Kickstarting an inclusive RPG based on HP Lovecraft's works

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Rather than sanitize Lovecraft, it might be more intertesting to acknowledge that the racism is the horror. The stomach-churning feeling of something lurking just out of sight you’re trying desperately not to see - is this not the desperation that powers the Fox News engine?

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We already have the following RPGs based on the Cthulhu mythos:

  1. Call of Cthulhu (7 different editions)
  2. Cthulhu Now
  3. Delta Green
  4. D20 Call of Cthulhu
  5. Trail of Cthulhu
  6. Shadow of Cthulhu
  7. Realms of Cthulhu
  8. The Laundry (based off of The Laundry series by Charles Stross, which in turn is based off of the Cthulhu mythos)
  9. Cthulhu Live (live-action RPG)
  10. Cthulhu Tech (Cthulhu mythos + Science Fiction)

There’s really nothing about any of these RPGs that is ‘exclusive’ in the sense that the authors seem to be trying so hard to shoehorn ‘inclusiveness’ into their own. Based on the description, it sounds like what they’re trying to make is more suited to a simple one-page free-form RPG, like Everyone is John or Lasers and Feelings, not something that’s worth a $15 PDF.


Cthuhu is the Zombies of Kickstarters.

Give it a rest.


To be fair, those games were all permutations on a theme, really, with only the LARP being substantially different. This one at least is doing a radically Lovecraftian take on the GM-less mechanics that seem popular right now (which usually seem to take substantially more than a page to lay out how things work). If nothing else, re-educating players to ignore all those previous Lovecraftian games would take more than a page, and they’re obviously trying to make a nice object here, with layout and art creating a mood (something which does make a difference, I find).
Although half the pleasure (at least) of an RPG is the character interactions that would be entirely lost in this one, it does sound interesting.

It’s easy to take a standard Cthulhu game and flip it on its head (I’ve done it) - the players are persecuted and maligned cultists and “monsters” who have all of humanity trying to destroy them… talk about existential horror.


This is actually the logical continuation of a number of Lovecraft stories, such as The Shadow over Innsmouth, Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, etc. There are quite a few stories where the protagonist not only encounters monsters, but eventually becomes aware that he is not who he believed himself to be.

It’s also not a bad strategy to put yourself in Lovecraft’s shoes and embrace the horror of other grinding changes that filled him with dread. For example, Lovecraft’s romanticism of the past, especially in New England, would probably lead him to hate gentrification as much as much as immigration, for pretty much the same reason: something the author (or his proxy protegonist) loves is changing into something he does not.

I playtested an earlyish version of the game. Things I can tell you - they’re not kidding about it being close to the books. It plays nothing like Call of Cthulu, Delta Green or similar games. Cthulu Dark is probably the closest game in terms of treatment of the genre.

Where it really differs is in the ‘many players one character’ mechanic. This doesn’t rule out roleplaying. Our playtest was set in a rufugee camp and we all got to take turns playing not only the protagonist but also the other various NPCs. If you’ve played games like Fiasco the scene setting is similar. It also has shades of thing like Penny for your thoughts, Kingdom or The Quiet Year.

Finally a word on the inclusiveness. This is, on its own, a great game. Josh and Becky aren’t stressing these elements as a selling point, but because they think this is how all games should be, particularly when dealing with this kind of problematic source material.


Crap, I’m trying not to spend money on Kickstarter.

But I pretty much support any indie Cthulhuania that isn’t based on the traditional systems.

/EDIT: And it’s GMless. TAKE MUH MONEY!

New idea for an RPG: Zombie Cthulhu!

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You forgot Tremulous, which was also a kickstarter, as well as a number of smaller ones.

How about an RPG where you play as one of the Great Old Ones, trying to manipulate the GM’s world in preparation for your return?

Those stories where the narrator turns out to be a monster (in particular Shadow) are Lovecraft’s more autobiographical stories, funnily enough. The man was a bundle of contradictions, really.

"I don’t make the mistake of thinking that the… cosmos… gives a damn one way or the other about the especial wants and ultimate welfare of mosquitoes, rats, lice, dogs, men, horses, pterodactyls, trees, fungi, dodos, or other forms of biological energy.”
― H.P. Lovecraft

So…you want to take a body of works that deals with cosmic horror, despair, and ultimate hopelessness, and make it “inclusive” so that nobody is left out or offended?

You have missed the entire point of H.P. Lovecraft’s works. Please make a Twilight RPG instead.

Let guess: white, heterosexual, and male?

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