Brune left a comment about the band Aklo (Lovecraft inspired masters of ambience)  in one of my earlier posts.  If you know me well, theres a good chance you know that I’m a big fan of Lovecraft. It’s hard to be both a Lovecraft fan and RPG fan without playing Chaosium’s, Call of Cthulhu RPG. I bought the 6th edition of this game a few years back and instantly fell in love with the percentile system. My players loved the fluidity and simplicity, but above all they loved roleplaying the uncanny slide towards madness. It almost goes without saying that this game is an RPG classic.

When I first heard about Pelegrene Press’ Trail of Cthulhu I was a bit skeptical. Why fix what isn’t broke? But after a while my interest got the better of me and I had to check it out. Good thing I did.

ToC’s biggest selling point is in the assumption that a story shouldn’t be about finding the clues, but rather – what you do once you find them. Fair enough, I can understand this direction.
ToC distinguishes itself in that it allows for both a “purist” and a  “pulp” style of play. Not every player is willing to  allow their character to slip into madness so easily, and “pulp” allows for a  more heroic approach to the mythos.  And while  I personally prefer the “purist” style, I’m sure that there are many  out there who wont.

But what really impresses me about this game is that each character occupation has a “special” ability that adds  real flavor and a level of individuality to their  role. Occupation options really aren’t  limiting (and if you hate them  all –  which would be strange,  the rules allow you to make your own). The “occupations” range in style and tone  pretty  drastically, depending on what type of  game your group is playing. The “Professor” is a pretty standard fare  “purist” role, whereas the “Private Investigator” fits  more into a more “pulpy” category.

“Drives” also serve to add a layer of realism and humanity to each character. And of course these “drives” serve as  both a motivation, and a curse. But above all – “drives” keep the story moving. The gumshoe system encourages  sporadic moments of exemplary action from the character – however this is kept to a minimum. Thus, it is up to  the player to determine when it’s best to get the most out of their abilities. Once the character is pushed to their  limits, only rest (and the recovery of “stability”) can bring them back to full working order.

I really love the Gumshoe system, and I think it accomplishes just what it set out to do. I can’t say that I’m a full convert from Chaosium. But I’m definitely happy with what ToC has to offer. I’ve only play-tested this game once and I can’t wait for the next opportunity. Lovecraft offers such a fantastic blend of the unsettling, and this game really captures that feel. This game is a serious horror-game contender amongst some of the best.

I haven’t forayed too far into the horror RPG genre outside of these games and White Wolf products. Whats the scariest game you’ve ever played?

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