Releases 0 comments on Bundles of Foreboding

Bundles of Foreboding

In time for Christmas, but also to make it easier to pick up a bunch of The Cthulhu Hack books without searching, I have created three Bundle offers on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG – with a swanky new bundle graphic.

The Cthulhu Hack Core provides you with the essentials – as someone else put it, the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual – for running the game. You get the v1.5 copy of The Cthulhu Hack, the guide in stories and adventures of The Haunter of the Dark, and a horde of random horrors with From Unformed Realms. That’s $13.33.

The Unformed Bundle focus on the creatures and horrors – and can be ported to other games very easily. Here you get From Unformed Realms along with recently released The Dark Brood, which focuses on the hellish progeny of Shub-Niggaruth. That’s $6.66.

Finally, you will find the brand new Investigations Bundle, which combines the guide in stories and adventures of The Haunter of the Dark with five ready-to-play investigations: modern day student hikers documenting the last days of the derelict Innsmouth in Save Innsmouth; locals of a small town on an island off Maine waking without recollection of their purpose, but keenly aware that something’s horribly wrong in Thro’ Centuries Fixed; and three chilling encounters with the Wendigo, served up by three different authors, in Three Faces of the Wendigo. That’s $18.00.

As per standard charging on the One Book Shelf stores, if you have a book already, you don’t pay for it twice. They deduct that individual book (or books) from the total – so, you still save on the PDFs you don’t have.

The Core Bundle
Releases 2 comments on Release The Dark Brood

Release The Dark Brood

The Dark Brood offers a selection of content that brings the fecundity of Shub-Niggurath front and centre to your game of The Cthulhu Hack; loosing her mindless progeny upon the unsuspecting world. Oddly enough, I started writing this as a basic bestiary entry – perhaps even just a single creature post on this site; in many ways, Mark Chance’s posts over at Spes Magna had got me thinking. Mark had posted a few examples of using From Unformed Realms to create creatures and villains for various game systems – and I wanted to bring some of that home to Just Crunch. However, once I got writing, I couldn’t stop. I had four creatures, then five; then I realised that they had a commonality that seemed a gift for writing more about Shub-Niggurath and its strange influences. Before you know it, I had several thousand words and a cover image!

The supplement includes:

  • An overview of the Black Goat of a Thousand Young and the manifestations of its presence
  • Six ready-to-play samples of the Dark Brood as examples of using From Unformed Realms to generate endless new monstrosities
  • Two investigation seeds with suggestions on hooking your group in and what they’ll uncover
  • Four new Mythos spells associated with practitioners close to Shub-Niggurath, including Flesh-to-Stone
  • A collection of more than two-dozen ideas on adding the influence of the Dark Brood and Shub-Niggurath into your investigations, which you can use as hooks, flavour, or creative sparks for your next investigation

Written for The Cthulhu Hack, The Dark Brood has the simplicity to allow simple porting to other investigation horror games; alternatively, the creatures and spells – written with the same system as The Black Hack – can be used with any of the many variants of that game system.

The Cthulhu Hack: The Dark Brood is available now through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG for $3.95. Or grab the Unformed Bundle, which includes both The Dark Brood and From Unformed Realms for $6.66.

Sale 0 comments on September Setting Sale on RPGNow

September Setting Sale on RPGNow

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 genre as a way to create or transform the monsters and horrors your player characters face – and until 30th September it’s 33% off.

Releases 0 comments on The Cthulhu Hack Core

The Cthulhu Hack Core

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.

Random Tables, Running Tabletop Games 2 comments on Random Tables

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.


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 them needing only a 6-sided die throw) to get your creative spark glowing.

Why such short tables?

Personally, the bigger the table the greater the stretch in content quality and focus. Even in From Unformed Realms, I used 6-sided dice as the basis of every roll and drilled down with the levels of detail.

It keeps things tight without any opportunity to resort to padding.

Don’t Stop

And you needn’t stop at the result thrown. I mean, you’re not beholden to the random, right? You can just choose something that seems right. Or, like a Story Cube, you can riff off the result and turn it into something that fits.

Found a keepsake? You should tie it intimately into the backstory of the owner, or compare it to something that an investigator carries – something they inherited or acquired.

Discovered margin notes in a well-thumbed book? Make the ink or hand-writing match something [Flashlight] found earlier in the session – or in a previous adventure!

Rolled a reference to decay? Make it mildewed wallpaper with odd stains that suggest electrical burning, or the sickly smell of food pulled into the holes behind the walls by vermin… who knows what else they might have carried back there.

Go with the flow of the dice, but don’t let it stop there. Adding the stamp of connectivity or some subtle reference to an ongoing presence or conspiracy can make all the difference – and I, in putting the table together, can’t add that essential and personal touch.

Happy rolls!

The Haunter of the Dark has been nominated for the Best Electronic Book ENnie Award 2017. You can vote now – through to August 21st – on the ENnie Awards web site:

Adapting, Random Tables 0 comments on Your Haunter May Vary

Your Haunter May Vary

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 a creature that attacks with acid or secretes strange pheromones, then the Investigator might find partially digested meat or note a queer sensation of homeliness about a place, something warm and comforting. It should seem and feel odd, but at the same time it only hints at the entity, as the Investigator find – the spoor of the beast – is second-hand.

You can achieve that with the roll of three six-sided dice on the main table in From Unformed Realms. It’s all about the spice, turning the ordinary and expected into something different. Why note Deep Ones that owe more to sharks or pikes? How about a Shoggoth composed of biological waste or chemical effluent? Once you start changing a key feature, the physical appearance alters with it and how the entity interacts with the environment.

Something of this concept sits in the middle of The Haunter of the Dark. That lurking horror at the heart of Providence – what if it isn’t what you expected? If you read into the nature of the entity, what else might it be? Given the unreliable narrator – the journal of an insane artist – why accept the whole winged monstrosity or the three-lobed eye?

The Haunter of the Dark contains a short chapter that outlines what else it might be – drawing on Lovecraft’s wider Mythos to present other options. In turn, by changing the nature of the entity, you tweak the sect that worship it. The chapter names the horror and explains how it varies from the entity at the heart of the original tale and why; then, briefly, it indicates the special qualities of the followers, their nature and intentions.

Again, it turns the situation around on the ‘expert’ who can no longer rely on the second-hand knowledge of reading the original. Indeed, the included investigation assumes that the Investigators might find the journal of Robert Blake at some point – meaning they can read Lovecraft’s story as a hand-out. However, it may become clear that perceptions of the unfiltered mind can become horribly distorted by the cosmic truth of the uncaring universe, cold, alien and anathema to humanity.

Take care now!

Reviews 0 comments on From Unformed Realms – New Review

From Unformed Realms – New Review

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.

News 0 comments on Coming Up, Looking Back

Coming Up, Looking Back

Just a brief one, as I noted The Cthulhu Hack got a mention alongside The Black Hack in the TableTop Games 10 Top Roleplaying Games of 2016.

In addition, someone rightly pointed out that in Cthulhu Hack 2016 and Beyond I did not mention the GM Screen amongst the upcoming releases.

OK – now I have mentioned it. I had a rough version of a screen in-hand for my game at Dragonmeet (the artefact in the middle of the picture with the map cover), but that really was something of an Alpha prototype for me to toy with. The prototype gathered some key tables from the core rules and From Unformed Realms. It proved useful in running Save Innsmouth, to hide some brief notes and the game booklet itself.

I hope that any official and final GM Screen will serve a more original and pivotal function on the table. That remains a work in progress for the time being, with no specific release date.

I also didn’t mention that I have an adventure supplement planned for late Spring that will gather together three short adventures themed around the same non-Mythos entity. I can’t go into much further detail than that at the moment.

The call for adventure last year offered some interesting ideas – and one of those formed the kernel of a concept for this supplement.

This is still early thinking, but a full text for one adventure exists and I had a chance to discuss the second at Dragonmeet with another writer. I will round the collection off with the third contribution, which currently runs to an undeveloped outline.

All of these adventures will clock in around 5,000 words – so, they should all be punchy numbers ready for a session of play.

Reviews 0 comments on From Unformed Realms Review

From Unformed Realms Review

from-unformed-realmsI like it when reviews catch me completely off guard. While I did offer copies of my books for review purposes a while back to a couple of people, I placed no pressure on them. What caught me by surprise here? Well, this is a review by someone who doesn’t particularly like horror or things Cthulhu, but this review is incredibly positive about the books potential.

A fantastic and thorough review From Unformed Realms on RPG Geek, by Steve, really made my day. What caught me by surprise here? Well, this is a review by someone who doesn’t particularly like horror or things Cthulhu, but this review is incredibly positive about the books potential.

From Unformed Realms, nominally a supplement for The Cthulhu Hack, is … a simple but detailed system for creating “horrific” and otherworldly monsters. But it’s nearly systemless – just a long list of ideas for charging up your monsters. As a fantasy gamer, I didn’t expect this to work for me – but I was pleased to find that From Unformed Realms is a great tool for any game that needs weird and malevolent opponents.

From Unformed Realms was a very pleasant surprise to me. I expected a drier set of tables more focused on Cthulhu – instead, 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.

There you have it – suitable for any game where you want to spice up your antagonists and throw something at your characters a little out of the ordinary!

You can grab a PDF of From Unformed Realms from RPGNow and DriveThruRPG; or, grab a physical copy from All Rolled Up.

Events, Releases 0 comments on Appreciation of Cthulhu

Appreciation of Cthulhu

site-logo-redesigndThe slight algorithmic disparity between RPGNow and DriveThruRPG keeps Popular Electrum Pick out of reach at RPGNow, despite The Cthulhu Hack securing it on the DriveThru site a couple of weeks ago. Definitely an odd number, whatever it is. I awake each morning and check the page to see if TCH has finally tipped the balance to level up!

On a more general level, I really appreciate the support! I released the game a little under 4 months ago – so hitting Electrum on either site is a big deal.

I got a solid review of The Cthulhu Hack on RPG Geek overnight and the Google+ community has a steady growth. I really got a buzz to see a group of gamers using the system for their Deadlands Noir: Case of the Jumbo Shrimp game on You Tube.

Yesterday, I got two big boxes of the physical books for From Unformed Realms and The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu. I’ll have these available at forthcoming events and through the Just Crunch Games web store on the All Rolled Up site. You will have the option to pick up the entire set so far – which includes all these physical books, a branded box, Elder Sign dice tray, and black dice set with Elder Sign d6.

The Haunter of the Dark lingers on the brink of completion, with The Keepers of the Woods, Unaussprechlichen Hack and other releases already taking shape (including a collection of adventures tentatively entitled The Gatekeeper).

And there’s more. Much more. An off-the-radar project shaping up even as I type. Print copies of Haunter in time for Spiel (fingers crossed). Games at Concrete Cow, Dragonmeet, and other national events.

Thanks – one and all – for your support. I appreciate it. Spread the word. Play the game. Give me your feedback. I sense 2017 will bring a bigger and more robust core rule set, but I can only do that with your support and constructive feedback.

Physical copies of From Unformed Realms

Events, Sale 5 comments on Happy Birthday, Mr Lovecraft

Happy Birthday, Mr Lovecraft

HP-LovecraftIn celebration of Howard Lovecraft’s 126th birthday, OneBookShelf is offering a 20% discount on all Mythos related games across their websites, including RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.

That means you can grab a copy of The Cthulhu Hack and From Unformed Realms at 20% until 31th August. That includes the softcover!

And while you’re at it, you can also pick up Pay-What-You-Want release The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts and Cthulhu and the Outpost Generator.

And while you’re there, why not try the excellent The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby (which still has my local players talking), the resource-rich goodness of Silent Legions, and my current bedside reading matter Achtung! Cthulhu.

The Stars Are Right!

Reviews 1 comment on From Unformed Realms Review

From Unformed Realms Review

from-unformed-realmsThere’s a new review on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG for From Unformed Realms, which I engineered to some extent by offering free copies.

I consciously offered copies of this supplement to people who didn’t ‘play Cthulhu’, because From Unformed Realms supports but isn’t constrained to The Cthulhu Hack. I wrote this as a generic, non-system specific supplement – and the review shows Steve’s appreciation of that:

First things first, Paul offered me a free copy of this product, but after I read it, I went back and paid for it. I expect to make use of it in a few different ways and the price wasn’t exactly going to break the bank anyhow.

The charts here are well-organized and useful. They include some options you’d probably consider mandatory for a horror game (like tentacles) and some things you might not have thought of (like acquired – a creature which steals limbs from previous victims). The same goes for several of the other categories. Some of the categories go pretty far-afield, like creatures which excrete urine or semen at will, but honestly those are both pretty horrifying.

For myself, I kind of see a couple of places where I can use this quickly. I’m running a Champions game were some of the villains are playing with magic they don’t really understand. Using these charts to generate the creature will make it easy for me to then stat out the character. With the release of Horror Adventures for Pathfinder, there’s going to be even more call for creatures and this might help me make them.

Overall this is a great collection of tables with some very inventive options as well as some of the expected options. It’s a great product and I’m glad Paul suggested I check it out.

You can check out a full-sized preview of the first few pages of From Unformed Realms and Steve’s review of the supplement on the download site, including those tentacles! Steve also posted an extended review of From Unformed Realms on RPGGeek.

Events 0 comments on The Dragon and the Cow

The Dragon and the Cow

Cthulhu-Hack-Dice-Tray-All-Rolled-UpI have a couple of (reasonably) confirmed events – and games – upcoming. The Concrete Cow event takes place in Milton Keynes on Saturday 10 September 2016; Dragonmeet takes place in London on Saturday 03 December 2016.

I will be running sessions of The Cthulhu Hack at both events.

For Concrete Cow, I will be running an afternoon session of The Derelict:

When the last chip falls and the champagne has run dry, the eternal socialite has to sell up and literally ship out – heading from Liverpool to New York to sell a yacht in the hope of staving off the burden of debts. With a small group of friends, their situation little better, the final cruise across the Atlantic seems like it might prove a farewell to bad times.

Then the captain receives a faint distress call from a stranded cargo vessel and the obligation to render assistance at sea doesn’t seem so bad in light of the possible bounty from salvage opportunities…

For Dragonmeet, I will be running a session of The Haunter of the Dark, in the evening between 8pm to midnight:

Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge. Among those, however, who have examined and correlated all this evidence, there remain several who cling to less rational and commonplace theories.

As close friends and associates, you have a path ahead to uncover the truth and to find some closure. But, can the path little trod lead anywhere but into darkness?

I will be manning a trade stand during the day, so I’m happy to discuss the game and will have physical copies of whatever I can muster before December! More than likely this will be the core rules, From Unformed Realms, The Haunter of the Dark, and Unaussprechlichen Kulten.

In Development 1 comment on The Cthulhu Hack Cover

The Cthulhu Hack Cover


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.

2016-07-03 17.46.09

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 structuring an adventure for one-offs, convention games and beyond.

I have spent the whole weekend going through the text of the short story for the umpteenth time. Considering this was Lovecraft poking fun at another author, I have been having great times with it – stretching the angles out and unraveling the potential.

Raw text running to a couple of dozen pages at the moment and not nearly finished yet. Seems likely to run to about the same length as the core book in the end.

In Development 0 comments on The Cthulhu Hack – June 2016

The Cthulhu Hack – June 2016

13548854_10153753405271173_614543532_oI 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 story into Flashlights, Smokes, antagonists and Sanity sinks, offering a usable adventure and considered guidance on creating adventures yourself.

And somewhere off in the middle distance, I can see Derr Unaussprechlichen Hack – which needs to gather enough material before hitting PDF – and Doom in Dunwich – a randomized sandbox village generator, which you can easily team up with From Unformed Realms for unpredictables forays into the Unknown.

Hooks 0 comments on Fire and Fury

Fire and Fury

mfcreative © 2008-2016 mfcreative

While created to generate quick horrors of the unknown for games like The Cthulhu Hack, there’s nothing stopping you from using From Unformed Realms as a way to kickstart monsters for other games.

Throw a few six-sided dice (different colours help, deciding in advance which come first, second and third – but you could just read them left to right as they fall) or use an online randomizer, and you can set down the skeletal potentials of a new opponent.

As a basic guide, for Hack games, add a Hit Dice for each ability or characteristic generated or – conversely – decide the power level of the horror and roll as many times as it has Hit Dice.

So, I rolled three times, aiming for something 3HD – then rolled another die for form, which I didn’t count for hit dice.

  • The entity shimmers and gleams with sweat (+1HD)
  • Sharp and dark prickles cluster across its horny hide (+1AV, +1HD)
  • Thorns can fire like projectiles
    – fluid scalds with an extreme temperature (+1HD)
  • Ophidian

Out of that I get:

Ss’nda (3HD, +1 AV; when damaged, DEX Save or inflict 1d4 damage)

Commonly mistaken for the salamander in folktale, the Ss’nda admittedly have much in common with the toxic amphibian, but little in common physically. The Ss’nda sleep in forges, furnaces and kitchen fires, where the heart of the flame glows white hot, soaking up the heat with the contented attitude of a spoilt cat. Out of the fire, their skin has a crystalline shimmer, like shards of desert glass, rough with spines and prickles. They appear like a writhing rope of coloured gas, licked by dancing flames and shimmering heat.

When enraged, the hissing internal pressure of the ophidian beast makes it dangerous to strike with any weapon; any wound releases a gout of scalding liquid and gritty shards of sharp glass, that sear and tear exposed flesh.

Lore suggests that only intense cold, not water, can calm a Ss’nda – indeed, water generates the same threat as striking it with a plume of gritty steam.

In certain quarters, rumour suggests the Ss’nda were creations of the Serpent People, kept by alchemists and sorcerers as pets and a ready source of heat with sufficient intensity to boil or burn almost instantly.

From Unformed Realms is available now from RPGNow and DriveThruRPG in PDF.