A little review of The Cthulhu Hack, tucked away in a new “potpourri” review of The Black Hack on RPG Geek.
Like playing Call of Cthulhu but want something a bit lighter every once in a while? Try The Cthulhu Hack! The Cthulhu Hack is an investigative horror game where the players try to solve mysteries while staving off deadly horrors and creatures from beyond.
One of the interesting things that this game includes is “smokes” and “flashlights”. Now, these don’t necessarily represent actual cigarettes and flashlights, but they do represent your character’s ability to continue an investigation (flashlights) or their ability to get information or charm someone (smokes).
Each of these traits has a usage die, and every time you use an ability that links to one of these traits, you roll the usage die for it. So, for example, if you are searching for clues, you would roll your flashlight usage die. If you run out of the “flashlight” trait, then you have exhausted your investigative ability, your leads, or whatever else is appropriate.
This is great because it never leads to a moment where the adventure stops dead because of a failed check for clues. You will find something, and if you are out of the flashlight trait, then you know not to even bother looking (although there might be other ways to obtain the information you are looking for…). This also increases the drama of the game. Instead of running into every room the GM presents to you and say “I’m searching here, I’m searching there, I search again…” you have to really be careful and think about exactly what you want to do because the ability to search or interrogate people is a finite resource.
Some other aspects of the game that were added to the basic Black Hack formula are sanity (of course) and the ability to build classes, “free form” characters.
There are already a bunch of supplements out for this one, including a setting (Convicts and Cthulhu) and some adventures.