Skip to content

The Haunting of Cranston Place: Call of Cthulhu ala Cortex

October 31, 2012
Tips & Tricks

Tips & Tricks

This past weekend I put my gaming group through a Halloween-themed, Call of Cthulhu-style adventure using the Cortex system rules. I had to make a few tweaks to the system to give characters a “sanity” component, but I think it worked rather well and a good time was had by all.

Why Cortex?

We had a new role-player in our group and I find that rules-lite systems (such as Cortex) work best in those situations. Plus, as I’ve been running a Serenity RPG  campaign for the past couple of years, my players were already familiar with the basics and core concepts of Cortex.  This coupled with the fact that I do not, in fact, own a version of Call of Cthulhu (but have played it) influenced my decision.

But What About Insanity?

Mental Stress Track

Mental Stress Track

One of the core concepts of any Cthulhu-style game is that the players risk their very sanity in encountering various denizens of the Mythos. But the Cortex rules don’t really have a Sanity attribute or rules for going insane. There is a Complication of “Unstable”, however, so I glommed onto that to begin with.

Essentially what I did was give players an alternate stress bar for Mental attacks. A player could take Mental Stun (fatigue, stress, etc.) or Mental Wounds (actual psychological/neurological damage) from creatures.

  • For mental attacks, characters had Sanity Points (which corresponded to Life Points). These were tallied by adding the max die for INT and WIL. Each character had a number of Stun and Wound points based upon their Sanity Points.
  • For Mental Initiative, characters rolled their ALE + INT
  • For Mental Endurance, characters rolled their ALE + WIL
  • For Mental Resistance, characters rolled their WIL + WIL

Once Mental Stun/Wounds were at 1/2 their Sanity Point total, characters would react at a -2 to all Mental actions until recovery/treatment.

If Mental Wounds or Stun went to 0, character would need to roll a Mental Endurance roll at AVERAGE difficulty to stay conscious. This roll is made at +4 Difficulty each turn until recovery/treatment.

If  Mental Wounds = or exceed the Sanity Point total, the character would need to roll a Mental Endurance at EASY difficulty to avoid gaining the “Unstable” Complication (at +d4). Further damage means further rolls at +4 Difficulty to avoid the Complication.

If Mental Wounds taken are twice the Sanity Point total, the character experiences a complete mental breakdown or death.

The Haunting of Cranston Place

The Haunting of Cranston Place  is an old-fashioned haunted house story with a Call of Cthulhu element added. Four investigators (a Private Investigator, an Archaeologist, a Photographer, and an Occultist) are exploring the old manor house, each with their own agenda. Over the course of the day, various spooky encounters occur to rattle the investigators as they attempt to complete their tasks. At night–the true monsters emerge to terrorize the investigators. But, with luck, the investigators can discover the secrets of the house and seal an ancient gateway that is causing the Haunting of Cranston Place

My group seemed to have a pretty good time with this adventure–everyone really got into the spirit of the thing and ran with it. The adventure, I think, is a little flawed–or perhaps it was just operator-trouble on my part. From time to time I needed to pick up the pace and there may not be enough clues/coincidences to actually get people pointed in the right direction. However, my players eventually did–with a bit of coercion on the part of the PI.

The Adventure

If you’d like to sample the adventure for yourself, feel free to check out these downloads. Tweak them to your heart’s content. Hopefully you’ll have as much fun with them as I did!




From → Tips and Tricks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: