Thursday, December 04, 2008

Deep Ones & Dynamite

Every once in a while some of my favorite people on the internets complain about all the people ruining the Call of Cthulhu scene. It's been a while since I ran CoC, but it will always have a special place in my heart. One of my earliest successful (at least by some standards) campaigns was a CoC outing that ended when Gopher's big game hunter used the Mi-Go freeze ray on Tsathogghua's warpdrive, which brought down the whole engine room of the toad-gog's spaceship. Dave's professor escaped, but I think he drowned in a river shortly thereafter. Anyway, what my online pals (and others) claim is that CoC fandom is infested with a bunch of people who think that Call of Cthulhu should be run light on combat and heavy on all that crap that "ROLE players not ROLL players" seem to love.

Now I will readily admit that in some ways I am a provincial yokel. Nearly every game table I've ever sat down at has been in central Illinois. So I don't expect that my experiences with RPG fandom are going to line up with those in Prussia or Uruguay. But I think it is somewhat interesting to note that having run more CoC con games than I can readily remember, I don't once recall encountering someone who bristled at the way I run Call of Cthulhu. And how do I run it? With automatic gunfire and explosions. Flipping through my 3rd edition Keeper's Book, I am reminded how many monsters can be killed with tommy guns and/or dynamite. And I generally allowed my players such equipment, though the smarter players opted for shotguns if their PC wasn't a gunbunny.

My normal con experience would go something like this:

1) I hand out some character sheets.
2) The players celebrate "My mobbed up hit man has a tommy gun and a switchblade and the skills to use them? Sweet!" or "My professor knows three spells and one of them is actually useful! Yippee!"
3) We spend an hour or two carefully investigating the lurking menace followed by a similar amount of time blasting the holy hell out of cultists, Deep Ones, ghouls, werewolves, Tully's monsters, mummies, little old ladies, IRS officials, zombies, etc.
4) Cthulhu, Azathoth, or Dracula shows up and everybody dies.
5) Players go home happy.

In short, Call of Cthulhu ain't deep and it ain't rocket science. The fact that I can run it successfully when lots of other games elude me pretty much proves that point. The only thing baffling me is that out there one can apparently find people who play CoC for the nuance and subtlety. Personally, I find CoC about as nuanced and subtle as rolled up back issue of Power Man & Iron Fist whacking you in the nose.