Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to Do a New Edition

DunDraCon 35 just concluded yesterday and among its many seminars was one hosted by Chaosium, in which its president, Charlie Krank, announced that there'd be a seventh edition of Call of Cthulhu released in time for GenCon this August.

Listen carefully -- you hear that sound? That's the sound of Call of Cthulhu players across the world not rising up in anger or exultation that Chaosium has decided to release a new version of the venerable Lovecraftian horror. Why is that? Are Call of Cthulhu just more mature than D&D players? Are they less resistant to change? Are they just not as invested in their favorite game as D&D fans are? The answer to all of those questions, in my experience, is the same: no.

The reason CoC fans aren't incensed by this news is that each new "edition" of Call of Cthulhu is backward compatible with the previous one. With a few exceptions (such as the shift from 1st to 2nd edition, where Charisma became Appearance and Magic Points replaced Power Points), the biggest changes between editions are in terms of art, layout, and content. A new edition might include some new sample adventures or expand the list of Mythos entities or spells, in addition to incorporating errata and fixing typos. Otherwise, though, Call of Cthulhu hasn't really changed that much and it's perfectly possible to run a scenario published in 2002 with your characters generated according to rules published in 1983 without the need for any conversion. How many RPGs can say that?

Long ago in the pages of Dragon, Gary Gygax mused about the possibility of D&D eventually reaching the state where it could be considered "perfected," updated only periodically with new art, layout, and errata to keep it "fresh." That day has never come nor is it ever likely to do so. Perhaps because, unlike Call of Cthulhu (or indeed any other RPG), Dungeons & Dragons is a big business, the backward-compatible, incremental change model Chaosium has adopted just doesn't make business sense. I can't really speak to that, because I've never produced anything that made me millions of dollars -- alas! And given that Chaosium has, more than once, been on the brink of financial collapse, I'm not sure that its business practices can be held up as a model for anyone, let alone the caretakers of the only RPG ever to get its own Saturday morning cartoon.

I can only say that, as a player, I adore the way Chaosium has handled new editions of Call of Cthulhu. It's probably why I own so many of them, even though there was no necessity that I do so in order to "remain current." Maybe that's no way to run a "real" business, but I like it nonetheless, which is Chaosium continues to get my dollars and other companies do not.

74 comments:

  1. It's unfortunate that D&D is a victim of its own popularity. CoC caters to a niche audience that knows what it wants and the developers deliver. D&D is a fantasy stew pot that must evolve (for better or worse) to remain fresh. I wish Wizards would just continue to sell pdfs of their old products. They don't have to spend a single dime supporting them outside of the minuscule bandwidth required to have people download them.

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  2. I am told (by people who I'm reasonably confident would know) that Chaosium's financial woes over the last 15 years or so have had nothing to do with their backward compatibility and everything to do with the fact that they vastly overinvested in the Mythos CCG, just at the time that the bottom dropped out of the CCG market. That dropped them in a hole so deep they're still trying to claw their way out of it.

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  3. Arthur,

    That jibes with what I've heard too. I only mentioned Chaosium's financial woes because, in the past, whenever I would hold up Chaosium's treatment of CoC as a model for others, it's pointed out that the company has nearly gone under several times and so shouldn't be taken as a model for anyone. I personally think that's a dubious argument, for the reasons you cite, but I mention it nonetheless.

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  4. I can run a Tunnels & Trolls solo from the late 70s with the T&T 7.5e rules without problems. It has changed, to be sure, but it is still compatible.

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  5. The reason Chaosium can pull this off is because the rules in Cthulhu -- other than sanity -- do not matter all that much. The adventures are largely about detective work, which is often best handled by role playing, and not mechanics. Characters typically do not "level" (e.g. gain skill points) that much from creation. And combat generally goes like this: dead, dead, insane, dead, insane.

    If Cthulhu were a system where the rules really mattered, you would definitely see it collapsing under its "legacy code". In particular, the skill system and leveling system would be a failure for the same reason it was a failure in RuneQuest.

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  6. Tenkar,

    I always forget T&T and I shouldn't!

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  7. In particular, the skill system and leveling system would be a failure for the same reason it was a failure in RuneQuest.

    As I've said before, I never played that much RQ back in the day, so this comment piques my interest. Is this a widespread belief among RQ fans about its skill system? I can't say I've ever encountered it before.

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  8. I could say similar things about the way Pinnacle Entertainment handles Savage Worlds. I realize the game has only been around since 2003, but the point is it's had three different covers and five different printings, and they're definitely going with the incremental change model. Also, what they do change, they make available for free. So in theory, someone could still be walking around with a 2003 copy of the game, with a few printed pages, and play anything Savage Worlds.

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  9. @Walker: I can't help but agree.

    In particular, there is nothing wrong with a Call of Cthulhu campaign which depends excessively on the game's mechanics - that leads to traps like adventures where the progress of the session runs to a complete halt because everyone failed their "Spot Hidden" roll. If the GM has decided that the evidence is hidden underneath the bust of Napoleon on the Colonel's desk, and a player says "A bust of Napoleon, huh? I take a look underneath it", then they should find the evidence, Spot Hidden be damned. But I've seen too many Cthulhu GMs call for Spot Hidden rolls under such circumstances anyway, simply because they have the idea that if they let the system slide because a player had a good idea that's somehow a bad thing.

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  10. Derp - "There's nothing wrong..." should be "There's nothing worse than..."

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  11. The flip-side of this argument is that Chaosium, post its RQ2-era glory days, hasn't really been doing much beyond reprinting old CoC content. I know people cite the Mythos debacle, but, seriously, that was almost 20 years ago. The BRP core book was a very long time coming, and I'm not sure it really addressed many fans issues with the system (e.g., how Dodge works; anyone able to comment more on this?). Like HERO, I don't think Chaosium would even be in business were it not for a hard-core fanbase that is happy to live with their aging products' quirks.

    It's great that CoC has not abandoned its past, but there is plenty of room for improvement in BRP, and CoC in particular (as games like Trail of Cthulhu and d20 Cthulhu have tried to address). It honestly makes me sort of sad that Chaosium doesn't really seem interested in innovating.

    There is nothing wrong with new editions. Not when they are a genuine attempt to learn from past mistakes and to improve the experience customers have at the gaming table. This is what humans are supposed to do: adapt, adopt, improve.

    Aside, this is some really good commentary from Chris Chinn on what he claims is a common occurrence: people ditching CoC for Arkham Horror:
    http://bankuei.wordpress.com/2007/10/27/arkham-horror-vs-call-of-cthulhu/

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  12. Well I'm rather baffled by all the BRP hate in here. It's one of my favorite systems, and I'm a bit perplexed by a Grognardia reader attacking those who are "happy to live with their aging products' quirks." While I could point out that -- other than stats not being associated with skills -- I have 0 problems with CoC/RQ/the BRP big yellow book. I wouldn't use them to run D&D, but that's because I like OSD&D more than them.

    It could just be that I love quirks, so perhaps I'm not one to judge systems.

    As far as James's post, I think it is excellent. I believe they're also doing a Hardcover of the Big Yellow book with some minor errata worked in, which is good too.

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  13. As a related note, my wife and I were completely bamboozled by Arkham Horror. I really liked the concept, but found the execution (in it's Fantasy Flight games iteration) to be terribly complex. It took us more time to play than it would have taken to roll up a character and run the Haunted House.

    I do like the tone though.

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  14. Oh I could imagine how bad rules could ruin a CoC game. Just add "Sanity Surges" and "at-will dismissals", let people get feats that allow them to pop off multiple bursts from their tommy guns per turn (and nothing is immune to bullets anymore, y'know, because that was 'broken' and 'imbalanced').

    If anyone could mess up Call of Cthulhu, I have no doubt it would be WotC.

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  15. I was going to say that I thought Basic Roleplaying's big problem was a lack of product support. Then I went to the Chaosium website and looked at the product line.

    I had no idea there were so many products for it. It's no GURPS library, but there's a lot more than I realized in there. Which is probably a sign of the real problem, it's not really on my radar.

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  16. "If anyone could mess up Call of Cthulhu, I have no doubt it would be WotC."

    Call of Cthulhu d20 has one of the best GM chapters of any CoC product, hands down; many industry folk have said this (including Ken Hite, iirc). And, IMO, the system plays wonderfully. WotC did a great job with it. It's sad that Chaosium pretty much ignored the opportunity.

    I don't have BRP hate, but I do have some issues with Chaosium. It's probably general disappointment; they were my favorite RPG company in the RQ2 era. I see what they've become and it just makes me kind of sad.

    If you read the Yog-Sothoth thread James linked to, you'll see plenty of CoC diehards with varying degrees of enthusiasm for the new edition, many with issues with BRP. See how many of them point to The Laundry RPG as a better implementation of the ruleset.

    I simply think Chaosium could be doing more.

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  17. How to Do a New Edition... That I Would Buy

    Step 1: Take D&D license away from WotC.
    Step 2: Rejoice.
    Step 3: Rejoice again.
    Step 4: Give Jeff at Jeff's Gameblog a cushy desk-job and the title "Minister of Quality Control".
    Step 5: Make Planet Algol the premiere campaign setting.
    Step 6: Let the dice fall where they may.

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  18. I've been thinking on it and Wizards COULD release an edition that was compatible between AD&D1E,2E,3E and OD&D/Basic. 4E might be to far to stretch though but who knows--it could be done.

    What if there was a relatively simple core system like Basic D&D with supplements that let you "editionize" your game? The system would have to be totally modular--which is pretty easy to do with D&D's mechanics.

    Edition war? Dead (mostly).

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  19. Is this a widespread belief among RQ fans about its skill system?
    Yes it is. "Golf bag syndrome" they call it, and it's one of the two big misunderstandings of the system, except that in no version of BRP that I own -- two editions of CoC, the Games Workshop Runequest and the recent big yellow book -- do the rules create the environment where this abuse should exist, so I've always been baffled by the constant complaints about it.

    A bust of Napoleon, huh? I take a look underneath it", then they should find the evidence, Spot Hidden be damned. But I've seen too many Cthulhu GMs call for Spot Hidden rolls under such circumstances anyway,
    And this is the other one. Again, nowhere in the rules does it say that the game should be played in this manner. In all fairness, some of the adventures are written with this assumption, but it's not in the game itself.

    To me, it's the equivalent of decades of -- hyopthetical -- moaning about how the fighter in D&D is overpowered because fighters instant-kill anything on a combat roll of 10 or above. I could see that would be annoying, but it's not the game's fault you're playing it wrong.

    I don't deny that the problem exists -- Trail of Cthulhu would not exist otherwise -- but where it comes from, I have no idea, because it's not in the text of the game and I've never encountered it in fifteen-or-so years of playing and running Call of Cthulhu. I can only assume that some of the more poorly-written adventures have had more influence than they should have.

    e.g., how Dodge works; anyone able to comment more on this?
    Yeah, no, it still doesn't make any sense. I just allow any number of dodge attempts a round, except each new attempt is made at half the chance of the previous one.

    It's sad that Chaosium pretty much ignored the opportunity.
    I was under the impression that much of the d20 version's GM chapter made it into the sixth edition?

    My guess is that the seventh edition will incorporate some of the new rules introduced in the French and German editions, as they seem to be well-regarded permutations of the system.

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  20. Great post, James.

    I hope that the 7th edition CoC book will have a hardcover version. If so, I'll definitely purchase it, as well as the forthcoming BRP goldbook hardcover.

    I've been playing BRP and BRP-derived games (viz. MRQII) lately, and love them. I think that BRP may be my favourite system of all time. At the very least, it is my current love.

    The 'Laundry' RPG ('BRP-powered') is also excellent, though I have yet to play it.

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  21. "In particular, the skill system and leveling system would be a failure for the same reason it was a failure in RuneQuest."

    I don't understand this claim at all.

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  22. "it's pointed out that the company has nearly gone under several times and so shouldn't be taken as a model for anyone."

    It depends what an RPG company should be for. If it is just about making money, then all RPG companies should get out of the RPG market pronto and into crystal meth, crack, or little plastic figurines.

    If it should be about making good RPGs, created for the purpose of being good RPGs, not commodities or IP, while not going bust, then Chaosium has done pretty well.

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  23. What is the Laundry RPG?

    I saw it listed on the site and that it was based on a series of books, but the product description didn't say much more. What genre(s) is it?

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  24. It seems to me that the "spot hidden" roll would be the last resort if none of the players thought to specifically mention examining the bust. I've never run CoC, but having read the book thats always been my interpretation. If the GM describes the scene and points out a couple of items specifically, thats a hint for the players but if none of them take the hint, then the spot hidden roll comes into play.

    Whatever, the issue as raised sounds more like bad game mastering than a bad system to me...

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  25. Whatever, the issue as raised sounds more like bad game mastering than a bad system to me...
    Exactly.

    Tom, the genre is difficult to describe, but it's a combination of MI5 type espionage, Lovecraftian gribbly stuff, modern day magic, and a healthy dose of Yes, Minister-type comedy bureaucracy.

    It's like Delta Green with a sense of humour, and it's very British.

    For D&D fans, it's based on the writing of Charles Stross, who invented the slaad and the githyanki, as I recall, among others.

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  26. Other than their treatment of Michael Moorcock, I have nothing but love for Chaosium. Their game design philosophy is sound and their products tend to be of high quality. Whether those products are "Prince Valiant" or "Call of Cthulhu."

    The releases of new editions serve as a good jump in point for new gamers, and the consistency between editions allows new and old gamers to eventually merge.

    I have no problems with WotC either. Their handling of 4e has been innovative, inventive, and creative. Like James' own 12 degree system, 4e has taken queues from Fudge and Burning Wheel.

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  27. The name "The Laundry" comes from the nickname of the secret, magic using anti-occult British security agency. When formed in WW2 it was originally housed above an old Chinese laundry. Hence the name.

    In the books and the game, magic is a form of mathematics and computation, leading to computer science in-jokes, and technological assists to spellcasting. The main character Bob has a jailbroken iPhone loaded up with occult countermeasure apps and other goodies.

    One core idea of the Laundry universe is that as computers become more common and more powerful, it becomes more and more likely that magic will be done accidentally or randomly, resulting in the usual powerful tentacular type things breaking through into our universe and eating our brains.

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  28. Technically,in terms of rules, there is absolutely no reason to release a new edition of Call of Cthulhu. None whatsoever. Because any rules changes are going to be so negligible as to negate the need for a whole new edition. Certainly the current sixth edition was hardly any different to the previous fifth edition bar a quite hideous layout that suffused and marred a number of subsequent supplements.

    The reason that there will be a seventh edition of Call of Cthulhu? 2011 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of the game's first edition.

    I probably number amongst those who would like to see some changes made to the rules to address the game's age. That would certainly warrant a new edition, but I do not see Chaosium putting the development time into the project that it would require.

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  29. @kelvingreen "I was under the impression that much of the d20 version's GM chapter made it into the sixth edition?"
    I was referring to their utter lack of acting on the marketing opportunity dropped in their lap by WotC. CoC d20 created a lot of buzz, along with a whole issue of Dragon dedicated to it an Lovecraft, and Chaosium simply did nothing. Years later, when they finally announced that Pulp Cthulhu was dead, they were even kind of smug about it, literally saying "Who cared about d20 CoC anyway?" That's weak, IMO.

    Still, good to hear that content might have made it into 6e.

    @kelvingreen "My guess is that the seventh edition will incorporate some of the new rules introduced in the French and German editions, as they seem to be well-regarded permutations of the system."

    Again, good to hear, but still sad that the innovations are coming from outside the company.

    I'll admit that I have not seen the BRP corebook that came out a few years back. Were there useful innovations in that?

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  30. CoC d20 created a lot of buzz, along with a whole issue of Dragon dedicated to it an Lovecraft, and Chaosium simply did nothing.
    Well, for a couple of years their CoC releases included statistics and rules for both rulesets, but they didn't support d20 exclusively. Then again, why should they? It was always an alternative to the d100 version, not a replacement.

    I'll admit that I have not seen the BRP corebook that came out a few years back. Were there useful innovations in that?
    It has lots of stuff in it, and it's a very useful toolbox for any BRP-related game. I know some of the content is drawn from existing games, but I wouldn't be able to say how much exactly.

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  31. @Kelvingreen "My guess is that the seventh edition will incorporate some of the new rules introduced in the French and German editions, as they seem to be well-regarded permutations of the system."

    I have my doubts. In the past decade, literally two products have been translated or adapted by Chaosium from their original languages. We keep hearing about great products in French and German, but despite the French and German publishers adapting books from Chaosium, nothing comes back the other way. Some of these products are stunning and we keep looking at them and wondering why we cannot have products as good or as interesting in English. There are fans that would buy them, but instead we get the occasional reprint or products that are just not that good. And that before we look at Chaosium's Monographs, which can be very good, but with virtually no editorial oversight, can also be execrable.

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  32. "If it is just about making money, then all RPG companies should get out of the RPG market pronto and into crystal meth, crack, or little plastic figurines."

    You write as if those are three different things...

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  33. @kelvingree "Well, for a couple of years their CoC releases included statistics and rules for both rulesets, but they didn't support d20 exclusively. Then again, why should they? It was always an alternative to the d100 version, not a replacement."

    IIRC, some of them did, but not all. You'd probably now better than I would.

    As for why should they, it's sound business. Given their general financial situation, passing it up was crazy, IMO.

    Also, as a fan, I was really looking forward to more support, especially Pulp Cthulhu. I'm telling you, CoC d20 was a hot item on ENWorld at the time, and a lot of d20 fans there were disappointed by how Chaosium handled things.

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  34. As for why should they, it's sound business. Given their general financial situation, passing it up was crazy, IMO.

    They didn't pass it up. During the lifespan of the d20 game, their releases supported it.

    I'm not sure what more they could have done, aside from a d20-exclusive product, but I imagine the fanbase would not have been happy with that. It would have been like Wizards releasing an adventure for Exalted.

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  35. Sorry, that should have been:

    "It would have been like Wizards releasing a D&D adventure only for Exalted."

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  36. I ran COC for many years and never had any problem with any of the rules. I would say COC and the edition of Champions in the blue hardback (2nd or 3rd?) are the only two games I've ever run that I didn't feel had any room for improvement or expansion. So as far as I'm concerned, they can just put a new cover on the 1st edition COC rules and call it good.

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  37. @KelvinGreen: And this is the other one. Again, nowhere in the rules does it say that the game should be played in this manner. In all fairness, some of the adventures are written with this assumption, but it's not in the game itself.

    Yeah, I tend to find it's a bad habit of GMs who are working to the axiom that the players shouldn't be making progress unless they're making successful dice rolls - in other words, the sort of GM who uses the system and dice rolls to make calls because they don't have the confident to just make a decision.

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  38. When it comes to fans commenting on business practices I see people have as much understanding of things as usual.

    Chaosium used to be three guys, Lynn, Charlie and Dustin. Now they are two. Guess why they are not producing much?

    Also, the CCG hole was deep. It's a wonder Chaosium even exists today. There is a recording of Charlie Krank talking about it, and it was recently, like last-year-kind-of-recently, that they cleared their debt.

    I can't help but agree with Pookie and others lamenting lost opportunities, but I really see why not much is happening. Also, the on-line buzz is not the same thing as good sales. Did CoC d20 sell? I don't know.

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  39. I'm with Walker in that I think James is comparing apples and oranges. CoC came out later than the original 1974 D&D. Personally, I find the earliest incarnation completely unplayable unless I house-rule the hell out of it, and by then I may as well play either BECMI or AD&D 1st edition. It was the first roleplaying game ever written, though. Chaosium had the advantage of learning over time.

    If you chart the evolution of D&D from 1980 onward (when BRP first came out), you'll notice that very little changed between 1st and 2nd edition AD&D to make them incompatible, and regular D&D changed even less (I'd argue). The biggest shifts came with 3.0, because it had become apparent things needed drastic streamlining, and lots of players exclaimed that 3.0 closely resembled their own house-ruled games.

    CoC is not D&D. Basically, CoC fans are pleased with it, by-and-large. However, for some reason, D&D has always been fraught with problems. Not everyone wants Elf to be a character class. Some people think the concept (not rules, mind you) of "attacks-of-opportunity" make sense and are a useful addition. Some people, however, prefer simpler rulesets. In other words, there's something about each incarnation of D&D that, by its very nature, fails to satisfy everyone who plays it.

    You can't really compare CoC and D&D without, honestly, being critical of D&D as a whole, INCLUDING the old-school versions of it. The purposes of its editions are completely different from the reasons Chaosium is releasing a new CoC.

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  40. @Andreas Davour "Also, the on-line buzz is not the same thing as good sales. Did CoC d20 sell? I don't know."

    It's hard to say, though it was on the Amazon bestseller lists for the gaming category pretty regularly. And it was the only CoC I saw run at ENWorld Gamedays for a while. All anecdotal, I know.

    Still, thank you for the insight, Andreas.

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  41. @kelvingreen "They didn't pass it up. During the lifespan of the d20 game, their releases supported it."

    Chaosium did three d20-statted products, iirc, one of which was a Keepr screen. I know some third-parties did d20 stuff (FFG, Pagan/EOS).

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  42. Buzz, Amazon's lists are at least some kind of data, I agree.

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  43. Talk about apples and oranges.

    While Chaosium is clinging onto the obsessive collector market, Paizo, WoTC, and virtually every other game company would collapse if they adopted the same business plan. While a rule system perserved in amber is appealing, I also like buying supplements and updated editions of games that actually improve annoying problems, which all games tend to have.

    As for people being upset during "edition wars", a new edition doesn't mean rearranging the illustrations and using a new font for 95% of the RPGs games on the market (including D&D). Unlike CoC, those real edition changes directly impact the gameplay for their customers... which has a serious impact on gaining, retaining, or losing customers.

    People being upset that D&D players (of every edition) fight over editions really shouldn't be a surprise. Virtually every game that releases significant editions (GURPS 3e->4e, oWoD 1e->2e->Revised->nWoD; D&D in all it's verions) cause huge levels of nerdrage & geekgasms from their players because there are usually significant changes to gameplay. We shouldn't kid yourselves that gameplay means a hell of a lot to players, so that outrage is bound to happen when major changes occur.

    Besides, the only reason the D&D 4e/3.5/Pathfinder/OSR brujahaha is going on and in everyone's face is because D&D is the 500 lb. gorilla in the market. I mean, few people cared or noticed about the GURPS 3e diehards being upset about 4e because they aren't playing GURPS and reading those threads, but they were definatley there...

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  44. Chaosium did three d20-statted products, iirc, one of which was a Keepr screen.
    Between 2002 and 2003, Chaosium released five d20 CoC products, one of which was the Keeper's screen.

    Between 2002 and 2003, Chaosium released eight d100 CoC products, two of which were special reprints of the core rules, one a supplement to the core rules, and four of which were the exact same items mentioned above.

    That's two -- arguably one -- more products for d100 than d20. While it's not great support -- but as Andreas says, there were only three people at the company at the time -- it's hardly a case of Chaosium ignoring the d20 product line.

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  45. "I mean, few people cared or noticed about the GURPS 3e diehards being upset about 4e because they aren't playing GURPS and reading those threads, but they were definatley there... "

    I was one of those, but I think we got over it faster. The rules changed between 3rd and 4th edition GURPS, but the old sourcebooks still have a lot of value to those who made the transition. And Steve Jackson Games kept a lot of 3rd edition books in print for a while (and had a sizable inventory of them) and they've done a really good job of keeping their old stuff available via .pdf.

    GURPS reminded me more of when AD&D went from 1st to 2nd edition than when 2nd went to 3rd or 3rd to 4th.

    Also, it seemed to my admittedly outside view that 3.5 was really hitting its stride when they pulled the rug out from under it.

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  46. @Akrasia Neither do I. I've played BRP in several incarnations many times over the years, and I have never had a problem with the skill system and the way it accrues experience. Nor have I ever had a problem with the rules around the skill system (other than, perhaps, RQIII's fatigue rules which seemed onerous, and the Sorcery rules which seemed unbalanced): I've always found CoC to be a marvellous set of rules.

    Several caveats: I tend to frame skill rolls more in terms of yes and yes/but, than yes, and no: fail that Library Use roll? Well, you still do find out what you're looking for eventually, but your failed skill roll frames some consequence you have to deal with: it takes much longer than you expect, you have annoyed NPCs who might otherwise have been happy to help, you steal books from the library and now are in danger of getting caught as a criminal, etc, etc.

    Also, it seems to me that BRP is best at not attempting to frame the same kind of narrative that D20/D&D games do: we're not talking about telling the stories of green young things who gradually ascend to become massively strong heroes. In CoC's case, we're talking about reasonably experienced, mature (but naive) professionals at something who must raced against the clock of their own impending madness and the plots of others to try desperately to save what they think of as humanity. Different kettle of fish, and one where the game mechanics are (I think) totally justified in flattening out the character improvement curve. BRP is much more akin to Traveller in that regard, and I don't fault the game for it at all.

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  47. @Reverend Keith HERO has included sizeable internal squabbling from edition to edition, and the shift from pre-fourth, to fourth, to fifth, to sixth encompassed much more sweeping rules changes than are evident in BRP over the same stretch of time. But that's no real surprise: BRP is at its core a very simple set of mechanics, and while it has been tuned this way and that over the years, it's essentially unchanged from original incarnations. I don't see this as a bad thing at all. To a large extent materials produced for older editions of the game are "still good enough for government work" in compatibility with newer editions, and the style of gaming that BRP seems to lean on seems fine with that.

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  48. @Viktor Haag "Several caveats: I tend to frame skill rolls more in terms of yes and yes/but, than yes, and no: fail that Library Use roll? Well, you still do find out what you're looking for eventually, but your failed skill roll frames some consequence you have to deal with: it takes much longer than you expect, you have annoyed NPCs who might otherwise have been happy to help, you steal books from the library and now are in danger of getting caught as a criminal, etc, etc."

    That is very, dare I say, "indie". :) Wouldn't it be nice if the rulebooks actually taught readers these techniques? I mean, what you're describing is basically a rule, i.e., how to frame skill checks.

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  49. I'm in agreement with Dave C above.

    People who are unhappy with something about D&D make changes to it or play another version, and then talk about it online because it's the big game for most people.

    People who are unhappy with CoC typically do not play it, moving on to something else because most gamers aren't that concerned about it. That's true of most RPG's that are not D&D, I think. They are "skippable" whereas D&D is not.

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  50. That is very, dare I say, "indie". :) Wouldn't it be nice if the rulebooks actually taught readers these techniques? I mean, what you're describing is basically a rule, i.e., how to frame skill checks.

    Just so. It's how I tend to run skill tests too, not just in Call of Cthulhu, but any rpg, because it really does apply across the board: complications are more interesting than strict failure.

    What's baffling is that there is a very real perception that the opposite of this approach -- ie, a failure is a failure and that's that -- is a problem specific to Call of Cthulhu when it too applies to any game where the die result is read as an absolute pass/fail.

    I really wish I knew why CoC got this reputation -- to the extent that Ken Hite invented an entirely new game to "fix" it -- because as I mentioned above, it's not supported by the rules.

    That's true of most RPG's that are not D&D, I think. They are "skippable" whereas D&D is not.
    Oh I don't know. I played D&D exactly three times during my formative years as a gamer, didn't like it much, and moved on to games like Traveller, Shadowrun and, yes, Call of Cthulhu.

    I was only coaxed back with the release of D&D4 and I hated that. We're playing Pathfinder now, but only because the GM is really enthusiastic about it; once the campaign's over, we'll be switching to a different system for the next one.

    Heresy, I know.

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  51. On the ongoing Chaosium debate, it's worth noting that Mythos did them a lot of damage, but there were a few other poor calls along the way.

    One example could be the d20 support release schedule. Sure, there were other releases in 2002, but the Wizards rulebook came out in March, the Keeper's screen around July, and the dual-stat books began to appear about six months later. As such, the d20 releases missed most of the initial buzz from which they could have benefited.

    Regarding edition changes, they have been made with little or no fanfare, with the exception of the transition from 4th to 5th edition. There have indeed been some major changes along the way with regard to character creation, skill use, insanity, tomes, etc., but as the basic percentile skill resolution and resistance tables remain the same, few players ever notice. Even CoC veterans rarely recognize the changes.

    Perhaps the lesson here is that discussing how one is changing the rules is actually bad press. Or maybe not.

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  52. @Buzz:
    CoC players switching to Arkham Horror:
    That article was 3 years old!(And perhaps there was some burnout on the more intensive aspects of CoC, and the veteran players just wanted to play a game with less emotional investment for a while!) I guess I could see a certain type of player(a segment of Delta Green, Cthulu Now!, run 'n' gunners in general, etc... perhaps?) players migrating over to get their fill of shooting the Mythos(One of the people I play Arkham Horror with prefers to simply fight the Ancient Old Ones rather than sealing/closing the gates; fairly easy in the unaugmented base set[Azathoth excepted, of course].) in the face(albeit with 1920's weapons!), but as for people that prefer the more traditional CoC experience, I think they'll be staying with the RPG.(AH is more expensive, slower to play, and has a fair amount of errata to absorb as well. And of course, there's no role-playing involved, unless you make an extra effort to include it! :-)) Somewhat similarly, I(and others, of course!) have noted a sizable number of people who've started playing RPGs after enjoying the Heroquest boardgame.

    Trail of Cthulu:
    'Solution' for a 'problem' that didn't exist, ime.(Though due to misinterpretation of the rules/reading adventures SOMEONE must've got the idea that a SNAFU derailing the investigator's missions could occur. Poor GMing, imo.) I tend to think Hite and co. wanted to present their variant on CoC, and utilized the Skill(say 'Library Use') Fail= Missed Clue =Broken Adventure premise as a rationale for Trail.(This sets it apart from D20 Cthulu, Savage Worlds Cthulu, CthuluTech, etc..., of course.) Other aspects of the system are changed as well as finding of clues, like sanity, HPs, Magic, etc... It's found some popularity, as I understand.

    New Edition of CoC:
    Awesome! A new cover! :-D

    'Regarding edition changes, they have been made with little or no fanfare, with the exception of the transition from 4th to 5th edition. There have indeed been some major changes along the way with regard to character creation, skill use, insanity, tomes, etc., but as the basic percentile skill resolution and resistance tables remain the same, few players ever notice. Even CoC veterans rarely recognize the changes.':
    Absolutely! No Muss, No Fuss!

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  53. Trail of Cthulu:
    'Solution' for a 'problem' that didn't exist, ime.


    That's my feeling too, but, like the infamous "15-minute adventuring day" in D&D, enough people claim it to have been a terrible problem that designers acted to rectify it. *shrug* To each his own.

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  54. I think the BRP rules are not bad, and I do applaud the Chaosium idea of not doing that big revisions to CoC. The rules work ok in my experience and most of CoC seems to be roleplaying anyway.

    The Laundry game is good, it is more streamlined than the versions of BRP I've played (mostly the Finnish translation of RuneQuest, and some CoC) but it's easy to add stuff from other BRP games. Broos do die to bullets, in my experience. (I'm running a Laundry game with a Glorantha twist.)

    About other system changes, I have a lot of GURPS books although the only game rules I have are the free 3e and 4e short rules. The source books have a lot of non-system specific information. Also, I have a lot of Forgotten Realms stuff, starting from 1989 products, but I could run those with Pathfinder or even HeroQuest.

    Or even with 1st or 2nd edition of AD&D, the books didn't disappear from my shelves when 3e was published.

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  55. Broos do die to bullets, in my experience.

    Brilliant.

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  56. I've noticed that there's a different assumption between ToC's initiators and those who don't see any improvement regarding how failure should be achieved in-game. Gumshoe's point is generally about removing character-level impediments to players making terrible decisions. It's like handing them a helm of comprehend languages before throwing the riddle puzzle at them, and leaving it up to players.

    Having run both ToC and D&D using Gumshoe, and being a great fan and promoter of dramatic irony, I've decided I definitely prefer it.

    As for 7th ed, I hope the damn thing looks better than 6th. I might actually buy a copy, then.

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  57. ToC's 'improvement' on 'how failure should be achieved in-game':
    If the player is meticulous(or fairly detailed and earnest, I'd say) about specifying ingame actions pertaining to investigation, I'd say this wouldn't be much of an issue, if at all. Say the PC searches a desk with a compartment hidden in the leg very carefully, and they deliberately spell out their intentions to go over it with a fine tooth comb, the player finds it. If not, there's a roll on the pertinent skill, and they STILL may find it. That's always been how I've seen the game played. And Trail does much the same, if the PC is searching reasonably intelligently they discover the 'clue'.

    'It's like handing them a helm of comprehend languages before throwing the riddle puzzle at them, and leaving it up to players.:'
    Wouldn't you have to have a good reason for players having said helm? :-) The level of extra help may or may not be needed depending on how the GM has worked the puzzle out, the players may still need to make Int rolls, etc... It's more or less a preference thing, and I personally didn't see the need for Trail just to rectify a 'deficiency' that may only be present due to GM misunderstandings of the necessity of die rolling in certain situations, the consequences thereof, and players who perhaps didn't visualize the situation in such a way in certain instances for the game to proceed without GM intervention or random rolls... Not to mention the game overhauls other areas of CoC, too. It gives me the impression that this was Hite and Pelgrane's version of CoC reworked to their play style(GOO's Stats[or not], San, 'Purist' approaches to HPL, physical damage, etc...). Which has obviously enthused some, but I didn't see the issues in the game it supposedly corrected, so I have no need for the game myself. YMMV on this one, as always. Hell, Cthulu has been Savaged these days, so anything goes, right? :-)

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  58. Wouldn't you have to have a good reason for players having said helm? :-)

    Confer. The good reason, in this case, is that it's on their character sheet as "Is a doctor," or "Is the guy in the party who knows medical stuff," or whatever. GUMSHOE existed before ToC in the Esoterrorists first, featuring hyper-competent crack investigators, and Fear Itself, featuring standard horror-movie dumbasses with very specific limitations on character types and skill uses (i.e. no Mulders or Scullys, just Max Fenig). I mean, a port was inevitable, it just happened to be produced by Pelgrane. Anyways, GUMSHOE is (I'd hazard to guess) conceptually an outgrowth of the investigative chronicle rules hacks in the Requiem Chronicler's Guide–wherein each character, playing hyper-competent vampire detectives, has at least one investigative thing they auto-succeed when trying to do. Applying it to ToC is a very specific interpretation of the point, one which doesn't entirely mesh conceptually with certain other interpretations. Many DG adventures have deliberately hostile setups which forefront the impossibility of understanding or really succeeding against the Lovecraftian menace–although Graham Walmsley has been trying to do that too with ToC, so I'm not sure there's really that much of a rules imposition on this particular issue.
    Hell, Cthulu has been Savaged these days, so anything goes, right?

    I ran it with nWoD before ToC came out, and was pretty close to using Unknown Armies, which is another contender for a non-Chaosium 'improvement' on CoC, systemwise. I think I'm just a fan of games with Willpower/Courage/Action Points/et cetera.

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  59. 'on their character sheet':
    Of course in the case of a helm, wouldn't it be 'is an enchanter' or some such? :-)

    'a port was inevitable':
    In RPGs, I wouldn't think so! :-)

    'auto-succeed'
    depending on the situation and the PC's approach in searching for clues, this should happen normally in the CoC games I've seen/played.

    'autosuccess in Esoterrorists(a perennial item on my FLGS oddly enough[along with the Metabarons :-/]) and GUMSHOE.'
    much like a uber-reliable ability that requires no roll(X-Ray Vision, say , or more appropriate: Ultimate Foensics!); I'm familiar with the concept, but of all games for it to show up in, CoC would probably be the last I'd think of! There's always the option to fail, and Nyarlathotep likes it that way!

    'the impossibility of understanding or really succeeding against the Lovecraftian menace':
    that's a group by group situation, ime.(sometimes varying by the games within that group,which keeps it interesting.)

    'I think I'm just a fan of games with Willpower/Courage/Action Points/et cetera':
    Never cared for the 'magic boosts'(Hand of Fate whatever[oftentimes the starting mechanics of PC creation give the character a boost anyhow, going all the way back to Top Secret, IIRC...]), especially in something like CoC, but I could see that as an element in a game that featured predestined heroes or at least a fore-ordained outcome, in this case being eaten by Yig. Fate points work better in an explicitly 'heroic' style game, imho...

    'ran it with nWoD':
    Yeah, I could see this one pretty easy. The Player's Handbook, Mortals 2.3 If you will, is pretty good for straight horror, and tweaking for the CoC ambience of the alien cosmos and impersonal natural(?) forces wouldn't be hard, even with the new Morality System. Hunter: The Vigil crossed my mind as a campaign base for CoC a couple of times as well...

    Unknown Armies:
    Excellent game!(I wouldn't agree on the system being better than BRP's, though...) I also find Exquisite Replicas(a more recent RPG) to have the right vibe for a Mythos-infused campaign. It's pretty disturbing in its own right, almost Kult-like in its unnerving presentation of everyday tribulations of broken individuals in a world beyond their ken, imo.

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  60. d20 CoC is an excellent game, and I have played it far more than the BRP version. Besides the chapter on GMing the Mythos (which has NOT been ported to 6th BRP edition, sadly) it also includes: modifications to run pulp adventures; a simple system of psionics; tons of campaign ideas to run scenarios in different eras; two excellent scenarios; adaptation notes to run D&D with a Lovecraftian setting.
    It's also the only working class-less d20 system, and it is flexible enough to be used for different genres. Finally, it's far more lethal than the BRP version.

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  61. The real success of ToC, I believe, is not that it changes the way players approach the game, but the way GMs approach the game. If you have a good GM, the rules don't matter. If you have a poor/timid/inexperienced GM (or a poorly-written adventure, and I'd say most CoC published adventures qualify for that rating), then things come down to "roll your Spot Hidden score." ToC doesn't just tell the GM not to do that; it takes that crutch away from him entirely and leaves him with no other RAW option than to let players succeed at basic clue-gathering tasks. As always, a good GM will use that as a tool, but a weak GM's game will be improved. It's a reflection of the tyranny of numbers: if you put a number on a character sheet or a stat block, players and GMs feel obligated to use it somehow. Take the numbers away and they'll fall back on imagination, the way RPGs were meant to be played.

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  62. I think it's unfair to blame the "clue-stopper" issues with CoC on "weak GMs". How to appropriately handle mysteries is a procedure of play that should be dealt with explicitly in the rule text. If it's not there, GMs have to learn by trial and error. Worse, if published adventures have these same failings, they become the examples by which GMs learn, and the problems get institutionalized.

    I dunno. I've seen enough discussion of this as a problem with CoC (and other games, true) that I don't think it's just some widespread but unfounded meme. There are obviously GMs out there who are not getting the guidance they need.

    I have a copy of ToC sitting on my shelf, but I have not read it yet. I do tend to agree, based on what I know, that the GUMSHOE "solution" seems strange. Viktor's guidelines above about how to handle failure seem a far better (and more generally applicable) way to deal with mysteries in RPGs, much less skill checks in general. I will reserve final judgement until I can play ToC a few times, though.

    Anyway, my complaints aside, I don't wish Chaosium ill. I used to own a copy of 4th (maybe 5th) edition of CoC, but now all I have is my original boxed set of 1st. I'd love to see the 7th edition be a product that I would want to buy: hardcover, evocative art, well-designed layout, and well-written rule text.

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  63. @Steven:
    'a poorly-written adventure, and I'd say most CoC published adventures qualify for that rating.':
    8-O. I'm not a judge on that score, honestly. I don't use or collect CoC adventures(exception being Masks, Spawn, Mountains, Shadows, etc...[which I'd modify anyhow, fwiw...) but that sounds kinda harsh. Good thing there's more fan-made content coming out these days! And an upswing in quality is always to be hoped for.

    'if you put a number on a character sheet or a stat block, players and GMs feel obligated to use it somehow.':
    I'd qualify that with 'some'. And the this notion, taken to its logical conclusion, as they say, would be little to no numbers on the sheets/stat blocks!(Personal preference, of course. YMMV and so forth.)

    'it takes that crutch away from him entirely and leaves him with no other RAW option than to let players succeed at basic clue-gathering tasks.':
    Kinda sounds like the games rules are dictating GM behavior a bit rigidly here. And using 'Spot Hidden'(or the like) incorrectly would be less a crutch than a stumbling block, imo. And ime, the players succeed at any reasonable task, clearly described, that doesn't include dangerous, random, nervewracking interference of some type or other.(I.e. Driving to the grocery store on a leisurely day with orderly traffic to get milk requires no roll, but racing to a friend's house to assist them in some mysterious task at midnight during a storm while a ghoul on the roof tries to pound its way into the driver's side roof does!) Sometimes it seems that people just wanna roll the dice for no reason, from what I've read/heard, but never actually seen in person...(Thankfully. I'd probably start fidgeting... ;-))

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  64. Long post, sorry for double!
    @Buzz:
    'I don't think it's just some widespread but unfounded meme. There are obviously GMs out there who are not getting the guidance they need.':
    Apparently so, but I just don't understand the misconceptions myself.... I never had this problem with 'clues', mystery pacing, extraneous die rolling, etc..., and I learned from the book itself years back. But obviously some people do need assistance, and 'weak GMs'(not in a pejorative sense, but simply due to misapprehensions) is a term applicable to them, I'd say, but I don't believe that they couldn't get stronger through more practice, and collaboration with other 'stronger' GMs until they themselves are up to speed!

    'learn by trial and error':
    This can work, but of course, it could lead to frustration, and eventual dismissal of the game as nothing more than a nuisance/waste of time, and unworthy of play.

    'if published adventures have these same failings, they become the examples by which GMs learn, and the problems get institutionalized.':
    Absolutely. I haven't noticed much of this 'cuz I only own the must-have mega-campaigns Chaosium put out. A valid concern, as this can lead to judging the game as written over and above as played by the fanbase.(See [A]D&D and 'tournament modules' ferinstance.) And, of course, by the published examples influence 'normative' play into something not recognizable to those who utilize the rules and free-ranging inspiration.(Leading to 'you're doing it wrong, that's stupid, etc...) Hopefully, with more communication with/between the fans, this will become less an issue in years to come.

    'based on what I know, that the GUMSHOE "solution" seems strange.':
    Seems to be one of those things that you either like, or you don't, from what I've seen. :-)

    The 7th Edition I want:
    Softcover(with hardback as option), affordable(~$25-35), split into Player/Keeper Sections if possible(a Box Set would be a good option too!), inspirational hand-drawn art(maybe some phtographs), well-organized, concise, with easily understood rules clarifications. Full-color, glossy pages, with watermarks, gilded edges, foil covers, embossing, etc... not needed(or wanted, in my case). I'd get a coupe for myself and others, for play and dis-play, as it were.(I'd like to see a similarly inspired hard/soft cover BRP book option split into Player/GM books as well.)

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  65. There is talk of a "player's handbook" version -- as in one without the GM stuff -- of the new edition being released alongside the core rules. One would assume they're going to bulk it out a bit as a player's book of fifth edition would only be about twenty pages.

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  66. Fate points work better in an explicitly 'heroic' style game, imho...

    Again, I think that's why I like the way the General Abilities work. By allowing the intent to be followed through wholly in character, they let the players make and enact stupid decisions themselves. I'm also a fan of the resource-depletion part.

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  67. The central thesis of Gumshoe and ToC is that the enjoyment of a mystery game comes not from finding a spent shell casing under the sofa but from figuring out what that spent shell casing means in terms of the mystery.
    When I say that most CoC published adventures are poorly written, I mean exactly that. Most of them have inspired concepts, lamentably executed. All too often, maps and handouts are missing, mislabeled, or illegible; timetables conflict with text; courses of action that any reasonable person would consider safe lead to deathtraps; die rolls are called for unnecessarily; penalties are stacked onto skills to the point where the odds don't justify the wear and tear on your wrist; and basic rules are applied incorrectly.
    All that being said, let me add that CoC is one of my favorite games, and I've been playing it steadily since the day it was published. It succeeds in spite of itself, largely on the strength of the GM and the willingness of the players to immerse themselves in situations. I consider ToC to be a better set of rules. So is Realms of Cthulhu from Reality Blurs. But in terms of a gaming experience, all three can deliver the goods, provided you understand their idiosyncracies.

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  68. I thought they were going to do something exciting with the seventh edition but it turns out they're just reprinting 6E with some extra bloat.

    CoC doesn't need more bloat. It needs direction and a place. By that I mean the core rules should be sleek and muscular with a distinct 20s setting; without pages of pointless spells and magic items. Bah!

    I'll be staying away from this like the plague.

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  69. @ Hogscape

    Personally I've always run CoC in the 2000s. Guess I'm just weird. I'd actually like to see a tad more support for the 1890s and "Now" settings.

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  70. @hüth:
    'By allowing the intent to be followed through wholly in character, they let the players make and enact stupid decisions themselves.':
    I'd say all good games do this, and poor ones can be modified to do so(if you'd like, that is.).

    'also a fan of the resource-depletion part':
    HP, MP and SAN are enough for me! There's also money(and related assets), ammo, food, etc... to track, so one more isn't really needed on the sheet(or in the GM's head! :-)). Plus, as I said, that extra edge, even if coming with a trade off(temporary or not) to attributes/skills/competency/life situations just doesn't feel right to me in a game like CoC where the fight against despair and doom receives no Unearthly support... YMMV, of course. Cthulutech, RoC, ToC, D20/True20 Cthulu, GURPS CthuluPunk, etc... There's a flavor for everybody, it seems, and that's good, imo.

    'the enjoyment of a mystery game comes not from finding a spent shell casing under the sofa but from figuring out what that spent shell casing means in terms of the mystery':
    Agreed. A point I recall being brought up in spirit in GURPS Horror and GURPS Cliffhangers(2nd Edition), Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes, Dream Park, etc... This, of course, does not devolve onto mechanics. Most criticisms I've seen about CoC itself seem fixated on 'blown rolls', though, and this was explicitly pitched as a(but not the only one, of course) reason Trail was developed.

    'in terms of a gaming experience, all three can deliver the goods, provided you understand their idiosyncracies.':
    I vastlyprefer BRP Cthulu to other iterations because it's easy to learn for new gamers, fast to play, and is well supported due to years of material(for Keepers who want 'official material'[and sometimes I do; I use the Secrets of... Books on occasion]). Though I am flummoxed as to why anyone would want to Savage Cthulu, as the normative play style of Savage Worlds is 'worlds'(ha ha) away from the default assumptions(Delta Green excepted, of course[though DG+SW could be a good fit for some, in retrospect...]) of CoC, I heartily welcomed its appearance as material useful to me might surface.(As well as the potential enjoyment the product may bring to players :-))


    'When I say that most CoC published adventures are poorly written, I mean exactly that.':
    Yeesh! >_< As I said earlier, I only recently bought the republished(and presumably more closely edited) Mega-Adventures, and I don't peruse reviews of adventures online(or in the RPG mags of the time[though I remember an Allen Varney Role Playing Review of Blood Brothers[?] or something Modern, which I don't use, in Dragon vaguely) nor do I solicit advice from other CoC Keepers for adventures, so I'm not familiar with the problem.(I'm now getting curious though...) I'm like that with most of the games I run, save for B/X(LL), where I have a large stock of D&D/AD&D classic modules for reading/eventual use.

    @Hogscape:
    I'd say the 'default' should be 20s with support for Now! and 1890s. With you on the Core Rules being sleek and muscular!

    @Evan:
    Nope, from what I've seen you're not 'weird' for setting CoC in the Modern Era. My local cons feature this a lot, sometimes rivalling the 20s Setting in terms of games offered.(And I've heard/read of lots more people that like it, so...)
    Seconded on more support for 1890s personally! Though I don't care for Now!(Though I own the 1987 First Edition somehow![I need to read this...])), there should more more support for a line(at least moderately selling) that Chaosium initiated at the behest of their fans.

    Thanx all!

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  71. If you walk up to Charlie Krank and politely ask about C20, he'll tell you the skinnie, including the following tidbits - WotC didn't communicate much with him or Lynn Willis during their production of the game, which didn't allow Chaosium to arrange synergies of publishing as they would like. - Once some executive at WotC made the decision not to produce any more third party material, WotC decided not to sell any more of the core book, which meant that there were pallets of things in storage for years, with no channel into the distribution system. You can't very well sell supplements for a game which doesn't have the core rules available. Charlie begged them to ship the remaining books to Chaosium to sell them, and WotC refused. - As another poster pointed out, they came out in the time period where the game was available with three supplements and a game screen. No bad for a game company with three employees and a lot of debt. - The amount of Chaosium-hate on Yog-Sothoth and RPG.net continues to astonish me, so I would prefer not to see it propagated here without challenge.

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  72. Wow. A lot of discussion about something that's really cut and dried as far as I'm concerned. I've played Coc since it's first incarnation. The changes from edition to edition are negligible. They are mostly in character creation - gameplay hasn't changed much at all. That's because it hasn't needed to. Sandy Petersen et al got it right the first time. For me CoC has the right level of rule complexity to model most RPG experiences I want to throw at players. I use CoC level BRP for gaming just about any genre.

    But I completely see Chaosium's need to do a new edition. They have to have something new to sell. A shiny new book is the perfect time for new player to come on board.

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  73. The amount of Chaosium-hate on Yog-Sothoth and RPG.net continues to astonish me

    I'm a bit baffled by it myself. Chaosium is probably one of the most innocuous RPG companies out there. They hardly seem worthy of such vitriol.

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  74. Captain Jack said "Sandy Petersen et al got it right the first time. For me CoC has the right level of rule complexity to model most RPG experiences I want to throw at players. I use CoC level BRP for gaming just about any genre."

    I completely agree. I love BRP for when I want to have a more complex experience and T&T for when I want something lighter. BRP satisfies almost all my needs. As for some of the criticisms brought up above, they've never been enough to force me to another system.

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