We're not in Forgotten Realms anymore...
I thought I’d put together a few hints for you guys so that you don’t all go insane and kill yourselves:
Call of Cthulhu differs in feel and motivation from D&D. Normally, PC’s can directly confront and attempt to destroy obstacles and opponents and succeed, but this strategy generally leads to disaster in CoC scenarios. The majority of other-world monstrosities are so terrible and often so invulnerable that choosing open combat almost guarantees a gruesome end for the investigators. Even the merest glimpse of some of the more macabre horrors can send one into screaming insanity. What can a player do, then?
First, the investigators should determine what they are up against. This may involve going to the library, speaking with local residents, trying to obtain journals and diaries of those
involved, and weighing reports of the problem, perhaps with the help of arcane books. To save time, split up the group and look in different places. as long as it seems safe.
Often newspapers and diaries have pertinent information. Libraries, newspaper files, state and local records of births and deaths, historical societies, hospitals and schools, individual doctors and lawyers, ministers and priests, and private organizations like chambers of commerce – among others! – may offer information which proves lifesaving in retrospect. Don’t worry too much about choosing the right place to look: listen closely to your keeper, who’ll be dropping clues.
Many times published scenarios include quotations, excerpts, statements, or letters which are given to the players to study and interpret. These materials always contain clues or potentially useful information – or they would not be handed out.
Question local inhabitants carefully and try to befriend the non-player characters whom your investigators meet. Consider what they have to say. Even if they know nothing now, they may be of help in the future. As detectives of the supernatural, investigators should proceed cautiously and try to make allies. Anything could be out there.
At The Scene
At the scene of an investigation or disturbance, the investigators should comb the area for clues, looking in desks and dressers, inspecting the closing and belongings of victims, and attempting to arrive at a realistic picture of what happened. If important information is to be found, the keeper will be patient with queries and rolls.
Take precautions and stay together where danger has been: something as bad or worse might return. If that Something does return, and there is no easy way to handle it, do not hesitate to run.
Make A Plan
When you understand the situation, make a plan to deal with the problem. Novice players should not assume that the danger is too much to face – any competent keeper will try to match the dangers to the party’s capabilities, unless he or she has already clearly warned of the over-match.
If disaster occurs and eldritch horrors overwhelm the party, those who can should flee and leave the scenario as a story better left untold! If the keeper consents, the players might attempt the same scenario later on, when they feel more confident and their investigators are better able to handle themselves. Of course, the keeper is within his rights to beef up the monsters and dangers of the scenario. After all, the horror has had time to grow as well.
Use Your Head
The cheapest and safest way to emerge victorious is to use brain power. In many published scenarios, a way exists for the investigators to solve or dispel the problem with little or no physical combat, though Sanity may need risking.
As a rule of thumb, pursue physical combat against creatures who have already made physical attacks. Otherwise rely on repeating the words from the manuscript, breaking the mirror that the tracks lead through, melting down the dire statuette, and so on. If the investigators find out that a grisly demon inhabits the old rickety mine shaft, they need not climb down it again and get eaten or struck permanently insane. They could set fire to the mine supports, dynamite the shaft, or pour concrete into the opening, thus burying the threat, perhaps forever.