Posted on August 20, 2010 by Kenneth Hite
Enjoy this contribution to Cthulhu Week, but don’t read too deep…we can’t be held responsible for what horrors are left behind…
In Call of Cthulhu, your character explicitly starts no better than any other. There is no leveling up, no percentile strength, no special class skills or feats separating your character from any other citizen of Arkham. Yes, your character may well gain magical powers and travel to exotic destinations, as in other roleplaying games. But such “improvements” come at a cost, at the cost of lowering your irreplaceable Sanity. In Call of Cthulhu, the player knows at the outset that his character, if played long enough, will go insane and die. That’s a very different proposition from hoping that your character will become the vampiric Prince of Pittsburgh or get a Helm of Command at 18th level. Of course if that was all it was, Call of Cthulhu would simply be nihilistic, an exercise in masochistic masturbation. At best, its characters would resemble the decadent aesthetes of Lovecraft’s short story “The Hound,” seeking ever more outré pleasures, or perhaps the shortsighted Tillinghast in “From Beyond,” accepting insanity as the necessary visa for interdimensional tourism. And in many of Lovecraft’s stories, this is the case — Lovecraft was, after all, a nihilist (albeit a gentlemanly nihilist) himself, who considered morality “mere Victorian fiction.” The object of terror, for Lovecraft, is terror.