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Doing The Laundry…

July 14, 2013

I had my first encounter with The Laundry RPG yesterday. No, not a game of washing and ironing, but the game inspired by Charles Stross’ take on the Cthulhu Mythos. Although I’m well aware of the series and intend to read the novels one day, my actual level of knowledge about the setting was probably about equal to my character’s, which probably helped make for a realistic session as only one of the four players had any real knowledge of the setting and was portraying a more experienced agent.

The rules are an adaptation of the Chaosium BRP system as it appears in Call of Cthulhu. Given that the session was roleplaying heavy with only a handful of rolls, I can’t comment on the differences from the parent system.

Perhaps it was because we were unfamiliar with the setting, necessitating more questions and even greater caution than one might expect in a game involving the Cthulhu Mythos, but the first session was very roleplaying focused, which was good. The lack of familiarity did impact things slightly negatively, though, as it meant we frequently had to seek confirmation of various details of how the Laundry (the investigative group for which characters work) and setting elements such as magic work. Obviously, as the campaign progresses, that will be less of a problem.

Overall, I found our first session enjoyable and liked the premise of the game. Although there is potential for a lot of ‘official’ backup through the Laundry and for heavy firepower, the contemporary British setting and the ‘rules of engagement’ characters have to operate under in order to not attract attention enforce a suitably low-key and paranoid mindset for the game, with the need for paperwork to be completed and the slow wheels of the civil service meaning that getting help is frequently more hassle than just coming up with a plan of your own.

Certainly a game worth considering if you like your Cthulhu Mythos leavened with some conspiracy elements or if you’ve enjoyed reading the novels.

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