Wednesday, April 6, 2011


What would the Someone's Perfect First-Ever Game of Cthulhu look like?

It would, naturally, start with half-assed-drawing-room-comedy but--after the strange poem in the diary is discovered--shade by degrees into dawning awfulness and panic. For perfection, the details then aren't important but the ending is.

The ending would have to look like this:

-every single PC--except the new player's PC--is unconscious (though only for a round or two--we don't want the dead players getting bored)--having been accidentally shot by the new PC in a panic of bad aim and worse Luck rolls,

-the remaining newbie PC is down to only one hit point and lying on the floor,

-...and has also just lost that fifth-San-roll-in-an-hour and so now has got a brand new insanity to deal with,

-meanwhile, of course, a grotesque and squamous thing (brimming with health and hp) oozes inexorably forward in the uncanny dark,

-the player of the remaining PC is wide-eyed and frantic and performing luck rituals and madly soliciting dice advice,

-the pistol runs out of ammunition, but the second pistol--after having, in perfect Checkhov's gun style, been a source of controversy in the first act "Why would an anthropologist wander around Destledown with two loaded pistols?""I've been in the bush--I'm paranoid."--is unholstered,

-the first initiative roll with the Thing is a tie,

-the tiebreaker roll with the Thing is a tie*,

-finally the new player wins initiative, then rolls ten damage and an impale and the gibbering obscenity is annihilated...

...and in shuffle the bobbies "What's all this then?", and go to work shoveling bits of ineffable cosmic terror off the wall.

Plato held that the perfect forms of all things were forever suspended in an inaccessible realm of ideals, and that we in this sublunary reality were sundered forever from them, and could only experience failed and piecemeal versions of these seamless numinomena.

But then, he never played Cthulhu with Mandy's sister.

*Is this how Cthulhu initiative is supposed to work? Don't know don't care. It apparently works very well. In fact: completely perfectly. So whatever.


  1. She is Benny's female equal when it comes to perfect Call of Cthulhu players.

  2. No, that's not how initiative in Cthulhu works -- it's in simple DEX order, and there's no rolling involved -- but I'll let you off as the rest of it is spot on, and is almost exactly how my first experience of the game went.

  3. @kevin

    it's definitely better with random initiative.

  4. I like the sublime-to-the-ridiculous ending especially. Lovecraft often comes across as slightly risible and being able to shift gears from pants-wetting terror to 'wait a minute what the hell is this I don't even know' seems pretty appropriate to Call of Cthulhu in that regard.

  5. I didn't mean to come across as pedantic there, by the way; I was merely answering your question.

    I'm not particularly attached to the standard Cthulhu initiative system, so I'll give the random variant a go next time I run it. I can definitely see how it would add to the tension of the game.

  6. One of my friends just offered to run Grace Under Pressure. I am...excited.