Towards the end of the weekly start-of-game discussion in which I try to remember what we were doing last time…
Me: [stumped] Sorry, why are we buying a load of cleaning equipment again?
TAFKAC: That’s you saying that, right, not your character? You’d better not be saying that in the shop. If you say that out loud I’ll kick you. And it will be a proper kick!
General Tangent: Yeah. The sort where you get to tick the box afterwards.
For those who’ve never played the game, Call of Cthulhu – along with its fellow Basic Roleplaying Sytem cousin Runequest – has an experience system in which your skills improve through use. Next to each skill on the character sheet is a little box; if at any point during a scenario you make a successful test when using that skill in a non-trivial situation, you can tick the box. At the end of the scenario, you can make a roll for each ticked skill to see if it’s improved.
While perhaps more realistic than D&D’s experience and level based system (“Dammit! I don’t think I know enough physics to get more than a grade B in my upcoming GCSE exam. Better go out and beat the shit out of a few homeless people so I can push for a grade A!”) it does have its flaws, such as the “Runequest Weapons Caddy” syndrome, in which combat participants switch weapons each time they score a successful hit, gradually working through the contents of their weapons bag.
And of course, you are prone to get sequences like:
Player: I’ll jump up onto the table, see if can I spot anything while listening for any unusual chatter, and then climb down. [Picks up dice]What happens? Should I roll?
GM: No. You don’t see anything, you don’t hear anything, everyone in the pub now thinks you’re a wanker, and the angry landlord gives you a rag to wipe off the mud you’ve left on his table.
Anyhow. He didn’t kick me. (And we were planning on forcing someone out of his house using some kind of chemical stink weapon, if you were wondering).