I won a copy of Cthulhu Dice at a con, and it's become an obsession to try and find an actual use for this goofy die covered in Cthulhoid iconography, given that CD, as a game, ain't that hot. So I figured hey, what game appreciates a good bit of randomness and occasional hilarious unfairness better than 2210? So here's a new threat to add to your amoebas and zombies and alien conquerors, the mythos cults, with the twist that it's quite possible (and occasionally beneficial) to coexist with them. Right up until ol' tentacle-face eats you.
Setup: Draw a number of land territories equal to the number of players, or a minimum of 3, after all players have claimed their territories but before the 3-unit fortification begins. Place a cult marker on each territory thus drawn. Cult markers coexist with any units in a territory, and have no effect on that army until the end of the year. No territory can ever have more than one cult marker.
Roll: At the end of each year, roll the Cthulhu die.
Yellow Sign: Spread. Cults attempt to spread to adjacent territories.
Tentacle: Seduce. Cults attempt to seduce units both in their own territories and in adjacent occupied territories.
Elder Sign: Dark Power. All players gain energy equal to 1/2 the number of territories they share with the cults, rounded up.
Eye of Horus: Dark Reinforcement. All players gain MODs equal to 1/2 the number of territories they share with the cults, rounded up.
Cthulhu: Rising. Destroy 1 unit in every territory with a cult marker. Roll again.
Spreading: When a Yellow Sign is rolled, draw a number and type of territory cards equal to the number and type of territories with cult markers. If any of these territories are adjacent to a territory that already has a cult marker, but does not have one of its own, the cult attempts to spread. Roll 1d3: If the result is higher than the number of units in the territory, the cult spreads. Place a cult marker on that territory. Unlike invasions, the player who controls the territory may choose to voluntarily fail this roll, inviting the cult in. If a territory drawn has no adjacent territory with a cult marker, or already has a cult marker, it has no effect.
Assisting the cults: On their own, the cults may not spread to water or space territories. Players may opt to assist the cults, either to infiltrate rivals, because they hope to take advantage of the cults' very occasional generosity, or because they just want to make it somebody else's problem. A player with a naval commander and a territory with a cult marker may replace one land territory card the cult would otherwise draw with a water territory. A player with a space commander in play and a space station in a territory with a cult marker may replace one land territory the cults would otherwise draw with a space territory. Only one such substitution (either water or space) may be made per player. The cults, being reckless and in league with dark powers of both ocean and space, do not need to limit themselves to the prescribed landing zones and coastlines that limit traditional armies, and cards drawn from such assistance do not need adjacent territories to support the attack (in later turns, such assistance cards should be separated from water and space territories drawn normally). However, water and space are difficult for cultists to survive in, and their rolls to spread to such territories are made at -1 (thus a 1 always fails). If successful, the cult establishes itself in the new territory, and on future spreading and seduction results, draws a card from the appropriate deck. The cults may spread into water territories adjacent to coastal land territories with a cult marker, or any of the normal space landing areas if there is any land territory with both a cult marker and a space station.
Seduction: Seduction works similarly to spreading: When a tentacle is rolled, draw a number and type of territory cards equal to the number and type of territories with cult markers. However, there are several differences. If a territory drawn during seduction is entirely unoccupied, or only has a cult marker, or has no adjacent territory with a cult marker, it has no effect. If a territory drawn is occupied, has no cult marker of its own, but is adjacent to a territory that has a cult marker, the cult attempts to seduce the army there: Roll 1d3, and if the result is higher than the number of units on the territory, destroy one unit and place a cult marker (this can entirely depopulate a territory except for the cult marker). Again, the player who owns the territory may voluntarily fail the roll to invite the cult in, but they still lose one unit. If a territory drawn is occupied and already has a cult marker, roll 1d3+1: If the result is higher than the number of units in the territory, destroy one (again, this can entirely depopulate a territory except for the cult marker.
As with spreading, players may choose to assist the cults' seduction by replacing land territory cards drawn with water or space territories, with the same restrictions and the same exception to the need for an adjacent territory (an empty territory, or one with a cult marker alone, still has no effect). However, seduction does not have the same -1 penalty to expand to such territories as spreading, since they are co-opting the existent survival structures (and the cults roll 1d3+1 as above if the territory drawn already has a cult marker).
Dark Power: Rolling an Elder Sign provides a pure energy benny for those willing to put up with an occasional ritual sacrifice and the possibility of monstrous rising. All players gain energy equal to half the number of territories they occupy that have cult markers, rounded up.
Dark Reinforcement: Likewise straightforward, rolling the Eye of Horus means the cults lend their military power to those good enough to turn a blind eye to their doings. All players gain MODs equal to half the number of territories they occupy that have cult markers, rounded up. These MODs may only be placed on territories with cult markers, but may otherwise be placed freely
Rising: But it's not all gravy trains and bloody sacrifice. One unit is destroyed in every territory with a cult marker, and the die is rolled again. And yes, it is possible to roll Rising repeatedly.
Fighting the cults: Considering the nastiness of seduction and the always-present possibility of the big guy's rising, players may be justified in wanting to exterminate the cults. This is done during a player's turn as an invasion, including any bonuses for commanders, territory type or Command cards. Cults defend using a single d8, and win ties as normal. Cults cannot be purged from a territory with only one unit. A territory's surviving units may still invade as normal after purging a cult, and an attacker may purge a cult in an invaded territory as a continuation of the original attack (the defending player cannot use the cult to defend, and the attacker is not obligated to destroy the cult before occupying the territory).
The only way to be sure?: Nuclear cards only destroy a cult if they have already destroyed all other units in the territory and there is still at least one unit worth of overkill. Thus, the continental weapon cards cannot kill a cult unless the territory was already otherwise unoccupied; ditto scatter bombs. Other Command cards have no effect - Cults cannot be removed by MOD Reduction and are immune to Death Traps.
Potential variants being considered:
Weaker cults: Change the cults' defense roll to a d6. Makes them less of a hassle to wipe out, and thus less of a strategic concern.
Monstrous rising: When a Rising is rolled, 1d3 units are destroyed in each territory with a cult marker. Multiple risings are catastrophic, and cleansing cults becomes a major concern.
That is not dead: At the end of a year in which all cults have been destroyed or when there are fewer than three cult markers in play, draw three land territory cards and place a cult marker in each, then roll as normal.
Multiple rolls: At the end of the year, roll once for every (5/7/# of players in the game) cult markers in play, resolving each roll completely before the next is made. Risings (or multiple Risings!) and the following roll count as one roll.
Wiped themselves out: If a Rising is rolled and there are no other units in a territory with a cult marker, remove the cult marker.
These were the most loyal: In conjunction with the above, every time a cult marker is destroyed by a Rising, place it aside (on a doom track, if you will). It now counts as permanently in play for purposes of the number of rolls made if using Multiple rolls, above, or raises the minimum number of cult markers that must actually be in play for That is not dead, above, or adds an additional territory card to those drawn for That is not dead, or adds to any rolls made by the cults still in play, or if you're exceptionally masochistic, all of the above. For slightly less masochism, restrict this to one marker per Rising rolled, or one per year.
The End is Here: If at any time a cult marker would be placed and there are no more cult markers available, Cthulhu rises and nobody wins. The viciousness of this is dependent on how many markers are available (I have 21).
Oh, and for those of you who don't have the overpriced novelty die this is based on, you can replicate it with a regular d12:
10: Dark Power
11: Dark Reinforcement
They shall instead MAKE a most 'splendiforous' "upcoming Birthday GIFT" for someone's here shortly, like MINE!