Fictioval: The Great Old Ones must DIE!

What is the main problem with H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction? All of his protagonists are such weaklings! Only pasty academic nancy boys flee at the sight of great, ugly critters like Cthulhu or Yog-Sothoth. Real heroes FIGHT! Real heroes KILL! Real heroes kick those nasty critters so hard, they won’t WANT to come back for untold eons, for fear that the heroes are still around to kick them some more.

Eat cultists for breakfast. Kill all thousand young, and then go deal with mummy goat. Make a R’lyeh special seafood pizza – the one with anchovies, extra cheese and Cthulhu! Call Hastur names – then go give Azathoth a rude awakening.
In this scenario we fix what has been wrong with all Cthulhu roleplaying ever: we get rid of all the boring investigation. Instead, you get to kill countless puny minions, then have an EPIC boss fight against some of the most badass enemies you could possibly imagine. We stock up on big guns and other powerful weaponry, find some great rides and then we go blow up stuff. Why is Cthulhu stories always about madness? Let’s talk more about GORE!

The above is my take on a grindnight scenario preview. The idea is to take three or so of the meanest baddies from the collective works of the Cthulhu mythos, glue them together with a trail of weak minions for the heroes to eradicate, and power it all with a system that emphasizes cinematic action over realism. I’m thinking that it should be set in a futuristic kind of setting with loads of high-tech weaponry and gizmos, allowing people to fire tiny nukes into Cthulhu’s gob, and other crazy things. All in all, this seems to swing well with grindnight’s theme of gore, badassery and slight political incorrectness (or less slight, as the case might be). It is not my favorite FictioVal preview, but I could definitely see the scenario work. It does, however, need a proper system to order the fighting so it is at the same time epic and neither too lethal nor too easy. The system should further the narration of the battle more than the tactical play – though some tactics might be nice in order to make the boss fights seem more awesome.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. I’m not sure scifi is best for this, I think old school pulp weapons are more viceral than fancy laser gizmos. Meaty packs of dynamite and a solid water-cooled Vickers machine gun. I definitely wouldn’t go further than cyberpunk.
    Or perhaps contemporary mil-porn, like the silly games of Modern Warfare, calling in a predator drone to drop laser guided missiles on Shub Niggurath while your platoon of navy seals lay down covering fire with their SAWs and XM25 grendade launchers on the thousand young.

    I don’t think you should dismiss the tactical side of such a game, it’s part of the awesome in killing things that it took some measurable effort to do so. I like the premise of 3:16, but the mechanics doesn’t really feel right for it, there’s not enough crunch. It could be a nice game to experiment with some narratively based tactical play though, using certain military jargon and using the right weapon in your descriptions could have a direct mechanical effect. Something along the lines of weapons in Apocalypse World perhaps?

    Reply

  2. Posted by Elias Helfer on March 31, 2012 at 1:26 am

    Again with Apocalypse World! I am starting to realise that I’m going to have to read/play that game.

    I think you are right about 3:16. You’ll want some sort of real tactical choice. But how do you do that while not removing the interesting narration? That has been my concern with many systems – Mouse Guard, for instance, has some interesting ideas, but they are a bit too abstract in many cases, and they mean that certain things are always the better way.

    I wasn’t thinking lasers. I was thinking nukes and bazookas and an MK47 in each hand. But pulp is maybe more where it’s at. Or Mil-Porn

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  3. I think Mil-porn is an underutilized genre for roleplaying these days, there’s all the old mechanical heavy games with ginormous lists of weaponry, but those have gone out of favour lately, while the genre is popular in videogames. It could be interesting to bring it back to another format of roleplaying.
    And modern weaponry is pretty much cyberpunk already, so it goes nicely.

    To summarize the weapon system from AW: Each weapon has one basic stat, how much harm it does, there’s just one roll which is the victim rolling to see how badly they get hurt. The game assumes that if you want to stab or shoot someone, they will be hit. Each weapon also has a series of tags, that expand and characterize it’s particular effect. They can be either mechanical, constraints og cues. Mechanical are just that, it affects the system. Constraints are limits on when and how it can be used, it’s things such as range and having to reload. Cues are descriptive and add to the fiction, a weapon being loud, messy or alive. You just include the tags in how the attack mutilates your opponent, in the description and/or the mechanics. For example a Shotgun (3-harm close messy) means the target has to roll for 3-harm when I shoot them, but I can only do that at close range and it leaves a horrible mess. If he was farther away, I’d have to use my Hunting Rifle (2-harm far reload loud) which does less damage, is loud and I have to reload it before shooting again. It’s tactical and narrative.

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    • AW’s approach sounds promising, though there is something, I would be missing, and that is the die roll, so if you could change that aspect, so the attacker rolls, I’d be more convinced. The reason I am arguing for the die roll is that I often enjoy the rolling dice as part of gung-ho action. Sometimes the mere act of rolling becomes an important of the fun – for instance if all weapons roll 2d10 on average for damage, there is something exicting about attack with a weapon dealing 10d8 in damage. It is almost a ritual or magical act of gathering the dice, rolling them and add the values and declaring the huge amount of damage, that reinforces the action-sequence.

      Reply

      • There actually is a die roll. Whenever the player characters (and it’s only the PC who rolls dice in AW) try to hurt someone, they have to roll something called a move. It could be “go aggro” or “seize by force”. That move can impact on whenever or not their intention (ex.: rip the other guy to bits with my shotgun) is successful, and to what degree. However, you don’t roll damage, and you always roll 2d6, so it isn’t really what you are looking for.

      • I agree with you, Morten. Chunky handfulls of dice are the right approach for this. My personal tastes go to rolling more dice, I never quite trust that single d20 roll. I feel more badass when I’m counting out dice rather than adding bonusses to one roll.

        Anyway my point was not to take the dicerolling from AW, but the tags on the weapons for tactical narrative.

        And Asbjørn, there doesn’t have to be a dieroll to inflict harm, one MC move is Trade Harm for Harm. In that case you just dish out the damage and roll for harm.

  4. Posted by Thais Munk on March 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I have played CthulhuPunk (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/cthulhupunk/), but it looks fairly interesting if one can accept the premise of Cthulu-horror in a cyberpunk future. 🙂

    Reply

  5. Just dropping another recommendation for this idea.
    Cthulutech (http://www.cthulhutech.com/) is this, just with Neon Genesis Evangelion smeared all over it.

    Reply

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