What RPG systems are there for a traditional Call of Cthulhu adventure (e.g. a basic premise of being investigators in 20th century/modern timeframe within the Lovecraft Mythos)? I know that there is the Chaosium Call of Cthulhu system, which I understand is the grandaddy of them all, and I have heard that a d20 version was made. Which others are there? Also, are they in print?

Also, could I have a bit of information about what the basic differences are (e.g. main mechanic, how it tries to capture the feel of the setting) to better help me decide which one I'd like to use?

I also realize that there are a bunch of other spinoff games based on the Cthulhu mythos (e.g. The Laundry and CthulhuTech) but I'm not interested in those at the moment. Also, I'm not looking for general horror RPGs, but rather ones that are specifically designed to be set in the Cthulhu Mythos.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm torn on whether to close this as a duplicate of rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/5025/…, a bad old list style question itself, or because it's too vague of a question. What is the real problem you're trying to solve? This sounds like a system-recommendation question which should adhere to RPG.SE's system-rec guidelines on our Meta. In fact, I'm going to close this while clarification happens so we don't pull bad answers in the meantime. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 29, 2013 at 2:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm wondering, too, whether you've conflated Call of Cthulhu, the RPG, with the broader Cthulhu Mythos. Are you looking for all games that use the Lovecraftian Mythos, or specifically for variations on the CoC RPG? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2013 at 4:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ My question as originally posted does have a lot in common with the question mxyzplk posted, which I didn't find because it was labeled with the cthulhu tag rather than call-of-cthulhu. I've revised my question to differentiate from that question by asking for systems that are for a "traditional" game used in the Chaosium system. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 29, 2013 at 5:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ OK, so now this isn't a duplicate. Is it, however, a "practical, answerable question based on actual problems that you face"? I know we have a contest on but I don't want to see a lot of seeded questions garnering trivia for its own sake. Why do you need this, what end is it serving? \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Apr 29, 2013 at 11:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ This does seem like a request for a list of Cthulhu-related RPGs, without any actual recommendations. It seems like you're asking for some Googling, rather than specific recommendations based on actual experience. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2013 at 0:39

2 Answers 2

  • Call of Cthulhu is being given its first real overhaul in decades. The system is d100, and the emphasis is on immersion in the game world. The default setting is the 1920s, but there are expansion materials available for other eras. Chaosium has created an extensive body of well-regarded CoC adventures over many years. Here's co-creator Sandy Peterson talking about the game.
  • Trail of Cthulhu is built on the GUMSHOE system, and it emphasizes the investigative aspects of a Cthulhu campaign. Primary and secondary clues give a richness to discovery. The default setting is the 1930s. Because it's a much newer game, ToC doesn't have a vast library of published adventures. Here's a favorable review from RPGGeek.
  • Realms of Cthulhu hews to the Savage Worlds "Fast! Furious! Fun!" mantra. It takes more of a pulp approach than either CoC or ToC, but it also provides some modifications to the core Savage Worlds rules in order to more closely fit the genre. As with ToC, there is no big bunch of published adventures. However, guidelines for converting CoC adventures are included in the book. Here's a favorable review from Gnome Stew. Amazon lists eight copies available.
  • Cthulhu Dark is Graham Walmsley's rules-light (the free PDF is 4 pages long) system. Here's a review and here's the game.
  • d20 Call of Cthulhu has been out of print for some time, as the license between WotC and Chaosium expired. It can be found used. Some people, like this reviewer, found it better than the original.
  1. There is a True20 treatment of the Mythos entitled Shadows of Cthulhu
  2. Dennis Detwiller adapted the One-Roll Engine to the Mythos in Nemesis
  3. Delta Green will have its own system at some point, as well.

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