Call of Cthluhu Alternate
A Call of Cthulhu game set in an alternate version of the 1920s. Open by invitation. All characters must be female because I already have a ton of players.
- 1 Background and first adventure setup
- 2 System and Character building
- 3 After the first Adventure
Background and first adventure setup
By the early days of the twentieth century, the world is dominated by two great alliance systems, the Romanic Entente and the Nordic League. Other powers, like Ōyashima, the Anatolian Empire and the Caucasian Republic are drawn into alliance with one or the other or dominated as protectorates by the great powers of Europe. New technologies and industrial processes drive a powerful economy but also social unrest, arms building and international tension. A clash between the great powers and armies of Europe is seen as inevitable.
It's June 1915. In Europe Emperor Felix of the Argovia Empire has been struck down by a Srpska nationalist's bomb on a state visit to that rebellious province. His son, Franz, stricken with grief has sworn revenge. The great armies of Europe are mobilizing for war.
Such events seem so far away, separated by half a world. You are first-year students at Saint Yvette's College, a bustling and well-regarded women's university of around ten thousand near the port city of Trimountaine, known for offering excellent educations both to the daughters of old money merchants and colonial aristocracy and to up and coming daughters of the middle class, as well as daughters of foreign families from the protectorates, who wish to turn academic ability into a fine education. There are even a few daughters of the lower classes here, brought in on scholarships and paid for by beneficient societies. Your exams are completed and now all that remains is the final few weeks of the term with little to do.
Each for her own reason you have become interested in the occult. As such interests are forbidden in the pious halls of Saint Yvette, you have kept your interests to yourself and your small circle of friends. One such friend is Alicia Wiltshire, a daughter of one of the finest families in Britannia, who brought many of you into an interest in the occult. Now Alice has sent you a note asking you to meet her near the school to discuss a matter of importance.
System and Character building
We will be using a modified version of the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition with concepts drawn from Eclipse Phase second edition.
The system is in general D100 based, rolled against either a skill or attribute. If you roll under half, this is a hard success, if you roll under a 1/5th this is an extreme success. A 1 is a critical. If you succeed in a roll, mark that skill as having had a success, as you may then gain points in it at the end of the adventure.
If you are at an advantage or disadvantage in a system you may gain advantage or disadvantage dice. In this case you roll an additional 10s dice and take the better result (with an advantage) or worse (with a disadvantage).
If you fail a roll, you may “push” the roll. This allows a reroll but may result in negative consequences if you fail. So for instance if you are pursued by a horde of deep ones and try to escape out the window, then a failed climb roll means you can see no way down from your window. A pushed climb roll has you climb out anyway and potentially plummeting to the street.
Building a character
You'll want to look through the cthulhu quickstart book and character sheet below before you attempt this. It is encouraged you create 2 characters because you may want to give one a rest.
CoC Alternate uses a point-buy system for attributes. It is suggested that nothing go lower than 40 or higher than 80 without talking to me about it. The Attributes are:
- Strength (Str)
- Dexterity (Dex)
- Intelligence (Int)
- Constitution (Con)
- Appearence (Ap) (Costs half)
- Willpower (Pow)
- Size (Siz)
- Education (Edu)
You have 480 points. Of these, Education determines your number of skill points, and Power determines your magic points and starting sanity and your pools of luck points. You get 480 points to distribute as you see fit.
From these you get the following derived statistics:
Damage Bonus and Build (Talk to me about tables or look it up in the quickstart)
Hit Points: Size + Con /5
Movement Rate: If Strength and Dex are more than Size, 9, if equal, 8, if less, 7
Luck: Starts at 100
As well as attributes you have a set of skills which are the main part of your character
Once these are assigned, allocate skills. You will want to use the character sheet below to determine base skills. You get Education x4 skill points which may be spent on the following skills Library Use, Other Language, Own Language, Charm, Persuade, Fast Talk any four other skills representing area of academic interest.
This represents your education at Saint Yvettes.
You then get Intelligence x2 skills which may be spent on any skill save Mythos. These are your personal interests.
In all cases skills are purchased from their base number. So Listen's base is 20, and if you put 50 points into it becomes 70.
Skills over 60 give a 10% bonus to related skills. So for instance, if you have one firearm skill over 60, all other firearms raise by 10.
A list of common skills can be obtained from the GM to avoid reprinting large sections of books.
Rather than the normal CoC's sanity countdown, we're employing a count up stress system.
Deduct your POW from 100. This is your starting stress. Various things in game will cause you to roll stress. If called on to roll against your stress you roll 1d100. If you roll more than your stress you have succeeded and will take a lesser effect. If you gain more than 5 stress points at once, you go temporarily insane. If you gain more than 20 stress over the course of the adventure then you go indefinitely insane until you seek psychological treatment.
If your stress ever reaches 100, your character is out of play.
Credit Rating determines your amount of money and social standing. As well to do students at an expensive New Britannian college, you all start with credit rating 25. This gives you access to 50 dollars cash and 1250 dollars in various assets and family allowances. Credit rating is mostly used for impressing people. Ask the GM for the equipment table if you need strange items.
Each investigator has a certain pool of resources they can draw on to help them out. Each pool has a slightly different grant condition.
- Insight: Gain +10 on a roll to know something or work something out. Gain a clue by reasoning, reroll a failed pushed mental roll (with increased consequences), gain an idea roll. Granted by every 20 points of Education or intelligence over 40.
- Vigor: Gain the initiative out of the normal order, Gain +10 to a physical roll, automatically succeed on a physical roll to move the plot forward. Reroll a failed pushed physical roll (with increased consequences, ignore a Major wound. Granted by every twenty points of strength, dexerity or constitution over 40.
- Moxie: Gain +10 on a social action, Gain a clue socially, reroll a failed pushed social roll (with increased consequences), defer a failed sanity check. Granted by every 20 points of pow or Ap over 40
- Flex: Introduce a useful NPC, define a relationship with an existing NPC, define the environment, introduce an item. Everyone starts with Two.
Your luck score is sometimes rolled but may also be spent to affect a roll. Each point of luck modifies the dice by one.This may be used to gain additional levels of success but not criticals.
Sources of stability
Each character should fill in a back story listing a person of importance, an ideology, a significant place and a treasured possession. These should be things you have ready access to. After adventurers, these can be used to attempt to reduce stress. You may perform this action once at the end of any adventure and then once every 2 months afterwards. Roll against your stress. If you roll higher than your stress, deduct 1d6 from it.
One should be designated as the primary source of stability and may be rolled with an advantage dice. However if it is failed, it may become less important and lose this benefit.
https://www.chaosium.com/cthulhu-quickstart/ <contains the basics of character building
Suggestions for good character building
- It is suggested you have at least a relatively high dodge skill
- Avoid skills over 90, as raising them over 90 in-game gives additional sanity points
- There is an active shooting and martial arts scene at Saint Yvette's, so it would not be too unusual to have some skill at weapons.
- Spot Hidden and Listen are extremely useful skills
After the first adventure you will have a chance to gain an additional background package and experience based on your post-college career
After the first Adventure
The World War shatters the old order and the certainties of science and empire. Perhaps you served in it. Perhaps it was enough to make you forget the strange events of that summer that was overshadowed by war. Now, seven years later, you are back in Trimountaine. It is 1922, two years after the sleeping sickness brought the Great War to its conclusion. The economy booms and people try to put the horrors of the past behind them. But not all horrors are content to be banished to the past.
After the first adventure you gain +5 education +5 Strength and +5 Size an +5 to any one stat of choice and the 20 skill points this provides to represent the rest of your university education. You may also take one of the following background packages. Each will cost sanity, but provides additional 60 skill points of relevant skills and hardens you to certain kinds of sanity damage.
- World War Veteran: You served in one of the women's units in the great war. Costs 1d10 +5 san, makes you immune to sanity damage caused by corpses, death, or gross injury. Provides 70 skill points not 60
- Criminal: You've become involved in the underworld. Costs 1d10 sanity, makes you immune to sanity damage from doing murders and seeing corpses.
- Police/Detective: You've got involved in law enforcement, become a private detective, or maybe you're just one of those women who keep finding murders. Costs 1d10 sanity, makes you immune to sanity damage from seeing corpses. Gives 70 skill points not 60.
- Doctor: You've become involved in medicine. You don't lose sanity from seeing corpses, diseases or the like.
- Occults: Have mythos knowledge
You can also choose to have had a career that did not cost you sanity and gain 20 points of additional skills
The World War
The most terrible in world history, the World War raged from 1915 to 1920 across the length and breadth of Euro-Asia and consumed over fifty million lives. Pitting the Nordic League of Grand Sweden, Germania and the Argovia Empire, with its allies and the Anatolian Empire against the Romanic Entente: The Republics of Thermidor, Britannia, Ausonia, and Iberia, their colonies in the world and their allies, Persia the Caucsian Republic, Zhongguo and Ōyashima.
Both alliances mobilize a whole generation and the resources of vast colonial empires for the struggle, and over five years of conflict sacrificed almost everything on the alter of firepower. New technologies such as tanks, combat aircraft and poison gas and byzantine fire failed to break the deadlock. And the war ground down into vast trench lines along the Themidorian/Germania borders, and freewheeling but indecisive battles along the Northern and desert fronts.
Even with Persia, Caucasia and Anatolia rising in revolution, and with units of women and colonial levies thrown into the firing line, the great powers would not stop. It was only the devastation of the sleeping sickness that hit in the aftermath that caused an end to the conflict.
The sleeping sickness, a devastating plague that struck throughout the population is still unexplained by science. Victims fell into a sleep that they could not be woken from. While they appear healthy, and can even live with water and intravenous nourishment, nothing has been able to wake them, leaving millions of people bound to hospital wards.
The combination of massive casualties, rising revolution and the sleeping sickness finally ended the World War in a white peace, with both sides brutalized.
Nations and Continents after the war
- Africa, mostly a collection of increasingly restless European protectorates. Aksum remains the only African state not subject to European ‘protection’.
- The American Colonies, Held primarily by Thermador, Britannia and Iberia. Have been effectively independent since the mid 18th century. The game is set here
- The Anatolian Uyum Socialist Republic. Long the sick man of Europe, the Anatolian Empire rose in revolt under the stresses of the World War and is now a socialist state run by a series of councils. Commonly known as Red Anatolia.
- Argovia Empire. The oldest of Europe’s Dynasty, the Argovian Empire is still an absolute monarchy, though that monarchy is steadily becoming less and less stable in the aftermath of the World War
- Ausonia. The Ausonia League is a series of independent cities who allied together into the grand Republic some 70 years ago. They claim to be the true descendants of the old Roman Republic and their system is clearly inspired by it, but they still can’t get anyone else to take their claims seriously.
- Britannia. Next to Thermador, Britannia is still the most powerful nation in the world. It has extensive colonial possessions across Asia, Africa and America, and is the cradle of industrialization, even if it’s infrastructure now seems a little outdated next to the best of Germanian or America designs. Has been an aristocratic Republic since the fall of the monarchy some three centuries ago.
- The Caucasian Republic. The old republic has been shattered by a military coup and ongoing socialist and anarchist revolutions supported by Anatolia and Persia, with the central government barely holding on.
- Germania: The Holy Germanian Empire remains the largest and most industrial power of Europe, even though it has been severely wounded by the World War. Hampered by a continued lack of resources due to its small empire, Germania remains unstable.
- Gyerim: When the Jin dynasty fell, the small northern kingdom unified ancient claims to Manchuria to itself, with the help of the Caucasian Republic and other foreign advisors. Proclaiming the end of the Mandate of Heaven and the tributary system, Gyerim declared itself as a fully sovereign state; it now plays an uneasy balancing act between the Republic, Chun, and Oyashima
- Iberia: The Republic of Iberia is the smallest of the entente powers, but one of the culturally richest, and still has extensive, though now largely semi-independent colonial possessions in South America.
- India: controlled by a series of Thermadorian and Britannian protectorates
- Ōyashima: The newly industrialized Islands in Asia are one of the world’s growing powers. While they were allied with the Entente during the World War, relations have grown slightly strained in the aftermath.
- The Persian Communes. Black Persia has fallen to the anarchists and created a series of communes and the like. They maintain an uneasy peace with the Anatolians and Caucasians.
- Grand Sweden: The great empire of the north. Probably the most stable of the surviving Nordic League powers. Ruled by a parliment with a constitutional monarch as rubber stamp. Despite the stability of its core, there are major rumblings within the Intermarium province.
- Thermidor: The great liberal Republic of Thermidor has dominated European affairs for more than a century. The second industrial power, and with the largest colonial empire on the face of the world, Thermidor projects an image of strength somewhat hampered now by the empty classes of its cities and the shattered battlefields that were once the front line.
- Zhongguo: With the fall of the Jin dynasty in their war against the heavenly kingdom rebellions, Zhongguo has come under the rule of the reformist Chun dynasty, and is now industrializing, and has entered an alliance with Oyashima. Though ravaged by the sleeping sickness, Zhonggou was spared most combat in the World War and is so okay.
Differences from our world
- The Genders are more equal than they were at the same time in real life, though sexism and the like still exists, gender equality is somewhere around that of the 1960s
- Aviation and Vehicular Technology is more advanced, with advanced monoplanes equal to those seen in the 1930s IRL
- Pure science (physics, biology etc.) are somewhat less advanced, about equal to the 1900s
- The New World is much more French, easily to the level of Canada, due to continuing colonization by Gaulic people.
- The New World is much more native, due to the initial failure of the independence movements
- The climate is somewhat hotter in summer and somewhat colder in winter
- Cults to the Roman, Celtic and Greek Pantheons still exist as extant religions
- Fashion is different, resembling a combination of belle epoch french with violet evergarden style VKOs. High waisted skirts are extremely popular