You Need Is Lovecraft
to "Cthulhu Up" Your Dungeons
that unspeakably ancient, sanity-draining gods don't mix well with good
ol'-fashioned hack-and-slash? Well, think again, says Monte
of the Call
of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying
inspired by the horror writings of H.P. Lovecraft. In fact, he's mixed
them himself in his home campaign.
featured cultists who worship dark, ancient evil gods as villains in my
D&D game," Monte says. "Just the idea that you can
have things that blast your sanity can be a cool addition to more standard
about the meeting of the two game styles was Monte's favorite part of
his work on the game, he said in a recent
The book's lengthy appendix offers DM tips as well as conversions of Call
of Cthulhu spells and monsters for use in D&D games.
elements from this eldritch horror game produces a much darker resulting
campaign. But Monte says this mood can exist alongside the traditional
heroic fantasy of D&D.
can make it work one of two ways," he says. "If you have a very
heroic campaign, you present these incredibly dark forces and madness-inducing
perils, but the PCs, because they're heroes, eventually triumph and bring
light back to the world. The other way to do it is to refocus the game
so that the PCs, in a true Lovecraftian sense, can't overcome the evils
in the universe, because they're too overpowering. Then the campaign becomes
one of small victories. You can't rid the world of Cthulhu, but you can
save the sacrificial victim captured by the cultists, or you can stop
the cult's plans for now. Protect the village instead of save the world.
There're a lot of different ways to play D&D, and that's one
start simply by introducing a few Call of Cthulhu monsters
into their games. "I can easily imagine a D&D scenario
using any of the Call of Cthulhu monsters," Monte says,
"but perhaps that shows D&D's flexibility more than anything.
I can imagine a very creepy game of D&D where you're dealing
with yithians, who of course live far in the past but are able to mentally
travel into the future and possess people. Lots of the old standbys, like
mi-go and shoggoths, make great D&D monsters because they're
just big icky things to fight.
few Call of Cthulhu monsters, like the gnoph-keh are really
more appropriate to D&D in my opinion, than Call of Cthulhu.
When I ran Pagan Publishing's Walker in the Wastes campaign, I
had to really go out of my way and do some odd things to make the gnoph-keh
scary -- it's really just a big six-legged polar bear with a horn, and
if you say it that way, it's not scary. In a D&D game, a creature
like that fits in easily among the ranks of things like manticores and
Call of Cthulhu monsters is one thing. It's a little more challenging
to add an Elder God to your campaign. This
the book's appendix was inspired by a playtest session in which Monte
sic'ed Great Cthulhu against 20th-level versions of Mialee, Regdar, and
the other iconic D&D characters. "There were six players,
and if you died you got to bring in a new 20th-level character the following
round," Monte said. "Even faced with those odds, Cthulhu killed
13 of them before they killed him. Actually, they didn't kill him, they
imprisoned him with an imprisonment spell -- because they just
couldn't kill him."
you don't have to pit the player characters against Cthulhu himself just
to inject some Lovecraft into your game. To help you get started, Monte
offers these 10 ways to painlessly introduce aspects of Call of Cthulhu
into your D&D games.
Ways to Just Add Cthulhu
10. Set an adventure
in an asylum, where you can introduce sanity rules to the game.
9. Have an evil
wizard cast the shriveling spell.
8. Introduce a mi-go
mist projector as treasure.
7. Make the sahuagin
more like deep ones: misbegotten creatures of the deep.
6. Stage an encounter
with a gnoph-keh.
5. Use the "multiple
casters at once" rules to work out a dark ritual of evil cultists
whom the PCs have to stop.
4. Treat the Lovecraftian
gods as long-forgotten but still powerful demons for the PCs to battle.
3. In a high-level
game, a cleric casts earthquake and accidentally stirs up a cthonian:
an immense earthbound squid.
2. Start an investigation-heavy
adventure using suggestions from book.
1. The mi-go attempt
to establish a colony on the PCs' world, and the characters are the
ones to stop it.
you're like most DMs -- always on the lookout for new monsters and spells
to add to your game -- think of Call of Cthulhu as an interesting
new resource. "Even if you don't go the whole dark-campaign route,"
Monte said, "this book has so many cool monsters and spells, gamemastering
guidelines and adventure design tips, that I can't imagine any DM not
being intrigued enough to work some of it in and really enjoy it."
your copy and a free Cthulhoid rock CD!
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archives for more articles and features about Wizards
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more information about Call
of Cthulhu and roleplaying in a world of Lovecraftian horror, visit
the Chaosium website,
home of the original Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game.
of Cthulhu is a registered trademark of Chaosium, Inc. The Call
of Cthulhu d20 Roleplaying Game is produced under license from