Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gerald "Gerry" Cohen, my Trail of Nyarlathotep character.

I'm playing Gerald "Gerry" Cohen in a Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign under the Trail of Cthulhu rules set. I asked my gamemaster what type of character would better fit in his game; he told me a reporter or private detective would do the trick. I went as far as asking if the group needs brains or muscle. "Muscles" he answer. From there I came up with the idea for Gerry.
My main drive while creating Gerry is to deconstruct the archetype of the Pulp private detective.  By deconstruct, I mean having the character react to realisticly to the idealized circumstances of the pulp private eye.  For example, most private eyes are funtional drunks who manage to get things done after downing 3 or 4 Jack-on-the-Rocks. Gerry, on the other hand, can't handle his alcohol. He's athletic. He rather eat healthy than drink enough to build an unnatural resistance to booze. He is far from the womanizing Dicks of the pulps, he gets nervous around women and doesn't know how to beheave around them. As opposed to having a Femme Fatale to be his romantic downfall, he falls in love with any woman who pays attention to him. Gerry is constatly involved in complex platonic love affairs that never pan out. 
He's not too clever, he is brash and very foolhardy. But in direct contrast to the cynical P.I. of literature, he's an optimist and and believes in doing the right thing.
I email my Game Master these bullet-points about Gerry's biographical info:

  • Born on February 14, 1892. This makes him 33-ish during the events of the campaign (1925).
  • Comes from a family of 4. His father, Gerald was a Policeman for the the NYPD. His mother, Margarett was the typical house wife. His brother, Benjamin became a business owner. 
  • He grew up in the Bronx.
  • He joined the Police Force as soon as he was old enough.
  • He got himself kicked out of the force when he pistol whipped a wife beater half to death after he beat the rap. 
  • He doesn't know how to hold his alcohol, so he avoids drinking. He only drinks to impress women. 
  • He's always involved in some crazy platonic love with a female client or any woman he comes in contact with in his daily life. He doesn't really know how to act around women. He tries too hard to impress them. It never works.
  • He became a Private Investigator after being fired. He likes the leeway it gives him dispensing "justice" (which isn't the same as LAW.)
  • He mostly does missing persons cases; most of them pro-bono if it's a female client. (credit rating 3).

  • I plan to keep my promise to chronicle our group's take on Chaosium's classic campaign. I'll post everything relating to the game here.


    1. I'm realy curious to know how ToC compares to classic CoC. I took a look at the rulebook, mainly teh character generation system and got the feel it was a whole lot less intuitive than the older game.

      I also couldn't really make heads or tails out of the core system itself in my light skimming

    2. I wouldn't say that Gumshoe isn't as intuitive as BRP. In fact, after playing a session I think it's very intuitive. The mechanics behind the two games a just too different to compare.

      I also didn't make heads or tails out of the system during my first light read. I showed up to character creation not really knowing the first thing about creating my Character. My Keeper explained the core mechanics ( the basic roll) in a few sentences. After that, the system became very simple and quite logical.
      The problem with ToC is that the writers didn't do a good job organizing their explanations about the system. Cthulhu D20, for example, explained the main mechanic of the game ( rolling a D20 and adding Ranks and other bonuses) before fully getting into character creation. Knowing the very core mechanic of the game makes it way easier to follow along with the text.
      ToC, on the other hand, explains the intricacies of character generation without really even exposing you to the core mechanic of the game. They go on to tell you how to distribute investigative ability points and general ability points during character creation before even hinting at what a ToC skill roll looks like! You don't know how this numbers affect gameplay, you just know that you start dividing them up into different skills and that's it. You know how to do it, but you don't know what your doing. It's just horrible organization.
      Let me see if I can help you out a bit by explaining the most basic die roll

      Gerry Cohen is going to attempt to Filch (pick-pocket) a watch from a dame's purse. The Keeper determines that the roll has a difficulty of 4.

      You roll 1d6 against a difficulty of 4. If you get four or more, you succeed.

      Abilities come into play as bonuses to your die roll. You have to decide how many (if any) of your ability points you are going to add to the die roll.

      Continuing with the previous example: Gerry's Filch ability has a score of 4. Before rolling, I decided I want to spend 2 Filch ability points to stack the odds in my favor. Gerry's filch roll becomes,
      1d6+2(the amount of points I spent) against the same difficulty of 4. The result of the die roll was 2, but I get to add the 2 points I spent, so the total ends up being 4. A success!
      Gerry's Filch ability is reduced by 2, so now his Filch ability score is 2. If it ever is reduced to 0, Gerry won't be able to pick pocket anymore until he regenerates the spent points through rest.
      That's it! I hope that helped a bit. After my Keeper explained Die Rolling, the whole system became very, very simple and fun.

      ToC is a totally different way to experience Call of Cthulhu. I feel confident to say that if you are a hardcore investigative scenario fan, then ToC is the way too go. If you are a bit tired of the BRP ( even great things get old), you are going to love ToC because is a very solid and fluid system.
      I can't really say how lethal it in relation to combat because I haven't gotten into a fight...yet.

      Thanks for reading my blog, btw! ;)