Sandy Petersen, the creator who turned Lovecraft’s literature into the second most popular role-playing game in history

I suggested going on an adventure Greetings Lovecraft to publisher Chaosium and they ordered a full game from me because they knew I wrote well and had no late deliveries. It took me a year to design it on an old electric typewriter.Because there were no computers & rdquor ;. This is how simple and humbling Sandy Petersen’s memory is when referring to the landmark that will mark his life, and the lives of millions of people around the world, nearly half a century ago: the creation of a role-playing game. Cthulhu callin the work and legends of the writer HP Lovecraft.

With seven rules updates behind it, versions in multiple languages ​​(the first version was published in Spanish in 1988) and a dedicated community of players (with glossy names like Alex de la Iglesiawho even watched his own adventure based on the published game, The dreadful joke), Cthulhu call It is more than just a celebrity surrogate Dungeons and Dragons, the medieval fantasy game that laid the foundations that would later make role-playing a worldwide success and remains a formidable benchmark in the sector. Petersen, visiting Madrid at the invitation of International Leisure and Leisure Fair, Interocio, He sums it up, again, neatly: “V Dungeons and Dragons You always want to see the beast and what happens. With Lovecraft, the opposite is true.

It was this starting point that led Petersen to conceive a different game based on the basic rules of runexta sword-and-sorcery role-playing game created by the publisher I worked for in the late 1970s. runext It repeated the typical role-playing dynamic of the time, with a group of players creating characters whose abilities and wealth increased as they completed adventures and challenges from the mind of a gamemaster or gamemaster.

creator Cthulhu callHowever, he was betting Set your game in a realistic everyday environment, where players encounter terrifying supernatural challenges beyond all explanation. “I think part of the game’s success is that it’s a horror game, and one of the keys to feeling fear is that everything takes place somewhere that you can reasonably imagine,” says Sandy Petersen. The game was originally set in the 1920s, though that has changed over time. “The 1920s are similar to the modern era, you can easily update the settings. You can imagine picking up your cellphone and going to Twitter and seeing King in Yellow or something terrible coming to you online,” says Petersen.

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different model

Lovecraft’s unique vision proved pivotal to the game’s tone. Many authors try to convince you that what they tell you can happen. Lovecraft always puts himself in the shoes of a character who doesn’t believe in the supernatural.” This reasoning allowed him to develop one of the differential elements in the role-playing game: Sanity Points, a characteristic that determines a character’s mental strength and which deteriorates when he is subjected to inexplicable events. Unlike games that focus on combat, where a character is eliminated when he loses all his “life points”, in Cthulhu call The player can lose it alternate personality Rolero is caused by temporary or permanent insanity caused by excessive or prolonged exposure to inexplicable events.

Sandy Petersen recalls realizing the importance of this new idea in one of her test sessions. In it, players entered their character in a house and found a book with a spell to summon a monster. The players decide to go downstairs and call him. So, says the game designer, they did something no role-playing player has ever seen: “Have one character make his character walk up the stairs, another make his character close his eyes and another tell his character to turn around.” It wasn’t that the players were afraid, he notes, but that their characters “acted afraid because of their sanity. That’s when I knew I had stumbled upon something important.”

Until then, the most common dynamic for role-playing players was to combine the use of investigative and negotiation skills with fighting enemies whose defeat provided gold, resources, and success. “If you play any other RPG, you explore, kill monsters, get wealth and experience, and become more powerful in order to kill larger monsters,” says the American author. Cthulhu callA big standoff might involve trying to pour a lot of concrete to cover the entrance to the cave.

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Cthulhu call It changes the saga to manage the unpredictability which, in any case, serves to remove the drama from the gaming experience. If you lose your 10th level character in Dungeons and Dragons You regret all the time you invested to get there. at the call of Cthulhu, You appreciate that he died spectacularly. It’s a dark and scary game but when I see people playing it they laugh like no other game” says its creator.

Pioneer on Lovecraft and more

Sandy Petersen discovered the work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft at the age of eight, through an edition From The Dunwich Horror that the US Army distributed it to its troops in World War II and that his father kept it in a safe. From that moment on, the search for information and books by an author that almost no one knew was worthy of a character in a role-playing game began. “I was the first person to put Lovecraft into a game. At the time, Lovecraft wasn’t very well known. Almost everyone who heard about Lovecraft knew him through me,” the author highlights. The truth is The role-playing game from publisher Chaosium has been the entry point for many to meet an author Which, since its work became public domain and free use in 2008, has increased its presence in all kinds of entertainment formats.

Although successful Cthulhu callSandy Peterson He gave up role-playing games at the end of the 1980s to reinvent himself as a video game creator and co-creation of some of the most iconic titles in the history of the sector. “I was living in a tiny two-bedroom apartment with my wife and four kids, and I decided things had to change. After a few projects, he jumped into civilization to Mr. Meyer And from there, to invent most of the levels of legendary epics such as death also earthquake. But his greatest pride is impressing those responsible for the strategic game Age of Empires to include Native American civilizations in the second and third installments, allowing players to grow and expand on the Aztecs and Comanche in their battle for world domination.

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Petersen He ends up going back to his origins. In 2013, his board game Cthulhu Wars It was a complete success, raising nearly one and a half million dollars in its crowdfunding campaign. Far above the modest initial target, in the amount of $40,000. From there, he continued to create games, this time from his own publisher.

Despite this, and despite his impressive career, the American continues to present himself with true humility. “I know I’m a game creator on some level, but I think of myself as a fan, What’s going on is that I’ve had the good feeling of making games about topics that no game has, pointing to. His current project takes him back to his origins, an all-new role-playing game. “I think that RPGs are a new art style Which combines imagination, design, world building, and interaction between players, and is therefore good for everyone.”

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