Seasoned gamer looking to finally try out Call of Cthulhu? Played a couple scenarios and want to try running adventures yourself? Trying to decide on the highest yield products to bring this classic investigative-horror game to your table? Ready to jump feet first into Masks of Nyarlathotep as a first-time Keeper? The gaming community provides a wealth of answers to these questions, and we want to briefly weigh-in, in and offer our personal suggestions we provide to folks we run games for at conventions, who ask “what should I buy now?”
First, you don’t have to buy anything to play some outstanding Call of Cthulhu modules. Our first two recommendations are the Quickstart Rules and The Lightless Beacon. Depending on your interest and comfort, you can optionally run through the free solo adventure, Alone Against the Flames, to familiarize yourself with rules before Keeping. The Quickstart rules contain everything you need to run a game for your group and the revamped classic scenario, The Haunting. Personally, we initially bypass The Haunting, first published in 1981, and recommend The Lightless Beacon as an introduction for a first-time group. The Lightless Beacon, released in 2019, provides a nice geographically constrained blend of action and investigation with a potentially cinematic climax, as well as perfectly tailored pre-generated characters.
The Quickstart rules do not provide rules for character generation, and if your players wish to create their own investigators, send them to The Dhole’s House. This indispensable website will guide them through the process without requiring references to any additional rule books, and generate a modifiable PDF for ongoing use. This is great if you’re planning on running The Haunting first (or next).
If you wish to enjoy more free content before moving on to your first purchase, Chaosium also offers up another free scenario The Dead Boarder. For experienced GMs looking to jump straight into the complete ruleset and scenario creation, we recommend purchasing the Keeper Rulebook, which contains two solid scenarios; however, nobody goes wrong in grabbing the Starter Set, which contains three classic scenarios updated for the latest edition (our favorite is Edge of Darkness), plus the already free Alone Against the Flames. And dice! All that said, the real value for your money is found in the Keeper’s Screen.
The Keeper’s Screen pack contains two of the 7th edition’s most outstanding scenarios, Blackwater Creek and Missed Dues, as well as pre-generated characters and some great maps of Lovecraft’s Arkham and global Mythos geography. The screen itself provides high-yield content for new and seasoned Keepers, alike. Between the free scenarios and these three products, a new Keeper has nine scenarios at their disposal.
If looking for additional scenarios, we point new Keepers toward Doors to Darkness and Mansions of Madness, which each contain five adventures. Gateways to Terror is another solid book of shorter scenarios, but one of its three scenarios is the already free Dead Boarder. That said, if you liked The Lightless Beacon, then you might want to check out The Necropolis in Gateways, also written by Leigh Carr (not to mention Prospero House contributor, Jon Hook).
This is just scratching the surface of the abyss. Chaosium and its licensees offer a range of sourcebooks, campaigns, and settings tailored to your interests with a release line-up packed with even more ghoulish goodies. We intend to return to these topics regularly, but we’ll just go ahead and spoil it for you…Masks of Nyarlathotep is our favorite campaign, and will remain so until “we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age (HPL).”