Cthulhu Dark

a rules-light system For loveCraFtian horror

graham Walmsley
layout by brennen reeCe


When you investigate. you get whatever a competent investigator would discover. you escape quietly. make an Insanity roll. If you get higher than your Insanity. And. if you will risk your sanity to succeed. Simultaneously. you land quietly on the roof. on a 6. many townspeople had dreams of gigantic nameless creatures. you discover everything humanly possible. On a 1. while your pursers continue searching the hotel. Doing things To know how well you do at something. roll your Insanity die. from February 28 to April 2. you get it. 2 . On a 4. Failing If someone thinks it would more interesting if you failed. On a 4. Take a green Insanity Die. attracting the attention of everyone around. . as above. On a 6. roll:  One die if the task is within human capabilities. On a 6. On a 1. When you see something disturbing. On a 6.  One die if it’s within your occupational expertise. add 1 to your Insanity and roleplay your fear. you find the address “7 Thomas Street” (the next location in the scenario). they describe how you might fail and roll a die. On a 1. Describe your Investigator.Cthulhu Dark your investigator insanity Your Insanity starts at 1. you do brilliantly. you barely succeed. If your Insanity die rolls higher than any other die. the highest die shows how much information you get. For example: you’re investigating your great-uncle’s manuscripts. you crash on an adjoining roof. On a 1. For example: you’re escaping from the window of an Innsmouth hotel. The dreamers included Mr Wilcox of 7 Thomas Street. Choose a name and occupation. but that’s all you get. Then your highest die shows how well you do.  Your Insanity die. (They can’t do this if you’re investigating and you must succeed for the scenario to proceed). but leave traces for pursuers to follow. you find that. a Californian theosophist colony donned robes for a “glorious fulfilment”. you may glimpse beyond human knowledge (and probably make an Insanity roll). you get the bare minimum: if you need information to proceed with the scenario. On a 5.

The highest die. 3 . the highest die shows how well you do. Go out however you want: fight. the person with highest Insanity wins. using the rules above. look at the new result. with your highest die showing how well you succeed. you may add it now and reroll. you succeed as before. rerolling If you included your Insanity die in the roll and you’re not happy with the result. you may now reduce it by suppressing Mythos knowledge: for example. If you get less than your current Insanity. run or collapse. but retire the character as soon as you can. destroying yourself or impeding investigation. decrease your Insanity by 1. even if you made one after your previous roll. Each time you do this. You are caught. When you both roll. rolled by anyone. Whoever gets highest wins. suppressing knoWleDge When your Insanity reaches 5. they get the higher die.If their die rolls higher than your highest die. Afterwards. scream. If you didn’t include your Insanity die before. burning books. As before. you go incurably insane. in the way they described. madly. they may reroll. If it’s a tie. And. And you may continue suppressing Mythos knowledge when your Insanity drops below 5. Co-operating anD Competing To cooperate: everyone who is cooperating rolls their dice. This is a special moment: everyone focusses on your character’s last moments as their mind breaks. you may reroll (all the dice). you fail. To compete: everyone who is competing rolls their dice. someone thinks it would be more interesting if your pursuers caught you. determines the outcome. If Insanity is tied. stopping rituals. reroll. This time. If your Insanity Die rolls higher than any other die. roll your Insanity Die. As before. make an Insanity roll. going insane When your Insanity reaches 6. Afterwards. make an Insanity roll. if your Insanity die rolls higher than any other die you roll. either make a new character or continue playing. Returning to the example above: you’re escaping from the hotel window. if anyone is not happy with their roll. If not.

getting higher than your Insanity. These rules are designed to play prewritten scenarios.com. spotting something concealed. some groups will let the Keeper decide everything. email me at graham@thievesoftime. this means you keep it together. if you sense patterns. let me know. roll to hide or escape. in the example above: even if you rolled a 6 while searching your greatuncle’s personal effects. you fail to keep it together. where Cthulhu sleeps. © Graham Walmsley 2010 4 . My email is graham@thievesoftime. you would not find the coordinates of Ry’leh. unansWereD questions Who decides when to roll Insanity? Who decides when it’s interesting to know how well you do something? Who decides when something disturbs your PC? Who decides whether you might fail? Decide the answers with your group. and might just roll your Insanity die. However. it never takes you to the end of the scenario.com. Make reasonable assumptions.  Things within human capabilities include: picking locks. deciphering carvings. by keeping its highest face turned to your current Insanity. run by a Keeper.  To play without a character sheet. Finally If you write Cthulhu scenarios and you’d like to turn them into standalone products. You can try such things if you have the opportunity: for example. you won’t get the “within human capabilities” die. understanding hidden meaning. you’ll find more Cthulhu Dark rules. there are no combat rules or health levels. you will die. not that you are fine.com. getting your Insanity or lower. skipping everything in between. use your Insanity Die to keep track of your Insanity. you can try to follow them.thievesoftime. in these core rules.other ClariFiCations  If you fight any creature you meet. For example. Let me know how these rules work for you. Instead. Others will share the decisions. If you try improvising scenarios or playing without a Keeper. On www. remembering something.  Things outside human capabilities include: casting spells. doing things in dreams. by including Cthulhu Dark free of charge. Thus. When you fail. Thus.  When you make an Insanity Roll and succeed.  A high success never short-circuits the investigation: That is. rationalising something horrific. finding Ry’leh.

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