[RPG] An explanation of magic in Call of Cthulhu


I've been searching for an explanation on how magic works in CoC but I haven't found a big recap on how to use it, what it is and how an investigator can use it.

If someone had a link for me or an explication, I would really appreciate it.

Best Answer

There isn't much to know. Magic in Call of Cthulhu is not something that the player characters deal with much, if at all, since using magic usually means the end of the character:

Some characters will learn little bits of ritual magic during their time investigating the dark places of Earth. These spells tend to be very narrow, fairly powerful, and usually maddening to cast. If being an investigator is hard on the mind, becoming a sorcerer is downright suicidal at times. Academically inclined characters who decide to learn a few spells will have to balance their Sanity against the usefulness and power offered to them by magic.

Spells don't always and immediately cause the PC to be unplayable, but they likely do, so it's not a part of the game that players are expected to use much, if ever. How an investigator uses magic is usually highly dependent on how they discovered such a mind-breaking secret of the universe, and is therefore much more up to the Keeper's discretion than is usual for games with magic.

As for mechanical details, how magic operates (aside from destroying the caster's mind), is quite similar to how it works in other games in the Basic RolePlaying family: you begin casting the spell, you roll your magic skill (if applicable), you subtract the Magic Points from your pool, and the spell does what it says it does. The rest of a typical magic system (e.g., how you learn spells, how many you know, how you recharge Magic Points, etc.) are not really relevant, because investigators who cast spells are extremely rare, and rarely survive the experience. They certainly don't make a habit of doing it, let alone build up a repertoire of spells that they throw around casually as in fantasy variants of BRP.

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