Fight the Power Word, Kill

no we're not the same 'cause we don't know the game

header photo

Cthulhu Dark campaign play (Eternal Lies)


I'm reading Eternal Lies, the globetrotting 1930s campaign for Trail of Cthulhu by Jeff Tidball and Will Hindmarch - credited as "with" Jeremy Keller, which I'm unsure how to interpret. But anyway. 

My circumstances are such that while the number of sessions available isn't a problem, time in setup and mechanical resolution for each session is highly restricted. In other words, we have a shortish amoutn of time to get stuff done. For that reason, I'm inclined to play Eternal Lies using Graham Walmsley's game Cthulhu Dark, which I have run a lot, written scenarios for and generally recommend to all and sundry. But long-term play using the same characters presents a potential challenge. In particular, the issue of Insight and what to do at the end of each adventure (or locale in EL). You could simply reset to 1, but that seems unsatisfying. Similarly, I would like to be able to be tough about Insight rolls - and killing characters off - without introducing any new mechanics or stats. 

Here's what I think I'm going to do. 

[Side note: we may end up using Trail of Cthulhu itself, so this might all be academic. Nevertheless.] 


I'll use the pre-generated PCs that are included in Eternal Lies. Players can claim the occupation die for their occupation, any investigative ability higher than 0 or general ability that seems high enough. (But not including health/stability etc.) 


Pillars of Sanity

When your Insight hits 6, you either "understand the full horror behind the Universe and leave everyday life behind" or one of your Pillars of Sanity crumbles and you roleplay the consequences. When all your Pillars are gone, you and your sanity are playing for keeps. 


Sources of Stability

We'll use these as a means of reducing Insight without needing to destroy Mythos knowledge. You can still do that in order to make a suppression roll, even if you have Sources of Stability remaining. 

When you lose a Source of Stability, your minimum Insight increases by 1. 

For example, if you had three Sources of Stability and alienate two of them, you now only have one Source to call on to reduce Insight, and the lowest your Insight can go is 3. 


Point Spends

I don't like having point spends in the text anyway (see previous blog posts about GUMSHOE), but this this is an easy conversion. 1-point spends are a 4+ on an investigation roll, 2-point spends are a 5+. 



As a rule of thumb, actions where life and death are at stake will follow the Bastionland model of critical injuries for fallout. I will rarely make "you die" the failure state for, say, a gunfight or precarious climb. Instead, because as Chris McDowall says an injured PC is more interesting than a dead one, anything that might kill a PC will first incapacitate them, and then if no one rescues them, things get worse. 




Go Back