Events 0 comments on Dragonmeet 2016

Dragonmeet 2016

t-shirtcolor_orig-dragonmeet-2016-kovalicA heads-up that I will be attending – and trading – at Dragonmeet in a little over a weeks time – 3rd December, from 10am to around 8pm. From 8pm to midnight, I’ll be running a game.

I’ve been going to Dragonmeet for about 10 years, but this will be the first time I’ll have my own table! While I will continue to provide support for All Rolled Up (and probably Arion Games) – which I have done for the last 10 years – I’ll be fronting Just Crunch Games as my focus.

I will have all the books currently in print – from The Cthulhu Hack core rules through to Save Innsmouth. I will also have black polyhedral Dice Sets with Elder Sign marked 6-sided dice, Elder Sign Dice Trays, and Insanity Dice – in limited supply, first come, first served. I will have white and black boxes, with slim and a few deep variants of the latter.

And I’ll be happy to chat about The Cthulhu Hack and next year’s releases. Always happy to chat!

You can find me at the location marked on the map (below) – on an island of tables shared with All Rolled Up, Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Arion Games. Look out for The Cthulhu Hack roll-up banner!


Events, Releases 1 comment on Thro’ Centuries Fixed and More

Thro’ Centuries Fixed and More

img_0081Next week, I’m releasing a new adventure for The Cthulhu Hack through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG, entitled Thro’ Centuries Fixed.

It’s another contemporary adventure, like Save Innsmouth, and well suited to one-off play; it could also be adapted to a different setting / period and might be used as the kick-off to a campaign.

For those interested in adapting adventures, this one has roots in another adventure released under Creative Commons. I like the flexibility in sharing creativity like that and you might compare the original to the Thro’ Centuries Fixed to see how I reworked it.

The Cthulhu Hack version has doubled the length of the original adventure, including additional notes on locations, the creatures involved and the timeline of events. The original used a generic location somewhere close to Lovecraft Country, but the new one drops the events into a secluded part of Maine.

As with The Haunter in the Dark and the matrix version of The Haunting, I hope that this adventure will provide further useful assistance in taking adventures from other systems and converting them. In many cases, it’s easier to gut the old system out and replace everything almost wholesale using the original as a guide, especially where specific horrors are concerned. I find it useful to reference Lovecraft himself rather than taking the description of a creature in a game system. Reading the origin stories of an entity offers you the chance to gather your own thoughts and interpretations. You can also take note of how Lovecraft (or other source writers) describe their horrors and setting.

The release of Thro’ Centuries Fixed will be the last release for 2016. If you haven’t taken advantage of the current Cthulhu Hack Halloween bundle on RPGNow and DriveThruRPG to grab anything you missed so far, you have a few days left. And in December, I’ll be attending Dragonmeet, in London, to sell all The Cthulhu Hack books in print (along with All Rolled Up), individually and in boxed sets, as well as running a game in the evening somewhere in the hotel.

Events, News 0 comments on The Cthulhu Hack at Spiel

The Cthulhu Hack at Spiel

cthulhu-hack-at-spiel-16-essenSpiel proved to be an incredible experience, with attendees in the tens of thousands strolling through the doors and weathering the crowds. Some days, you could hardly shuffle for the press of people – and somehow the days flew by. I had the chance to meet so many existing customers of All Rolled Up and Just Crunch Games, while also introducing many, many more to our products.

I think “It’s a fast-to-learn horror investigation roleplaying game that you can read in 20 minutes, explain in 5, and generate characters in 2.” must have tumbled through my lips hundreds of times.

How does it work? “It has two mechanics. Threats hurt your character and you need to save them. If you’re being chased, you Save on DEX. If someone is attempting to control your mind, you Save on CHA. If you roll lower than your score, you succeed. Equal or higher, you get hurt or compromised or just inconvenienced in a bad way.”

“The other mechanic is Usage Dice. When you want to use a resource in limited supply, like Sanity or your focus on Investigation, you roll a die. All resource start with a die, like a 10-sided or 8-sided. When you see a horror or want to search a room, you roll. You always succeed, but a roll of 1 or 2 means you lose resources or lose control for a moment. The die size drops down a level – so, a 8-sided becomes a 6-sided.”

“If you rolled your Sanity, you screamed or blacked out as well. If it’s investigation using a Flashlight or Smokes, you foudn what you wanted, but it’s getting harder to focus or people are hearing about your questions and might just stop talking to you. Roll a 1 or 2 when you get down to a 4-sided die and you go insane, lose focus, or burn all your contacts.”

“That’s it. Those are the mechanics – Saves against Threats and Usage Dice.”

Having said that it takes 5 minutes to explain, I proved it time and again. I had to get it down pat because I doubted my voice would last the weekend otherwise!

I had the chance to speak to a lot of people who have played other Cthulhu-themed games in the past and most walked away with a slim black box. The addition to the explanation here was that all your existing material works fine with The Cthulhu Hack – as skills in Call and Trail broadly come down to search for things or speak to people, and anything else is a response to threat. I have done conversions on the fly with no prep at all — although, I think to get the best payback it’s worth reading through an adventure once and highlighting potential clues from the outset.

(Check out The Haunter of the Dark for more guidance and advice on the read-through-and-highlight process of adventure prep!)

The slim black boxes sold the best, packed with all the current books for The Cthulhu Hack. It feels nice and hefty and worked out at 26 euros including the new adventure, Save Innsmouth.

I got a lot of smiles when I explained the premise of Save Innsmouth – and James Raggi commented that he liked the cover image. I wanted to get an innocuous image on the front with Innsmouth clear and legible. Anyone with a fate idea of where and what Innsmouth is immediately smiled.

“A tycoon plans to bulldoze a town on the coast that has been abandoned since the Feds raided and razed half of it during Prohibition more than 80 years ago. He plans to redevelop the site as a spa resort. Students at Miskatonic University plan to protest the project, and a few make the trip north-east to take video footage of the place – a documentary on the threat to America’s heritage. That place is Innsmouth and… well…”

I sold about half of the physical copies of the adventure – which means I will have stock for the web site at All Rolled Up and Dragonmeet, all being well.

I’m also really pleased that I’ve managed to sell 50 copies of the adventure through RPGNow. It would be nice to go Copper in the first week — so, if you haven’t picked it up, you can grab a copy through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.

If you have anything to report about the adventure or just want to help promote it, remember to tag your post — anywhere — with #SaveInnsmouth and I’ll track it down!

Also, and finally, Lulu has a coupon — NIGEL35 — which means you can pick up a physical copy of The Cthulhu Hack on Lulu at 35% off.

Events 0 comments on Spiel and Beyond

Spiel and Beyond

internationalespieltage_logo_341Next week, I’m going to be in Essen for Spiel ’16 – the whole week. I think this could be both interesting and possibly overwhelming. I’m certain I’ll have a story or two on my return.

I will be in Hall 2 on the table in Booth A132. Looking at the map of that hall, I’d say it falls midway along the south side of the hall, directly opposite Modiphius.

The booth will have All Rolled Up as the main focus, with a little strip focussed on the whole range of books for The Cthulhu Hack. I’ll have individual books and boxed sets, as well as a few accessories. This will be the debut for The Haunter of the Dark, as a physical book, and the brand new adventure Save Innsmouth.

If you’re at Spiel next week, come and see us. We’d love to meet you – and we’ll have piles of game rolls, dice trays, books, and more product for you to see in person.

After Spiel, there’s Halloween and I’ll be back to the keyboard – with work progressing steadily on Unausssprechliche Hack, the GM Screen, and another secret project. More news to come.


Events 0 comments on Just Crunch at Spiel ’16 – A132 in Hall 2

Just Crunch at Spiel ’16 – A132 in Hall 2

I will be at Spiel ’16 this year with my wife, who fronts All Rolled Up  – the ready-to-game roll/dice bag.

We’re at A132 in Hall 2.

On the map, that looks like the middle of the south wall to me. Directly opposite Modiphius Entertainment. Between the two doors into Hall 1.


I will have all the books for The Cthulhu Hack – and this will be the first time you’ll have a chance to pick up physical book copies of the newly released The Cthulhu Hack: The Haunter of the Dark.

I’m happy to say ‘Hi’ and have a chat. If you’re truly mad, you could bring along something PARANOIA and I’ll sign it. It’d be nice if it was something I’m credited in, but I’m up for signing anything else, probably. Oh, I’m also happy to sign copies of Symbaroum under the guise of The Iron Pact. I didn’t write any of that, but, like I say, I’m pretty much happy to sign anything.

Hope to see some of you there. Though the size of the event might make that a challenge…

Events, Releases 0 comments on Appreciation of Cthulhu

Appreciation of Cthulhu

site-logo-redesigndThe slight algorithmic disparity between RPGNow and DriveThruRPG keeps Popular Electrum Pick out of reach at RPGNow, despite The Cthulhu Hack securing it on the DriveThru site a couple of weeks ago. Definitely an odd number, whatever it is. I awake each morning and check the page to see if TCH has finally tipped the balance to level up!

On a more general level, I really appreciate the support! I released the game a little under 4 months ago – so hitting Electrum on either site is a big deal.

I got a solid review of The Cthulhu Hack on RPG Geek overnight and the Google+ community has a steady growth. I really got a buzz to see a group of gamers using the system for their Deadlands Noir: Case of the Jumbo Shrimp game on You Tube.

Yesterday, I got two big boxes of the physical books for From Unformed Realms and The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu. I’ll have these available at forthcoming events and through the Just Crunch Games web store on the All Rolled Up site. You will have the option to pick up the entire set so far – which includes all these physical books, a branded box, Elder Sign dice tray, and black dice set with Elder Sign d6.

The Haunter of the Dark lingers on the brink of completion, with The Keepers of the Woods, Unaussprechlichen Hack and other releases already taking shape (including a collection of adventures tentatively entitled The Gatekeeper).

And there’s more. Much more. An off-the-radar project shaping up even as I type. Print copies of Haunter in time for Spiel (fingers crossed). Games at Concrete Cow, Dragonmeet, and other national events.

Thanks – one and all – for your support. I appreciate it. Spread the word. Play the game. Give me your feedback. I sense 2017 will bring a bigger and more robust core rule set, but I can only do that with your support and constructive feedback.

Physical copies of From Unformed Realms

Events, Sale 5 comments on Happy Birthday, Mr Lovecraft

Happy Birthday, Mr Lovecraft

HP-LovecraftIn celebration of Howard Lovecraft’s 126th birthday, OneBookShelf is offering a 20% discount on all Mythos related games across their websites, including RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.

That means you can grab a copy of The Cthulhu Hack and From Unformed Realms at 20% until 31th August. That includes the softcover!

And while you’re at it, you can also pick up Pay-What-You-Want release The Cthulhu Hack: Convicts and Cthulhu and the Outpost Generator.

And while you’re there, why not try the excellent The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby (which still has my local players talking), the resource-rich goodness of Silent Legions, and my current bedside reading matter Achtung! Cthulhu.

The Stars Are Right!

Events 0 comments on The Dragon and the Cow

The Dragon and the Cow

Cthulhu-Hack-Dice-Tray-All-Rolled-UpI have a couple of (reasonably) confirmed events – and games – upcoming. The Concrete Cow event takes place in Milton Keynes on Saturday 10 September 2016; Dragonmeet takes place in London on Saturday 03 December 2016.

I will be running sessions of The Cthulhu Hack at both events.

For Concrete Cow, I will be running an afternoon session of The Derelict:

When the last chip falls and the champagne has run dry, the eternal socialite has to sell up and literally ship out – heading from Liverpool to New York to sell a yacht in the hope of staving off the burden of debts. With a small group of friends, their situation little better, the final cruise across the Atlantic seems like it might prove a farewell to bad times.

Then the captain receives a faint distress call from a stranded cargo vessel and the obligation to render assistance at sea doesn’t seem so bad in light of the possible bounty from salvage opportunities…

For Dragonmeet, I will be running a session of The Haunter of the Dark, in the evening between 8pm to midnight:

Cautious investigators will hesitate to challenge the common belief that Robert Blake was killed by lightning, or by some profound nervous shock derived from an electrical discharge. Among those, however, who have examined and correlated all this evidence, there remain several who cling to less rational and commonplace theories.

As close friends and associates, you have a path ahead to uncover the truth and to find some closure. But, can the path little trod lead anywhere but into darkness?

I will be manning a trade stand during the day, so I’m happy to discuss the game and will have physical copies of whatever I can muster before December! More than likely this will be the core rules, From Unformed Realms, The Haunter of the Dark, and Unaussprechlichen Kulten.

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!


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.

Events 0 comments on The Hills Have It

The Hills Have It

While I had the intention to complete a new list every day – or at least every other day – based on the random draw of a Storey card, the Seven Hills gaming festival has grabbed priority.

The event will mean running two games, one of TimeWatch (soon to be released by Pelgrane Press, written by Kevin Kulp) and the other of The Dee Sanction. Both will have new adventures themed to at least involve the word ‘Steel’.

For the experience of my players, it would seem entirely appropriate for me to spend my time this week on prep (or at least pretensions of prep) rather than issuing new random tables.

They shall return.

Events 0 comments on Cover Story

Cover Story

Interstellar Travel Events PlusWith thoughts pressing ahead to the end of May and the whole business of UK Games Expo, I have been busy preparing the papery versions of my three main supplements at the moment. Consult Appendix Z, both CAZ No 1 and CAZ No 2, and The Blessing of St Agnes will all be available in physical saddle-stapled format, with glossy covers.

In the case of St Agnes, the book has a weathered green leather cover-look. I admit that this comes as one of the standards for a basic bit of Lulu self-publishing, but to my mind it fits the adventure setting for some reason.

The second Consult Appendix Z volume, Another Bug Hunt, already has a great cover image from Nicholas Cloister’s Monsters By Email. Nicholas does some truly incredible work and you can subscribe to his Monsters scheme that makes some of the images you receive available for personal usage and others available for wider distribution, like this one.

The first Consult Appendix Z volume, Interstellar Travel Events, felt a little bit like a poor cousin. I used a public domain image from a classic science fiction magazine, black and white, but just what I wanted. I can’t claim to have corrected the balance significantly, but I have engaged in some basic colour retouching to make the picture less monochrome.  I have gone for a bit of a nebula thing and add hints of colour to the shadows and drive streams. Like I say, nothing exactly awe-inspiring, but the end result comes across as slightly less intense than the original.

I now have a box of these print goodies ready to roll – and I hope to drum up some custom at the event and retain the rest for customers keen to acquire physical copies later. Indeed, if you want any of these now – get in touch with me and we can sort something out in terms of cost, postage and so forth.

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Adventures, Events 2 comments on Morphs and Blessings

Morphs and Blessings

Blessing of St Agnes adventure with extra bitsI have been tinkering with the idea of creating geomorph dungeon cards to a design that would allow you to use them when running a game of The Blessing of St Agnes. Once you’ve finished using them for the game, you can carry on using them as a random method of creating other dungeons and structures, but the core of the set would support laying out a map for the players as a point of reference to the adventure.

I like the whole (mildly therapeutic) process of creating the geomorph cards. I used a blank playing card stock for the geomorphs and draw on them directly with a Rotring Tikki Graphic 0.4 and a medium Staedtler whiteboard marker. The therapy comes from adding all the hashing that surrounds each element of the map. You add several of them in one direction, then turn the angle of the card and apply more, then turn and again. Eventually, you just start to fill in the gaps inbetween.

I have also been working on some additional content for the UK Games Expo edition of the Blessing adventure. You can get the Lulu-printed edition via Amazon at the moment, fulfilled by myself. It might seem odd doing it that way, but it means that I can include the special edition elements in the product that you get sent out to you, while Amazon processes the payments and such. What you get is a one-of-a-kind edition of the adventure, as all the extra bits get cut out and applied by hand. If I can sort out a way of printing the hand-drawn geomorphs on-masse, I will look to offering them as an extra – though I have no clue on the prices of availability. Something for me to consider and work on.

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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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Events 0 comments on Dragonmeet 2012

Dragonmeet 2012

Basic Role-Playing

Spent Saturday at the town hall in Kensington, London, attending Dragonmeet 2012. Under the Arion Games banner, ran a demo game of Maelstrom Classic Fantasy Tool-Kit with three players – which was unfortunately three short of what I’d hoped. With a full squad of adventurers, the game would have been shorter and less traumatic. I didn’t want to mess with the creature-character balance of the encounters at such short notice, but I can assure you that three characters can only just get through the adventure as written, with a little GM fiat in their favour.

After that, I attended a seminar on the upcoming 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu. As I own 2nd, 3rd and 5th Edition already, I really wanted to get a view on whether 7th Edition warranted my consideration and cash. Paul Fricker and Mike Mason’s seminar failed to answer that question for me. Partially it came down to the presentation feeling a little light and unorganised. We got about 15 minutes of broken overview, touching on the key changes, followed by 3/4 hour of questions from the gathered audience. I came away feeling like I could get a better Cthulhu game from either (a) gold book Basic Role Playing options pasted into existing Cthulhu, or (b) using an alternative like Trail or Dark.

For the rest of the afternoon, I hung around the Arion stand or circled the floor working out what to spend some pennies on. I ended up opting for The Laundry and the associated Agent’s Handbook. While on the stand, I met Graham Walmsley on his round of the floor – the first time we’d met in person – and also someone, whose name I didn’t catch, who knew me from my days running and reviewing play-by-mail games (some 20 years ago now). He purchased a hard copy of ‘Stench of the Sea‘ – and I also managed to sell several bookmarks – or Weighted Reading Companions – my wife makes in her spare time (see for more stuff my wife makes).

The day was bookended by uneventful train journeys where I finished reading ‘Catching Fire‘ (down to London) and started reading the Agent’s Handbook (up from London), while chatting with my wife. A good day, less busy than last year and equally satisfying overall.

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