The following article originally appeared on an earlier iteration of See Page XX in October 2007. 

An Interview with writer Kenneth Hite

Kenneth Hite is designing Trail of Cthulhu – a licensed version of Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. Here, Ken answers questions posed by our redoubtable forum members.

1. How will sanity and madness be handled- especially as they relate to the fairly strong link in Lovecraft’s fiction between Finding Things Out and Going Crackers. Might sanity be treated as a resource that can be used up to help in an investigation? Or rather, less cynically, will there be some (perhaps dubious) advantage or beneficial side-effect in losing sanity?

In Trail of Cthulhu, Sanity is separate from the GUMSHOE trait Stability. Sanity measures your ability to believe in limited human reality; Stability is a mental health rating. (Dr. Armitage, from”Dunwich Horror,” has a very low Sanity, but a fairly high Stability,for example.) Using your Cthulhu Mythos skill helps with an investigation, but such “piecing together of dissociated knowledge”costs Sanity, and potentially Stability as well.

2. Will there be an introduction adventure included in the book as with the “Esoterrorists” and “GuH” book?

There will be an all-new introductory adventure in the Trail of Cthulhu core book.

3. Do you plan to include an default setting and background organization (a la Delta Green or Ordo Veritatis from Esoterrorists) or will it be a setting without background organization (like in CoC or GuH)?

My current plan is to include three separate narrative structures in the Trail of Cthulhu core book, and give some guidelines for constructing your own. Of course, Keepers and players will be welcome to follow the venerable Call of Cthulhu model of “you all meet at the reading of a will/museum opening/seance” if they like.

4. Will the book be written entirely from the viewpoint of those combating the unspeakable horrors or will there be focus on those who embrace the truth about Cthulhu & the mythos?

This book will be entirely about Investigators who discover, suffer from, and combat the horrors of the Mythos. Players who want to take the role of soulless inhuman monsters have a plenitude of other roleplaying choices in other roleplaying games.

5. Will the works of other Mythos writers such as Ramsey Campbell & August Derleth feature in or influence Trail of Cthulhu?

As with Call of Cthulhu , the entire Mythos will provide potential material for Trail of Cthulhu games. That said, the core ruleset will be primarily influenced by Lovecraft and Howard, with nods to otherwriters (I just wrote a fairly nice treatment of Campbell’s /Revelations of Glaaki/ if I do say so myself), including Derleth. The game is named after a Derleth story-cycle, after all, so it would be churlish to leave him out.

6. Do you think the Mythos has losts its power to inspire fear? Was the horror of the Mythos ever fully expressed in Call of Cthulhu?

The Mythos, like any other literary or artistic material, depends on the skill of its author and the acceptance of its audience for its power. This is true in roleplaying games as well as novels or short stories.The game Call of Cthulhu — SAN rewards, Elder Signs and all –expresses the maltheist, implacable core of the Mythos to a remarkable degree, and many of the published scenarios are quite terrifying to run or play. Assuming the Keeper is any good, and that the players aren’t being jerks, of course.

7. How much power do you think PCs should have over the Mythos? Will you present elder signs, for instance, as standard issue equipment or as arcane mysteries?

This is a Keeper call; the rules will support whichever flavor she wants for her game. We’re including special hard-core rules for Purists, and easier-going, more adventurous rules for Pulpier games. There will be Elder Signs in the game — they appear in Lovecraft, after all — but their narrative role and general availability is up to the Keeper.

8. You’ve said in the past that Call of Cthulhu is your favourite game. How will Trail of Cthulhu improve on CoC?

It won’t “improve on” Call of Cthulhu across the board; it will do some things more easily, and with a different feel or emphasis. The 1966 Shelby Mustang is my favorite car, but it’s not a particularly good SUV. Sashimi is my favorite food, but it’s not what I necessarily want for breakfast.

9. If I disagree with the central premise that Cthulhu (or investigation-centric) games have traditionally been stopped by a failed die roll, what else does GUMSHOE and Trail of Cthulhu offer me?

Trail of Cthulhu, specifically, offers you a number of interesting character filips, from core Drives (why are you in this ruined crypt,anyhow?) to personal Pillars of Sanity, as well as having my own delightful prose throughout. GUMSHOE, of course, offers an elegant, quick-to-learn ruleset focused for investigation and mystery narratives.

10. Are there any obscure corners of the Mythos you plan to give greating-than-usual attention (I hope)? If so, mind telling us which ones, or at least giving us a few hints to salivate over?

I think there’s plenty of interesting stuff we can do with some of the old standards yet, and hopefully my takes on Hastur, Nyarlathotep, andso forth will pique your saliva. That said, nobody ever seems to give Quachil Uttaus enough love.

11. Will this game have a grittier take on combat than Esoterrorists?

There will be a few new rules for combat in Trail of Cthulhu, covering Tommy guns, explosives, and other necessities of shoggoth-hunting, but in the main Esoterrorists combat system strikes me as admirably clean, staying out of my way while I’m trying to scare people half to death, so I’m sticking pretty closely to it.

12. Will Trail of Cthulhu give an overview of the Mythos, or will it be designed to focus on just a small slice?

The corebook will give an overview of the Mythos, although by now even focusing on Lovecraft’s creations is “just a small slice.”

13. Is Trail of Cthulhu designed to be a one-shot game or the first in a series of Cthulhu products?

All the plans I’m privy to indicate that Pelgrane intends to put out a series of products in the line, but Simon would be the person to ask about that.

[Ed: Ken, Robin Laws and others will be working on supplements for Trail of Cthulhu]

14. I’m partial to Robert E. Howard’s Cthulhu writings, so I was wondering if the game would be exclusive to Lovecraftian Cthulhu or if it would encompass parts of other writers as well?

A Cthulhu game without Robert E. Howard is like a day without sunshine.As I mentioned above, Trail of Cthulhu will have not just some of Howard’s monsters and tomes, but mechanical rules switches: flick them on to make the game feel more Pulpy and Howardian; leave them off for full-on tweedy collapse in Purist late-Lovecraft style.

14. Which period will this be set in? If you are thinking of Between the Wars, do you see a principal difference between 20’s and 30’s games? Will Gaslight or Modern be supported at all?

Trail of Cthulhu assumes a default setting of the 1930s, which was a darker, more desperate decade than the one before, what with the Depression, Hitler, Stalin, and so forth. Lovecraft’s stories begin to show the difference, and I’ll try to capture that difference in the setting material. I don’t know if Pelgrane intends to expand the line into other eras just yet, although adapting the ruleset to other decades should be fairly simple.

14. How does Gumshoe support period play? In other words, does Gumshoe allow modifications that can support different periods, or can Gumshoe be altered so that it actually enhances the period feel needed for a particular era?

Given the intentional compression of the GUMSHOE weapons table, the primary ways to alter setting feel mechanically are in the ability rules. In Trail of Cthulhu, the various abilities provide only period knowledge, of course. The Credit Rating ability can be used (if the Keeper so wishes) to enforce different social realities across decades. I think the biggest change is that Explosives has become a chancy General ability, not an automatic Investigative one. But really, the best way to support period feel is to write and run adventures dripping with it. That said, though, say good-bye to bulletproof vests!


Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning 1930s horror roleplaying game by Kenneth Hite, produced under license from Chaosium. Whether you’re playing in two-fisted Pulp mode or sanity-shredding Purist mode, its GUMSHOE system enables taut, thrilling investigative adventures where the challenge is in interpreting clues, not finding them. Purchase Trail of Cthulhu, and its many supplements and adventures, in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Ever hungry for new sources of terror, we just received seven gods and titans for use in any Trail of Cthulhu campaign, from player Nick Ingham. He says:

“Some have been mentioned in supplements like the Bookhounds of London, but not properly described like the ones in the core rulebook. Others I just like. In order to avoid “Great Old One creep,” each deity’s entry contains several options tying it to existing beings – or laying a rival claim to another’s characteristic – and at least one option explaining it away as a myth, metaphor or even lie. Following them is a section offering one or two myth, metaphor, error, or lie options for each deity from the core book – barring a couple that already have them – as well as Rhan-Teggoth from Bookhounds of London.”

Thanks, Nick!

 

Byatis

 

“Beware St. Toad’s cracked chimes!” I heard him scream
As I plunged into those mad lanes that wind
In labyrinths obscure and undefined
South of the river where old centuries dream.
– The Fungi from Yuggoth

 

  • Byatis, the Serpent-Bearded, is a vast toad-like entity whose face is obscured by a mass of reaching tentacles.
  • Byatis is trapped in a vast chamber beneath a ruined castle in the Severn Valley. Apparitions caused by its presence have given rise to the legend of the Berkeley Toad.
  • Some regions are subject to Byatis’s unceasing gaze, creating pools of eldritch energy accessible to sorcerers; such regions are cursed with a bloody history, and haunted by both past and future. One such pool is said to be located beneath the London.
  • Prinn’s De Vermis Mysteriis describes Serpent-Bearded Byatis as one of a triad of divinatory deities, together with Father Yig and Dark Han.
  • Those confronting Byatis’s blazing eye lose their minds and wills and walk to the god to be devoured.
  • Byatis is an avatar of Tsathoggua.
  • Byatis is the greatest of the Xothians not trapped in R’lyeh, and dreams of winning control of his race from Cthulhu.
  • Byatis is the greatest of the Nagaäe, the race of creatures that serves Cyaëgha.
  • Byatis’s essence is the ultimate power that animates vampires.
  • In return for sacrifices, Byatis can offer fragments of its being to act as familiars to witches and sorcerers. Fed on the blood of victims, these familiars can grow to vast size.
  • Byatis is a myth, a conjectured demon from which the toad-like familiars of witches are said to descend.
  • Byatis, based on the legend of the Berkeley Toad, was a claim made by Severn Valley Sorcerer Gilbert Morley to bolster his occult reputation.
  • Witnessing Byatis costs an additional +3 (1) Stability pool points and +2 Sanity pool points.

 

 

Cyaëgha

 

I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down daemons from the stars. . . . I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness.

– From Beyond

 

  • Cyaëgha, the Waiting Dark, resembles a vast staring eye surrounded by a mass of writing tentacles. The whole entity floats above the ground, reaching down for prey.
  • Cyaëgha appears as a vast eye superimposed over the Moon, around which rifts open in the sky. Pure darkness flows through these rifts, shaping itself into shifting bodies and appendages.
  • Cyaëgha is both worshipped and imprisoned by a cult in the Jura Mountains, near the borders of Germany, Switzerland, and France. The essence of the god is trapped behind five mystical statuettes, the Vaeyen.
  • Cyaëgha is the genius loci for the whole European continent. A similar entity, Othuyeg, embodies North America.
  • Cyaëgha is one of the Great Old Ones associated with the element of Air, and serves Hastur on Earth.
  • Cyaëgha is served by the insectile, toad-like, and fathomlessly cruel Nagaäe. The god itself is sometimes represented as an even more warped version of these creatures.
  • Cyaëgha is an Outer God, an incarnation of (or a sentient facet of) the processes of entropy in the universe, including its eventual heat death. It cares nothing for worship, seeking only the destruction of all that touches it.
  • Cyaëgha is a manifestation of Byatis’s gaze focussed upon a locality.
    Fragments of Cyaëgha’s essence live independent, seemingly-human lives. These beings are instinctively drawn towards the Jura Mountains, where they seek to free the god.
  • Cyaëgha is the brother of Nyogtha.
  • Cyaëgha is a mythical demon worshipped by a single cult in Germany.
  • Cyaëgha is a metaphorical personification made by a cult in Germany of the place of power near which its members reside.
  • Witnessing Cyaëgha costs an additional +4 (2) Stability pool points and +3 Sanity pool points.

 

Eihort

 

I knew that I was alone—horribly alone. Alone, yet close to sentient impulses of vast, vague kind; which I prayed never to comprehend nor encounter.
– The Green Meadow

 

  • Eihort resembles a pale oval shape walking on many skeletal legs. Eyes, mouths, and other appendages form out of its surface when needed.
  • Eihort dwells in caverns beneath the Severn Valley in England. These caverns may touch the surface in New England and other places as well.
  • Eihort offers its “bargain” to visitors and others it encounters. Those who accept are implanted with a horde of the spider-like grubs that make up its brood; they may also have their memories of the event erased from their minds. Those who refuse are generally killed.
  • Eihort is an avatar of Hastur.
  • Eihort is one of the Million Favoured Ones of Nyarlathotep.
  • Eihort is a powerful Shoggoth, far evolved past its kin.
  • Eihort is the collective name given to an ecology of parasitic beings that infest both Earthly and alien life, even some Titans.
  • Eihort and its brood dislike the touch of sunlight.
  • Eihort and its brood partly resemble plant matter; the touch of sunlight is required for its brood to grow within a host.
  • Eihort is a myth, a mistaken origin posited by occultists for “its brood.”
  • Witnessing Eihort costs an additional +2 Stability pool points and +1 Sanity pool points.

 

Ghroth

 

Yet when I looked from that highest of all gable windows, looked while the candles sputtered and the insane viol howled with the night-wind, I saw no city spread below, and no friendly lights gleaming from remembered streets, but only the blackness of space illimitable; unimagined space alive with motion and music, and having no semblance to anything on earth.
– The Music of Erich Zann

 

  • Ghroth is a planet-sized entity composed of rock, dust, and gas, which periodically opens itself to reveal a vast staring eye.
  • Ghroth, the Harbinger and Maker, travels ceaselessly among the stars commanding or embodying the cosmic turns that mark stages in the lives of the gods.
  • Visions of Ghroth are a psychic reaction to the witness sensing the gaze of Azathoth on their world.
  • Ghroth is an example of the ultimate evolution of the Sons of Yog-Sothoth; had Wilbur Whateley and his twin succeeded, they and the Earth would have become another entity of similar kind.
  • In the early 20th Century, a small order located in Britchester, England designed a special telescope capable of detecting Ghroth and its movements.
  • Ghroth is the wellspring of magical energy in the universe. Sorcerers seek it out to draw such energy to the Earth. Its great eye is the sorcerer’s own, reflected back at them.
  • Ghroth is a premonition of the Earth as it will be far in the future.
  • Ghroth is an Outer God, an incarnation of (or a sentient facet of) the existence of matter in our cosmos. It wars ceaselessly with Azathoth, the embodiment of chaotic energy.
  • Ghroth is an Outer God, an incarnation of (or a sentient facet of) the fundamental force of gravity in our cosmos.
  • The myth of Ghroth was invented by a faction of the Cult of Cthulhu to lend weight to their specific predictions of R’lyeh’s rise.
  • The myth of Ghroth arose from the misunderstanding of human occultists when shown Mi-Go images of the planet Jupiter (the red spot being the source of its great eye).
  •  The myth of Ghroth is a recent occult extrapolation of the Nemesis Star theory.
  • Witnessing Ghroth costs an additional +6 (4) Stability pool points and +5 (2) Sanity pool points.

 

 

Nyogtha

 

My disordered fancy conjured up hideous and fearsome shapes from the sinister darkness that surrounded me, and that actually seemed to press upon my body.
– The Beast in the Cave

 

  • Nyogtha, the Thing That Should Not Be, the Black God of Madness, appears as a fluid mass of impenetrable darkness. It is formless and amoeboid, putting out pseudopods to interact with its environment, and is accompanied by a sickening reptilian odour.
  • Nyogtha dwells in a network of caverns deep beneath the Earth. These caverns touch the surface in only a few areas of occult significance.
  • Nyogtha was created by witches as a soul symbol for humanity. This link to humanity makes it vulnerable to religious trappings such as the ankh and holy water.
  • Nyogtha is the blood of Cthulhu, possessed of independent life.
  • Nyogtha is the venom of Yig, possessed of independent life.
  • Nyogtha is tied to certain human bloodlines, most notably the Prinn family – including Ludwig Prinn, author of De Vermis Mysteriis, and Abigail Prinn of Salem. It can grant longevity, immortality, and resurrection to such people.
  • The Earthly Nyogtha is a facet of a greater entity dwelling on a dark world orbiting Arcturus, and summoned here by the Serpent Folk of Yoth.
  • Nyogtha is the larval form of a true god. It sought power from the Elder Things who imprisoned it beneath New Zealand. Manifestations of Nyogtha elsewhere in the world are only tiny fragments of its substance.
  • Nyogtha is the greatest of the Formless Spawn of Tsathoggua.
  • The first shoggoth-matter was drawn from Nyogtha’s substance by the Elder Things.
  • Nyogtha is an Outer God, an incarnation of (or a sentient facet of) the vacuum between solar systems. Only in areas of great power is it safe to draw any of its substance to Earth.
  • Nyogtha grants necromantic power to its worshippers, which makes it an enemy of Mordiggian. Ghoulish worshippers of the two gods have warred for centuries.
  • Nyogtha is the same entity as the Titan Mordiggian, at a different stage of its existence.
  • Nyogtha is a living curse, the embodiment of a sorcerer’s desire to punish or destroy a community.
  • Nyogtha is a myth, a personification given to black magic.
  • Witnessing Nyogtha costs an additional +3 (1) Stability pool points and +2 Sanity pool points.

 

Ubbo-Sathla

 

He has on rare occasions whispered disjointed and irresponsible things about “the black pit”, “the carven rim” … “the original, the eternal, the undying”, and other bizarre conceptions
– At the Mountains of Madness

 

  • Ubbo-Sathla, the Unbegotten Source, the Source and End, resembles a vast and shapeless mass of protoplasm that continually calves off its spawn into the mire (or caverns, or ocean floor) around its bulk.
  • All Earthly life descends, both physically and spiritually from the spawn of Ubbo-Sathla.
  • Ubbo-Sathla is surrounded by an uncountable number of stone tablets on which the secrets of the “Elder Gods” are inscribed.
  • The first shoggoth-matter was drawn from Ubbo-Sathla’s substance by the Elder Things.
  • Ubbo-Sathla is not an entity in itself, but a vat of inert and undifferentiated biomass from which other life forms may be created.
  • Ubbo-Sathla has only ever been perceived through the Orb of Eons, a mystical gem that allows the viewer to cycle back through their incarnations until their first existence as one of the Titan’s many spawn. Those who undertake this journey vanish out of memory, as if they had never existed.
  • Ubbo-Sathla and Quachil Uttaus are metaphorical representations of the extremes of chaos and order as represented within biological structures.
  • Ubbo-Sathla was destroyed long ago by the Elder Things in order to allow their biologically oriented technology to function without interference.
  • Ubbo-Sathla is part of the same metaphorical “source code” as Shub-Niggurath. Where the latter describes the processes of biological change, the former represents the raw states of biomass on which they operate.
  • Ubbo-Sathla a myth, conjectured by human occultists as an origin for Shoggoths.
  • Witnessing Ubbo-Sathla costs an additional +5 (3) Stability pool points and +4 (2) Sanity pool points.

 

 

Yidhra

 

I began to see a hideous relationship in the faces of the human and non-human figures. He was, in all his gradations of morbidity between the frankly non-human and the degradedly human, establishing a sardonic linkage and evolution.
– Pickman’s Model

 

  • Yidhra is a gestalt entity with no true form, but many constituent bodies spread around the world – some resembling natural creatures, others more monstrous. All of these bodies are linked with a telepathic mind.
  • Cult centres of Yidhra exist, or have existed, in Mesopotamia, South-East Asia, West Africa, and the south-west of North America. Cults of Yidhra are granted a humanoid avatar to serve as their leader; worshippers display progressive genetic mutation as their biology combines with hers.
  • Yidhra’s Mesopotamian cult was led by the Oannes faction of Deep Ones, who helped build the first cities. All Deep Ones once worshipped Yidhra, but the dream-sendings of Cthulhu have drawn most away from the true faith.
  • Yidhra is a parasitic entity that combines its genome with other organisms to ensure its own continuation. It retains the capabilities of creatures it infects or devours.
  • Yidhra is an Outer God, an incarnation of (or a sentient facet of) evolution in our cosmos.
  • Yidhra is known as the dream witch, due to the telepathic illusions with which she hides her (and as time goes on, their) true form from her cultists.
  • Yidhra’s genetic substance partakes of all life that has ever been native to the Earth. She can adopt the semblance of any such organism – though never completely, always with a few elements of some other creature mixed in.
  • Yidhra’s genetic substance is present in all organisms on Earth. All terrestrial life is part of the goddess’s substance.
  • Yidhra is the body of all beings in the universe, the same entity as Nyarlathotep which is their soul.
  • Yidhra is a myth, a misunderstanding of the Million Favoured Ones of Nyarlathotep, in telepathic communion with their master.
  • Yidhra is (or more likely was) a presumptuous high priestess of Shub-Niggurath, who falsely claimed the goddess’s power to be her own.
  • Witnessing Yidhra in a monstrous form costs an additional +4 (3) Stability pool points and +3 (2) Sanity pool points.

 

 

Mythical Options for Existing Deities

 

  • Chaugnar Faugn is an almost-comical misconception that stemmed from the confrontation with a cult of Yog-Sothoth that had hidden itself within a temple of Ganesh, and grew in the telling.
  • Cthugha is a conjectured origin for the Fire Vampires.
  • Cthulhu is a religious figure among both Deep Ones and humans, conjectured and exaggerated from interactions with Xothians.
  • Dagon is a grain-god from Near Eastern mythology, which has become associated with Deep Ones through their membership in an ancient Yidhra (or Shub-Niggurath) cult from that part of the world.
  • “Daoloth” is part of an ancient invocation for seeing the future, misconstrued as a name by later occultists.
  • Ghatanothoa was the mythical “Son of Cthulhu” claimed by the cults of Mu to bolster their status among worshippers of the god of R’lyeh.
  • Ghatanothoa is the Muvian Naacal word for petrifaction. Later occultists misinterpreted this descriptive term for a powerful curse as the name of an originating source.
  • Ghatanothoa is simply one of many legends told about the mythical continent of Mu – perhaps derived from cross-referencing with tales of Cthulhu and R’lyeh.
  • Gol-Goroth is a mythical demon invented by a cult that coincidentally practiced their rites at a true site of mystical power in Mediaeval Hungary.
  • Hastur is a metaphorical figure created by the author of the (quite mundane) play The King in Yellow, to symbolise the death of spirit he feared would result from civilisation.
  • Ithaqua is a mystical “password” used by members of a North American cannibal cult who revere the condition of windigo.
  • Mordiggian is a religious figure among Ghouls, no less mythical than the gods of any human religion.
  • Mordiggian is a metaphorical name given by human necrophages for the process of becoming a Ghoul.
  • Mormo is occult conjecture derived from conflating the many lunar goddess cults (of varying levels of similarity) that existed around the Mediterranean and Near East.
  • Nodens is a human legend conflated with Shub-Niggurath through occult error.
  • Nyarlathotep is a myth that’s grown up among opponents of Mythos forces, and other occultists who have brushed up against its truths: a comparatively understandable devil-figure set against the unknowable cosmos.
  • Nyarlathotep is a fringe-historical hypothesis from the early Twentieth Century; a faceless primal god lying behind all the various cults of Egypt.
  • Quachil and Uttaus were two powerful necromancers of the ancient world, whom later legend conflated, then deified.
  • Rhan-Tegoth is the greatest triumph of George Rogers, waxwork-maker extraordinaire.
  • Tsathoggua was a toad-like totem figure in the barbarian precursors to Hyperborea (no different from Yhoundeh the reindeer god), which Eibon associated with the Formless “Spawn” in order to mislead his rivals.
  • Y’golonac is a figure created by the “Five Fingers” cabal of decadent hedonists to lend license to their debaucheries and definition to their wider “Devouring Hands” servant cult.
  • Yig is a religious figure among Serpent-Folk, no less mythical than the gods of any human religion.
  • Yig is a term in the language of the Serpent-Folk, denoting the right order of things. Humans who heard the word mistook it for the name of a deity.
  • Yog-Sothoth is an ancient symbolic term for travel between worlds, times, and dimensions; the lore of Yog-Sothoth is the body of algebra and geometry needed to describe such journeys, couched in more and more occult terms over the centuries, and eventually personified.

See Page XX

a column on roleplaying by Robin D. Laws

Adversaries in GUMSHOE One-2-One don’t have game statistics per se. This applies to mundane foes and Mythos creatures alike. Instead, when your investigator encounters something nasty that might want to do her harm, a Challenge block describes all the dangers and difficulties of dealing with it, treating its fighting capability as one of those various factors. The threshold numbers assigned to the three outcomes (Setback, Hold, Advance) reflect that particular situation in that scenario. In another scene in the same mystery, or when you next run into that creature in a completely different adventure, the Challenge block might be framed quite differently. The GM or scenario designer starts with the role the Challenge plays in the story and then creates descriptive factors to justify why this Deep One dust-up is tougher (or easier) than the one before it.

One-2-One encounters never lead to the immediate and sudden demise of a character, or a likewise abrupt, story-stopping descent into Lovecraftian madness. Instead a bad result gives you a Problem card. (Or two, if you chose to accept a higher price for an added possibility of success.) Certain Problem cards destroy the character at scenario’s end, after the mystery has been solved, if you still have them on hand. Naturally, you’ll do everything you can to get rid of fatal Problems before the story ends, so that you can continue to have adventures as Viv Sinclair, Langston Wright or Dex Raymond. Otherwise you have to grieve your character’s demise and then create a replacement PC.

Although the Problem cards you take from meeting with a mythos creature, whether you fight it or merely behold it and feel your mind go snap, might vary from one Challenge to the next, the prepared GM might enjoy seeing some samples to either use as is, or to modify to fit her own Challenges.

So for this month and next in See Page XX, I’ll be providing some free-floating Problem cards that might stem from Challenges involving various classic Mythos creatures. These include both Problem cards that come with Setbacks from:

  • Fighting Challenges, resulting in physical injuries
  • Stability Challenges, resulting in emotional or philosophical stress

You can download the laid out Problem Cards here.

Byakhee

Problem from Fighting Challenge:

Bruising Bite

Something about the way that bat-winged monstrosity beak clamped into your flesh makes you think the damage hasn’t stopped. You’re not a doctor, but that hideously spreading bruise might be your first clue.

Each time you get a core clue, roll a die. On an odd result, place a tick mark on this card. Erase a tick mark by Taking Time. If you end the scenario with three or more tick marks on the card, your character dies from a cranial blood clot.

Problem from Stability Challenge:

Fear the Skies

Those awful flapping things could come back at any moment. They could tear you limb from limb. How do you defend yourself against something like that?

Put a tick mark on this card. Each time you move about in an isolated outdoors location rendering you vulnerable to aerial attack, add another tick. Take a penalty to Stability tests equal to the number of ticks. Take a penalty to Sense Trouble tests equal to the number of ticks— except when the danger actually comes from the sky, in which case, gain a bonus equal to the number of ticks.

Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath

Problem from Fighting Challenge

Trampling Hooves

You didn’t know what to expect from a walking tree, even when you got closer and saw that the branches were really tentacles. But being trampled under giant hooves? Not what you anticipated.

Until you Take Time to recuperate, -3 to all Physical / General tests and -1 to all Physical / Manual tests. After that, -1 to all Physical / General tests. Discard when you solve the central mystery.

The Trees Are Watching

You know those things weren’t trees, but out of the corner of your eye trees sure look like those things.

Whenever you can see a tree in the distance, you are unable to make Pushes and take a -1 penalty to Physical / Manual tests. You may attempt to discard by Taking Time to visit your shrink contact. Then roll a die; on an even result, discard. On an odd result, this becomes a Continuity card.

Dimensional Shambler

Problem from Fighting Challenge:

Clawed

That ape-insect thing raked through your clothing to lacerate your arm. The black goo weeping from the wound strikes you as something to get looked at. Or to try desperately to put out of your mind. One or the other.

Discard by Taking Time to visit your scientific or medical Contact. If still in hand at end of scenario, you die from blood poisoning.

Problem from Stability Challenge:

Dimensional Awareness

Ever since you saw that insect-ape thing, weird images have spun through your mind, of other spheres, other realities. Each one more appalling and predatory than the last.

In ordinary circumstances, -1 to Physical / Mental tests.

In the presence of a Mythos creature or manifestation, -2 to Physical / Mental tests and -1 to Physical / Manual tests.

Discard by destroying a Dimensional Shambler.

Flying Polyp

Problem from Fighting Challenge:

Banged Up All Over

That airborne jellyfish summoned a blast of wind that hit you like a tornado. You can’t decide which part of you hurts worse.

-2 to Fighting and -1 to all other General / Physical tests. Discard when you score a Hold or better on a General / Physical test.

Problem from Stability Challenge:

Invisible Foes

The creature came out of nowhere, like it was invisible. That means there could be a creature watching you, right now. You can’t help it if that leaves you looking a little twitchy.

To make an Interpersonal Push, you must first succeed at a Difficulty 5 Cool test, which then permits you to discard this card.