Archetype Development in Pulp Cthulhu

Here’s a new house rule I’m adding to my Pulp Cthulhu games. It’s a riff on a similar rule in a Cubicle 7 publication, but I can’t say which one to avoid spoilers for my players!

Archetypes in Pulp Cthulhu seem somewhat forgotten beyond character generation. What’s to stop a Sidekick going Cold Blooded? Or an Outsider acting like a Bon Vivant?

This new house rule should encourage heroes to keep roleplaying the traits associated with their archetype, with a few bonus skill points awarded after each scenario as an incentive.

During the Hero Development Phase, at the end of a scenario or a campaign chapter (Pulp Cthulhu, p.69/70), after players have rolled for experience checks, a Keeper may award the following if a hero’s behaviour has exemplified that of their Archetype:

  • +1D6 points to ONE of the listed Archetype skills for their hero, chosen by the player

A skill can be increased above 100% in this way (Pulp Cthulhu, p.60).

This bonus should not be awarded if a hero deliberately behaved in a way atypical for their archetype: a Sidekick abandoned another hero, a Grease Monkey ignored some interesting new technology. This bonus should also not be awarded if a hero used their archetype as an excuse to behave like a douchebag towards another hero: a Femme Fatale must find someone else to double-cross!

Players should be encouraged to re-read the description of their Archetype and make note of the suggested traits.


Betty Carter is a Pulp Hero, a Seeker, and a Private Investigator. Seekers like puzzles, using their brains to solve problems, always in search of the truth no matter what the cost.

Betty’s player gets into her archetype as a Seeker, pouring over handouts, encouraging the other heroes to investigate the mystery, roleplaying Betty as a relentless nosey parker.

At the end of the scenario the Keeper awards Betty with +1D6 points in a skill of her choice from those listed for a Seeker (Pulp Cthulhu, p.21): Accounting, Appraise, Disguise, History, Law, Library Use, Listen, Occult, Psychology, Science (any), Spot Hidden or Stealth. Betty picks Spot Hidden, currently at 99%, and about to go to 100% or more!

This rule is going to make Pulp Heroes even more heroic as a campaign proceeds. It’s more suitable for games with a mid to high “Pulp-o-Meter” rating (Pulp Cthulhu, p.7/8).

This house rule feels similar to ‘classes’ in other games, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It gives a little autonomy back to players allowing them some agency over the development of their hero’s skills. I think it should also help to maintain interest as skills begin to ‘max out’ in the 90s. It could also explain the mention of ‘skills over 100%’ in the Pulp Cthulhu rulebook (p.60), which seems otherwise unlikely.

This house rule is untested, as yet. Have fun!

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