In this week’s episode, we talk about the new Push mechanic in Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition.
If you’re not familiar with this change, it allows a player to retry a failed roll, but only if their character performs some action that justifies it and the player accepts that there will be dire consequences if they fail this second roll.
We discuss examples of how the mechanic can be used, ways that a Keeper can build up tension using Pushed rolls and possible consequences relating to different skills. We also digress a lot, because we’re poorly disciplined.
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It struck me while listening to this that the Push mechanic is similar to something Mike Holmes said on the Forge many years ago. Most skill checks in games have an implied “…at no cost” added to the objective. For instance, “I look for information, at no cost,” or “I pick the lock, at no cost.” When the roll fails, a suitable outcome is that the objective is achieved, but at a cost.
The Push mechanic in CoC ties into this, with the pushed roll making explicit the cost of failure. There’s also scope for making the pushed roll nastier, so that even a success carries a cost. So, in the lockpicking example, the cost of a successful pushed roll could be that you get the door open, but at the cost of having to use the picks as a lever which remains stuck.
Related is the Fate Core rule where an unsuccessful skill check can be interpreted as either a failure or as a success with a cost.
Hi Neil, thanks for your comment. Yes, that idea that skill rolls are ‘at no cost’ (but sometimes you learn there was a cost even through you weren’t expecting one) is just what I wanted to confront in the rules.
Picking up on your last point, the pushed roll is written to do just that – if the pushed roll is failed the GM can hit you with a negative consequence as well as deciding on whether you pass or fail on your goal. So you fail the pushed pick lock, you have to apply a lot of force, the picks snap and slice in to your hand, but the lock is open.
I guess whether or not the pushed roll includes a cost depends on the fiction somewhat. You’ve tried to lever the door open quietly and failed. You want to push it, OK, what are you doing? Shouldering it open – well that would grant a pushed roll, but it will make a lot of noise whether you succeed or fail.
Threadomancy….I somehow missed the 7th Ed kickstarter; what’s the expected date for print copies to be freely available?
The last I heard, the books were printed and were in the process of being bound. That may be finished by now.
The next stage is shipping from Hong Kong to Chaosium’s distribution centres in the USA, UK and Australia. The plan is for them to go to backers first, then to distribution.
No one can give an accurate estimate of how long these last stages will take, but my hope is that we’re in the last couple of months of our wait.
Even if you weren’t a backer, it’s worth keeping an eye on the Kickstarter page for the regular status updates: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/448333182/call-of-cthulhu-7th-edition
Thanks, Scott. Should’ve checked the KS page first, d’oh !