Last night, I was feeling a little low but also a little curious about what might be on offer in the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Keeper’s Rulebook. Having absorbed the advice from the Solo GM’s Guide, I took the advice to “skip over character creation” and turned to the latter sections of the book. Here I discovered what it is that I truly enjoy about roleplaying games: compelling and detailed Worlds.
Please bear in mind what I wrote last week about the Call of Cthulhu when I received the 40th Anniversary Edition of the 2nd Edition. In short, I admitted that previous attempts to get into 7th Edition had failed because the books seemed too big and impenetrable. I think that, after poking around with the 2nd Edition, I was feeling encouraged and not a little curious. But the big impact was in following that simple piece of advice: “Skip over character creation.”
The next step was to “Look for anomolies”. What makes 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu unlike other games? I noticed the Sanity rules but I was drawn deeper by the Tomes of Magic and the wonderful Chapter 13 on Alien Artefacts. The attraction was the unique flavour of the supernatural and strange within the game. I began to read and to smile with the enjoyment of interesting ideas.
What I am rediscovering is one of the deepest reasons I got into roleplaying games in the first place: the immersion into intriguing Otherworlds. My first taste of the phenomena was when my friend Daniel introduced us to Traveller. The earliest explosion of this enjoyment came when I opened the RuneQuest boxed set in 1980.
Games have been like portals to Otherworlds for me all of my life. The problem is that I often forget that this is the true richness (for me) of playing these games. While I love to learn rules, enjoy the hack-and-slash of battle, and can have loads of fun with the interactions at the table the truth is that what I really crave is the Otherworld.
When I read a new game book, I am going to go looking for the Otherworld. Begin with the search for what makes this particular game different, especially in terms of the World on offer. Rules can come once I am hooked into the fantasy of the place, intrigued by the people, and imagining what might be at stake. Characters can be built once we have a world for them to inhabit.
Skip over character creation. Look for anomolies. Find the place to begin.