Sale 0 comments on More Cthulhu Sale!

More Cthulhu Sale!

In continued celebration of Lovecraft’s 129th birthday today, there’s 10% off all physical Cthulhu Hack books, slim box sets, and dice trays—both square and compact—on the All Rolled Up web store.

That’s all the core books, as well as investigations—including Mother’s Love and the award-winning Valkyrie Nine—and supplements. And to round off the tabletop—the way I like to at game sessions and convention one-shots—there’s a range of official Cthulhu Hack dice trays. You can bind the dice to your will, even if the Elder Gods keep struggling.

http://www.allrolledup.co.uk/catalog/catalog.html?type=Crunch

The sale is today only, while stocks last.

#Cthulhu #HPL #Lovecraft

House Rules 0 comments on Removing Investigative Resources

Removing Investigative Resources

I’m open to discussion about The Cthulhu Hack on many levels. I’m not precious about the rule set and I accept that once released into the wild anyone can do anything with it.

In the Google+ Community for the game, Scott Maclure asked:

Could [The Cthulhu Hack] remove Investigative Resources, i.e. Flashlights and Smokes, without really affecting the game overall?

My response:

Not For Everyone

I suppose that the first take away from this discussion is that you can’t please all the people all of the time. There are so many game systems out there and so many approaches to play and so many players and GMs… something isn’t going to suit everyone. I want to say, first and foremost, thanks for the feedback – and that if The Cthulhu Hack doesn’t suit you… well, still thanks for picking up a copy!

(I always appreciate feedback, because I value the thought that goes into alternate views. I’m open to house rules, optional approaches and lateral thinking, because they drive the ongoing development of the game. I can think of few things more frustrating than feedback left without thoughts behind the writing – one of the odd options available to those who purchase the PDF.)

Elevator Pitch

To be clear – and this is my pitch on the booth at cons – the Unique Selling Point is an effort to emulate the descent of Lovecraftian characters into despair, insanity, disappearance and so forth. More often that not, the character at the heart of each tale doesn’t come out of it in a good place, if at all. That is the core of the game – and that is why the Investigative Resources dwindle.

I have tagged on the essence of never withhold a clue that might stall the story flow because it makes sense to do that – getting to the end of the story is just part of the game. If you can get to the end and still have something to fight with, all the better – but the current Investigative Resources – including Sanity, after all – mean that this is not a certainty.

Now, Saves don’t dwindle. They protect you from threat of harm and capture, but they don’t fade away. The athletic investigator will always outrun the cultists, but like the protagonist of The Shadow over Innsmouth running away might keep you alive but it won’t shore up your Sanity against the revelations.

I would suggest that you give the game a go as is – and keep in mind that, weird as it might be, you throw a test for Resources AFTER handing over the clues or explaining the sanity-busting discoveries. They’re an abstraction to generate the sense of spiralling decline. The players still have to guide their characters in the right direct – don’t just throw clues at them… otherwise they will have no sense of challenge.

Robert Blake has to go to Federal Hill, interact with the Italian guardians of the site, squeeze through the defences and search through the decrepit interior of the church. He has to poke and prod to make his discoveries – and some of the things he finds are Threats, like those protective local residents and their insistence that he stay clear.

Completely Untested Alternative

If you want to try an alternative, scrap the Investigative Resources by all means. Just use the Saves.

1. All characters start with 8 in each Save.

2. Players have 20 points to spread across the Saves as they see fit. (Experiment with this. 22 points might be the sweet spot; 20 points might be too harsh.)

3. No Save can be higher than 17.

4. When considering a location for clues or seeking aid from locals, judge the approach and determine the appropriate Save. Social interaction won’t always be Charisma – it might be educated discourse with Intelligence or intimidation with Strength.

4a. After receiving a clue, throw d20 versus the Save score – rolling equal or lower is good. if you roll higher, reduce the score by 2 points.

5. Combat becomes more about deciding how you’re going to handle an opponent rather than just slugging with Strength – but equally it becomes an act of real struggle by the later part of the investigation with Saves on the decline.

5a. If a character strikes an enemy, they inflict damage to Hit Points per the normal game rules. Unarmed attacks or those with improvised weapons do 1D4. Other weapons inflict damage equal to their starting Supply Die (see page 25 – exceptions are any weapons that state a damage in Notes – and Supply Die deplete as normal).
5b. If a character takes damage reduce Saves by the amount suffered. A Shoggoth will mean a lot of spreading out to survive! Creatures and opponents continue to have the advantage of the modifiers on the Average Antagonist table (page 23), as we still want to make fighting a Shoggoth the WRONG thing to do.
5c. If you lose all the points in a Personality Save, roll for Insanity (page 27) If you lose all the points in a Physical Save, roll d8 on the Out of Action table (page 17). Yes, the OoA table might mean losing more points from Saves – but that represents the character taking critical internal injuries. Bones crack, organs burst, blood leaks, etc.

6. Healing does the opposite of damage – in that recovery of an amount can be applied to any or several Saves. First Aid recovers an amount that the player can choose to spread across any reduced Saves. They can’t raise a Save above the original starting value.

6a. At the end of a Scene, recover 1 point in a Save. A character with any zero value Save AFTER this needs to sit out the next scene. Let the player do something else – run a servant, a valet, a friend of a friend. They have Saves with 10 across the spread, except for one with a score of 12.

7. Investigators do not have Hit Points. Sanity rending revelations tend to harm Personality traits (CHA, WIS and INT). Falls, poison, traps, acid, etc. tend to harm Physical traits (STR, CON and DEX).

That’s untested and incomplete – but it gives you an approach to the game that does away with Investigative Resources while it keeps the spiral of decline. Which is the point – the decline should persist, even if you strip away the current mechanic that records it!


Featured image: Investigation in the Slums by FreeMind93. Used with kind permission.

Releases 0 comments on Bundles of Foreboding

Bundles of Foreboding

In time for Christmas, but also to make it easier to pick up a bunch of The Cthulhu Hack books without searching, I have created three Bundle offers on RPGNow/DriveThruRPG – with a swanky new bundle graphic.

The Cthulhu Hack Core provides you with the essentials – as someone else put it, the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide and Monster Manual – for running the game. You get the v1.5 copy of The Cthulhu Hack, the guide in stories and adventures of The Haunter of the Dark, and a horde of random horrors with From Unformed Realms. That’s $13.33.

The Unformed Bundle focus on the creatures and horrors – and can be ported to other games very easily. Here you get From Unformed Realms along with recently released The Dark Brood, which focuses on the hellish progeny of Shub-Niggaruth. That’s $6.66.

Finally, you will find the brand new Investigations Bundle, which combines the guide in stories and adventures of The Haunter of the Dark with five ready-to-play investigations: modern day student hikers documenting the last days of the derelict Innsmouth in Save Innsmouth; locals of a small town on an island off Maine waking without recollection of their purpose, but keenly aware that something’s horribly wrong in Thro’ Centuries Fixed; and three chilling encounters with the Wendigo, served up by three different authors, in Three Faces of the Wendigo. That’s $18.00.

As per standard charging on the One Book Shelf stores, if you have a book already, you don’t pay for it twice. They deduct that individual book (or books) from the total – so, you still save on the PDFs you don’t have.

The Core Bundle

Sale 0 comments on All The Cthulhu Hack Sale

All The Cthulhu Hack Sale

In a spirit of celebration, the Christmas decorations have gone up around the office and the house, and I’m sat here wearing a silly Star Wars themed Christmas jumper. While we all celebrate at different times and for different reasons, I think we can all agree we’re all a little bit closer to When The Stars Are Right.

With that in mind – Just Crunch Games offer up a special festive offer to Great Cthulhu and his followers. Buy all The Cthulhu Hack Books in print and get more than 10% off through the All Rolled Up web store.

Normally £18, you can pick up all the books for £16, including:

  • 44-page The Cthulhu Hack core book, for character creation and the lite mechanics of the game
  • 20-page From Unformed Realms, an intricate array of tables to generate new horrors or their spoor
  • 88-page The Haunter of the Dark, a guide to turning Lovecraft’s stories into tabletop adventures
  • 36-page Convicts and Cthulhu setting book, taking the horror to 19th-century penal colony Australia
  • 10-page Save Innsmouth, a modern investigation into corporate greed and the heritage of America

All in mono throughout on 80gsm off white bookwove with 250gsm matt laminated covers in full colour. If you have picked up a copy of The Cthulhu Hack before you won’t have one of these – unless you already have a full set of books – as single copies are gloss laminated.

The sale will run until Monday 12th December and only applies to The Cthulhu Hack (All) while stocks last!

Gate into the All Rolled Up web store now!

In Development 0 comments on Weird Science

Weird Science

wp-1476949254592.jpg“Non-Euclidean calculus and quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain; and when one mixes them with folklore, and tries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional reality behind the ghoulish hints of Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be wholly free from mental tension.”

― H.P. Lovecraft, The Dreams in the Witch House

One thing I aim to do in Unaussprechliche Hack, next year, is to expand upon and loosen the system for handling ‘spells’ and tomes in The Cthulhu Hack. While I appreciate the value of the 0D&D roots that support the simplicity of the game and ease the process of introducing newcomers and old hands to the system, there’s no need for something quite so regimented as levels.

It makes sense in a fantasy setting with focused practitioners to allow them incremental access to ever more powerful magic. On the other hand, investigators in The Cthulhu Hack are as likely to find a treatise on the summoning of extradimensional flying mounts as they are to uncover a margin note on the distraction of the human mind with a simple charm.

(So, for example, characters can get access to an Elder Sign charm in The Haunter of the Dark despite not necessarily meeting level requirements — because circumstances make sense and restrictions exist to stop them overusing it.)

The key to Lovecraftian magic lies in the understanding that science and spellcraft lie side-by-side, strange bedfellows kept apart only by humanities lack of comprehension. Alas, to attain complete understanding and true perception tends to stretch the faculties of the human brain beyond breaking point – thus, the significant negative impact on Sanity suffered in learning even one spell.

Just as we can’t truly grasp the worldview of even the most simple creatures with which we share a common world, the cosmic manifestations of the Mythos possess senses and cognizance far beyond our imagining. In practice, akin to cyphers in Monte Cook’s Numenera, spells used by humanity are just the shadows and smokes given off by much greater and significantly more potent ‘technologies’ or applications of exotic sciences.

We’ll see if I can get that across in the optional rules for spells to come in 2017!

Adventures, Releases 0 comments on Save Innsmouth

Save Innsmouth

wp-1476272506929.jpgIt seemed appropriate to have an adventure out in time for Halloween. I didn’t want to constrain myself to a Halloween specific theme – I just wanted to write something suitable for a session of play to serve as quick horror fodder or an introduction to The Cthulhu Hack.

Save Innsmouth is that adventure –  to be released at Spiel tomorrow and RPGNow / DriveThruRPG from Friday, 14 October.

You’re all students at Arkham’s renowned Miskatonic University. Between terms, you’re taking the opportunity to go hiking. You’ve taken an interest in the newspaper and local TV reports of construction in the north-east, along the coast, that will see a piece of history, a town preserved since Prohibition times, bulldozed to make way for a luxury health spa resort. This will be the last chance to see the place intact before The Man clears away another chunk of America’s heritage in the name of progress.

This Cthulhu Hack adventure is designed as a stand-alone scenario and can be run as a one-shot adventure over a single sitting from three to four hours of real time.

And… It’s just Chapter 0 of an adventure campaign coming out in 2017.

Releases 0 comments on Convicts and Cthulhu

Convicts and Cthulhu

convicts-and-cthulhu-RPG-DriveThe circumstances of English settlement of Australia in 1788 are as unique as they are ghastly. Conceived as a self-contained prison, literally on the other side of the globe from the ‘civilized world,’ the colony of New South Wales was supposed to be somewhere that every “undesirable” element from Britain could be banished. What nobody considered was the potential for catastrophe created by the concentration of all the “dregs” of British society in a pressure-cooker environment supervised by gaolers who were not much better than the rabble over which they kept watch.

Many from both groups brought with them dark beliefs and worship of things best forgotten. Left unchecked far away from watchful eyes, some of those degenerations festered in ways they never could before. And while those from over the seas introduced their ancient gods to the continent of Australia, there were other forces that had slept in the land for long, long aeons.

This is the setting of Convicts & Cthulhu, a claustrophobic and remote microcosm in which horrors – both old and new – prey upon men and women unfortunate enough to find themselves sentenced to the penal colonies of New South Wales and its dependencies.

  • Themed options for character development, including pre-sentence Occupations
  • Random Offences for convicts, from Highway Robbery to Theft of Bacon
  • Summary notes on the setting, including settlements and scarcity of Equipment
  • Rules on Shock and new Creatures of the Mythos – including the Bunyip
  • Short Adventure Outline – Longships and Short Fuses – with map by Pär Lindström

This supplement allows you to get up and running in this dark and strangely claustrophobic historical setting using the simple rule set of The Cthulhu Hack. You will need The Cthulhu Hack core rules to play. This book covers changes to character generation, equipment, firearms, antagonists, and also includes an adventure.

For more on the core setting, download Convicts & Cthulhu.


This product is released for free as a Pay What You Want product. You’re free to download this supplement for nothing, as with the expanded setting material of Convicts & Cthulhu. If you choose, you can pay more than nothing to support the continued expansion and development of the product line for The Cthulhu Hack – but I’m happy to leave that down to you.

Horrors, In Development, Releases 0 comments on Lean and Lulu

Lean and Lulu

Fernand0FC under Creative Commons
Fernand0FC under Creative Commons

All the evil in the universe was concentrated in their lean, hungry bodies. Or had they bodies? I saw them only for a moment; I cannot be certain. But I heard them breathe…

Keeping busy here, with more work on The Haunter of the Dark for The Cthulhu Hack ongoing and ideas trickling in for Unaussprechlichen Kulten, which will provide options for expanding or swapping out features of the game, along with dozens of tables for random content.

In the meantime, you can find another article from Mark Chance, presenting his take on Flying Polyps, Formless Spawn of Tsathogghua, Ghouls, and the Hounds of Tindalos for The Cthulhu Hack.

And you can now get physical copies of the core Cthulhu Hack rules from the Just Crunch Lulu store.

In Development 1 comment on The Cthulhu Hack Cover

The Cthulhu Hack Cover

the-cthulhu-hack-henning-full-v1

I have proof copies incoming from two sources for The Cthulhu Hack, and I’m looking into other alternatives. A wraparound affair that uses the front image in a mirror version for the back – along with a little blurb.

One of the proof copies is perfect bound, the other saddle. I have a liking for the saddle, but ultimately we’ll see.

I continue to seek alternatives for a better quality – and a hardback version. The hardback would have to wait for more material. I would likely add material from one or two upcoming supplements to make the hardback worthwhile.

I’m pondering get a physical copy of From Unformed Realms sorted out for conventions and sale through the All Rolled Up web store.

2016-07-03 17.46.09

Currently also sourcing a possible cover image for The Haunter Hack. However, the whole focus of this supplement still hangs in a bit of a creative limbo – I’m not 100% sold on what works for the best.

Ultimately, it’s about getting a Cthulhu Hack adventure together using existing material and the process you might go through to do that using The Haunter of the Dark as a base. This is about rooting out the Saves and highlighting the Resource rolls. Expanding narrative and structuring an adventure for one-offs, convention games and beyond.

I have spent the whole weekend going through the text of the short story for the umpteenth time. Considering this was Lovecraft poking fun at another author, I have been having great times with it – stretching the angles out and unraveling the potential.

Raw text running to a couple of dozen pages at the moment and not nearly finished yet. Seems likely to run to about the same length as the core book in the end.

In Development 0 comments on Black Hack Hack Back

Black Hack Hack Back

After a long and unenforced hiatus, I’m working on something new. One of those unplanned moments when you realize that an idea needs to find a voice or leave you sleepless.

David Black recently released The Black Hack after a long period of playtesting and development. The Hack takes the essentials of 70s old school tabletop and boils it right down to the simple basics, but with a nod or two to modern sensibilities. The game does away with too much book-keeping through a rather clever use of dice to manage dwindling resources… and that got me thinking.

This weekend, I’m running a game of The Black Hack at Patriot Games Indy Games day in Sheffield. Instead of a straight fantasy game of the Hack, I wanted to try something different, so I created a character sheet.

From there, I’ve created my own hack of the Hack – and all being well I should have the whole thing available for release in short order. Featuring extra rules on dwindling sanity, madness, more monsters, 1920s equipment and a neat character sheet design!

Look out for Hack Call (pronounced hackle for your convenience) coming to One Book Shelf soon.

Hack-Call