tremulus is a storytelling RPG where you and your friends get together and create a haunting story in the vein of HP Lovecraft's works. Read more
This project was successfully funded on October 2, 2012.
About this project
Want to See Something Really Scary?
We all do. tremulus lets you and your friends make terrifying stories together. No experience necessary. And dice? You only need a pair of regular old six-sided dice, like you find in most family board games. If you've never played any roleplaying games in the past, then this is a great game to start with.
"tremulus looks creepy and intense. It's the kind of thing you think you want to avoid at all costs, but instead can't help but be drawn toward..."
-Monte Cook, Co-designer Call of Cthulhu D20 Roleplaying Game and the creator of the upcoming Numenera
Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Jason Morningstar will be collaborating with us on The Frozen Wasteland (already unlocked) and Ken Hite shall join us as we make our way Into Innsmouth (Stretch Goal X)!
What if I Know Nothing About Lovecraft?
If you know what scares you or your friends, that knowledge and the guidance found in tremulus will give you more than enough to get going. (It's not homework, but if you haven't read any of HPL's work, go find some. You're in for a real treat.)
"Sean Preston wrote a game that reflects the horror play style I've always had to shoehorn into existing systems. tremulus takes you from zero to full immersion in mere minutes, and its narrative unfolds like a story penned by Lovecraft himself."
-Ron Blessing, Co-host of RoleplayDNA and Smiling Jack’s Bar & Grill (and the much missed The Game’s the Thing…let’s bring this back).
Is it Easy to Learn? (Short answer: Yes!)
Novices and experienced gamers alike can sit down and start playing right away. All the information you need to play your character is found in your playbook, so there is nothing to memorize, and once you get going it becomes second nature. And you only need 2d6. All rolls are player-facing and serve to drive the story forward.You never roll without a reason. (And the Keeper never rolls at all.)
"Deceptively simple, never dull, tremulus is not for the faint of heart but the inquisitive soul. It makes it dead easy — frighteningly fun, even — to tell stories to scare the hell out of yourself."
-Matt Forbeck, Award-winning game designer and author
Based on the Apocalypse World Engine
The rules of tremulus are based on Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World and influenced by elements of Fiasco and FATE. New elements drive the game into more investigative directions, handle sanity loss and madness, and streamlines the role of the Keeper (the game master.)
"tremulus takes classic Lovecraftian gaming and combines it with the growling, dangerous engine of Apocalypse World. The playbooks have all the flavor you want and everything you need to play on a single double sided sheet. Every decision that sends poor Dr. Meridian on the spiral of lost sanity and health is in the hands of the players. Perfect for a spooky one-shot, a campaign built through play or something to get jaded fans of Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying excited again."
-Rob Wieland, Flames Rising
When some folks think of storytelling games, they think of games without a central game master or dice or task resolution system. This is not always the case. There are a wide variety of storytelling games. tremulus has a game master called the Keeper, and each player has a character (as defined by their playbook). Rolls determine success, partial success, or failure of their actions (called moves). Wanna surround yourself with wordnoise about tremulus? Check out RWR: Episode 1: The tremulus Edition!
"tremulus is one of those rare games where things can go horribly, horribly awry, and you love it all the more."
-Clint Black, Savage Worlds Brand Manager
Low to No Prep Before Play
You'll find it remarkably easy to get going. In fact, if you use the playset found in the book (the town of Ebon Eaves), you don't have to do any prep whatsoever.
"tremulus is probably among the most entertaining and unique games I ever played. If you are interested in Lovecraftian horror this is definitely the game for you. While other games are fun as well, tremulus is the only Cthulhu roleplaying game I know that allows the Keeper to run a game with no prep at all. I can't wait to hold the final copy in my hands!"
-Michael Wolf, Stargazer's World
Oh, the Formats!
tremulus is going to be offered in a digest-sized PDF (perfect for tablets), black and white softcover (digest-sized), and black and white hardcover (digest- sized). It's unlikely we'll introduce hardcover versions of tremulus into general distribution any time soon. Even if we do, your book will be part of the first print run, and signed and numbered (and no one can ever take that away from you)!
Ideal for 1 to 5 Players (and one Keeper)
With horror games, small groups are usually better, but too small and they don't work at all. tremulus handles a broad number of players effortlessly. During the playtesting of the game, it was discovered that tremulus not only plays well, it plays exceedingly well, with just one player, This complements weird literature perfectly, as there is often only a central, solitary protagonist. As with any game, more than five players can be a bit much, and can actually detract from the atmosphere of the story. For group play, the sweet spot seems to be three or four players.
Why Does It Work Well with Small Groups?
tremulus works so well for small groups because all characters begin with the same common moves . These allow them to do all the things you'd expect protagonists to do to one degree or another. The special moves each character has are specific to their role, be they a doctor, dilettante, or detective. Each player also gets a Lore move unique to their character as well. (No. We shan't be talking about Lore moves here quite yet. Yes. We're horrible. And we're sorry.)
Flexible Character Choice and the Playbook
Choosing the type of character you want to play is integral to the roleplaying experience. In tremulus, you have eleven classic characters to choose from in the core book (and, with your help, we'll be able to offer many, many more). Each of these choices has an attendant playbook, which is all each player needs to play the game. There is a brief background, choices of name, looks, and so on, and places to keep track of attributes. Everything you need as a player will be included on a tailored, printable playbook. There is niche protection, as no two players may use the same playbook, and when death or madness occurs, you can just get a new playbook and jump back in.
What Playbooks Are Found in tremulus?
There are eleven classic archetypes: The Alienist, The Antiquarian, The Author, The Devout, The Detective, The Dilettante, The Doctor, The Heir, The Journalist, The Professor, and The Salesman. More are found in the themed sets of playbooks offered as stretch goals!
Links to Things
Ebon Eaves: Get a glimpse at the core playset questions!
The Shirt: Show everyone your dark side!
The Dice: Click here to check them out!
Sample Playbook: The Heir
Mortality and Madness
There are four styles of play in tremulus, ranging from black to white. Black means you have no opportunity to prevent yourself from losing your mind or losing your life by willingly taking a mental disorder or physical debility (as you may do with the White variants).
Note: White in a Lovecraftian universe means something a little less pristine than we're used to here in our safe, horror-free world.
The Uncertainty Principle
The beauty of tremulus is the story isn't written beforehand. The Keeper may create a framework which raises questions. However, the Keeper should be in the dark as much as the players. This unknown quantity keeps the tension and drama high, as how events play out are left to character choice and the luck of the dice.
The Town of Ebon Eaves (Core Playset)
In addition to the book containing everything you need to play and run the game and create your own stories, we've gone one step beyond by giving you the playset of Ebon Eaves, a creepy little town to call your own. Ebon Eaves is generated on the fly by asking your players two sets of questions after they select their characters. Their answers loosely define the local color and the town's strange lore, making Ebon Eaves an ideal place to start your story.
A Bit About the Stretch Goals
We have a lot of them planned. Very cool and interesting things we'll reveal once we've reached our funding. Okay. Fine. Let's talk about a few of them now, if you insist. We have themed sets of MORE playbooks. (Translation: more really nifty character choices.) We have expansions to the town playset. (Translation: even more intriguing directions in which to take your town, such as adding in The Cemetery.) Some of these are all ready to go. Right now. (Keep reading. Who knows? We might reveal a few of them...)
How Far Along is tremulus?
It's written and has gone through extensive playtesting. We've established its look and feel and it has already gone through several rounds of edits. At the very least, you'll get PDFs of the core book and the 11 playbooks (which are ready to go right this minute) in your hands as soon as the funding goes through. And if we have to pretty them up before they go to print, we'll update you with the latest and greatest iterations as we move ahead. While it's a great game to play any time, it's especially fun to play scary games around Halloween. (Tell us we're wrong!)
Help Spread the Madness!
This is a completely new space for us. While we've developed quite a reputation and catalog of products in the main for Savage Worlds, this is taking us into entirely new territory and, honestly, we don't know what to expect. All of the responses to our playtests have been overwhelmingly positive, and we know you're going to love it. Tell your friends. Tell everyone.
What's with the Small 't' in tremulus?
Do you really want to know? A small 't' reads as more scared than a large 'T'. And it "sounds" quieter too. Do you really want to give your position away when there are strange creatures out their in the darkness looking for you? We didn't think so. (Or maybe this isn't even the real reason at all. Who knows?)
As in tremulus, we like to reward people who poke around all the nooks and crannies. Here are some of the stretch goals planned. Be sure to tell your friends what's hidden in the dark corners.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
Pledge $10 or more
A Taste of tremulus: PDF copy (including 11 illustrated, printer-friendly playbooks) and a hearty thank you!
Everyone who pledges at this dollar amount or more will also get the quick reference sheets (for player and Keeper) and the playset worksheet.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $20 or more
Anxious Antiquarian: Get the PDF (including 11 illustrated, printer-friendly playbooks) of the core book, credit in the book, and electronic copies of all stretch goals we hit!
At this level and greater, you'll also get the 11 core playbooks without character illustrations (so you can easily drop in your own images).Estimated delivery:
Pledge $30 or more
Determined Dilettante: Softcover book. You also get the PDF (including 11 illustrated, printer-friendly playbooks), credit in the book, and electronic copies of all stretch goals we hit! (Contributors outside the U.S. Please add $15 for shipping.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $40 or more
Proud Professor: Softcover book AND a set of custom tremulus dice. You also get the PDF (including 11 illustrated, printer-friendly playbooks), credit in the book and electronic copies of all stretch goals we hit! (Contributors outside the U.S. Please add $15 for shipping.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $50 or more
Mythos Minded: Signed and numbered hardcover book, PDF of the core book (including 11 illustrated, printer-friendly playbooks), credit in the book, a pair of custom tremulus dice and electronic copies of all stretch goals we hit! (Contributors outside the U.S. Please add $15 for shipping.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $75 or more
Insane Investigator: Signed and numbered hardcover book, PDF of the core book (including 11 illustrated, printer-friendly playbooks), credit in the book, 5 sets of custom tremulus dice and electronic copies of all stretch goals we hit! (Contributors outside the U.S. Please add $15 for shipping.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $90 or more
Tentacles of tremulus: RETAILER LEVEL.
Get six softback copies of tremulus to terrify your customers! This reward is ONLY for retailers who own a brick and mortar store and can be purchased as many times as you like. All this will be shipped fright free (make that freight free) in the continental U.S! We will require verification of the store at the conclusion of the Kickstarter. (Orders outside the continental U.S. please add $40 for shipping.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $125 or more
Stellar Scholar: Signed and numbered hardcover, the PDF of the book, and four additional PDFs of the core book you can give to your friends, and five sets of tremulus dice (you can give to your players or only let them use when you run the game). You also get credit in the book and electronic copies of all stretch goals we hit! (Contributors outside the U.S. Please add $15 for shipping.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $250 or more
4 backers All gone!
Crazy Cultists: Remote playtest. Sean will run a game of tremulus for you and up to four of your friends over Skype. You also get 5 copies of the PDF, a signed and numbered hardcover book, and, 5 sets dice. (That's ten d6 of tremulus!)
You also get credit in the book and one set of electronic copies of all stretch goals we hit!
(Contributors outside the U.S. Please add $15 for shipping.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or more
0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)
The Outer Circle: You get everything offered at the Crazy Cultists level, and an informative 4 hour online design seminar (this could run long, who knows?) with Sean Preston (joined by others in The Outer Circle).Estimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or more
0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)
The Inner Circle: Dinner, drinks, and gaming. What more can you ask for? We'll schedule dinner for 6:00 PM, Thursday, August 15th at Gen Con (you’re responsible for getting to the show and must have a valid badge). After dinner, we’ll play tremulus for a few hours, and then engage in an informal discussion of game design and whatever comes to mind (until the bars close). Dinner’s on us. (We’ll sort out where WELL in advance.) You’re responsible for your bar tab. You’ll also get a signed and numbered hardcover book, 10 sets of dice, and electronic copies of all stretch goals we hit.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $2,500 or more
0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)
The Dark Apprentice: You mean business. You get special credit in the book, you get the first signed and numbered hardcover, 10 sets of custom dice (to use or throw at your friends), electronic copies of all the stretch goals we hit (in other words, everything the Kickstarter funds), plus you get to work with us to develop a custom playset (along the lines of Ebon Eaves) for eventual release (this might well require a few phone calls, so we'll need your number). We retain the rights, but you get a design credit! Of course, you're in the Inner Circle as well (with the same stipulations) and we'll either ship you a Reality Blurs polo shirt or present it to you in person at Gen Con. (Remember, you're responsible for getting there and having a valid badge!)Estimated delivery:
- (35 days)