(CoC) 7th Edition Blues

Disclaimer- What I say on my blog reflects my opinion only and does not necessarily represent any website I volunteer at or company I have worked for.

As I suspect everyone reading this blog is aware, Chaosium has embarked on the revamping of the Call of Cthulhu rules, with a rapidly ballooning Kickstarter raking in now over $200k.  There has been a lot of passionate debate about what to change or not change when it comes to the 7th edition… a debate that I can’t much interest in.

I’ve never had much interest in the nitty gritty of RPG rules.  My interests are in telling a story and having an entertaining time, not worrying about bell-curve distributions or challenge ratings or damage per second ratios.  Call of Cthulhu has always worked well for me because I rarely had to look at the rules.  I played a lot of different systems in my youth, when I had more time and knew more people who were gaming but CoC is the only system I really taught myself (save perhaps Red Box D&D but that is a different story).  In short, it is easy to use and does everything I need a rule system to do.

It seems like 7th edition will not be a wholesale overhaul of the CoC ruleset but it does sound like there will be mechanical and cosmetic changes.  Others have covered these details better than I can recap, but I wanted to comment generally on my, well, I guess you’d call it fatigue at the thought of a new edition.

I am not fundamentally opposed to adjustments to the rule set and I certainly acknowledge that the CoC ruleset is not perfect – the tome rules are kludgey, know one understands how dodge and parry work, etc.  Additionally most of the rule changes are treated as optional, so I suspect if there is something I truly hate, I don’t have to use it in my game.

Please allow me to indulge in a metaphor- CoC is a Toyota Corolla.  Reliable, dependable, easy to operate… high millage perhaps, but still running well.  The 7th edition seems like someone trying to sell me a new car.  You can talk up the features, but I’m reluctant to give up something that I know works for something that might blow a rod ten miles down the road.  I mean no disrespect to Paul Fricker and Mike Mason or to the playtesters involved in the process.  I’m just not sure that the car really need more than an oil change.

I’ve never been one for rule systems.  I understand the utility of having an agreed method of conflict resolution but I cannot understand the passions that ‘Edition Wars’ unleash.  I’ve had fun playing a lot of games that had less than optimal combat systems, unbalanced character creation rules, etc.  I don’t understand how people get quite so agitated over these things.

Finally, I also worry about Chaosium.  They’re the car dealer in this case, but not the manufacturer and it shows.  The Kickstarter for 7th Ed. has been rather… bumpy and I wonder how much direction they will provide to this change once the new edition is released.  I hope that their goal is to improve the game and not simply cash in on the likely profits from all those shiny new rulebooks (and reprints updating old books to the new rules.)

That is probably enough for now.  I hope to have another post soon.

One comment on “(CoC) 7th Edition Blues

  1. Graeme says:

    A nice, balanced assessment I think. The beauty of the CoC game mechanics is that they are very intuitive and flexible enough to make things up on the fly (for example need a game mechanic for a silently killing a sentry? – roll under both grapple [to put the hand over the victim’s mouth] and knife). I hope this sort of flexibility is retained in 7th Ed. To be fair, I’m hopeful – I put into the Kickstarter at a relatively high (but not obscene) level, as much as anything else to show support for the game: a new edition may jump start new campaigns and sourcebooks (and if it really is back compatible, I can always dump 7th Ed. if I hate it and use new material with 6th Ed. instead).

    But I am perplexed as to what a “Sanity Deck” is (I’d have guessed at something you’d find on an ocean liner)… I hope 7th Ed. won’t require such card-things. I still have the occasional TORG flashback [Shudder].

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