Posts Tagged ‘ The Cthulhu Hack ’

From Unformed Realms? Excellent!

I recently acquired several Paul Baldowski’s The Cthulhu Hack products-in-print via All Rolled Up. One of these products is From Unformed Realms. According to the introduction, this 20-page booklet is a “system-free supplement for a Gamemaster running games involving creatures of alien horror for role-playing games of all genres, fantastical or horrific”. The author suggests rolling 3d6 six times “to generate a customized aggressive horror”.

Each set of 3d6 determines a category, subcategory, and specific trait. There are six categories, such as Extremities or Fluids. Each category included at least three subcategories, and each subcategory includes six specific traits. That’s quite a lot of variety, and it looks like fun, so let’s play. I get 3d6, one black, one purple, and one red, and I roll them six times each, recording the results in the color order already mentioned. I get these results:

3, 4, 4: Skeleton, Bone Mutations, Blades
5, 6, 6: Appearance, That Looks Like, Ooze
1, 4, 2: Extremities, Weapons, Pincers
5, 3, 5: Appearance, Protuberances, Digestion
2, 6, 4: Senses, Vision, Compound
1, 2, 4: Extremities, Limbs, Spines

In other words, something like this:

Before our horrified eyes, the blasphemous thing lurched forward, glistening wetly in the moonlight. Shadows of bones rolled within its amorphous bulk, translucent and fetid, and some of those skeletal remnants slid from within, hooked and sharp and some clacking like monstrous pincers. Globular compound eyes bobbed within its body, pressing toward air. Even in the dim lunar glow, we could see half-digested remains: a dog, several rats, and — God help us! — a man’s arm!

Turning to The Cthulhu Hack core rules, I put together some quick monster stats:

Hit Dice: 5
Nota Bene: The gelatinous horror moves stealthily (roll with Disadvantage to hear it before it’s too late), and its fluid form is difficult to grapple (also roll with Disadvantage). It is impervious to flame or heat. Its compound eyes see in nearly all directions at once. It attacks 1d4 times per Moment, and each attack inflicts 1d4 points of damage.

After From Unformed Realms describes the various traits by category and subcategory, there is a single page “Summary of Traits” followed by two pages of “The Obligatory Appendix”. The latter provides tables that answer questions such as “The Hook?”, “Location?”, and “Horror’s Motivation?”, and with a few more dice rolls I determine the gist of an investigation into madness and death. Bolded parts of the following sentence indicate the results of dice rolls.

A chance visitation leads to a boot camp that has been a cover for anarchists for nearly two years for the purpose of medical research. The boot camp has become the target of the horror because the camp is built on the monster’s food source.

And there you go. In a fraction of the time than it took me to type, format, and edit this blogpost, I’ve got the framework for an investigation that pits the players’ characters against secretive, Mengele-like anarchists unaware that a Horror from Beyond lurks at their doorstep.


July 14th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Read All About It!

The Bishop’s Secret, written for White Box: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, was released to my few Patrons yesterday. This short adventure was written in hopes that it could dropped into your Old School game with minimal changes.

This marks my third release of Dangerous Places for OSR Systems. The first, Narvon’s Stair, is available to everyone for nothing more than the time it takes to download. Last month saw the arrival of Goshahri: The City in a Cave, a ruin in the process of being restored by miscreants under the iron fist of the Bandit King. I plan to return to Goshahri for at least one more adventure.

For March, I’m going to shift away from fantasy into horror with The Strange Case of the Bell Witch Bootleggers, a one-shot descent into madness and terror written for The Cthulhu Hack. I also still plan on fleshing out Goshahri a bit with The Harpy’s Nest, a more detailed description of a location in the aforementioned release that go short shrifted because I didn’t manage my time well enough.

You can get in on the Old School action by becoming one my patrons. It won’t ever cost you more than $1 a month.

In other news, I think I’m nearly ready to release The Four Color Hack. It’s changed quite a bit from its initial pay-what-you-want release. I’ve got one last section to write in which I’m including an assortment of villains and threats. I’ll also probably include a short, introductory scenario. Part of me would like The Four Color Hack to be available print-on-demand, but I’m not sure I can figure out how to correctly format, et cetera, the necessary files. I’m looking at Lulu, which seems to have a pretty user-friendly set up. Maybe during the downtime of Spring Break I can give it a go.

I have two other major (for me) projects that I need to finish. The first is the long-neglected Boogie Knights of the Round Table in which the heroes fight the Man with the powers of song and dance. No, really. I’ve run one playtest of the system to rave reviews. I’ve also dusted off an idea I had for a fantasy game involving real-world children transported to a world of twisted fairy tales very much inspired by Grimm and Little Fears. Unfortunately, my original work on it quickly displeased me, and I abandoned the project, but it’s back now with a simpler system built on The Black Hack.

So, in short, I’ve got some big (for me) plans for 2017, and I seem to be off to a good start. Huzzah.

What’s Happening?

Well, it’s been interesting the past few weeks. Between the start of the 2016-2017 school year and the passing of my mother due to cancer, I’ve had plenty to keep me busy and/or nearly exhausted. Without a doubt, however, life goes on, and little by little, I’m adjusting my schedule, habits, et cetera, to get back into the swing of things.

So, what’s new gaming-wise around here? Glad you asked. In no particular order:

1. Our longish-running Fate Accelerated campaign has run aground. We’re one or two sessions away from the big finale, and I need to get my act together so that we can find out whether the heroes can defeat the Martian invasion of Earth.

2. I’ve dove into both The Black Hack and The Cthulhu Hack. I’ve run pick-up games of the former a couple of times, and it works like a charm, at least for one-shots. I’ve been working on The Strange Case of the Bell Witch Bootleggers for The Cthulhu Hack, and I’d even scheduled a few playtests, but every time something comes up that derails the game. Are the Old Ones opposing me? Perhaps. I did run most of the first chapter of Chaosium’s venerable Masks of Nyarlathotep for four players using The Cthulhu Hack, doing so in about four hours, which included character creation. We encountered a few hold ups at the start, owing mostly to me being tired and having re-read chapter one more than two or so weeks ago, which resulted in more page-flipping than normal. The players all professed to having enjoyed the session, and it’s been requested that we continue the horror. For me, this is a sure indicator that a game is worth owning, that my players express enthusiasm for it.

3. I published Clever Title Using Hack & Class, presents eight new character classes for use with The Black Hack. Sales have been good, but I’ve not received any feedback yet. I’m hoping to get one or two positive reviews.

4. If you’d like to purchase Clever Title Using Hack & Class (or any of my products), now’s the time to do it. I’m running a sale all month long to raise money to purchase dice and dice bags in preparation for restarting Ludi Fabularum, the story game club I facilitate at the school wherein I teach. This will be fourth year I’ve overseen Ludi Fabularum, and it has attracted a small yet loyal group of players.

5. In addition to The Strange Case of the Bell Witch Bootleggers, I’ve also been working on The F/MU/T Hack (rules for multiclassing and nonhuman races for The Black Hack) and Chance Encounters (new monsters for Swords & Wizardry fully illustrated via stock art).

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll try to post some excerpts from The F/MU/T Hack and/or Chance Encounters over the next few days.

September 10th, 2016  in Spes Magna News No Comments »

A Not-Haunted House

In theory, this Sunday I’m hosting a dinner and gaming night at my house featuring hillbilly cuisine and an adventure for The Cthulhu Hack entitled The Strange Case of the Bell Witch Bootleggers. The adjacent map is my not-quite-done rendering of the first floor of the bootleggers’ home. If you click on the map, it gets bigger.

I’ve also drafted six characters for the players to choose from. You can take a gander at them by clicking here. Any unchosen characters become NPCs and probably will be among the first to go insane and/or die.

I still have to draw the house’s second floor, a small section of cave, and a map of the terrain around the house. After that, all that’s left is to flesh out some details in the adventure and fix dinner. I’m aiming for stew, maybe rabbit, maybe oxtail, with carrots and potatoes, some moonshine, either some greens or a salad, and dinner rolls. If I get really motivated, I might fix a sweet potato pie for dessert. I’ve not made a sweet potato pie in quite a while.

Of course, life being what it is, it’s starting to look like my gaming plans for the weekend are going to get pre-empted by other stuff. Say, “La vee.”

July 21st, 2016  in RPG No Comments »

Lean and Athirst!

More horrors for The Cthulhu Hack.

Flying Polyp

According to these scraps of information, the basis of the fear was a horrible elder race of half-polypous, utterly alien entities which had come through space from immeasurably distant universes and had dominated the earth and three other solar planets about six hundred million years ago. They were only partly material—as we understand matter—and their type of consciousness and media of perception differed wholly from those of terrestrial organisms. For example, their senses did not include that of sight; their mental world being a strange, non-visual pattern of impressions. They were, however, sufficiently material to use implements of normal matter when in cosmic areas containing it; and they required housing—albeit of a peculiar kind. Though their senses could penetrate all material barriers, their substance could not; and certain forms of electrical energy could wholly destroy them. They had the power of aërial motion despite the absence of wings or any other visible means of levitation. … Such was the fixed mood of horror that the very aspect of the creatures was left unmentioned—at no time was I able to gain a clear hint of what they looked like. There were veiled suggestions of a monstrous plasticity, and of temporary lapses of visibility, while other fragmentary whispers referred to their control and military use of great winds. Singular whistling noises, and colossal footprints made up of five circular toe-marks, seemed also to be associated with them. (The Shadow Out of Time by H. P. Lovecraft)

Hit Dice: 8
Notes: Tentacle (1d10). Windblast (1d6+1 Nearby targets must make DEX Saves to avoid 2d8 points of damage). Sucking wind (1d6+1 Distant target must make STR Saves to avoid being pulled one range category closer). Armor 4, plus invisibility. Takes minimum damage from physical weapons. Casts 1d6-1 spells.

Formless Spawn of Tsathogghua

At any rate, when the men of K’n-yan went down into N’kai’s black abyss with their great atom-power searchlights they found living things—living things that oozed along stone channels and worshipped onyx and basalt images of Tsathoggua. But they were not toads like Tsathoggua himself. Far worse—they were amorphous lumps of viscous black slime that took temporary shapes for various purposes. The explorers of K’n-yan did not pause for detailed observations, and those who escaped alive sealed the passage leading from red-litten Yoth down into the gulfs of nether horror. Then all the images of Tsathoggua in the land of K’n-yan were dissolved into the ether by disintegrating rays, and the cult was abolished forever. (The Mound by H. P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop)

Hit Dice: 4
Notes: 1d3 whips (2d4), or bite (1d4 plus engulf), or tentacle (1d10). Engulf (STR Save at Disadvantage to claw free; otherwise take points of damage equal to the number of Moments engulfed). Immune physical weapons, including magical weapons. Can be harmed by spells, fire, chemicals, et cetera. Casts 1d4-1 spells.


Rubbery flesh encrusted with earth and mold, hooved, wolf-like features, clawed fingers. Speaks in gibbers and meeps.

Hit Dice: 3
Notes: 2 claws (1d4) and a bite (1d6). Firearms do only half damage.

Hound of Tindalos

“They are lean and athirst!” he shrieked. “The Hounds of Tindalos!”

“Chalmers, shall I phone for a physician”

“A physician cannot help me now They are horrors of the soul, and yet”—he hid his face in his hands and groaned—”they are real, Frank. I saw them for a ghastly moment. For a moment I stood on the other side. I stood on the pale gray shores beyond time and space. In an awful light that was not light, in a silence that shrieked, I saw them.

“All the evil in the universe was concentrated in their lean, hungry bodies. Or had they bodies? I saw them only for a moment; I cannot be certain. But I heard them breathe. Indescribably for a moment I felt their breath upon my face. They turned toward me and I fled screaming. In a single moment I fled screaming through time. I fled down quintillions of years.” (The Hounds of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long)

Hit Dice: 5
Notes: Paw (2d4 plus CON Save to avoid 2d4 damage from poison), or tongue (WIS Save to avoid losing 1d3 points of WIS). Armor 2, plus regenerates 4 hit points per Moment unless dead. Can fly, travel through time, and materialize through any corner. Cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons. 1d4 spells.

July 19th, 2016  in RPG 1 Comment »