Horror, Mystery and Investigation In A Box!
The Call of Cthulhu Starter Set contains everything you need to play the world’s best roleplaying game of horror, mystery and investigation!
Updated for the 40th Anniversary of Call of Cthulhu
Chaosium Unveiled: Inside The Call of Cthulhu Starter Set
What is Roleplaying?
In a roleplaying game, 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.
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.
The Call of Cthulhu Starter Set contains books, dice, premade character sheets, maps, and enough content to keep a group busy for several roleplaying sessions.
This updated Starter Set also includes:
- New box art by Lin Hsiang
- Updated interior book cover designs
- All errata and corrections
- 40th Anniversary Investigator Sheets
Rules & Dice
Three softcover manuals broken into rules and scenarios to guide you in playing Call of Cthulhu. The box also includes all the dice you need to play the game: a D4, D6, D8, D20, Percentile D10, and an extra D10 in a different color for use as a bonus/penalty die.
Learn to play in the best way possible—by playing! The special introduction “Alone Against The Flames”, a solo Call of Cthulhu scenario, teaches you the basic rules of the game and character creation as you find yourself in the rural New England town of Emberhead—but can you escape?
Three scenarios designed for 3, 4 and up to 5 players.
In Paper Chase, the search for a missing professor leads to a grizzly discovery.
Edge of Darkness sees a group of investigators fulfill the wish of a dying friend, and attempt to undo the mistakes of the past.
Finally, in Dead Man Stomp, Harlem and jazz music serve as a backdrop to the nefarious schemes of an alien god.
Maps & Handouts
Player aids are an essential component to Call of Cthulhu gameplay. Each scenario has its own collection of maps, notes and player handouts. Each presented in full color, these play aids will enhance your gameplay, and help your players immerse themselves in each of the investigations.
Once you’ve devoured everything the Call of Cthulhu Starter Set has to offer, you’ll want to expand your horror experience with these! Just click on the images to get more information on each product.
Keeper Rulebook: Everything you need for Call of Cthulhu at your fingertips, and will enhance all of your games.
Investigator Handbook: Expanded rules for creating players characters, a wealth of over 100 occupations and skill descriptions, as well as guidance on getting the most from the game.
Gateways to Terror: Three short-play scenarios for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, ideal for beginning and experienced players and Keepers alike.
Doors to Darkness: Five scenarios written especially for beginning Keepers and players of Call of Cthulhu.
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What The Critics Say
"The best introduction to Call of Cthulhu and best starter set for any roleplaying game currently available."
— Reviews from R’lyeh, The Call of Cthulhu II Starter Box.
"Freaking Fantastic! … this big beautiful box contains everything a new player would need to get started playing."
— Seth Skorkowsky, YouTube Review.
"...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., RPGNet Review.
"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, What's new in tabletop gaming.
"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, Call of Cthulhu Starter Set Review.
"The gold standard at the moment, and for good reason – it’s a pretty decent collection of adventures, offering multiple full sessions of play... effectively teaching players the underpinnings of the game, and more than adequately setting them up to move on to the rest of the game’s offerings."
— Refereeing and Reflection, A Grim, Dark Route Into the Old World.
"...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, Burning Luck review Call of Cthulhu Starter Set.
"One of the most comprehensively thought-out starter sets on the market, this slim little box gives you a great way to experience the horrors of the game... The solo adventure, Alone Against the Flames, serves as a solid tutorial and can even help players to generate their very first character as they play."
— Tabletop Gaming Magazine, The Rise of the RPG Box Set.
"There is a reason this RPG shows up at the top of everyone’s horror list. There is no better game at setting the mood for terror and delivering abject horror to your players... I recommend first getting a little taste with the starter set. In total you get four different adventures in one box which is more than I can say for any other starter set I know of."
— Slick Dungeon, Top 5 Horror Tabletop Role Playing Games.
"Though Call of Cthulhu is my favorite tabletop RPG, I won’t let my bias get in the way of saying that this might be the most perfect starter set of any tabletop RPG ever."
— EuroClubAV, Getting started with Call of Cthulhu - A tabletop primer.
"One of the neatest pieces of introductory design; a great way to get into Chaosium’s legendary roleplaying game."
— Staying In Podcast, Podcast Review.
"One of the neatest pieces of introductory design; a great way to get into Chaosium’s legendary roleplaying game."
"It could be argued that more people have been introduced to the Cthulhu Mythos through Call of Cthulhu the RPG than the original stories. The horror RPG’s boxed set features a great mix of pregenerated characters, cases that start at solo adventures and ramp up to full investigations, and even some light character creation for when those characters get killed or locked up in Arkham Sanitorium."
— Dicebreaker, 10 best tabletop RPG boxed sets for new players.
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]
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- Year Released:
- 2018, 2022
- 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:
- Lin Hsiang
- 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:
- Matt Ryan
- Development and Editing:
- Mike Mason
So far, I'm really loving this starter set! I think it's perfect for a beginner like me. I love that it includes a solo adventure for you to get a feel for the game. The dice included are a little plain, but I'm a little dice goblin. You don't need pretty dice if your getting started anyways.
I have wanted to get into horror role playing for a while, but haven't had any idea of where to begin. I have some friends to play D&D, but that wasn't what I wanted to get into. I wanted horror. One of my friends told me about this product and I couldn't help but try it out. I ran Paper Chase for my kids and they had a blast. I then ran Edge of Darkness with a slightly larger group and everyone had fun. Now I'm preparing for Dead Man Stomp sometime soon. I've never really been a role player, but I love telling stories, so the Keeper role fits me. Eventually I plan to invest in the official rule book, but the starter rules are fantastic and have helped me learn how to play. The scenarios included feel easy to prepare for, but allow room for expansion should anyone already know what they're doing and just want more scenarios to add to their collection. It's been a fun journey and I look forward to continuing on in this great world of horror role-playing so lovingly devoted to the world of H.P. Lovecraft! I highly recommend this product to anyone wanting to test the waters for themselves.
As for the Starter Box, it’s easily one of the best Intro box sets I’ve purchased in over 40 years of gaming. The quality (physical and creative) of the components is outstanding, especially for the price. But I also wanted to give a 5 star rating to the fulfillment itself. Online ordering was a breeze, PDFs excellent and immediately available, and my order was SO well packaged, shipped and received within days. It’s been awhile since I had a regular interest in CoC, but I’m so impressed with today’s Chaosium, a company that provides the same care and thrills it did for me back in ‘81 with my big CoC1E boxed set. The experience was so positive, I immediately felt compelled to give them and this set a review for PERFECTION
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. The contents: 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.