Research help: Call of Cthulhu 1st & Basic Role-Playing
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Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:43 am 
 

If you have a copy of Call of Cthulhu 1st edition and/or Basic Role-Playing 1st edition, I need your help!

I'm researching the variation in experience mechanics across the Chaosium games, and I've been unable to track down copies of those via my local extended gamer friend network.

If you're not familiar with how the experience mechanics work in the majority of Chaosium games, here's a summary: When you successfully use a skill in play (that is: roll your skill rating or lower on d100), you make a check mark next to it. In some, but not all, Chaosium games, there are additional prerequisites for gaining those check marks. (<-- That's the part I'm researching.) At some point later after the adventure, each skill that has a check mark has a chance of increasing: Roll against the skill again; if you fail (roll higher than your skill rating), your skill goes up, usually by a small random amount -- d6, d10, or similar.

So with regards to Call of Cthulhu 1st ed and Basic Role-Playing 1st ed, I'm looking for a few very specific pieces of info (quotes from the rulebooks):

1) Does the Call of Cthulhu 1st edition rulebook even have an experience mechanic? Anecdotally I've heard CoC 1st edition leans heavily on the included copy of Basic Role-Playing. So CoC might simply refer the reader to BRP for handling experience, or CoC might not even make mention of experience, instead assuming the reader will find the relevant rule in BRP.

2) If Call of Cthulhu 1st edition includes an experience mechanic, what are the specific criteria for gaining an experience check mark? Merely a success? Does it also require a stressful situation? Does the wording of the rule state that the referee ought to use discretion? Are there different sections/rules for combat skills as opposed to non-combat skills?

3) In Basic Role-Playing 1st edition, what are the specific criteria for gaining an experience check mark? Merely a success? Does it also require a stressful situation? Does the wording of the rule state that the referee ought to use discretion? Are there different sections/rules for combat skills as opposed to non-combat skills?


If it helps the search for info, here are the relevant quotes & page numbers for 2nd edition CoC & BRP:
- Call of Cthulhu 2nd edition: "When a character uses a skill successfully during play, the keeper may allow that character's player to put a check by that skill." (Rewards of Experience, page 15)
- Basic Role-Playing 2nd edition: "… check over [the] character sheet to see what skills were used during play. If your character succeeded in using skills, they should have been marked on the sheet." (Experience, page 9)

Thanks!


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:28 pm 
 

I can check out the CoC material when I have a moment (probably over the weekend).

For BRP 1e, you'll need to find a RuneQues collector, as I think that's the only place to get a copy - in the first RQ box.  It's possible I have a loose copy around here somewhere, but I don't think so.


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:29 pm 
 

Yes good point about RuneQuest as the main and possibly only source for 1st ed BRP.

Sadly my buddy who owns RQ 1st edition has long since lost the copy of BRP that came with it.

In any event, I appreciate your willingness to help!


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Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:30 pm 
 

Basic Roleplaying:

1981 edition (page 9): Roll 1d%. If the roll is equal to or less than the skill level, add 5% to the skill.
2002 edition (page 9): Roll 1d%. If the roll is equal to or less than the skill level, add 1d10% to the skill.
2009 edition (Quickstart, page 21): Uses the Elric version of the skill improvement rules, as skills are open-ended.
2009 edition (page 182-184): Uses the Elric version of the skill improvement rules, as skills are open-ended. The 1d% roll is modified by 1/2 the character's INT score. Skill percentage additions are based upon the GM's desires for the campaign in question, but range between 1d6, 1d8, and 1d10%.

Call of Cthulhu Quickstart (page 8): Roll 1d%. If the roll is equal to or greater than the skill level, add 1d6% to the skill.

Runequest 2nd Edition (page 23): Subtract skill level from 100 to determine target number. Add 3 to the result for every point of INT above 12. Roll 1d%. If the roll is equal to or less than the target number, add 5% to the skill.

Elric (page 51): Skills are open-ended, meaning skill levels greater than 100% are possible. If a skill is less than 100%, roll 1d%. If the roll is equal to or greater than the skill level, add 1d10% to the skill. If a skill is greater than 100, roll 1d%. If the roll is equal to or less than the character's INT, add 1d10% to the skill.

The best version of the skill improvement rules IMO is the Elric version, closely followed by the 2009 rulebook version. The change from roll-under to roll-over made skill advancement more...realistic. As you learn more, it should be more difficult to improve since you know so much. RuneQuest had a kludge rule to try and fix this, but I don't think it worked all that well.



  

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Post Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:39 pm 
 

Hey Traveller, thanks! But I may not have been clear in my request.

I'm not researching the amount added to skills. Rather, I'm interested in the prerequisites are for getting a check mark in the first place: Just a success vs. success in stressful situation vs. referee discretion, and so on. But I already have relevant data for all the game editions you listed. Right now I'm specifically looking for data on 1st edition of CoC and BRP.

Regarding the 1981 edition of BRP, what edition does it say it is on the title page / cover, below the copyright? I assume it says either "Second Edition" or "Third Edition". I've seen a couple cover scans of first edition and they have a copyright of 1980.

(Edit: I was wrong about none of them saying "First Edition" on the cover. Some do.)


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Post Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:42 pm 
 

It wasn't that your request wasn't clear. I likely misunderstood you since it was somewhat late when I posted on Friday.

RuneQuest makes no distinction as to whether it was a stressful usage of a skill or not. All that matters is that the skill was successfully used. Since Basic Roleplaying was derived from RuneQuest, this lack of distinction applies to every BRP game out there, including those that incorporate the basic role playing rules into their text (e.g. Call of Cthulhu 4th and up, Stormbringer 3rd, Elric!, Stormbringer 5th).



  

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Post Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:43 pm 
 

There's a lot of unintentional misinformation out there about this rule, and BRP derivations in general.


Example: Some versions (1st & 2nd editions) of RuneQuest do make a distinction as to whether it was a stressful usage of a skill. And the answer sometimes based on whether it's a weapon skill vs. other types of skills.

RuneQuest 1st edition (1978)
weapons: success; others: success + stress
- Weapon skill rolls don't require an unparried hit to garner a check mark; any hit will do: "During the bookkeeping phase of each Melee ROUND (see Chapter III) the player should keep track of whether the character manages to land a blow with a weapon (it doesn't matter if it does damage, bounces off armor, or is parried) or managed to parry another attack." (Learning by Experience, pages 26-27)
- Other skills: "To learn a skill by experience, a character must use it successfully in conditions of stress." (Introduction, page 46)

RuneQuest 2nd edition (both color and monochrome covers, 1980)
weapons: success; others: success + stress
- Weapon skill rolls don't require an unparried hit to garner a check mark; any hit will do: "During the bookkeeping phase of each melee round (see Chapter III) the player should keep track of whether the character managed to land a blow with a weapon (it doesn't matter if it does damage, bounces off armor, or is parried) or managed to parry another attack." (Learning by Experience, page 23)
- Other skills: "To learn a skill by experience, a character must use it successfully in conditions of stress." (Introduction, page 44)


Another example is how you lumped Stormbringer 3rd and Elric!/SB5 into the same bucket. Their core mechanics differ in some significant ways, because they evolved out of different branches of the BRP family. Here's their difference in terms of the check mark mechanic:

Stormbringer 3rd edition (hardback from Games Workshop, 1987)
weapon: unparried hit; other: any use!
- "If … your player-character scores a hit, then your character will have a chance to improve his weapon skill with the weapon that scored the hit. If you score a hit, but it is parried, you did not truly hit, and so there is no improvement by experience in such cases." (Section 3.3.1.1, page 37)
- "If your character uses a skill while playing a game of Stormbringer, note that he has done so, and when the game is over you will have a chance to see if his skill has improved." Note that the rule does not explicitly require a successful use; it only says "use". However, the example of improvement shows a character successfully using a skill. (Section 4.1.2, page 51)

Elric! (1993)
all skills: success + referee discretion
- Requires success and gamemaster decision: "Sometimes, but not always, your gamemaster will instruct you to check a skill just used successfully in play." (Experience, page 51)
- Offers guidance for the gamemaster decision: "When an adventurer succeeds with a skill in a dangerous or stressful situation, the gamemaster may grant the player an experience check on the adventurer sheet." (Experience Check, page 151)


... and the unintentional misinformation is part of the reason I got interested in this.

So recollections aren't really useful here. Quotes are what matter :)


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:30 pm 
 

I disagree with your point of view regarding Elric!. At this point though, I will yield the floor to you, since I have nothing further to contribute. If you want quotes, you might be better off asking at yog-sothoth.com than here, since I don't own Call of Cthulhu.



  

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Post Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:43 pm 
 

Traveller wrote:I disagree with your point of view regarding Elric!.

I'd love to hear more thoughts from you on this matter. As a side project, I'm compiling a comprehensive list of the mechanical & content differences between the various Chaosium editions of Stormbringer/Elric!. I'm not up to Elric! yet, but I'd be happy to start gathering notes about it. I'll follow up with you via PM.


Also, great point about yog-sothoth.com. I rarely visit there, but I can see how it could be a useful resource for my original question.


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:02 pm 
 

Guy Fullerton wrote:I'd love to hear more thoughts from you on this matter. As a side project, I'm compiling a comprehensive list of the mechanical & content differences between the various Chaosium editions of Stormbringer/Elric!. I'm not up to Elric! yet, but I'd be happy to start gathering notes about it. I'll follow up with you via PM.


Also, great point about yog-sothoth.com. I rarely visit there, but I can see how it could be a useful resource for my original question.


Guy - more modules, more modules, all this research and review work worries me (though maybe you'd be interested in contributing an article to the Acaeum Newsletter?)


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Post Posted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:05 pm 
 

Lol, I have too many gaming interests to concentrate on just one at a time! :) The Fane module followup is moving forward, though slowly. I don't want to force it ... I think the quality would suffer.

Good point about the Acaeum newsletter. I already have various bits of material that could be helpful. I'll chime in on the other thread...


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Post Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:11 pm 
 

I checked both my CoC 1E box sets (1st and 2nd prints).  The experience/advancing skills idea is not mentioned in the main book, only in the BRP booklet.  Both main books are identical except for the covers - the inside back cover of 1E2p has some errata, but none relevant to your question.

I do not have a BRP 1E to check - it is the only edition I don't seem to have.


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Post Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:08 pm 
 

Very cool, thanks!

Does 1st edition even have a Game System and Skills chapter? (It's chapter III in the 2nd edition copy I have.) Or does it go directly from the Creating the Adventurer chapter to the Sanity chapter?

For bonus points, is there any chance you could post a scan/picture of the table of contents of either printing of 1st edition?


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Post Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:55 pm 
 

Guy Fullerton wrote:...Regarding the 1981 edition of BRP, what edition does it say it is on the title page / cover, below the copyright? I assume it says either "Second Edition" or "Third Edition". I've seen a couple cover scans of first edition and they have a copyright of 1980..

..RuneQuest 2nd edition (both color and monochrome covers, 1980)...


Couple of things about the timing of RQ: 2nd ed. was released as a booklet with color cover in 1979. The box (with BRP & a monochrome-covered booklet) came later. As to exactly when, I have found the data to be contradictory.

Hopefully someone who actually owns the first RQ box can clarify matters, but I've seen release dates given as 1980 and 1981, plus I've seen 1980 on a copy of Apple Lane that came from the box.

Maybe the printing plates for the boxed set were made in 80, but it didn't reach stores until 81? In other words, the 81 edition mentioned by Traveller & your 1980 edition are probably one & the same.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:10 pm 
 

sauromatian wrote:Couple of things about the timing of RQ: 2nd ed. was released as a booklet with color cover in 1979. The box (with BRP & a monochrome-covered booklet) came later. As to exactly when, I have found the data to be contradictory.

Huh, cool. I knew there were both color and monochrome covers for RQ 2nd edition, but I never knew why both were offered. It makes sense that the boxed set contains the mono cover booklet, while the standalone booklet product contains a color cover.

I can't help with the rest, sorry. I don't own any RQ boxed sets :(


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