January 2017 Update
In Development / February 2, 2017

Where did January go? A quiet month with no releases, as my efforts have been focused under the hood, so to speak. I have been wrangling writers for a trio of adventures to be released Quarter 2 or 3. I will be one of those writers, but the other two I’ll keep under wraps for the time being. The adventures will focus on the same driving force, but show how that idea can be extrapolated into quite different experiences. Time and again, while re-reading Lovecraft, I have had this notion of fractured possibilities around a single entity, event or aspect of the story. You can take all you read on face value, or dig a little deeper. More often than not, you need to cast aside the preconceptions that you have acquired through playing other games that use Lovecraft and the Mythos as their backdrop. Especially those that hail from the Mythos, that formless spawn of ideas by a multitude of creative minds. The Cthulhu Hack returns solidly and unashamedly to Lovecraft, pure and simple. If you read something in an adventure, like Save Innsmouth: Chapter 0 or Thro’ Centuries Fixed, then that thing has come from my direct interpretation of…

Save Innsmouth Kit at Dragonmeet
Extras , In Development / December 10, 2016

The “Kit” I used to run a session of Save Innsmouth: Chapter 0 at last weekend’s memorable Dragonmeet, minus the All Rolled Up game roll and The Cthulhu Hack dice tray. The players each had their character’s image – and name – out in front of them on a simple clear plastic stand. I wrote the name on with a dry wipe Correctable pen, which means I can reuse the pictures for a future con game. The images themselves came from a random Google Image search – then I made them all black-and-white. The character sheet in the image is the laminated version from The Cthulhu Hack Quickstart. Very handy – although, I actually used A4 blow-ups of the character sheet design to keep things clear and simple! The prototype deck of Character Generation cards worked out really well. As players in the game have commented (on my Google+ Cthulhu Hack Collection), they meant you could quickly reference the character’s key Special Features and it could work really well as a rapid random character generator. Each card shows whether it’s an Ability or an Advantage – so, separate them and deal two Abilities and an Advantage to each player. Every possibility I…

Cthulhu Hack Demo Pack
In Development / November 22, 2016

I’m currently working up a Cthulhu Hack Demo Pack, which will include a 4-page booklet with a 2-page overview of the game, for players and GM alike, and a 2-page demo adventure, designed to run in 15 minutes or so for 1 or 2 players. To round that off, it will include two pre-generated characters using a simplified version of the current character sheet. The character sheet keeps things straightforward, provides some explanation in-situ about how to use Saves – and looks great when laminated! (I leave the lamination to you! I have no current plans to make laminated character sheets available through the online store at All Rolled Up or conventions… Unless I can work out a much simpler way of creating them.) The adventure could be expanded if you want; you can use blank character cards to create additional pre-gens for a larger group. As the demo pack includes limited information (for space reasons), it doesn’t explain the different Classes from the core rules – so, all characters are just Investigators and I plan to use the Classless character creation system to put them together. I hope to have the demo available by the start of December, released through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.

Weird Science
In Development / October 20, 2016

“Non-Euclidean calculus and quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain; and when one mixes them with folklore, and tries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional reality behind the ghoulish hints of Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be wholly free from mental tension.” ― H.P. Lovecraft, The Dreams in the Witch House One thing I aim to do in Unaussprechliche Hack, next year, is to expand upon and loosen the system for handling ‘spells’ and tomes in The Cthulhu Hack. While I appreciate the value of the 0D&D roots that support the simplicity of the game and ease the process of introducing newcomers and old hands to the system, there’s no need for something quite so regimented as levels. It makes sense in a fantasy setting with focused practitioners to allow them incremental access to ever more powerful magic. On the other hand, investigators in The Cthulhu Hack are as likely to find a treatise on the summoning of extradimensional flying mounts as they are to uncover a margin note on the distraction of the human mind with a simple charm. (So, for example, characters can get access to an…

Lean and Lulu
Horrors , In Development , Releases / July 20, 2016

All the evil in the universe was concentrated in their lean, hungry bodies. Or had they bodies? I saw them only for a moment; I cannot be certain. But I heard them breathe… Keeping busy here, with more work on The Haunter of the Dark for The Cthulhu Hack ongoing and ideas trickling in for Unaussprechlichen Kulten, which will provide options for expanding or swapping out features of the game, along with dozens of tables for random content. In the meantime, you can find another article from Mark Chance, presenting his take on Flying Polyps, Formless Spawn of Tsathogghua, Ghouls, and the Hounds of Tindalos for The Cthulhu Hack. And you can now get physical copies of the core Cthulhu Hack rules from the Just Crunch Lulu store.

The Cthulhu Hack Cover
In Development / July 4, 2016

I have proof copies incoming from two sources for The Cthulhu Hack, and I’m looking into other alternatives. A wraparound affair that uses the front image in a mirror version for the back – along with a little blurb. One of the proof copies is perfect bound, the other saddle. I have a liking for the saddle, but ultimately we’ll see. I continue to seek alternatives for a better quality – and a hardback version. The hardback would have to wait for more material. I would likely add material from one or two upcoming supplements to make the hardback worthwhile. I’m pondering get a physical copy of From Unformed Realms sorted out for conventions and sale through the All Rolled Up web store. Currently also sourcing a possible cover image for The Haunter Hack. However, the whole focus of this supplement still hangs in a bit of a creative limbo – I’m not 100% sold on what works for the best. Ultimately, it’s about getting a Cthulhu Hack adventure together using existing material and the process you might go through to do that using The Haunter of the Dark as a base. This is about rooting out the Saves and highlighting the Resource rolls. Expanding narrative and…

The Cthulhu Hack – June 2016
In Development / June 27, 2016

I just wanted to post where I was up to on the current stack of upcoming material for  The Cthulhu Hack. Expect a slightly updated copy of the PDF of the core rules in the near future. As well as including a new Cthulhu cover image by talented artist Henning Ludvigsen – along with the existing ones so you have the option to do home printing with whatever version you prefer – the rules will have a minor tweak or two. There’s nothing major – just a little clarity. For example, David Black recently posted a clarification for Advantage and Disadvantage that makes perfect sense to include in the core. I have a partially completed draft of Convicts & Cthulhu that I’m working through a second time to fill in the gaps and plug holes. This will be a supplement to support playing convicts and guards in 19th-century penal colony Australia, as detailed in the excellent Convicts & Cthulhu supplement by Cthulhu Reborn. I also have a slightly less than complete first draft of The Haunter Hack, which guides you through the process of using Lovecraftian stories as a basis for simple games of The Cthulhu Hack. The text will break down elements of the…

The Cthulhu Hack v2 in Print
In Development / May 19, 2016

Now that The Cthulhu Hack has been out for a week, I have had the chance to play another session with the rules and get a lot of feedback from people. With UK Games Expo fast approaching, I will have physical copies in hand, but they will be specific to the event. With a short time frame for printing, I’ll be going with Lulu for print – because they are quick and reliable. I have used them many times before for short print runs. In the longer term, I’m getting quotes from other printers because I would really like to have a matt cover and Lulu only do the glossy variety for books the size I’m doing. Unless I add more content and opt for a hardback!Finding another printer that offers what I want means shopping around. I will also need to see and approve proofs before printing. That will mean such copies will be available AFTER Expo some time, probably toward the end of June. Finding another printer that offers what I want means shopping around. I will also need to see and approve proofs before printing. That will mean such copies will be available AFTER Expo some time,…

More Cthulhu, More Cake
In Development / May 13, 2016

I have a birthday weekend ahead of me, so unlikely to spend much time actually creating any new content or materials. However, that’s not to say that I haven’t been at work on some level or another. I have ordered proof copies of a couple of format styles for The Cthulhu Hack book with the aim of having these available at UK Games Expo. While I will be running games in the mornings, I will be on the All Rolled Up booth upon X-Wing Avenue in the afternoons – and you should, I hope, have the chance to pick up a copy from there. On that sort of level, I’m left wondering whether a Kickstarter (a small one) would be the way to go for a more satisfying print-run of the Hack. I have to say The Black Hack that Peter Regan pulled together made for such a satisfying package, booklets, screen and all. That’s the reason that I have taken such pleasure in ‘blinging the kit’ out further, with carry box, dice bag and so forth, when taking the game out on the road to events. Whatever the case, I have a set of Hacked screen inserts in mind and something similar to Sorrowset,…

Black Hack Hack Back
In Development / May 5, 2016

After a long and unenforced hiatus, I’m working on something new. One of those unplanned moments when you realize that an idea needs to find a voice or leave you sleepless. David Black recently released The Black Hack after a long period of playtesting and development. The Hack takes the essentials of 70s old school tabletop and boils it right down to the simple basics, but with a nod or two to modern sensibilities. The game does away with too much book-keeping through a rather clever use of dice to manage dwindling resources… and that got me thinking. This weekend, I’m running a game of The Black Hack at Patriot Games Indy Games day in Sheffield. Instead of a straight fantasy game of the Hack, I wanted to try something different, so I created a character sheet. From there, I’ve created my own hack of the Hack – and all being well I should have the whole thing available for release in short order. Featuring extra rules on dwindling sanity, madness, more monsters, 1920s equipment and a neat character sheet design! Look out for Hack Call (pronounced hackle for your convenience) coming to One Book Shelf soon.  

The Sanction of St Agnes
Adventures , In Development / October 16, 2014

As I’m currently in the (long term) process of putting together a game system – called 214 – it seems very likely I’ll use some of my own material to put the crunch through it’s paces. My adventure The Blessing of St Agnes puts the player characters in the situation of seeking out the fate of a kidnapped girl. Faced with a pleading, tearful (and wealthy) patron, the characters investigate about the potential fate of the girl and track clues across the village and local countryside attempting to track her down. While the adventure has a dungeon aspect to it, various alternate plots and antagonists mean that no two versions of St Agnes will be the same. The ploys and questionable intentions of those responsible for the girls disappearance will alter the way the PCs have to deal with the situation and (hopefully) return her safely. In addition to details of the Chapel of St Agnes and various individuals of significance, the adventure features an appendix with additional content to include, generic monster details, and – in this physical form – several handouts scattered around the book. Given the suspicion and distrust surrounding the situation, from the PCs towards the locals and vice…

NOT EQUAL to Stuff You Don’t Know
In Development / August 18, 2013

I have been busy doing other things. All Rolled Up has consumed 105% of my existence over the last several weeks. I probably didn’t realise how much time publicity and social media can require if you want to get something “out there”. I’m sure it’s something I can get better at over time. I may add another skill-string to my expertise-bow, so to speak. In the meantime, Just Crunch has taken a hiatus that I had not intended. I look up at the calendar and see August – and recall that the last time I wrote much of anything must have been March. That’s almost half a year without writing more than a few paragraphs of copy. I may have been creative during that time period, but it isn’t that sort of creative. However, I have to step slightly outside my comfort zone and attempt to do things I have done before. On the other hand, I also need to jump back into my comfort zone occasionally to do the things I’m good at already. If I want to get back into writing again over the next few days or weeks, I need to settle back into that comfort zone –…