Call of Cthulhu Skills Guide: Point Allocation

Call of Cthulhu Skills Guide
What skills will you choose on your haunting journey through Darkwater.

Greetings, fellow private eyes. If you’ve also played Chaosium and Cyanide studio’s 2018 Call of Cthulhu game, you may have wondered how to make the best of the game’s skill system. Chaosium’s tabletop Call of Cthulhu game had over seventy skills to choose from.

In this game they have trimmed it down to seven, so not so much trimmed as hacked apart with a chainsaw.  With such a narrow choice of skills, you may be worried about misspending your Character Points (CP).

Should you max out one or two skills and ignore the rest? Or should you risk becoming a jack of all trades, but a master of none? Thankfully, this guide is here to tell you what each skill does, and which ones will prove more useful as you explore the twisted mysteries of Darkwater Island.

1. Investigation

Investigation will help you be the best detective you can be. 

Investigation is the most important skill under a private eye’s belt, or should I say trench coat. This category determines how much the main character, Edward Pierce, will learn from the crime scenes he investigates. Maxing out this skill is a must for anyone hoping to uncover more information about the dark secrets surrounding the Hawkins family.

How many points to allocate and reasons why: 14

  • Edward Pierce starts the game with level three in investigation, and the next level can take up most of your initial CP. So, it’s okay to not put all your points into this skill at the beginning.
  • As you progress though, you should be aiming to get this skill as high as possible in order to learn more from investigating crime scenes.
  • This skill also raises the player’s chance of picking locks.

2. Eloquence

Eloquence can come in hndy when dealing with hostile locals 

If you want to play Edward Pierce as a charismatic, slick-talking private eye, then you should focus your CP on eloquence. This skill can help the player avoid conflict in a sticky situation, or to gain a suspect’s trust, making them more likely to spill valuable information. 

How many points to allocate and reasons why: 4-10

  • Whatever your role-playing preferences, it is advisable to attain at least level three in eloquence.
  • A solid base in this skill will help you make allies among the hostile locals of Darkwater and get better answers when questioning suspects.

3. Strength

Do you dare test your strength?

If eloquence helps you avoid conflict, strength does the exact opposite. This skill opens the possibility of using intimidation, both verbal and physical, to interrogate your suspects. It won’t, as you may have thought, help you defend yourself against cosmic horrors. When confronted by monsters, your only choice is to flee, combat is never an option.

How many points to allocate and reasons why: 0

  • Maxing out strength is a bad idea for your first playthrough, as it takes up CP that could be spent on more important skills.
  • Although useful for bypassing some obstacles, strength can be a hinderance in the early game by landing detective Pierce in trouble with the local islanders.
  • Basically, you should only pick this skill if you want to bully the NPCs.  

4. Spot Hidden

There are many hidden secrets on Darkwater island.

Spot hidden is easily one of the most useful skills in the game, next to investigation. A low score in spot hidden will bring about endless backtracking, searching for concealed key items. If your score is too low, some items won’t spawn at all.

How many points to allocate and reasons why: 16

  • Acquiring level three in this skill at the beginning is cheap and it is advisable to max it out as early as you can.
  •  Ignoring spot hidden will also affect your score in medicine and occultism, as you may miss out on essential upgrade items for these skills.

5. Psychology

Maddness is common side effect of exposure to the Cthulhu Mythos.

Not everyone on Darkwater Island is happy to help Detective Pierce in his investigation. Psychology gives the player a chance to figure out what an NPC is thinking. This includes, telling if a person lying or learning new information from examining someone’s possessions.

How many points to allocate and reasons why: 3-9

  • A base level in Psychology will not hinder the player too much and it will help unlock useful information.
  • Psychology pairs well with eloquence, making it ideal for players pursuing extra dialogue options.
  • Psychology can reveal an NPC’s motive and help you see through any lies they may tell.

6. Medicine


Medicine is useful for more than just healing yourself

Medicine is one of two skills that can only be upgraded with CP at the beginning of the game. Afterwards, the player can increase their score by finding medical journals in various houses, libraries and, you guessed it, hospitals. Despite this, it can be useful to sink a few early points into medicine in order to unlock secret dialogue options

How many points to allocate and reasons why: 0-2

  • It is perfectly possible to save your initial CP and not put anything in medicine. You will still get a pretty good score over the course of the game, as long as you collect all the medical journals.
  • However, on your second play through, using two CP to unlock level two will provide new dialogue options and different lines of investigation into the horrors plaguing Darkwater.

7. Occultism

You will encounter many supernatural creatures on your journey. 

Like medicine, players can only put points into Occultism at the beginning of the game. Afterwards, you can upgrade this skill by finding mythos texts and other supernatural items. Be warned though, the more one delves into Lovecraft’s Mythos, the further they drift inexorably towards insanity.

How many points to allocate and reasons why: 0-2

  • Again, like medicine, players can ignore this skill and still get along perfectly fine by finding all the upgrade items.
  • Should players wish to select an advantage in this skill however, it will unlock new dialogue options, and even a different ending.

The game only gives you enough CP to max out three of these skills. Still, you shouldn’t worry about missing out or making the wrong choice. The game provides multiple solutions for each problem, ensuring that any build can still progress through the story without becoming unstuck. While the RPG elements may appear narrow and restrictive, you will be surprised at how much your choices will alter the course of the game. The skill system gives Call of Cthulhu a surprisingly high replay value. Players are encouraged to play through the game multiple times, to get different endings, experience different builds and uncover all the mysteries that Darkwater Island has to offer.

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