluttered version of Bookhounds of London, where you spend points from your pool to pull the tome you need out of your arse library. Like, you start out with 6 points and then you find out you need a copy of the English edition of Nameless Cults, so you spend a point and now you have 5 points and a copy of Nameless Cults.
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