Do we need another version of Call of Cthulhu? Pelgrane Press thinks so:
Pelgrane Press has announced that they will be producing an adaptation of Chaosium’s seminal roleplaying game, Call of Cthulhu. The new game, as yet untitled, will be written by Kenneth Hite (Call of Cthulhu, Unknown Armies, GURPS, Star Trek) and based on an all-new game system called GUMSHOE written by Robin D Laws (Dying Earth, Feng Shui)
Simon Rogers added “We are all great fans of Lovecraft, and of Chaosium’s work. The new game will be compatible with existing adventures, and will include a hybrid option combining the two systems. The GUMSHOE rule set revolutionizes investigative scenarios by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward, and Ken has erudition combined with a gamer’s soul which should lead to a great game.” The game will be written and playtested in 2006 for release in 2007.
A little surfing didn’t turn up much about how GUMSHOE (which also powers Laws’ upcoming Esoterrorists) save this entry on “Buzzbomb cornered at the 7-11”. It seems that the goal of the system is to get rid of the dead ends that come about from failed skill checks during investigations. The goal is to cut to the chase, allowing investigators to almost automatically find clues and then concentrate on figuring out what they mean.
I can’t say this has been a huge problem for me. Of all the Call of Cthulhu adventures, only one has gone catastrophically amiss because of bad skill checks, resulting in an investigation that could not be completed (and the subsequent of the of the world, but hey, this is Cthulhu. More often failed skill checks warp the investigation and the game in unexpected (and often entertaining) ways. That said, I can see (and have seen) how failed skill checks can yield frustration, and the point of the game is to have fun, not to be frustrated.
I’m curious about this new edition, partly to see how its stated goals are realized, and partly to see how the Call of Cthulhu community receives it. The d20 edition of Cthulhu was received with near universal scorn by diehard fans of Chaosium’s original creation. A large part of that was a reaction against d20 itself, particularly the idea of “leveling up” investigators, so it could be that they’ll be more accepting of a Hite and Laws’ narrative-focused offering. But I wouldn’t count on it.