Halloween Savings
Sale / October 20, 2017

You can save 31% on the PDFs of the whole Cthulhu Hack range in the RPGNow and DriveThruRPG Halloween event. That means you get hold of the core rules, From Unformed Realms, The Haunter of the Dark, Thro’ Centuries Fixed, the Outpost Generator and Save Innsmouth considerably reduced – perhaps fill out your collection? In the meantime, I continue to wrestle with the next release – three new adventures – as well as the proofing for POD books through OneBookShelf and a character card set through DriveThruCards. All far more traumatic than the average Halloween movie…

Twixt Stats and Saves
Q & A / October 3, 2017

Following the brief review of Tainted Meat (which I ran at Concrete Cow) posted on Department V, I have been giving occasional thought to character stats in The Cthulhu Hack. I was less keen on the disconnect between the usual OSR six stats, and the Flashlights and Smokes. It’s easy to assume that a high INT character is going to be a top investigator, only to find that really it’s the number of dice you put into Flashlights that matters and INT is kind of irrelevant. Should ‘stats’ and investigation overlap more thoroughly? It’s a valid question and it’s worth giving a considered answer. I’m comfortable with what exists – but then I’m also the closest to the topic! I’m not above admitting that it might warrant tweaking. It might even warrant a little constraining, mayhaps dropping a stat or two at some point through the power of conflation. Version 2 might pick that up as a thought. Saves I had given the stats more thought when I wrote v1.5 of the core rules. Version 1.5 spends more time than the original making it clear that they’re Saves rather than stats or characteristics – they protect you from harm or…

September Setting Sale on RPGNow
Sale / September 17, 2017

September is the time for changing up your game’s setting – and for The Cthulhu Hack that means picking up your copy of From Unformed Realms and doing something unexpected with it. As a toolkit, you might create a whole creature from scratch, allowing the dice to guide the physical make-up of the monstrous entity and then adding the stats later. Mark Chance has posted a bunch of uses for From Unformed Realms on his blog, including creating twisted entities for Mutant Futures, lurking Murkling for Barbarians of Lemuria, Chitinoid Chaos for Marvel Super Heroes, and snake guardians for Bloodshadows. Alternatively, you can make a roll or two to spice up some of your existing adversaries and antagonists. As a review of From Unformed Realms on RPG Geek said –  “it’s an evocative and easy to read source of inspiration for just about any otherworldly monster. I like how it cuts straight to the weirdness – horrific or simply dangerous – and lets you build the monster around those core abilities. I fully intend to use this in fantasy games – at least high-fantasy ones, where ‘realism’ isn’t a concern.” From Unformed Realms is a system-free toolkit suited for many settings and…

The Cthulhu Hack Core
Releases / September 9, 2017

The essential core books for The Cthulhu Hack in a PDF bundle offer. That includes two adventures – Save Innsmouth and The Hacker of the Dark – along with character creation, character advancement, creatures, magic, new horrors, investigation creation guidance and character sheets. Everything you need to start playing your own games with new horrors and guidance on using Lovecraft’s own stories as source material for your adventures.

Lost in the Lights
Adapting , Thoughts / September 7, 2017

I have been reading this modern day, Las Vegas-based adventure-supplement with interest. Part-background for a cult, part-adventure – it also contains a bunch of information and several spot rules – the last of which fits Call of Cthulhu, but has less value for The Cthulhu Hack. Lost in the Lights – including the adventure Invisible Sun – provides a lot of potential. It has been available in a couple of formats in the past – physical and PDF. In the last week, it was released as a physical book in the UK. For information, I have read this supplement through a couple of times with plans with run it in the near future. This is not a review – this is a view, based on my reading and interpretation of the materials. First Impressions In my opinion, the adventure won’t require much prep for The Cthulhu Hack – which I’ve always presented as the strong point of the system – as key clues and locations appear in small capitalised text and the few stat-blocked antagonists can slide over to TCH on the fly. At heart, the adventure either hurts hard or will require some cautious and somewhat structured investigation – you’ve no need to worry about complex conversion for prolonged gun battles…

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…