Patreon, Releases, Thoughts 0 comments on The Cthulhu Hack in 2019

The Cthulhu Hack in 2019

I’m not inclined to make predictions or promises! For me, 2018 proved to be a workhorse year where a fair amount got done but not as much got published as I might have hoped.

For my part The Dark Brood was published – a short guide to the Cult of Shub-Niggurath – along with the GM Reference screenThe Dark Brood has been well received with some good review feedback – and I’m absolutely up to expanded on this material in the future.

On a broader scale, Les 12 Singes published The Cthulhu Hack in French, kicking off their Dark Monkeys collection. The Spanish edition of the game, from Mindscape Publishing, will emerge early next year, and you can expect news on a German version, following some very positive discussions at Spiel and a signed contract!

On top of all that, I kicked off the Paul Baldowski is creating role-playing content for The Cthulhu Hack on Patreon in late November. The idea was to support the ongoing development of The Cthulhu Hack in a building block fashion; so far, in 6 weeks, it’s generated two extended entities – the Dimensional Shambler and Rhan-Tegoth – plus an optional rule for Special Abilities. There’s another entity write-up in progress – and the creative fuel will mean a lot for releases in 2019.

For the last several months, I’ve been holding up the progress of the next set of investigations. I’m absolutely to blame for this because the process of reviewing and providing feedback has been one I’m not great keeping on top of. However, all four writers have had feedback this past week – so, January should see a finalised set of adventures, and most of the art should be in place, too. On that basis, I have expectations of a Spring release for Mother’s Love.

The three adventures continue on from The Dark Brood, taking the business of Shub-Niggurath and spinning it out across the globe. Like Three Faces of Wendigo, the investigations don’t specifically make up a campaign – but a GM can make of them what they will; you’re responsible for introducing any connective tissue to make them into a joined up campaign if you want.

Another bubbling work-in-progress will come in the form of a optional rules set, the dread tome De Cultis Ineffabilibus. Part of this will be bestiary-related, something for which I owe my Patrons thanks. The time spent in creating back story, plot hooks and new mechanics around Lovecraft’s many creatures will make this an interesting addition to the arsenal of anyone running The Cthulhu Hack.

While the publication of the current edition of the Core Rules added extra mechanics and optional rules, many ideas remain. New material hovering in playtest include mechanics for additional creatures, magic, tomes, combat and more – with some material lingering half-formed as marginalia and scattered notes. You can also expect an adventure or two, and a guest writer will provide some of the material – primarily around adding a little more pulpy action to your Cthulhu Hack investigations.

Then we go further afield – with the possibility of two setting supplements. One has been around for a while, but will see a re-write and a re-title: a return to penal colony Australia in Island of Ignorance. This will include updated and expanded material on character creation, with a brief overview of the flavour and material of the environment, as well as an adventure and a bunch of expanded creatures. The original supplement came out with 6-months of the original edition, so you can expect some updates.

The other supplement, tentatively called The Dark of the Moon, sees The Cthulhu Hack heading into the vast darkness of space. At the moment, this includes material to expand character creation, additional mechanics for handling the environment, new and expanded entities of the Mythos, and at least two adventures.

And along with all this, the Patreon content will continue to trickle out month-on-month – along with playtesting of investigations and mechanics at any events I attend that don’t demand I spend 100% of my time at the stall!

Thanks everyone for your support in 2018 – and you can still grab The Cthulhu Hack at a discount until midnight – and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings!

Thoughts 2 comments on Stock Refresh

Stock Refresh

I have run out of copies of The Cthulhu Hack core book, which means it’s time to get in touch with the printer to order more.

However, I’m aware that the current version of the core that I have doesn’t contain the expanded and tweaked version of the Hit Dice as Resource rules. And I have been meaning to reset the whole book since I invested in a version of PagePlus, intent upon avoiding the nightmares that Word has provided over the last couple of years.

Therefore, I have spent the last day or so tinkering with the book, adding the missing content, cleaning up anything else that I chance across, and getting the tables sorted.

If you can think of something that the book could really do with, tell me now; if you read it for the first time and thought “Huh?”, then I need to know about it.

I’m not looking at a root and branch re-write here; I’m talking about tightening anything that you didn’t get the first time. If I can tweak the text to benefit future readers, all the better. And if you suggest something that I use, then you can get your name in the first page credits as a Thank You for your continued support and gracious assistance.

Adapting, Thoughts 4 comments on Lost in the Lights

Lost in the Lights

I have been reading this modern day, Las Vegas-based adventure-supplement with interest. Part-background for a cult, part-adventure—it also contains a bunch of information and several spot rules – the last of which fit Call of Cthulhu, but has less value for The Cthulhu Hack.

Lost in the Lights – including the adventure Invisible Sun – offers much potential. It has been available in a couple of formats in the past – physical and PDF. In the last week, it was released as a physical book in the UK.

For information, I have read this supplement through a couple of times with plans to run it in the near future. This is not a review – this is a view, based on my reading and interpretation of the materials.

First Impressions

In my opinion, the adventure won’t require much prep for The Cthulhu Hack—which I’ve always presented as the strong point of the system—as key clues and locations appear in capitalized text and the few stat-blocked antagonists can slide over to TCH on the fly. At heart, the adventure either hurts hard or will require some cautious and somewhat structured investigation – you’ve no need to worry about complex conversion for prolonged gun battles or weird esoteric spell play.

You may want to highlight the clues in different colours to call them out for ease of visibility in play or make some additional notes. My personal favourite would be a combination of highlighting (or use of opaque Post-It markers) and some notes in the margin (or Post-Its, if you’re squirming at the prospect of writing in a book). With a PDF version, you could annotate the text on a tablet (though see below, as currently, I don’t believe a PDF exists).

Some of what follows contain spoilers – so if you’re the perennial player and might end up being the investigator rather than the showrunner, stop here!

Breakdown of a Cult

The supplement handles details of a new cult—and then the investigation sets out a faction of that cult in action. The source of the cult lies far away—so if the events go down and the protagonists in Las Vegas collapsed or implode, the threat remains. Indeed, what this cult believes could easily translate wholesale into other sects and realms of worship, possibly without any real understanding of the Mythos.

The first section of the book goes into considerable detail about the origins of the cult. With this material, not only can you rely on its remote source to keep it tenable, you have a timeline (and guidance) on having it as the antagonist for investigations stretching back through the ages.

As a GM of any game revolving around the Cthulhu Mythos you have to remember the long game. Very few of the entities of the Mythos keep to some 5-year plan! Indeed, it’s the cults, sects, and covens that have the plans – as the entities themselves exhibit (rightly) an alien quality that defies reasoning in human terms. The people of Earth mean nothing to them – they might provide momentary sustenance or a trickle of extra-natural energies, but little else. For some, Earth might as well be a buffet, for others the timescape of our world provides a curious diversion or a convenient battleground.

The strangest thing about the cult herein relates to the mindset. The book goes to some effort explaining why the people in this cult pursue their worship of the Mythos entities. No sane or balanced individual would consider this worship as anything but suicidal. I found myself reading the explanation and still wondering why – and, in truth, my stance, I hope, means I lack the ingrained sociopathic world view. That’s a good thing. I get it that people exist on a spectrum and I’m holding on tight to the barrier well away from the need for death-defying thrills or adrenalin junkie-ism.

What Happens in Vegas

At heart, this investigation involves a missing girl. The way the player characters approach the investigations matters a lot. Careful and low key will make for an entirely different adventure to all guns blazing. Indeed, all guns blazing will end in a Total Party Kill 9 times out of 10, with certainty. The antagonists have no qualms about silencing those who would interfere – and anyone making noise will drown out the hushed cover-ups and clues, simply drawing attention without benefit.

The adventure contains a fair smattering of exposition, background reading and rule additions (for Call of Cthulhu 7e) at a tangent to the absolutely necessary. The GM could skip a fair few pages and run the adventure without reading this material in detail – though it might make it harder to improvise and adapt to the unexpected. A section on the effects of radiation – in the real world and game terms – you could skip altogether and just run on the fly with typical preconceptions.

I have a strong feeling that you could, with consideration and a careful eye on timing, run this adventure in a single session. You might, with a secure grip on the reins, reach a conclusion in a convention slot. However, the wealth of material here means you could also run this with less pace and more emphasis on atmosphere. Heck, you might go all David Lynch on this bad boy and turn it into something very peculiar (why not turn on a loop video of a long dark road and just walk away from the table for 10-minutes?).

In terms of characters, you can approach this with existing groups or generate something on the spot. The adventure allows for – and supports – groups with or without law enforcement powers. Actually, possession of some measure of authority serves to simplify and complicate. It can mean getting easier access to people and locations to pose questions, but more often than not puts them on edge.

Hand-outs Galore

The book closes with a gathering of hand-outs, otherwise scattered around the text at relevant points. I like that. Yes, it takes up a bunch pages with duplicated material, but Lost in the Lights has made some seriously immersive and engaging hand-outs. As a modern adventure, you can find clues scattered everywhere – news footage, web pages, text messages.

The adventure was originally released a few years ago as a PDF by Sixtystone Press. At the time of that release, they also made an enhanced hand-out pack available, which allowed the GM to tweak the details – like changing dates or specific references. That level of personalisation appeals to me – but, the website offers only dead links for the PDF and enhanced hand-outs.

I have dropped them a note to see whether these will become available again, as the hand-out personalisation takes things to a whole new level. I can see why the PDF might be unavailable at the moment, with the recent release into print for this updated 7th edition version, but I’m not certain why the hand-outs have disappeared, as these are not system dependent.

Stays in Vegas

I like the potential of this investigation because it offers a slice of lore, a chapter in the existence of a cult that has persisted through centuries and won’t fall because the investigators poked out a block in the Jenga tower. Thro’ Centuries Fixed references the use of an adventure as a sort of teaser, a glimpse of a broader campaign. Well, Lost in the Lights does more than offering a passing reference to the idea in the margins – with the detail and timeline about the cult, you have the basic building blocks to create callbacks and echoes long after the dust has settled in Vegas.

That the book sells itself as both adventure and supplement means you have more than just a one-off when you make this purchase. The inclusion of all the additional material around the cult, the worshippers, their motivations and so forth means that Invisible Sun can serve as the first step in a longer campaign arc. The cult could serve as a focus or a sub-plot recurring malefactor. On the caveat of this being a view rather than a review, I give this a thumbs up.

Check out Lost in the Lights on the Sixtystone Press website, and in PDF through DriveThruRPG.

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.