East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Pulp Cthulhu

Leave a comment

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 

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.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s