I love conventions anyway, but UK Games Expo offered the double-thrill at the start of June that I got to attend and I was nominated for an award – and that excitement culminated in Valkyrie Nine—one of this year’s releases for Lovecraft-inspired investigative horror role-playing game The Cthulhu Hack—winning an award. Twice.
Short-listed for Best Role-playing Adventure in the run-up to the event, this near-future investigation gathered up both the People’s Choice Award—voted for by visitors using the Expo phone app—and the Judges Award.
You can see the author, me, and All Rolled Up’s owner, Fil Baldowski, receiving the award from Tom Vasel and John Robertson (from The Dark Room).
You can pick up softback copies of Valkyrie Nine from the All Rolled Up web store. You can get the Valkyrie Nine PDF from DriveThruRPG, where it’s 25% off for the next nine days as part of their Christmas in July event (ends when July does).
I’m excited to announce that Valkyrie Nine has been shortlisted in this year’s UK Games Expo Awards for Best Role-playing Adventure—the same award for which Three Faces of the Wendigo won the People’s Vote in 2018.
Last year there was a Judge’s Vote and a Public Vote—I’m not clear at the moment whether this will be the case again. Whatever the case, the final results will come down to the public making their choice through the UK Games Expo app over the course of the weekend event.
I’ve created – and teased – the Lovecraft Special Edition boxes. While the white box may well become an on-and-off special, the red (“Red Hook”) deep box is a limited edition because I don’t have access to any more stock once these have gone. I originally used the red boxes for a Gen Con special with a different design (in 2017); these Lovecraft ones will be the last of them.
As a Patron of The Cthulhu Hack, you have first dibs. As a Special Edition, both the white and red boxes run to £10 each. You can order them separately (empty) by sending an email to email@example.com or get additional books and accessories to go inside by placing an order through the All Rolled Up web store and noting “Red Lovecraft Just Crunch” (or “White Lovecraft Just Crunch”) in the Where Did You Hear About Us? box.
If you’re coming to Dragonmeet, I’m happy to set the box aside for you. State “Dragonmeet Pick-up” in the Where Should We Send Your Order? box.
Click the link and take the offer while it lasts. And, if you quite like the idea of reasonably priced game supplements, consider pledging $10 to The Cthulhu Hack on Patreon. As a Dweller in Darkness, you will receive a free complimentary copy of new releases as they come out, as well as early access to drafts, playtest notes and more. This week alone, that’s a playtest approach to simplifying Abilities and come the end of the week, another slice of new (illustrated) content.
Whether you pick stuff up in the sale or pledge on Patreon, I appreciate all the support. And, remember, I’ll be at Dragonmeet in under two weeks time with a booth chock with books, boxes, dice, character cards, counters and – fingers-crossed – a smattering of T-shirts.
I will be at Dragonmeet in a little under two weeks. Someone asked whether I’ll have anything new to release for the event, and I have to say, “No.” Per recent updates, I’m focused on getting the content in a good state and releasing everything at a fair pace, when it’s ready. That means Quarter #1 in 2019 might be release rich!
Nevertheless, I’m not without stock or ‘new’ things for your consideration, especially if you haven’t seen me since last Dragonmeet! I will have:
the Gamemaster Screen;
new cover versions of Core, The Haunter, Unformed and Dark Brood, as well as existing stock of Thro’ Centuries Fixed and Three Faces of the Wendigo;
the Deep One Pick’n’Mix, in limited supply – a branded white deep box with GM Screen and Character Cards inside that you can buy separately, or you can add books to, for those folks who have outgrown their slim box;
(all being well) a limited supply of Straight Outta Arkham t-shirts;
new Insanity Dice (in many colours), in various colours, with engraved Insanity and Shock outcomes;
And I daresay that I’ll have offers on the day for those picking up books.
I have had a tiring but exciting time, meeting hundreds of gamers from amongst tens of thousands of attendees to the event in Birmingham, UK.
The biggest gaming event in the UK, the Expo has become a genuine high point for the tabletop year and I had a great time. Winning the award for Wendigo was definitely the cherry on the cake… or the generous scoop of ice-cream of the Cthuloid green jelly.
For those attending the big event (in less than a fortnight’s time), I will have all The Cthulhu Hack books with plenty of ‘new’ and new stuff. There’ll be:
Three Faces of the Wendigo, which isn’t new but up for the Best Role-Playing Adventure Award, that features three different adventures by three different authors concerning hunger, the wilderness and some tough decisions about survival!
the revised Cthulhu Hack Core Book includes an expanded page count for the first time – which allows for a more pleasant and open layout and the addition of more cross-referencing and an index – of sorts, and
The Dark Brood, a saddle-stitched smorgasbord of material around Shub-Niggurath, including three adventure seeds, half-a-dozen new spells, several new creatures and dozens of ways to mark the influence of the Black Goat on your game.
I’ll have white and black slim boxes (£25, three core books + character cards) and black or opaque deep boxes (£45, all the books books). I’ll also have Cthulhu themed All Rolled Up, dice trays, Insanity Dice (an updated design), and Cthulhoid dry-wipe counters. Probably other things that I have forgotten… all at booth 1-J26.
Who would have imagined that this spin-off from The Black Hack would be here to start a third year of publication?!
Hope to see many of you there.
That yellow block is where I am, with the main entrance into the hall at the bottom of that wide, white block in the middle. The red circle is the glorious Inked Adventures – and I’m on the other side of that yellow block, bottom right.
The Cthulhu Hack: Three Faces of the Wendigo has been nominated in the Best Role-Playing Adventure category at this years UK Games Expo Awards to be awarded at the event that runs from 1st – 3rd June 2018.
The adventure supplement takes the Wendigo myth – filled with supernatural horror, the wilderness, unfettered hunger and the darkness within – and presents three investigations written by three different authors with their own personal spin.
As The Cthulhu Hack runs fast and light, these adventures can all be run in a single (or maybe two) sessions, offering a ready dose of unsettling horror.
The unsettling horror for me would be that I’m shortlisted against two Chaosium adventures for Call of Cthulhu!
As a self-published game designer entering the third year of publishing The Cthulhu Hack I am thrilled to have been shortlisted for this nomination and I ask for your support. As an attendee at the event, you hold the key to the success of everyone shortlisted and I hope you will support Just Crunch Games (and my publishing parent All Rolled Up).
The Heart of the Wendigo
What can you expect from Three Faces of the Wendigo?
John Almack goes down a traditional route, setting hunters against the myth laid down by Algernon Blackwood. In the depths of the wilderness, who is the hunter and who the prey?
Richard August sets off into the mountains, setting the primal urge to protect against the darkness that taints the human soul. You have the means to bring justice but do you have what it takes?
While my own investigation finds a modern village on the edge of the wilds, seeking balance in the face of hard times. When you’re stranded in the back of beyond, who would turn down warmth and hospitality from a proud but hard-bitten community?
Get the book
You will find physical copies of the book available from the All Rolled Up/Just Crunch Games stall at UK Games Expo orw you can order it from the All Rolled Up web store.
Gen Con, the ENnies, OneBookShelf and Patreon – all worth a moment and a mention.
I’m in the States next week and then Gen Con the week after. I’m really excited. I will be running The Cthulhu Hack on Thursday afternoon, in three rollercoaster sessions. In addition, you can catch me at the Monte Cook Games stand on Thursday morning (I’m representing All Rolled Up for an hour or so), and most of the remaining time I’ll be at Table 2959 in Entrepreneurs’ Avenue.
I will have quite a lot of The Cthulhu Hack, including the new red box. I will have various other coloured boxes and plenty of books, Insanity Dice, dice trays, messenger bags, and the prototype copy of a fancy Character Creation Deck. I’m more than happy to chat – AND I will definitely try to barter for game stuff through Twitter. Following @cthulhuhack on Twitter and watch out – I’ll post what I want and what I’ll give for it… and the first one to answer back and bring the item around will get a bit of a bargain.
The ENnies Awards
I might have mentioned that The Haunter of the Dark has been nominated in the Best Electronic Book category of the ENnies. The voting happened already – but, you will have the chance to pick up a physical copy of the book at Gen Con; in addition, OneBookShelf sites – RPGNow and DriveThruRPG – have the PDF up at 25% off. The book has been tinkered with slightly, in light of my attempts to get it released as Print On Demand, with a scattering of additions and tweaks.
What is it?
Well, The Haunter of the Dark provides thoughts, guidance and structure on taking Lovecraft’s stories and mining them for adventures – whether hooks, motivations, characters or whole investigations. The second half includes an annotated text of the original story, littered with ideas and icons highlighting where clues, motivations and seeds lie. The first half runs through structure and a sequel to Lovecraft’s tale. And in the middle – 9-pages of random tables to help you creatively with little details.
Both an adventure based on a Lovecraft short stories, and a manual on how to write an adventure (of the sandbox kind) based on written fiction, this module has something for every GM/Keeper. [RPG Geek]
On a side note, The Cthulhu Hack MUST be so close to a Gold Popular Pick Award on RPGNow… So close!
I have kicked off a plan to support expanding the line for The Cthulhu Hack with a call for patrons on Patreon.
I plan to create supplements and adventures for The Cthulhu Hack “off piste”, outside my schedule for other work. These supplements will be self-contained material that expands on the core or provides interesting alternatives that make conversion of other material simpler. A good example would be, say, a setting book for the Dreamlands or Victorian adventures. By creating this supplementary material, you can draw on the wider range of material that already exists for other game systems.
My word-count target for supplements and adventures will be about 5,000-10,000 words, somewhere between Save Innsmouth and Thro’ Centuries Fixed.
When published in PDF, I will make them available Pay What You Want.
However, that requires the support of a group of Patreons. And you can read more on the website at the end of that link, above.
The Judges’ Panel nominated The Cthulhu Hack: The Haunter of the Dark for Best Electronic Book – and I would appreciate your support with a vote. Better still, a “1” Vote would be really great.
The Great Cthulhu will look favourably on your future.
Reviewers have spoken very highly on the qualities of this guide to creating Lovecraftian adventures.
Eric Dodd, RPGGeek – “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.“
This year, I’m going to be at Gen Con, helping on the All Rolled Up stand in Entrepreneur Avenue and running games – of both The Cthulhu Hack and Monte Cook Games’ Predation. It would be a dream visit to attend the ENnie Awards as well and have a chance to pick up one of the medals!
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:
The Cthulhu Hack Core Rules
From Unformed Realms
The Haunter of the Dark
Save Innsmouth (part 1): A Student Documentary
Thro' Centuries Fixed
The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu
Character Sheets (pack of 10)
Elder Sign d6
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.
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).
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!
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).
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.
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.
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 Realms, The Haunter of the Dark, Save Innsmouth and Thro’ Centuries Fixed from the Just Crunch Games page for at least 15% off.
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 world of Lovecraftian investigative horror.
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.