Call of Cthulhu (aka CoC) is a horror fiction RPG based on the Cthulhu Myth and H. P. Lovecraft’s story that goes by the same name. Originally released in 1981, the game has now reached its 7th iteration. The game follows a Basic Role-Playing mechanics scheme implemented by the publisher Chaosium.
The original game is set in a darker version of the modern world in the 1920s and feeds off H.P Lovecraft’s idea that fear, especially of the unknown, is the strongest and oldest emotion known to mankind. Different entries in the series saw a Holmesian version set in England, one in the Dark Ages, one in the 23rd Century, and one in Ancient Rome. One more version allows for players to travel between this world and other worlds through dreams. This version is called Dreamlands.
In CoC, characters do not level up. Instead, the game is skill-based, and players’ skills get better as they use them successfully, and while they stay functionally healthy and sane. CoC uses percentile dice, which always implies there’s a certain potential rate of success depending on the player’s capabilities in the skillset concerned.
Players can choose from characters that include normal people with particular professions – detectives, criminals, scholars, artists, war veterans, etc. The story usually starts off mildly with events gradually spiraling down into confusion and horror, challenging characters’ sanity. This method has come to be known as Onion Skin. The story unfolds gradually, always revealing more information and horrors that challenge the characters’ survival and progress. While it is possible to outsmart or defeat these horrors with firepower, it is idea for players to obtain magic and mystic knowledge to gain victory. However, this game is notorious for having most of its players succumb to insanity or to die in gruesome circumstances.