My GURPS Cthulhu Campaigns

[These pages originally appeared on my old Yahoo! Geocities site, circa 1998-2001, and were later migrated to my Wikispaces page, then finally here June 2017. I have done minimal editing beyond what was necessary for formatting and removing broken links. Significant changes are in brackets/italics/bold, like this note--Tim]

I'm a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft, having read at least 80%-90% of the fiction he wrote by himself, a good share of his collaborations, and a smattering of his essays and letters. Most of this reading has occurred since I came to Boston; I got one book, got hooked on him again, and every so often I froth at the mouth for another one. . . . I also love the Call of Cthulhu game, though I've actually played very little of it.

I had wanted to run a Cthulhu game for some time, but before I got around to it, I started wondering if I could use the GURPS system (by Steve Jackson Games) instead. Richard Feitelberg's fantasy campaign made me very familiar with (and fond of) that system. Among other things, I vastly prefer its character creation system to that in Call of Cthulhu (by Chaosium). The horror genre tends to have a high death rate, which I think is the reason Cthulhu PCs are kept a bit two-dimensional. But I prefer to build in a lot of depth in spite of that, and GURPS has a fairly elegant way of doing it. (I even know people who use the GURPS character creation system to flesh out characters for LARP games, once the basic stats and skills are done by the LARP's rules.)

GURPS CthulhuPunk came out while I was mulling this over, and that made my decision much easier. If I ignored the cyberpunk stuff in the sourcebook, I had a great primer for playing Cthulhu by GURPS rules, and enough models for spells, monsters, etc., to convert even more material. And as far as period backgrounds go, GURPS Horror treats the same three periods as Call of Cthulhu's core rules do.

I used Call of Cthulhu materials in my campaign, of course; I consider the rulebook [5th edition], Keeper's Compendium, and Encyclopedia Cthulhiana to be essential. (The last one is delightfully demented! I highly recommend it to any Lovecraft fan, gamer or not.) In time, the Dreamlands supplement also became vital.

Cthulhu 1995
I tried my first Cthulhu campaign in 1995, setting the same starting dates in both game time and real time. The game folded after about 6 months, largely because we hadn't put enough effort into making the PCs cohere as a party. (The company of heroes format of most fantasy games doesn't really work in this genre, so party cohesion must rely on other things. I have far more experience making fantasy games work, and am still not as comfortable as I could wish with the modern-day and SF genres.)

Cthulhu 2000
In 1997 I started a new Cthulhu game with different players, set in the year 2000. I had not had the opportunity to make much use of the Dreamlands in the first game, so made it more central to this one, roughly alternating "waking world" and Dreamlands adventures. This campaign lasted for a little over a year (May 1997-August 1998). We accomplished more party cohesion than the first group, but still had some problems. Due to this and some general GM burnout, I called an indefinite hiatus to the campaign.

Cthulhu 2000 one-shots
In late 1999, I started making plans to run a follow-up adventure for some of the players of the Cthulhu 2000 campaign, in order to provide better closure for their characters. We ran a three-session "one-shot," "The White Lady," in February 2000.

Campaign Information
I have the following information on my Cthulhu games uploaded here:

General information for modern-day Cthulhu games
The Cthulhu 1995 Campaign (1995-96)
  • [Cthulhu 1995 PCs (converted to GURPS 4E in 1005)]
  • Some NPC portraits: [See my deviantArt gallery: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7]
The Cthulhu 2000 Campaign (1997-98)
"The White Lady" One-Shot (2000)
  • Preliminary e-mails to the Cthulhu 2000 players about loose ends
  • "The White Lady": PC blurbs and a player handout (Drew Mortimer's Faculty Show)
  • Drew Mortimer: Character sheet and background

The material presented here is my original creation, intended for use with the GURPS system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games. GURPS is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games. All rights are reserved by SJ Games. This material is used here in accordance with the SJ Games online policy.

Call of Cthulhu is the Registered Trademark of Chaosium Inc., and is used with their permission. Chaosium Inc. is the Registered Trademark of Chaosium Inc.

Last revised 8/22/2001 by Timothy E. Emrick. [Copied to Thastygliax's Vault 6/16/2017] | Copyright 1998-2000, [2005, 2017] Timothy E. Emrick