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A modern horror RPG scenario set in LA with comedians, ancient magics, and a growing sense of dread. Game rules included.
A modern horror RPG scenario set in LA with comedians, ancient magics, and a growing sense of dread. Game rules included.
A modern horror RPG scenario set in LA with comedians, ancient magics, and a growing sense of dread. Game rules included.
385 backers pledged $9,031 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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He Who Laughs Last - A Cthulhu Dark RPG Scenario

$9,031

385

FUNDED!

We funded in just about 36 hours and are now set on a course to update and create cool new elements to the project. With just about two weeks left, we have lots of room to grow!

  • UNLOCKED! 100 Backers: When we reach 100 backers for the project, I will share one of the full page drawings already completed by Mike Dubisch! Image has been added to the page above!
  • 200 Likes: If we can get 200 total Likes on my Facebook page for Dave Sokolowski and Weird 8, I will share another full page drawing by Mike Dubisch!
  • UNLOCKED!! $4000: If we fund at this level, I will create Call of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu conversion notes for the scenario, and then just give them away, for everyone, for free. I'll work with Jake and put together a cool PDF that matches the look and feel of the game, post it on my blog and give it to YSDC.
  • UNLOCKED!!!! $5500: Digital (PDF) GM Supplement that will be included in every pledge level at $12 and above, including Pre-Gens, Digital Clues, and Playtest Notes! 
  • UNLOCKED!!!!! $7000: I have recruited Jared Manninen to draw 10 postcards -- if we reach $7000, every pledge level from $6 up will receive these postcards in PDF.
  • UNLOCKED!!!! $8000: One of the most interesting clues in the game is a 3 minute recording from the 1960s of an interview with a comedian. Without spoiling anything else, if we reach this level, I will write and record the actual interview, put it in a digital file and put it on Weird8.com for everyone for free. For free!!!
  • $9000: If we reach this level, I will write a 4000-8000 word (whatever is needed) fictionalization of the scenario and provide it to every pledge level $6 and above in PDF form.
He Who Laughs Last is a horror mystery RPG scenario set in modern day Los Angeles. It can be run with 3-6 players and takes between 6-8 hours to play. It has been written for (and contains the complete rules for) the rules-light game system Cthulhu Dark, which was written by Graham Walmsley specifically to share with people like you and me. This book has everything you need to run this game, except the requisite friends, d6, and pencil and paper. It also helps if you like weirdness and horror.

Right now, I have written nearly 20,000 words for this scenario, play-tested it six times (both with friends and at conventions), and have a stunning cover and layout by Jake Coolidge. Furthermore, Jake has also provided amazing maps, both of Los Angeles (which you can see used here in the headings) and of a couple key scenario locations. Finally, I have commissioned work from the incredible Mike Dubisch, who has completed two full-page, black/white drawings, and is currently working on two more.

Here is one of the images he's already completed:

So the core work for the project is just about done, with it only needing some final play-testing and tweaks here and there. Now all we need to do is bring it across the finish line. This is why I've come to you.

"Well-written and pleasingly odd. It has a section called 'How to build suspicion/weirdness,' which is good enough for me." - Graham Walmsley, author of Cthulhu Dark and Stealing Cthulhu

"Dark, innovative, and very well-executed, 'He Who Laughs Last' is a thoroughly enjoyable modern nightmare inspired by a Lovecraft classic and contains more twists than a hangman's noose. Dave Sokolowski helpfully includes the Cthulhu Dark rules, as well as some great house rules, meaning that everything players' need is in this one package. An impressive effort!" - Stuart Boon, award-winning author of Shadows Over Scotland

"He Who Laughs Last [is] odd, a bit creepy, twisted, and should definitely leave the characters double-guessing themselves. It really doesn’t surprise me that the Kickstarter funded so quickly." - Aaron T. Huss, RoleplayersChronicle.com

"He Who Laughs Last is a scenario worth the time of any GM. It provides an original plot, memorable locations and NPCs, and a time the players will enjoy. The kickstarter has already funded and is well on the way to its stretch goals. I recommend everyone to jump on and grab it while you can." Trevlix, keepingthegame.blogspot.com

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With this money, I want to turn this scenario from something I've worked on with a couple friends to something a group of enthusiastic professionals have come together to produce. I don't need much money to reach the next level, but I do need funding to:

  • Pay for amazing and disturbing art from Mike Dubicsh
  • Pay for professional editing
  • Complete layout and design for the PDF
  • Print an 8.5x11 high-quality, color softcover book that will fit nicely on your bookshelf, of which I will also print 100-copy limited edition, hand-signed and -numbered copies

The $3000 will cover all these things, and we can afford to also pay the collaborators who have helped me up to this point, including videography from Gregory Geiger and the cool maps, cover and layout by Jake Coolidge. This project will be the results of hard work from some very talented people, and I want to make sure we do it right.

Finally, if we fund, $200 will go to Graham Walmsley (designer of Cthulhu Dark) for his great work in creating this system. Graham plans to donate his share to Shanti Bhavan, an amazing program to help children.

This scenario is inspired in part by the HP Lovecraft story "Beyond the Gate of the Silver Key," which gives it a unique twist and inter-PC challenge. The feedback I've received for the game has been extremely positive, and every group has had a great time around the table. I want to share this experience with you.

For your support, we have chosen the following rewards:

  • Support ($1): Want to just help the project or follow along but not buy anything? For $1 you can show your support by pledging, getting the inside scoop on project updates and the knowledge that you are helping make this project successful.
  • PDF ($6): At this level you will receive one PDF of the scenario, including all the art, maps and Cthulhu Dark rules. All pledge levels include the PDF, meaning that if you contribute to the project in any way, you get the scenario as my direct thank you for your help. Also, I am including US and UK PDF sizes to make printing easier.
  • GM Supplement and Thank You ($12): First, because we reached a stretch goal, we will include the PDF Digital GM Supplement with every pledge $12 and above. Also, since one of the best parts of running a Kickstarter is interacting with the backers, for this level and all higher levels, we will put your name on the Thank You Page in the book, as well as a personalized thank you on Weird8.com. This of course also includes one copy of the PDF.
  • Regular Edition Softcover ($25): This will be the standard, high-quality 3-color softcover print copy, including everything the PDF has, except in an 8.5"x11" book that you can hold and put on your shelf.
  • Limited Edition Softcover ($30): We will print 100 copies of the book, then hand number and sign them for both pledges and contributors. 90 of these signed and number copies are available for your purchase.
  • Limited Edition Hardcover ($45): We will print 50 HARD COVER copies of the book, then hand number and sign them for both pledges and contributors. Every level from $45 upward include at least one hand-signed and -numbered print copy. 25 of these signed and numbered copies are available at this level.
  • Limited Edition Postcards + Hardcover ($65): We will print 50 HARD COVER copies of the book, then hand number and sign them for both pledges and contributors. Then we will print out the postcards drawn by Jared and designed by Gregory and add them to your pledge. 10 of these signed and number copies are available at this level.
  • Design PC Sheets ($100): Want to run the scenario for your group but don't have the time to get your players engaged with cool props? For this reward I will design a set of up to 6 PC sheets, customized to your descriptions and with your photographs - a great prop to run for your home gaming group.This reward level also includes one copy each of the hand-signed and -numbered printed scenario and PDF for you.
  • Playing the Game Online ($200): I am a huge fan of gaming via Skype (or Google hangouts), and I would like to run this game for you and your friends online. Since I am in California, and the scenario takes 6-8 hours to run, we will need to run in 2 sessions that are moderately reasonable for my time zone. This reward level also includes one copy each of the hand-signed and -numbered printed scenario and PDF for you.
  • Bay Area Game ($300): If you live in or around the San Francisco Bay Area, for this pledge level I will figure out a local place to run the game for you and your crew. Includes one copy of the book and all the other pledge levels.
  • Running the Game In Person ($1800): Finally, I would love to come to visit your gaming group and run He Who Laughs Last for your whole crew. For the highest pledge level, I will fly anywhere in the continental USA and come to your house/apartment/game store, spend the day with your group, and run this game for them. I will also bring six limited edition print copies (and 6 PDFs to hand out), some food and drinks, as well as my gregarious personality.

“Dave ran a fun horror game using the super rules light Cthulhu Dark. It worked well because the mechanics never got in the way of the narrative flow. The clue trail was keenly presented. Additionally, you can expect Dave to not skimp on the horror descriptions and he's an open minded GM who liked it when players get creative and/or try absolutely new solutions.” --- from the desk of Shannon Mac

As of the project launch, I've run the game six times. On February 15-16, 2014, I ran the game twice at DunDraCon in San Ramon, CA.

I also have the game out in two different groups doing blind playtests. Their feedback should come back in around the time the project finishes, so just know that the game continues to be tested.

Why not wait until the project is done and just get the book from DriveThruRPG? A few good reasons, as once the project is done:

  • The basic PDF will cost $8, instead of the $6 it costs here
  • The Digital GM Supplement will cost $7, instead of the $6 it costs here for those who just get the PDF (and it's free for everyone else)
  • The softback book will not available with hand-signing or -numbering
  • The softback book will cost $25 from DTRPG, but shipping will not be included!

 As more stretch goals become available, the value of buying now rises! No better time than the present!!

Risks and challenges

As a professional project manager, I have all the skills and experience necessary to manage this project from kickoff to publication and delivery. I have also brought on some very talented people who I have great faith in their own abilities to deliver.

There are very few risks at this point, as the scenario is written and has been laid out with a cover - I could publish it today as-is and I think you'd get your money's worth. However, since we're not putting it out as-is, there are a few risks we should acknowledge:
- Art: I have been working with amazing outside artists and I want to make sure they have the time to do their best work. Sometimes this takes time.
- Layout: Once all the art and editing is done, we need to layout the whole thing again, include the art, and then convert it to multiple sized PDFs. This will take some time too.
- Printing and shipping: Once the book goes to the printer, we will not only have to get it printed correctly, but then get shipped out to the world. This is the highest risk to the project, and I will keep close tabs on this entire process, updating you as I go.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    CLASS CLOWN: Get the inside scoop on the project by getting access to backer-only updates. You also get a fuzzy feeling in your stomach when the project succeeds, because every little bit helps.

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    Pledge $6 or more About $6

    OPEN MIC NIGHT: Get yourself one copy of the complete scenario, maps, and Cthulhu Dark rules in PDF for your own printing. Available in either Letter and A4 sizes.

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    Pledge $12 or more About $12

    OPENING ACT: You get the PDF for your own printing. Also, not only will we mention your name in the Thank You page in the book, but I will provide a PERSONALIZED thank you on the project page on Weird8.com.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    HEADLINER: First get the PDF. Then get yourself thanked in both the book and online. Finally, get a high-quality softcover of the scenario.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    LATE NIGHT APPEARANCE: Get the PDF as well as the thanks in both the book and online. Then get a hand-numbered (from 100 copies total) and autographed high-quality softcover of the scenario.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    SITCOM: Get the PDF as well as the thanks in both the book and online. Then get a hand-numbered (from 50 copies total) and autographed high-quality HARD COVER of the scenario.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    WALK OF FAME: Get the PDF as well as the thanks in both the book and online. Then get a hand-numbered (from 50 copies total) and autographed high-quality HARD COVER of the scenario. Finally, get a physical copy of all 10 postcards, drawn by Jared Manninen and designed by Gregory Geiger.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    IN THE LIMO: Physical book and PDF, as well as thank yous in the book and site. Then I will customize a set of six character sheets for you and your friends to play the game. You provide pictures and descriptions, and I will do the rest.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    WORLD TOUR: Physical book and PDF, as well as thank yous in the book and site. Also, I will run a game of HWLL on Skype for you and up to five friends (Two sessions totaling 6-8 hours, in a time that works for everyone).

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    WEST COAST REPRESENT: I will drive up to 200 miles and run the game for you and five other players, including a hardcover book, the PDF, and the appropriate thank yous. If you want to meet up at one of the Bay Area conventions (Dundracon, Kublacon, etc.), or just have me come over for the day to run the game for you and your crew, this is the option for you.

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    Pledge $1,800 or more About $1,800

    HOME TOWN PERFORMANCE: I will fly to anywhere in the continental USA to run this scenario for you and your friends at a location of your choice (within reason). Includes a thank you in the book and on the site, and then SIX copies of the limited edition print copy and PDF that I will hand deliver, along with drinks, snacks and my gregarious personality.

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Funding period

- (33 days)