MUP Episode 177 – An Ounce of Experience is a Pound of Roleplay

This episode, all four hosts are in the house to talk about “experience packages” for your investigators. Plus we go over ENnies nominations, news updates, Listening Room segments, and more. This episode was recorded on July 4, 2019.

This episode was proudly sponsored by TYPE40 and GOLDEN GOBLIN PRESS.

TYPE40 has an Official Chaosium Call of Cthulhu Investigator’s Notepad with an Elder Sign embossed on the cover. Or, you can protect yourself from the Mythos with a classic Elder Sign embossed leather key fob. Or, you might consider a hand made Chaosium Call of Cthulhu leather document wallet. Check out these amazing products, (and more), at the TYPE40 website. And remember, that if you are going to GenCon 2019, TYPE40 is planning to be right there at the Chaosium booth, where you can catch Allan Carey and chat about all of their Call of Cthulhu immersive props. 
GOLDEN GOBLIN PRESS was honored with an ENnie nomination, (more on that later), and GGP President, Oscar Rios, honored the Miskatonic University Podcast by sponsoring this episode which features the Season 3: Episode 1 of Glimpses Into the Empire, by Oscarious Tabularis! Take a listen HERE!


For the sake of keeping this focused, we are going to stick to stick to horror- and lovecraft-related role playing games. Sometimes it’s hard to tell exactly what should count as horror. Sorry in advance if we stuff that up. We’re also going to skip over the lists of authors or creators unless there is a clear single creator named. We’ll have a link to the whole nominations in the show notes, along with the link to Chaosium’s announcement post, which covers some nominations for Glorantha, Runequest and other non-horror games. And we’re skipping over categories that have no noms in our range of coverage.

  • Best Adventure
    • Masks of Nyarlathotep, Chaosium 
    • The Persephone Extraction, a campaign for Night’s Black Agents by Pelgrane Press
  • Best Aid/Accessory – Non-Digital
    • Masks of Nyarlathotep Gamer Prop Set, The H. P.Lovecraft Historical Society Inc.
  • Best Art, Cover
    • Bluebeard’s Bride: Book of Mirrors, Magpie Games — Artist: Rebecca Yanovskaya
    • Call of Cthulhu – Terror Australis 2nd Edition, Chaosium — Artist: M. Wayne Miller
    • KULT: Divinity Lost, 4th Edition of KULT – Core Rules, Helmgast AB — Artist: Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme
  • Best Art, Interior
    • KULT: Divinity Lost 
  • Best Cartography 
    • Lamp’s Light Sanitarium: A Horror Campaign for 5e, Saturday Morning Scenarios — Cartographer: Toby Lancaster
  • Best Electronic Book
    • Fear’s Sharp Little Needles, Stygian Fox Publishing
  • Best Free Game / Product
    • Die Laughing, Sliced Up, NerdBurger Games — Author: Craig Campbell
  • Best Game 
    • Mothership: Player’s Survival Guide, Tuesday Knight Games (a great space horror game)
  • Best Layout and Design 
    • Bluebeard’s Bride: Book of Mirrors, Magpie Games – Miguel Angel Espinoza (another great game) 
  • Best Monster/Adversary 
    • Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos, Pelgrane Press
    • Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for 5e, Petersen Games
  • Best Online Content 
    • Seth Skorkowsky 
  • Best Podcast
    • Asians Represent!
    • Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff
    • Plot Points
    • Red Moon Roleplaying
    • She’s a Super Geek
  • Best RPG Related Product
    • Bluebeard’s Bride: Book of Lore, Magpie Games
    • Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Masks of Nyarlathotep, The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society 
    • Deven Rue Map Weights Set, Campaign Coins (not horror)
    • Miskatonic University: The Restricted Collection, Chaosium 
  • Best Rules
    • Call of Cthulhu Starter Set, Chaosium
    • Mothership: Player’s Survival Guide, Tuesday Knight Games (space horror game)
    • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Rulebook, Cubicle Seven Entertainment (but is is horror??)
  • Best Setting
    • Call of Cthulhu – Terror Australis 2nd Edition, Chaosium
    • The Fall of DELTA GREEN, Pelgrane Press
  • Best Writing
    • KULT: Divinity Lost 
    • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Core Rulebook (but is it horror??), Cubicle Seven 
  • Product of the Year 
    • Masks of Nyarlathotep Gamer Prop Set, The H. P.Lovecraft Historical Society 
    • Mothership: Player’s Survival Guide, Tuesday Knight Games
  • Best Supplement, (making an exception to the rule of not reading full lists of creators)
    • The 7th Edition Guide to Cthulhu Invictus, Golden Goblin Press
      • Authors: Oscar Rios, William Adcock, Stuart Boon, Chad Bowser, Charles Gerard, Jon Hook, Mike Mason, and Jeffrey Moeller

Awards will be announced at Gen Con on August 2nd at 8:00 PM Eastern at the ENnies Ceremony at Union Station in Indy. Tickets are free via Gen Con event registration, and the ceremony will be streamed on the ENnies YouTube channel.

In Other News…

Chaosium and Adam Scott Glancy announced in a statement that the Call of Cthulhu license for Horrors of War, which was Kickstarted in 2014, will remain expired indefinitely.

Stygian Fox had launched a new Kickstarter for something called Innsmouth 86, a set of Call of Cthulhu adventures for 1980s in that Lovecraft Country town, much in the spirit of Stranger Things. Consumers filed complaints to Kickstarter about Stygian Fox launching a new Kickstarter while they still had six previous funded projects not yet fulfilled. Kickstarter rules require creators to fulfill all previous projects before launching new ones. In a message to Stephanie MacLea, Kickstarter announced it has suspended Innsmouth 86. Read the update here.

DISCORD — Be sure to join the conversations happening on MUP Discord Server!


In addition to the start of a new season of Glimpses Into the Empire, we have Mr. Tyler’s latest session of detention. Mr. Tyler continues his series on Pennsylvania witchcraft.


The Optional Experienced Investigators rule on page 61 of the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition: Investigators Handbook is a novel way to “load” newly created investigators with some prior experience either in their current career, or it could reflect experience from a previous career. The key to using these experience packages is to first determine the age of your investigator, and then apply any age modifications to the investigator’s characteristics, and any additional skill points earned through EDU advancements. Once that is completed, the player can add-in the character modifications from the experience package.
The Investigators Handbook includes a War Experience Package, a Policy Experience Package, an Organized Crime Experience Package, a Medical Experience Package, and a Mythos Experience Package. So the hosts decided to make their own experience packages, and we present them to you here…
Jon created…

Dreamer Experience Package
The investigator is an experienced dreamer and has traveled to the Dreamlands. Discuss with the Keeper the extend of the investigator’s travels and experience in the Dreamlands. The investigator should already be a “believer” in Mythos magic and lore.

  • Based on the investigator’s level of experience as a dreamer, increase Cthulhu Mythos skill to a level agreed with the Keeper (from 1D6+3 as a beginner, up to 1D12+5 as a veteran).
  • Deduct SAN equal to amount of Cthulhu Mythos skill gained.
  • Add two of the following to the investigator’s backstory: Injury/Scar, Phobia/Mania, or an Encounter with Dreamlands Entity.
  • Distribute between 25 (beginner) to 45 (veteran) bonus skill points among the two Dreamland skills: Dreaming and Dream Lore.
  • Distribute 30 bonus skill points among the following skills: Art/Craft (any), Charm, Climb, Fighting (Sword), History, Jump, Listen, Natural World, Ride, Swim, Throw, and Track.
  • Spells – with the Keeper’s permission – the Keeper will determine what spell(s) the investigator has access to.

Pulp Thrill Seeker Experience Package
This hero lives to push the boundaries of human experiences, but in that quest has also seen the edge of inhuman existence. This hero has had a glimpse of the Cthulhu Mythos, and hungers to see even more.

  • Choose a starting age of 25 or over.
  • Deduct 1D10 from SAN and add that same amount to Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Add two of the following to the investigator’s backstory: Injury/Scar, or a Phobia/Mania associated with a daredevil activity.
  • Distribute 60 bonus skill points among any of the following skills: Art/Craft (any), Charm, Climb, Diving, Drive Auto, Fast Talk, Jump, Mechanical Repair, Navigate, Pilot (any), Ride, Stealth, Survival (any), Swim, or Throw.
  • Add 1 insane talent; roll on Table 12: Insane Talents, from the Pulp Cthulhu

Chad created…

Spy Experience Package

The investigator has been involved in espionage of some kind in the past. Since this is an experience package, that most likely means they are burned or retired spies. If it fits the game concept, keepers and players could also craft a background together for an “active” spy from a foreign government. Remember that even allies frequently spy on each other.

  • Starting age of 30 or over.
  • Suggested Contacts: A former handler or agent, plus one or two strong contacts within the network they operated, like an informant, a specialist, or a rogue from another agency. Remember that bridges usually burn when the spy is burned, and making contact again could be a serious violation of protocol. Another contact might be one other burned spy (from any agency, including rival) who you like to swap “war” stories with.
  • Deduct 1D10 from SAN – and explain what mundane horrors caused this. While there may be some trauma from “wet work” violence associated with spy experience, assassins and are not the majority of spies. Remember that many are desk-jockey diplomats or mundane professionals that simply target high-power sources of information. Interesting non-murder types of spy trauma include:
    • Getting caught and exposed in a sketchy situation. What’s the spy’s “getting burned” story?
    • Kidnapping and/or torture.
    • Loss of close colleagues.
    • Indirectly causing death or injury to innocents (intentional or not).
    • Exposure to scary mundane “truths,” such as ubiquity of black market nuclear weapon sales, state enemies with greater power than publicly perceived, or horrible operations/conspiracies carried out by a home agency, etc.
  • Add a Injury/Scar or Phobia associated with espionage work.
  • Distribute 60 bonus skill points among the following (consider the type of spy you were): Accounting, Art/Craft (Acting), Disguise, Firearms, Listen, Other Language, Spot Hidden, one interpersonal skill (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate, or Persuade), Psychology, Sleight of Hand, Stealth.
  • Immune to sanity losses from seeing corpses or human cruelty.

Foreign Correspondent

The investigator either worked as a freelance correspondent or was posted abroad by media organization (newspaper, radio, TV if 1950s or after, digital if about 2004 or after) in their home country.

  • Starting age of 25 or after
  • Deduct 1D10 from SAN OR 2D10 from Luck as an option.
    • For SAN loss, describe what mundane horrors caused this. Interesting types of Foreign Correspondent trauma include:
      • Their story did harm to people inadvertently.
      • Witnessing in close contact the human cost of natural disasters, effects of war, genocide, epidemics, harmful policies, cruelty, injustice. Maybe even write the story.
  • Immune to SAN loss from corpses or cruelty.
  • Distribute 60 bonus skill points among: Accounting, Art/Craft (Photography), two interpersonal skills (Charm, Fast Talk, Intimidate, or Persuade), Library Use, Own Language, Up to two Other Languages, Survival, Psychology, First Aid

Lots of cool examples from history to model your characters on. Vincent Sheean, (alfred hitchcock made a documentary about him), Mary Roberts Rinehart who covered the Belgian front in WWI, Louise Brooks who covered the Russian front, Carl J. Murphy who covered World War I from Germany for an African American newspaper in Baltimore that his father founded, and Earnest Hemmingway was a foreign correspondent in Paris in the 1920s.

Murph created…

Bookstore Owner Experience Package — A Purveyor of Fine Books (Non-Mythos / Base Package)
This experience package is crated with those investigators in mind that have spent their lives deep in their own personal libraries. The knowledge is vast, branching out to many subjects. But it is not their knowledge that they are known for. These Investigators, these bibliophiles, are adept salesmen. They are able to read a person when they come in and work them little by little until a sale is made. The Investigator has owned and operated a successful bookstore for a number of years.

  • Starting age must be at least 35.
  • Distribute 30 bonus skill points among the following skills: Accounting, Appraise, Charm, Library Use, Spot Hidden, Fast Talk, Persuade, Psychology, Own Language
  • Distribute an additional 30 points to as many diverse skills as possible. This represents the vast knowledge that the Investigator has gained by reading the tomes that has passed through his hands. Impose a 7 point limit from this pool of points to each skill.
    • Conversely, more flavor can be added to the package in terms of a Specialized Bookseller. Specialized Booksellers would only sell books and ephemera associated with one or two genres. Perhaps place more than half of the points in those two appropriate genre skills (Nature or Crafts/Photography for example) but leave some left over to place in some new skills not yet known.
  • Reduce the Investigator’s SAN score by 1D6 points. There are some really disturbing books in the world, even before we go looking for the Mythos.

Bookstore Owner Experience Package — (Mythos Package)
Follow the rules above but exclude the SAN loss and instead add the following steps. As a side note, there are no Specialized Booksellers that deal with the Mythos, therefore you cannot choose that option and then claim Cthulhu Mythos is your genre’s skill, but it was a nice try.)

  • Before proceeding you must determine if the Investigator is a True Believer or not. If they are a believer in the almighty power and sanity-blasting terror of indifference that is the Mythos, then proceed as normal. If you decide that the Investigator has read all of the books but has chosen to ignore the mounting piles of evidence that he deals in on a regular basis, then add the normal amount of points to the Cthulhu Mythos as below. Then make a note, and inform you Keeper of the amount of SAN that should have been lost. That SAN will now be banked and will be lost all at one time for the Investigator when they are presented with facts that obviously prove the Mythos is real, good luck. Also, Non-Believers will not have access to spells as described below.
  • Add 1D10+3 to the Investigator’s Cthulhu Mythos skill. I’m pretty sure we know why we are doing this.
  • Remove the same amount of SAN from the Investigator that they gained in Cthulhu Mythos skill above.
  • With your Keeper’s input, determine if the Investigator can have spells at the start of the game. If so work with them to determine 1D4 spells that the Investigator knows from reading the forbidden knowledge of his own back room.
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