Today I write about the two big Call of Cthulhu games on the RPG market. Trail, and the original Call, of Cthulhu deal with classic Lovecraft Cosmic horror that we cannot understand. Everything makes you insane because it's something telling you that the universe you know and love is a cold, cruel lie, and that you're the oddity among it all. There are centuries old plots, horrible mutant conspiracies, and alien horrors from beyond the stars all attempting to destroy the world. When told correctly, these stories are scary tales about how nothing is as it seems, and horror is a few feet away and you'll never know. It's a system where being able to read Latin is a far more useful skill than firing your gun, or swinging your sword. It's a setting where your world has been turned upside down, and this has left you with nothing to lose.
However it is in last place, after all the other RPGs, and why is that? Frankly because it suffers from what any monster movie faces. Sure, you can avoid monsters entirely, but then some people get huffy, thinking that in order for it to be Call of Cthulhu you need to be facing down Shoggoths, ghouls, and deep ones on a regular basis. Even the book itself warns against this practice, but people feel like if there's no monster at the end, it's a big let down. I mean, heaven forbid subtle horrors revolving around ancient cults sending kidnapped hobos to the Great City of Yith, and resorting to local children as they've run out of hobos. No, they gotta fight a Yithian, in order for it to be true to Lovecraft.
I really like the Mythos, however like many things I like I really dislike the other fans of it. It becomes tainted by their ideas of what it should be, and if you run a game against their wishes then you're facing blasphemy. And, it is because of the fans that I rate Call of Cthulhu, and Trail of Cthulhu, at the lowest rank. Of the games that actually manage to be creepy. Because it is creepy, the mythos are very able at creating an unsettling atmosphere.
Also, Trail of Cthulhu is like, kind of a re-imagining of Call of Cthulhu's system. The two are very similar if I remember right, which is why I lumped them together.