Wildly Speculative
Reviews / May 19, 2017

Website Reviews from R’yleh has posted a review about The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu – which just recently picked up Best Copper Seller on DriveThruRPG (which is no mean feat for a Pay What You Want, as only paid purchases count!). You may see certain comments about the adventure therein and use of the term “faintly ridiculous”, which on the face of it is not a bad thing as a one-time writer for PARANOIA. I could have done with more ridiculous at times, faint or otherwise. Anyway, I leave this list here, on the off chance you care to take a look, because even Fake News is news of a sort and fiction has a heritage of playing with alternate timelines, strange theories and unfounded rumours. Really, many writers of Lovecraftian fiction still rely on strange tales and urban legends, weird claims and left-field theories, as the source of their work. Ruins of trade center discovered on the northern coast of Western Australia Wildly Speculative Claims of Pseudoarchaeology The Long Ships and their Seafarers On another note, the print run of The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu runs low and will not be reprinted. At the moment, you can get…

The Cthulhu Hack Unboxed
Reviews / November 11, 2016

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. Thanks, David!

From Unformed Realms Review
Reviews / November 4, 2016

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…

Review of The Haunter of the Dark
Reviews / October 30, 2016

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,…

Review of Convicts & Cthulhu for The Cthulhu Hack
Reviews / October 3, 2016

Eric Dodd has been good enough to write up a thorough review of The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu, as a follow-up to his earlier review of the original source material Convicts & Cthulhu (by the Cthulhu Reborn team for Call of Cthulhu). Eric provides a punchy executive summary: 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. If you liked the random tables in Convicts, Eric, you are going to love The Haunter of the Dark! You can grab The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG as a Pay What You…

Reviews from R’lyeh
Reviews / September 24, 2016

Pookie, over on Reviews from R’lyeh, has posted a substantial and thorough review of The Cthulhu Hack. 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. For anyone who hasn’t been over to RPGNow recently, The Haunter of the Dark is riding high – no. 3 in the Hottest Small Press and no. 4 in the Top 100 Products (with The Cthulhu Hack at no. 38). The Haunter of the Dark takes HP Lovecraft’s final Mythos tale of doomed writer Robert Blake and guides you, in clear steps, through the process of turning it into an adventure for The Cthulhu Hack.

RPGGeek Review of The Cthulhu Hack
Reviews / August 9, 2016

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. Also, take a look for [Paul’s] conversion of the free The Haunting adventure from the Chaosium Quick Start rules. So I welcome the appearance of The Cthulhu Hack to the crowded Lovecraftian RPG mantlepiece. If you…

From Unformed Realms Review
Reviews / August 8, 2016

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…

Horrors and Derelicts
Horrors , Session Reports / July 19, 2016

Following on from Mark Chance’s read through review of The Cthulhu Hack, he has now posted up four new Horrors For The Cthulhu Hack – the Chthonian, Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath, Dimensional Shambler, and Fire Vampire. I like the use of Improvised damage as the reduced harm to the essentially immaterial Fire Vampires from gear that smothers. Nice use of the available mechanics. I also posted a brief overview of my first session of The Derelict, Chaosium’s special release for Free RPG Day, that you can now pick up as a physical book through Lulu. Finally, I liked the use of old book covers in Mark’s horrors article – so, I recommend digging through a few old pulpy covers when coming up with ideas or imagery for your sessions. While some of the covers don’t exactly inspire, the more psychedelic efforts are great.

I Can Endorse This
Reviews / July 12, 2016

Noted a nice summary review by T to the E to the O in the Google+ RPG Enthusing community of The Cthulhu Hack: I’ve read through it, and quite enjoyed seeing how The Black Hack was further hacked for the sake of Cosmic Horror. In The Cthulhu Hack, researching, recalling, and noticing things are handled using a Flashlights die. In the same way, chatting people up, persuasion, and interrogation are handled with a Smokes die. This metaphorically lines up with the illumination, and social misdirection that might go on during such adventures. I am a bit more literal, so would call them the Investigation die and Communication die though, or something along those lines. What’s great about it, no matter what they are called, is how the Usage die mechanic is used to make either a finite resource (you run out of ideas, or get fatigued) that can be replenished, and presents a form of risk, in that way. They have also done up a rather brilliant three page summary of Mythos. Using, by their own confession, totally out of context descriptions to frame incomprehensible intentions into something digestible, and workable for a new gamer, or someone that is just new to…

Cthulhu Breakfast Club Review
Reviews / June 14, 2016

Sat before a crackling fire with a mug of cocoa and a musty tome (that’s June in the UK for you), I listened in good company to the latest podcast from the Patreon-funded Cthulhu Breakfast Club. 90-minutes of fine Mythos-focussed banter from Paul Maclean and chums – from Yog-Sothoth.com – they provide a 5-minute potted review of The Cthulhu Hack. While I urge you to support such creative and entertaining output through become a patron, I thought it handy to provide a rough transcript out of the review (you can hear it around 46:25 in the recording): The Cthulhu Hack is based on The Black Hack – a super lite set of rules based on the Original Fantasy Gaming system. The Cthulhu Hack is a Lovecraftian variant. £4 in book form, with an option for a PDF or a ‘White box’ edition. Very light system. It has levels, classes, hit points – so you can see the system in the background. It’s an interesting, nice little light system. 40-odd pages long. A brief description of the Mythos. A load of monsters. And quite a large number of character ideas. It’s a d20 system, but what’s different about it is the creatures, the baddies……