In 1981 a profane tome of Eldritch Horror was released upon the world and the minds of the sane were never the same again. That book was The Call of Cthulhu RPG published by Chaosium. Since its release there have been 18 editions published to date. The game makes use of the BRP (Basic Role-playing System) with special rules for Sanity.
Originally The Call of Cthulhu was going to be a very different game. Chaosium commissioned a game known as Dark Worlds which was never published. Sandy Peterson contacted Chaosium to write a supplement to their popular fantasy game RuneQuest, set in H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. He then took over writing the Call of Cthulhu and in 1981 the game was released using a version of the Basic Role-playing system used in RuneQuest
The game has won several major awards since it was first published in 1981:
1982: Origins Awards – Best Role Playing Game
1981: Game Designer’s Guild – Select Award
1985: Games Day Award – Best Role Playing Game
1986: Games Day Award – Best Contemporary Role Playing Game
1987: Games Day Award – Best Other Role Playing Game
1993: Leeds Wargame Club – Best Role Playing Game
1994: Gamer’s Choice Award – Hall of Fame
1995: Origins Award – Hall of Fame
2001: Origins Award – Best Graphic Presentation of a Book Product (for Call of Cthulhu 20th anniversary edition)
2003: GamingReport.com. Readers voted it as the number-one Gothic/Horror RPG
The Call of Cthulhu is one of the few RPG’s that have survived the 80’s – a feat that on its own should make it legendary. For those who don’t know – in the 80’s there was only one role-playing game for most people and due to its success, it killed off a few smaller upstart RPG’s. That game was Dungeons and Dragons, another great RPG in its own right. The Call of Cthulhu brought something special to the table that wasn’t really there: The Onion Skin.
The Call of Cthulhu brings interlocking layers of information and clues that would lead the players from investigating minor things, a friend disappearing, global conspiracies that were bent on destroying the world to having the veil of reality removed and seeing what was really there hiding in the shadows of the world.
Although sounding quite dark, the game does have some light hearted and funny moments. There are moments when the players have an idea and it generally doesn’t work out quite as well as they planned. Here are some of our favourites:
From the Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep comes one of my favourite stories of players shaping the world around their characters. One of the players played a Big Game Hunter and he walked into a house filled with cultists who are trying to find and pursue the players. As he walks into the house he very loudly exclaims: “Greetings Chaps, any cultists around?”. As to be expected this sets off a chain reaction which ends with the player fleeing the house in a car with a Hunting Horror (imagine a giant flying snake crossed with a Chinese dragon) chasing after them. The player character who caused the mess is shouting at his fellow players to stop the car: “I want to put that thing on my wall!”.
In 2015 the 7th edition of The Call of Cthulhu was released. It was originally funded on Kickstarter as Chaosium originally needed $40 000 to make the new rulebook of The Call of Cthulhu. Eventually they raised over $500 000 to make the new edition of The Call of Cthulhu. This shows that support and love for the game is still going strong to this day.