"Mood" graphics in 6th edition: Too much of a good thing?
I've gradually been getting to browse the copy of Call of Cthulhu 6th edition I got before Christmas. I've enjoyed reading (and helping my kids stat up characters). But I find the book's layout awfully busy and distracting. Maybe I've been "spoiled" by the minimal art in other publishers' game books. Pictures, line art, silhouettes, alternating panels of black-on-white text and white-on-black text, alternating fonts, watermarked backgrounds, interspersed with full-page drawings and paintings ... it's as if the art department failed its SAN roll. Perhaps that's the effect Chaosium wanted to achieve. But sometimes less is more. To me, the Big Gold Book struck the right balance between illustrations and text and is much easier to read.
What do y'all think?
I actually prefer reading earlier editions of Call of Cthulhu precisely for this reason. My 3rd edition and 5th edition are much better for general reading than my 6th edition. I also dislike the font used in the headings, it would be good if used solely for Chapter headings, but its a bit too intricate and annoying to use for every heading I feel.
I think Chaosium could still capture the atmosphere if they limited the art to page borders, leaving the actual text clean and easy to read. From my point of view, the BGB could do with more atmospheric page border art, whereas Call of Cthulhu can certainly do with much less.
Lets hope the next edition is much easier on the eye
I've finished skimming CoC 6th and The 1920s Investigators' Guide, which I also got. Personally, I would have been willing to ditch some of the seemingly endless Mythos fluff stuff in the main book to add in more of the period detail. Some reviewers have said the Guide is of limited use, but to me it would be an essential tool to getting the right feel. As is, the main book mentions three possible campaign eras in passing but doesn't give much advice or info on differentiating them. At its heart, though, CoC is a historical adventure game.
That's what I always loved about the old Justice, Inc., for Hero System. Unlike competitors like Daredevils and Rolemaster Pulp Adventure -- which spent most of their bulk on game mechanics then threw in a page or two of timelines and prices and the admonition "Go read Doc Savage" -- Justice, Inc., gave you a whole campaign book describing the 1920s and '30s (both the real era and the one depicted in fiction and media), To be fair, Daredevils adventure modules are pulp adventure gold, but the main rulebook gives you nada.
With the other items I ordered, I also got Cthulhu by Gaslight. I haven't read it thoroughly but was pleased when I skimmed it. The scenario The Burnt Man is a favorite, really captured the feel of Robert Howard's Little People stories. Machen's The Shining Pyramid inspired at least 4-5 stories by Howard. I read them first and wasn't as impressed by Machen's original tale, since the do-little protagonists did nothing to save the missing woman.
Cthulhu By Gaslight is a great resource, as is the earlier edition of it as well. I'm pretty impressed by the current edition, it is worthy of a hard cover run in my opinion. Great setting. Mythos horror, if not set in 1920s USA New England, is absolutely perfect for 1890s Great Britain.
I also really enjoy the pulpy campaigns for Cthulhu such as MoN, and I've added a few pulp setting mechanics to make them play a bit better from my opinion. I'm really interested in how the upcoming 'official' pulp mechanics will be done in Astounding Adventures.
I find the 1920s Investigators Guide great for what it is, but I think a large 1920s Period Setting book would be much better. It could have a focus on the USA, but also with some info on Europe and possibly touching on some exotic destinations (Latin America, Africa, etc). The current 1920s Investigators Guide could be ported into a 1920s Campaign Book in its entirety, as I wouldn't want any of that information to be lost, but a larger volume is certainly more deserving.
Yes, it's all 'pie-in-the-sky' I know, but a large 1920s Campaign Guide would be on my wish list
I am brand new to the world of tabletop RPGing and the the CoC game. I just got my hands on the 6th edition a few weeks ago and have grown somewhat frustrated because there seems to be a lot of info on certain topics but not enough on others. And the art is somewhat distracting (but I do not find the switch from back to white backgrounds bad - I think it is actually helpful). Overall, I get the feeling I have a little meat and a lot of potatoes with the 6th edition. I would be very eager to read the 5th or a different one someday.
To get into the historical setting, you need the Investigator's Companion (or Cthulhu by Gaslight, depending on your preferred era). The core book mentions that you can play Cthulhu in several time periods ... but that's the case with a lot of role-playing games, from d20 to Mutants and Masterminds. The supplements give you the tools to actually do it.
Also, in the core book, I'd have been willing to greatly reduce the exhaustive chapter on mental illness and ditch entirely the lengthy "mood" article on the linguistic origins of Mythos names. I mean, come on, can padding be any more obvious? The endless lists of Mythos tomes and their various editions was a bit wearing, too, especially since most of them aren't that useful to investigators when you look at the summary of what they actually contain. And why the lengthy section on magic when the game states up front that attempting to learn and use Mythos "spells" is an incredibly bad idea, sure to bring player-characters to grief? Call of Cthulhu rivals Basic Role-Playing (the "Big Gold Book") in size even though the actual game mechanics take up only a fraction of its length. Including the "Call of Cthulhu" short story is a useful introduction to the genre, but as I've said previously, sometimes less is more.