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.

Buy the print edition

Buy the Starter Kit print bundle

Buy the PDF

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

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

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

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

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

Related Links

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


78 Responses to “Trail of Cthulhu”

  1. […] may remember some previous posts I did about Trail of Ctuhulhu, from Pelgrane Press. If not, check out the links to see what I’m talking […]

  2. […] Trail of Cthulhu. I finished Book 7 of the Dresden Files earlier in the week, but have been unable to get into Dust […]

  3. […] or twice a year I like to run a few sessions of… Trail of Cthulhu (GUMSHOE system) by Pelgrane Press Marvel Super-Heroes Adventure Game (SAGA system) by TSR/WotC If […]

  4. […] the Sky “The Watchers in the Sky” is the latest release for Pelgrane Press‘ Trail of Cthulhu line, which Simon Rogers was kind enough to send me as a review […]

  5. […] a giant HPL fiend — and knew, of course, that I’d written the role-playing game [RPG] Trail of Cthulhu because he sold it in his Lovecraft section. So he asked me if I could write something he could […]

  6. […] Trail of Cthulhu Illustrator: Richard Corben This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  7. […] of the great things about the Trail of Cthulhu rulebook is that the inestimable Ken Hite gives several different interpretations of each of the […]

  8. […] a week for some extra nerdy fun with RPGs. For the past couple of months I’ve been running a Trail of Cthulhu (Pelgrane Press) game. I intend to write a review of the Trail of Cthulhu setting, run on the GUMSHOE system, in the […]

  9. […] Of Cthulhu RPG de Brasil, y Guilherme de RetroPunk Game Design, el arrojado tipo que quiere traer Trail of Cthulhu RPG a […]

  10. […] Just got back from GenCon, where I bought too many games (lots of Trail of Cthulhu,Armitage Files, Delta Green, and Ganonoque: the ice-people who fear the dawn is coming) and have a […]

  11. […] Pelgrane Press Ltd » Trail of Cthulhu […]

  12. […] Pelgrane Press: Toda os livros para o sistema GUMSHOE, que inclui a linha Rastro de Cthulhu, Esoterroristas, Cidade Mutante, entre […]

  13. Anonymous says:

    […] Trail of Cthulhu und Fear Itself […]

  14. […] take a long break from, but it’s the way the chips fell. I’m also running an occasional Trail of Cthulhu game for friends in Jericho. It’s going well, though more slowly than I would have thought. I […]

  15. […] non-BRP Cthulhu news, Trail of Cthulhu has a dizzying number of supplements published now and there are more on the way. Shadows of […]

  16. […] the Trail of Cthulhu Character Generator and you could get killed or have your town destroyed in a Trail of Cthulhu […]

  17. […] spent a big chunk of last year writing a mega-campaign called Eternal Lies for Trail of Cthulhu, with Will Hindmarch. With any luck, that will come out this year. It’s still in playtesting. […]

  18. […] Więcej informacji można znaleźć na stronie wydawcy – Pelgrane Press. […]

  19. […] Trail of Cthulhu by Ken Hite from Pelgrane Press […]

  20. […] me there, ask me about any of the things I’m working on, from the Eternal Lies campaign for Pelgrane Press’s Trail of Cthulhu to the Mistborn Adventure Game for Crafty Games. I’m also editing Technoir for Cellar Games, […]

  21. […] Trail of Cthulhu website […]

  22. […] this in a similar manner is Graham Walmsley, author of several Purist scenarios for Pelgrane’s Trail of Cthulhu line, whose latest effort is his Dead White World release for the Cthulhu Apocalypse campaign. The […]

  23. […] Bravo is a 32-page adventure for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG, written by Bill White and published by Pelgrane Press. It is available only in pdf format, and is […]

  24. […] sprzedaży trafiło The Apocalypse Machine, drugi dodatek z serii Cthulhu Apocalypse do Trail of Cthulhu, nagradzanej gry fabularnej na mechanice GUMSHOE. W drugiej część cyklu, napisanego przez […]

  25. […] o wprowadzeniu do sprzedaży The Dead White World, pierwszego dodatku z serii Cthulhu Apocalypse do Trail of Cthulhu, nagradzanej gry fabularnej na mechanice […]

  26. […] Trail of Cthulhu is a game written by Kenneth Hite, and published by Pelgrane Press. It uses Robin D. Laws’ GUMSHOE system for its underlying engine (i.e., the mechanics the game is built upon), which had previously been used in Pelgrane Press’s Fear Itself and The Esoterrorists RPGs. The GUMSHOE system is specifically designed to create stories focusing on investigative mysteries and thus is perfectly suited for exploring the setting based upon the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and his emulators. ToC retails for $39.95 for the hard cover version and $19.95 for the PDF version. I am reviewing the hard cover book. […]

  27. […] que correu a 100%, a experiência foi um sucesso total. Desde então, iniciei uma mini-campanha de Trail of Cthulhu chamada Cthulhu Apocalypse e que levei a bom termo, sendo assim a primeira campanha concluída com […]

  28. […] się bardzo ciekawa ankieta założona przez Pelgrane Press, wydawnictwo odpowiedzialne za Trail of Cthulhu. Dotyczy ona oczekiwań względem kolejnego dodatku do tego systemu. Możliwości są trzy (nazwy […]

  29. […] Trail of Cthulhu – Castle Bravo (1 play) – Wayne ran this the month after the TFOS game. He went all out with the props (amazing how entertaining a flashlight can be) and I loved playing the freaked out crew of an aircraft carrier caught up in an a-bomb test gone wrong. Trail of Cthulhu is an interesting game, and I do want to try running it sometime, in the “traditional” investigative Cthulhu setting. […]

  30. […] Dresden Playset) Remember Tomorrow Trail of Cthulhu Zombie Cinema D&D Encounters Evil Hat Fred […]

  31. […] Sign, the video game Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, and the (other) Lovecraftian RPG, Trail of Cthulhu. […]

  32. […] is a character profile that I wrote up for a recent Trail of Cthulhu game. It’s not really polished, but it was a fun writing exercise. Marshall really […]

  33. […] that has been recently opened to me is the idea of running the campaign using the highly praised Trail of Cthulhu by Pelgrane […]

  34. […] Links: El Circo Cheapo Descent 2 Call of Cthulhu Trail of Cthulhu Stealing Cthulhu Dread Final Girl Zombie Cinema Sorceror Murderous Ghosts Don’t Rest Your […]

  35. […] got a voice mail commenting on Trail of Cthulhu, specifically the Dying of St. Margaret’s adventure. We couldn’t make out the name in […]

  36. […] of Cthulhu by Pelgrane Press If the classic Cthulhu experience sounds a little dry, then perhaps the newer Trail of Cthulhu game […]

  37. […] from them, is letting the players know from the start that they’re going to be playing a horror game. If everyone’s on the same page, it means there’ll be less mood breaking chatter and […]

  38. […] 20% off all Trail of Cthulhu titles on RPGNow for a week from Monday 20th August. The whole line of Trail of Cthulhu products will be included in the sale, from the core book to the most recent PDF release, The Book […]

  39. […] more about Trail of Cthulhu here Purchase Trail of Cthulhu here Find other Trail of Cthulhu products […]

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