I had the opportunity at Spiel 2016 (in Essen) to meet dozens, if not hundreds, of game enthusiasts and chat with them about the unique selling points of The Cthulhu Hack over all the many other options out there.
Quick to pick up and fast to get going, the system covers all the essentials needed for investigative role-playing in a book you could probably read in 20 minutes.
And I’m really pleased to see that one of the many customers that dropped by our stall (I shared the table with my wife’s business All Rolled Up) has taken the time to do an unboxing video (note: the whole video is in German, but I enjoyed watching nevertheless!) of the All Cthulhu Hack boxed set, including the Spiel-exclusive Save Innsmouth adventure booklet.
I 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!
I’m really pleased to see The Haunter of the Dark has received a solid review at RPG Geek, with Eric Dodd running through the essentials in concise fashion (and highlighting a spelling error I’ll have to correct on the next pass). I really enjoyed writing this 88-page guide to mining Lovecraft’s stories to create new adventures.
Putting together Thro’ Centuries Fixed (released in November 2016) allowed me to do something similar with another story – and I’m finding deconstructing the fiction as enjoyable as re-reading it. Lovecraft can be a rewarding reading – not without issue on many levels – but, he fills the page with a rich tapestry well worth unpicking!
Eric includes an image of the highlighting used in the PDF version. In the second half of the book, I do a bit of an autopsy on The Haunter of the Dark – and highlight key sections with colour and an icon. For the printed version of the book – with a black and white interior – I have opted for a different typeface distinctive enough to pick out the key text, so the icon carries more weight.
I recommend you head over and read the whole succinct review, but in summary Eric’s verdict:
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.
The short summary – if you have Convicts and Cthulhu, you should pick up this light version of the game. Not only does it neatly summarize some of the background sections and themes of that game, it also includes two awesome random tables. And if you have Cthulhu Hack and any interest at all in playing in an early 1800s setting then you should also pick this up as an example of using this system in other settings.
I agree that it’s worth picking up Convicts & Cthulhu and that they release more adventures and content. I’ve enjoyed running Cthulhu Hack adventures in this setting – and it’s a breeze to do the conversion.
You can grab The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG as a Pay What You Want, with a suggested contribution of $2.50 (about £2). I appreciate your support and investment in purchasing this supplement – and it will support the release of future supplements, like The Keepers of the Woods, on a Pay What You Want basis.
The old black cover with Elder Sign stands stark on the page – and I have a few of those lying around. That simplicity now adorns boxes and dice, while the books have moved on to fantastic art from Pete Amachree, Apolonis, Marina Krivenko, and Henning Ludvigsen.
The Cthulhu Hack is … stripped back and it does provide an elegant means for discovering clues and handling investigations in the form of Flashlights and Smokes. … The Cthulhu Hack offers a clean, simple, and unfussy approach to Lovecraftian investigative horror that feels refreshing compared to similar RPGs.
After the review of From Unformed Realms yesterday, I was delighted to see the time and effort taken to publish a very thorough review of The Cthulhu Hack yesterday, by Eric Dodd on RPGGeek. I think it’s well worth reading – a thorough take worth the time to work through if you’re teetering on the fence as to whether The Cthulhu Hack will work for you.
To paraphrase the review, I present the concluding paragraphs:
Combining The Black Hack’s approach to old school fantasy with Lovecraft works rather well. Investigation resources and ammunition are tracked in a way that players will never be sure just when their luck will run out, but still gives them control over when to risk it. New players should be quickly able to understand the system and how it works, and should enjoy doing nearly all of the dice rolling in the game. If you’re experienced in RPGs but unfamiliar with Cthulhu then I’d suggest Graham Walmsley’s Stealing Cthulhu as inspiration.
So I welcome the appearance of The Cthulhu Hack to the crowded Lovecraftian RPG mantlepiece. If you liked the simplicity of Cthulhu Dark but felt you needed a few more tools and levers to build a game around, without having to track 40 or 50 skills or detailed weapon statistics, then The Cthulhu Hack might be just what you’re looking for. I’ve just ordered the Convicts and Cthulhu expansion, which will bring The Cthulhu Hack together with another new flavour in Cthulhu gaming.
There’s plenty of room for fun, interesting, inspired takes on Cthulhu gaming like The Cthulhu Hack.
I appreciate the time taken – and also thoroughly recommend you pick up Graham’s Stealing Cthulhu as a reference for extracting games from fiction. That and the upcoming The Haunter of the Dark!
There’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.