primer for Lovecraftian RPG

edited December 2015 in Trail of Cthulhu
I'm writing a little primer for my players, to understand the nature of a Lovecraftian-themed RPG (most of them are used to D&D 3.5). While I am no stranger to Lovecraft (I cut my baby reading teeth on good ol' H.P.), I am new to this style of RPG, and GMing itself actually. I feel I have accurately gotten across the theme of cosmic horror, but I am uncertain as to how this works out in actual gameplay, although I have a pretty good idea from the things I have heard. So here is what I have written (based mainly on an interview with Simon Rogers I found on youtube):
"Those who will enjoy this style of game, will enjoy the helplessness and mortality of the characters. They will enjoy the fact that although their character might be heroic, against the opposition, there's really not much opportunity for them to succeed. They will enjoy trying their best against almost overwhelmingly hopeless odds. And they will discover the joy of all the amazing ways their character can go mad and/or die."
Is this accurate? Or have I over-emphasized the peril? I am considering adding, "This doesn't mean they can't or won't succeed. The point is, the players should get a special kind of pleasure out of seeing things BURN. (Hail Eris!) And Trail of Cthulhu is designed for just this kind of enjoyment." Any help or feedback would be appreciated :) 


  • I think that's a great description, Mica. It really drives home that the players' characters aren't going to emerge victorious which will really help a group that is most likely use to that with D&D understand what Cthulhu games are all about.
  • I'm far from an HPL expert.  I like to think, though, that the nature of "Lovecraftian" adventures is of things better left unknown.  So "success" means either madness, or the perception of madness by the blissfully ignorant.  At some point, the characters will face the decision of sacrificing their reputations, sanity, or lives.  In play, this means the _players_ have choices, rather than following a pre-written script.  That's why I enjoy Lovecraftian adventures as "one-shots"--I'm looking for the moment when I get to choose my character's fate.  As John Potts will recall, that's why my Kriegsmarine XO is at the bottom of Hamburg harbor!  
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