Hey Game Fans, today we’re going to take a closer look at building a character for the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. If you want to follow along, grab your copy of the Investigator’s Handbook, and I’ll try to give you page numbers to follow along with. Sound Good? Wonderful, let’s dive right into the atmospheric horror adventures of the Call of Cthulhu.
Starting on Page 42, we’re greeted with a sidebar that suggests that a new group of Call of Cthulhu players should create their characters together. This is a good idea for a number of reasons including:
- Party Cohesion: If you make characters of a nature that will intentionally antagonize other players, then maybe you might want to rethink your concept. I do draw a distinction between player and character in this regard. Characters antagonizing each other is fine, and is one of the hallmarks of fun role-playing. If you’re building a character to annoy the other players at your table, maybe you might reconsider the character you’re building.
- Party History: You can complete a character by yourself, but sitting down with the other players in your group allows you to interweave connections between your characters. This extra level of detail helps you buy into the setting and gives you wonderful opportunities to create backstory and details that you share with others. Inside Jokes, stories that you never have to finish, that one time that guy stole a sandwich from you are all viable options that you can help to build if you build your characters together.
- Ease of Explanation: When you’re learning a game for the first time, it’s extremely handy to have other people learning at the same time you are. Classrooms and the modern education system are predicated on the idea that if one of you has a question, at least one of the rest of you has the same question. When the GM sits you all down and goes over the type of game you’re making a character for and all of the basic details you need, you can all ask your questions together and build of off each other’s understanding of the game mechanics. Having to answer the same question four different times is less helpful than answering four different questions once.
- Base Covering: One of the important thing about Role-playing as a social construct is that everyone needs to work together to succeed at the challenges put in front of you as a group. This means that you can specialize at a specific task you want to be good at, and the rest of the group can develop different specialities. By working together and pooling your specializations, you should be able to deal with a wide range of different encounters as a group. Having three different people with the same speciality means that you’re over focused on dealing with one challenge while leaving yourself open to other threats. For Example, a team of five investigators that are all computer experts are likely going to struggle with a wilderness adventure that has them traipsing across the countryside, surviving a blizzard.
The Keeper (GM) likely has some information for you that will either help inform your character design, or key up some ideas that may help you get the most out of your Call of Cthulhu experience.
- The period or date of the game you’re playing. Specifying the time period informs a lot of choices you’ll make when you build a character. Some occupations are better suited for specific time periods, and you’ll want to pay attention to the differences. It’s hard to make a Computer Hacker in the 1920s, and Flappers, while awesome, don’t fit the modern era.
- The Location where the game is set. This can be as broad as Germany, or as specific as Harlan County, Kentucky, United States of America. Location can give you some excellent ideas for backgrounds and occupations for your characters. Is your character a local or a visitor? Why are they coming to this location? Answering these questions can help spark your imagination as a player to make a character you’re going to have a ball with.
- The Set-up: If the Keeper is giving you the lowdown on the initial premise for the game, pay attention! He (or She) is handing you a pile of clues that you can use to build a character that you’ll enjoy playing while working with the other investigators. The Setup of “You’re all strangers on a train that experiences unusual phenomena” is wildly different from “You’re all part of a covert military team that’s entering the warzone in Afghanistan tracking down a missing package.” If the GM is giving you a clue as heavy as the setup, take advantage
- Suggested Occupations: Call of Cthulhu’s skill system uses occupation as the primary driver of skill acquisition and competency. If the Keeper gives you a couple of suggestions for what occupations are going to be helpful, pay attention and see if one of those doesn’t tickle your fancy. You can get a lot of mileage out of the right occupations, especially when your group is working well together.
- Suggestions for How your characters Know each other: The Keeper isn’t likely to give you a detailed Road Map of the story going on around you, but suggestions for background ties to other characters or npcs can give you a lot of ideas about what’s going on.
So from these 9 points of information, you and your fellow players can dig into the character creation process. There are 5 steps to generating a character, and we’re going to cover the first step today.
Step 1: Generate Characteristics
Like the Rolling stats section of every other role-playing we’ve ever played, your character is going to be defined by a number of key characteristics, Call of Cthulhu has Nine primary statistics, and a number of derived values that spring from those characteristics. If you’re ready to roll your character, grab some six sided dice, a pencil, and some scratch paper.
- Strength: Strength is the measure of muscle power that an investigator possesses. Having a Strength score of 0 means your character is incapable of getting out of bed or moving around at all. To Generate your Strength, Roll 3D6 and multiple by 5 to determine your Strength. This will give you a Strength score between 15 and 90.
- Constitution: Constitution is the measure of your character’s health and hardiness. It resists poisons, diseases and physical injuries. If your Constitution score drops to 0, you are dead. To Generate your Constitution, Roll 3D6 and multiple by 5 to determine your Constitution. This will give you a Constitution score between 15 and 90.
- Size: Size is a measure of your height and weight. It helps settle disputes about whether or not you can fit through an air conditioning duct, or if you can reach the top shelf at the market. To Generate your Size, Roll 2D6 and add 6 to the result, then multiply by 5. This will give you a Size between 40 and 90.
- Dexterity determines your agility and reaction times. Characters with higher dexterity tend to react better than characters with lower dexterity. To Generate your Dexterity, Roll 3D6 and multiply the result by 5. This will give you a Dexterity between 15 and 90.
- Appearance: Appearance is social interaction on a scale. The higher your appearance, the more attractive you are, and the better at interacting with other people you are. To Generate your Appearance, Roll 3D6 and multiply the result by 5. This will give you an Appearance between 15 and 90.
- Intelligence: Intelligence is analytic reasoning and problem solving. Characters with high intelligence tend to solve problems faster than other characters. Characters with 0 intelligence are incapable of communication or reasoning. To Generate your Intelligence, Roll 2D6 and add 6 to the result, then multiply by 5. This will give you an Intelligence between 40 and 90.
- Power: Power is a character’s aptitude and resistance to the magical energies that move through the Call of Cthulhu universe. To Generate your Power, Roll 3D6 and multiply the result by 5. This will give you an Power between 15 and 90.
- Education: Education is different from Intelligence in that it represents formal education and facts that an investigator has picked up through the education system. It’s also a measure of the amount of time you likely spent in higher education. To Generate your Education, Roll 2D6 and add 6 to the result, then multiply by 5. This will give you an Education between 40 and 90.
- Luck: The sheer randomness of the cosmos. To Generate your Luck, Roll 3D6 and multiply the result by 5. This will give you a Luck between 15 and 90.
From those statistics, you can start to imagine how your character is going to shape up compared to other characters, and you can sort of identify roles (and occupations) that you think will fit your character. Remember to check out the derived statistics on pages 48 and 49, and we’ll see you next week to take a look at Occupations and the effect they have on your character.
Game On, Game Fans