Masks of Nyarlathotep – A Rich History

Initially published in 1984 by Chaosium for the second edition of Call of Cthulhu, this masterpiece campaign was the work of Larry DiTillio and Lynn Willis. DiTillio was a television and movie screenwriter, contributing to pop-cultural products, such as He-Man (17 episodes), She-Ra (18 episodes), and The Real Ghostbusters cartoons, as well as a sci-fi television classic, Babylon 5, among many others. On hiatus from screenwriting, Larry was busy producing role-playing material for various game companies in 1984. His inspiration for Masks of Nyarlathotep (MoN) came from a biography of Jomo Kenyatta he wrote for the television show Against the Odds, and exploded out of a single scenario he created, “The Carlyle Expedition.” Rather than simply tracking Carlyle’s

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The Occult Skill in Call of Cthulhu – Useless or Utility?

The Lovecraftian world contains many dark secrets and mysteries, and the Occult skill tempts many Call of Cthulhu players hoping to unlock knowledge through this skill. According to the 7th edition rulebook: A knowledgeable Investigator can recognize occult paraphernalia, words, and concepts, as well as folk traditions, which may encompass supernatural beings, such as werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and demons. In addition, a skilled occultist will be familiar with secret knowledge originating from ancient civilizations, including Egypt, Sumer, as well as those centered in Asia and Africa. They will also be able to identify occult traditions and texts from the Medieval and Renaissance periods.  Such an Investigator expects to bring a wealth of insight to mysteries

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Roleplaying in Call of Cthulhu Campaigns

Call of Cthulhu adventure campaigns can differ from other styles of play within the setting, notably one-shots or a campaign composed of multiple modules linked together. From our standpoint, adventure campaigns can shift the heavily story-centered focus to include more character-propelled narratives. The classic Call of Cthulhu adventure campaigns, most notably Masks of Nyarlathotep, but also Horror on the Orient Express and Beyond the Mountains of Madness, provide a longer format in which the players can become attached to their character. The Pulp Cthulhu ruleset now allows the replacement of squishy Investigators with durable, robust Heroes further lengthening character longevity. This allows players to potentially enjoy roleplaying a Call of Cthulhu character for an extended

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Mythos Corruption – Optional Rules

Call of Cthulhu encourages many different styles of play and formats, such as one-shot survival horror, short and deadly investigative modules, and long-form heroic campaigns to name just a few. The alternative Mythos Corruption framework we have presented may not mesh well with every game, but we would like to present some optional rules that could facilitate its incorporation at your table.  Modified Mythos Resistance (Sanity) Costs You may wish to compensate for the fact that your Investigators no longer suffer losses related to Mundane Horror by making a simple cost adjustment. Every check will result in the loss of at least one point of Mythos Resistance (Sanity). That means your Investigators will always experience

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Getting Started in Call of Cthulhu – New Player Tips

You will find a wealth of information out there on the Internet about getting started in tabletop roleplaying games. Unfortunately for new players, the majority of this material focuses on running games with tons of articles and advice for Keepers and Dungeon Masters. Most new players will be instructed not to sweat it, just show up and play the game. Don’t bring expectations to the table. Learn as you go and don’t overthink it. We believe all this advice will be invaluable to you, but we also understand that it helps to be armed with some more useful background intelligence before jumping into something new. Nobody likes to show up and appear clueless, particularly when

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Vulnerability & Mundane Horror

In our current Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign, we have introduced Mythos Corruption as an alternative framework to the classic Call of Cthulhu Sanity mechanic. This modification to the existing 7th edition rules provides a slightly different means for tracking the effects of Mythos and mundane horror. By shifting the emphasis from deteriorating sanity to progressive cognitive corruption by incomprehensible forces, we have altered the effects of mundane horrors on our Investigators. Instead of the banal disturbances and terrors of our mortal world working in tandem with the Mythos to chip away at an Investigator’s mental health, these events lead to vulnerability and weaken a character’s resistance to the effects of Mythos exposure. In developing this simple

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Mythos Corruption, an alternative to Insanity

  The Sanity mechanic dates back to the original version of Call of Cthulhu from 1981 and has remained a fundamental aspect of the setting providing Keepers and players a means to convey and roleplay the effects of horror in the game. Many other game systems have incorporated, adapted, or been inspired by this concept. Throughout our MoN campaign, we have been challenged to reframe the “Sanity” mechanic to more convincingly reflect its role in both the campaign and the broader Mythos world.  Part of the impetus arose from recurrent concerns about the depiction of mental illness and insanity portrayed by both the players and the NPCs.  Our playgroup consists of health care providers with

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Call of Cthulhu – What am I Getting Myself Into?

You may be asking yourself, how did I find myself on this strange website reading about some crawling, Egyptian-sounding thingy that seems hellbent on wrecking the earth? Maybe somebody in your gaming group has attempted to recruit you for this crazy Call of Cthulhu (CoC) campaign. Perhaps you’ve heard good things about the system, setting or campaign, and wanted to learn more about it. Or maybe you just clicked on a very wrong link somewhere along the way. No matter, we happily welcome you here to our dark little corner of the world. We would like to offer you some brief introductory comments and references to elucidate just what it is you may be getting yourself

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MoN Chapter Inspo – Peru

If you’re planning to run the Peru prologue, consider investing a little time familiarizing yourself with famed explorer Hiram Bingham, who “discovered” (or, rather, made public) Machu Picchu in 1911. The 1954 film, Secret of the Incas, drew from Bingham’s exploits and was filmed in Cuzco and Machu Picchu. This Paramount production stirred interest in South American tourism and is often cited as direct inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s got some fantastic pulp features. Indy’s franchise decided to return its roots in 2008 with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It may not be the best film in the pantheon, but it does feature Peru and high pulp content. 

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Introducing Our Investigators

As these player characters will be the first to make frequent appearances throughout our writings here, as well as our campaign narrative, we would like to take a moment to provide you with a brief introduction to them with linked character sheet PDFs should you wish to plunder them for ideas or backup characters.  John Edgar Sloane , dilettante: As a teenager, he lost his wealthy parents in the sinking of the Titanic. Went on to become a star football player at Yale before serving in the Great War. Now 26 years old and haunted by his childhood and trench experiences, John continues to live fully in the dark alleys of North Africa and brothels

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