Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Pulp Cthulhu

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Pulp Cthulhu – where has this thing been all my life?

51w9H3aTqiL._AC_UL320_SR244,320_Now, the answer is simple – it was in a folder filled with notes on my gaming table, sitting underneath my copy of Call of Cthulhu, 3th edition.
Meaning, we always played Call of Cthulhu as a pulp game.
I played with other keepers, that were more “lovecraftian”, or maybe just more depressed, or more sadistic – in the end, adventures lost their meaning as character after character died horribly and in the end nothing hung together anymore.

Boring.

Our games were quite pulpy – not the “Shoot at Cthulhu as he fondles Lady Liberty” sort of pulpy, like this game’s cover, but pulpy enough.
I appreciate the occasional heroics – and indeed, the idea of doing something heroic when faced with the Greath Indifferent that is the Lovecraftian Mythos, did make a modicum of sense.
We can’t win, but what the heck, we can put up a damn fine show.

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I received a copy of the Pulp Cthulhu PDF as a gift, and I’ve been browsing it.
The following is therefore an opinion based on a quick read and not on any playing experience.
You’ve been warned.

The game runs as an add-on for the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, but really, it’s not like you can’t adapt it to any previous handbook – or even go for a Total System Transplant and run it on Savage Worlds, or Hollow Earth Expeditions, or Adventure! or any other pulp-oriented gaming engine you like – you’ll need the lovecraftian monsters, the Mythos tomes and the spells, but that can be arranged1.

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What’s so different from the original, plain vanilla Call of Cthulhu?
From what I’ve seen so far, you play tougher characters, with a few extra perks – most of the archetypes are based on pulp fiction cliches instead of Lovecraftian cliches.
Fewer dusty professors and more two-fisted adventurers.
In this, Pulp Cthulhu really feels like my old games – house-rules and all. And that’s not a bad thing, at my table.

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Books get read and spells learned faster, and mishaps can be more spectacular than the usual “your brain drips out of your nose.”
There’s a Weird Science annex that includes a jet pack and an Elder Sign Bullet my players should have patented in 1993.
There’s a fine timeline and all the expected perks.

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The book comes with a nice first chapter about the pulps, and an even nicer chapter about running pulp games.
THS_Front_Cover_for_web__37568.1486510208.500.659You don’t get Mythos critters (that’s why you need the standard handbook – for critters, books and spells) but you get a T Rex, so I guess everything’s fine.
A few scenarios round-up the book, that is a fine digital addition to my pulp games shelf.
It would be nice to try this baby with the old Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign, of which a new version is about to hit us, featuring more locations, more horror, more opportunities for mischief.

And there’s also a new campaign, called The Two-Headed Serpent I’ve been eyeing recently, that – judging the book by its cover – promises to be quite fun.
Now if only I could pull my old team together…


  1. I’d throw in Realms of Cthulhu for Savage Worlds and go with it. 
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Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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