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The Madness of Cthulhu

Page history last edited by Talath 11 years, 11 months ago

The Madness of Cthulhu, by Orion Cooper    


The Madness of Cthulhu is a simple board game of insanity, extraplanar horror, non-euclidean geometry, and terrifying vistas into the universe beyond our sight and understanding. It is for 2 to 4 players.


The Board



The Plot


You assume the role of a brilliant and self-destructively curious scholar who has stumbled upon things man was never meant to know. You and your colleagues have found and are exploring an ancient city that predates all living life by millions of years: it is the single most revolutionary discovery in the entirety of human history! However, your delvings into these vistas of madness have attracted strange and alien horrors who seek to devour you in entirety. Your sense of self-preservation, which is more keen than your fondness of your colleagues, has given you the ability to summon these horrors as you try to escape the cyclopean and maze-like city of the Elder Ones. Will you tell anyone what you saw? Will anyone believe you? Is the world ready for these revelations? These questions are beyond the scope of the game.


The Rules


Each player rolls a six-sided die (abbreviated hereafter as 1d6). The player with the highest roll takes the first turn. If there is one or more player with tying rolls, than the tying players will roll a 1d6 until one of them produces the highest result, in which case, that player will take the first turn. Note which player has rolled the lowest result; if there is a tie, resolve the tie as stated above. This player controls the Predator die.


Each player places an icon representing their character on the first space.  The player with the first turn must now must make a decision: to move, to wait, or to summon a horror. Once the player has decided and executed his action, that player's turn is over, and the next player to act will be the player on the left of the previous player, and each player will take their turn in clock-wise fashion. 


For a detailed account how a turn is conducted, read the Order of Play section described below.




If the current player chooses to move his icon, he than places the icon on the space adjacent to the icon's current space, moving downward on the board each time.




If the current player chooses to wait, his icon does not move. However, if there is a monster token within 3 squares of the icon, the player accrues one Insanity point for waiting.


Summon a Horror


Through dark magic and rites, you forego to move and instead use unnatural magic to summon a cthonic horror. Roll two six-sided dice (2d6). Place a monster token on the square corresponding with the result you have just rolled. If there is a monster token already present on the square, reroll, doing so until you achieve a result in which there is no monster token on the corresponding square.


The Predator Die


The Predator Die determines how much time elapses until monster tokens start persuing the scholars. On the 2nd turn, the player in control of the predator die rolls the die. Place the result of the roll face up on the table. At the end of each turn, subtract one from the current predator die result, and update the upward face of the die to reflect the new result.


When the predator die reaches 0, place a monster token on the first available square, skipping squares that are occupied with monster tokens if need be. Re roll the predator die. The process described in the previous paragraph repeats itself, until all squares are filled with monster tokens.


Monster Tokens


Monster Tokens are placed on squares as times wears on, and whenever another player chooses to summon a horror on his turn. Monster Tokens represent dangerous alien entities who may destroy your sanity or kill you. 


If a turn is finished and your icon is on a square with a monster token placed there, roll a 1d6. If you roll a 1, your scholar suffers no ill effects.


If you roll a result between 2 and 5, you accrue 1 Insanity point. If you accrue 6 Insanity points in total, your icon is immediately removed from the board, and you lose.


If you roll a 6, your scholar has died, and you remove your icon from the board immediately. You have lost the game.


Order of Play


0. If this is the 2nd turn, than roll the predator die and place the upward facing result in a prominent position on the game board (but out of the way of the squares). This skip can be stepped after the 2nd turn.


1. If the predator die was adjusted to 0 on the previous turn, place a monster token on the first available square. Reroll the predator die and place the result face up.


2. The player must make a decision for his scholar: to move, to wait, or to summon a horror.


3. Once the player has made his decision, he announces and executes the decision (moves one square, does not move, or rolls 2d6 to find where to place the monster token).


4. If you are using the Fighting optional rule, you would do that at this step.


5. If, at this step, the scholar is on a square with a monster token, he rolls a die and consults the consequences, as described in the Monster Tokens section (above).


6. Subtract 1 from the current predator die result and adjust the upward facing number to reflect this change.


7. The player's turn has finished. Repeat these steps with the next player in a clockwise fashion.


Victory Condition


If your scholar reaches the last square on the game board, or your icon is the only icon on the game board, you have won.


Optional Rules


Fighting: If your icon lands on a square with a monster token, or a monster token is placed on the square where your icon is currently situation, you may attempt to fight the monster instead of accruing an Insanity point. Roll a 1d6; if you roll a result of 6, you defeat the monster, and the monster token is removed before you accrue an Insanity point. If you roll a result between 1 and 5, your scholar dies in the battle, and you lose.



Comments (10)

Bryan Suchenski said

at 5:33 pm on Jun 30, 2009

Wow, Cthulu's pretty awesome and all, but might this be a bit much for a 15 minutes race-to-the-finish game?

ndef said

at 6:17 pm on Jun 30, 2009

@Bryan How do you mean? There aren't any rules posted yet, so it's hard to know what to think about this particular game, but you seem to be saying that this theming (the dramatic elements, if you will) can't be made to work in a race-to-the-finish context. I'd argue just the opposite. I think many Lovecraftian stories involve a panicked, desperate desire to escape that probably lends itself well to this sort of gameplay.

Curious to see what you come up with, Orion.

Talath said

at 10:33 pm on Jun 30, 2009

I consider it a success in that the writing and rule development took a total of approximately 15 minutes (rounding up for posterity); I consider the game board and tokens superfluous, and not necessary, though nice touches.

jason@greenodesign.com said

at 10:35 pm on Jun 30, 2009

Intriguing theme choice. Nice game board.

Talath said

at 10:39 pm on Jun 30, 2009

Thanks for the comments ndef and jason!

MTN said

at 12:21 am on Jul 1, 2009

I think this game will be quite short because it seems very easy for the scholars to lose sanity or die.

Dan Carreker (NarrativeDesigns.com) said

at 4:08 am on Jul 1, 2009

Very cool board, fits perfectly with the theme.

The only thing is, if you could somehow change it to, "Monster Tokens do no harm to _your scholar_, but they chip away at _the player's_ sanity," it would qualify as a lot more Cthulish IMHO, ;)

Dave Seidner said

at 5:10 pm on Jul 1, 2009

Nice board art and components! Well done!

Pedro "xeoncat" Miranda said

at 8:23 pm on Jul 2, 2009

your plot made me giggle. very well written ;)

Talath said

at 10:11 pm on Jul 2, 2009

Thank you :)

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