Following my post about new Horror Games I thought it might be appropriate to post about the Call of Cthulhu renaissance that seems to be underway. I’ve previously posted about both how I enjoy Call of Cthulhu, but also about how it has many old-school elements, which if played as written, are likely to create a less than optimal experience for many players.
What is clear is that there is an enduring fan-base who enjoy playing
the game and will support it despite some of these drawbacks. I have
personally been surprised at the consistent number of downloads of my free Call
of Cthulhu scenario Sundown set in the Old West (it has been downloaded around
600 times via DriveThruRPG over the last 2 years – not bad considering Sundown is
also available for free on the Chaosium website).
2013 has seen a number of interesting developments. Firstly, the
licensed Call of Cthulhu products have continued in leaps and bounds – with
products like “Tales of the Sleepless City” from Miskatonic River Press,
“Island of Ignorance” from Golden Goblin press and the previously mentioned
World War Cthulhu: The Darkest Hour and Achtung! Cthulhu having maintained a high standard of quality.
In addition, Chaosium have been pretty active, with a number of new Call
of Cthulhu releases including scenario collection “House of R’yleh”,
stand-alone scenario “Canis Mysterium” and new setting and scenario
collection “Atomic Age Cthulhu”.
The excellent analysis via Yog-Sothoth provided by Dean (from Adelaide) shows that the
number of scenarios for Call of Cthulhu published in books has jumped markedly
in 2013, reaching a point near the high-water mark of the 1990’s.
you then consider the picture for 2014, with the release of the very successful
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Kickstarter, and the refresh of the epic Horror on the Orient Express campaign, as well as the new Cthulhu Britannica: London (which is
currently funded and on track to deliver and old-style premium box set), it
seems that the stars may finally be right for Call of Cthulhu to enjoy an
upsurge in popularity.
More kickstarters have been hinted at, refreshing
other old campaigns, Pulp Cthulhu might allow a more heroic style of play,
drawing in those turned-off by the purist character path (a downward spiral
into insanity), and the new edition should make the game more accessible to
It will be interesting to see
if these new products actually result in a spread of Call of Cthulhu,
introducing new players to the game, or if they actually reflect publishers
finding more effective methods of tapping into the existing
fan-base, and leveraging an aging gaming community who now have more disposable
income which they are willing to spend on direct sales.
When I look at my
local gaming community, there is not a single Call of Cthulhu scenario
currently offered in the major local gaming convention in January, nor was
there a Call of Cthulhu offering at the Horror Convention in
October. Perhaps this will change over time, and perhaps more
gamers will be inspired to pull a Call of Cthulhu scenario off the shelf in
2014, and give it a try… or perhaps contemporary gamers expect more than a mere
makeover of such a traditional game to fire their imagination and Call of Cthulhu
is still dreaming in the dark?