Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Terrible Campagn Ideas: 70s Doctor Who using Cthulhu

So watching lots of 70s and early 80s SF and DrWho and I did have FASA DrWho RPG from 80s long ago. Occurred to me Call of Cthulhu with a few mods or BRP could work pretty well. I would fistly gear the sanity table to make people flee or feint mostly. Im not so interested in real depctions of mental health more the way it is used in fiction. In the Silurian a miner who saw cave lizard folk when mad and drew palaeolithic cave art on hospital walls plus others just die of fear. Other episodes had people go mad and hide. Certainly plenty of risk ignoring scientists out there. So some precedents for fear and sanity and include heart attacks more for NPSs. Heart failure might be an option for permanent insanity.

d12 Temporary Sanity

1 Flee and keep running until pass out exhausted
2 Flee and hide somewhere till it is safe
3 Flee screaming
4 Flee screaming, roll to avoid an accident or hazard in hysterical flight
5 Scream hysterically pointing and unable to act meaningfully
6 Paralysed with fear unable to move
7 Feint unconscious CON roll or lasts longer than temporary
8 Drop to floor or cover and curl into foetal position muttering or play dead
9 Cowardy panic and risk others in furious flight
10 Make heroic but possibly suicidal risk to attack or seek a weapon
11 Stagger away, blackout and remember nothing

12 Stunned and fall, get up and flee

d12 Permanent Insanity

1 Phobia related to trauma if triggered companion feels fear and discomfort
2 Surender and cooperate with evil everything will be fine
3 Ignore everything strange and get on with life, there is a rational explanation
4 Now eyes open see aliens and plots everywhere and obsessively document them
5 Deal with any lesser evil to get rid of the worse threat, win at any cost
6 Tell everyone your story every chance. People must know the truth!
7 Escape at all costs and prepare for possible horrors in the future
8 Take suicidal risks to destroy enemy by most destructive means or join an organisation
9 Dedicated to living a quiet ordinary adventure free life at home
10 Haunted by strange dreams and flashbacks in waking hours, real events?
11 Drug abuse and self-harm to cope with the horror
 Heart failure CON roll or fatal otherwise a d6 damage

So the first table is for characters and npcs who get shocked mostly by strange death and alien beings or psionic effects. The second is the sort of stuff that messes up NPCs for future prequel adventures. Some of these might reduce your lifespan or make it hard to have adventures without peers kidnapping you.

Don't really need a Cthulhu mythos score or SAN loss to be as common. Possibly recover from just rest/ It is mostly to torment mooks and npc's you meet and in all likelihood, they won't survive, especially in the gothic horror period who of Tom Baker. Possibly you might take min SAN loss from aliens after a while. 
I cant see books or san loss from information being relevant so SAN tables are mostly for seeing monsters or grisly mass murder.

Characters could all be timelords for the Celestial Intervention Agency or rebel timelords on the run with a tardis or one timelord a pc or npc and the rest mostly human assistants. The first Dr was a great NPC because he lied, tricked everyone just to see stuff and often was separated and spent hours in a palace while the companions had all the adventures and barley escaped and got Dr and tardis. I guess this is up to who runs it and what their idea of cannon is and the players. A UNIT campaign on Earth would be ok in a 70s version of the 80s that never were.

Types of Adventure

3rd Dr John Pertwee spent most adventures on earth at UNIT HQ trapped on earth and dealing with master making every adventure more complex and adding to episode count, It is a pretty sweet set up. Like X-Files but your get army guys who mostly just prove how hopeless humans are. UNIT does have good uses. Human science and madmen warmongering can make a story extend too. Alien invasion of the week is a good foundation. Possibly would dial blood up a bit to more Sam Peckinpah and rely on horror and investigation stories. I guess I would mostly feature scuffles, fistfights and some gun battles plus have mechanics to better facilitate those sneak up behind attacks that don't leave patients dealing with head trauma for life. Monsters need to KO people too so you can all wake up in prison in their base and hear all their plans.

Lots of visits to isolated utopias and locations with limited characters. Locals surviving and thriving is optional. Revisiting locations years later with new menace and descendants of last lot is good. Visiting someplace a few years or decades later with older friends is fun. At the end of an adventure, everybody left dead or unconscious is pretty cool too.

Quite a few adventures feature slimy tentacled things of course and revelations about the past and often use mythology rationalised in stories like classic mythos fiction. Image of the feudal is a favourite, creature in the pit (shoggoth), Metabelis psionic spiders, Power of Koll, Lots of aliens pushing cyborg and body replacement and mind control. I also like the biological tech of Axos and Xygons and many other races on the show have a history of using creepy looking organic machines and spaceships.

Obviously, you can have some fun with genre, locations and settings but I chose this era because it seemed more deadly and 3rd and 4th Doctors did feature fights, action, chases and mysteries so I might try one day. Possibly the SAN tables above could be used in a Hammer Horror type of setting also.

Anyway having first game with 3 players in meat space in 2 months and other game ppl still awol....of three games I was playing. So unlikely to try anything experimental or one-off in a hurry.


  1. Brill!

    Maybe a PC could recover the SAN lost from a bout of temporary insanity if their player hides behind the sofa for the rest of the encounter...

  2. It worked fine and dandy back in the 80's. We shifted to the Dr Who game fromm FASA which had some great sourcebooks but truthfully the CoC rules were much better.

  3. i think systems that theoreticly are lethal do horror better. My main problem in lots of modern games is i have no concern for harm in game while in 80s games it was frightening (MERP RQ PALADIUM)

  4. I think you mean faint not feint. But a faint as a feint would be a funny temporary insanity. Kind of playing possum I guess.


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