“In relating the circumstances which have led to my confinement within this refuge for the demented, I am aware that my present position will create a natural doubt of the authenticity of my narrative.”
– The Tomb, by H.P. Lovecraft
The early 20th century. New England, America. Lovecraft country.
Home to university libraries filled with worm-eaten tomes, legend-haunted towns populated with degenerate locals and their rustic superstitions, Cyclopean ruins from long-forgotten aeons, and the disquieting glimpses of things from beyond…
You are the unwilling guests of an antiquated sanatorium, perhaps the infamous Arkham Sanatorium, or maybe the Danvers State Asylum.
Your only hope of escape is to convince the authorities, and perhaps yourself, that you do not belong here. And so you begin to explain the sinister series of events that led to your unjust incarceration.
Unfortunately, your memories are populated by the stuff of nightmares…
Cthulhu Tales is a storytelling card game for people who enjoy the weird tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, love games and have a sense of humour with a touch of darkness to it...
Incarcerated in a sanatorium, you must convince the staff that you are sane by telling the story of the terrifying events that led you there. The other players try to disrupt your tale to make themselves look more sane in comparison, and the success of your tale determines which misguided therapies and medication are administered by the terrifying medical staff. These treatments are the way the game is scored, the player ending with the least amount of treatment is the winner, and is free to go.
Cthulhu Tales is very much a game, rather than simply a guided storytelling activity – it features structured and elegant rules for the telling of the tale, and for Hazard card interruptions. Players use the symbols on the cards to determine whether a card can be played, and its effect on the Narrator's tale. The die introduces an element of luck into the proceedings – perhaps that Viscous Black Slime was merely a passing detail, or perhaps its arrival was the precursor to something far more sinister and madness inducing...
You can read the draft rulebook here!
The game contains:
- 115 beautifully sinister and disquieting, large-format playing cards with artwork from the C7 art team Scott Purdy, Jon Hodgson and Sam Manley
- A board to guide your tale-telling
- A 16-page full colour rulebook (which you can download for free now).
- A 12 sided die, or perhaps if the stars are right, a unique Cthulhu Tales 12-sided die
- A set of Treatment tokens
Cthulhu Tales brings horrifying and darkly humorous story telling to your gaming table.
Each player is trying to persuade the sanatorium staff that they are sane and can be released. As well as giving a convincing account of their own story, players can improve their chances of being freed by casting doubt on the other players’ tales – making themselves seem sane by comparison.
Each player takes a turn to tell their story using the cards as inspiration – while it’s their go, we call them the Narrator. Here’s how it works:
1 – The Accusation – the player to the Narrator’s left plays cards to make an Accusation – the situation that caused the Narrator to be confined to the sanatorium.
2 – The Story – the Narrator attempts to tell the real story that led to their sorry fate, playing Story Cards and countering the Accusation made against them. They play one Story Card at a time, using the picture or text on the card (along with a corresponding card from the Accusation) as inspiration for the tale they tell.
3 – Interruptions – The other players can try to disrupt the Narrator’s story by playing Madness cards after the Narrator plays each Story Card. By contradicting and confusing the Narrator, the players make themselves look like the sane ones, increasing their chances of getting out!
4 – The End – the game ends when the Narrator reaches the end of their story, whether they successfully complete their tale, or if the other players’ interruptions brought it to a premature end. The Narrator receives a number of Treatment Tokens, representing the misguided therapies and medication administered to them by the terrifying medical staff, which are used to determine their score. The next player becomes the Narrator and plays through steps 1-4.
5 – The Reckoning – once each player has had a turn as the Narrator, everyone compares their score to find out who won their freedom!
The game is designed by Francesco Nepitello and Marco Maggi, the talented designers behind award-winning games such as The One Ring Roleplaying Game, Hobbit Tales, The War of the Ring and many more.
The Cubicle 7 Art and Graphic Design Team - Scott Purdy, Jon Hodgson, Paul Bourne and Sam Manley bring their awesome talents to the card art and physical design. You've seen their work across loads of our games, from the Lone Wolf Adventure Game and The One Ring to Doctor Who: The Card Game and Cthulhu Britannica: London.
The rest of the Cubicle 7 team are in there too, Jon Hodgson, Andrew Kenrick, TS Luikart, Nick Robinson and I (Dom) are developing, editing, arranging logistics, packing orders, and doing all the other million-and-one things that go into making games and getting them to our customers.
At Cubicle 7 we've run several very successful Kickstarters, in several different ways. With Cthulhu Tales our goal is very clear.
We need some financial help to make this game a reality; we want to gauge the demand for it; to let people know about how great a game we believe is; and to allow you the chance to help us do those things. We know we are supported by an amazing community of Cthulhu fans who have already enjoyed our Cthulhu-based roleplaying games, including Cthulhu Britannica, World War Cthulhu and The Laundry. We think you'll also really enjoy Cthulhu Tales, and enjoy helping us make it!
We like the ideas behind the rise of the recent “No BS KS” movement. We don’t always need complex sets of stretch goals, pledge levels and add ons. So for the Cthulhu Tales campaign our stretch goals are extremely simple and straightforward. We're excited to see how this works out: it does mean we're unlikely to score hundreds of thousands in sweet, sweet Kickstarter loot. But that's balanced by a very clear idea of what we need your pledges for, and the simplicity of making and handing you a single finished game.
So, we'd like to offer you the chance to get a copy of the really rather excellent Cthulhu Tales before it's in stores. We want to be 100% certain that this is something we can deliver efficiently and in good time, without running into shipping problems, the dreaded project creep, team illness or any of the other Kickstarter curses that can make it a less-than-satisfying journey.
We'll also be completely honest upfront: whilst we're aiming to deliver before the Summer 2016 convention season, if for some reason we need to take some special copies to the unique gaming event that is GenCon before the game is in backers’ hands, we will do that as we need to show it off at the industry's premier showcase event. But we pledge that we will not have copies on sales in stores before we've dispatched them all to backers.
Cthulhu Tales has its roots in another award-winning Cubicle 7 game – Hobbit Tales, our Middle-earth story-telling card game. Cthulhu Tales is not a simple reskin of Hobbit Tales with Mythos elements – it builds on the rules and structures of that game and has grown into its own unique game.
Francesco and Marco have spent years developing Cthulhu Tales, so whilst you might recognise the mechanic of matching symbols, you'll be doing it in a wholly different way in Cthulhu Tales.
A completely new and unique feature is The Accusation phase at the beginning of each round, where another player gives the Narrator the initial premise of their incarceration, revealing rumours or dark mysteries that the Narrator must attempt to refute in their story. The Accusation is made up of three cards played below the main board, and provides additional elements that have to be worked into the tale by the narrator, whilst they fend off Madness cards.
There is also the secret ending card, which you can read about in the rulebook, and s coring in Cthulhu is completely different, with players attempting to avoid gaining treatment tokens, rather than gain Hobbit Tales' Cheers tokens.
And no, you cannot shuffle Yog Sothoth into your Hobbit Tales deck…
The Cthulhu Tales rulebook includes this note on “madness”, which we think is pertinent to share here: Cthulhu Tales deals in the madness described by H.P. Lovecraft in many of his stories. It is a fictional condition, an imagined state of derangement, where the walls of reality fall away and the frail human mind cannot contain the reality of the universe inhabited by The Great Old Ones. This is an entirely distinct condition to the tragedy and pain of real-world mental health issues which sadly are statistically likely to touch all of our lives. We encourage players of Cthulhu Tales to wholly enjoy the fictional nature of the various maladies and madness described here, while remembering that in the real world mental health issues are no laughing matter.
Risks and challenges
We have produced three card games so far, and have the skills and knowledge needed to deliver this product. We also have active existing working relationship with our manufacturers, and will work closely with them.
Delays are always a possibility, and one that Cubicle 7 has encountered before. We've been operating for 9 years and have encountered many delay-causing circumstances (as our oldest friends will testify). Experience has since taught us how to identify and avoid most of them, and we've kept this project simple. We'll manage any delays by communicating with backers about potential problems as soon as they become apparent.
As you can see, we already have a complete, extensively playtested game from one of the world's best game design teams. We have a fully laid-out rules booklet. The graphic design is all done. Almost half of the card art for the 115 cards is complete – that's 40+ cards in the can. We're working on more right now, and we'll be sharing them as the campaign progresses.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (27 days)