A Cthulhu Christmas, And You’re Welcome


Since Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker is a waste of your time; and since Witcher on Netflix is awesome, but a bit confusing as far as timelines, I thought I’d point you to something fantastic to help pass a little holiday time.

Back in High School, a buddy of mine invited me over to his place with some other folks for a game night. He said we were going to play ‘Call of Cthulhu’, which I knew very little about. I’d had an old collection of Lovecraft stories sitting around for a very long time; but the wordiness of it all, and the slow boil nature wore me down a bit. At least Poe got straight to the blood and guts, right? That’s how I felt then, at least.

However, my buddy turned out to be an excellent game master. The other folks who came got into the spirit of the whole thing. Honestly, it’s been decades since that night; but I remember well a few off-road moments from that night:

There was this mysterious book that drove you insane if you read any of it. I had the idea of ripping off a page and carrying it with us for when people needed to be removed as obstacles. One non-player character wouldn’t let us in somewhere, I recall, shutting the door slot in our face after telling us to bugger off. We knocked until the guy came back to yell at us, then shoved the page in his face. Happily, that worked. Funny, yeah? I also recall setting up a howitzer in the front lawn of a haunted house to await the coming of the undead. Nice.

I unfortunately also remember well how my buddy tried warning me not to have my character go down some stairs. He described the sound of machinery, a grunting sound…I kept going because I was trying to impress his girlfriend and to be funny. He killed me. I think my head got chopped by some kind of trap. His girlfriend was adamant that my friend change his mind; but that was the end for me. However, Cthulhu secured a couch in my happy place.

You should read Tabletop Gaming, by the way. Fantastic magazine. Available electronically. Anyway, that’s where I came across the fact that a company called Chaosium, who publishes Call Of Cthulhu, is putting out solo adventures. Intrigued me. It intrigued me, in fact, because I’ve got teenage kids and a job and a wife with crap to do at the house that steals my free time. The idea of busting out a little RPG-style trip to creep through 1920’s Boston alleyways looking for dark mysteries or taking some potshots at sleeping Old Ones or whatever, well that’s just gravy to someone with as little free time as I have.

Anybody remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? Amazing. These Chaosium solo adventures are basically that, with numbered paragraphs and directions on where to turn based on your choices, but also with a character sheet and dice rolls. The Chaosium rules are super easy and streamlined as well, so not a lot of schlepping through complicated rulebooks or codexes or whatever. Took me about five minutes to have the character written up and to get the skinny on how the rules worked.

Head here for a free one. It’s called ‘Alone Against The Flames’. This one holds your hand so there’s a very smooth ride. Rules are linked here, though you only barely need them, at least for this adventure. Get your blank character sheet here.

I thought I was being pretty conservative; but I’ve died twice now. So I’m not the guy to drop you any hints on how to avoid getting burned as sacrifice for whatever these people are worshiping in this rinky dink little town where you’re going to get stuck. I try not to cheat on these sorts of things. I get that I’m a dork for saying this, but I put a dice roll app on my phone so I could play this on plane trips. That worked pretty well too.

One bonus on the Chaosium materials is they sponsor a place on DriveThru RPG called the Miskatonic Repository. That’s for self-published materials in this same universe, so you can have a go at selling your own stuff there if you like. Or pick up some snazzy ideas for your own campaigns if that’s more your thing.

If you take a look, let me know what you think. If I stay in this much longer, I’ll probably take a shot writing my own solo adventure set in the Salt Mystic universe. I understand Twine is a decent open-source app for writing this sort of thing, and offers a test print version when complete so you could put together something ready to publish. If any of you have tried that, let me know. I’m curious how hard that is.

So Merry Christmas to you guys! I wish you an incredible and prosperous new year. Personally, I’d like to finish my second novel, publish the game we’ve been working on, finish the short story collection, and start the sequel to TEARING DOWN THE STATUES. We’ll see how that goes, right?

See you.

Header art by Francois Baranger.