Updated Investigators for The Lightless Beacon

The Lightless Beacon is one of my favourite Call of Cthulhu scenarios, especially as a one-shot for new players. The investigators are dropped straight into a mystery ‘in medias res’ with none of the usual frontloading. 

My only issue is that one of the pre-generated investigators has a tendency to overshadow the others. After comparing investigator characteristics and skills with those in the scenario it’s apparent why, so I’ve created investigators with more balance.

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Pulp Archetypes by Occupation

On page 15 of the Pulp Cthulhu rulebook there’s an optional rule allowing players to select an occupation before they pick an archetype.

My players seem to prefer this method but it can cause a lot of scanning back and forth through the rulebook trying to list which archetypes are then available.

Here’s a list of Pulp Cthulhu archetypes by occupation to save your players some time. I hope it proves useful!

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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.

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The Devil and the Drum

I’m very happy to announce the publication of The Devil and the Drum, a scenario for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. I’d like to thank all of my play-testers, especially my family and the folks at Grogmeet November 2022.

This scenario is set in Devon, 1946. The investigators are National Trust volunteers asked to survey an old ruined abbey. Events unfold amidst an unnatural storm wreaking havoc across the United Kingdom.

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Default Skill Characteristics in Call of Cthulhu

I like the skill-based system in Call of Cthulhu, but I’ve always thought that characteristics are somewhat underutilised, so I’ve decided to add the following house rule to my game…

A player may suggest the use of a characteristic instead of a skill roll to increase their chance of success, attempting the roll at one level higher difficulty: Normal requires a Hard Success, Hard an Exceptional Success, and Exceptional a Critical. The Keeper must deem the suggested characteristic appropriate: such as DEX for Throw or CON for Swim.

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New Luck Spends for Pulp Cthulhu

I love the Luck rules in Call of Cthulhu, and especially those in the Pulp rules. Here are three new Luck Spends and a modification to an existing rule. Feel free to use these (or not) in your own games!

“Keep Calm and Carry On!”

Cost: 20 Luck

A player may spend 20 Luck points to avoid the effects of Temporary or Indefinite Insanity. A subsequent loss of 1 or more points of Sanity will trigger insanity as normal.

Alternative names: “Oh dear. How sad. Never mind…” or “Always looks on the bright side of life! [sung]” or “Everything is AWESOME!” or “Hakuna Matata! [also sung]”

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Call of Cthulhu Road Tiles

I’ve been running a Pulp Cthulhu campaign set in 1929 Chicago. The investigators have been running around the city, jumping in and out of taxis, on and off the “L”. They’ve had a few run-ins with the Mob and I know it’s only a matter of time before there’s a car chase.

Taking Mr Skorkowsky’s advice I bought some Models of Yesteryear cars and then I decided to create some road tiles using Inkarnate that I could drop onto the table. I’m planning on using these with the Chase rules in the Keeper’s Rulebook (p.130ff).

Here are the results. Feel free to download and print for your own game. And let me know if you have any ideas for more obstacles. So far I have wandering sheep in a rural setting and scattered crates in a city. The rulebook mentions two guys carrying a pane of glass–a classic!–there must be more.

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Call of Cthulhu Name Card

I often lose track of who’s who around the table, especially at convention games when I’m meeting players for the first time.

Here’s a game aid I created for Call of Cthulhu: a name card which can be placed on the table in front of each player. Print it out and cut the edges as marked. Players can add their name, their investigator’s name, and any preferred pronoun for themselves and/or their investigator.

I’ll include a couple of links at the end of this blog post to download a couple of different versions, one with a QR code to the Cult of Chaos code of conduct page. Feel free to download and print whichever one you want to use.

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Weird Science Gadget: Sleeve Gun

Here’s another Weird Science Gadget for Pulp Cthulhu (p.86ff, Pulp Cthulhu rulebook). Scroll down for a PDF to download and print.

The Sleeve Gun is a concealed, spring-loaded weapon which extends a small firearm from a specially designed bracer worn around the wrist. This device can be used to quick draw a firearm.

During combat, an attacker with a Sleeve Gun may draw their hidden firearm and attack without needing to have their weapon “readied” to gain +50 DEX when determining position in the DEX order for combat (as per the Quick Draw Talent, p.25 Pulp Cthulhu rulebook). A Sleeve Gun is typically used with a .22 Short Automatic or .22 Derringer (causing 1D6 damage, p.402 Keeper Rulebook or p.251 Investigator Rulebook).

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Call of Cthulhu Prop: Fortune Cookie

I love handouts in Call of Cthulhu: old photographs, diary entries, half-burned letters, telegrams or business cards. I enjoy making my own if a scenario doesn’t come suitably equipped.

I’m also a fan of physical props. I recently ran a scenario set in my 1929 Chicago campaign where my investigators were following clues around town, eventually leading to a Chinatown opium den.

One of my investigators has a dog called Highball with the Scent Something Interesting skill. During the scenario Highball sniffed out a fortune cookie kicked beneath a bookshelf. I handed over a fortune cookie to my players, which they broke open, discovering the address of a Chicago Chinatown restaurant hidden inside.

My players loved it! But they wanted to know how I’d managed to pull off this magic trick from here in the UK. Here’s how…

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