Cthulhu Dark wakes from Deathless, Dreamless Slumber

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The stars are right. Cthulhu Dark’s kickstarter campaign nears its end. Join now, ere the hour grows too late.

Glean madness from every word, bear witness to the fragility of our false sense of place and purpose in a world far more strange and terrible than the human mind can even comprehend. The darkness is rising–and with it a tide that threatens to drown the world. Learn all too late what price your investigators will pay to try and stop the horrors that assail our world.

Cthulhu Dark is one of the most interesting horror games I’ve seen in a while. It is dripping with atmosphere, and in its streamlined mechanics you’ll find that they’ve drilled down to really explore the idea of horror. The game is bleak. Your investigator will go mad. They will fail. They will most likely die or end up experiencing one final moment of lucidity before they drift beyond the cares of our world. This makes for an incredibly compelling game.

We’ve talked about Cthulhu Dark before–it’s not about fighting the cthonic horrors that the cultists have unleashed, nor is it about winning, it’s a game you play to lose while trying to make sure that the rest of the world endures. And I love that. This kind of horror thrives on a feeling of powerlessness–and boy howdy does this game create that atmosphere. Whether in its mechanics, where you can gain Insight that slowly drives you mad (but the more insane you grow the easier a time you’ll have…) or in the “failure die” mechanic, where a player who thinks it would make the game more interesting if your character failed at what they were trying to do can add in a failure die to a contest to see if you fail…these mechanics are meant to bring out the dark in Cthulhu Dark.

And so far, the game’s Kickstarter campaign has been massively successful. At the time of this writing they’ve raised nearly $70,000 of their $7,641 goal. And as they grow more and more, the stretch goals being offered don’t really threaten to change the game, or seem impossible–they’re meant to enhance the experience. You’ll get some wonderful fiction and hand outs as a backer of this campaign:

Now we’ve hit £10,000, I’ll add a section on “How To Hack Cthulhu Dark”. This will take you under the hood of Cthulhu Dark, showing you how it all fits together. It’ll show you how to write your own games based on Cthulhu Dark.

Now we’ve hit £40,000, I’ll add beautifully-written handouts to the book. That means I’ll get all the letters from the scenarios handwritten and add some extras too. It’ll give you something beautiful to hand your players when you run Cthulhu Dark.

Now we’ve hit £50,000, I’ll release my design notes for Cthulhu Dark and put them in the book. These will help you get inside my head – if that’s a place you want to be – telling you exactly why I designed Cthulhu Dark the way I did and how it’s changed from the original version. If you want to write your own Cthulhu Dark stuff or publish Cthulhu Dark hacks, this is essential stuff.

Now we’ve hit £65,000, you’ll get Good As A Feast by Mo Holkar, a new mystery in the Dust Bowl of 1930s America. It’s a story about food, hunger and flesh.

Backer rewards include the game itself–which features a streamlined, 2-page ruleset, a section on how to use the tropes of this game. This is the part that excites me the most. I love the narrative ideas related in here, take a look:

  • Introduction: An introduction to cosmic horror and all the essential elements of a Cthulhu Dark mystery, including the Themes, the Threat, the Final Horror, the Setting, Creeping Horrors and the Power.  You can see the start of the Keeper’s section here.
  • Writing a mystery: A step-by-step guide to writing Cthulhu Dark mysteries. This takes you through every step of making an effective horror story to play through, starting with the things you fear and ending with the full horror.
  • Rewriting a mystery: Ten different ways to look at a mystery, which help you sharpen and polish it, until it’s as good as it can get.
  • Playing a mystery: How to play a Cthulhu Dark game, including how to explain and use the rules, how to describe horror and how to find a dramatic ending.
  • Threats of the Mythos: A guide to the creatures, artifacts and other unspeakable things that haunt the universe, explaining how to use these things to enhance the story you want to tell.

Even if you’re not the biggest fan of Cthulhu, there’s still a ton of use you can get out of this book. And this is from the same author of the excellent “Stealing Cthulhu” which talks all about writing a Mythos story, which if you haven’t read, you should go do that now. And if this isn’t enticement enough, backing at various levels brings about rewards like:

An Ominous Letter

A Letter from the Future

A Letter from History

All handwritten, and presumably full of madness-inducing Insights that any fan or collector will want to have. There are still two days left, but the hour grows late. If you’re a fan of horror or the Mythos in general, this is one Kickstarter you won’t want to miss out on.

Back Cthulhu Dark before Great Cthulhu Wakes and Devours us all

Ia! Ia! Kickstarter Fhtagn!

  • euansmith

    I’ve got the free rules, but I’ve backed this to get all of the GMing advice.

    • dave long island

      Yep, I did too. They had me at ‘Cthulhu Dark’.

  • Jeffrey Portalski

    What the difference between this and Chaosiums RPG?