Cthulhu Potpourri
Reviews / August 5, 2017

A little review of The Cthulhu Hack, tucked away in a new “potpourri” review of The Black Hack on RPG Geek. Like playing Call of Cthulhu but want something a bit lighter every once in a while? Try The Cthulhu Hack! The Cthulhu Hack is an investigative horror game where the players try to solve mysteries while staving off deadly horrors and creatures from beyond. One of the interesting things that this game includes is “smokes” and “flashlights”. Now, these don’t necessarily represent actual cigarettes and flashlights, but they do represent your character’s ability to continue an investigation (flashlights) or their ability to get information or charm someone (smokes). Each of these traits has a usage die, and every time you use an ability that links to one of these traits, you roll the usage die for it. So, for example, if you are searching for clues, you would roll your flashlight usage die. If you run out of the “flashlight” trait, then you have exhausted your investigative ability, your leads, or whatever else is appropriate. This is great because it never leads to a moment where the adventure stops dead because of a failed check for clues. You will…

Round-up of Events
Events / August 4, 2017

Gen Con, the ENnies, OneBookShelf and Patreon – all worth a moment and a mention. Gen Con I’m in the States next week and then Gen Con the week after. I’m really excited. I will be running The Cthulhu Hack on Thursday afternoon, in three rollercoaster sessions. In addition, you can catch me at the Monte Cook Games stand on Thursday morning (I’m representing All Rolled Up for an hour or so), and most of the remaining time I’ll be at Table 2959 in Entrepreneurs’ Avenue. I will have quite a lot of The Cthulhu Hack, including the new red box. I will have various other coloured boxes and plenty of books, Insanity Dice, dice trays, messenger bags, and the prototype copy of a fancy Character Creation Deck. I’m more than happy to chat – AND I will definitely try to barter for game stuff through Twitter. Following @cthulhuhack on Twitter and watch out – I’ll post what I want and what I’ll give for it… and the first one to answer back and bring the item around will get a bit of a bargain. The ENnies Awards I might have mentioned that The Haunter of the Dark has been nominated in the Best Electronic…

Brace For Impact
Hooks , Releases / July 25, 2017

For those moments when your players hit the JUMP button too soon or warp right out of the path the adventure has set for their rendezvous with doom, Brace For Impact! takes a leaf out of the random table book established by From Unformed Realms. Brace For Impact! offers 18-pages packed with tables presenting high sci-fi encounter seeds based at the point of arrival for your unsuspecting characters, with room for taking notes and generating odd details like a ship names, types of debris, and failing systems. It won’t replace an adventure – but, at a pinch, it will create the seed for an encounter, the in media res moment for a mission, or distract the players just long enough for you to improvise the meat of something else.

Hit Dice as Resource
House Rules / July 24, 2017

I put a very short section on Hit Dice as a Resource into the new v1.5 core book. It’s very short. And just today – I realised, too short. The Hit Die What’s in the core book is a fairly abstract and underdeveloped idea – so, use it at your own risk. When you’re hit by something, instead of deducting hit points you roll your Hit Die like a Resource. If you roll a 1 or 2, the Hit Die drops a step. If you’re a Ruffian, you start with D6. Someone shoots you. Roll 3-6, you get a graze or something. Roll 1-2, you drop to a D4. Healing restores a Die step. It works OK between fairly similar opponents, but when you start using big guns or monsters it makes less sense. If you battle a Shoggoth, something has to give because that Crush attack is not small beans. Big Damage, Big Disadvantage Therefore, I offer this suggestion as a general system – more damage has a greater chance of forcing a drop. When hit with damage, compare the amount against the Hit Die of the character. The player then rolls the Hit Die with appropriate adjustment. A…

LULU of Cthulhu
Releases / July 22, 2017

I’m pleased to announce the release of four books to Print on Demand through Lulu. From today, you can find The Cthulhu Hack, From Unformed Realms, The Haunter of the Dark, and Thro’ Centuries Fixed under my “Author Spotlight” on Lulu. In practice I hope that makes it simpler for those not in the UK to get hold of these books in print. I will also look to add them on OneBookShelf, but that requires a slightly longer process. As The Cthulhu Hack now features four books on Lulu, it means you can also take advantage of their various ongoing and occasional offers. Most of the time you will find TRGE15 offering a BUY 3, GET 4th FREE offer. At the moment, if you want to buy these and more, JULYYAY could offer you a more substantial discount.

Random Tables

I believe random tables have their place in the creative process. Like my collection of Rory’s Story Cubes or my three volumes in the classic Central Casting books by Jennell Jacquays, the table often provides an essential spark to my creative process. I don’t always include a random table in my books, but when I do there’s a damned good reason for it – it’s about introducing a spark or adding some spice. The Haunter of the Dark has 9-pages of random tables sandwiched between the guidance on creating and structuring adventures and the annotated story of the fate of Robert Blake. Connections Each of these tables ties neatly – and intentionally – into the story. Entered a site with a century long tie to a strange sect? Rummaging through the drawers of a forlorn artist? Tracking down a disgruntled ex-cultist? Broken into the cellar of an abandoned building? Picking up a copy of a local paper? Stumbled through the door to find a crumpled note lying in the dust? It’s all here and more. Whether you’re creating your own adventure or filling out the grey areas in a pre-written investigation, there are 20 short tables here (almost all of…

The Cthulhu Hack v1.5 Released
Releases / July 15, 2017

‪I have released the new version 1.5 of The Cthulhu Hack on RPGNow, available to everyone and accessible to all with the existing edition in their onsite Library. Fast, flexible Lovecraftian tabletop horror upgraded. This is Lovecraftian roleplaying for the gaming group with no time for thick rule books and endless mechanics! It’s entirely the same system as that released in 2016, but honed and refined over more than a year of open play, convention gaming, and more than 1,000 downloads. Centred around survival and investigation, the game keeps mechanics simple and character generation simpler. New flexible character generation. New optional rules. Expanded format with an adventure and 2-page example of play to get you up and running. And backed by the usual range of supplements and adventures, all compatible whatever the edition – including horror generator From Unformed Realms and adventure design guide The Haunter of the Dark (nominated for a 2017 ENnie Award). More than twice the content of the original in the same page count! Take Lovecraft and the Mythos back to basics – and may Cthulhu have mercy on your battered soul! The Cthulhu Hack v1.5 on RPGNow

Your Haunter May Vary
Adapting , Random Tables / July 13, 2017

All Haunters are not born equal. The cosmic horror value of your Haunter may go up as well as down. You know the drill, right? You play a game and when the bad guys make their first tentative appearance the players read between the lines and leap ahead to tactics and strategies. They know how to handle a Deep One or a Shoggoth – and even though the antagonist hasn’t reared so much as a finger or eye lid yet, they’re ready for action with Plans A through G. Disappointing show, anyone? The Cthulhu Hack has this covered from two angles – and you should always consider adding your own spice into the mix. The cosmic horror should never become commonplace or boring; nor should the Lovecraft aficionado in your group present an insurmountable barrier to generating fresh new challenge. On the one hand, you have the generic assistance of From Unformed Realms. When I discuss this book at conventions, my pitch centres on the value of these tables as a way to create not only whole new monsters but to adjust the features or even just the spoor of the horror. The spoor, you say? Well, if you have…

The Haunter of the Dark on Sale!
Sale / July 13, 2017

In celebration of the nomination of The Haunter of the Dark for Best Electronic Book by the Judges’ Panel for the ENnie Awards, you will find the PDF discounted by 25% on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. The offer will run until OneBookShelf kicks off Christmas in July – one of their biggest sale events of the year – when the whole Cthulhu Hack range should be discounted for the duration of the event.

From Unformed Realms – New Review
Reviews / July 11, 2017

A quick new review has gone up on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG for From Unformed Realms, posted by Tore Nielsen: Since From Unformed Realms is essentially system-less, it serves as a great resource for creating new strange monsters for many games. I have personally used it for The Black Hack itself, and for Portal Rats, but not for The Cthulhu Hack itself (yet). Next up I plan to use it for Macchiato Monsters. Link to the review for From Unformed Realms.

ENnie Awards – Vote for Best Electronic Book
Events , News / July 11, 2017

The ENnie Awards voting opened today. and will runs until 11 PM EDT on 21st July. The Judges’ Panel nominated The Cthulhu Hack: The Haunter of the Dark for Best Electronic Book – and I would appreciate your support with a vote. Better still, a “1” Vote would be really great. The Great Cthulhu will look favourably on your future. Reviewers have spoken very highly on the qualities of this guide to creating Lovecraftian adventures. Eric Dodd, RPGGeek – “Very interesting and worthwhile read for anyone who wants to take Lovecraftesque stories and turn them into adventures for any system. Good reading of The Haunter of the Dark, exploring its themes in a number of directions. Well worth reading and stealing for story ideas and reviewing methods for any analysis of stories. Along with other general books like Stealing Cthulhu, The Haunter of the Dark is recommended to anyone trying to write an adventure in a true Lovecraftian style.“ This year, I’m going to be at Gen Con, helping on the All Rolled Up stand in Entrepreneur Avenue and running games – of both The Cthulhu Hack and Monte Cook Games’ Predation. It would be a dream visit to attend the ENnie Awards as well and have…

The Cthulhu Hack – New Version, Old Stock
News / July 11, 2017

In the process of updating to the new edition of The Cthulhu Hack, I’m now closing on a completed version of the whole text. However, I haven’t got to the point where I can get a new proof or order fresh stock – so, that means that I have had to take boxed sets Out of Stock over on All Rolled Up’s web store. I hope that I can get the proof very soon and turn all those boxed sets back on. In the meantime, you can stick get single copies of The Cthulhu Hack or boxed sets with just the rules. However, even those will be running short soon. No pressure on me to get that version edit done, right?

2017 ENnie Award Nomination
News / July 4, 2017

My thanks to ENnie Awards judges for nominating The Haunter of the Dark for Best Electronic Book. I hope I can count on your votes 11th – 21st July! You can check out all the nominated products on the ENnie Awards website.

The Cthulhu Hack v1.5 Progress
In Development / June 30, 2017

Steady progress on the revised edition of The Cthulhu Hack, hampered only by the eldritch horrors of Real Life! The book basically boils down into five sections: Core Mechanics. This explains Saves and Resources, will particular attention to Flashlights and Smokes. Also includes mechanical discussion about Advantage and Disadvantage, Assistance (when you feel compelled to help) and Fortune (an optional re-roll mechanic). Characters. Details the six different types of Save, then outlines Quick Characters with Archetypes and Freeform Characters. Currently also includes Wealth and Health; might shift the second into the next section. Threats. Time, Movement and Fighting; then Sanity with a bunch of optional rules; Healing; then Antagonists; and finally, Chases. Mythos 101. Quick overview of universe; Creatures & the Mythos; and then the esoteric business of Mythos Magic. Adventure. Finally, Save Innsmouth has crawled into the end of the book, along with extra material around running adventures, and a random plot seed generator, too. And, with OGL statement and a character sheet, that currently rounds out to 43-pages. I fully expect it to spread out into 44-pages, because I know where elements remain incomplete. All in all, that’s 15,000 words of material, which doubles the content of the current version. I feel like I’ve made…

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…