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RPG: Cthulhu Dark (Revised Version)
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Cthulhu Dark (Revised Version)
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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.

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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 in the Files section below.

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 in the Files section below.

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. A short extract is available in the Files section below. 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.

1st Stretch Goal achieved - 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.

2nd Stretch Goal achieved - Beautifully-written handouts in the book. That means all the letters from the scenarios handwritten and some extras too. It'll give you something beautiful to hand your players when you run Cthulhu Dark.

3rd Stretch Goal achieved - Graham's design notes for Cthulhu Dark in the book. These will help you get inside his head - if that's a place you want to be - telling you exactly why he designed Cthulhu Dark the way he 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.

4th Stretch Goal achieved - A new mystery in the Dust Bowl of 1930s America, Good As A Feast by Mo Holkar. It's a story about food, hunger and flesh.

"I love Cthulhu Dark - it combines economy, thoughtful design, and a rare respect for the source material that really gets at the core of what's fun about the combination of impersonal, unknowable horror and a ragged, unstoppable descent into madness. It's the best Lovecraftian game I've ever played, and I have played them all."

Jason Morningstar, designer, Fiasco

"Cthulhu Dark is Lovecraftian gaming in its purest form. By cutting away everything except investigation, revelation and consequence, it provides a simple, cruel mechanism for driving protagonists to madness and destruction."

Scott Dorward, writer, Call of Cthulhu 7th edition

"Cthulhu Dark gets to the heart of what I love most about Lovecraft's work. It is a clean, simple system which has a laser focus on investigation and the increasing stress on your mind and soul from the horrors you see. Graham has a deep and rare understanding not only of the Mythos but also of the pacing and structure of the stories themselves. Nothing will feel closer to Lovecraft's awful truth than a game of Cthulhu Dark."

Becky Annison, writer, Lovecraftesque

"Cthulhu Dark packs more than its fair share of evocative wallop into less than its fair share of pages. It's designed to work hard, but unobtrusively, with an easy faith in both its players and its genre."

Vincent Baker, designer, Apocalypse World

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RPG Rank: 528
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Average Rating: 7.71 Ratings Breakdown
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0 London 1851 - Scenario sample
This is part of the Cthulhu Dark RPG book. Sample from the Kickstarter campaign.
0 Keepers Section sample
From the Kickstarter campaign
0 Cthulhu Dark's original 2-page rules
The 2-page ruleset that this greatly expanded version is based on.
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