Three Yellow Sign Inspired Adventures for the Call of Cthulhu RPG
Curse of the Yellow Sign is a trilogy of stand-alone adventures for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, inspired by the weird stories of Robert W. Chambers, the creator of The King in Yellow.
Each adventure is an “Act” in a greater play. A slow revelation of the greater, wicked universe.
The scenarios contain no blasphemous books, no monsters, no cultists and no Library Use rolls. Only ordinary humans confronted with the true nature of the universe. Each adventure is designed to be played in a single evening with limited preparation and maximum impact, filled with the kind of ruthless game master techniques and advice you'd expect from me.
While previously released as PDFs, all three Acts have been revised, expanded and updated with even more cool and scary stuff. We've incorporated years of play experience. We are also able to redesign the visual look and feel of the book with new illustrations and designs.
Also, for the first time, the book contains Unnamable, a new Lovecraftian-style roleplaying system designed by John Wick along with conversion notes for each adventure. I designed Unnamable because I wanted a Lovecraftian system that better fit my own GM style. While I am a life-long fan of the Call of Cthulhu game, Unnamable is a more narrative system, focusing on the choices and sacrifices characters make in Lovecraftian fiction.
Why the Yellow Sign?
While most Lovecraftian games and adventures focus on the pulp style of story (looking for clues, solving puzzles, deciphering old books), Curse of the Yellow Sign focuses on something different. I love the kind of "weird tale" that inspired Lovecraft in the first place and I wanted to write adventures that were like them. Stories meant to make the reader feel a sense of dread and unease. Presenting a mad world that seemed out to get them. There are no clues to uncover, no puzzles to solve. Just the horror of a universe that looks down upon them... and laughs.
The concept of a book that drives the reader mad started with The King in Yellow. The blasphemous, cursed play that caused riots and murders, that was banned in France after a single performance. I loved the concept of an idea that could kill. An idea passed on from one mind to the other. And with that concept, I ironed out the trilogy of adventures that makes up Curse of the Yellow Sign.
Act I: Digging for a Dead God
In May of 1939, somewhere in the jungles of Africa, a small band of soldiers have stumbled across something ancient. Something terrible.
And they are about to suffer the consequences.
In Act I, the players take the roles of soldiers during World War II in Africa. They unlock, and thus, unleash a dangerous idea that takes the form of a German folk tale and slowly drives the soldiers mad.
Digging for a Dead God contains:
- 1 map
- 6 pre-generated characters
- Tons of advice and playtest notes
Act II: Calling the King
At the turn of the century
In an abandoned hotel
In the dead darkness of winter
Six actors sit to read a cursed play
In Act II, a famous theater and movie director puts together a cast for the reading of The King in Yellow. He has an ulterior motive... but then again, so does the play.
Calling the King contains:
- 6 pre-generated and illustrated characters
- Excerpts from Act 1 of The King in Yellow
- Theories on the ever-mercurial, seemingly shapeshifting play
- Tons of advice and playtest notes
- Map of the hotel
Act III: Archimedes VII
Archimedes 7 is a colony ship traveling form our solar system to a distant world. A small piece of tin protecting its inhabitants from the dangers of the void.
But the real danger is already inside the ship.
We've been to the past, to the present, and now we reach the future where the horrors that have been unlocked finally reach out to the stars.
Archimedes 7 contains:
- a map of the ship
- 6 pre-generated characters
- Tons of advice and playtest notes
Want to See the Adventures?
John Wick Presents published all three Acts previously. This new physical edition has a new layout, new art, more material, new GM advice notes and a ton of more stuff. But if you'd like to see the original PDFs, you can do so here:
Want to See Unnamable?
Unnamable is one of my Little Games (like Cat, Eldritch High and The Flux). It's a game of unspeakable Lovecraftian horror, kind of a Call of Cthulhu-heartbreaker.
Since it was first published in Wicked Words Magazine, it's undergone a few changes (some thanks to podcaster/game designer Rob Justice). You'll see those updates and changes in Curse of the Yellow Sign.
In the game, your character sheet has two sides: a Sanity side and a Madness side. In order to deal with the eldritch horrors of the world, you trade traits from the Sanity side of your character sheet for the benefits of the Madness side.
If you'd like to see the original version of Unnamable (before the updates), go ahead and click here. (It's a g-drive doc.)
For those of you who help us bring Curse of the Yellow Sign to life, we have a bunch of rewards!
CULTIST - $10
You receive the PDF of the book: all three adventures and maps. You also receive PDFs of all our stretch goals.
PRIEST OF THE YELLOW SIGN - $20 Everything in Cultist, but you also receive a physical copy of the book! 6" x 9", black and white, color cover. All three adventures and maps.
RETAILER - $30 For Retailers Only! You receive three paperback copies of CotYS for your store.
HIGH PRIEST OF HASTUR - $40
You receive everything in Priest of the Yellow Sign, plus a set of Yellow Sign Dice! A d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 and d%.
WATCHER IN THE DARKNESS - $40 In addition to the PDFs, you receive a HARD BOUND COPY of the book.
MASTER OF THE YELLOW SIGN - $60
You get all the PDFs, a HARD BOUND copy of the book plus a set of Yellow Sign Dice!
UNSPEAKABLE - $80
You receive a HARD BOUND copy of the book, a set of YELLOW SIGN DICE and PHYSICAL COPIES OF ALL THREE 11"x17" MAPS, one for each adventure!
We will release fragments of the King in Yellow as stretch goals, each one a small part of the play with some notes from the sources we’ve uncovered. Just like a Lovecraftian narrator, we will slowly discover the truth behind the cursed pages. And as our progress grows, the dreaded horror will follow.
Fragments will be from different sources. Some will be in English, others in French, and a few... there's no telling where they came from. Mysteries abound.
When collected together, we may get a glimpse of the vision that burned down a theater in Paris and caused the play to be banned in so many countries. We may piece together the truth behind the madness. We may complete something awful.
All pages will be written by John Wick and designed by Jessica Kauspedas (World of Dew, Blood & Honor, Wicked Fantasy, Play Dirty). Although, depending on how things go, we may get some guests involved… secret knowledge comes from strange sources.
We will release the Fragments as PDFs for all $10+ backers. If you’re part of the project, you’ll be exposed to the whole damned thing.
UNLOCKED! The First Fragment ($3,177) - The Castaigne Fragment
Burned pages from the 1895 Paris production reveal a story about a decadent court facing the end of the world, a collection of unnamed nobles flirting with the darkness. Is this the opening act? Scholars disagree on whether this addition is authentic or made by a clumsy con artist.
UNLOCKED! The Second Fragment ($4,345) - The Castro Street Production
In 1972, an experimental San Francisco theater known for risque and difficult works attempted a production of the play. Pages discovered within the walls of the abandoned theater years later speak of a figure named Touissant who warns the court of an impending threat. What drew these Castro Street activists to these pages?
UNLOCKED! The Third Fragment ($5,444) - The Unfilmable Pilot (by Rob Justice)
In the late 1980's, a major premium cable channel decided it wanted to expand it's lineup of original content with a horror anthology television series. One of the treatments was found so offensive that the executives ordered the script burned. What happened after that first commercial break? And whatever happened it the script's writer, Jack Scott?
UNLOCKED! The Fourth Fragment ($6,525) - The Gintong Alay Project (by Tobie Abad)
In 1981, a tiny high school in the Philippines somehow got a hold of the play and attempted to localize it for a class production. Calling it Gintong Alay (Golden Offering), the production never finished its first staging. The subsequent tragedy leading to the gruesome suicides was then blacked out of any media coverage. Remnants of the research conducted by Rolando Gabriel and his documentary team have been found after their subsequent disappearance while investigating the said event.
UNLOCKED! The Fifth Fragment ($7,662) - The Hollister/Carcosa Text
Montclair, MN. Feb. 22, 1968: When investigators arrested Ralph Hollister under suspicion of a number of killings, they found a hidden room under his home. The word "Carcosa" was written on the door leading to the room and the tiny chamber was a place of absolute horror. Among the items recovered were thousands of pages in a barely legible scrawl. But a few of those pages were different. A different hand-writing, a different voice entirely...
UNLOCKED! The Sixth Fragment ($8,433) - The Ladero Mass Grave (by Mark Diaz Truman)
In 2007, immigration officers find a mass grave on the US/Mexican border. The bodies appear to be both immigrants and members of a prominent drug cartel. Among the documents discovered is journal detailing the journey. Stuck in the middle of the journal are the pages of the play. What happened here? And why is a Mexican national carrying the pages of the play, buried alongside dozens of other bodies on the Mexican border?
UNLOCKED! The Seventh Fragment ($9,238) - The Jacques Ferrand Fragment
Pages found in physician Jacques Ferrand's own personal journal in which he was compelled to record a patient's "poetry". The patient's identity is unclear but experts suspect her to be a young and immature Charlotte-Marie de Lorraine. The cast of characters is revealed through the young patient's madness, and the erotic tone is undeniably disturbing.
UNLOCKED! The Eighth Fragment ($10, 253) - The Kaifeck Papers (by Benjamin Woerner)
Kaifeck, Germany: On the evening of Friday, March 31st, 1922 the six inhabitants of the Hinterkaifeck Farm, roughly 70km north of Munich, in Southern Germany, were murdered with a mattock. The farmer, Andreas Gruber, his wife Claudia, their widowed daughter Victoria, her two children Josef, Cazilia, and the maid Maria Baumgartner were all killed in the barn in a gruesome manner.
It wasn’t until they discovered a series of pages from a play written in a stranger’s hand, letters written by Victoria’s husband, killed in the trenches of France after his supposed death, and a series of drawings in the childrens’ room and in the barn that the true horror of Hinterkaifeck began to reveal itself.
UNLOCKED! The Ninth Fragment ($11, 444) - Fallon's Ballet
Sergei Fallon's ballet, A Stranger in Carcosa, made its way to the stage despite many tragic setbacks. The production never made it to the stage but his notes reveal much about both the cursed play and his troubles.
UNLOCKED! The Tenth Fragment ($12, 532) - A True and Accurate Account & Fragments of the King Paperback!
In 1544, Abraham Trask published his book, A True and Accurate Account of the Cursed Play, wherein the Author Views The Visitor to Carcosa and Those Whom Lay Claim of Witchcraft. While all copies of the book seemed destroyed when James I took the Crown of England, a few pages escaped the fire. These pages demonstrate the existence of a play strangely similar to The King in Yellow suggesting it pre-dates the presumed author.
If we hit this stretch goal, we unlock the Fragments of the King Ad On! ($15 + $5 Shipping for International Orders)
Do you want a physical copy of Fragments of the King? A small book that collects all ten fragments? Well, you can! For just $15 (plus $5 shipping for international orders), we'll send you a physical copy of the book collecting all ten fragments!
And more to be revealed...
All pages will be written by John Wick and designed by Jessica Kauspedas (World of Dew, Blood & Honor, Wicked Fantasy, Play Dirty). Although, depending on how things go, we may get some guests involved...
We will release the Fragments as PDFs for all $10+ backers.
When we reach a sufficient number, all fragments released as stretch goals will be collected in a bound volume, Fragments of the King. The physical book will be made available to backers as an Add On and all backers receive a PDF of the book.
We may also find other systems for the adventures as future Stretch Goals.
Dice Add On! ($20)
Okay, you asked for it, so let's do it!
If you want to get an extra pair of dice or just add it in to your PDF order, you can do that.
You get a full set: d4, d6 (custom), d8, d10 (custom), d12, d20 and d%. The d6 and d10 have the Yellow Sign as 6's.
Fragments of the King Add On! ($15 + $5 International Shipping)
A small book that collects all ten fragments? Well, you can! For just $15 (plus $5 shipping for international orders), we'll send you a physical copy of the book collecting all ten fragments!
Risks and challenges
This is our sixth Kickstarter project. We're familiar with the ins and outs of publishing and with this project, we're already nearly finished. All the writing has been done. We'll be doing new layout and new art which will take a little time, but both our designer and artist are people we've worked with before.
The biggest wait will be the dice: they always take the longest to make, but our manufacturer is one of the best in the business and we've worked with them on two other projects.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)