Twixt Stats and Saves
Q & A / October 3, 2017

Following the brief review of Tainted Meat (which I ran at Concrete Cow) posted on Department V, I have been giving occasional thought to character stats in The Cthulhu Hack. I was less keen on the disconnect between the usual OSR six stats, and the Flashlights and Smokes. It’s easy to assume that a high INT character is going to be a top investigator, only to find that really it’s the number of dice you put into Flashlights that matters and INT is kind of irrelevant. Should ‘stats’ and investigation overlap more thoroughly? It’s a valid question and it’s worth giving a considered answer. I’m comfortable with what exists – but then I’m also the closest to the topic! I’m not above admitting that it might warrant tweaking. It might even warrant a little constraining, mayhaps dropping a stat or two at some point through the power of conflation. Version 2 might pick that up as a thought. Saves I had given the stats more thought when I wrote v1.5 of the core rules. Version 1.5 spends more time than the original making it clear that they’re Saves rather than stats or characteristics – they protect you from harm or…

Opposed Investigation
Q & A / May 12, 2017

When you roll Flashlights or Smokes in The Cthulhu Hack, you’re checking to see if the investigator taxes their resources in discovering something key about the situation. When they throw a 1 or 2, they have pushed themselves too far, but they haven’t failed. Whatever they roll, they discover something new and vital in the progress toward their goal. However, what if getting the clue isn’t that easy? What would happen then? Well, there lies the Threat. Handling Threats soon they found the passage came to an abrupt stop. He pulled the obstacle away & to his dismay water rushed in in torrents. John was an expert swimmer & long breathede. He had just taken a breath, so he tried to rise but with the box & his sister he found it quite impossible… A Threat lies between the Investigator and their success – and it means getting the clues might be harder or it could even mean that someone else gets there first. In the Indiana Jones movies, it means the evil archaeologist managed to wrest the artefact from Indy’s hands – surrounding him with natives in the jungle, or capturing a key contact in the city and spiriting them away…

Perception Check
Q & A / September 26, 2016

Got a good question from a user on the Google+ community for The Cthulhu Hack. I thought it warranted a wider post, as I imagine anyone coming from other game systems might have similar questions: How do folks handle perception checks? If there is no clue to be found in the story and a character just wants to make sure no one in a diner is a threat. Do you use Flashlights or would that be a candidate for a Wisdom Save? If the characters have gone to the diner on a whim and there’s genuinely nothing in there, don’t make them roll; tell them whether it appears safe or not. Perhaps tell the character with the most fitting occupation. The only reason I’d suggest this is that investigation pools are shallow, so a Flashlight roll that reveals absolutely nothing is not a fair use. A roll requires the presence of a substantial clue. If the characters have gone to the diner seeking a clue, a Flashlight roll would be in order if someone is watching them, and offer up more information on their appearance. If they roll a 1 or 2, you might tell them all they need, “but…” then something else…