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Cthulhu Dark

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#1 GrahamW

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 11:38 AM

Cthulhu Dark is my rules-light Lovecraftian game. (It gets its name because it's essentially Cthulhu Light, but you can't call a Cthulhu game that, so it's Dark.)

The rules are fun and incredibly minimal: they fit on one sheet of paper. You don't need a character sheet to play, so you can start playing after two minutes of prep. Despite the simplicity, there are some interesting rules twists: look at the Suppressing Knowledge rule for an example.

I've played this a lot at conventions and it works pretty well. If you play, do tell me how it goes. My email is graham, at the domain name thievesoftime, dot com.

Finally, if you write Cthulhu scenarios, you can use Cthulhu Dark to publish them as standalone products. This, in fact, is one reason I wrote Cthulhu Dark: because people wanted to buy my scenarios without buying a rules book. Put simply, you can Cthulhu Dark at the back of a scenario, free of charge, and publish it as a standalone thing. Follow the link for more details.


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#2 Balbinus

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 12:25 PM

It's interesting stuff Graham. I like the combat system. Would you be ok if I linked to your site on rpg.net for a discussion there too?

How would you handle a character who isn't defined by their profession, or wouldn't you? Ie Bob Turner is a gardener by trade but Professor Carmichael has brought Bob along because he's large and burly and handy in a fight. Occupation Gardener doesn't seem quite right there somehow.

#3 GBSteve

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 12:27 PM

We played some Cthulhu Dark this week and it works well. As Graham says it is a very light touch system but as many scenarios are mostly about forms of information gathering, there is little need for a lot of crunch. It's also a modular system so extras can easily be added if you feel the need for a more complicated resolution system.
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#4 GrahamW

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 12:40 PM

It's interesting stuff Graham. I like the combat system. Would you be ok if I linked to your site on rpg.net for a discussion there too?


I'd really appreciate it, thank you.

As for the occupational thing: there isn't an immediate way of solving Bob's situation, but here's an attempt. Bob can only have expertise in one occupation. So he could be a thug: he makes money by gardening, but really, his expertise lies in thuggery. Or he could be a gardener: he can still fight, but what he really knows about is plants.

Defining characters by their occupation works really well in play. I'd imagined that I would need to expand the system to include individual skills. But I didn't: the occupation works fine and is a neat way of instantly defining a character.

#5 GBSteve

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 01:18 PM

You could perhaps allow a qualifier for each occupation, so Bob is a thuggish garderner (bonus on thumping), Max is a charming lawyer (bonus on seduction), Simon is a dour tradesman (less shockable).
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#6 Balbinus

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 02:33 PM

Nice idea Steve. I like that. Individual skills would kill the system stone dead I think. Too much complexity for what it's doing.

#7 Cole

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 03:37 PM

I like Cthulhu Dark

Playing/Running: D&D 5e (Curse of Strahd, Reavers of the Harken Wold), Call of Cthulhu (Down Darker Trails), Aces & Eights, Fate (Art Restoration Syndicate)


#8 GBSteve

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 03:45 PM

I prefer Cthulhu Milk.
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#9 Noble

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 05:32 PM

I was always a Cthulhu Mild man.

Edited by Noble, 05 March 2011 - 01:56 PM.

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#10 Tigger_MK4

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 05:49 PM

I prefer Cthulhu Milk.


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#11 WiseWolf

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 05:59 PM

Here is your motto, Graham: Once you go Cthulhu Dark, you never go back. I just came up with this, but feel free to use it. :) <-Condenscending smile

On a serious note, I like the idea very much! Thanks for sharing this with us.
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#12 GrahamW

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 06:11 PM

Here is your motto, Graham: Once you go Cthulhu Dark, you never go back.


Hmm. I might avoid the "This game is better than your current game" angle, I think.

I have thoughts on Steve's idea, above, and will post on them shortly. I basically like the idea.

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#13 lordingrey

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 12:46 AM

Condensed Milk of Cthulhu

Very nice and I agree that Occupations with a spin on them at times such as Thuggish Gardener or Green Thumbed Lawyer are great cues to focus on.

I just posted a comment/suggestion in the globule bit of Thieves of Time too (well named, you have stolen time from all of us Graham).

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#14 David_Hallett

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 02:07 PM

I like this very much. In particular, it's a great way to get people playing quickly who don't know the existing systems. Ideal for cons, I would have thought.

PS Cthulhu Rum (Do) and Raisin (R'lyeh)?

#15 Paddurz

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 09:26 AM

I like the combat system.


Combat system? What did I miss? I've only seen this in Graham's rules:

If you fight any creature you meet, you will die. Thus,
in these core rules, there are no combat rules or health

levels. Instead, roll to hide or escape.


Or was that what you liked, Balbinus?

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#16 Balbinus

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 02:28 PM

Combat system? What did I miss? I've only seen this in Graham's rules:

If you fight any creature you meet, you will die. Thus,
in these core rules, there are no combat rules or health

levels. Instead, roll to hide or escape.


Or was that what you liked, Balbinus?

Graham, the rules are ace! Number one supremo!


That was what I liked. I'd probably tweak it for combats with cultists but the idea that if you fight a critter you die seems to me more in genre than wasting shoggoths.

Of course, HPL might not agree with me seeing as how mi-go are taken down by dogs in Whisperer...

#17 Paddurz

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 07:07 PM

Of course, HPL might not agree with me seeing as how mi-go are taken down by dogs in Whisperer...


Nothin's more scary than a Chihuahua having buried his itty bitty teeth in and hanging from your unmentionables... :lol:

You make a good point though, Balbinus, and I'd be interested to see what you come up with.

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#18 zygomar

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 07:09 PM

I do a pbem using CD with great pleasure. As it's "Madness in London town" from Goodman Games, which is rather pulpy, I used spot rules for damages. Vs cultist and mondane threats indeed. Weapon Skills work as per the CD rules (1d6 human ability, 2d6 soldier type, and more with insanity dice). Roll 4 and over hits. A Hit means -1 for future rolls, a second hit = -2, a third and you drop unconscious until first aid or death. It seems to work well.

#19 StuartB

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 07:26 PM

Hmm, the www.thievesoftime.com website seems to be encountering difficulty... although they live up to their URL name quite nicely. ;)

#20 GrahamW

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Posted 07 March 2011 - 11:03 PM

Here are direct links to the booklets: Cthulhu Dark and Cthulhu Dark (easy one-page printing).

Zygomar, that's fantastic. I'm glad it worked well for you. I have some alternative combat rules in my head: there's a Harm Die, like the Insanity Die, which starts at 1 and which you roll every time you're injured. Investigators die when it gets to 6; everything else dies at 3, 4 or 5.

It's being translated into Portuguese and Polish, apparently! Astonishing.





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