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Call of Cthulhu Keeper's Screen: For the 6th Edition Rules [With Poster] Hardcover – 3 Jan 2011

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Amazon.com: 16 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Nicely Made, Content Wanting 31 Jan. 2011
By Stephen Mann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This review is for the Keeper Screen for Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition.

The screen is very well made. It consists of three landscape panels depicting artwork on the player side and "useful" tables on the Keeper side. I'll come to why the double-quotes in a moment. There is also a poster included, which is atmospheric wall-art and nothing more. Would that it had included some useful information or been replaced entirely with a scenario as per the D20 Keeper Pack.

The materials used to make this item are very sturdy indeed. If you've seen any World of Darkness GM screen or the Deadlands Reloaded GM screen you'll have a good idea of the materials used to make this one. The card is more sturdy than you would find backing the average legal pad, and the whole thing is finished in a gloss laminate of some kind. It won't blow over if you sneeze like the D20 one will. It should last forever in normal use.

The artwork on the player side is awesome. It is a panoramic "colorized" shot circa mid 1920s of a group of investigators standing by their automobile viewing a distant megalithic circle in very atmospheric surroundings. In one corner is a Miskatonic University filing label. Two thumbs up.

(The artwork from the rulebook depicted on the package is actually a separate sheet).

The Keeper side is where the stars start being not right from where I'm sitting.

All GM/Keeper screen designers face the same difficult task: To identify everything a Keeper might need to know at a moment's turn of events and then find space for it all on a limited amount of real estate. It goes without saying, or should, that there is never enough room and stuff gets left off as a result of that. Not wasting space on unessential stuff is key.

On the left hand panel is mostly Insanity-related stuff. This is all good. What isn't is the totally useless list of all skills with their base percentages.

Now some systems have fiendishly involved character generation that can mean that including character generation stuff on the GM screen is a good idea. BRP is not such a system. Character generation involves rolling some dice, picking a profession and allocating your EDU roll x 20 to those skills listed in your profession (information which in NOT on the Keeper Screen I should add), then INT x 10 to any other skills. Since all the starting skill percentages are marked clearly on the character sheet and always have been since Edition 1, and since an NPC will have skills that are set to the needs of the plot, I can envisage no use whatsoever for the list of starting skill percentages that eats up a good 20% of the real estate on that left hand panel. A half star is not right.

The center panel is mostly taken up with the Resistance Table, an aide memoir on the combat round structure and some spot rules for rarely used things like fire, poison and so forth. All good uses, though the combat round thing won't see much use after a Keeper has run a couple of games because it is so ridiculously simple and easy to remember.

One oddity is that the various options available to a grappling player are listed, but not the actual process of getting the grapple on in the first place. Stupid omission, really, since grappling is so rare that it won't be easily remembered.

And I don't really need an explanation of what the characteristics mean on the screen either. I can look that up in a book if I can't summon the wherewithal to remember or figure out what STR, EDU, APP, INT etc etc etc mean. Another half star is Not Right for wasting yet more screen space on beginner character generation stuff.

The right hand panel is where the wheels really come off the old jalopy.

This is the panel nominally dedicated to combat, and mostly gun combat. Here we are presented with perplexing and incomplete information. The tables of firearms are of necessity shortened to a few representative types. No stars are not right on account of that. Such foreshortened tables can be massively useful on the spur of the moment.

However, the tables are not taken from the rulebook, but represent part of what looks like a new cinematic gunfire system quite at odds with the system used in Sixth Edition Call of Cthulhu. From the information on the screen it is not possible to understand the fundamental difference in the way a shotgun works when compared to all other firearms in all the editions of Call of Cthulhu published to date, for example, nor why the weapon is usually the popular weapon of choice for the unskilled marksman.

There is a rather nice isomorphic diagram that spells out how the gunfire table can be used to conduct gun battles with various sized targets at various ranges. It is all easily understood from the materials on the screen.

But, and this is the key complaint I have, it *isn't* sixth edition in any way, shape or form. What I *think* I'm looking at here is a "sneak peek" at Call of Cthulhu seventh edition. Just a wild guess there.

[EDIT] I was in conversation with one of the more prolific Chaosium contributing authors recently who told me the entire screen was a translated version of a French product. What this means as far as the combat system depicted wasn't clear from that exchange.[/EDIT]

The screen won't work seamlessly in this particular facet of the game with any published edition of the Call of Cthulhu rules, and certainly isn't anything like sixth edition, which is what it is advertised as being a play aid for. One whole star is not right on account of that.

I won't be using the gunfire rules on this screen in any games I run because the players won't stand for it. They've been playing for almost as long as I have and know how guns work. thus, almost a complete panel of this otherwise excellent screen is useless and the whole thing is missing a key aspect of the game in which useful information could have been included. Like the oft-asked questions of which shotgun is the "best" in a given situation.

So three stars for not saving some space by leaving off obvious non-essential stuff and thereby freeing up some room to include a proper Sixth Edition weapon table and gun combat summary.


Yes I know that current popular theory is that you shouldn't be fighting in a game of Call of Cthulhu. This is complete balderdash. Every single published scenario Chaosium puts out has combat prominently featured. The newly refurbished Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign (highly recommended) even starts out with an almost unavoidable combat.

I think the people who talk about not fighting in this game never actually play it. Never fight? Sometimes you are indeed the guy who is quietly going insane while waiting for the Things That Should Not Be to boil out of the corners in time and eat him, but sometimes you're one of the team that goes into the swamp to rescue the villagers from the vile cultists and recover the hideous statue at gunpoint.

Hey, Lovecraft *depth charged* one particular menace to the world at large. If combat worked for HPL, it works for me too.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful Screen 3 April 2011
By FRANCK J FLORENTIN - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I'm posting this "review" to add some explanations to some of the content of this beautiful Screen:

A couple years ago, the French editor "Sans-Détour" published a French V6 for the Call of Cthulhu game, with a slightly different game system (still based on the Chaosium Basic Roleplaying system or BRP). It was designed as an evolution of the current rule system used for CoC in the US. Pretty much every part of the game system was partially redesigned, adding three "levels" of gaming : Lovecraftian Horror (the closest to HPL books and the most "hardcore"), Occult Investigation (a bit more action, better character survival chance) and Pulp Action. The Combat system and was revisited for more realism as well. Since then, several US addons were translated and adapted to this new edition's game system, including a new GM screen.

The US GM screen is actually taking a lot of information, as well as the art, from the French edition GM screen. The player side art is the same, some of the left and certain panes, and a lot of the right pane information come from the French game system, which explains why some of it seems odd if you compare it to the US 6th edition. Hopefully the 7th edition of the US CoC will include more information about it, at least that's what the GM screen suggests. Luckily I do own the French 6th edition from Sans-Détour, so these rules do make sense to me :)
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The best screen Chaosium has ever made. 26 Jan. 2011
By Troy Wilhelmson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I just picked up the new Call of Cthulhu Keeper's Screen and I am just amazed by it. First off it is hard cover and very durable. Secondly, the information on it is fantastic with a gauge for those pesky 20% of sanity losses and instant stats for NPCs. There is a lot of information packed on the screen but not so much that it is confusing. Finally it has a great adventure evoking image on the front which will surely get your players into that classic Call of Cthulhu mood (the Model T is a nice touch).

The only criticism I can think of is the inclusion of a poster of the elder gods. It is an interesting image but I would rather have a short adventure scenario or a poster of Arkham.

In the end, the screen is well worth the cost and will be invaluable to any Call of Cthulhu Keeper.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A lovely screen! 24 Mar. 2013
By Grant C. Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've never used an actual screen for my gaming before (in our group we just hide our stuff behind binders or something) but this is a great improvement. After reading some other reviews I was a little iffy about how useful the information would be--but it's really amazing and handy. Even stuff that you wouldn't think would be handy, like base skill percentiles, is great to just have right in front of you--for if you need to generate an NPC on the fly, for instance.

The art on the back (front?) side is also quite lovely and evocative of the Call of Cthulhu experience. It's nothing special, but it's nice and fits the tone.

I wasn't aware of this, but it also comes with a poster referencing some of the mythos deities, which is also rather neat. A nice little bonus.

Overall, I'd say if you like to Keep for Call of Cthulhu, there's no real reason not to have this, even if you can get by just fine without it. It's an amazing tool.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
One of the Best Role-Playing Screens! 13 Jun. 2011
By M. Smits - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This game screen for Call of Cthulhu 6th edition has almost everything I could ever want in a screen. The key information found in it is perfect for any Keeper! Key parts of combat, sanity, skills, and weapons are nicely placed. I really liked how it wasn't flooded with excessive details I have seen in other game master screens. Best of all it is of a heavier stock durable paper, making it the strongest game screen I have ever seen. the only thing I could ask to make this amazing screen even better would be the art on the other side. With all of the fantastic art for the Chtulhu Mythos, I was hoping for more interesting art.
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