Cthulhu Dark Kickstarter

By on 29 May 2017
Cthulhu Dark Graham Walmsley

Cthulhu Dark is a tabletop roleplaying game of cosmic horror, in the style of H.P. Lovecraft.

It’s about the things we fear, amplified until they are unbearable. It’s about stories that genuinely creep you out, not well-worn tropes and creatures you’ve seen hundreds of times before.

And it’s about bleak horror, in which humans are powerless when confronted by hyperintelligent alien horrors. You can’t beat them. You can’t fight them. You can only watch, run, hide and fear.

If you love Cthulhu games already, then this is Lovecraftian horror at its most intense. If you’re new to them, then Cthulhu Dark is a great place to start. You’ll enter a world of stories that are both terrifying and terribly human.

The rules are incredibly short: they’re tightly focussed on horror and they drive the game.

The Book

Cthulhu Dark is a hardback book, 8.5 by 11 inches, about 200 pages long. The cover, by George Cotronis, is in full color. The interior is beautifully laid out, with stunning black-and-white art by Matteo Bocci.

It starts with the Player’s Section, which consists of:

  • The Rules: Cthulhu Dark’s tight, focussed two-page ruleset, which you can see here.
  • The Rules In Detail: How to use the rules to best effect in your games, together with a range of tips and tricks.

Then comes the Keeper’s Section, consisting of:

  • 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.

Then you get four settings, taking Cthulhu Dark into different times and places. Each comes with a full scenario to play.

  • London 1851: Terror in dirty, twisted Victorian London, where evil hides in the dark and the stink. Here’s a short extract. Plus the scenario Screams of the Children.
  • Arkham 1692 (by Kathryn Jenkins): Fear and superstition in Lovecraft’s iconic city, in a time of witchcraft. Plus the scenario The Doors Beyond Time.
  • Jaiwo 2017 (by Helen Gould): In modern-day Africa, corruption lurks in the ruins of the British Empire. Plus the scenario The Curse of the Zimba.
  • Mumbai 2037: Stories of cyberpunk India, in the city where dreams, wealth and power meet. Plus the scenario Consume.

In all these settings, you play Investigators who don’t often appear in Cthulhu games: in London 1851, you play thieves, beggars and other residents of the slums; in Arkham, you play rural villagers; in Jaiwo, you play people from that African country; and in Mumbai, you play Indian workers.

Everything above is written and, after final editing and layout, it’s ready to go. You’ll get most of it just after the Kickstarter ends, in a preview edition called Cthulhu Dark Zero.


About Dave McAlister

Dave has been roleplaying for over 30 years, having played and/or run most mainstream systems with the espionage genre being an early favourite. So much so that, in 1999, he started Modus Operandi. That same year he joined the Sarbreenar “Living” campaign team as their plotline controller before moving across to the Living Spycraft campaign team (as UK Regional Branch Director) in 2003. 2003 also saw the birth of UK Role Players as well as Dave’s first freelance writing appointment (co-writing World Militaries and consulting on both US Militaries and Battlegrounds, all for Spycraft).

Since then, Dave has concentrated on supporting the UK gaming scene. He has organised and run several small, one-day, events and was the RPG Area Manager for Gen Con UK in 2004. His current favourite systems are Dungeons & Dragons (specifically 5th Edition), Savage Worlds and Cinematic Unisystem. He has a (currently neglected) blog at dave.mcalister.org.uk and runs a D&D 5e SRD website at DnD5e.info.

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