The Cthulhu Hack v1.5 Started
In Development / June 7, 2017

Well, writing on The Cthulhu Hack v1.5 definitely got started. That’s all I can say for the moment. Since running adventures over the weekend at UK Games Expo, I have had the chance to pull some thoughts together with my existing notes and get going. For the initial sweep, I have concentrated as much on removing material as adding new options or clarifications. Over the course of the year, my pitch at the stall and the gaming tables has tightened up – and when I wrote the Cthulhu Hack quick start / demo Nocturnal Rites, it provided a cool way to force me to get the core principles down in short form. If you want to hear more and see regular updates, hit Join on The Cthulhu Hack Google+ Community page!

Sales at UK Games Expo
Events , Thoughts / June 5, 2017

Just Crunch sales of The Cthulhu Hack through All Rolled Up at UK Games Expo exceeded expectations, though I think I need to moderate the sales patter! Setting down individual books, whether sold by themselves or as part of a box, this is the numbers in total from the three days of the event: Overall, on a gut feeling rather than any hard stats, I think the sales rate was about 1 in 5 pitches, maybe 1 in 4. My throat would tend toward the lower rate of success! UK Games Expo provides a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and sell your game to a wider audience. If someone listened and walked away without buying, I hope they’ll remember my spiel about the game and come looking later for the PDF or pick up the game through All Rolled Up. The games I ran in the evening definitely felt valuable – both as a chance to introduce new people to the game (and, indeed, to gaming in the Mythos in general) and an opportunity to playtest new ideas. I recommend the approach to independent game designers – to both sale by day and run games, whether as a demo alongside the stand or…

Cthulhu Hack at UK Games Expo ’17

UK Games Expo sprawled across the last weekend. I have spent much of that time standing up, behind the Just Crunch Games stall, regaling people with the virtues of The Cthulhu Hack. As if getting up at 6.30am to hit NEC Hall 1’s floor for 8.30am wasn’t enough, I also signed up to GM games in the 8pm slot (a scant two hours after the trading hall closedown at 6pm). Evening Games I ran two sessions of “Operation Header” from Cubicle 7’s ‘Covert Actions‘, a scenario supplement for the Kickstarter funded ‘World War Cthulhu: Cold War‘. As it was only released to backers as a PDF last week, I figured (A) no one was likely to have read it and (B) I could show how easy it was to convert any Cthulhu game’s scenarios to TCH on the fly. While I considered running a different adventure on the Saturday, I enjoyed the Friday game and it seemed silly to not give it another run out. To be clear from the outset, the version of the adventure I ran stripped out a lot of the finer details from the adventure purely out of necessity. I had 4-hours (at most) to introduce…

OSR Extravaganza
Sale / May 28, 2017

For the next couple of weeks – until June 11th – RPGNow and DriveThruRPG has an Old School gaming sale on, which means you get at least 15% off the core Cthulhu Hack PDFs. Right now you can get The Cthulhu Hack, The Haunter of the Dark, Save Innsmouth and Thro’ Centuries Fixed for at least 15% off. From tomorrow, you will also find From Unformed Realms — not strictly a OSR title, but seems fair enough to include it in the sale — on sale with the same 15% off the current price. That’s the core – character generation and core mechanics, creating horrors, creating adventures and two investigations. And those wanting physical copies who plan to attend Check out the Just Crunch Games store or throw the net wider and check out the whole OSR Extravaganza!

Wildly Speculative
Reviews / May 19, 2017

Website Reviews from R’yleh has posted a review about The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu – which just recently picked up Best Copper Seller on DriveThruRPG (which is no mean feat for a Pay What You Want, as only paid purchases count!). You may see certain comments about the adventure therein and use of the term “faintly ridiculous”, which on the face of it is not a bad thing as a one-time writer for PARANOIA. I could have done with more ridiculous at times, faint or otherwise. Anyway, I leave this list here, on the off chance you care to take a look, because even Fake News is news of a sort and fiction has a heritage of playing with alternate timelines, strange theories and unfounded rumours. Really, many writers of Lovecraftian fiction still rely on strange tales and urban legends, weird claims and left-field theories, as the source of their work. Ruins of trade center discovered on the northern coast of Western Australia Wildly Speculative Claims of Pseudoarchaeology The Long Ships and their Seafarers On another note, the print run of The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu runs low and will not be reprinted. At the moment, you can get…

Dry Wipe Character Cards
Extras / May 14, 2017

Rather than paper sheets, new boxed sets will come with A6-sized dry wipe cards. You can still print your own sheets, obviously, but these will provide a reusable alternative. Cthulhu Hack Dry Wipe Character Card They’re laminated on one side and they work with any dry wipe pen — or even felt tips. I would recommend the Staedtler Correctable pens (available from All Rolled Up, along with all the in-print books for The Cthulhu Hack), but you can use whatever you have to hand. They’re available from the All Rolled Up store, £5 for a pack of 10.

Opposed Investigation
Q & A / May 12, 2017

When you roll Flashlights or Smokes in The Cthulhu Hack, you’re checking to see if the investigator taxes their resources in discovering something key about the situation. When they throw a 1 or 2, they have pushed themselves too far, but they haven’t failed. Whatever they roll, they discover something new and vital in the progress toward their goal. However, what if getting the clue isn’t that easy? What would happen then? Well, there lies the Threat. Handling Threats soon they found the passage came to an abrupt stop. He pulled the obstacle away & to his dismay water rushed in in torrents. John was an expert swimmer & long breathede. He had just taken a breath, so he tried to rise but with the box & his sister he found it quite impossible… A Threat lies between the Investigator and their success – and it means getting the clues might be harder or it could even mean that someone else gets there first. In the Indiana Jones movies, it means the evil archaeologist managed to wrest the artefact from Indy’s hands – surrounding him with natives in the jungle, or capturing a key contact in the city and spiriting them away…

The Smart Party
Podcasts / May 11, 2017

I chat with The Smart Party grandees Gary Bee and Baz Stevens about the genesis and expansion of All Rolled Up – the home of award-winning dice bags, dice trays and gaming essentials; why The Cthulhu Hack exists in a marketplace filled to capacity with the Mythos, as well as quick routes in to Lovecraft’s universe; and the explosion of Swedish goodness in our balanced gaming diet, including Symbaroum, Tales from the Loop, Mutant: Year Zero, and more. Head over to The Smart Party web site for more podcasts.

Cthulhu Hack – First Quarter ’17
News / April 3, 2017

An update on new releases, adventures and events for The Cthulhu Hack, as I’m conscious things have been a little quiet. Key at the moment is work on a collection of three adventures with two other writers all themed around the same entity, taken from different angles and in very different settings. I sincerely hope that I will have this finished and published by mid-year, and it should be available in PDF and print. On the back-burner, but in development, I have the GM Screen and Character Creation Cards. I have prototypes for both and they’re undergoing tinkering to get them in a state suitable for wider distribution. I haven’t absolutely commited yet to the format of that distribution; these will both be available as PDFs, but the physical versions might well follow if I can find a cost-effective printer. In the background somewhere, I’m redrafting sections of the core book. This might be a v1.1 release or it could work itself into a v2. Only time will tell. I was driving toward a re-write for another connected project, but that has not been progressing as rapidly as I’d hoped. Next major event will be UK Games Expo at the beginning…

AireCon and ConVergence UK
Events / March 8, 2017

Just Crunch will be at AireCon – the Analog Gaming Festival – in Harrogate this weekend. AireCon – 10/11/12 March 2017 – is a friendly family focused event, catering to all manner of gamers; the event offers a library of board games to borrow and an enthusiastic offering on the role-playing front. AireCon is sponsored by both Travelling Man and the UK Games Expo. Just Crunch will be there with All Rolled Up with a full stand for the event – offering a plethora of gaming goodies, dice bags, folding dice trays, and more. And in less than two weeks, we have the first ConVergence UK, in Stockport. ConVergence UK – 17/18/19 March 2017 – kicks off for the first time this year, at the Northern Gaming Centre in south of Stockport, along the A6. It’s gaming from the Northern Powerhouse; and it’s on my doorstep! As ever, All Rolled Up will have a range of game rolls and dice trays on offer – and the event offers war games, board games and roleplaying games (including the Pathfinder Society) organised through Warhorn. I hope (even plan) to run some of The Cthulhu Hack at the events; I’m also very happy to chat about the system, a fast and lightweight route into the…

Advantage and Disadvantage
Running Tabletop Games / March 6, 2017

Nobody said it was easy / No one ever said it would be this hard… The Cthulhu Hack includes a section on Advantage and Disadvantage that I think warrants a little consideration. To be clear, Coldplay got this one spot on. Top marks to them. When you see a character Class offering Advantage on something, it isn’t because the character finds it easy. A character with a Special Feature that offers Advantage does so because they’re prepared. A character’s occupation or background offers them a perspective or a professional appreciation of something that means when they come to try and exercise their skills under pressure, they do so with benefit. If you, as a GM, believe that a threat is easy to avoid, don’t ask for a roll. To return to the example from the last article about a hole to climb down, if that hole is rough, sloped or has corroded rungs hammered into the side, don’t ask for a roll. It’s easy – so, throwing dice won’t add anything to the experience. Indeed, you may well find that throwing dice breaks the narrative flow. Have the players describe what they do when they reach the hole – and…

Handling Threat
Running Tabletop Games / March 3, 2017

Characters in The Cthulhu Hack handle Threats in different ways. Sometimes, the situation doesn’t allow any kind of decision making; or at least, it doesn’t allow any careful finessing. A teacher battering seven shades of hell out of a bully in a car park might Save versus the Threat with Strength or Dexterity, dependent on if the teacher choosing to wrestle or evade. The same teacher faced with a ragged hole in the ground and no rope or climbing gear to speak of might also look for options. Strength and Dexterity, again, might prove the most obvious approaches, but maybe Intelligence would allow a teacher to eke out some assistance from the environment – roots, for example, or the careful knotting of torn fabric from an overcoat. If the teacher gives lessons in Physical Education and opts for Strength, the GM could offer an Advantage. If the character was a stevedore or sailor, the GM might offer Advantage to make the Intelligence Save. A player might also offer strong argument about time. Time offers a way to relieve a degree of pressure without necessarily reducing the threat – or possibly haggling for an increase in potential harm. The GM doesn’t…