What changes are there between each edition so that I can update earlier edition modules more easily?

I have many modules for Call of Cthulhu that I have picked up over the years but I only own 3rd ed and 6th ed rules. Is it only the skills and way stats are arranged for the monsters and characters, or are there other things to watch out for? I also own the two solo adventure modules but never played them.


2 Answers 2


This page on RPG.net has brief summaries of the different editions.

From reading it over basically 1st to 3rd edition were boxed sets with minor errata and the box content changing. Fourth editions changed the game over to a single box and revised the organization and the rule somewhat. From personal knowledge the revision wasn't drastic and was largely to keep the game in line with the other Basic Roleplaying Games of Chaosium. Fifth and Sixth edition have differing layouts with the rules largely the same except for errata and minor edits.

The seventh edition that is due to be released soon is said to be a very major revision of the game.

From personal knowledge of the system pretty much anything to date pretty much works with any edition of Call of Cthulu. With the later editions having slightly more options and refinement than earlier editions. Chaosium has been noted for keeping their BRP derived games stable over the years.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That pretty much covers it. 3rd Ed was also released as a single volume, and from 4th edition onward I believe the game has appeared only in book, not boxed, form. 1st through 3rd editions saw the most expansions to the system, with tweaks, errata, and reorganization being the the rule from 4th on. CoC is generally compatible with BRP, but is simpler, and can at times be quite different (the Dodge skill for example). Such changes do not affect usage of older scenarios. 7th, while offering different system options (luck, pushing rolls, etc), is to be backward compatible. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 21:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ From the Kickstarter page for 7th edition: "It's important to note that the 7th Edition rules remain backwards compatible so that previously published scenarios and source books all remain playable with the revised rules." \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 22:07

First Edition changed the world of RPGs. 8o)

Second Edition changed how magic use was accounted for by introducing Magic Points instead of "Temporary Pow Loss".

Third Edition split the rules into Player and Keeper books but was otherwise much the same as the previous two boxed sets. The hardback book version of 3rd edition combined the rulebooks and the sourcebook into one volume and added the contents of the First Cthulhu Companion (six extra scenarios including one for one player plus a keeper) and six colour plates.

Fourth edition added new colour plates and was the first paperback book version. The Cthulhu Companion was not included. Scenarios were changed.

Fifth edition (I think, I never played Fourth so my info on that is from a quick skim) combined Oratory and Debate into Persuade and changed skill point allocations from EDU x 10, INT x 5 to EDU x 15, INT x 10 (if I remember correctly, I don't have the books to hand). Chase rules were introduced.

Fifth and a half edition (5.6) reformatted the rules, added sourcebook style material, removed colour plates and replaced them with new B&W artwork.

6th edition lost some of the B&W art, added the "ancient tome" graphic design elements to the page edges, scrambled the rules and the Bestiary so that you can't find stuff in-game without stopping, and made the simplest RPG in the world almost as hard to pick up for a beginner as GURPS. Containing self-contradictory information and advice, this version was first seen as the 20th Anniversary edition where it was printed in pale red ink on soft matte paper, and has been reprinted unchanged but for the endpapers as the 25th and 30th Anniversary editions.

I haven't joined in the lunacy over at Kickstarter concerning the seventh edition, which seems to be incorporating ideas already available under alternative game systems set in the Cosmic Horror/Cthulhu Mythos universe, notable Trail of Cthulhu and Realms of Cthulhu. One wag opined that as an antiquarian he knew for a fact that one could obtain real ancient documents for half the price of the Red Leather and Gold "more money than sense" edition of Ed7 ($3K buy-in). I'm running games now, not collecting for its own sake, and everyone wanted to use 5th edition.

If I had to point to one edition and say "best value for money" it would be the third edition hardback book version. The last version that had its eyes on the prize from an ease of assimilation and playability standpoint in my opinion was version 5.1 (and nothing says that someone took their eyes off the road like the drive to publish under document revision numbers instead of market-friendly Editions).

The paperback 5th edition can be gotten for less than 10 dollars from Amazon. Third edition is a bit harder to come by, but is, I feel, a better product.

Good hunting.

(All that was from memories of my own collection currently sitting 40 miles away. Please forgive inaccurate information which is due to old brain and the fact that I obtained fourth and fifth and a half editions later than the others, as collector's items rather than as game aids. My own gaming knowledge comes from editions 1,2,3,5 and 6.)

The later editions (fifth onward) included some basic stuff on Current Day and Gaslight milieus, price lists and suchlike. I honestly feel this was a mistake because moving the time period is something I feel needs a dedicated sourcebook to do any sort of justice to the material, but I'm pretty much alone in that.


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