Trail of Cthulhu: Pulp versus Purist

Back in this post, we had a debate regarding the pulp and purist takes on Lovecraft’s work in Trail of Cthulhu.   Now that I’ve got the book, let me see how Kenneth Hite handles it:

One [such game] is the Purist idiom or mode, which takes a subset of HP Lovecraft’s later and starker works (The Colour out of Space, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow Out of Time, The Whisperer in Darkness) as its model.   It intends to recreate a game of philosophical horror…

The second is the Pulp idiom or mode, which aims rather for the “desperate action” feel of Robert E. Howard’s Cthulhu Mythos stories (The Thing on the Roof, The Fire of Asshurbanipal, Skull-Face).  It intends to focus on the struggle (especially the physical struggle) against the Mythos, doomed or noble as the case may be…

Lest we be inclined to think that this is a Howard/Lovecraft split, Hite goes on to describe particular Lovecraft stories and how they fit into different categories, and how some have elements of both.

This is an eminently sensible way to handle this, I think.   It gives the purists and pulp players what they want without either of them insisting that they’re running a game “faithful to Lovecraft” by emphasizing that they’re running a particular perspective of Lovecraft.  What the game doesn’t provide much support for is running a game set in the middle – where, ironically, “The Call of Cthulhu” is.  In many cases, you can either choose between a pulp or purist game.  Sure, you can use some pulp and some purist elements, but it’s not something that’s supported, as far as I can tell.

I’ll have more posts on the topic in the days to come.

Published in: on March 8, 2008 at 7:54 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Thanks for the feedback.

    The Purist and Pulp rules are in most cases pick and mix, so you can place yourself on a broad spectrum from one extreme to another. In some cases you will have to choose between either a Pulp or a Purist option, but usually not.

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