Monday, June 18, 2007

Pulp Cthulhu – A Glimpse of the RPG

A while back I had posted that I would add additional Pulp Cthulhu “peeks” each month. A number of recent emails reminded me that I need to do that.

For those who are not familiar with Pulp Cthulhu, it is a roleplaying game set in the 1930s, focused upon the Call of Cthulhu background and system. When I was devising the pulp design, I decided to make the system malleable, allowing players to use any time period or level of pulp play. Three basic degrees are stipulated in the present Pulp rules: Low, Medium, and High (pulp). But, these are just guidelines. Any level can be produced by simply increasing or decreasing the number of Traits in the game. The system is also backward compatible for those players who want to use existing CoC material.

Many people have asked for more information about Supernatural Skills and Traits. Think of a Trait as a characteristic, an attribute, a “trait” of a particular pulp hero or villain from fiction. Conceptually, that is a Trait. Because the RPG has not yet been released, I’ll not delve into the mechanics. But, Traits are things that add to roleplay and allow investigators in Pulp Cthulhu to expand a character mentally, physically, supernaturally, or in background, abilities, and even “weird” abilities.

Supernatural Skills are additional skill sets that are not normally associated with the mundane world. An investigator with Supernatural Skills is likely to have a Trait that allows for these skills. They range from elements of the Mythos to the paranormal.

Below is another basic investigator template – the paranormal detective, or occult detective (I’ll include the “Reanimator template the next time). This template includes a new supernatural skill, and a few other Traits.

City Lore, Disguise, First Aid, Fast Talk, Hide, History, Law, Occult, Sneak, Spot Hidden, Sensitive (supernatural skill), any one other skill as a personal or specialty.
Traits: Addiction, Haunted, Mentalist.
(c)Content copyrighted by Chaosium and William Jones

It is possible to see the other Pulp Cthulhu posts by selecting the label: pulp cthulhu


Vwriter said...

Two posts in one day is a lot for me, but I had to ask: what's the best way to learn more about the Cthulhu role playing games? Say that you were starting to get involved from scratch- are there any books you would read, any websites to go to that could kind of get a newbie ready?

And another thing- while the game is being played, are the responses written down and are those responses, when combined with the game template or script, turned into a story?

Still trying to get a handle on this, and I appreciate the guidance.

moonbeast said...

Pulp Cthulhu!! Waiting... is... painful. Must...!

William Jones said...

Hello Vwriter,

Good question. There are a million answers. I'd suggest starting with the Call of Cthulhu core rulebook, and if you want a feel for the game, download the "quick play" version of the rules. Both are available on the Chaosium website:

There are many other books, some are designed for the keeper (the person who runs the game) and the investigators (those who are interacting with each other and the keeper's devious plots). The 1920s Investigator's Handbook is also a good place for players (and new players) to search.

William Jones said...


First let me say, it's a MOONBEAST!

Sorry for the painful waiting. Hopefully that will come to an end in the not to distant future.

William Jones said...


In response to the other part of your post, the responses from the players are typically not written down (unless secrets are being passed). As for the investigator template (as posted on the site) it is a general shape of how to "build" an investigator. Of course, the best way to learn it is to corner someone who plays and try a demo game. :)

Jeff Edwards said...

If Ferrel has not visited the Chaosium site yet, here's further incentive: Quick Start Cthulhu is a free PDF download. I downloaded it a few weeks ago because I have been getting more interested in the game lately.


Jeff and Kim said...

Wow, this is crazy.

Being from a very sheltered religious past, I have only recently gotten into RPGs, and that has all been D&D. I have seen little need in switching to another game since we have all the books, etc., and I have limited to no time anyways, although your involvement with this game has me curious.