Cthulhu RPG Question

I ran a Chaosium Cthulhu game in high school, and I’m trying to track it down, but I can’t figure out which published module/campaign it was. I don’t remember much beyond the fact that it was awesome, but I do recall the first act was set somewhere in New England, and a key part of the investigation was trying to figure out the use of a cultist chamber with some strange apparatus in it. The main feature of this room was a round table with holes cut in it; live monkeys were placed under the table with the top of their heads sticking through the holes, and the cultists would – well, you know the rest.

I’m not misremembering Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom here. It was definitely a Chaosium product. I know it’s not much to go on, but does this ring a bell for anyone?

It doesn’t sound familiar but you could always ask here - http://www.yog-sothoth.com/

Doesn’t ring a bell. Maybe try asking someone at Chaosium?

On a vaguely related note, does anyone know anything about the new Cthulhu RPG, Trail of Cthulhu? It’s been getting good word of mouth from some people I respece (James Wallis), but details are scarce. It’s using the Gumshoe system, a system apparently designed specifically to run investigation/mystery scenarios, but just what the strengths of this system are they seem to be keeping vague. Apparently, the designer (Robin Laws, with ken Hite) were keeping a blog about the system as they were developing it, but that has since been rolled into a for-sale .pdf product. So does anyone know anything about it?

As for the module, sorry, no idea, Jason.

Thanks to Jay for the tip. I knew about that site but had forgotten it. Turns out it was Spawn of Azathoth, and I just Ebayed the 1986 boxed edition (there’s a single-volume reprint whose cover art successfully discouraged me from a purchase). The campaign totally freaked out my friends in high school, and I’ve been wanting to try it out on my students, most of whom know Lovecraft but have never played CoC before.

Don’t know anything about the new system, but I’d be curious to check it out.

I never got to that one, but I enjoyed running the “Masks of Nyarlathotep” boxed module a couple of times back in the 80s. I loved how it came with all the cut out clues like a matchbook, newspaper clippings, etc.

I made all my own in my last campaign. Hand written insane letters, diary entries, etc etc. Pretty fun stuff and it really helped build the atmosphere for players. Especially when they were toying with the props and holding them up, eg, to look through a glass sphere SANITY CHECK BITCHES!

Yeah, I’m thinking about doing that too, since desktop design has come such a long way since 1986 and I could rework all of the clues to look better. Plus, it makes a huge difference when the players are handed something that’s obviously not photocopied out of a published book. I think I’ll try to resist the temptation, though, since I have more constructive things I should be doing with my limited free time…

I have a copy and I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, it’s an outstanding product. It is evocative, well-written and really gets me excited about doing CoC adventures. Also, the Gumshoe system looks pretty amazing for doing investigations.

That is also the problem. It looks amazing for doing the investigations and pretty much light on everything else. If you want to run Law & Order: Special Cthulhu Investigations Unit then you’re pretty much set. If you want something a little more freeform with a lot of different types of actions it may not be able to handle other situations as well.

Having said all that, I should point out that I haven’t played it yet. This comes from an initial read-through of the rules and the descriptions that I read prior to reading it. So, I could be way off base. Still, I think that it’s worth the purchase price.

I think Richard Upton Pickman… [sunglasses]… needs a little pick-me-up.


Hey DQ,

It looks like there’s a fair amount of discussion of the ruleset over at Yog-Sothoth.com. From what I can tell, people think it’s excellent for the investigative stuff, but not so great for the other stuff. But it looks like there’s a lot of discussion there if you want to dig.

Well, it’s not too much work, to be honest. Download some new fonts and get printing. Fold letters in half, bit of melted wax and you’re sorted. Props let you play with all sorts of fun mechanics, like, break the seal - get cursed, and the aforementioned hold it up wrong and take a san check from what you see. Players love to pour over a document and look for clues too. Hell, write a document in lemon juice and give them a candle to find the secret writing etc. Very immersive.

My all-time winner campaign is At Your Door. Some really freaky stuff in there. (Please no one bitch about the Mr. Shiny angle.) I usually left out the domestic-abuse weightlifter scenario – just too weird – but the rest of it is great. Last time I ran it I did it with D20 Modern rules in a near-future cyberpunk style world. Unfortunately we only got through the second chapter of the scenario before my wife got pregnant and I had to disband the group. Maybe someday I’ll pick it up again…

Anyone else dig the Cthulhu Now more than the 1920s (or earlier)? I like modern-day Yuggothness most, for some reason. Seems less dated, or something.

“But Horatio, what if this is something man wasn’t meant to know? What if just investigating this murder drives us insane?”

“In that case, Frank…[sunglasses]…we’d be crazy not to.”


“Sir, I know you’re an educated man, from the city and all, but you got to understand… this place ain’t right. It’s too old. Older than it ought’n be.”

“Old enough… [sunglasses]… to be news.”


“You expect us to do lab work now? You’ve got half the town running around out there under the control of some weird color from…I don’t know, out of space!”

“That’s right…[sunglasses]…and we’re running out of time.”


“We’ve got something. The victim was last seen visiting a Charles Dexter Ward at Arkham Asylum, who was rumored to be carrying on his great-great-grandfather’s experiments in alchemy.”

“Frank, I think it’s time…[sunglasses]…we turned this lead into gold.”


“But Horatio, there are only 700 steps before the Gates of Deeper Slumber!”

“Really? Then I guess it’s time… [sunglasses]… to step it up.”


“Vic’s name was Erich Zann. Cause of death being worked on, but it looks like blood loss from wounds inflicted by interdimensional hellspawn. Officer who works this beat says Zann claimed the only thing that kept them away was playing his viol music. God. What the hell can a man do in that situation?”

[sunglasses] “Play to win.”


“This crime scene’s not like anything I’ve worked before. Look at these walls, these corners. If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was a witch house. Nothing fits together properly.”

“Then there’s nothing left to do… [sunglasses]… but find an angle.”