28 June 2009

Trail of Cthulhu: Play update.

We finished another chapter of our big Trail of Cthulhu game this week. It was a narrow victory, with one PC fatality in the final hours of their attempt to prevent something bad being awakened.

My impressions of the system are less rosy after playing it this long. It's still an enormous improvement on Call of Cthulhu, but I'm not sure that the 'design what doesn't matter' approach is really what I like when running a game. A few times I wanted the system to be something solid I could lean on (as it were), but there just isn't much there.

Partly, I think, it is the sanity system at fault. I can appreciate what Hite was trying to do with this, but I don't think it quite works. Maybe Unknown Armies spoiled me for this. In any case, the erosion of sanity doesn't seem to match the way I would like it to.

The drives also seems to have fallen flat in our game. Most of those chosen have ended up leading to few interesting compels, and not really driving the character the way they are supposed to. This might be because we didn't know how the system played when we started, of course, but it seems more than that. Maybe it is that the drives are too broad? In Spirit of the Century, part of the fun of Aspects is that you have a whole bunch of them pushing you in different directions. Here, it's just one big one always pushing you the same way.

Overall: still the best system I've met for Lovecraft roleplaying, but not perfect. Tweaking the rules would probably solve most of my problems, but I don't have much patience for tweaking rules these days.

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