This week we meander around a topic suggested by Alistair Warmington, over on our Google+ Community, namely that of using Call of Cthulhu for genres other than Lovecraftian horror. We suggest inspirational material, rules hacks, scenario ideas and other games from which you can steal the good bits.

Dead of Night features heavily in the discussion

Dead of Night features heavily in the discussion

In particular, we recommend reading Dead of Night (not just because Scott wrote part of the second edition) for its breakdown of different horror genres and ideas about how to turn them into games. This advice can be applied just as well to Call of Cthulhu.

And, as an added bonus, we’ve stopped talking about Attract Fish. Well, for this week, anyway.

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2 comments on “Call of Cthulhu and Non-Lovecraftian Horror

  1. RogerBW Nov 22, 2013

    The idea of focus in Lovecraftian horror reminds me of a term used by SF critics: “economy of miracles”. If you have FTL travel in your setting, then the story should ideally be about people interacting with that; if you also throw in psi powers and aliens, the human stories tend to get squeezed to the sides, and it’s harder to generate dramatic tension because the reader doesn’t know what might get pulled out of the woodwork.

    I certainly found Dagon acceptably Lovecraftian, particularly the ending.

    I think it’s very important to keep in mind that the traditional approach of Call of Cthulhu is in many respects not particularly Lovecraftian: PCs tend to last far too long, and think they’re making a difference. It’s a blending of Lovecraft with Derleth the action tropes that were universal in RPGs of the era; Sandy did an excellent job, but he couldn’t disconnect himself from the non-Lovecraftian elements that crept in.

    Comedic horror always seems to be a huge risk: failed anything else can become comedy (Plan Nine or Cat-Women of the Moon), but failed comedy is nothing.

    You’ve mentioned it before, but I think it’s well worth saying again: GURPS Horror (either the old version for 3e, which can be had quite cheaply, or the big hardback for 4e) has a great taxonomy of the important elements of different horror styles (classifying them in terms of different sorts of fear).

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