Cthulhu Live – System Mastery 92

It’s a game for only the dapperest of beardsmen on today’s System Mastery.  We’re talking Cthulhu Live, a game of rapidly going insane while extras cavort about in the background.

7 responses to “Cthulhu Live – System Mastery 92

  1. Ugh, most people just don’t get call of Cthulu. The sanity system is *not* about the PCs slowly going insane. Yes, you can *absolutely* gain more sanity at the end than you lost in the session. You can also turn take measures to regain sanity between sessions or miss a session in order to gain even more sanity. (A mechanic I know you two are not fond of). A character who runs around gunning down innocents and laughing maniacally while doing it will likely be on a slow (or not so slow) path to insanity. And that can be part of the fun for some players. But a character who behaves ethically and responsibly will stay sane for a long time – but at the risk of dying faster.

    The sanity mechanic is meant to keep “surviving” from being the only goal on the players’ mind. It creates a conflict between the short time goal of survival and the long time goal of staying sane, evoking questions like: Can this plot be solved without killing people? Do we put our own safety above the safety of the people we are supposed to rescue? Will this person kill me if I don’t shoot first or is the risk of trying to talk him out of it worth it?

    Thing is most GMs just don’t get that and refuse to let players gain sanity or gain more sanity than they lost. This goes against the true purpose of the mechanic. Seems like the creators of Cthulu Live don’t get it either.

    • “Yes, you can *absolutely* gain more sanity at the end than you lost in the session.”

      I don’t know about the tabletop version, but according to what they said, that’s not how the rules for this version of the game work as per the game writers’ own rules. It’s not a matter of not understanding it. They’re reacting to the rules as written.

    • I’ve never heard that theory anywhere before – that sanity was like an alternative to alignment for encouraging good role-playing, and was expected to heal naturally over time – but it certainly sounds preferable to it merely being an inevitable countdown to a sad ending. Honestly, it doesn’t even sound like a terrible mechanic, when you put it that way.

      The question remains as to why I’ve never heard that argument before, though. Did they just not do a good job of explaining it in the rulebook?

    • Really, the Sanity as “brain hit points” thing is how everyone thinks Sanity works before before playing Call of Cthulhu. Learning that it isn’t is step one in actually enjoying CoC’s mechanics. Maybe they just made the LARP version that way to bring in people who are interested in the mythos, but not the role playing game? It’s probably a lot easier to think of Sanity that way than the really cool volatile ability score thing the tabletop game has going for it.

      • Hit Points work, because they’re easy to understand and manipulate. A lot of games fail when they try to make HP less abstract. You could convince me that Sanity as HP works as a game mechanic, because I know how well HP work in other games, but it would be an uphill battle to try and sell Sanity as a volatile ability score thing.

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