The Chaosium Digest

The Chaosium Digest supports the role-playing games produced by Chaosium Inc. and all content is fan submitted. Begun in 1994 by Shannon Appelcline who passed it to myself in 2000 and previously distributed via email, this is the newest incarnation of the Chaosium Digest. Enjoy!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Post GenCon Report and Cthulhu Live 3rd ed.

Greetings fellow cultists!

The Great Old Ones were well represented at GenCon Indianapolis this year. Chaosium was present with a good selection of their fine products. Wiz-Kids new HorrorClix game premiered featuring a giant Great Cthulhu figure and some other regular sized Lovecraftian figs like the Avatar of Cthulhu and the Deep One. At $85, the Cthulhu fig was a bit out of my price range. RuneQuest returned via the fine folks at Mongoose Games. Midnight Syndicate had a new CD of creepy tunes and Skirmisher Publishing presented Cthulhu Live 3rd edition. Additionally, Skirmisher, Midnight Syndicate and Mantra Design Studio were running a joint contest were one had to decode a runic message via a key provided, turn in the completed entry and be present at the drawing on Saturday to win. The prizes were a one of a kind Cthulhu statue done in the style of the one described in Lovecraft's The Call of Cthulhu, an Investigator's Pack from Skirmisher including all the Cthulhu Live 2nd ed. books and the 3rd ed. book and CD, and lastly Midnight Sydicate's 13th Hour CD. As it turned out, most entrants forgot the "must be present to win" clause. Only the first name drawn was present and it happened to belong to my wife! Offered her choice of the three prizes, she chose the statue of Cthulhu. After the next few names proved to be no-shows and as there were only four others there for the drawing, a few dice rolls granted my former college room-mate the Investigator's Pack and I became the proud owner of The 13th Hour, which is playing as I type this. Combined with finding some great deals on Ars Magica's 4th ed. books from Atlas Games, Fantasy Flight's Fireborn, Green Ronin's Blue Rose, and the late Guardians of Order's BESM, Ex Machina and Dreaming Cities as well as discovering the new to English and absolutely beautiful Qin: the Warring States from France's 7Cercle, seeing some cool costumes and playing in a couple of really fun games I had a great time at Gen Con this year and eagerly look forward to next year. On to a review of Cthulhu Live 3rd edition.

Cthulhu Live 3rd. ed. is still the work of Robert "Mac" McLaughlin, this time assisted by the Skirmisher Game Development Group. The main book combines the full rules, character creation including Edges and Flaws, Magic, a revised and faster Sanity system, rules for Outsiders which were formerly known as Revenants in the 2nd ed. Companion, and rules for psychics along with some great stagecraft and propmaking advice. Lacking from the book are scenarios but that was made up for by the Cthulhu Live Accessory CDROM which was free with a pre-order or purchase at the con and will be available for purchase separately from Skirmisher.

CL3 adds skill levels to characters. Ranking from 1 to 5, a character's skill level serves as a multiplier to their appropriate attribute, usually EDUcation or DEXterity. As attributes rate from 1 to 20, multiplying by a skill level produces a 1-100 scale which allows easier comparison with and adaptation of Call of Cthulhu table-top rules and scenarios. Combat is back to a slow motion artificial time, similar to but more efficient than that presented in the main CL2 book. Speeding the process is the revised damage system where all attacks do a base damage from 1 for an unarmed attack to 6 for a sub-machine gun. Added to this base is the attackers appropriate skill level. Just mark weapon props with a label noting their base damage and any character can use any weapon but those with skill become quite deadly, at least against mortals. As cool as all that is though, the greatest refinement comes in the Sanity rules. No more do players and/or Keepers have to track a Sanity number. Now Sanity ranks are labeled as Sane, Shaky, Spooked, Scared, Screaming and Stark Raving Mad. Each character has a Shade of Terror on a scale of (lowest to highest) Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange and Red just like Homeland Security's Terror Alert scale. Monsters, Mythos tomes and such are marked with the appropriate color via ribbons or similar methods and Sanity tests are announced by color. If the color is at or above your Shade of Terror, your character suffers a bout of sanity bending fear and drops a step down the sanity scale, the descriptive levels of which cue the player in on how to role-play their mental degradation. It's fast and easy and by far the best revision for the game. At 208 pages of the same over-sized softcover format as 2nd edition and a price of only $19.95, Cthulhu Live 3rd edition is a bargain for anyone interested in horror LARPing.

Until next time, keep your Elder Signs handy!

1 Comments:

Anonymous MantraDS said...

Hey,

Thanks for the Review!

Hopefully you enjoy this product.
Support for the CDROM can be found on our website, if needed :D

7:24 PM  

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