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…

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…

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.

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

The Cthulhu Hack – New Version, Old Stock
News / July 11, 2017

In the process of updating to the new edition of The Cthulhu Hack, I’m now closing on a completed version of the whole text. However, I haven’t got to the point where I can get a new proof or order fresh stock – so, that means that I have had to take boxed sets Out of Stock over on All Rolled Up’s web store. I hope that I can get the proof very soon and turn all those boxed sets back on. In the meantime, you can stick get single copies of The Cthulhu Hack or boxed sets with just the rules. However, even those will be running short soon. No pressure on me to get that version edit done, right?

The Cthulhu Hack v1.5 Progress
In Development / June 30, 2017

Steady progress on the revised edition of The Cthulhu Hack, hampered only by the eldritch horrors of Real Life! The book basically boils down into five sections: Core Mechanics. This explains Saves and Resources, will particular attention to Flashlights and Smokes. Also includes mechanical discussion about Advantage and Disadvantage, Assistance (when you feel compelled to help) and Fortune (an optional re-roll mechanic). Characters. Details the six different types of Save, then outlines Quick Characters with Archetypes and Freeform Characters. Currently also includes Wealth and Health; might shift the second into the next section. Threats. Time, Movement and Fighting; then Sanity with a bunch of optional rules; Healing; then Antagonists; and finally, Chases. Mythos 101. Quick overview of universe; Creatures & the Mythos; and then the esoteric business of Mythos Magic. Adventure. Finally, Save Innsmouth has crawled into the end of the book, along with extra material around running adventures, and a random plot seed generator, too. And, with OGL statement and a character sheet, that currently rounds out to 43-pages. I fully expect it to spread out into 44-pages, because I know where elements remain incomplete. All in all, that’s 15,000 words of material, which doubles the content of the current version. I feel like I’ve made…

The Cthulhu Hack v1.5 Started
In Development / June 7, 2017

Well, writing on The Cthulhu Hack v1.5 definitely got started. That’s all I can say for the moment. Since running adventures over the weekend at UK Games Expo, I have had the chance to pull some thoughts together with my existing notes and get going. For the initial sweep, I have concentrated as much on removing material as adding new options or clarifications. Over the course of the year, my pitch at the stall and the gaming tables has tightened up – and when I wrote the Cthulhu Hack quick start / demo Nocturnal Rites, it provided a cool way to force me to get the core principles down in short form. If you want to hear more and see regular updates, hit Join on The Cthulhu Hack Google+ Community page!

Cthulhu Hack at UK Games Expo ’17

UK Games Expo sprawled across the last weekend. I have spent much of that time standing up, behind the Just Crunch Games stall, regaling people with the virtues of The Cthulhu Hack. As if getting up at 6.30am to hit NEC Hall 1’s floor for 8.30am wasn’t enough, I also signed up to GM games in the 8pm slot (a scant two hours after the trading hall closedown at 6pm). Evening Games I ran two sessions of “Operation Header” from Cubicle 7’s ‘Covert Actions‘, a scenario supplement for the Kickstarter funded ‘World War Cthulhu: Cold War‘. As it was only released to backers as a PDF last week, I figured (A) no one was likely to have read it and (B) I could show how easy it was to convert any Cthulhu game’s scenarios to TCH on the fly. While I considered running a different adventure on the Saturday, I enjoyed the Friday game and it seemed silly to not give it another run out. To be clear from the outset, the version of the adventure I ran stripped out a lot of the finer details from the adventure purely out of necessity. I had 4-hours (at most) to introduce…

OSR Extravaganza
Sale / May 28, 2017

For the next couple of weeks – until June 11th – RPGNow and DriveThruRPG has an Old School gaming sale on, which means you get at least 15% off the core Cthulhu Hack PDFs. Right now you can get The Cthulhu Hack, The Haunter of the Dark, Save Innsmouth and Thro’ Centuries Fixed for at least 15% off. From tomorrow, you will also find From Unformed Realms — not strictly a OSR title, but seems fair enough to include it in the sale — on sale with the same 15% off the current price. That’s the core – character generation and core mechanics, creating horrors, creating adventures and two investigations. And those wanting physical copies who plan to attend Check out the Just Crunch Games store or throw the net wider and check out the whole OSR Extravaganza!

Dry Wipe Character Cards
Extras / May 14, 2017

Rather than paper sheets, new boxed sets will come with A6-sized dry wipe cards. You can still print your own sheets, obviously, but these will provide a reusable alternative. Cthulhu Hack Dry Wipe Character Card They’re laminated on one side and they work with any dry wipe pen — or even felt tips. I would recommend the Staedtler Correctable pens (available from All Rolled Up, along with all the in-print books for The Cthulhu Hack), but you can use whatever you have to hand. They’re available from the All Rolled Up store, £5 for a pack of 10.

Opposed Investigation
Q & A / May 12, 2017

When you roll Flashlights or Smokes in The Cthulhu Hack, you’re checking to see if the investigator taxes their resources in discovering something key about the situation. When they throw a 1 or 2, they have pushed themselves too far, but they haven’t failed. Whatever they roll, they discover something new and vital in the progress toward their goal. However, what if getting the clue isn’t that easy? What would happen then? Well, there lies the Threat. Handling Threats soon they found the passage came to an abrupt stop. He pulled the obstacle away & to his dismay water rushed in in torrents. John was an expert swimmer & long breathede. He had just taken a breath, so he tried to rise but with the box & his sister he found it quite impossible… A Threat lies between the Investigator and their success – and it means getting the clues might be harder or it could even mean that someone else gets there first. In the Indiana Jones movies, it means the evil archaeologist managed to wrest the artefact from Indy’s hands – surrounding him with natives in the jungle, or capturing a key contact in the city and spiriting them away…

The Smart Party
Podcasts / May 11, 2017

I chat with The Smart Party grandees Gary Bee and Baz Stevens about the genesis and expansion of All Rolled Up – the home of award-winning dice bags, dice trays and gaming essentials; why The Cthulhu Hack exists in a marketplace filled to capacity with the Mythos, as well as quick routes in to Lovecraft’s universe; and the explosion of Swedish goodness in our balanced gaming diet, including Symbaroum, Tales from the Loop, Mutant: Year Zero, and more. Head over to The Smart Party web site for more podcasts.

AireCon and ConVergence UK
Events / March 8, 2017

Just Crunch will be at AireCon – the Analog Gaming Festival – in Harrogate this weekend. AireCon – 10/11/12 March 2017 – is a friendly family focused event, catering to all manner of gamers; the event offers a library of board games to borrow and an enthusiastic offering on the role-playing front. AireCon is sponsored by both Travelling Man and the UK Games Expo. Just Crunch will be there with All Rolled Up with a full stand for the event – offering a plethora of gaming goodies, dice bags, folding dice trays, and more. And in less than two weeks, we have the first ConVergence UK, in Stockport. ConVergence UK – 17/18/19 March 2017 – kicks off for the first time this year, at the Northern Gaming Centre in south of Stockport, along the A6. It’s gaming from the Northern Powerhouse; and it’s on my doorstep! As ever, All Rolled Up will have a range of game rolls and dice trays on offer – and the event offers war games, board games and roleplaying games (including the Pathfinder Society) organised through Warhorn. I hope (even plan) to run some of The Cthulhu Hack at the events; I’m also very happy to chat about the system, a fast and lightweight route into the…

Advantage and Disadvantage
Running Tabletop Games / March 6, 2017

Nobody said it was easy / No one ever said it would be this hard… The Cthulhu Hack includes a section on Advantage and Disadvantage that I think warrants a little consideration. To be clear, Coldplay got this one spot on. Top marks to them. When you see a character Class offering Advantage on something, it isn’t because the character finds it easy. A character with a Special Feature that offers Advantage does so because they’re prepared. A character’s occupation or background offers them a perspective or a professional appreciation of something that means when they come to try and exercise their skills under pressure, they do so with benefit. If you, as a GM, believe that a threat is easy to avoid, don’t ask for a roll. To return to the example from the last article about a hole to climb down, if that hole is rough, sloped or has corroded rungs hammered into the side, don’t ask for a roll. It’s easy – so, throwing dice won’t add anything to the experience. Indeed, you may well find that throwing dice breaks the narrative flow. Have the players describe what they do when they reach the hole – and…