Is the CoC Starter Set good?

As someone who’s been quite Cthulhu phobic I have pondered if the new Starter Set might be all I need to run a few games and see if I have got better…

Input required…

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I haven’t looked at it in detail, but my first reaction is that the £100 starter set is a jolly expensive punt. On the other hand it’s been getting good reviews from first-timers, in a way that previous sets haven’t.

Er, £20-25 I think

Oh good. I think it must have been the starter box I’d seen advertised.

I haven’t read the starter set, but I am curious as to why you’re Cthulhu-phobic. If you’re an experienced GM who just doesn’t want to read pages of text for a new game, I’d recommend buying 5th or 6th edition CoC used or in PDF and then just reading the rules sections and the sample scenarios. They’re self-contained, really quite good, and in no way require the pages of world-building, apocrypha, and miscellanea that make up a good half of every edition of Call of Cthulhu I’ve seen.

I enjoy Lovecraft. Lumley is a pleasure and I am happy to mop up the stories.
However, all my CoC experience has been dull and dreary.
Then publishers started adding Cthulhu to everything in a lazy bandwagon-jumping fashion. I await Disney Cthulhu with a despair worthy of an HPL protagonist.


I think quite a few of us here would say that CoC doesn’t need to be dull and dreary.

7th edition probably isn’t a perfect solution to make your games go right. thought.

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Then, yeah, if you’re an experienced game master I’d recommend whatever combination of the Starter Set, an older edition, or the full new edition fits your budget. If not, the starter set has received high marks from those who have run it.

In any case, Call of Cthulhu is arguably Patient Zero for the spread of the Mythos infection over the last four decades, so it should be far less tired and watered down than the incipient Disneythulhu.

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I am very experienced, Mr. Hendrix.
I even ran the non Mythos CoC scenario in the old GW edition years back, successfully in that I scared the players to bits.
I kind of know that Trail of Cthulhu solves a lot of what has frustrated me, but I think I can address the ‘failed Spot Hidden’ problem by adopting the ‘always a clue’ approach, plus the Lazy DM disassociation of secrets and location or NPC, so the players never run into dead ends.
So that makes me think, time to try again, and the starter set has at least 4 adventures in it.

Love the Patient Zero analogy… @MrTim

3 adventures, really. I don’t think Alone Against the Flames is really adaptable to group play.

@MrTim, which scenarios would you suggest as best examples of good CoC to show to newbies in one or two sessions?

Non Mythos aware newbies, at that…

I think that -is- the starter box, Roger.

Hmm. Not real sure I’m a good judge of that, both because I’ve only actually run a few adventures and because I tend to game with people who are terrible at time management and nothing takes one or two sessions to play. I had real good luck with Blackwater Creek from the 7th edition GM’s screen, and you could do it in one or two focused sessions, I think.

Other people have had good luck with The Haunting (in the core rulebook of at least 5th and 6th editions, and as part of the free 7th edition quick-start PDF), although that’s kind of Mythos-light, and Dead Man Stomp (in at least the 5th and 6th edition core books as well and in the 7th edition Starter Set), although I think that’s a little longer.

Oh, and wouldn’t $25.00 be about 15 pounds?

Ho ho. Even in good times an American game in the UK tends to cost its $ price in £.

Thanks @RogerBW and @MrTim.
Just downloaded and read the quick start.
The Haunting is the adventure I ran all those years ago!
I know BRP like the back of my hand, so I think I could run the game from the quick start as a sampler.
Still keen to hear views from others.

I would echo the sentiment here that you can’t really go very far wrong with ‘The Haunting’ - it has a good mix of investigation and combat/panic and die situations that are really classic for the game.

To me, the purpose of CoC is not to attempt to recreate the cosmic dread of the original stories - few of us have the imagination of Lovecraft with which to pull it off, and that’s hard to capture in a social situation, where sanity-blasting horrors are generally reserved for when your companions wear Hawaiian shirts of non-Euclidian luminosity. The game is more for immersing yourself in the historical feel (which is why I don’t really enjoy ‘modern’ adaptations of the game; I’m aware that Lovecraft wrote contemporaneously, but there’s plenty other things about the man that a number of us wouldn’t agree with either) of the 1920s or Victorian era, and for playing in a world that feels, to me, scarier and a little more believable than ghosts, vampires and the like.

All the games I’ve ever played of CoC have had a pulpy, rompy feel, investigative with the thrill of possibly surviving the denoument, if necessary. I have never found it dull, or dreary, and Trail of Cthulhu seems to be a solution to problems that I have never encountered playing the game. I would tentatively suggest that if the Haunting didn’t really suit you, which for me is probably the best introduction to the game there is ever likely to be, it may be that it isn’t the game you’re looking for. Consequently, 7th Ed, which on the face of it changes much, but practically changes very little about the nuts and bolts of the game, is unlikely to win you back round.

A little bit about the ubiquity of the mythos - I’m surprised to find myself fine with this. While I get a bit weary when a board game that I like gets re-released with added Mythos just for the sake of it, I’m not going to buy it and if it brings some money to board game designers, that’s fine by me. For me, the existence of Cthulhu plushies doesn’t make the actual text of The Call of Cthulhu any less exciting, dangerous and brilliant than it was for me all those years ago.


And he says that as a man with the very highest regard for the authors of that game and system.


I did enjoy running the Haunting if I remember, it was decades ago.

Without being too immodest I want to see if I can run CoC better than the refs I have played with…

There was one CoC game I played that was excellent… utterly non Mythos and terrifying…

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First game I played in had an absolutely terrifying scene involving a schoolgirl carrying a sheep’s head. No mythos required.