Events, Thoughts 0 comments on Sales at UK Games Expo

Sales at UK Games Expo

Just Crunch sales of The Cthulhu Hack through All Rolled Up at UK Games Expo exceeded expectations, though I think I need to moderate the sales patter!

Setting down individual books, whether sold by themselves or as part of a box, this is the numbers in total from the three days of the event:

ProductSold
The Cthulhu Hack Core Rules36
From Unformed Realms27
The Haunter of the Dark30
Save Innsmouth (part 1): A Student Documentary32
Thro' Centuries Fixed31
The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu26
Character Sheets (pack of 10)7
Insanity Die17
Elder Sign d66

Overall, on a gut feeling rather than any hard stats, I think the sales rate was about 1 in 5 pitches, maybe 1 in 4. My throat would tend toward the lower rate of success!

UK Games Expo provides a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and sell your game to a wider audience. If someone listened and walked away without buying, I hope they’ll remember my spiel about the game and come looking later for the PDF or pick up the game through All Rolled Up.

The games I ran in the evening definitely felt valuable – both as a chance to introduce new people to the game (and, indeed, to gaming in the Mythos in general) and an opportunity to playtest new ideas. I recommend the approach to independent game designers – to both sale by day and run games, whether as a demo alongside the stand or in the downtime outside the sales room.

Events, Playtest, Running Tabletop Games 0 comments on Cthulhu Hack at UK Games Expo ’17

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 the game, run a quick round of character generation, explain the mechanics, set the scene and get running. On both occasions, the preliminaries ran to no more than 20 – 25 minutes. Also on both occasions, the game ran through until almost midnight (after which I had to clear up and walk the trail back from the Hilton Metropole to my own hotel).

Running the game wasn’t the challenge on the Saturday; it was being heard over the hubbub of five other games running at the same time in a confined space!

Characters

I used the Classless Cthulhu generation process for Saves and Resources, but used a pre-generated selection of Abilities and Advantages (see the picture below).

This worked really well, although I didn’t get the explanation of the Resource selection perfect until the second night. Basically, I followed the standard process for Saves, but allowed the players to list six scores and assign them; then each player could assign 14 dice to the Resources (Flashlights, Smokes, Sanity, Hit Dice, Armed, Unarmed).

I have used the 14 dice idea before – but these two outing at Expo suggest to me that fourteen weighs in as “generous”. I think, if you want to provide a brutal game you can drop the number of dice to 12 or 13. That means that a group of players have to rely upon each other much more and cannot simply stand alone against the horror.

You can read about Classless Cthulhu in an early article on this blog, and it will appear in the upcoming version of the core rules (as yet hanging somewhere between a v1.5 and a full on v2).

Adventure

My prep for the adventure involved reading through the whole adventure once and then going back to map notes.

My notes consisted of an A6 sheet with a map of the main site of the adventure and character sketches – the briefest of thumbnails in keywords – scattered around it. I wrote a room or location, then added the thumbnail biographies within. On the map, I added a coloured dot to connect the two. I used a third colour (red, for good reason) to pick out the location of the threats in the adventure – whether living threats or potential hindrances from traps or security.

I prepared the pre-gens using cards and some typed notes on the personality and background of each individual (not shown on the image). I also printed out some suitable passport pictures of people from the mid-1970s, which for some seemed to provide an essential grounding point for character, atmosphere and tone. Admittedly, much of the tone came down to the fantastic 70s hairstyles and one character’s impressive moustache.

Most of the first hour of the game revolved around the briefing and travel to the adventure site. The next hour dealt with investigation of the keyed location. The final hour, the descent into madness and death. Well, for some at least. A coda at the end outlined the fate of those who survived.

In the session on Friday, one player noted – mid-coda – that the revelations must surely mean a Sanity role for his character. Reduced to just a 1d4 in his Sanity resource, he thankfully rolled a 1. To have rolled anything else would have been to spoil the moment, so I’m thankful to the Fates of the Die for watching over my games.

The Friday session ended with three dead, one permanently insane, and the final character alive, but sorely reduced in all aspects. The Saturday session ended with three dead and two survivors, both likely to never serve on active duties ever again — or even to fit well into ordinary open society.

Hit Die

I experimented in both sessions by making the Hit Die a resource rather than a simple method for calculating hit points. Struck by an enemy, the player rolled the Hit Die and a 1 or 2 indicated a decline in health. I don’t feel that the outcome worked, but want to give it more thought. It just seemed to make the characters too resilient — or maybe the players just rolled too well. It does mean that the characters can handle scuffles and physical confrontation without dying early in the adventure – while they have the opportunity to fail through the dwindling of their Sanity and Investigation resouces.

I won’t make a judgement on these two sessions alone. I might be tempted, as with rolling temporary insanities on a failed Sanity roll, to create a temporary injury table. Rolled a 1 or 2 on the Hit Die means not just a drop but a genuine temporary disability. If the horror snaps your arm when you roll a 1 or 2, you won’t push on and keep fighting — you’ll reassess your poor life decisions and try to find another way.

Response

The players all appeared to enjoy their sessions and many commented favourably on the lightweight system. One noted that he’d only played one Mythos-themed game before, with Call of Cthulhu 6th edition, and had struggled with the sheer weight of numbered presented on a single character sheet. The Cthulhu Hack obviously sways wildly in the opposite direction – and that made it an easy in for newcomers and those put off by mechanical complexity.

On top of good feedback, several players also came around the next day to pick up copies for themselves. The white Slim Box version with the new green tentacle halo around the Elder Sign sold particularly well – with only two copies left at the close of the weekend. I’m really happy with the outcome of the whole weekend — and I hope that those who picked up a copy of the game have the chance to play and enjoy it themselves.

But, if you didn’t pick up a copy, remember that DriveThruRPG and RPGNow’s OSR Extravaganza has the core Cthulhu Hack books available for 15% off (or more) until June 11th. Pick up The Cthulhu Hack, From Unformed RealmsThe Haunter of the Dark, Save Innsmouth and Thro’ Centuries Fixed from the Just Crunch Games page for at least 15% off.

News 0 comments on Cthulhu Hack – First Quarter ’17

Cthulhu Hack – First Quarter ’17

An update on new releases, adventures and events for The Cthulhu Hack, as I’m conscious things have been a little quiet.

Key at the moment is work on a collection of three adventures with two other writers all themed around the same entity, taken from different angles and in very different settings. I sincerely hope that I will have this finished and published by mid-year, and it should be available in PDF and print.

On the back-burner, but in development, I have the GM Screen and Character Creation Cards. I have prototypes for both and they’re undergoing tinkering to get them in a state suitable for wider distribution. I haven’t absolutely commited yet to the format of that distribution; these will both be available as PDFs, but the physical versions might well follow if I can find a cost-effective printer.

In the background somewhere, I’m redrafting sections of the core book. This might be a v1.1 release or it could work itself into a v2. Only time will tell. I was driving toward a re-write for another connected project, but that has not been progressing as rapidly as I’d hoped.

Next major event will be UK Games Expo at the beginning of June, when I’ll be running a couple of games, but focussing primarily in my role on the stall meeting you, the gaming public. This will be just over a year since launch and I have been very happy with the uptake and reports back. I have appreciated all the feedback and the many reviews.

I will be tagging along with All Rolled Up to Gen Con 50, later this year, where I’ll spend Thursday afternoon running short sessions of The Cthulhu Hack. I also hope to run other games, spend some time on our stall, and maybe get a chance to wander around!

On a podcast front, I had a discussion with Paul of Cthulhu from the Cthulhu Breakfast Club at AireCon. Last week, I recorded a long chat that will be available soon, with sub-titles, in connection with Netcon, a Spanish virtual convention, where a box set is up as part of a whole collection of prizes under the All Rolled Up banner.

In unrelated news, I’m spending much of April writing twenty-six articles on Swedish-spawned dark fantasy role-playing game Symbaroum over on The Iron Pact, as part of the A-to-Z Challenge. While a bit of a distraction, my theme has been to add an element of Mythos and horror to the game – so, it should get me in the mood for more writing on The Cthulhu Hack.

Events 0 comments on Cthulhu Hack at UK Games Expo 17

Cthulhu Hack at UK Games Expo 17

I will be attending UK Games Expo this year, as I have for the last half-a-dozen years, with the plan to run games and man the stalls for Just Crunch and All Rolled Up.

UK Games Expo runs for three days and explodes across both the NEC and local hotels, offering game-players of all interests the chance to see, play and buy games, old and new.

I have a stall of my own, where you will have the chance to pick up copies of all the books in The Cthulhu Hack range – which, I hope, will include some new material by the time June rolls around.

In addition, I will run two evening games, on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd June. I have made these intentionally generic in the RPG Event offerings over on the UK Games Expo web site. While I realised making these generic would not sell them, I didn’t want to tie myself down to offering something with certainty.

I hope to have many options to offer in terms of adventure – and might even open it to the players on the night to choose what they’d like to play.

I recommend dropping over to the site to see the games running across the spectrum – and you can find The Cthulhu Hack games and many others in the Role Playing Games Event section.

Events, Extras 0 comments on The Cthulhu Hack Bundle

The Cthulhu Hack Bundle

Preparation for UK Games Expo next weekend has kept everyone busy for the whole weekend (the whole of last week for that matter). A lot of stickers, labelling, bagging up and more besides.

For you, the positive side is that I have ten The Cthulhu Hack Bundles ready for Expo, though there’s the possible I might have the chance to prepare more. You can order the TCH Bundle from All Rolled Up and if you plan to be at Expo make sure to communicate that. Pop it in the Where Should We Send Your Order Field? that you want to pick up at Expo – and then you can pay on the day at the event.

The bundle contains: 44-page The Cthulhu Hack A5 booklet, five double-sided expanded Character Sheets and the A5 white plastic storage box with branded matt vinyl sticker.

You’ll need to pick up by close of the trading hall on Saturday. If you can’t pick up or arrange for someone else to pick up, we’ll put them on open sale Sunday – as we don’t want to hold on to stock as we’d rather not take it home!

the-cthulhu-hack-tabletop

Events, Releases 0 comments on Cthulhu Hack Goes Silver

Cthulhu Hack Goes Silver

st-johns-federal-hill-1934A little over two weeks since the release of The Cthulhu Hack, I’m overjoyed about the response. Not only have I had a chance to play more Cthulhu as a result of the book – which works for me because I have been investigating the unnameable horrors since the early 1980s and you can never get enough – but others now have the simple tools to get their own game up and running in no time.

At DriveThruRPG, The Cthulhu Hack now rates a Silver Best Seller – for which I give thanks. I certainly didn’t have any idea that the hack would take off like this and appreciate your support. Play some games, spread the word, send me feedback – I appreciate everything you do.

With UK Games Expo looming, I now have a couple of boxes of physical game product in the house. I have a couple because initially I ordered a few and then I realised that this might not be enough after posting about it on Google+ and Facebook. I have made the book available online through the All Rolled Up store for those who can’t make it to Birmingham next weekend – or who can’t wait that long to get hold of a copy!

On the writing front, I have two projects in the works. As well as the companion volume, Der Unaussprechlichen Hack, I have been sketching out something that lies between a supplement and a how-to adventure. Given the way The Cthulhu Hack uses resource management of investigation within the team as well as more standard do-or-die Save rolls, I wanted to show how you can take an existing story or adventure and convert it.

The supplement will include the adventure notes, marginalia on some of the decisions and alternatives, at least a couple of maps, a few random and reference tables and whatever else seems to make sense. Right now, I aspire to get this all crammed into a fairly slim booklet, if not a single double-sided A4 sheet. I’ll see how it pans out and I hope to have the core text drafted very soon.

Releases 0 comments on The Physical Cthulhu Hack

The Physical Cthulhu Hack

the-Cthulhu-Hack-softcoverI had the pleasure of coming home yesterday to find a box waiting for me. Inside, 40 copies of The Cthulhu Hack ready for sale and taking along to UK Games Expo.

I’ll be running games in the morning on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (not Hack games), but you can find me in and around the All Rolled Up stall on X-Wing Avenue in the afternoons.

If you somehow can’t find us – I’m also swapping copies with Peter Regan for Black Hack softcovers. So, you can get your dose of physical Hacks from the Squarehex stall.

Physical Specifics

The physical copy includes a copy of the character sheet – right at the back – but you can download the sheet for free from RPGNow / DriveThru. The download includes both the basic sheet and the extended ‘I have high hopes for character development’ version, which includes space for a character portrait, notes, character Special Features and a section for your character’s Last Will and Testament.

the-cthulhu-hack-inside

As with the copy currently available as a PDF, the softcover, perfect bound edition contains a reorganised game. You have sections on:

  • Core mechanics,
  • Creating a character,
  • Wealth and gear,
  • Time and movement,
  • Fighting and defense,
  • Sanity,
  • Antagonists,
  • Experience,
  • Spellcasting, and
  • Mythos 101

I favour margins for scribbling and clear text – so nothing too small, except where the A5 format necessitates it. I’ve run several sessions now and I’m happy with the core and I’m gathering ideas for optional stuff to go in Der Unaussprechlichen Hack.

the-cthulhu-hack-outside

Feedback

I welcome feedback from your own play sessions, particularly relating to emulation of game elements from horror / sanity / stress / Mythos specific situations.

I would really love to hear how you’ve used the system, especially if you’ve tried a conversion of adventures from other Cthulhu-focussed games or horror investigation systems. I’ve had a positive experience, but I wrote the darn thing!

I also welcome reviews of the PDF or physical book on whatever sites or social media outlets you favour. Any sense I can get of how the system might adopt, adapt and overcome helps shape future releases. I have plans, but plans can change!

Buy Cthulhu Hack

You can get the softcover from All Rolled Up’s web store and the PDF of the Character Sheet from RPGNow. You can also get the PDF of The Cthulhu Hack from either RPGNow or DriveThru.

In Development 1 comment on The Cthulhu Hack v2 in Print

The Cthulhu Hack v2 in Print

the-cthulhu-hack-inverseNow 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, probably toward the end of June.

Version 2 Cometh

Right now, I’m working on Version 2 of the core rules. Obviously, anyone who already has a copy through RPGNow or DriveThru will get that update automatically through their Library.

This will be the copy that goes to print – and it seems to have expanded to 43-pages in the process. Version 2 includes two A4 covers – one black, one white – so you can choose how hard you want to punish your printer! It will also include the existing character sheet alternatives – basic and extended.

The possibility of a meatier boxed set version with more content and a couple of adventures – well, that might be in the offing if enough interest exists. Any rumours of an All Rolled Up would be purely circumstantial…

Review The Cthulhu Hack

If you have had the chance to play, I’d love to hear about it. Better yet, play more of it. Tell your friends about it. Convert existing adventures and tell me about it.

I’ve had positive feedback from the sessions I’ve run with the ruleset and next week I hope to have the chance to play in a game run by another GM. You can post feedback here or on Google+ – and reviews on the PDF at RPGNow, DriveThru or elsewhere are always appreciated.

Events 0 comments on UK Games Expo – T Minus 34 days

UK Games Expo – T Minus 34 days

Games Expo 2009

While I have more than a month to get myself ready for my three day attendance at UK Games Expo in Birmingham, it doesn’t feel like long at all. On top of running 5 games, I also have various bits of Just Crunch Games material to prepare – including physical copies of The Blessing of St Agnes, Interstellar Travel Events, and Another Bug Hunt.

You might have noticed there that I said ‘running 5 games’ like that might be something easy. In some measure, I hope it will be, as I don’t plan to do anything too taxing. Taxing isn’t going to be fun for anyone! I will be running games of Maelstrom and Outlive Outdead on the Friday, Hollowpoint and Advanced Fighting Fantasy on the Saturday, and Maelstrom again on the Sunday morning. Given the need to keep these sorts of games short and punchy, with a lot of fun thrown in for good measure, I plan to have some stripped back adventures and pre-generated characters, so we can all hit the ground running and enjoy the games.

In between all of these various games, I plan to spend some time working behind the stall of Arion Games, pushing a few of the games I’ve been running, offering up the copies of my own stuff, and also assisting my wife in the launch of All Rolled Up, which you will get more information about as time, and development, progresses.

This evening, I have been gathering various extras for inclusion in the Special Edition physical copy of The Blessing of St Agnes. The UK Games Expo event will get the updated edition (with even fewer spelling mistakes) with the addition of pictures and maps not included in the previous electronic edition (although, some of that material will be incorporated into the PDF after the event).

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