View Full Version : Not Quite Cthulhu: But Nobody's Perfect (Game Design)

2009-04-12, 01:08 AM
Not Quite Cthulhu
But Nobody's Perfect...

"It's the 40's and 50's, several decades after the events at Arkham, Massachusetts where the Most Ancient Ones were viciously slain by mere mortals! The halls of R'yleh, pillaged! The perils of the Abyss overcome! Now only slumbering Azathoth remains of their kin and what good is that apocalyptic fool anyway?

"You, a Not-So-Ancient Ancient One find yourself alone with several siblings, remnants of the great damages dealt to your kind. The vile humans and their pathetic planet must pay! In the stylings of your fallen Elders you too must take up the task of destroying humanity once and for all. Times have changed since the 20's and 30's and despite the resurgence of mortal wars, what is know as the Age of Jazz has now become one of 'Rock and Roll'.

"But the time to strike down your enemies is limited. As soon as you begin your work anew, the humans will put out their investigators. And Azathoth is due to awake in a short time and forever ruin your plot for vengeance. There is also the matter of the other Not-So-Ancient Ancient Ones who also wish to take hold of the Earth for themselves... We shall see. The time to rally your worshipers is nigh."


That's the introduction to a project I am working on to sort of reverse-engineer Arkham Horror for an Ancient One's perspective. And I specifically want to gear it toward PbP, but that is not a primary concern at the moment. It'll be d6-based and combine elements from Pokethulhu as well which had many good ideas for a simple and easy to follow system. And Arkham Horror's skill check system is also very nifty.

Players take on the role of an NSAAOs (Not-So-Ancient Ancient Ones) bent on destroying humanity and assuming Elder status, as well as an investigator trying to stop that from happening (at least to work more directly against the other players).

What I'd like to see is for the Ancient Ones to be able to develop their own infamous curses and artifacts to ravage time and space. Building cults and monsters to advance their goals on the mortal world would take place on a wider scale than Arkham and would probably be resolved by continent or large fractions of continents at a time.

The players have two fronts to focus on: they use their AO to conquer the world and their investigator to block other AOs from doing so. With enough players, there would be enough going on that I think this would work plausibly.

I'm tossing up this post because I know a few people would get a kick out of this and might have some good ideas to mix in.

2009-04-12, 01:48 AM
Sounds interesting, but I'd note that either players should only have 1 of the two character types, or that they shouldn't know all thats going on among their cultists and the like (thus making it so their investigator might actually foil their NSAAO's plot. It doesn't seem like they should have their investigator be able to ignore their own NSAAO's plans while only going after the others (unless the investigators are cultists themselves).


2009-04-14, 12:31 AM
Well I don't know... I think it could work after all. Most of the investigators in the Mythos were only aware of one, maybe two, Great Old Ones at a time. A single person could barely handle the advances of the cult of a single Ancient One.

I think it will require taking into account meta-knowledge as well as what characters know IC... Does anyone have any thoughts?

2009-04-14, 06:23 AM
It's an interesting idea.

Really, it could probably even work if all the PCs were just Deep Ones. There's a lot of potential just there. Get into politics, finance and all.

Alternatively, they could be vast, terrible things beyond human reason... but just a bit beyond. Sort of thing a person might imagine when having a bad trip. Looking at one of them doesn't cause people's heads to explode, just a slight headache. Not even one that one would bother taking an Asprin for.

2009-04-14, 12:02 PM
Played Shadows over Camelot? I hear it is similar to Arkham Horror.

In it there is a traitor who wins if the other players lose. Much of the game is played 'face down'. At some point you can guess who the traitor is.

One could imagine a game like this where each player controls an ancient one and an investigator. Each player has a victory condition that is either "Save the world" or "Destroy the world", which is kept secret.

Investigators of 'destroy the world' players are mentally unstable.

Ancient ones of 'save the world' players are destined to fall asleep before destroying the world.

Letting other players know your investigator is destined to go insane means that your ancient one is an ideal target to attack. Letting other players know your old one will go to sleep means that your investigator is an ideal target to attack.

It would be very Machiavellian.

One could even imagine a game where which side you are on changes somewhat randomly as the game progresses. Ie, each turn you draw a sanity card, which comes in BLACK and WHITE. If you have more black than white, you are trying to end the world. If you have more white than black, you are trying to save the world.

Someone with a significant bias in their black/white card count would end up being on one side of the conflict or the other... But after drawing some cards, might change the player's motivation!

2009-04-14, 08:00 PM
I've played Shadows. It was interesting (like juggling twenty chainsaws between four people, and one of them just 'happens' to sneeze).

And I believe Xuinch is aware of where all this could have originated from. :smalltongue:

@Yakk: *One beard scratch.* Hmm. :smallbiggrin:

2009-04-15, 05:36 AM
I'm reminded of the Dungeon Keeper games I ran. I though about letting people play Keepers but then decided it'd get more strategery than RPG and had them play monsters instead. It was somewhat awesome. I can see the same glint here.

2009-04-15, 10:01 AM
Since it SOUNDS like we are more talking about a board game than a roleplaying game (Arkam Horror is merely "rollplaying"), I see no reason why having the investigators each having one horror they have a blind-spot for/phobia that prevents them from working against messes up the beleivability too much...

2009-04-15, 03:13 PM
An investigator that's aware of their player's Ancient One would most likely work like a cultist.

2009-04-15, 05:31 PM
I know bits and pieces about the Mythos.

Mainly from the call of Cthulhu PC game really. I also have the arkham horror board game. Leading me to think you're toying with the idea of reversing it.

Though, a reverse Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game might work too.

Either way though, I would think that a game like this would require some significant adjustments.

2009-04-15, 05:54 PM
As far as board game... it would be sort of like a reduced Risk board for, let's say, 1955 or so where there's the East/West Cold War divisions forming and ample concern for spies from each side. I'll look around to see if I can find one or maybe make one.

Think of... maybe something like Fury of Dracula.

2009-04-15, 05:56 PM
For the sanity card idea...

Suppose the game is always X turns (or phases) long. And suppose you have Y players.

Then you set aside X*Y cards, with 1 or 2 more "black" cards than "white" cards.

You shuffle these, and players draw one such card each turn (or phase).

If they have white >= black at the end of the game, they win if the humans win.

If they have black > white, they win if the horrors win.

Then as the game progresses, you get information about what side you are really on. But until the mid-game, it is impossible for you to know for certain which side you are really on.

So you end up wanting your horror and human to be in influential positions capable of tipping the game either way.

At some point, you'll have enough cards of one kind or another -- so you bet on one side or the other, and start doing some damage. Maybe you'll make your influential human go insane!

Which means that everyone else is trying to reduce the influence (on victory chance) of each other's horrors and humans, until towards the end of the game each player starts being more open about what side they might be 'really' on.

Double-bluffs are encouraged: seem to be on the side of humans, then screw the humans over! Or vice versa.

Naturally you would not be allowed to show the cards you have been dealt that show what side you are on.

I'm not sure if I could design the above game, nor am I sure if it would be any fun, but it would be quite evil.

2009-04-15, 08:03 PM
I was also thinking of a 'Black' deck and 'White' deck. Each deck has a 5-to-1 mix of black and white (the dominant color being based on the deck). Whenever you act against the Elder Ones, you draw from the White deck. When you fail or act with them, you draw from the Black deck.

A game would last maybe 30 days and then Azathoth awakens if no one has won. Each player gets 3 actions: two for one character and one for the other. Missing a day is lost actions.


I make random odds and ends of games. Maybe I'll put it all together...