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A card game that starts cooperative, but ends with one corrupt player, a Mythos monster, and a desperate battle to save the world.
A card game that starts cooperative, but ends with one corrupt player, a Mythos monster, and a desperate battle to save the world.
1,528 backers pledged $42,923 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Cthulhu's Vault is a story-telling card game in the horror genre, meant primarily for the Cthulhu mythos, inspired by Lovecraft's horror writing of the 1920s and 1930s.  It's a game with more than 100 cards in it, and rather than use stock art, Jolly Roger Games wants unique art on each card.  That means commissioning 100 pieces of art, all color, high quality paintings.  That's not inexpensive(!!), so this project is meant to raise funds for two aspects of the game:

1 - Payment for the finished art.

2 - Actual costs of production and shipping for the game.

It's important to know that Cthulhu's Vault has been designed by two people passionate about Lovecraft's literature as well as the games that have sprung up inspired by it.  

Richard Launius is the designer of two great Cthulhu games, Elder Sign and the classic Arkham Horror, in addition to other games such as Pirates vs. Dinosaurs and Defenders of the Realm.  It's only a slight exaggeration to say he is the nicest person I've met in the business of game design and publishing.

Me?  While I have designed some games in the past,my talent is story-telling and teaching/coaching, so a story-telling game is ideal.  With the Cthulhu mythos, I created the "Cthulhu Rainy-Day Activity Book" to bring the horror genre and Lovecraft to a wider audience, and have taught units and courses on Lovecraft and his place in American and horror literature.  I've also published a Lovecraft-style horror novel called "The Last Post".

Cthulhu's Vault was originally designed by me, but it wasn't a finished game at that point and I was stumped.  Having worked with Richard Launius on "Pirates vs. Dinosaurs", and knowing that he created the best Cthulhu boardgame ever ("Arkham Horror"), I asked Richard to take a look.  Very quickly, Richard took the game and made it awesome(!), though it plays nothing like "Arkham Horror" or its simpler spin off "Elder Sign".  The game is meant to be played by 2-6 players, lasting less than an hour.  The game will include:

  • 8 Ancient Ones
  • 65 Story Cards
  • 5 Climactic Battle Investigator Cards
  • Ancient One Player Aid Card
  • 32 Investigator Battle Cards (half-size)
  • 16 Ancient One Battle Cards (half-size)
  • 8 Battle Order Cards
  • 34 Cultist Tokens
  • 35 Investigator Tokens
  • Dice 
  • Rules

Physically, you can picture it being boxed about the size of four Magic:The Gathering starter decks together, though if the project is successful and stretch goals are reached, that will change (obviously for the better!).

If the campaign reaches its goal, there will be additional items added to the project.  In some cases, these may be Kickstarter exclusive, but in others, your support will allow Jolly Roger Games to add extras into the complete game--making it better for everybody.

HOW TO PLAY:

At the start of the game players are given 1 Investigator Token, 1 Cultist token, 7 Story cards, and 1 Ancient One card. The players will keep their cards and tokens hidden from the other players. 

After the cards are dealt, one card from the deck is turned up in the center of the playing area as the story start card and the remaining cards are returned to the game box which results in very different stories being told each game as only a fraction of the cards are used. The first player will now using the original card tell a 1 – 3 sentence story using the word on the card or the picture on the card and then play 1 card from their hand to continue the story. 

(Some of the already finished art, symbols and text may change)
(Some of the already finished art, symbols and text may change)

When they play the new card they once again tell a brief story and then gain the type of tokens identified on the card, drawing them from the appropriate pools. Each card already on the story line shows the next type of desired card to best further the story. The player can play any card onto the story line but if they play the story card identified by the last card in the story line, they gain the bonus on their card which may enable them to draw another token, exchange a specific token for mystery tokens, swipe or trade a token with another player, etc… 

After playing a card and collecting tokens, a player’s turn is over and play moves to the next player and this continues until one player at the start of their turn has accumulated enough cultists to awaken the Ancient One card they hold. When this occurs, the game transitions into a semi-cooperative game where everyone other than the player who awakened the Great Evil become specific Investigators fighting the last player who represents the Ancient One and his cultists.  

Prior to starting the final battle, the investigator players reveal their Investigator totals and the player with the most Investigator tokens gets to choose their Investigator character first, then the next and so on until each has an investigator. Players then decide which tokens to keep as their Health tokens, discarding down to the Health level of the Investigator they choose. 

This is important because Investigator Battle cards become more powerful if Health tokens are expended when they are played.  The Ancient One player gains Cultist tokens if they have less total tokens than the health of the Ancient One.  These tokens add to the power of the Ancient One's cards.  

All players now also draw Battle cards - each Investigator drawing Battle cards equal to the ability of their chosen Investigator from the Investigator Battle deck. The Ancient One draws 3 cards from his deck and the final epic story I about to unfold. The Order of battle is determined by the Order of Battle Deck in which 1 card representing each Investigator and 1 - 3 cards representing the Ancient One (the number of investigators determine how many Ancient One Cards are added to this deck) and the cards are shuffled, then the Ancient One player draws the top card. The player identified then plays a Battle card, tells a brief story of the attack and inflicts wounds. The process is repeated until the Ancient One is victorious or vanquished, allowing the victor to provide an epilogue to the story.    

$8000: This is the primary goal of the campaign.

$10,000: Five additional story cards will be added.

$12,000: If we reach this, we'll use custom dice instead of normal 'd6' for the game!

$15,000: We will add two additional Old Ones into the game AND another five story cards.

$17,000: We'll add four investigator heroes into the game...WW1 Vet, Nun, Bootlegger, Student.

$20,000: Right now, the game is planned with travel-deck sized cards (like you find in a convenience store).  If we reach this level, we'll increase the card size to Poker-sized, and we'll increase the box size to accommodate the change as well!  

$25,000: Instead of cardboard tokens, we'll provide wood bits instead.

$30,000: *FOR KS BACKERS ONLY* --We'll put your copies inside custom game sleeves, nominally to protect your game box, but really--just to look cool and as an excuse to display more of the art.

$35,000: If we reach this level, Cthulhu's Vault won't come in a game box.  Nope--we'll put it in a metal tin, giving it the real appearance of a sarcophagus.

$40,000 (NEW!!): We'll add in ten Kickstarter-exclusive cards....presuming Jacob doesn't kill me for needing more new art.  These could be characters, primary villains, or just objects/people for telling the story.  If we reach this though--these cards will never be available in stores.  Production will be limited to the lowest possible practical print run total (the extras will then only be available from JRG direct)

$45,000:  If we reach $45,000, we'll increase the size of the box again.  Why?  Because we'll increase the size of the cards to 'Tarot-sized'.  This is a tough level to do.  It'll be tricky for production, especially with the metal tin as a previous level.  But we reach this--I'll figure out how to do it.  That's a promise!

There will be other stretch goals added--and not necessarily over the $35k mark.  If you read this, like this, and have ideas, please contact me.  We want this to be an incredible game for everyone--and part of the beauty of crowd-sourcing isn't just the financial benefits--but the ideas that come from patrons.  If it's a great idea, maybe we'll just add it to the final product regardless!

 One of the universal fears with supporting campaigns can be whether the product ever appears.  Some campaigns refund money, and sadly, some disappear.  Don't worry--that's not happening here.  Jolly Roger has been in business since the 1990s, slowly growing, and only producing games when financially viable.  It means that support is present in case of broken or missing parts, or if you have questions.  Want to make sure--the company website is: jollyrogergames.com or you can check out boardgamegeek (I try and check there every few days or post updates there when I can!)

 We appreciate the time you took to read this and to check out the game and whether you want to support its publication.  I hope you decide that you want in on it--Cthulhu's Vault is a great game and a lot of fun, even if you know little about H.P. Lovecraft or his stories!

NOTE: On the rewards, it's got the game being available in "July 2014".  That's not correct...and when I proofed the campaign page here, I didn't check the date that was listed there....oops.  The goal though is for everything to be available by the end of 2014--absolutely as soon as possible!  And I'll keep everyone updated regularly on progress!  That's a promise.

Risks and challenges

The risk is that people don't like the idea of a story-telling game, and that because of that, the art can't be finished--which means the game never comes to fruition.

After that, the only bugaboo is estimating production time. With past projects, the art was incredibly late once, and on the other successful project, I just missed the target date--even with a couple delays anyways. But I think anyone reading this can go look at those projects and see that I stay in contact throughout the whole process--the games *do* get completed and you know exactly where the process is the whole way.

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    Pledge $2 or more About $2.00

    ASHES
    We will send you (within the US) a postcard featuring a piece of art from the game with our thanks.

    No guarantees that if you burn the paper it won't summon bad things in the night.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    THE MOUNTAIN OF MADNESS
    Yes, it is madness. We will send you a final copy of the game with postage paid within the US.

    Don't blame me at what you may find when you dig in to the box.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    POETRY AND THE GODS
    With this level, you'll receive a copy of Cthulhu's Vault as well as the Lovecraft inspired WW2 horror novel, "The Last Post" (autographed): Cthulhu rises / Doom comes to your city soon / Restless sleep

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    WINGED DEATH
    We will send you a final copy of the game with postage paid anywhere on Earth.

    This offer not good on extra-dimensional orders.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    THE NAMELESS CITY: With this level, you'll receive a copy of Cthulhu's Vault as well as a random Jolly Roger Games product from $10-25 in value. And yup, postage is paid, presuming we know the city you live in (continental US only)

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    OUT OF THE AEONS: With this level, you'll receive a copy of Cthulhu's Vault as well as the Lovecraft inspired WW2 horror novel, "The Last Post" (autographed)--international postage paid. Don't worry about the flap of wings outside your window--that's our mail delivery service.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    THE STATEMENT OF RANDOLPH CARTER: "If you support at this level, you'll get the game, the autographed novel 'The Last Post', and a 2015 Cthulhu calendar, all postage paid in the U.S." (That's Carter's statement and he's sticking to it.)

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    BY "DEMAND": For this level, you receive a copy of "The Last Post" (novel) and a copy of the game. The game will be autographed by both designers. The extra cost comes from the need to get the games to Richard from Jim and then onward to you! That's the difference in price between this and the $30 "Poetry of the Gods" level.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    THE DIARY OF ALONZO TYPER: "Dear Diary, if I support at this level, I get Cthulhu's Vault, an autographed copy of the novel, 'The Last Post', and a 2015 Cthulhu calendar, sent anywhere in the world. I feel myself giving in. I cannot resist."

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    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    BY "DEMAND": For this level, you receive a copy of "The Last Post" (novel) and a copy of the game. The game will be autographed by both designers. The extra cost comes from the need to get the games to Richard from Jim, back to Jim and then onward to you! (They come back to Jolly Roger so that Richard doesn't have to do customs/VAT paperwork--that's Jolly Roger's job!)

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    THE THING ON THE DOORSTEP: For $110, we'll send six copies of the game postage paid anywhere in the continental United States. (If delivered by a man in yellow, I recommend waiting until he leaves to pick up your games.)

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    NYARLOTHOTEP: For $150, we'll deliver six copies of the game postage paid anywhere in the world. (Once shipped, please refrain from all rituals and magick until delivery is made. This is a personal request of the God of a Thousand Forms.)

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    THE PICTURE IN THE HOUSE: At this level, you receive a copy of the game, "The Last Post", a Cthulhu calendar, and a print of any one card in the game. This will be a limited print run of "1".

    The art will ship separately from the other products.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    THE VERY OLD FOLK: For $500, you'll receive six copies of the game, and presuming you attend Origins 2014, you'll enjoy dinner, as well as a game of Cthulhu's Vault AND Arkham Horror with Cthulhu's Vault's designers.

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Funding period

- (30 days)