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Trail of Cthulhu

Trail Cover

Mythos Investigation and Horror in the 1930s

You have to keep the doors to the Outside from swinging open – no matter what the cost in life or sanity. You have to piece together clues from books bound in human skin, from eviscerated corpses covered in ichor, and from inscriptions carved on walls built before humanity evolved. You have to go wherever the answers are, and do what needs to be done to protect humanity. But do you dare to follow… the trail of Cthulhu?

Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning roleplaying game of investigative horror, powered by the GUMSHOE system and produced under license from Chaosium. Acclaimed expert on the eldritch Kenneth Hite weds his encylopaedic knowledge of vivid historical detail to his mastery of H. P. Lovecraft’s classic horror tales to bring their cosmic malignity forward into the 1930s—a time when the creeping madness of the Great Old Ones intermingles with the sweeping cruelty of global totalitarianism.

Trail of Cthulhu is designed for investigative play: the challenge is in interpreting clues, not finding them. The game also offers:

  • Two modes of play: Pulp (for the “desperate action” feel of Robert E. Howard or Indiana Jones) and Purist (full of philosophical horror and cosmic dread)
  • A new take on Lovecraft’s creatures and cults that makes even the most familiar Mythos elements surprising and scary at the gaming table
  • Innovative rules for sanity and stability
  • A Drives mechanic that addresses the perennial horror RPG question, “Why don’t we just forget we saw anything, and go home where it’s safe?”
  • GM advice on how to run a horror adventure
  • Detailed notes on designing an enthralling, cohesive investigative adventure using the GUMSHOE system’s clue structure.

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Trail of Cthulhu won two ENnie awards for Best Rules and Best Writing, as well as receiving an honourable mention for Product of the Year. It’s now in its third print run, and currently available in five languages.

Support for Trail of Cthulhu includes award-winning adventures, supplements, and campaigns from designers such as Kenneth Hite, Robin D. Laws, Jason Morningstar, Will Hindmarch, Jeff Tidball, Adam Gauntlett, Graham Walmsley, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, and Bill White.

You are among the few who suspect the truth about the mad gods at the center of the universe, about the Great Old Ones who dream of clearing off the Earth, about the extra-terrestrials who use mankind in their experiments, about the ancient legends of undying evil that are all coming true. You have to make sure nobody else ever finds out — or the world will wake up screaming…

Review Highlights

See the complete reviews to date here.

.…I was concerned that my traditional style of low prep freeform gaming would have trouble with the GUMSHOE clue system included here… I quickly discovered that this was not an obstacle at all, … it was very easy to constantly push new clues through different Investigative Abilities. In fact, I found that the game worked spectacularly well with this style as the nature of these Abilities encouraged me to constantly engage each of the players thereby resulting in a mystery that was continuously moving forward to its PC driven conclusion. My play experiences have been far more satisfying than I would have expected, though my group has largely avoided physical conflict whenever possible.

CW Richeson on rpg.net

Overall, this is a masterful melding of the Gumshoe system with classic Cthulhu Mythos gaming, an inspired match. There’s so much goodness in this that I’ll be back again and again, not just to play but to mine for ideas whatever I am doing.

Megan Robertson on rpgnow.com

By now it should be evident that I really love Trail of Cthulhu. I think it manages to capture the feel and style of HPL’s stories, particularly when played in Purist mode, with rules built to complement the stories. GUMSHOE is a perfect fit for investigative type adventures, and well-suited for a plotted out set of scenes. It also is simple enough to be run in a more “off-the-cuff” improvisational style and doesn’t require a great deal of prep on the part of the Keeper.

Michael Harnish on RPG Geek

…the section on the Cthulhu Elder Gods/Outer Gods is superb and packed with so many incredibly insane ideas for running plots it is hard to talk about it without waving hands around incoherently. One small sentence about Elder Gods as meme loads was so compelling it was a hot topic in my house for three days. If you’re into CoC at all, this is worth getting to juice up campaigns and take them to 11.

Emily Dresner

The Gumshoe system is an investigation-oriented one, and this orientation is well suited to many Mythos scenarios. We enjoyed playing our characters and didn’t have too much trouble picking up the system. I’d recommend it.

Duncan Hunter on rpg.net

This book is gorgeous; my copy is a lovely 248 page hardcover. Jérome Huguenin does a masterful job with art and layout. That art is consistent throughout– something not to be underestimated as a key to make a game feel complete … Worth buying for any gamer interesting in horror or Lovecraft.

Lowell Francis on rpggeek.com

With enough for everyone and a system flexible to have from a purely investigative adventure to a action fuelled Indiana Jones style game, if you like Lovecraft, you simply can’t go wrong with it

Paco G Jaen of G*M*S Magazine

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Stock #:PELGT01D Author: Kenneth Hite and Robin Laws
Artist: Jerome Huguenin Format: 248-page, two-color, smythe-sewn hardback

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Trail Cover

The Trail of Cthulhu Keeper’s bundle is a quick and affordable way to get into our award-winning Mythos RPG. It features the core book, an adventure collection and a Keeper’s screen and resource book: everything you need to run the game at a tasty 15% discount from the retail price. Buy the Keeper’s Bundle in print   Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning roleplaying game of investigative horror, powered by the GUMSHOE system and produced under license from Chaosium. Acclaimed expert on the eldritch Kenneth Hite weds his encyclopedic knowledge of vivid historical detail to his mastery of H. P. Lovecraft’s classic horror tales to bring their cosmic malignity forward into the 1930s—a time when the creeping madness of the Great Old Ones intermingles with the sweeping cruelty of global totalitarianism. Two modes of play: Pulp (for the “desperate action” feel of Robert E. Howard or Indiana Jones) and Purist (full of philosophical horror and cosmic dread) A new take on Mythos creatures and cults that makes even the most familiar Mythos elements surprising and scary at the gaming table A Drives mechanic that addresses the perennial horror RPG question, “Why don’t we just forget we saw anything, and go home where it’s safe?” […]

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Lovecraft created his various “shadowy congeners” because the stories of vampires, werewolves, and even ghosts had become too familiar and too formulaic to evoke true horror. Almost a century after he wrote, his own monstrous races have likewise begun to seem like comfortable story furniture rather than unnerving signals that the world is horrible and wrong. In Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos, we present a comprehensive look at Lovecraft’s hideous creatures, from as many angles as we can. Our goal is contradiction, surprise, and most especially the uncanny: the recognition of something familiar as something weird. As in the “Gods and Titans” section of the Trail of Cthulhu core book, this book deliberately contradicts itself, blurring boundaries and erasing certainties in the name of the uncanny. In your campaign, these variant truths might be misunderstandings, legends, heresies, or deliberate lies spread by the creatures to lull their foes into a false sense of familiarity. Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos is the Trail of Cthulhu bestiary written by Mythos giant Kenneth Hite and fellow experts Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Becky Annison, Helen Gould and Ruth Tillman, in the tradition of the award-winning Book of Unremitting Horror and the 13th […]

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The more you discover, the more the Mythos infects your mind. Your friends cannot be trusted, your knowledge means nothing, and everything you hold dear turns to dust. The Final Revelation collects for the first time the four sanity-destroying Purist adventures for Trail of Cthulhu written by award winning RPG writer Graham Walmsley. With a framing scenario by Scott Dorward, The Final Revelation gives your Investigators the opportunity to play through a Purist campaign set in the United Kingdom of the 1930s where there is no escape, no comfort and no salvation when faced with the Mythos. Your Investigators are powerless and insignificant; your only choices death, insanity or a quiet life with a shattered mind. The Final Revelation features the following scenarios: The Final Revelation: A group of Investigators called The Friday Group tries to piece together the details of what they believe to be a threat to humanity. As they uncover the facts behind each scenario, they are faced with a final, inescapable truth none of them could have guessed. The Dying of St Margarets: On the remote Scottish island of St Margaret’s, Investigators take jobs at a private school, each searching for an acquaintance who has disappeared. […]

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Hell Fire

In the smog and grime of 18th century London, a great evil stirs… In the seedy underclass of the city a plague is taking hold. Its victims are under the sway of something far worse than they can imagine, an entity of disgusting power bent on engulfing the world in disease and death. The Investigators are members of the exclusive, but publicly reviled Hell Fire Club. One of the Club’s most trusted members is involved in a Breach of Promise suit. But when he vanishes and the woman is found dead, outsiders start to make inquiries; Club secrets could be revealed. If this happens, Club members would be socially ruined. The Investigators must discover the truth of their Brother’s disappearance and who – or what – killed his alleged paramour. This trail will take the protagonists into the heart of the disease-ridden underbelly of London society, through a globe-spanning conspiracy and eventually, to the Colonies in a race against time to save the Americas from sharing the same fate as their Brother. Hell Fire is a Trail of Cthulhu scenario from Adam Gauntlett (Not So Quiet, RMS Titantic: The Millionaire’s Special, Flying Coffins). Set in the late 1700s, it harnesses […]

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In the mountains of northern Mexico, something ancient and obscene lies smoldering among ruins older than the Aztecs. In the green valleys beneath the Chihuahuan peaks, the problems are more modern – and they wear gun-belts. Do an unlikely band of Investigators have the courage to tackle the last remnants of Pancho Villa’s bandit army? What secrets do they bring to the task? And what will they do when the trail of clues takes them into dangerous territory they cannot even imagine? Many Fires is a rip-roaring pulp adventure for Trail of Cthulhu from Jason Morningstar, award-winning author of The Black Drop and creator of Fiasco. Taking place in the hills and valleys of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, it will introduce the Investigators to a surprising cast of characters and strange new weapons to employ in an epic struggle against an implacable and deadly enemy known as Kųų łą́ – Many Fires. Many Fires contains extensive handouts, maps of the region, a treasure trove of fantastic GM advice, and six pre-generated characters, each with a terrifying secret. Click here to see all reviews of this product. Read a review of Many Fires by kafka 10/10. Another fine offering from […]

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Nominated for Best Setting and Best eBook in the 2012 ENnie awards. Winner of the Gold ENnie for Best e-Book. On November 2nd, 1936, the world died. Humanity perished, women and men died in their millions. Finally, the stars had come right, and the things that had lurked under the seas for eons rose to claim their rightful place. Now, they rule the earth, stalking it like titans. Yet you survived this destruction. Some miracle or design left you alive to watch the destruction of everything humanity built. You are doomed to wander the devastated ruins, discovering what little you can. What went wrong? Are there others like you? How can you stay alive? Can you fight back? And, most importantly of all, is there a way to put this right? The Apocalypse Machine continues the investigations of Trail of Cthulhu in a post-apocalyptic world. In these pages, you will find instructions on designing your own apocalypse; new Occupations, Skills and Drives, and explanations of how the old ones function in this post-apocalyptic world; and many ways for the Mythos to take over. Your apocalypse can happen anyway you want, whether it’s a nuclear disaster, a meteor slamming into the […]

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The Repairer of Reputations is a Trail of Cthulhu scenario by Robin D. Laws, based on the story of the same name by Robert W. Chambers. It is one of four short horror stories incorporating Chambers’ mythology of The King In Yellow, a decadent play whose publication brings madness and supernatural presences into the world. His mythology was later subsumed into the Cthulhu canon when H. P. Lovecraft, and his circle and later followers, made reference to it in their tales of the mythos. This scenario allows the players to recreate an alternate version of the story, in which their characters, who do not appear in the original, confront the nation-shaking conspiracy of its central villains. They either destroy it, or are destroyed themselves. A seemingly utopian future takes on a distinctly nightmarish quality. The scenario plays with this by suggesting that the publication of The King in Yellow has warped history in a disturbing direction. The alien beings described in the play are as real as the antagonists believe them to be. They want their literal heir of Hastur, Hildred Castaigne, to ascend to the Imperial throne of their America—Hastur’s America. The Repairer of Reputations has now been published alongside RMS […]

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Dare you face the horrors Out of Time? Pelgrane Press presents four century-spanning adventures for Trail of Cthulhu by three mythos masters. From war-damaged soldiers on the Western front, to chthonic forces in the remote Kergueln archipelago, from atomic tests on Bikini atoll to occult machinations in the Mojave Desert, Out Of Time will take your Investigators into the far reaches of madness and beyond. Created by Call of Cthulhu veteran Adam Gauntlett; Jason Morningstar, award-winning creator of Fiasco and the Shab-al-Hiri Roach and Bill White, creator of Ganakagok, Out of Time features: Not So Quiet: Bullet-ridden, bruised and bloody, the Investigators, soldiers and nurses in the Great War, are brought from the frontline to Military Hospital Number Five. Once the haze of morphine clears, they sense a brooding malevolence and they will soon realise there are worse things in this life than a bullet wound. The Black Drop: Something slowly gathers strength beneath the frozen basalt of the Kerguelen archipelago – a monstrous thing once worshipped and then betrayed, a terrible god from the antediluvian past. Its time has come again, and mysterious forces gather. Will the Investigators usher in its rebirth – or put an end to it […]

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Nominated for Best Adventure in the 2012 ENnie awards In an antiques shop in North London, there is a box. Inside the box is an ancient creature, seeping through into the world. It will show the Investigators the universe as it really is. The Rending Box is the final Purist adventure for Trail of Cthulhu. The previous scenarios, The Dying of St Margaret’s, The Watchers in the Sky and The Dance In The Blood have hinted about an immense, fecund creature, spawning beneath the soil of the Lake District. In The Rending Box, the Investigators see that creature. Indeed, they may discover everything: the patterns behind the universe, the monsters older than time, the secrets that break your mind. And all they need to do is open a box. This is the fourth and final installment of Graham Walmsley’s Purist Adventure series for Trail of Cthulhu, and is now available in print and PDF format in the collection The Final Revelation. Read reviews of the Rending Box. Stock #: PELGT21D Author: Graham Walmsley Artist:Jerome Huguenin Pages: 31 pg PDF Buy The Final Revelation now

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The stories of rocketships and rayguns you read under cover of dark are coming to life before your eyes. Will you become a victim of Parsons’ ‘Big Hoodoo’? The Big Hoodoo is Lovecraftian noir in 1950s California with a ripped-from-history plot centered on the explosive death of real-world rocket scientist, science fiction fan, and occultist Jack Parsons in a garage laboratory in 1952. The investigators are iconic figures active in the science fiction scene at the time of Parsons’ death, and their inquiries lead them from the mean streets of Pasadena to the edge of the Mojave Desert and the mountains of southern California as well as the beaches of Los Angeles. Play sci-fi great Robert Heinlein, his ex-Navy engineer wife Virginia, renowned editor and mystery writer Tony Boucher, or a young Philip K. Dick as they confront the lunatic fringe in La-La Land, and find themselves caught in a charlatan’s web of chicanery, mendacity, and deceit-laced with a strong strand of mythos menace. The adventure includes brief biographical hooks for the PCs to orient players to their investigators as well as suggestions for alternate and additional investigators. Brief rules for a magic system intended to evoke the Enochian “magick” […]

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