Author Topic: Cthulhu game for newbies?  (Read 9202 times)

Blackbeard00

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Cthulhu game for newbies?
« on: August 04, 2015, 10:51:05 AM »
Hi all, long time listener-lurker in need of advice from Cthulhu veterans.
I've been asked to run a Cthulhu based game for a group of players who have very limited or non-existent role-playing experience and who are very unfamiliar with the Lovecraft mythos. Although I have run and played both GUMSHOE and Chaosium COC I'm a bit stumped as to where to start for this group.
So I'm looking for suggestions for both for system and scenario, any time period, setting would work but I'm not looking to run an extended campaign rather a shorter game for a series of sessions to try out how the group likes it before moving on to something more extensive.

BeyondSandrock

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Re: Cthulhu game for newbies?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2015, 11:15:28 AM »
For starting out I think Call is fairly simple to grasp for a first-timer. You can set out pre-gens in Byakhee and set out lists explaining sanity/hp rules as well as roll successes and failures.  As for setting (as much as it pains me to say ;) ), The Haunting is a great scenario to introduce new players to the mythos. At it's heart it's a basic ghost story and you can mix any number of Lovecraftian elements into it to add detail to the overall setting. 
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Tim

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Re: Cthulhu game for newbies?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2015, 11:25:54 AM »
I ran the Lonely Point Lighthouse scenario out of the The Island of Ignorance book from Golden Goblin press for some newer players and it worked pretty well. Basically it is sort of The Cask of Amontillado where the person locked in the walls is an undying deep one and is still alive but weak after 20 years in a wall. It works because it is a  locked room style scenario (they can't get off the island the lighthouse is on once things start to go to hell) that is low combat investigative game that is still pretty simple and linear and does not require a lot of background COC knowledge to make it work. Not to say your own players are not smart but if they don't have a lot of experience making the scenario too complex could cause people to lose interest. I ran it in Gumshoe and it worked since I also think Gumshoe is a easy system to pick up.

Here is a link to the Gumshoe conversion - http://www.pelgranepress.com/trail/files/conversions/The_Lonely_Point_Lighthouse_Golden_Goblin_Press_ToC_conversion.pdf

I actually also think the Caleb's Bryson Springs scenario our of No Security would work for new players but if you do that you should make them all from the same group as opposed to making the all unconnected folks. I think the scenario works better if everyone is unconnected and are thrown together because it is more true to the core of all of those scenarios but with new players I think you need a bit more narrative glue to hold them together. As for system I think I ran using straight up COC rules but it could work well as Gumshoe as well.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2015, 11:27:44 AM by Tim »

trinite

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Re: Cthulhu game for newbies?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2015, 02:31:01 PM »
1. I would definitely run Call of Cthulhu rather than Trail of Cthulhu for new players. The "spending" mechanic could be a little hard for new folks to grasp, and let's face it, some people just don't much care for that style of game. I would also recommend playing 6th Edition CoC, instead of 7th Edition as a starter (though I think 7th is great, it has more complex mechanics that could bog down new players).

2. For an intro scenario, I recommend either "The Haunting" (but watch out for the players just leaving the house after the action starts!) or else "The Edge of Darkness". You can find both of those scenarios in the 6th Edition rulebook. I personally prefer "The Edge of Darkness", since it has a more distinctively Lovecraftian feel, and also a lower likelihood of the players making a "failure state" decision, where they don't get to see the end of the scenario. I do think "Bryson Springs" is good too, but it could be a little tricky for you to apply game mechanics to it if you're not a very experienced GM.

3. Whatever you choose, here are some general tips:
  • If you have time, do character creation with the whole group. The process of character creation will massively help the players understand what the character sheet means and how to use it in play.
  • Byakhee is a great piece of software for creating investigators. If you would rather create pregens rather than do character creation with the group, I highly recommend it.
  • Take the time to explain game concepts both before and during play.
  • Don't worry about them not being familiar with Lovecraftian stuff. I actually think the game is better with folks who aren't familiar with it. All you need to lay out is the basic mood and theme of the game: ordinary people encountering powerful and dangerous supernatural threats that are both physically and mentally overwhelming, and confronting them with knowledge and preparation rather than power.
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Tim

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Re: Cthulhu game for newbies?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2015, 05:59:05 PM »
I actually think that Gumshoe might be easier if you don't have a ton of role playing baggage you are bringing along with you. I do agree the spending points is a touch odd but my group did pick it up pretty quickly but maybe I am forgetting how much hand holding I had to do. The one thing that was hard was explaining how stability worked with the spending but you could still lose point after spending. That was hard for people to get their heads around. Since it was a one shot we also did not need to work out the refresh rules.

Lordsloth

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Re: Cthulhu game for newbies?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2015, 06:46:14 PM »
I would say BRP- the d% system is pretty easy to grasp, really.

As Aaron suggested, the Haunting is a pretty good, quick scenario. Afterwards, you can have them listen to Aaron's run and see how it could have gone! Kidding, love ya, Aaron!  ;D

If you want a more modern scenario(though I'm sure the Haunting can be updated), PX Poker Night is a pretty good one- with or without the Pregens that are supplied with the scenario. Also a good lead-in, or just a good feel of Delta Green, should you lean that way. I've run it twice now with 2 different (newb)groups, and there was plenty of roleplaying involved.

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Thorn

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Re: Cthulhu game for newbies?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2015, 10:07:23 PM »
I tried a group out using the Gumshoe system's Fear Itself with mixed results.  While the rules were simple enough, the general pace of the game and the scenario they played did not provide my players with the number of rolls they expected.  Minor complaint, but some expectations were not met.

Then again, if you do try Gumshoe, try Trail's The Murder of Thomas Fell.  Simple story and the action can be easily added or subtracted to fit the groups needs.  The scenario is short and a great way for a GM to cut their teeth on the system.

beej

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Re: Cthulhu game for newbies?
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2015, 05:31:59 PM »
I would recommend Victim of the Art with the gumeshoe system.  I've run it multiple times.  The one way I found that I've run new players is to run the module as the news crew investigation the murders.  People get to throw around a ton of investigative points and the supernatural aspect slowly along with the threat of the dg and majestic agents.

If you can bet your hands on pagan publishing Bumps in the Night, the scenario Vengeful Dead is a great spin in the zombie trope and is great in CoC and Gumshoe.
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Re: Cthulhu game for newbies?
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2015, 10:31:56 PM »
Kinda late here, but if you are running GUMSHOE for a group, I highly recommend running the quick demo for Night's Black Agents, Excess Baggage.  It's fast, well-designed, and can be extended beyond the "20 minute" demo into a longer one-shot. 

http://www.pelgranepress.com/files/Nights_Black_Agents_Demo_Excess_Baggage.pdf