(Cthulhu) Forgotten Duty

By Paul Baldowski
Just Crunch Games
The Cthulhu Hack

A visit to the University of Navarra—located in Pamplona, Spain—in search of a rare book—the chronicles of a monk who claimed to have witnessed visions of other worlds—leads to a grim investigation.

This 35 page adventure uses about eighteen pages to describe some skill rolls, err, I mean, “investigation” and a small manor home. It’s a special kind of mess, wherein it is absolutely clear in the way it puts good text in the wrong places. It’s like someone did an Excel pivot table on the adventure.

After D&D, CoC (pronounced ‘Cock.’ You will now never unsee that & You’re Welcome!)  is my second most played game. I know the score, you hit the local newspaper office, the library, and keep ten gallons of gas in the back of your pinto. I assume The Cthulhu Hack is much the same. But I don’t know, so, take that as it is given.

You’re in town looking for a book at a museum. They loaned it to some count dude up on the hill. Turns out he’s been “alive” for 2000 years and is going to use the book to complete his ritual in two days time. Who coulda figured?

Also, like, EVERYONE in Pamplona is mind-controlled by the insect inside the dude. Ok, not everyone, but, ANYTHING that needs explained in the adventure is explained by “blah blah blah insect mind controlled them to get it to happen blah blah blah.” Including the dude at the museum who tells you the count has the book? Why does the mind-controlled dude tell you this? Why, the count likes to lure people to him, of course! Ug! This smacks of the “I cast two dozen wishes to make the dungeon immune to your passwall spells!” sort of thing. There’s a combination of Deus Ex and nonsense throw-away explanation that makes the whole thing VERY eye-rolly., It’s a pretty low-effort explanation on the designers part.

The investigation part is first up in every Cthulhu adventure, followed by the sneaking in, followed up the Fucking Up And Body Count portion. The investigation here is both poor and MAY be influenced by the system, The Cthulhu Hack, which I know nothing bout. This is where the first of those Pivot Table things comes in to play. The information is organized by “SKILL CHECK TYPE” in bold, followed by the information, which may have the source of the information buried in it. A false example might be “LIBRARY USE: You find an article at the newspaper office about the count.” This IMPLIES that what matters is making the skill check. That the player will say “I want to use Library Use to find out some information about the adventure.” This smacks of the 4e Skill Challenge nonsense. That ain’t the way I rodeo. You can rodeo any way you want, but I’m gonna tell everyone else that your way SUX. You go to the fucking newspaper office and talk to the dude behind the desk and get access to the michofiche/archives and THEN you roll your fucking skill check. You fucking roleplay. So, either, A) The Cthulhu Hack don’t do that and you just roll the fucking dice until you succeed or B) The Cthulhu Hack don’t do that but this designer does that with their games. Which suck. Or C) The designer plays the game the right way but really fucked up in how they wrote down each and every one of the skill checks. Normally, I’d say it was C) that happened, but, again, I don’t know Cthulhu Hack. In any event, this weird fucking way or relating information through skill checks is what is always used. And it sux. 

It does the SAME FUCKING THING with the NPC’s and the locations. AT one point you find an abandoned car. It tells you that the partially melted keys for the car are in the fire pit, a different location. But the fire pit don’t tell you that. Or Some locked chest freezer in the basement that tells you the keys are up in the office, but the office doesn’t mention the fucking keys. What the fuck kind of organization is that? Some kind of system where you have to look through EVERY FUCKING PAGE of the adventure in order to determine what is in a room? Is there an NPC in the room? I don’t know, I had better go check the NPC section and read through each of their descriptions to figure out if they hang out in Office … and all of the locations to see if there is anything else in the office important. It’s Nucking Futz! 

So, a dumb Deus Ex kind of plot and an organization THAT FUCKING DEFIES LOGIC … along with a dubious method of investigating via skill checks. NPC’s and events just kind of tossed out there without much more than a single sentence of support from the text. But, I mean, otherwise it’s perfectly legible. 🙂

This is $4.50 at DriveThru. There’s no preview, SUCK IT SUCKER! Bwa hahahahaha! I’ve got your $5 now! Man, put in a fucking preview next time.


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4 Responses to (Cthulhu) Forgotten Duty

  1. Bigby's Affirmative Consent Lubed Fist says:

    There’s no way I’d ever play a game described as a ‘hack’. The suffix just denotes a constellation of shit that’s just unbearable.

  2. SolCannibal says:

    “The investigation part is first up in every Cthulhu adventure, followed by the sneaking in, followed up the Fucking Up And Body Count portion.” – you know, that kind of tempts me to try to write up a Cthulhu adventure that does things in reverse order, body count & fucking up first, THEN sneaking and investigation, just to see how it turns out.

    The body count part could be players as federals gunning some cult, like in the epilogue of Shadow over Innsmouth or near the beginning of Call of Cthulhu with Inspector Legrasse….

  3. Michael Hill says:

    I have played Cthulhu Hack but quite a while a go. From distant memory I think it does the investigation bit quite well. If, for example, you say “My character is flicking through the matron’s drawers” (snigger), the clue, if present, is found. The player then rolls a die to see if the character loses a level of investigation “resource”. Bottom line – unlike CoCk which requires the Keeper to fudge vital rolls that fail, this one rewards smart players.

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