Episode 73 – The Good Friends dissect Cthulhu

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Episode073

We’re back, and we’re taking a whistle-stop tour through what’s new in Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. While we’ve done episodes on some of the new mechanics before, and Paul has recorded a series of videos summarising the 7th edition quick-start rules, we realised that we’d never actually given an overview of what has changed. Given how often this question comes up on various forums, it seems like a major oversight.

Opera Eyes

We’re doing what we can to avoid missing the obvious from now on.

We’re hoping that this will be a relatively timely episode. The latest update from Chaosium, around a fortnight ago, was that the 7th edition books have all been printed and have started their long journeys to Chaosium’s distribution centres in the USA, Australia and Europe. This means that the books should be delivered to backers some time in the spring. Of course, this assumes that the container ships aren’t captured by pirates, subjected to savage meteorological anomalies or, in the case of the Australian shipment, pulled beneath the waters of the Pacific after getting a little too close to R’lyeh.

Call of Cthulhu

Just because your name is on the cover doesn’t mean they’re all yours!

We have recorded a few episodes about how 7th edition came to be, which we’re been saving until the books are in backers’ hands (or whatever organs you use for grasping). Paul is also considering a fresh series of videos covering the main rules. Even so, we are still open to the idea of talking about specific aspects of the game on the podcast, if this is of interest to listeners. Should you have any such requests, please let us know here, via social media or by implanting the thoughts in our brains using ancient and terrible magics.

Peter_Treveris_-_engraving_of_Trepanation_for_Handywarke_of_surgeri_1525

Or you could place them there more directly.

As we mentioned last week, yesterday was the cut-off for Patreon backers to receive the first issue of The Blasphemous Tome. This led to an overwhelming amount of support on Patreon, which has left us gob-smacked and extremely grateful. We recorded a whole bunch of shout-outs and two sets of sung thanks over the weekend, but Paul hasn’t had time to edit them all yet, so they will appear in episode 74. This also means we may sing three times in that episode. If this doesn’t cause a rift in space and time, allowing our ancient masters to break free and devour humanity, nothing will.

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20 Responses to Episode 73 – The Good Friends dissect Cthulhu

  1. Danial says:

    Glad you guys got a kick out of my Dark Young revelation. The shout out made my day 🙂

  2. Jean-Philippe says:

    Don’t be so hard on yourselves about the sound quality of the early episodes. Part of the reason why you have such great sound equipment now is that your content quality was top notch from the start!

    Keep up the great work.

  3. Danial says:

    Should also add, I only discovered Call of Cthulhu in 2009 (so 6th edition) and think the 7th edition is soooooooooooooooo much better. The simplification of the items you mentioned such as opposing rolls, fighting skill, and combat are absolutely welcome changes.

  4. Great episode, chaps! And I second Jean-Philippe’s remark that you shouldn’t feel bad about the audio quality in the earlier episodes. I honestly never had any complaints, and people certainly liked the content enough to help chip in for new recording equipment!

    You asked whether we’d like to see more 7th Ed. focused episodes. You’ve all been involved in putting together the new edition, either through writing scenarios, playtesting, editing, or, y’know, actually writing the rules themselves! So, it would seem like a wasted opportunity not to talk more about the new edition at least a little bit.

    Maybe a sort of ‘behind the scenes’ commentary for 7th Ed.? Like the extra commentary audio tracks on a DVD, but with ‘deleted mechanics’ instead of ‘deleted scenes’? What was cut and why? Maybe more about the design process itself? How did you actually go about writing the game? How much input did Chaosium have? Did it make a difference that you were UK-based designers writing rules, setting, and scenarios for a game set (at least, for many people) in the US in the 1920s? That kind of stuff would be really interesting!

    • Thank you for the kind words!

      We recorded a couple of episodes about a year ago, discussing, the development of 7th edition, including what changed or got cut. Mike Mason also joined us for the recordings.

      Our plan is to release them when the physical books start reaching backers. We thought that was going to happen much sooner when we recorded the episodes!

      At least we have a more solid idea of timescales now, and it seems likely that the first books will start arriving around the end of April (subject to customs delay, sunken ships or acts of elder gods). If so, we’ll put out the episodes in May.

      There are a few of the topics you mention that I don’t remember discussing, so maybe there’s scope for a follow-up. We’ll have a chat about them.

  5. Mawdrigen says:

    Hiya guys! Echoing the comments above about sound quality, I know how difficult it is to get clear sound from working on my own rpg podcast (the cult of tea and dice), I’d love to be able to get your current quality!

    We have been running horror on the Orient express. using the 7th edition rules, having previously played 6th, and on the whole we are loving it! The streamlined skills make it much easier on both the Gm and players. We’ve found the luck spending works quite well although I need to include more penalties for low luck, similarly the bonus and penalty dice. They give more tools to the gm to slightly skew the probabilities a little.

    The parts were still struggling with a little are the chase rules (we used them in the blood red fez) and the sanity system. The former I think is just less practice, the latter is more to do with knowing how to apply the longer termed insanity effects.

    Combat is in no way less deadly! We love the “serious wound” rules but again having run the blood red fez, it’s really not pulpy. The characters should definitely be ready to die if they start a fight, with the new rules fights are short and brutal.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Paul Fricker says:

    Thanks for the feedback! The longer termed insanity effects really centre around delusions presented by the keeper as and when seems appropriate. That and the investigator being on a knife edge, with any further loss of sanity points (even 1) causing another bout of madness. The cult of tea and dice – I’ll be sure to check them out!

  7. Martin R. says:

    Historicaly most Call of Cthulhu gamebooks were printed in the United States, including 6th edition and even recent releases like Secrets of Tibet. 7th edition was printed in China. Was the switch to color specifically responsible for the move or was it just a general cost saving measure?

  8. Paul Fricker says:

    I’m not sure about that one Martin, but I believe most colour rpg books are printed in China, and I’m sure cost is the major factor in that.

  9. Martin R. says:

    Thank you for mentioning the episode numbers for the topics you previously covered! I went back and listened to Episode 4 because the Pushing rule bothered me and wanted to hear a full discussion of it. I was worried it would be simply a player driven mechanic and not flow naturally from the story or characters (and Paul seemed to bear this out by mentioning in playtests it devolved to “I want to push the roll”). The discussion made it clear how to make it feel more story-driven. I think the biggest obstacle is formally naming it as “Pushing a Roll.” I think the key to using it is to play it up as the character reacting to the situation and not as a player decision to make a re-roll. I’m still not sure I like the mechanic but I think I have a better understanding of how it was intended. One question I have that was never addressed: can you spend luck on a pushed roll?

    • You’re very welcome! Glad it helped.

      Pushed rolls can come about a number of ways. Most of the time, they’re pretty organic. The player fails a roll and says something like, “Well, what if I try bribing him/pulling out my gun/taking a run-up?” an so on. The Keeper say something like, “Sure, but if you fail it’s going to hurt.” You roll the dice, and that’s that.

      As a Keeper, I often like tempting players into pushing rolls, as failures tend to escalate the horror of the situation. It always feels more satisfying to make life hard for an investigator when the player invited it.

      As far as Luck goes, no, you can’t spend it on a pushed roll.

  10. Hi chaps,

    I’ve now GM’d my first full scenario for 7th Edition (two sessions of two hours each, with five players going through ‘The Hills Rise Wild’ from the Arkham sourcebook). I’d previously borrowed elements of 7e and used them in my 6e games (such as pushed rolls, burning luck, percentile characteristics, etc.), but this is the first time I’ve tried to run it completely Rules As Written.

    And we really, really enjoyed it. I got great feedback from the players, and I found it a really easy and intuitive system (and flexible enough to cope with whatever the players could throw at me). I think I’ll be sticking to 7e from now on, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the print copy.

    Anyhoo, I’m just going through the latest version of the PDF now, and I have a question about the skills list. What was the rational for including “Appraise” as a new skill? I understand that Bargain has been cut, so was this to compensate? Because, reading through the descriptions, Appraise seems quite similar to Archaeology in its application (at least, when used on objects and artefacts).

    And I reiterate my earlier comment – I’d really like to hear more from you guys about 7e. I’ll do my bit to spread the good word!

    Cheers,

    Joe

  11. Paul Fricker says:

    Thanks for your comments – I’m pleased to hear your experience with 7th ed.

    Re Appraise / Archaeology – the latter is more about objects and their links to history and culture, the former is more about materials and value. Identifying a tile from a Roman mosaic would be Archaeology. Judging whether a diamond ring’s authenticity and value would be Appraise. Hope that helps.

  12. Ethan C. says:

    Great episode, another thing renewing my anticipation of finally getting my hands on the 7th Edition books. Since I missed the Kickstarter, I’ve got to wait for them to go on retail, but I’m going to snap them up as soon as I possibly can.

    And speaking of sound quality, I certainly don’t mind the quality of the earlier episodes. But I must say that on this one, you’ve really dialed in the balance and positioning of your various voices well. I can hear it all in one headphone if I need to, but I can also hear the spacial differences if I’ve got both headphones on. Well done!

  13. Paul Fricker says:

    Thank you Ethan – I wondered if anyone had noticed and whether or not it was preferable – it’s gratifying to know that you appreciated it. Hopefully I took note of the settings somewhere!

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