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The Douchey DM » Misc, RPG Industry BS » I Don’t Trust Chaosium

I Don’t Trust Chaosium

I want Chaosium to succeed. Call of Cthulhu is a favorite of mine. I want to see it do well. I want to see the 7th edition take off and bring new players to the table.

I want Chaosium to succeed. Really.

I just don’t trust them. Read on:

– For years people would pay well over $300 US for a copy of Masks of Nyarlathotep. Why did it take so long to reprint? While nothing is ever certain, if people are willing to pay ridiculously high prices for this book USED, it seems a likely scenario a reprint would sell pretty well. The same goes for Horror on the Orient Express. Going by the Kickstarter money they got for it, I’d opine a reprint has been overdue for a long, long time.

– Curse of the Chthonians. A reprint of a book I have yet to recall ever seeing someone clamoring for. It had a higher page count than the original, but it turned out to be essentially the same book (a bit of the art was changed) with an increased font size. And with so many years between printings, you’d think they could find someone to spell check the manuscript. See here for more on this reprint.

– We got an overpriced (in my opinion) 30th anniversary edition of rulebook I would assume most of us Call of Cthulhu players already have. On top of that, it’s the same book as the 25th anniversary edition with a new cover. Weak.

– Why did it take so many years to get a new Keeper Screen? People were asking for this for years. And according to Reviews from R’lyeh, Chaosium waited until a French company created a very nice screen and then produced one based on that.. It even includes rules on it that aren’t in the English version of the 6th edition rule book.

Posters on the Yog-Sothoth forum claim Chaosium took credit card transactions over an unsecured connection beginning in 2010. If you read the whole thing, you’ll see complaints started in November 2010, and about eight pages in you’ll see a guy reporting unauthorized charges on his credit card just a few days after ordering from Chaosium in April 2011. It’s a fascinating, horrifying read.

– In the past, a freelancer writer claimed he had issues getting some or all of his payments.

– In September of 2013, a Kickstarter for Cthulhu-based playing cards was stalled when Chaosium attempted to exert a trademark — even going so far as to contact the playing card manufacturer.

– And the thing I hate most: the monographs. Anyone and everyone can submit a monograph, sign a contract, and Chaosium will put it up for sale on their site. From the Chaosium site:

“On these products the author has also fulfilled the functions of editor and layout artist; we at Chaosium have done little in the way of editorial.”

After having read quite a few monographs, I now interpret this to mean, “throw it together, we’ll publish it and take people’s money without any real effort.”

It should be of no surprise that some of these monographs are terrible. There ARE good ones. I recommend anything by Oscar Rios. But nearly all of the opinions I’ve read agree that by and large Chaosium’s monographs just aren’t that good. You can read reviews of some of them here. Yog-Sothoth has multiple forum topics on the quality of Chaosium’s monographs.

I just can’t imagine any other RPG company treating their customers this poorly. Their history doesn’t show a company that cares for it’s fans. I’ll say it again: Call of Cthulhu is a favorite of mine. I want to see Chaosium succeed.

I just don’t trust them.

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Living in his secluded mansion off the coast of Iowa, JimTo often spends evenings reading, role playing, and writing for DoucheyDM. His best qualities are being loud, rude, and obnoxious, but for some reason, people still love him.

Filed under: Misc, RPG Industry BS

6 Responses to "I Don’t Trust Chaosium"

  1. thadrineNo Gravatar says:

    Their rule book has effectively been the same for the last 30 years. That should tell you everything you need to know.

    Just pick up Trail of Cthulhu. It has much better support, rules, and adventures anyway.

  2. jcfialaNo Gravatar says:

    Their rule book has effectively been the same for the last 30 years. That should tell you everything you need to know – they did it right the first time, and everything they’ve published is compatible with the rules you have now.

  3. Marcelo D. Ferrari (@Marcellvs)No Gravatar says:

    The thing with Albino Dragon’s Cthulhu playing cards worked you alright, didn’t it? I mean, I’ve got my deck… Does anyone know if they paid Chaosium to shut up or somebody got lawyer-smart?

  4. kaneofmelniboneNo Gravatar says:

    Chaosium is a small publisher who caters to niche audiences. ‘Selling well’ for an rpg is worse than comic book sales, and that’s popular ones. Reprinting books is an expensive investment. Sure, there are people willing to pay $300, but that in no way entails there is a large enough market for reprints. Maybe some people will pay $1,000,000 for a car, but maybe nobody else would pay a dollar for it. Demand functions are discontinuous, they do not slope evenly (at least not necessarily). And why would anyone buy Anniversery and Deluxe books to begin with boggles me. I wish they’d stop putting art in the books so they’d be cheaper. What the Hell do I care about doodles I’ll ignore after a week? The internet has free pictures.

  5. rjschwarzNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t know the time line but perhaps all of the problems you talk about took place after Greg and Sandy left the company. if so this could mean straightening things out again.

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