In Fear of Fear

I’m currently working on the new Phobia Deck for Call of Cthulhu 7E. The deck was one of the early stretch goals from the kickstarter and consists of 40+ oversized ‘playing’ cards. Each card provides information on one phobia, its effects and possibilities for player investigators. During a game of Call of Cthulhu if (read ‘when’) an investigator goes insane, the Keeper will choose some form of insanity to affect the character temporarily or indefinitely (read permanently, more or less). Normally it takes a moment or two for the Keeper to decide what form the insanity will take, which sometimes can break into the pace of the game, or at least pull attention away from other events currently happening.

Red-kneed tarantula Brachypelma smithii

Red-kneed tarantula

The phobia cards allow the Keeper to prepare a card ahead of time or give the player one randomly – as the card explains the insanity effect, the player can read this whilst the Keeper sorts out the other things happening in the current scene. The card should provide enough guidance to the player so that they are able to respond to the current situation in an appropriate manner without the need for a break in the game. Once the immediate scene is dealt with, the Keeper and player can of course discuss the insanity further as required; adding further specific details or clarifying as necessary. All in all the cards should empower both the Keeper and player, allowing them to simply get on with the game without needing to refer back to the rulebook and so on.

The makeup of the deck is shaping up like this –

15-17 phobia cards – each one detailing a specific phobia. e.g. ‘You now have an irrational fear of spiders’.

15-17 mania cards – again detailing a specific mania or compulsion. e.g. ‘You now have an uncontrollable urge to laugh in the most inappropriate situations’.

6-8 Bout of madness cards – each one describes how your investigator responds to a bout of madness (i.e. they have just gone insane – this is the first thing they do…).

6-8 Bout of madness ‘summary’ cards – as above but used when the investigator concerned is alone. Each card summarises the next few hours and how the investigator finds themselves and their surroundings when they eventually come to their senses. e.g. ‘You wake up in a ditch, covered in blood and feathers. You smell of chickens. You have no memory of how you came to be here.’


Fear by J. Astra Brinkmann

Interestingly, Chaosium has said that they will produce a blank pdf version of a phobia card, which will allow Keepers to make up their own text and print out cards specific to their games. This should be very useful and allow Keepers to really personalise cards for the individual player investigators.

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