Cthulhu City

Enter a place born from all of Lovecraft’s creations, and governed by servitors of the Old Ones.­­


Great Arkham – the Cthulhu City.

There is – by certain unreliable and maddening accounts, and now by your own dreadful experience – a city on the eastern seaboard of the United States, in northern Massachusetts. You do not recall seeing it on maps when you were growing up, and no-one of your acquaintance ever admitted coming from that place until you found yourself living within its eerie confines. It is a city of windowless cyclopean skyscrapers, of crumbling baroque buildings and ruins that must, impossibly, predate human habitation in this part of the world. At times, you can see remnants of familiar small towns which have grown together into this monstrous conurbation – Dunwich in the west, beyond Sentinel Hill; quaint Kingsport, by the sea; industrial Innsmouth, the engine of trade and commerce; and the city’s heart, Old Arkham.

You know that this city is monstrous.

You know that the city government are in the thrall of – or in league with – alien horrors.

You know better than to go out at night, when the clouds roll in from the sea and shapes move in the sky. You know there are occasional, unpredictable streets that come and go according to some unearthly schedule, that strange black ships dock at Innsmouth to trade with the squat, ugly denizens of that neighbourhood. You know, too, that not all of your neighbours are sane – or human.

But you’re trapped. There’s no way to escape the city.

Because the city is the world.

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Cthulhu City is a setting for Trail of Cthulhu, usable for a full campaign in its own right or as a nightmarish intrusion into an existing game. The Investigators find themselves in a strange, corrupted Arkham, a ghastly metropolis. People – humans – live in the city, and seem bizarrely normal on first encounter – their concerns are the same mundane, day-to-day passions and trials of anyone in the modern world – but scratch the surface, and the Mythos spills forth. Motorcars drive down streets lined with sullen-eyed basalt cyclopean buildings raised by no human hand; at night, loathsome and titanic shapes move behind the clouds. It’s a city where priests masked with yellow silk proclaim the majesty of God from the churches; a city occupied by alien powers. The old-money families have names like Marsh and Whately and Curwen, and the worst crime imaginable is defying the will of the living gods.

Humans shouldn’t survive here, but they do, blindly adapting to the horror all around them. Are the Investigators dreaming? Insane? Have they travelled in time? Is this an alternate reality? An illusion? Or have they somehow had their minds swapped with denizens of the city?

Or has it always been this way, and they can no longer deny the truth?

The Great, the Old, the Terrible City of Unnumbered Crimes

In this surreal nightmare supplement for Trail of Cthulhu, discover…

  • The heart of Lovecraft’s urban fiction. Arkham, Dunwich and Kingsport, but also R’lyeh, the Nameless City, and the City of the Elder Things…
  • The vertiginous terror of inverted order! Worshippers of the Great Old Ones rule from City Hall, while investigators are wanted criminals! After the infamous Miskatonic Raid which put an end to the “anarchist plots” of the Armitage Inquiry, who dares challenge the authorities?
  • Intrigue and action in the twisted streets! In a campaign of urban horror, evade the watchful eyes of the authorities with the new Suspicion rules! Smash the cults – or conspire to pit one faction against the others!
  • The hidden ways of the city. Use District Knowledges to find help, but beware – any of the dozens of NPCs could be a stalwart ally, a doomed victim, or a sinister servant of the Mythos…

Includes The Whispering Light, a full-length noir-flavoured adventure set in Great Arkham that takes investigators on a tour of the mysterious city… and into the beyond! 

Cthulhu City – an inescapable new setting for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG


Stock #: PELGT44 Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Artist: Gislaine Avila, Jesús A. Blones, Marine Cegalerba, Jen McCleary, Kennedy Cooke-Garza, Lauren Covarrubias, Lee Dawn, Nyra Drakae, Marisa Erven, Quintin Gleim, Jérôme Huguenin, Ethan Lee, Erica Leveque, David Lewis Johnson, Amanda Makepeace, Valentina Filic (xAngelusNex), Georgia Roan, Anna Rogers, Karolina Wegrzyn. Pages: 224pg casebound

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29 Responses to “Cthulhu City”

  1. Scott Mortimer says:

    Sounds great. It seems to have been inspired to sime degree by the film “Dark City”.

    • Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan says:

      Yep, Dark City’s a big inspiration. So’s Jeff Vandermeer’s _Finch_, East Germany under the Stasi, and some of Alan Moore’s Lovecraftian material.

  2. SunlessNick says:

    I’m picturing something like Dark Corners, with the Investigators living waking lives in the regular world and dreaming lives in this city – or vice versa, with them never quite knowing which.

  3. James Rouse says:

    This also reminds me a little of Simon R. Green’s Nightside series.

  4. Jim Flory says:

    Years ago, I ran a 2 year long Vampire LARP set it a fictional city with this basic premise. Innsmouth, Arkham, Dunwich; all neighborhoods in the modern metropolis. It was a great deal of fun to design, and even more fun to watch Players explore and enjoy. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this project!
    Great minds think alike :D

  5. Brian S says:

    Don’t mind me…just considering how well a Gaslight-era version of this would mesh with Gaiman’s “A Study in Emerald”…

  6. RCAUTELA says:

    East Germ under the Stasi? …Really?

    • Deodand says:

      Makes sense, the Stasi turned large portions of the population into informers, when East Germany fell and the Stasi records were made public it quite literally turned out to be cases of children informing on parents and visa versa, sometimes even in the same family.

  7. Terry O'Carroll says:

    For some reason the “city you can’t escape” bit reminded me of the movie Groundhog Day. The protagonist can never escape Poughkeepsie until he finds out what is keeping him stuck in a time loop. One might borrow the same conceit for a horror game set in Cthulhu City.

  8. Chad Schlesinger says:

    Do you need a copy of Trail of Cthulhu to use this?

    • Alex Roberts says:

      Hi Chad! Thanks for asking. Cthulhu City is a setting, not a complete system in itself. It pairs best with Trail of Cthulhu, but you may find it inspirational for any Cthulhu mythos game you run.

  9. Dan says:

    How/when can one just purchase the PDF?

  10. Andrew MacLean-Finney says:

    Will Cthulhu City be getting a premium Leatherette release?

  11. […] and banging my head on the keyboard. Fortunately, my other recent big Pelgrane project – Cthulhu City – came out to a modicum of critical acclaim and was immensely satisfying to write, so […]

  12. Tim says:

    Are there pictures of the new Cthulhu City limited edition somewhere? I am not finding any.

  13. […] 2017, there were two releases for Trail of Cthulhu — “Out of the Woods” and “Cthulhu City”. The first of these is a scenario anthology which weighs in at five scenarios spanning 168 pages. […]

  14. Jacques says:

    Is the map at the beginning and end of the book available for download anywhere? It would make a lovely handout and invaluable for giving my players a sense of the city.

  15. […] who am I kidding? Cthulhu City is precisely the sort of Trail of Cthulhu supplement that I’d buy on sight, and Pelgrane […]

  16. […] Cthulhu City is one of Pelgrane Press’s supplements for Trail of Cthulhu, and it’s rather good.  I know this because I got the PDF ahead of the print book, and I’ve read it already.  It’s packed full of Lovecraftian goodness, all mixed in an excellent mix that works well for an urban campaign.  Plus, I like Pelgrane’s design aesthetic when it comes to Trail of Cthulhu. Very elegant and high-toned. […]

  17. […] Cthulhu City is a setting for Trail of Cthulhu that place investigators in a corrupted Arkham controlled by the mythos.  A must have for fans of dystopian and cosmic horror literature. […]

  18. Jamie says:

    Does anyone know if there is a large printable version of the city map from the inside cover of the book, my players are very keen to annotate a map with their various findings ?

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