Thoughts on GMing

As something to do at Halloween with my friends, I wrote and GMed a modern / uncanny horror one-shot using the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition rules. I had an absolutely incredible time doing so. It was a really rewarding experience to see my friends engaging with and enjoying something that just kind of spilled out my brain, bolstered by a few internet horror touchstones, such as Eckva, The SCP Foundation and The Backrooms. I have some mental notes about the session that I’d like to jot down for the record:

  • Trusting your friends / players to engage with your work in good faith, or what I often hear referred to as high-trust play’ is so rewarding and affirming.

  • Being flexible and changing things on the fly to accomodate your players should be a common courtesy when hosting.

  • I have not bought the Call Of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook. I have not read it and I don’t intend to. Everything needed to play Call Of Cthulhu is in the player’s handbook.

  • I deliberately omitted sanity points’ because they’re gross. I was considering trying to replace with a Mothership-style panic table, but in the end I just trusted that my friends wouldn’t make light of any incurred trauma. It worked.

  • D100 roll-under is great as a resolution mechanic because you don’t need to be constantly pissing about with modifiers.

  • Call of Cthulhu’s default skill spread is not great. There are very obvious optimal choices such as listen’ or spot hidden’, and there are important skills that present as dump-stats, such as navigate’.

  • Overall, I’d have preferred to use a much lighter system, such as Liminal Horror, but at the end of the day, Call Of Cthulhu was what was agreed on for the session. I may end up tweaking it for Liminal Horror later though, as I think it’s a much more natural fit for the setting.

  • I have included all my scenario notes, warts and all, as a separate post, accessible here.

November 3, 2021

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