Somehow, it’s February already. Not just that but it’s one of those weird Februaries with an extra leap day. Nothing says cosmic weirdness like a date that only exists some of the time.
For no particular reason, we’ve decided that we are going to use February as the month where we share some information about APOCTHULHU, our forthcoming RPG of Lovecraftian Post-Apocalypses. This is something we’ve been working on behind the scenes for a little over 2 years, and have mentioned it here briefly a few times. But 2020 looks set to be the year when we finally bring this project to fruition.
So what the heck is APOCTHULHU?
In short it’s a set of tailored RPG rules *and* a collection of detailed scenarios — both of which are designed to explore a range of different “Lovecraftian” Post-Apocalypse settings.
H.P. Lovecraft’s fiction (and that of his many collaborators and successors) is full of hints that mankind’s dominance over this planet is ephemeral. Something is coming that will sweep away all our accomplishments and nullify our position at the top of the food-chain on Earth. Lots of different stories have vague suggestions or allusions to the possible causes of such an Apocalyptic change of circumstances, although there are precious few tales that describe the state of the world as it exists after the cataclysmic change has come to pass.
APOCTHULHU aims to rectify this by allowing for game scenarios set in devastated versions of our world broken by the “Mythos Apocalypse”. One of the first things that we faced when deciding to create such a thing is the problem of dealing with the many, MANY possible ways in which the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos might (deliberately or accidentally) herald the end of humanity. After all, even the classic Mythos tales provide no real consensus — does humanity’s fall occur because Nyarlathotep goads us into developing weapons capable of wiping out our own species? Or does it come when the cosmic cycles turn and Cthulhu and his ilk can once again walk upon the surface of the land? Or is some future Apocalypse triggered by a need for the Great Race to inhabit the bodies of post-apocalyptic beetles?
Obviously no one single “Mythos Post-Apocalyptic World” can draw upon all those different influences … so in creating APOCTHULHU we have decided to opt for an approach where the rules and sourcebook material focus instead on providing the reader (the GM of an APOCTHULHU game) with a range of tools for crafting any number of *different* Mythos Apocalypses. Think of them as parallel realities of humanity’s demise — after all, why stop at destroying mankind just once, when you can imagine dozens of different Mythos-fueled demises?!
Is this a new game system or a supplement for an existing system?
We will release more information about game systems later, but for now it’s most accurate to say that we have designed APOCTHULHU to be a standalone RPG … but one that is a reskinned version of an open-sourced system that is out there and in common use among Lovecraftian investigative gamers. Folks should be able to pick up the main APOCTHULHU book and run games with just that … but equally, players familiar with common game systems will find it very easy to transfer that knowledge to quickly picking up APOCTHULHU’s mechanics.
You mentioned detailed scenarios as well. How will that work, and who’s written scenarios?
In addition to the sourcebook material which gives a GM the “toolkit” for building an apocalyptic setting from their own ideas, we have also created a bunch of example Mythos Apocalypses, and for some of them also created fully-detailed scenarios. In fact this project actually began with the goal of making a diverse collection of unique Post-Apocalyptic adventures — and a half-dozen great writers have contributed their own version of the Mythos end-of-the-world in scenario form. The writer list includes some well-known names (like Jeff Moeller, Jo Kreil, Christopher Smith Adair, and Dave Sokolowski), as well as some other surprises that I will — for now — keep under my hat.
When is APOCTHULHU likely to come out anyway?
All the scenarios and primary source material for APOCTHULHU are already written and currently working their way through editing. Between rules, sourcebook, and a half-dozen hefty scenarios there is a LOT of material to work through. If I had to guess I’d say the team has produced well over 350 pages of material for this project — whether it all comes out as a single monolithic book, or gets split into a couple of titles, remains to be seen. We are definitely aiming to release APOCTHULHU in 2020, ideally in the first half of the year. At the moment we can’t be any more precise than that.
So … can you give away some more concrete hints about what these example “Mythos Apocalypses” look like?
We’d love to share some details of what our super-creative authors have dreamed up as *their* idea of a Mythos-related end of the world. In fact, over the rest of this month I’m planning on releasing some text sections from the APOCTHULHU book, each of which describes a different Apocalypse setting. These, I guess, would be useful to someone interested in running an interesting Post-Apocalypse game, even if they don’t (yet) have our book. Because we have a bunch to choose from I thought I would let you fine readers pick which setting you’d like to see. Vote in the poll below and I will share the most popular Apocalypses — one per week — throughout February!
The eight Apocalypses up for grabs are:
- Apocalypse 1: The Stars Turn, Turn, Turn — The Stars came right, as the cults of the Great Old Ones prophesied and Mythos beings could once again exist and walk openly on the face of the Earth. Alien cities rose. Cthulhu walked unleashed for the first time in millennia.
- Apocalypse 2: Nyarlathotep Unmasked — A certain global conspiracy of cults in the 1920s sought to open the way for Nyarlathotep. Globe-trotting investigators were on the case … but what happened if they failed to stop the cult’s grand plan?
- Apocalypse 3: The God From The Uttermost South — In the early 1930s a pair of expeditions braved nigh-unsurpassable challenges to travel to the Antarctic regions and the so-called “Mountains of Madness”. Hidden in an alien city was a trapped entity; what happened when it was trapped no longer?
- Apocalypse 4: The Firelands of Melqart — A crackpot doomsday cult called the “Church of Melqart” predicted the coming of a year-long purging fire that would cleanse the earth. On the Internet everybody laughed, but nobody was laughing when the appointed day came and millions of fireball creatures descended from the heavens.
- Apocalypse 5: Under The Charcoal Sky — Nobody is sure exactly how it happened, but somehow a world-wide invasion of supernatural sentient shadow creatures has decimated humanity everywhere. The scattered survivors live huddled beneath a perpetually charcoal-colored sky.
- Apocalypse 6: Shake The Disease — Global society as we know it ended in 2023 when humanity was decimated by the release of a bioengineered bacteriological agent from a government laboratory; what few know is that the disease is not terrestrial but rather the manifestation of the Great Old Ones.
- Apocalypse 7: This Silent World — The world is infested by extra-dimensional horrors spawned by Yog-Sothoth, blind alien things that kill indiscriminately and mercilessly, thanks to an exceptional sense of hearing. A few humans have escaped their murderous rampage … and they have learned that to survive they must be *very* quiet.
- Apocalypse 8: This Fecund Planet — When the miraculous floss-like substance first fell from the sky scientists called it a biological miracle, something that could cause any plant to grow even in the most barren of soil. But the ‘blessing’ of Shub-Niggurath is a type of fertility that does not always yield wholesome things.