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Subject: Thematic question: cthulhu rss

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matheus cohen
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Hi,

Recently i was designing one new project and as things were getting into place, a theme really just matched the gameplay too damn well. The cthulhu/lovecraft universe...

Where cultists are trying to bring some entity to our dimension (?) And bringing madness to those who seek the truth...even a big guy sleeping in the middle was there, just like azathoth...

I know these theme questions are really borinh and normally the answer will be 'go with what you want' or 'finish the game first' but this was just not getting out of my mind

Anyway, i have some questions:
1. Knowing lovecraft and some of his works, but not being a expert (not even close to), makes going for this theme a bit risky? As i may not strie those crazy fans, even though i won't do any ridiculous mistake...

2. Is researching further worth it? Or is the theme already too used? I saw a good number of cthulhu games coming recently, and just like zombies, even though they will always have a market, i feel his may be limited/burned right now, am i right?

3. Maybe creating my own universe can be of worth? I'm a good writter (not in english though but that doesn't matter), however the freedom i'll have with characters from my own universe will come in cost of a similar universe but losing the market from cthulhu fans... like trying to sell any 'wizard' story to a harry potter fan, they want potter.


I look forward to any designer and gamer opnion on these...
Sorry for grammar errors, posting via smartphone
 
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Andrew Walters
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You can make up for the lack of expertise by doing some research or bringing onboard someone with that expertise. Cthulhu 101 by Ken Hite is a great start. You can also listen to some episodes of Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff that discuss the Cthulhu mythos. But many, many of the existing Cthulhu games miss the entire point, and I rarely hear that as a condemnation of a game.

As For the topic already being done to death I wouldn't worry. Zombie games keep selling. Some things consumers can't get enough of. If it's a good game and physically attractive you'll only benefit from Cthulhu.

Creating your own universe is a good idea if that's something you want to do and you can make it appealing.

I know these are pretty general answers, but there you go. I'll be eager to hear what other people think.
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matheus cohen
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I already read some lovecraft 101 and do read some from time to time due to real interest, but i'll look more into what you said, it seems interesting.
Bringing someone aboard i also thought of, but isn't something i can do as lovecraft is not known around here

I do want to make my game really fit on the lovecraft universe, not just some theme that made sense, and for that i need some more understanding.

I may try to create my own universe and later see how appealing and non-derivative it may be.


 
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Francisco Gutierrez
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Blech. The Cthulhu mythos has always been something writers were able to take from and contribute to. Look at the collaborations Lovecraft did and then the crossovers with Bloch.

Better yet, look at how much Derleth expanded upon the mythos or at the stuff that Lovecraft borrowed himself.

Even better, look at how much of the "Cthulhu mythos" is actually stuff written for RPGs and games. TSR and Chaosium have contributed far more to the Cthulhu mythos than most people think.

My point is unless you are studying Lovecraft, don't worry about hitting the mark exactly. The fact there are dozens of way to say "Cthulhu" * means that this isn't an exact science.

TLDR; close enough is good enough for the Cthulhu mythos. just don't flaunt how much you know then get things wrong in your game.

-Francisco

*Lovecraft is quoted as saying "two-lieu" which sounds awful. Stick with chaosium's "kuh-Thule-ooh"
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John Anderson
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Lovecrafts stories are generally very short. Read some of them. You could probably get through a dozen in a couple of days and your take will be more original than rehashing someone else's take on the mythos. Mountains of Madness is approx 100 pages give or take and that's a long one. Its a really good story though. You'll be surprised at how many original works are based heavily on Lovecraft.
 
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tecocohen wrote:
I already read some lovecraft 101 and do read some from time to time due to real interest, but i'll look more into what you said, it seems interesting.
Bringing someone aboard i also thought of, but isn't something i can do as lovecraft is not known around here

I do want to make my game really fit on the lovecraft universe, not just some theme that made sense, and for that i need some more understanding.

I may try to create my own universe and later see how appealing and non-derivative it may be.




What would be unique, and show more insight and truly interest me would be bringing in something actually Lovecraftian. Do you know anything about this man? His life is fascinating. Who he was and what he thought, what he went through, who raised him, where, his health, his loves, his... I could go on. Read his letters and the letters of those who knew him. Now THERE would be a cool twist to the entire "theme" of Cthulhu. Make it a Lovecraftian Mythos, not a Cthulhu one- the Cthulhu stuff is so adulterated by hack ideas executed by writers unworthy to shine Lovecraft's shoes let alone attempt to write about his ideas!

You would certainly have something a lot less derivative, and might even blaze a trail.

Uh... IMHO.

Re-read the opening, mundane pages of "At the Mountains of Madness" before all hell breaks loose. Think about if you could have written something half as well, half as informed, and half as interesting before the real crap hits the fan! It's incredibly well written and full of actual contemporary (cutting edge for the time) ideas that would have required the author to know his stuff in the current thinking world before he ever even thought to put pen to paper!
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Andrew Walters
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Lovecraft's pieces are short, but very dense. I don't think I could read a dozen in a couple days even if I read ones I've read before.

I'm also coming to believe that just because something is excellent literature doesn't mean you're going to like it. If you don't like Lovecraft, that's all - it doesn't mean he's not great, it doesn't mean you're a slack-jawed troglodyte. He's just not your cup of tea.

So try Call of Cthulhu, Mountains of Madness, then maybe Shadow Out Of Time, Shadow Over Innsmouth, or The Dunwich Horror. Don't read Herbert West, because it's terrible, or The Doom That Came To Sarnath, because you'll just read it over and over and never get anything else done.
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Shaed Keper
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I love Lovecraft themed games, but as a consumer, I'm interested in the overarching theme, not just the name Cthulhu. A game based around cultists raising unimaginable alien entities whatever the cost to humanity will pique my interest whether it's called 'Awakening Cthulhu' or 'Unhallowed Rites'. So I think you could comfortably create your own mythos that explores the same themes and still get plenty of interest in your finished game.

I definitely recommend reading some of Lovecrafts works, though. You can actually find audiobook readings of them on youtube, which are very good. I'd recommend The Colour Out of Space, The Dunwich Horror, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and the BBC production of The Shadow over Innsmouth.

To give more specific answers to your actual questions:
1. I don't think Lovecraft fans tend towards rabidness the way fans of more modern media do. Accuracy will be seen as a pleasant bonus, inaccuracy won't be seen as some slight against the original works. You could even create your own mythos, and just include one or two references to Lovecraft's mythos, and I think most Lovecraft fans would love that.

2. I don't think the theme is overused. I own multiple Cthulhu-themed games and still have plenty more on my buy list. However, you won't be able to coast on 'brand' alone - your game will need to bring something new to the subgenre of 'Lovecraft-themed games'. No one needs a rehash of Arkham Horror

3. I don't believe that Lovecraft fans are similar to Harry Potter fans in this way. I think that Lovecraft fans, by and large, want something that makes them feel the same way Lovecraft's works make them feel, not a remake of his work in board game form.
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matheus cohen
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okok, so i finally have the time to answer you guys zombie thnx for all the replies...

First thing i want to say after reading a few comments...did i sounded like i was better than lovecraft in anyway?? if so, i'm sorry, i'm not even near of a writer he was...but i did read some of his works and now a bit about him, but as pointed out, i'll delve further into his world even if i choose to go for another theme

now, back to action:

joetaco wrote:

My point is unless you are studying Lovecraft, don't worry about hitting the mark exactly. The fact there are dozens of way to say "Cthulhu" * means that this isn't an exact science.

TLDR; close enough is good enough for the Cthulhu mythos. just don't flaunt how much you know then get things wrong in your game.

-Francisco


i got your point, it's a pretty open book, and even h.p himself didn't make his work clear i look around and found out that even people that are lovecraft hardcores think that his work was a bit of a blur when it comes to universal cohesion lol

about the flaunt thing...i'm sorry if i sounded like i knew much, cause i don't but thnx for the advice!


Dearmad wrote:

What would be unique, and show more insight and truly interest me would be bringing in something actually Lovecraftian. Do you know anything about this man? His life is fascinating. Who he was and what he thought, what he went through, who raised him, where, his health, his loves, his... I could go on. Read his letters and the letters of those who knew him. Now THERE would be a cool twist to the entire "theme" of Cthulhu. Make it a Lovecraftian Mythos, not a Cthulhu one- the Cthulhu stuff is so adulterated by hack ideas executed by writers unworthy to shine Lovecraft's shoes let alone attempt to write about his ideas!

You would certainly have something a lot less derivative, and might even blaze a trail.

Uh... IMHO.

Re-read the opening, mundane pages of "At the Mountains of Madness" before all hell breaks loose. Think about if you could have written something half as well, half as informed, and half as interesting before the real crap hits the fan! It's incredibly well written and full of actual contemporary (cutting edge for the time) ideas that would have required the author to know his stuff in the current thinking world before he ever even thought to put pen to paper!


i think that his letters are the real twist to his world, i like those, but i don't think i can really make this game into lovecraft itself(if that's what you meant) as it is indeed about overlords/beings/gods being summoned by cults, but a history about the true mind of a man of madness is indeed something worth of game-making...i'll keep this one in the notes devil

i'm sorry if i sounded like i could write something even half as good as his lol but the way he gets you into his world even before the crazy stuff start to happens is indeed out of this world.

andreww wrote:

So try Call of Cthulhu, Mountains of Madness, then maybe Shadow Out Of Time, Shadow Over Innsmouth, or The Dunwich Horror. Don't read Herbert West, because it's terrible, or The Doom That Came To Sarnath, because you'll just read it over and over and never get anything else done.


half done, half noted, will get to then later today! thnx for the advice!

sharnofshade wrote:
I love Lovecraft themed games, but as a consumer, I'm interested in the overarching theme, not just the name Cthulhu. A game based around cultists raising unimaginable alien entities whatever the cost to humanity will pique my interest whether it's called 'Awakening Cthulhu' or 'Unhallowed Rites'. So I think you could comfortably create your own mythos that explores the same themes and still get plenty of interest in your finished game.

I definitely recommend reading some of Lovecrafts works, though. You can actually find audiobook readings of them on youtube, which are very good. I'd recommend The Colour Out of Space, The Dunwich Horror, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and the BBC production of The Shadow over Innsmouth.

To give more specific answers to your actual questions:
1. I don't think Lovecraft fans tend towards rabidness the way fans of more modern media do. Accuracy will be seen as a pleasant bonus, inaccuracy won't be seen as some slight against the original works. You could even create your own mythos, and just include one or two references to Lovecraft's mythos, and I think most Lovecraft fans would love that.

2. I don't think the theme is overused. I own multiple Cthulhu-themed games and still have plenty more on my buy list. However, you won't be able to coast on 'brand' alone - your game will need to bring something new to the subgenre of 'Lovecraft-themed games'. No one needs a rehash of Arkham Horror

3. I don't believe that Lovecraft fans are similar to Harry Potter fans in this way. I think that Lovecraft fans, by and large, want something that makes them feel the same way Lovecraft's works make them feel, not a remake of his work in board game form.


let's start by the answers

1. thnx, that's actually a bit of a relief, i think that this gives me more free room to design.

2. That's also another relief , i do think i take a different take on the game and i'll talk about it in a sec.

3. sorry, it's not the fans itself...let's go for something a bit less thematic for analogies: if someone offered you a pile of silver...you would think that's awesome, but if you had a pile of gold, that pile of silver wouldn't be as much interesting, even if it was good, it's not gold so if i made a universe similar to lovecrafts, but not even near as good, people wouldn't be much interested(my opinion at least)...but i'll think about your point


now, back to the rest of your comment, the game is around the cultist raising beings lol Cthulhu would be just another being....let me talk about the game a bit, and everyone can see if the game fits the theme well...i'm pretty sure i saw this mechanic somewhere else in somegame, just hope it wasn't on a cthulhu game...

rushed non-thematic idea:
A overlord being is waking up, and about to destroy the universe...with his first signals of awakening, rifts and portals started appearing around the mundane world, and massive cults, of people who went mad by looking at the truth, started gathering around this portals.

each of this cults is worshiping a deity(like cthulhu), and trying to bring him to earth before the allmight overlord awakes and destroys everything(why is this, i didn't think of yet, maybe just so the cult's deity can destroy the world first lol).



the game would be played on this board, the green cards are spaces where you can play cultists(anyone can play as many cultists as you like in any space) and a single lesser god(only one, if there is already one there in that space from another player, you cannot play unless you play one with a higher 'power).
This space where the green cards are will be rotating 1 space everyturn, like a clock, and you would only(normally) have acess to the 3 in front of you.
Using the cultists in front of you and the lesser gods, you may try to amass bigger number of cultists...
in the center you will have a red card, that won't ever rotate, that card is the major god that you want to summon, in his card will be 3 patterns like 'having a lesser god in space 3 and 4 and 3 cultists in 2 and 5' that would grant you a effect, and if you can use 2 patterns in a single turn you summon it, do a major effect and end the game.

the blue in the middle is the overlord, if the board rotate enough times, he awakens and everybody dies, if certain patterns are met, you count as another rotation...so this creates a bit of a cooperative feeling...

i have really rushed out this description as i'm running out of time again, i'll edit it soon...but that would be the general gameplay...

the flow of game would be of people 'helping' other cults by playing his cults under other players influence but later on using those same cultists to back stab...you would also try to complete your patterns while not letting players finish theirs and noone wants to see the overlord alive...
i'll explain more later..

sorry for some grammar erros, i'm really rushing here!!! thnx for all advices!
 
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Francisco Gutierrez
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tecocohen wrote:

joetaco wrote:

...just don't flaunt how much you know then get things wrong in your game.
-Francisco

i got your point, it's a pretty open book, and even h.p himself didn't make his work clear i look around and found out that even people that are lovecraft hardcores think that his work was a bit of a blur when it comes to universal cohesion lol
about the flaunt thing...i'm sorry if i sounded like i knew much, cause i don't but thnx for the advice!


Sorry if you thought that was a jab at you. I was alluding to a particular type of person. Someone who has read some Lovecraft and thinks of it as an immutable, perfect thing.

The fact you recognize that even to Lovecraft the mythos was mutable means you are on the right track.
 
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Justin R
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andreww wrote:

Zombie games keep selling. Some things consumers can't get enough of. If it's a good game and physically attractive you'll only benefit from Cthulhu.


Agreed. I frequently felt Zombie games were done to death, and would roll my eyes at every mention of a new one.

Only then did Dead of Winter drop.

A good game is a good game.
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matheus cohen
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joetaco wrote:
tecocohen wrote:

joetaco wrote:

...just don't flaunt how much you know then get things wrong in your game.
-Francisco

i got your point, it's a pretty open book, and even h.p himself didn't make his work clear i look around and found out that even people that are lovecraft hardcores think that his work was a bit of a blur when it comes to universal cohesion lol
about the flaunt thing...i'm sorry if i sounded like i knew much, cause i don't but thnx for the advice!


Sorry if you thought that was a jab at you. I was alluding to a particular type of person. Someone who has read some Lovecraft and thinks of it as an immutable, perfect thing.

The fact you recognize that even to Lovecraft the mythos was mutable means you are on the right track.


More like a uppercut whistle but it's all good man, i had already understood your point...and i do tend to be like time from time to time, even though i ALWAYS make mistakes even when i'm a 'expert' at said subject.

Nice to be right devil thnx


About zombies...
I always felt like they are more of the same, rarely i see one that makes the differencd, and i do see a lot of open room for some innovations on this theme. I'm doing one myself...i never saw a game where you were actually the zombi horde (not a zombie overlord, but the horde itself), the same feeling as zombid tsunami(ios/android ap) of course with different objective/gameplay/idea.
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matheus cohen
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Hey guys, to the more familiar with the cult, even though it's not a exact science, how do you feel about separating things like this:

Lesser beings, with small instant effects: e.g. hound of tindalos: you play it, it eat some cultists, it's discarded.

Ancient ones, bigger effects that stay on the board, but with less difficulty to summon than the major gods: tulzscha: use a simple pattern to summon, every feel turns it 'burns' (destroy) most cultists near.

The major gods, like cthulhu, which are the main objective of your cult, summoning it needs 2 out of 3 patterns in a turn, resulting in a instant major effect and then end game: e.g.
yomagn'tho: has 3 patterns of medium/hard difficulty that would grant effects like destroying a lot more than tulzscha, if summoned, burns even more and ends the game(doesn't mean he won).


I did this as a quick sketch, not sure if i can call yomagn'tho superior to tulzscha, as i barely even researched both, just used them for some quick sketches....
Anyway, does this kind of separation seens acceptable?
 
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Andrew Walters
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That will work great. It's also a pretty close description of how The Stars Are Right does it. You can look at the games web page at http://www.sjgames.com/starsareright/ and download the rules and see some cards. This is a good employment of the mythos as theme.
 
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tecocohen wrote:
The major gods, like cthulhu

Cthulhu is "merely" a Great Old One, a priest for the gods; they are beings on a cosmic scale, like Yog-Sothoth and Azathoth.
 
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matheus cohen
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JadedGamer wrote:
tecocohen wrote:
The major gods, like cthulhu

Cthulhu is "merely" a Great Old One, a priest for the gods; they are beings on a cosmic scale, like Yog-Sothoth and Azathoth.


Really? I know azathoth, yog and a few other really outscales him by far but i though i could call it a major one...
I was using other games as reference as well and he usually appears with the big ones, but that may be just out of popularity...

Can you guys recomend any 'major' ones? I need 10 and most of the overpowered are described as mist, formless 'slime', or a ball of meat



 
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matheus cohen
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andreww wrote:

That will work great. It's also a pretty close description of how The Stars Are Right does it. You can look at the games web page at http://www.sjgames.com/starsareright/ and download the rules and see some cards. This is a good employment of the mythos as theme.


Thnx! I'll take a look!

I also think this is a good employment as the patterns for summoning, tash-kallar style, alwaya remenber me those weird ritualistic summoning circles


Yeah, the stars are right remenbers me of this, but just the pattern idea (which already isn't something i created so...whatsver lol), gladly it wans't the rotation/clock idea....i do think that mine is different in the point that the game will have more weight in placing the cultists as they will soon fill the whole board so you can start the rituals
 
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John Anderson
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I agree with this. I love Steven King and Anne Rice stories but their writing styles make reading them incredibly difficult for me. It took me six tries to get through the first 100 pages of The Stand.
I took a college course in Lovecraft literature so I didn't have a choice but I didn't mind his style and the world he creates is phenomenal.
 
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matheus cohen
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John Anderson wrote:
I agree with this. I love Steven King and Anne Rice stories but their writing styles make reading them incredibly difficult for me. It took me six tries to get through the first 100 pages of The Stand.
I took a college course in Lovecraft literature so I didn't have a choice but I didn't mind his style and the world he creates is phenomenal.


sorry for the probably dumb question but, what exactly do you agree with?
also, as you seem to have some knowledge on the subject, do you have any opnions on what i have spoken about the game idea so far?




anyway guys, i decided to delve further in the mythos and go for it, i already did a pretty good prototype and started playtesting:

I was playing a 2p game with a team member, the poker chips indicate the cultists, they will be wooden cubs later but i ran out of them.
he was playing with Yig and i with Cthulhu. the yellow cards where some entities like spawns of chutlhu, a little bigger ones like Nyctelios, and even a university
even though we are only 2p, which makes the power struggle less visible, you can see that in various locations we fight over majority as normally having more cultists in a space means that is now 'your cult'.

I already have rules for 3p and 2p games variations but i couldn't test it at the time, i also changed the cards just to take a picture as the cards with things written were really messy.

The game is basically either no-one wins in the variable time frame, or someone wins by having the most points(madness), so even if i summon cthulhu and he gives me a lot of points by being summoned, after all the calculations my opponent may have more followers and thus bringing more madness to the world(and win).

I tried to bring a different feeling for each entity, like nyctelios(i haven't read the story he was in, just internet articles) who is is a weaker state(grating less points) but at the end of the game if he is on the board, he will awaken as a giant ciclop(giving a loooot of points).

The major gods will also have different gameplay styles, like Shub-niggurath will bring his 10(00) dark youngs, having massive super powered followers and Hydra(from Henry Kuttner not mother hydra) who acts like those slow-starting late-game monsters, she starts small and as the game goes by she absorbs lesser entities becoming stronger and stronger.

i'm struggling with some things like the card draft but i'll create another post for it later, i think in a week or 2 i can create a WIP and a PNP(the game will have only 70 cards plus cubs and the board, is something doable...i guess )

do you guys have any tips for name? i'm also stuck at that...also, any ideas for gods and what could they do would be very welcomed meeple
 
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