Tabletop RPG Review: Call of Cthulhu Seventh Edition Quick-Start Rules

This book came out back in 2016 and has since essentially been replaced by the fantastic boxed Starter Set.  However, it can still be valuable both for its presentation of the 7th Edition rules, but for the classic, venerable adventure, The Haunting, updated as well.

I’ve already written a little about the rules in both the Keeper’s Rulebook and the Starter Set. It is worth noting that unlike many quickstarts, this book does give you rules for making your own characters.  Honestly, you’ve got enough here in this 32 page book, that if you wanted to create your own adventures, you could pretty much just play from here.  Sure, it doesn’t have everything you get in the Keeper’s Rulebook, but it gives you enough to go on, at least for a while.  It’s also a reminder of how simple and elegant Basic Role-Playing is as a game mechanic.

The Haunting, formerly The Haunted House, I believe, has been around since the beginning.  Apparently its original author, Sandy Petersen, has said that this was the first Call of Cthulhu adventure ever run.  In editions past, it has been included in the basic book.  For the 7th, however, it shows up in the Quick-Start Rules.  You can get this book in print, or download it free.  I highly recommend doing so.

I’ve run a heavily modified version of The Haunting a couple times and had a great time.  I’m planning to run an only slightly modified version of it for some friends later this year.  There isn’t a lot to the adventure, and you should be able to run it in a single 3 or 4 hour session.  It does, however, hit on some of what makes the game so special.  You have some investigation, some role playing, lots of atmosphere, and a creepy finale.  It also contains a few things I don’t love about many published scenarios.  One of the great things about the Mythos is that it has nearly as many interpretations as it has writers or Keepers.  Often, I find that the version of the Mythos portrayed does not jive with my own.  Hence, my usual tinkering.  In the case of The Haunting, the ultimate villain of the piece feels a bit too much like a traditional ghost or poltergeist, rattling beds, throwing cutlery, etc.  Like one of the big villains of Horror on the Orient Express, who comes more out of Nineteenth Century literature than the atheistic Cosmic Horror of the Mythos, I’ll need to give things my own twist.  I’ve got some ideas, so we’ll see what I come up with.

This book is a must have for The Haunting if nothing else.  Two things to know, however, is that the handouts are some of the most boring and lifeless I’ve seen from Chaosium.  As Seth Skorkowsky pointed out in his YouTube review, however, due to its age and popularity, you can find fan-made versions that are really nice.  The other thing is that it does not come with pre-generated characters.  This happens in more published scenarios than I’d like, including too many from Chaosium.  However, again, you can find pre-gens online with a bit of Google-Fu.  Or, if you’d rather make characters, you’ve got enough of the rules in this book to do so, and there is a blank character sheet to photocopy.  

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