This short video explains the Call of Cthulhu game mechanics using the latest edition of the Quick-Start Rules. It covers skill rolls, difficulty levels, opposed rolls, bonus and penalty dice and skill improvement.
You can find part 1 (character creation) here.
The Quick-Start Rules PDF can be obtained, free, at Drivethru or Chaosium.
Failing a climbing roll should NOT cause ghouls or cultists to appear.
Hi Hilary – on attempting a first Climb skill roll I agree it should not cause ghouls or cultists to appear. However by choosing to push a roll, a player is agreeing to the risk of something bad happening if they fail. In the context of the example (climbing a house wall), this might be that the climbing investigator makes a noise and alerts the inhabitants of the house, or that he or she takes a long time to complete the task (during which time a car arrives – driven by the cultists who live in the house). I would suggest that if the scenario features ghouls or cultists, the Keeper can be prompted to bring either one in following any failed pushed roll. Thanks for the feedback – I shall go into that in a bit more depth in a following video.
Understand, I like the CoC game system and this video is very well done. It is concise and informative. CoC probably has the most ‘pick-up’ game friendly system mechanics of any game system that I have seen, again, other than Paranoia. Even non-RPG gamers can roll up a character and start playing within a matter of minutes.
I comprehend the concept in Call of Cthulhu of pushing a roll resulting in a very bad penalty for failure. (I think I saw this game mechanic in another system as well.) My point is, that something bad should be confined to climbing related events. Such a failed climbing roll could logically result in a slip and fall and suffering damage equivalent to max damage, a broken limb and/or having to roll vs a skill or attribute to avoid a broken neck (at a penalty equal to the margin of failure). But if failing a climbing roll results in a meteor falling out of the sky and smacking you in the head, then either the GM or the system itself has become ‘silly’. There are plenty of opportunities to have colorful events happen to the PCs. You do not have to ‘jump the shark’.
Now, if you were playing Paranoia, I would say go crazy. ANYTHING could happen. But CoC is a ‘Realistic’ campaign setting, even if the mechanics of the rules allow for more GM flexibility. (Yes, it is still a realistic setting even though the PCs encounter werewolves and fishmen) Again, this is simply my personal opinion as an RPG enthusiast. Putting myself in position of the player in the above example, I could understand becoming upset with an illogical result of a failed ‘pushed’ roll. Maybe the CoC game system states that this is a perfectly valid penalty. But as a GM, I would personally never apply that type of amercement. Kill the PC, fine, just don’t have them die because a clown car run them over for failing a pushed roll to Hide.
Hilary – the consequence of a failed pushed roll is up to the GM (Keeper). The rules don’t state what the consequence should be – so in your game you can of course decide that the investigator falls and takes damage – as mentioned in the video.
The consequence should fit the tone of the game. Call of Cthulhu usually strives for a tone of horror, so the outcome should not be silly. If what I said gave you that impression (with your mention of a clown car), then I have misled you. The intention is for a failed pushed roll to be a flag to the Keeper for him or her to raise the tension in the game; to push the horror at the players. This is the moment in the horror film when something unexpected happens, and the protagonists realise that they are deeper in trouble. Like you say, that could be falling and taking an injury, perhaps breaking your leg, but in other people’s games it could be all sorts of things.
My example in the video of a ghoulish figure grabbing your arm and pulling you inside only works if the scenario features ghouls already, it’s not intended to be some variant of the wandering monster table. Equally the car full of cultists arrive because it’s their home, or because they are also investigating the same venue.
When all’s said and done we may have to agree to disagree on this one Hilary. I believe I can see where you’re coming from, and like I say you can apply the rule to suit the game when you are running, but if you were a player and I was running the game you might baulk at some of my choices. Maybe we’ll play a game together one day and find out 🙂