All you need to enjoy Horror Roleplaying!
A World of Mystery, Horror and Adventure in a Box!
This Starter Box contains everything you need to start playing Call of Cthulhu—the tabletop roleplaying game of mystery and horror.
Players take on the role of investigators of mysteries, uncovering dark secrets, encountering strange monsters, and thwarting sinister cults. Together, you and your friends create and develop a story in which each of your characters plays a leading role, which could be foiling some dastardly plot or stopping horrors from beyond space and time!
Roleplaying gaming is a social pastime. Everyone works together in a team, each playing an investigator character. One player runs the game—the Keeper of Arcane Lore—who referees the game and presents the story and adventure plots to the other players. Think of it a bit like acting in a drama, but where there isn’t a script. Dice and the rules of the game determine the success or failure for your character’s actions—all while you are propelled into dramatic and nerve-tingling situations! The emphasis is on having fun.
Chaosium Unveiled: Inside the Call of Cthulhu Starter Set
Watch the unveiling video to see for yourself everything in the box and you get PDFs too!
Inside This Box
- Book 1: Introduction and Alone Against The Flames—a solo introductory adventure, teaching you the basics of Call of Cthulhu as you play through a mystery.
- Book 2: Call of Cthulhu Starter Rules—the essential rules, everything needed for starting play.
- Book 3: Adventures—three starter adventures for your players to explore.
- Ready to Play Investigators—five ready to play game characters.
- Blank Investigator Sheets—ready for creating your own investigators.
- Roleplaying Dice – a set of seven polyhedral dice for use in the game.
- Player Handouts – a set of ready to use props.
This box comes packed with four classic adventures for over twenty hours of game play.
- Alone Against The Flames
- Paper Chase
- Edge of Darkness
- Dead Man Stomp
Call of Cthulhu is the definitive mystery and horror roleplaying game and has won over 40 awards, including being inducted into the Academy of Adventure Gaming Art and Design Hall of Fame. When you are ready to delve deeper into the game, expand your fun with the 7th edition Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook and Investigator Handbook, or get the complete Call of Cthulhu Slipcase Set!
Download the Pre-Generated Characters and Handouts
What the Critics Say
Reviews from R’lyeh says the Starter Set is "the best introduction to Call of Cthulhu and best starter set for any roleplaying game currently available."
"Freaking Fantastic" says Seth Skorkowsky in his YouTube review, "… this big beautiful box contains everything a new player would need to get started playing."
"...this is a magnificent, perfect entry-level product. And no, this isn't misplaced nostalgia about boxed sets of yore. This is exactly how a new entrant should get access into a game as rich and elaborate...Tons of material. Easy to use rules. Dice. A low level price. What more does one want from a starter set?"—Antonios S. review, RPGNet.
"Chaosium have done an excellent job creating a gateway, a hell-portal if you will, into the world of Cthulhu-based RPGing at a super affordable price."—boingboing.
"Everything you need to get your feet wet is in this box… a beautifully put together, carefully thought out collection that allows people () to learn the game easily and relatively quickly. …If Call of Cthulhu interests you, this is currently the best investment you can make."—Never Read The Latin.
"...an investment that pays off many times over. Get this if you want to start gaming with the Mythos. Everything you need to play and start checking out the rules, plus a good bit more; a slam dunk for me at around 25 USD."—Burning Luck Reviews.
Physical Product Settings
Is Physical Product: [Y]
Has Inventory: [Y]
United States: [Y]
United Kingdom: [Y]
Is PDF Available: [Y]
PDF Product Name: [Call of Cthulhu Starter Set - PDF]
PDF Product Link: [/call-of-cthulhu-starter-set-pdf/]
Has Physical Product: [Y]
Is Physical Available: [N]
Physical Product Name: [Y]
Physical Product Link: [Y]
- Year Released:
- 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu
- Color Boxed Set
- Page Count:
- 154 pages in 3 books with characters sheets and 7 polyhedral dice (please note the dice depicted on the back cover of the box are different to those supplied in the Starter Set)
- Mike Mason, Paul Fricker, Lynne Hardy, Sandy Petersen, Lynn Willis
- Authors - Adventures:
- Gavin Inglis, John Sullivan, Keith Herber, Dan Kramer, Mark Morrison, Chris Spivey
- Box Art:
- Victor Leza
- Cover Artist:
- Josu Hernaiz
- Interior Artist:
- Gavin Inglis, Marcelo Gallegos, Rachel Khan, Victor Leza, Wayne Miller, Caleb Cleveland, Eric Lofgren
- Gavin Inglis, Vandel J. Arden, Olivier Sanphilippo
- Character Sheet:
- Dean Engelhardt
- Development and Editing:
- Mike Mason
The Call Of Cthulhu Starter Set, at just over £20 directly from Chaosium + postage, definitely represents very good value. One could argue that Alone Against The Flames and the Quick Start Rules are available as free pdfs - but having printed versions is definitely a boon.
Within the box you really do have (almost) everything required for many hours of running games - and enough of a flavour of 'how it works' to build your own scenarios if that appeals.
Alone against the Flames. A fine introduction to the world and the basics of the system - and making the link between 'choose your own adventure' style books and tabletop RPGs is a nice gentle unthreatening introduction.
The intro rule book is well formatted and easy to read. If I wanted anything beyond this, it'd have been a list of pre-prepared n.p.c. names (that's all, just typical names) so that in having to ad-lib a character/headstone/victim I had wasn't pulling a name from my the top of my head. The 'Investigators Companion' book has such a list, but it's also easy enough to prepare one in advance of running a scenario. I'd recommend all keepers, new or old, have one to hand.
Five pre-generated character sheets covering a diverse range of backgrounds.
Character sheets to fill in and make custom investigators. (Along with the rules to make them)
A set of polyhedral dice.
A booklet of handouts. The first misstep of the set in my opinion - this would have been so much more useful as loose sheets (though it's easy enough to cut the binding off) - but three of the pages in this booklet contain more than one handout per page. So folding/cutting would be necessary to not give out other handouts too. Practically this will mean using the PDF (free with purchase of Starter Set from Chaosium) instead, and printing that for most keepers. There are a couple of other things I'll say about handouts with respect to scenarios.
The three scenarios: This contains spoilers for the scenarios (perhaps don't read this bit if you're going to be a player, rather than keeper).
Paper Chase - a relatively un-deadly intro scenario written for one investigator and one keeper - though I modified this for three investigators and one keeper without much trouble. A nice short intro, and some good opportunity to role play. This scenario highlights the importance of negotiation rather than violence. The 'map' handout for players utterly telegraphs what is important (the graveyard) and I'd probably advise not giving players this, unless they are stuck (even then, and Idea roll might be better). I'd also say some other handouts (of which there are some good ones online available. Having Kimble's Diary prepared as a handout might help a new keeper/player. Similarly I was surprised that the newspaper articles that are mentioned aren't given as handouts. Google provided third part ones I used.). In a slightly picky way I'd also point out the (great) artwork that accompanies the scenario isn't useful insofar as the description of Kimble as Ghoul makes him sound far far more through his transformation. The 'Ghoul' illustration is (perhaps) of help to players in imagining him. I showed the other Kimble-reading pics afterward the scenario when we discussed what Kimble had been up to over the past year.
Edge Of Darkness - a great blend of investigation and epic climax (fighting off the undead whilst reciting a ritual to banish an evil thing). It's easy to join this on to the previous investigation, if you want the players to use the same characters. There are a lot of red-herrings/potential plot hooks for the keeper to manage here. This is A Good Thing (if you, as keeper can manage them), but can be a sticking point if the players become too focused on those rather than the job at hand. I very nearly lost my investigators to a trip to New Orleans! Fortunately I was able to ramp up the action locally to make that the focus of their investigation. Worth reading other keepers' experiences of this scenario online before running it, to mitigate against some of the potential sticking points.
Dead Man's Stomp - this scenario, that requires the most of the Keeper, is kept for last. Set in Harlem, and moving the action away from Lovecraft's Country and into a setting with very real historical context might require the keeper getting their head around that (Charlie Johnson's Band, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Smalls, Small's Paradise club and Harlem in 1925 are real people and places - perhaps the keeper might want to make sure they are 'true' to that reality as far as possible). The criticism that is often levelled at Dead Man's Stomp is that it is in danger of feeling railroaded - and that the investigators are watching a story, rather than taking part. I think that careful keepering can stop this - the very short timescale involved (scene one is the evening, the next major scene is 11am the next day) means the investigators splitting up and investigating different threads is likely, and that will far less 'on rails' for them. But requires gauging who's not been in the spotlight for a while, and when to push the drama. My personal minor criticism of this scenario is not with the scenario at all (just with the caveat be prepared) but in the handouts. There are beautiful maps of 1. Harlem, 2. Small's Paradise Club and 3. An Old Garage that give away in their key the name of important n.p.c.s (in the case of 2 and 3) and an important place of interest (in the case of 1) that the investigators don't know about. It's also particularly annoying that the Keeper version of the Harlem map has a different key to the one in the player handouts have and the 'numbers' don't match up. (Columbia University is 9 on one, and 8 on the other for example). I'd MUCH prefer the map with no key at all - and I can tell the players what the numbers mean as and when they find/need them. (I redacted the key from the keeper's version of the Harlem map, and gave them that.). I also redacted the key to the Small's Map, and gave them the main area they could see, and revealed the backstage area only as they went there. Similarly The Old Garage - with it's key players didn't match my version of the key players (having introduced an n.p.c.) so I just gave them the main area they could see. It's a shame because these handouts are beautifully done - they just give too much information in my opinion.
If handled sensitively Dead Man's Stomp also has something to say about storytelling a very sad story, in a racially sensitive time. With an epic ending.
The three scenarios can be linked (with a little work from the keeper) if desired, and make for a fun trio of stories - although it is slightly disappointing that Zombies feature in two of them. Given the wealth of horrors available, its a pity that we don't see a bit more variety (although people love Zombies, apparently).
All told though, despite those minor criticisms around handouts (and they are minor) this is an excellent set - and a great introduction (or reintroduction, in my case) to Call Of Cthulhu - with the new 7e rules (that work excellently).
I loved everything about this set. The books are easily laid out and understandable which is perfect for a person just getting into Call of Cthulhu or a younger player. Amazing front cover artwork and bright green logo on the side of the box make this a must have for your game shelf.
At roughly $25 for the set, this is something to buy if you're a new player or experienced keeper buying this for a friend who's never played.
You cant go wrong with this!
This high quality box set has everything a new Keeper needs to begin a Call of Cthulhu campaign. The set is worth purchasing just to try out the game. The three scenario book's material included with the introductory rules becomes increasingly lengthier and more difficult, with the stand-out scenario being the classic "Edge of Darkness." Buy this now for yourself or your friends!
I will premise this review by saying I am a huge fan of these RPG starter boxes many publishers are releasing. I have purchased every one I have come across. It is for this reason I feel comfortable saying this Starter Box is easily the best one on the market today and is in the running for best Starter Box ever.
Ok clearly, you can tell I love this set. The parts are of a high manufacturing quality and provide an easy way to introduce one of the greatest RPGs to a whole new audience. In fact unlike most Starter Sets which have one single adventure that usually played for a couple hours, this set includes 3 adventures that will provide you with 15 hours of gaming time. If your group never plays another CoC adventure this set is more than worth what you pay for it. Some of the more astute readers of this review are likely saying “Hey...the description says there are 4 adventures! Explain yourself Sir! I have no time for your falsehoods!” Well...I kept the fourth adventure, which gets its own book, separate. The fourth adventure is actually quite special. It is a solo adventure that teaches you how to play the game! The inclusion of a solo adventure to teach the game is sheer genius! It makes learning the game fun and easy.
One thing many people don’t know, and certainly won’t tell you is the QuickStart rules in this set and the QuickStart PDF (you can download that for free on this very site) are almost identical except for one major factor...the Starter adventure is different from those presented in. The Starter Box. That means you can add a couple extra hours of playing time to your group at no additional cost!
All is not perfect with this set though. I do have a few small nit picked points that would make the next iteration of the Starter Set even better.
1. The box is not big enough. By that I mean it would be nice if it could hold more stuff. Currently, I have added the Keepers Screen and the stuff it came with. I barely holds everything. I would like to hold a couple extra printed adventures and supplements. This is standard for how I use my Starter boxes, as storage and as something to transport the game and supplements to my gaming destination.
2. The books would be better served with a better cover. They will not stand up to too much abuse on the tabletop. Ideally, this cover would be exactly like the cover on the scenario book thats included with the Keepers Screen.
3. As much as the included dice set is a very nice touch, it would have been cool to a set of cool custom dice that was only available in the Starter set.
To finish up this review, this is one of the few products I can confidently say belongs on the shelf of every person who plays RPGs. For a small investment you get hours and hour and hours of adventures with one of the best RPGs ever!
I just received this set this morning. I was a backer of the 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu Kickstarter at the all-in digital level so for the most part, I already own most of the content.
It was an odd thing that I can't explain; I really felt compelled to buy a physical copy of this starter set in spite of my disclosure above. I don't know what 'Arcane Magicks' :-) were wrought on this, but I couldn't resist, buying direct from Chaosium to get the PDF version included as well.
The contents are beautifully presented in a slightly larger (approx 31cms by 23cms by 2.5cms) box than your average RPG book. The box is the same size as boxed sets from CoCs previous versions, so it does not look out of place on my CoC shelf.
The box is very sturdy, and FULL. The books are beautifully printed in full colour on a thinner glossy paper stock. Lightweight cardstock covers for the three books (56 pages, 24 pages, 80 pages), especially the Starter Rules, might have been a nice touch.
The investigator sheets are all looseleaf (4 pregenerated investigators and 4 blank forms, all double sided on matt paper)
The Handouts booklet (16 pages) which reproduces the handouts from Book Three: Adventures, is printed in colour, but double sided, so you'll need to copy pages if you want to cut and separate the handouts for use. Single sided, individual sheets would have been preferable here to be able to use the contents straight out of the box.
There are four included adventures, A solo adventure in book one to introduce you to the system. The other three adventures, included in book three have all been released in earlier editions of Call of Cthulhu. They have been updated and revised here for 7th edition, including new illustrations. They are all very entertaining and worthy inclusions, increasing the value of the box purchase. Most other starter sets I have seen only include one or two small adventures.
The only other paper items included are a single 'What's in the Box' double sided sheet and another single double sided sheet advertising MetaArcade's Cthulhu Chronicles Digital game.
The included dice are very good quality with a nice 'heft', but are not as shown in the photographs of the content on the box and online, which I believe show the Q-workshop 7th edition set. The dice you receive are: d4, d6, d8, 2d10 (ones and tens), d20 all in a neutral grey, and a second d10 (tens) dice in a medium dark blue). No d12 is included as it not used in CoC. I only mention this to help manage customer expectations. The dice you get are good, just not what you might be expecting, appearance wise.
The dice also hammered the top edge of the books during the international trip (I'm in Australia). All the books and sheets are slightly dented, and the back sheet of the handouts booklet was slightly torn. The damage is aesthetic only. It does not affect the use of any of the box content.
Overall, I am very pleased with the purchase. There is a LOT of content and value included. Presentation is excellent and attractive. With a quick trip to the copy shop, if you don't own a printer (for the handouts) you're ready to start playing.
I just received this set today, and it's really great! Well made, and it contains all I need to (finally) get firmly into Call of Cthulhu, including a fantastic assortment of pre-gen characters and a book with three adventures to run (rather than the one included in most starter sets like this!).
Do be aware, though, that the nice box it comes in is *slightly* larger than standard RPG box sets. Not a huge issue, but considering it will not fit on my RPG shelf...well, it's really messing with my OCD.
I bought this on impulse...I already own the FULL version of the rules.
Worth every penny...
Chaosium's Stars are Burning Bright...Ia! Ia!!