Call of Cthulhu – Getting Started
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For over 35 years, Call of Cthulhu has been regarded as the foremost game of mystery and horror. For those brave enough to uncover its secrets, the rewards are beyond comprehension!
What is a Roleplaying Game?
Roleplaying gaming (or RPG) is a social pastime. You and your friends develop a story in which your characters play leading roles, working together to uncover sinister plots and battling the minions of the Cthulhu Mythos.
Each player takes on the role of an investigator, while one player is the referee - the Keeper of Arcane Lore (Keeper for short) who presents the plot and setting to the other players. It’s a bit like acting, but there isn’t a script.
Using dice and the Call of Cthulhu rules, you determine the success or failure of your character’s actions, while you are propelled into dramatic situations.
Playing Call of Cthulhu?
The game’s plots are designed to challenge the investigators. Each adventure is different, but your investigator is always at risk of becoming injured, suffering sanity-shattering experiences, or even be eaten by a monster! As the game progresses, investigators can gain secret knowledge from arcane books about the monsters and dark forces of the Cthulhu Mythos, as well as advancement in their skills as they become more experienced.
One player takes on the role of the Keeper, who chooses a scenario or creates their own story. The Keeper describes the scenes of the story, portrays the people whom the investigators meet, an impartially governs the game’s rules.
The game is an evolving interaction between players - in the guise of their characters unravelling a mystery - and the Keeper, who presents the world in which the stories take place. The purpose of roleplaying is to have fun. Right down to pounding hearts and sweating brows, it's part of human nature to find pleasure in being scared, as long as being scared is not for real. Call of Cthulhu features engaging mysteries, scares, and laughs too – it’s the fun of being challenged and finding solutions while also encountering horrors from beyond space and time!
Want to See the game in action?
Watch Mike Mason, our Creative Director for Call of Cthulhu, running the game for the Penny Arcade.
What’s the Cthulhu Mythos?
The Cthulhu Mythos is a fictional cosmology of alien god-like beings and monsters.
In the game, the fundamental truths of the universe are so alien and horrifying that mere exposure to them can result in madness. While humanity might crave both comfort and the truth, only one or the other is possible. The human mind cannot maintain cosmic truth and complete sanity—more of one poured in must spill out more of the other.
In the game, the investigators will encounter strange and alien monsters, cosmic magic, and forgotten lore – such exposure can affect the investigator’s mind, as they become more aware of the cosmic truth their sanity diminishes. Being a hero isn’t about how powerful you are, it’s about regular people standing up against insurmountable odds and, perhaps, saving the world as we know it.
Download the free Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules (or purchase a printed copy here) and the free introductory adventure Alone Against The Flames (printed copy on sale here). This is a solo play scenario, a “choose your path adventure” that you can play solo without first reading the Quick-Start Rules - the scenario guides you through the rules as you play.
You’ll also need a set of roleplaying die - a variety of them can be found at most hobby game stores and online.
If you want to get straight into the action, then the best place to begin is with the Call of Cthulhu Starter Set.
The Starter Set includes the basic rules, the solo play adventure “Alone Against The Flames,” three adventures to play with your friends, a set of roleplaying dice, and some ready to play investigators – everything you need to play.
Oh! And don't forget to download some character sheets! You and your players will need them.
Start the Next Chapter with the Core Rulebooks
These Chaosium books are the core books and rules for playing Call of Cthulhu:
Call of Cthulhu Keeper’s Rulebook – contains everything you need to play and create player characters for mystery and horror roleplaying. The full game rules, packed with lots of examples and advice - also comes with two starter scenarios.
Investigator Handbook – aimed at players taking on the roles of investigators, includes in-depth investigator creation rules, investigator organizations, tips and advice, equipment, and information about the Roaring Twenties – the main setting for the game.
Keeper Screen Pack – a utility for Keepers, includes a sturdy 3-panel Keeper’s Screen with key rules, a resource booklet for quick reference, two exciting scenarios with a cast of ready to play investigators, and three poster maps.
From there, you can play anything in our huge catalog of Call of Cthulhu products. Browse the library and see what you and your players will enjoy.
Want to know more? Just watch these videos