Roll20 Review – Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook

The seventh edition of Call of Cthulhu on Roll20 includes the full rulebook, two modules, and a token art pack.

roll20 review

A review copy of the module was provided. Read more Roll20 Reviews and watch the video reviews on my YouTube channel.

Support my video work via Patreon.

My knowledge of the Cthulhu Mythos reaches about as far as the average clueless investigator or journalist at the beginning of a Lovecraft story. What little experience I have is derided from tabletop games such as Elder Sign and Mansions of Madness., though I did recently interview the original creator of the Call of Cthulhu tabletop RPG, Sandy Petersen, in a feature article for Dicebreaker [shameless plug].

The seventh edition of Call of Cthulhu has arrived on Roll20, with the official integration of the 7e Keeper Rulebook into the compendium, along with several modules. The bundle should offer everything you need to get started on hunting Great Old Ones, though the RPG’s emphasis on horror, role-playing, and investigation doesn’t necessarily translate well to a virtual tabletop.

MAJOR SPOILERS – DM’s only!

The following content is included in the $54.95 Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook:

  • Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook (7e) compendium, including:
    • Over 400 pages and 16 chapters.
    • Over 80 monster statblocks.
    • Hundreds of items.
  • “Amidst the Ancient Trees” module, which includes:
    • Alphabetized token page.
    • Journal organized into three days
    • Four non-gridded region maps
    • 12 Player Art handouts
  • “Crimson Letters” module, which includes
    • Alphabetized token page.
    • Journal organized by locations.
    • Dramatis Personae includes 9 new NPCs w/ token art.
    • Two non-gridded region maps
    • Two grid maps w/ Dynamic Lighting (Roll20 sub required)
    • Over a dozen player art handouts.
  • Character Art Pack, includes 27 human tokens.

roll20 review

The entire 400+ page 7e Call of Cthulhu rulebook has been disseminated into the Compendium, with entries listed alphabetically. The Compendium lacks subheadings, making it messy to search through, though you have the option of finding Chapter One and leafing through the rulebook page by page. You’ll find everything you need to run the game, create characters, and instill the setting and themes of the cult and monster-filled world of the 1920s.

The two included modules, “Amidst the Ancient Trees” and “Crimson Letters,” provide different examples of stories and gameplay.

“Crimson Letters” is a murder mystery that takes place in and around the infamous Miskatonic University in the New England town of Arkham. A professor has been brutally murdered after acquiring and attempting to sell a rare bundle of letters from the Salem Witch Trials. Naturally the letters are super evil, and by attempting to copy them, have unleashed a monstrosity that tears up anyone the professor has come in contact with.

It’s up to the players to investigate the death and ask around to known associates, buyers, lovers, and rivals. It’s very heavy on role-playing, though also includes two gridded battle maps, and lots of lovely NPC token art.

roll20 review

The other module is “Amidst the Ancient Trees,” which is much more straight horror as the players are sent to track down a kidnapped girl who’s been taken into some woods by a gang in the hopes of ransoming her to rich daddy. But the woods hold a far darker secret, an ancient evil that can corrupt any who veer too close, turning them into ghoulish monsters that work to unearth its prison.

I wish the two modules’ resources had been reversed, as “Amidst the Ancient Trees” has only a single relevant region map, despite having the potential for many more combat scenarios and the need for battle maps. It also completely lacks token art for its NPCs. It’s more of a traditional D&D-dungeon crawl, yet without maps or viable tokens, feels much less complete than “Crimson Letters.”

I was very impressed with the single pre-generated character, which is available in both modules. Harvey Walters is given a full walkthrough on his character creation process in the Bio & Info section, helpfully giving new players a hands-on example.

roll20 review

The Call of Cthulhu character sheets are also drop-dead gorgeous. Colorful, functional, and easy to flip through tabs to look at skills. Rolling a skill is as easy as clicking on it, then clicking the roll button, with an option to whisper it discreetly to the Keeper. I wish every TTRPG had a character sheet that looked this good and performed this well.

Unfortunately NPCs are not given their own character sheets. None of the NPCs in the modules are tied to character sheets. If you drag and drop any from the compendium, you’re given blank sheets and placeholder token art, which is very disappointing. I’m not sure if this is a byproduct of the Call of Cthulhu RPG or something that’s missing from the Roll20 adaptation.

The included  character art pack goes a long way in providing over 20 ready-to-go token art for player characters and/or NPCs, though we get nothing in the way of monsters aside from the few already present in the modules.

Despite the impressive player character sheets and fun (if short) modules, the lack of battle maps, token art, and NPC character sheets makes for a poor showing on a virtual tabletop like Roll20. On the flip side, Call of Cthulhu is less concerned with tactical grid-based combat, and more focused on story-telling, role-playing, and immersing fully into this supernatural alt-history setting.

Pros:

  • The two modules showcase different playstyles and themes within the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Gorgeous and robust 7e player character sheets.
  • Pre-generated character with extensive notes.

Cons:

  • “Amidst the Ancient Trees” features almost no token/character art.
  • “Amidst the Ancient Trees” has no battle maps.
  • NPCs lack character sheets.

The Verdict: The included modules offer a solid sample of what Call of Cthulhu offers, though the system’s emphasis on Role-playing and investigation makes it a poor transition to the virtual tabletop.

A review copy of the module was provided. Read more Roll20 Reviews and watch the video reviews on my YouTube channel.

Support my video work via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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