Horror Roleplaying in the Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft
The Old Ones ruled the earth aeons before the rise of man. Traces of their cyclopean cities can still be found on remote islands, buried amid the shifting desert sands, and in the frozen wastes of the polar extremes. Originally they came to this world from the stars. They sleep now, some deep within the earth or beneath the sea. When the stars are right they shall again walk the earth.
Chaosium Unveiled: Inside the Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook
Call of Cthulhu is a tabletop roleplaying game based upon the worlds of H. P. Lovecraft. It is a game of secrets, mysteries, and horror. Playing the role of steadfast investigators, you travel to strange and dangerous places, uncover foul plots, and stand against the terrors of the Cthulhu Mythos. You encounter sanity-blasting entities, monsters, and insane cultists. Within strange and forgotten tomes of lore you discover revelations that man was not meant to know. You and your companions may very well decide the fate of the world.
This book, the Keeper Rulebook, contains the core rules, background, guidance, spells, and monsters of the game. It is intended for use by the Keeper of Arcane Lore (the Keeper) — that player who will present the adventure to the other players. You must have at least one copy of this book to play Call of Cthulhu. The other players, the Investigators, should have one or more copies of the Investigator Handbook, containing expanded rules for character creation, skills, occupations, equipment, and more.
Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition, is backwards-compatible with all other available Chaosium titles and includes a guide for any conversion needed.
Download the index for the Investigator's Handbook and the Keeper's Handbook here.
What the Critics Say
"The stars are right for the best edition of the best role-playing game in the world."—Antonios S. Review, RPGNet.
"Call of Cthulhu is now the Pepsi of RPG franchises, alongside D&D’s Coke, and the game’s success is part of the revival of Lovecraft and Lovecraftian fiction."—Paul StJohn Mackintosh, “The Legacy of Lovecraft” in greydogtales.
"The Call of Cthulhu RPG has been in print from the same publisher since 1981. It is the horror RPG that all other horror games are judged by."—Powell’s Bookstore, Portland OR.
"Call of Cthulhu has been called “one of the best roleplaying games of all time” (Geek & Sundry). But something that’s overlooked about this classic horror RPG… is that it’s also one of the most versatile and well-researched historical RPGs around... I mean honestly, you can now play CoC in more time periods than your average season of Dr Who. "—Games Vs Play
"…one of the most iconic tabletop roleplaying games of all time."—Catholicsay.com
"The ultimate horror RPG, Call of Cthulhu is a stone-cold classic of the tabletop."—Tabletop Gaming Magazine (UK)
"It almost destroyed my life and career"—George RR Martin (Game of Thrones)
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PDF Product Name: [Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook - PDF]
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- Year Released:
- 7th Edition
- Page Count:
- Color Hardcover
- Sandy Petersen, Mike Mason, Paul Fricker, and Lynn Willis
- Cover Artist:
- Sam Lamont
- Jonathan Wyke, Paul Carrick, Rob Gould, Fran.ois Launet, Victor Leza, Charles Wong, Mike Perry, Nicholas Cloister, Antonio Luis, Kalli Schulz; Interior Illustrations: Rachel Kahn, Grilla, Chris Huth, Lo.c Muzy, Paul Carrick, Scott Neil, Jonathan Wyke
- Steff Worthington
As a long-time player of CoC (mostly 5th edition) and Delta Green (back when it was 'just' a line of sourcebooks), I am overall very happy how the new edition turned out, though with some reservations.
Character creation remains mostly the same, and they finally move away from having the Education attribute determine how many skill point a character has (which led to ‘brawny’ PCs always getting the short end of the stick). This is a good thing, though ‘hobby’ skill points still are directly linked to INT, which isn’t (stupid folks don’t have hobbies, or rather they don’t excel in them?). I’d rather go for a set number, but that’s not a game breaker by any means.
In my mind, CoC was never too much about the system – a working, if rather simple affair – but style, the feel and atmosphere of the Mythos’ world. As such I am in two minds about the changes to the system. Many things seem to simplify the system at a first glance – attributes now have the same range as skills, meaning you don’t have to calculate final values all the time (x3, x5, etc.) – but inflate the number of values you have to juggle; each attribute or skill now coming at full, half, and one fifth value for determining levels of success, etc. So less math, more writing down numbers I guess?
They also change modifiers from the usual ‘add/subtract ±10%’ mechanic, by introducing penalty and bonus dice (rolling more than one for the ‘tens’ and having to pick the highest or lowest, depending on it being a penalty or bonus). This works okay, but if it is an improvement over the older system is up to personal tastes. Giving a mechanic and examples for ‘pushing skills’ is welcome; the old ‘how often/when can I re-roll a failed attempt?’ question any GM has heard a thousand times.
The combat system has been polished a bit too, though given that combat never was the main focus of CoC, some rules are still as clunky as a Dimensional Shambler’s dance moves; especially the auto fire stuff if wonky, which will frustrate gun-ho types of characters. On the other hand, the whole Built mechanic is a feasible addition (making combat manoeuvres vs huge/strong creatures difficult or impossible; so no sweeping the legs out under a Dark Young). Taking damage and its effects has also been improved, though it remains simple enough, which is a good thing.
Putting in a whole chapter of rules concerning chases is not something I would have anticipated, nor will I ever use them probably. The whole chapters has a more ‘pulpy’ flavour than ‘classic’ Lovecraft. But some folks might get some thrills out of them.
The rules for insanity have also been overhauled and work fine enough, though I prefer the nastier ideas the new Delta Green or Unknown Armies played with. Still, they put some more thought into it compared to older editions, and they are indeed improved. Also, the whole deal with insanity is probably the most difficult topic to squeeze into a ruleset anyway, so kudos for putting some more thought into it.
Magic and the use of tomes retains its basics, but is improved upon (the general theme of this edition I suppose). Grimoires, alien tech, etc. is all good stuff for luring characters to their doom.
Stats and fluff for various monster is of course a given, and they added some mechanics using manoeuvres, giving the GM some funky tools to torture its players with. I don’t know why they still bother with actual stats for Great Old Ones, Outer Gods, etc., but this is just a personal preference. In my mind, giving Cthulhu Hit-Points will only bring out the type of player that throws bundles of dynamite at everything that moves and generally drags those cosmic entities down to the limited confines (stat-wise) of their mortal adversaries. Still, some nice fluff and game mechanics for some of their deities, even if some things are either a bit ridiculous (see Cthulhu’s armour), or just a bit arbitrary (‘kills 3 random investigators per round’; not very motivating for players).
The appendix flows over with all kinds of background information about the roaring 20s, up to more modern times and gives a GM a lot of fluff to play with. Goody.
Lastly, a word or two about the layout of the new edition. Generally, this is a great-looking product, full 4c colour, well-bound; looks good, feels good. The illustrations range from great to mediocre, but are very eclectic, and should have something for every taste. One thing that I found rather ugly are the drop shadows they used with some of their tables, etc. as they are the bog-standard shadows most layout programmes provide for free. And some of the line spacing is off, with a few sub-headlines bleeding into one another. Anyone not having worked as a finishing artist will probably not give a blast about that, though.
Overall, this is the best-looking Call of Cthulhu ever, improves on several problems of the older versions without addressing them all, and shifts its focus slightly in terms of ‘look & feel’ of the game, perhaps wanting to attract a larger crowd beyond the ‘cosmic nihilism’ of classic Lovecraftian horror. Some of the system remains as clunky as ever, but Chaosium generally did a great job with enhancing and toffing up their old warhorse for new generation. A step in the right direction, and still the headliner in horror roleplaying.
The Call of Cthulu Keeper rulebook is great. It has a lot of beautiful illustrations and sets out the systems rules in a clear and simple fashion. I just finished running Amidst the Ancient Trees, a premade scenario in the back of the book, and it gave a better understanding of how I want to run my own campaign. I really enjoy this system and glad I bought this book.
This product is simply gorgeous; a high quality, full-color hardback. I've been a Keeper (and sometimes Investigator) since 4th Edition and have bought many an anniversary/special edition of the CoC rules over the past (two?!) decades... and this book looks, feels and smells like one of those special editions.
I'm also happy that Chaosium finally adopted the "Player & GM handbooks" format.
And though I haven't ran any 7th Edition games just yet, I can tell from what I've read that I'm really going to like the updated ruleset - they're a great step forward!
Not only is this a top of the line hardcover book with heavy duty cover, beautiful color artwork, heavy pages and great binding, but they really took the time to ensure that it arrived in excellent condition. When I saw the packaging, I immediately lost 3 points of sanity! The book was double boxed, with spacers at the corners to reinforce the package in case it was dropped. I really appreciate the extra care that went into the packaging to make sure the books arrived in factory mint condition.
The game contained in the book is phenomenal, of course. Easy to understand rules, lots of options to customize your game to make it as complex or as straight forward as you and your players want. It really captures the spirit of The Cthulhu Mythos.
Lovecraft would be proud!