Speaking of Call of Cthulhu…

I agree with those who think it’s a mistake to play that game with miniatures, because the imagination is so powerful in interpreting “ineffable” horrors. However, I adore 1920s-era miniatures, especially those by the genius Bob Murch, who sculpted many of the classic RAFM figures and also his own line of Pulp-era minis. I have loads of Bob’s and other sculptors’s minis yet to paint, but once I’ve finished a hundred or so, I’ll be ready to jump back into Horror on the Orient Express and Masks of Nyarlathotep, two of my favorite roleplaying campaigns that I’ve never actually played to completion.

Do you play CoC with or without miniatures? What’s your opinion on using them without diminishing the power of imagining creatures and scenes that are best not reduced to game tokens?

7 thoughts on “Speaking of Call of Cthulhu…

  1. I think that people are capable of viewing the mini as an abstraction, not an absolute. That said, I am very fast & loose with minis, so I don’t suffer the same anti-mini biases as some of my other Pretentious Nerd Game friends. I mean, I run a low-combat high-improv game, but heck, minis are cool & help keep people from being like “wait, I thought I was hitting that Innsmouth begger with my cane, I didn’t know MOTHER HYDRA was that far out of the water & right NEXT to him!” & other such miscommunications.

  2. Ill be honest, having GMd for cough 33 years now, the two i have had the most problems running were CoC (all eleventy editions) and PARANOIA. I will be having a great time doing a good job of building up tension and gorror and suspense, and then a gunfight breaks out and its no fun for anyone. I adore the Achtung! Cthulhu material, but my ideal campaign is more Dreams in the Witch House than (and im dying saying this) At the mountains of madness. my favorite stories are the hardest to GM for me, which is odd bc those are the ones that are literal expeditions.

    The best luck i have had so far was a play by (postal) mail game where i didnt tell my two players they were playing LOL. Using the telegram and mission order PDFs for achtung chthulhu, i just began sending two friends weird 1940s telegrams with orders to paradrop into Czechoslovakia and meet up with La Résistance. then id guess what theyd do, make up some results, and send new orders wither congratting them or chewing them out for letting the leftenant get eaten. after about 2 they figured out it was me (short list of weird Gm friends lol) but all involved got a kick out of our “campaign”. the final orders to both, after the artiact was recovered, were orders that the other one (they were roommates) was a double agent and to kill them and make sure they alone had the artifact.

    Now that i think about it, i havent heard from sheryl or liz in a while…

    • I supported the Achtung! Cthulhu Kickstarter and love the books, but I think it’ll be some time before I venture out of the 20s in that game. I love the setting almost as much as the Mythos.

      • i can totally agree. i always wanted to play cthulhu by gaslight too for some 1980s feel, but i had a harder time with that era so never got up the courage. there is just something magical about post-“The Great War” america. My last campaign had a train-riding blues harmonica player, an ex-ww1 pilot turned barnstormer, and the rich son of a canning and fishing magnate. i want to see those characters explore anything, especially Cthulhu =)

  3. This was one of the charms of the cardboard stand-ups in early boxed versions of the game. (Don’t know about later versions.) Rather than images, these “miniatures” had black silhouettes–sort of like shadows–which left visuals to the imagination.

    • I’d forgotten about those silhouette figures! I’ve seen them, but I never played with them. Alas, I was a dope who found the idea of a game with a Sanity stat silly when I first overheard folks playing it. Later I came to my senses and fell in love.

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