Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.222: The Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition

With GenCon 2016 having just ended - alongside my recent posts regarding Lovecaftian miniatures in gaming - it seems apposite to celebrate the 7th and latest iteration of the classic Call of Cthulhu rpg. Unlike many other games of its ilk (Dungeons and Dragons being a case in point), the base mechanics of Call of Cthulhu have remained virtually unchanged since its first appearance in 1981 - meaning that there has been constant backward compatibility throughout the game's history. 7th edition is probably the most 'radical' in terms of changes and innovations to the system; even so, the core rules remains recognizably the same as earlier editions, such that backward compatibility, whilst a little more time consuming, is easily possible.

Sadly it has been a good few years since I last played, such that I'm now primarily interested in Call of Cthulhu material for reading rather than gaming purposes. This, indeed, is not uncommon practice: perhaps more than any other game (again, D&D excepted), there has been a long tradition of gaming-to-literary crossover within the Lovecraftian/Call of Cthulhu community.

On the point of miniatures, however, its a rare occasion that I've encountered players making regular use of them in Call of Cthulhu; regardless, there are a significant number of Lovecraftian miniature lines out there. In part this is due to th growing number of tabletop miniature games which make use of a horror theme (Wyrd Miniatures' Malifaux springs to mind, and the massively popular Warhammer 40,000 wargame is deeply indebted to Lovecraft; indeed, I would suggest that evidence exists which concretely locates the 40K universe as part of the Cthulhu Mythos - a point to which I mean to return in a later post). Lovecraftian tropes have long been evident in more 'traditional' fantasy rpgs such as D&D, where miniatures have also been more widely employed as part of the gaming experience. Paizo's immensely popular Pathfinder iteration of 3rd edition D&D has explicitly made the Cthulhu Mythos part of its canon, producing many prepainted plastic miniatures of Cthulhoid entities as part of the Pathfinder line. In addition to which, miniatures have become a key component of the modern boardgaming hobby - indeed, the inclusion of miniatures seems to significantly drive the success of boardgame kickstarters. Notable here is Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Wars, which attracted over a million dollars (or was it two million?) in pledges during its kickstarter campaign. Fantasy Flight Games has also heavily invested in miniatures in its boardgames; given the number of Lovecraft-themed games that are part of their stable, it is therefore unsurprising that they have moved into producing Lovecraftian miniatures in recent years - the Mansions of Madness game mentioned recently being a further case in point. So much for failing to represent the unrepresentable! In any case, these factors have coalesced to produce a thriving industry involving theproduction of indescribable horrors in miniature form. what esle is one to do then, other than wrap whatever tentacle, psuedopod or uncategorizable appendage you possess around that brush, and get painting!

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