Events, Releases 0 comments on Lovecraft Special Edition

Lovecraft Special Edition

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 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.

Events, Sale 0 comments on DriveThru Sale and More

DriveThru Sale and More

It’s that time of year when the shops and the Internet go wild and, largely without conscious involvement, everything gets cheaper for a week.

For the next week (until close of play this coming Monday), DriveThruRPG offer 33% off a whole load of role-playing games, including everything in the Just Crunch Games store.

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.


Events 0 comments on Dragonmeet 2018 Stock

Dragonmeet 2018 Stock

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.

News 0 comments on Winter 2018 Update

Winter 2018 Update

I cannot believe that 2018 whisked by so fast. Where did the time go?

The Dark Brood released earlier this year had been selling well. The core books have had a cover refresh and as stock depletes I’ll phase those in to general sales.

The upcoming supplement of three adventures, tentatively named Mother’s Love, will be released early next year. Illustrations are in progress; all crafts have been submitted by the authors and commented upon, with playtesting at various venues. I think it’s progressing well and the investigations have been fun to run.

Another supplement, again aiming for early 2019, takes Cthulhu Hack to the stars. The Dark of the Moon will include new mechanics, character detail and at least two adventures.

On the non-Cthulhu front, progress continues with The Dee Sanction. The core game will also appear early next year, I suspect. Occult investigation in Elizabethan Europe, its gestation has weathered 5 years… It’ll get there in the end.

After a great session at Heffer’s Bookshop in Cambridge, next outing for Just Crunch will be Dragonmeet. I’ll have box sets, books and the GM Screen, and look forward to seeing you come December.

News 0 comments on Coming Up, Looking Back

Coming Up, Looking Back

Just a brief one, as I noted The Cthulhu Hack got a mention alongside The Black Hack in the TableTop Games 10 Top Roleplaying Games of 2016.

In addition, someone rightly pointed out that in Cthulhu Hack 2016 and Beyond I did not mention the GM Screen amongst the upcoming releases.

OK – now I have mentioned it. I had a rough version of a screen in-hand for my game at Dragonmeet (the artefact in the middle of the picture with the map cover), but that really was something of an Alpha prototype for me to toy with. The prototype gathered some key tables from the core rules and From Unformed Realms. It proved useful in running Save Innsmouth, to hide some brief notes and the game booklet itself.

I hope that any official and final GM Screen will serve a more original and pivotal function on the table. That remains a work in progress for the time being, with no specific release date.

I also didn’t mention that I have an adventure supplement planned for late Spring that will gather together three short adventures themed around the same non-Mythos entity. I can’t go into much further detail than that at the moment.

The call for adventure last year offered some interesting ideas – and one of those formed the kernel of a concept for this supplement.

This is still early thinking, but a full text for one adventure exists and I had a chance to discuss the second at Dragonmeet with another writer. I will round the collection off with the third contribution, which currently runs to an undeveloped outline.

All of these adventures will clock in around 5,000 words – so, they should all be punchy numbers ready for a session of play.

Running Tabletop Games 0 comments on The Listening Game

The Listening Game

Save Innsmouth benefits heavily from listening to and acting on the players’ responses. A Gamemaster should always be listening and taking notes, but noting the mood, tone, individual response and banter can prove valuable tools in setting the dials and measuring the pace for the adventure. A tired group of players need more push and adrenalin, while an inquisitive party might still want push, but also deserve the attention to detail they desire.

When I ran Save Innsmouth at Dragonmeet, I asked about the relationships of the characters at the start as we generated their stats in session. I had them give me a narrative synopsis of the character before the game and chose Abilities and Advantages using the Classless Cthulhu guidelines. As they settled in and had a look at the Abilities, they started to bounce off each other a bit. I let them choose their gear, so they opted for things like an iPad, digital camera and so forth, as well as camping gear.

When the adventure started proper, I asked them what they were doing — and over the next few minutes added a player, got feedback on their mindset and first action, then moved on. This allowed me to get a handle on each player as much as their character.

Save opens the possibility of investigating retrospectively. By asking a question about existing knowledge, the characters have the opportunity to roll Flashlight or Smokes to find out something BEFORE the adventure started. Rather than make this an info dump – which it absolutely could be – you can run these as mini-scenes with one or more character involved. I got the feel that the sense of urgency in this group was stronger than the desire for more information – survival mattered more as the situation panned out and the environment became more clearly defined.

However, the digital camera and iPad allowed for other opportunities to do flashbacks, as confused characters checked back through their footage looking for things that they might have missed on the outward journey to the start of the adventure.

As we progressed through the adventure, I continued to read the players rather like checking the dials and readings as you drive. Speed, temperature, fuel – they’re all relevant to both! As it happens, I could see the players enjoyed the fast pace and didn’t need a break, so we pushed on. It kept the action flowing and the tone of the game fast-paced, while also considering each player and their character. Individuals have their own tells that you need to be attentive to, ensuring you don’t hold the spotlight too long in one place, or giving leave to lead where the players seem receptive and open to it.

Save on this occasion ran to just over three hours, at a fair pace. With more background detail and a little physical conflict, that could easily increase to four or five hours. I wrote it for a single session – and my experiences so far have always involved a brief introduction and character generation. The Cthulhu Hack is quick to start-up and a little pre-session prep can keep their intro short and tight. If you get The Cthulhu Hack Quickstart, it explains the core mechanics in two short A5 pages. If you’re running the game for the first time, it might be useful to have that to hand and tick off the words in bold – I usually highlight key terms that way to make it easier for the GM to spot.

I find the feedback I have had from groups that have run it useful – and aim to use those responses to improve the focus and support in future adventures. I aim to release more short adventures in 2017, intended for one or two short sessions or a long one – with room to shorten or expand as the situation allows. I recommend you join The Cthulhu Hack Google+ Community if you have any questions or want to provide feedback.

Extras, In Development 1 comment on Save Innsmouth Kit at Dragonmeet

Save Innsmouth Kit at Dragonmeet

The “Kit” I used to run a session of Save Innsmouth: Chapter 0 at last weekend’s memorable Dragonmeet, minus the All Rolled Up game roll and The Cthulhu Hack dice tray.

The players each had their character’s image – and name – out in front of them on a simple clear plastic stand. I wrote the name on with a dry wipe Correctable pen, which means I can reuse the pictures for a future con game. The images themselves came from a random Google Image search – then I made them all black-and-white.

The character sheet in the image is the laminated version from The Cthulhu Hack Quickstart. Very handy – although, I actually used A4 blow-ups of the character sheet design to keep things clear and simple!

The prototype deck of Character Generation cards worked out really well. As players in the game have commented (on my Google+ Cthulhu Hack Collection), they meant you could quickly reference the character’s key Special Features and it could work really well as a rapid random character generator. Each card shows whether it’s an Ability or an Advantage – so, separate them and deal two Abilities and an Advantage to each player.

Every possibility I will use Kickstarter or similar to fund the production of these card decks – so, keep an eye out for that one.

And, the Gamemaster Screen – well, that’s a seriously prototype piece of kit. At the moment, I just have a bunch of tables from the core rules on the reverse. It has got me tweaking some of the tables, but at the moment I have a lot of thinking to do on what best to add on here for the benefit of an overworked GM!

A lot of things to think about for 2017!

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, 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 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.