Design Corner

Sandy’s Creative Curse

Now it’s story time. I get nightmares. A lot. Some are even recurring nightmares. Some are one-offs. I suppose it makes sense - i spend my working hours immersed in Lovecraftiana, and much of my leisure hours are reading horror stories or watching scary movies. Now,...

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Daemon Sultan

Daemon Sultan

As Daemon Sultan, you need to react to what's going on. Because of this nature of your faction, you can't just make a plan from the start and stick with it. You have to be able to respond to the situation. This is really obvious right from the start, while you are...

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Changing the Game

Changing the Game

I spend a LOT of time testing out my games before they get published. This is part of the legacy I inherited from the late lamented Ensemble Studios. I remember once attending a seminar at the Game Developer’s Conference with Greg Street (a fellow designer). The...

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Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard Hannah Hazard is an Israeli-trained sniper: Hannah’s start attack is 1d6, with a toughness of 2, starting Luck of 6 (!), and a mere 4 health. That health is bad, and keeps her out of the front lines, but her extra Luck means she is encouraged to take...

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Sleeper

Sleeper

Sleeper Cult Board The Sleeper board is full of Skulks, including the unique Ritual Skulk, the Flex Skulk, and the Block Skulk. Sleeper also has a site which rewards the user with 4 Treasure. However, the player must have at least one cultist on any Skulk (including...

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Bringing Startropolis To Life

Bringing Startropolis To Life

When I joined Jeff to help bring Startropolis to life, he already had it in a pretty good spot. Jeff and I  have worked together for years on various projects and he has always been a great idea man. However as fun as Startropolis was, we both knew it wasn't ready...

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My Support System

My Support System

My Support System To design a game, you need more than a brain & some construction paper. You need a support system, to permit you to focus on the ideas & game at hand, to give you time to do your tasks. If you are constantly interrupted with brief tasks throughout...

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Doc Hunter

Doc Hunter

Doc Hunter is an MD who has been living on the road since the apocalypse. When he saw the horrors advancing towards his hospital, he went to the pharmacy, grabbed all the drugs and medical gear he could cram onto a gurney, and headed for the hills. Since then he has...

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Startropolis Sneak Preview

Startropolis Sneak Preview

Sneak Preview One of the titles Petersen Games will be Kickstarting later this year is Startropolis. This is one of those rare games that was NOT designed in house by Sandy or me, but rather brought to us by Jeff Petersen (no relation!), and Tony...

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Startropolis

Startropolis

Startropolis is a modular, 3-D space station game for 2-4 players. Each turn, players purchase modules and connect them to the existing space station, which creates revenue, allowing them to purchase more modules. The player with the most credits at the end of the game wins. Coming to Kickstarter Summer 2018.

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Dice

Dice

All About Dice Why are the dice so plain? The dice are simple solid colors. Nothing fancy, like Q-Workshop's tribal dice, or SJG's cthulhu dice. Why? Because we are going for functionality here. This is not just theory either. You see, when I playtested this game for...

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Spider Mastermind

Spider Mastermind

Another Lord?! Yes we have something more coming. Another 4 crown demon suzerain. It’s a secret to everybody. The Spider Mastermind That’s right – we are doing a Keith Thompson version (assuming he's willing - he has yet to respond!) of the humongous cyborg arachnid...

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Philtre Argus

Philtre Argus

The Philtre The Philtre is of course named after healing potions and the like. I originally called it the Catholicon, which is an old term for a universal medicine, but I feared folks would misunderstand and think I was somehow slamming the Church. Which I’m not. I...

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Cthulhu

Cthulhu

Great Cthulhu?! Has Sandy Lost His Mind? Well … perhaps. But the reason Cthulhu has made his appearance is for the following reasons: first, some folks had been asking for a Keith Thompson Lovecraftian image. Second, yes I know that Cthulhu is a different genre...

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Pit Demons

Pit Demons

Pack of the Pit – all the Demons The Hortator Ever seen a movie about ancient Rome featuring galley slaves? You may notice that at one end of the banks of oars sits a muscular shirtless guy pounding on two drums with mallets, keeping the time for the rowers. That dude...

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Cissy

Cissy

Cissy Salem Cissy is intended to be a typical goth girl. No doubt she was a big fan of Behemoth and Pallbearer back in the day, got a pentagram tattoo (which she now regrets, like everyone else who gets a pentagram tattoo), and wore nothing but black in high school....

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Heroes Pit

Heroes Pit

Heroes of the Pit Amelia Azevedo Amelia Azevedo is a firefighter and emergency medical technician. She is inspirational, if a bit too willing to think of others instead of herself. She’s pretty good. Attack 1d8, starting Luck 4. Unfortunately, she only has a Toughness...

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Demon Dragon

Demon Dragon

Dragon Pack – All the Demons The Cendiary The Cendiary sculpt is based on a flaming Asian demon. I felt that at least one of the demons should spread hellfire. When the Cendiary spawns, every hero catches fire, regardless of his location. Furthermore, should you be so...

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Hero Dragon

Hero Dragon

Dragon Pack Heroes Bernice Kuchler I watch a lot of horror, alien invasion, and action movies. I dote on them. One of my best friends once mocked me when I remarked that “The Sound of Horror” might be too well-known for a movie night with my buddies. He immediately...

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Difficulty

Difficulty

Planet Apocalypse Difficulty It’s my firm opinion that a co-operative game needs to be fairly tight in difficulty, or why even play it, right? Planet Apocalypse follows this philosophy. The first time most people play the Invasion map against a basic boss like...

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Troopers

Troopers

Trooper Design The basic rule is of course that every map starts with 5 types of troopers. In the vast majority of regionsz their cost goes from 1-5, with one trooper at each price point. The number of troopers at each level is generally set at 8 for the 1-point...

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Battling Lords

Battling Lords

Fighting the Lords So let’s talk about the final battles in Planet Apocalypse, and how they work, along with an analysis of a typical battle. Let’s see how a fight goes! This is an actual example from gameplay. The game begins – a normal Invasion map, with Baphomet at...

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Lord Void

Lord Void

Lady Stheno Stheno in ancient lore was the elder sister of the Gorgons, but you can see we portray her awful reality very differently from the bowdlerized Greek version. Like her namesake (or perhaps the namesake is a reflection of the reality) she can petrify her...

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Regions

Regions

Regions! Another aspect of Planet Apocalypse, which doesn’t come into play until you get the expansions, are Regions. These are actually countries, and the country you are ostensibly playing in affects which troopers you have available and (sometimes) other parts of...

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RFS Gift Cards

RFS Gift Cards

Rapid Fire & Sergeant Gift Cards We have termed the player upgrades “Gifts” under the concept that they are talents or blessings of some sort. The Gifts are an extremely important part of the game. Your hero has his own tech tree, with his own unique upgrades, but...

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Hero Void

Hero Void

Heroes of the Void Pack Dorothy Hall Dorothy Hall is (a bit) based on a combination of several of my nieces. She has a puny starting toughness of 1, and low health of 4. Her attack is an average 1d6, but she does have 7 Luck. When she’s alone, she is quite vulnerable...

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Asmod and Procrustes

Asmod and Procrustes

Lord Asmod Asmod is kind of based on the medieval demon Asmodeus, famed today as the namesake for the mighty French game company Asmodee. Asmod’s figure bristles with heads. The two little heads on top are wearing crowns, and grin with idiot joy. A huge maw gapes...

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Jabootu

Jabootu

Jabootu We had discussed whether or not to have a special “early bird” bonus for this campaign. Some people love them. Many dislike them. In the end, we decided that because we had not properly announced and publicized an early bird before the campaign, it wouldn’t be...

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Tardigrade

Tardigrade

The Tardigrade and a personal story When I was in my early teens, one of my favorite activities was sitting down with my grandfather’s microscope and perusing tiny life-forms. I used to make hay infusions, gather mud from promising ponds, and observe animalcules for...

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Scylla

Scylla

Lady Scylla Yet another ancient Greek-themed creatures. Scylla is a multi-headed horror, with a central womanly body from which serpentine forms emanate. Why the Greek “Demons”? Planet Apocalypse is NOT a “laundry-list” of demons from all times and places. Our Hell...

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Pulgasaur

Pulgasaur

Lord Pulgasaur The Pulgasaur is one of our few entities not based on something from centuries in the past – it is actually derived from a North Korean film “Pulgasari” made in the 1980s. The backstory for this film is pretty amazing, but I’ll let you look it up in...

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Legions

Legions

Legions and how I made them Planet Apocalypse has a lot of little aspects that make every playthrough different. One of these is the Legions of Hell. I’ve named all the rivers after various rivers or cities or alternate names of Hell. The core game comes with four...

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Secutor Mandrake Magdalene

Secutor Mandrake Magdalene

Demons of the Void pack & running out of demons The Secutor Named after the Roman gladiator type, the Secutor is a warrior pure and simple. His armor & weaponry are reminiscent of the gladiator, and the chain around his neck, held by his stomach-face, is emblematic of...

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Lord Baphomet

Lord Baphomet

Lord Baphomet You can ONLY win Planet Apocalypse by killing the Lord. The core game’s Lord is Baphomet. Unlike some other co-op games, you’ll want to attack the lord several times during the course of the game. If you wait till the end, then gang up on Baphomet (or...

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Naomi Joslyn

Naomi Joslyn

Naomi Joslyn Naomi Joslyn is a determined, even fanatical, opponent to the demons. She is a terrific all-round hero. She is the character whose initial figure was misprinted by China, so I now own a giant action figure of her, which I love. In her backstory, her eye...

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Prof Maxwell

Prof Maxwell

Professor Maxwell Professor Maxwell is an older man, an academic. (In my head I picture him as 63 years old, because he is based on a friend of mine, also an academic, who is that age.) He is wise, but physically perhaps not in the peak of condition. (My friend is in...

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Tarang

Tarang

Tarang Tarang is an Indonesian transfer student with martial arts training. His start attack is 1d6. Toughness is 2 and starting luck 3, all average. Health is 6, nothing too amazing, but certainly enough to let him stand in the front lines. Tarang starts with the...

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The Hellhound

The Hellhound

The Hellhound Fourth Circle demons only spawn when the Lord track has cycled back to 1. This takes anywhere from 9 to 4 turns, depending on how many players are in the game. Sometimes it takes slightly less or more time, depending on certain gifts or abilities that...

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Cindrew

Cindrew

Cindrew Putorious Cindrew Putorious is a nurse (RN) with a trained pet ferret, named Fidgit. Her start attack is 1d4, which is terrible. Her toughness is 2 and starting luck 3, both average. Her health is 6, which is pretty good. She has the start ability of Fidgit,...

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Bellatrix

Bellatrix

The Bellatrix The Bellatrix is a fearsome force – a female soldier, as is obvious from her name. Her model shows Hell’s attempt to mimic human norms. No doubt the Bellatrix was ordered to be a beautiful woman, and so searched earth’s archives to find the loveliest...

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Leveling Up

Leveling Up

Leveling Up! For this next bit, get out your copy of Planet Apocalypse and look at some of the hero sheets. Improving your hero in Planet Apocalypse is a matter of spending Courage on your “tech tree”. Every hero has his own unique gift track. You can easily see how...

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Geryon

Geryon

Lord Geryon Geryon is of course named after the three-bodied herds-thing of Greek myth. But our Geryon is an entity of terror. All the demon lords ostensibly came about by the transformation and inversion of one of the fabled occult heroes, originally trained to stop...

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More About John Dark

More About John Dark

John Dark John Dark has an exceptionally dire backstory. Before the apocalypse, he was interested in the occult. During the lead-up to Hell’s rising, he managed to make contact with a demon lord, and actually sold his soul! Over time, he realized his horrible error,...

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Catoblepas

Catoblepas

The Catoblepas The Catoblepas is the bringer of death and plague. If you look at its miniature, it seems to be slumping and falling apart, or possibly being created, as it moves. Its anatomy is odd – looking more like a torture rack than a beast. It is a terrifying...

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Basic Demonology

Basic Demonology

Planet Apocalypse classifies demons into Circles. These do not correspond precisely to Dante’s Inferno, but represent increasing degrees of threat. How demons spawn The Limbo, First, Second, and Third Circle demons spawn by rolling the current number of Despair dice....

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Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Planet Apocalypse is the most complex and in-depth co-op game I’ve ever designed. If you’re wondering what other co-op games I can take to my credit, let me list a few: Arkham Horror – yes, I know you’re thinking “Isn’t that by Richard Launius?” and of course it is....

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Artist

Artist

The Artist The Artist is another investigator who can give you a break. Perhaps he has a short attention span, or he only cares about the real threats. Anyway, his effect is that all players have to quickly add up their victory points. This doesn’t take too long. Even...

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Sleuth Bhole

Sleuth Bhole

The Sleuth (investigator) For our non-English speaking fans, or those without a classical education, a “Sleuth” is a crime-solver extraordinaire. For example, Sherlock Holmes is a Sleuth. So is Gary Sinise’s character on CSI: New York. Incidentally, there is a great...

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Scott Author Yith

Scott Author Yith

John Scott (priest) John Scott was Carl Stanford’s chief aide and administrator in the Silver Twilight Lodge, an organization created for the first Call of Cthulhu campaign– Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. John Scott was a good friend of mine – John Scott Clegg (Hi Scott! If...

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Minister Polyp Carl

Minister Polyp Carl

Carl Stanford (priest) Carl Stanford made his original appearance as the sinister head of the Silver Twilight Lodge from the first Call of Cthulhu campaign ever published – Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. But there is more to his tale than that. You see, when I was growing...

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Yellow Sign

Yellow Sign

Have you found the Yellow Sign? The Start space on the Yellow Sign board costs nothing, and gives you the King in Yellow card. Place this card by your priest board. It acts as a new action space that only you can activate (while you have control of the King). To use...

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Shan Hobo Hound Servitor

Shan Hobo Hound Servitor

A bunch of Dudes! The Shan Queen (Priest) She is in fact an Insect from Shaggai (also known as Shans). Part-immaterial, she has the power to invest human brains and read, even control, their thoughts. Her ability requires timing, and usually isn’t effective in the...

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Orne Vampire

Orne Vampire

New Priest: Simon Orne Simon Orne is from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and is one of Joseph Curwen’s sorcerous associates. He has been around a long time, and is known to be a man of wealth. If you are playing as him for your priest, you have the ability to “call...

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Asenath

Asenath

Asenath Waite Asenath Waite is the star of Lovecraft’s tale The Thing on the Doorstep. I might mention in passing that this story means a lot to me – you see, in my very first (and for years only) book by Lovecraft, this tale did not appear. However, it was mentioned...

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Tcho Tcho

Tcho Tcho

Tcho-Tcho Cult Board The Tcho-Tcho board has two start sites, plus four special sites that are not unlocked during normal play. Instead, these four special sites are triggered by the Growth track, which charts the spread of Ubbo-Sathla, a terrible entity grown by the...

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Crawling Chaos

Crawling Chaos

Crawling Chaos Cult Board This cult board is in the Blood Ceremony box. It is strange, almost formalized, with a unique feel - in some ways harsher than any other cult board, in other ways easier. It offers many ways to interfere with your opponents. Azathoth Pool...

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Opener

Opener

Opener of the Way Cult Board First, all Opener sites are, in effect, "Starts"; i.e., they can be completed in theoretically any order. Some do have requirements which must be met first, but these are conditions, rather than the pattern of unlocking found on other cult...

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Ngah Kthun

Ngah Kthun

N’Gah Kthun Well, N'.Gah Kthun barely squeaked out a victory in our poll, but since a miss is as good as a mile, here he (it?) comes. N’Gah Kthun is a name overheard in Lovecraft’s tale The Whisperer in Darkness. I have posited that it is the name of one of the Fungi...

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Windwalker

Windwalker

Windwalker Map Three of the Windwalker sites activate entities which power the three mystic glaciers. The entities are the Wendigo, the Gnoph-Keh, and Rhan-Tegoth. Simply place the appropriate card on the relevant glacier to indicate this. When Rhan-Tegoth's Elder...

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Federal Agent

Federal Agent

It’s the Feds! How do unique Investigators work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then you already are on track for getting 10 special investigators. To use these, at the game start, you randomly shuffle your 11...

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Undead and Byakhee

Undead and Byakhee

Undead and Byakhee Refresher - How do unique Monsters work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then in that set you get 12 Monsters. Additionally, there are 2 in the Dark Ritual box (also part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), the...

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Herbert West

Herbert West

Herbert West & Priests How do Priests work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then you already are on track for getting 10 unique priests. To use these, at the game start, you randomly shuffle your priests and each player...

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Ancients

Ancients

Time for the Ancients We are now announcing the new Ancients cult board! (Hmm, “New Ancients” is quite the oxymoron.) It will be included in the Dark Rituals stretch goal box, for everyone at the Dunwich pledge level. It’s not a “stretch goal” per se. Just a fun bonus...

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Black Goat

Black Goat

Black Goat But First, Let’s Talk About Custom Dice Well I have to say that I, Sandy Petersen, am not the biggest fan of custom dice. I was opposed to doing the custom dice in the very first Cthulhu Wars campaign (clear back in 2013), for example (obviously, I lost...

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Arkham

Arkham

Arkham Town Site’s Design The Arkham town site lets you give up a precious Elder Sign in exchange for 3 treasure, 2 blood, and 1 magic. It also releases a cultist from the Asylum (to your escape, as per usual).  Conceptually, the idea here is that the folk of Arkham...

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Nodens

Nodens

Nodens and the Elder Gods I was pondering what to add to you all for a big reward for your loyalty. I didn't want to make another "Dire" sculpt, largely because I am really happy with the other Great Old Ones. And I wanted something new, anyway. Felt you deserved it....

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Asenath and Jenkins

Asenath and Jenkins

Asenath Waite and Brown Jenkins Brown I loved Brown Jenkin from the first moment I read Dreams in the Witch-House. He was an amazingly creepy character, seemingly anchored in old-school satanic imagery, but yet instead he turns out to be a gateway into Lovecraft’s...

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Neutral Monsters vs. Indie GOOs

Neutral Monsters vs. Indie GOOs

Neutral Monsters vs. Independent Great Old Ones This article is inspired by (and based on) a great discussion from BoardGameGeek. Thanks to all the Cthulhu Wars fans who brought up these ideas, to which I’ve added a few of my own. To get a neutral monster, you have to...

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How to Defeat the Ancients

How to Defeat the Ancients

Beating the Ancients The Ancients have some excellent tricks they can use to shut down an enemy. First and most obviously, they have a great cost/combat ratio for their creatures. Second, they don’t have to cough up 6-10 Power for a Great Old One all at once, which...

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Ancients’ Strategy

Ancients’ Strategy

The Ancients Strategy So, how does one PLAY this unusual new faction? Most obviously, you need to worry about your Cathedrals. Because you don’t have a Great Old One, you get major power savings, but this is ultimately negated by your need to spend 4-10 Power on...

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Tcho Tcho Balance

Tcho Tcho Balance

Tcho Tcho Balance Change and Why and How For some weeks we have been listening to you, and analyzing the experience people have with the Tcho-Tchos. The conclusions we have reached are threefold. IT'S A NEW FACTION First, as a new faction, many people are unprepared...

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A Tcho Tcho Strategy

A Tcho Tcho Strategy

A Tcho Tcho Strategy Some players have trouble getting their head around the Tcho-Tchos. Others have trouble seeing how the Tcho-Tchos can be stopped. This strategy guide should help everyone understand this weirdo faction better. THE FIRST TURN CHALLENGE In your...

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Reanimated

Reanimated

What are the Reanimated? The Ancients are able to use their science revivify dead tissue, letting it move and perform tasks. They use these living corpses as workers or warriors, and can even reanimate a portion of a corpse. They generally use the corpses of criminals...

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The Un Men

The Un Men

Who are the Un-Men? Lovecraft reports the Ancients have the ability to transform a person into plasma-like, almost gaseous state. In this form, the victim becomes able to twist and distort his body in exaggerated ways. I have chosen to call these entities, former...

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The Yothans

The Yothans

The Yothans Deep below the blue-lit cavern of K'n-Yan is the red-lit cavern of Yoth, inhabited by a race of intelligent reptiles. Long thought extinct, the few remaining Yothans now work with the Ancients. Every faction has acolytes. Every faction has monsters....

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Ancients’ Acolytes

Ancients’ Acolytes

Ancients’ Acolytes Functionally, they are no different that the acolytes of other factions. To celebrate their tech-savvy nature, the Ancients Acolyte is dressed futuristically, rather than in hooded robes, and brandishes an ominous-looking eye-like device. She is...

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Haunter of the Dark

Haunter of the Dark

The Haunter of the Dark One of the “missing pieces” of Cthulhu Wars has always been Nyarlathotep’s multiplicity of shapes. Of course, we give a shout-out to it in the Crawling Chaos spellbook of “Thousand Forms” which is supposed to work by Nyarlathotep using his...

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Neutral Spellbooks

Neutral Spellbooks

Neutral Spellbooks The Azathoth "Faction" expansion has a truly unique feature – neutral spellbooks, that can replace any normal faction spellbook. But this obviously involves giving up a faction spellbook! When is this worthwhile? Well, this is overall too...

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Dire Azathoth

Dire Azathoth

Dire Azathoth?! Everyone loved Dire Cthulhu. SO... I started brooding on Dire Azathoth. Why? Well, even as I was concerned that our former Cthulhu was so svelte, I was never fully happy with our Azathoth. For me (I realize this is subjective) Azathoth was one of our...

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Chreating  Shaggai

Chreating Shaggai

Creating the Shaggai Map The Shaggai map was birthed from my desire to create a map which is destroyed over time. I already dabbled with this idea in the Primeval Map, but of course Shaggai feels and plays VERY differently from Primeval. Every map needs a particular...

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The Masks

The Masks

The Masks of Nyarlathotep One of Nyarlathotep’s best-known attributes is his multiplicity of shapes . There is a shout-out to it in the core game (his Thousand Forms spellbook), but he doesn’t actually utilize this ability. Players have remarked on this, and it always...

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Vooniths

Vooniths

The Vooniths Vooniths are an “amphibious horror” referenced by Lovecraft in his tale, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Pretty much nothing else is known of them. I have based my design of the Voonith upon sirens and amphisboenas – these are existing amphibians &...

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Meet John Dark

Meet John Dark

Meet John Dark Who is John Dark? John Dark is an occultist, who sold his soul to Otherworld Forces, and now regrets his decision. He now fights on the side of right until that dark day comes when he must pay the ultimate price with his mind and soul. John Dark has the...

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Meet the Ancients

Meet the Ancients

Meet the Ancients! Once more let’s talk about the Ancients. First, the basics. They have six acolytes, like everyone else. They also have two types of monsters – the Un-Men and the Reanimated, and get three of each. They also get three Yothans. Uniquely among all...

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Faction Development

Faction Development

Cthulhu Wars Faction Development There are a lot of considerations that go into developing a Cthulhu Wars faction. So much so that I’ve only done it 9 times in 5 years! (By comparison, I developed 17 factions in just over 18 months for Age of Empires II.) Some of...

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Whence the Ancients

Whence the Ancients

Whence the Ancients? The Ancients are the new faction for Onslaught 3. They are a human-oriented faction, and are particularly unusual, because they don’t have their own Great Old One. The Tcho-Tchos are, of course, also a human-oriented faction, but play quite...

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Dire Cthulhu

Dire Cthulhu

Let’s talk about Dire Cthulhu Why is there even a Dire Cthulhu? Well, our original Cthulhu sculpt is creepy, and terrific. But something about it always bothered me – Lovecraft describes Cthulhu as … corpulent. And our classic sculpt is pretty svelte. I guess he works...

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Tcho Tcho Intro

Tcho Tcho Intro

Introducing the Tcho Tchos The Tcho-Tcho faction faces numerous decisions throughout the game, and requires planning. Should you accumulate High Priests or expend them to gain immediate Power? Which enemy Start Areas should you target? It is almost impossible to gain...

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Custodian Job

Custodian Job

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? A player can take the "Activate Custodian" action on their turn. This costs 0 Power, but they have to discard their Silence Token.  The player can then move the Custodian to any Area, after which he (the Custodian) attacks by rolling the...

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Ubbo Sathla Concept

Ubbo Sathla Concept

Ubbo Sathla Concept and Why Things to note in the image:  It is a fungus-protozoan-jellyfish thing. I rather like this, because Ubbo-Sathla is the source of life, not just animal life. It is not a blob monster - while irregular, it has a definite body form, with...

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Two Sides

Two Sides

All of my “Design Corners” are in response to comments or questions from you, the backers. Feel free to suggest more and I’ll keep doing these forever! This one is because a backer asked the sensible question, “Are the Order & Unchained minions identical except for...

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Tundra and Mystery Hero A

Tundra and Mystery Hero A

Tundra (Order) Tundra is an intelligent polar bear, fighting for the Order. He is fairly tough (as you’d expect), and his weapon upgrades let him freeze dangerous enemies, which is both tactically and strategically useful. His special power is that all of the skulls...

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Player Number

Player Number

A backer asked how we are handling different numbers of players. If you play co-operative games, you know this isn't always done perfectly. He noted that each Army in Orcs Must Die! The Boardgame has 3 cards. He wonders how this works with fewer players. So I thought,...

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Minion evolution

Minion evolution

Let's talk about how the enemy minions work. Each minion basically consists of three stats - a Movement, an Attack, and a Vulnerability. Some minions also have a Special of some sort. All minions fall into one of two categories - they are either a Lesser minion or a...

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How different are the sides in Orcs Must Die?

How different are the sides in Orcs Must Die?

One of the choices I faced in creating the Unchained vs. the Order was how much overlap would be between them. I knew from the start I did NOT want them to be basically identical, except for art. I wanted them to feel different. One way in which I tried to accomplish...

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Hogarth & Kobold King

Hogarth & Kobold King

Hogarth & Kobold King For the Order, we are unlocking Hogarth, one of the favorite heroes of the Orcs Must Die! Unchained beta. He is a frost-based character, who is also a shield – a “tank” if you’re familiar with MMO terminology. He works the same in our boardgame....

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The unique character High Priests

The unique character High Priests

One of the stretch goals for this campaign was High Priests with personalities (this goal was reached long ago). This is how they work. I have created 8 unique character High Priests:Asenath Waite, Crawford Tillinghast, Ermengarde Stubbs, Herbert West, Lady de la...

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Tulszcha

Tulszcha

I generated yet another random number, and today it came up Tulszcha! At last, one of the new ones! (My secret plan was to continue doing this till I got a new one.) So, how does Tulszcha change the game for everyone. Well, conveniently for the point I've been trying...

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Gnolls vs Lions

Gnolls vs Lions

The "Lions" are actually named Pride Hunters in the digital game, but since they look like lions and hunt down players we call them Lions in the board game. Now you get 2 more Gnolls & 2 more Lions enabling even bigger, more challenging maps to be forged. The Gnolls &...

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Dobbin and Mystery Hero B

Dobbin and Mystery Hero B

Dobbin the Prospector Dobbin has the ability to tunnel himself or another hero in his tile to any tile on the map. He has pretty good health, is a dwarf, and is really good at killing smaller enemies, such as orcs or kobolds. His attacks are less helpful against large...

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The Apprentice and Blackpaw

The Apprentice and Blackpaw

The Apprentice She is a support hero, best used as part of a solid team. She is good to have along whether you are attacking or defending. She can shut down enemy heroes to an extent, and supercharge her allies. Her weapons give her a lot of flexibility – she is able...

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Librarian & Custodian

Librarian & Custodian

Librarian & Custodian Some people may notice that the Librarian is built rather like a nematocyte. The resemblance is intentional. She has two smallish grappling arms to sort and reshelve books. She has three large talons that can be used either to pacify unruly...

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Opening  Moves

Opening Moves

Opening Moves It is fair to stay that in the core game of Cthulhu Wars, certain semi-fixed Openings exist, much as in chess. (Though probably not as many as Chess!) If Cthulhu builds a Gate in the North Pacific, this conceivably generates different responses from...

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The Fantasy Flight Connection

The Fantasy Flight Connection

A lot of you guys have doubtless played Fantasy Flight games. For years, they have been one of the world's premier game manufacturers. One game, Twilight Imperium, influenced Cthulhu Wars spiritually. I love Twilight Imperium. I am especially impressed with the way...

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Fertility Cult

Fertility Cult

Shub-Niggurath’s Fertility Cult Ability This is probably the least-respected faction ability (it never gets stolen by Sleeper!), and it is admittedly weak, but it can be extremely useful on occasion in the mid-game or late game. First I want to say I see no need to...

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Nerfing Windwalker

Nerfing Windwalker

Nerfing & Buffing & Windwalker In many parts of the video-game industry, the words “nerf” and “buff” are used by designers when adjusting game balance. “Nerfing” means you’ve weakened a unit or faction or ability. “Buffing” means you’ve strengthened it. This can be...

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Proto-Shoggoth

Proto-Shoggoth

What is a Proto-Shoggoth? To me, Sandy, a proto-Shoggoth is a creature formed from shoggoth-like material, but with more delicate protoplasm. It is weaker proportionally, and lacks the mutational power of a true Shoggoth. However, because of its greater "liquidity",...

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The Ancestor and Stink Eye

The Ancestor and Stink Eye

The Ancestor  The Ancestor looks like a creeptastic undead. He started out as the noble founder of the Order, and was an Order character during the Orcs Must Die Kickstarter, but then Robot decided to transfer him to the Unchained side. He is relatively low in health,...

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Spotlight on Yellow Sign

Spotlight on Yellow Sign

Yellow Sign has generally weak monsters, no combat abiilities (except Hastur's Vengeance, which is generally a last resort), generally has the least Power and Doom in the early game, AND is the most difficult faction to master for a beginner. Nonetheless, he...

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How Do Expansions Work

How Do Expansions Work

Exactly how were the monster and great old one figure expansions designed? So here is another peek into Sandy's brain. I hope it doesn't creep out the younger and more impressionable backers too much. Early on, I wanted to have as many creatures from Lovecraft's...

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Spotlight on Crawling Chaos

Spotlight on Crawling Chaos

Spotlight on Crawling Chaos Well really Crawling Chaos doesn't need a lot of help. He's pretty straightforward. So instead, I will take a different tack. Crawling Chaos is a really flexible faction so it takes some ingenuity to come up with genuinely terrible...

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Tcho Tchos – Faction in Flux

Tcho Tchos – Faction in Flux

Tcho Tchos – faction in flux Balancing the Tcho-Tchos From 1997 through 2009, I worked at Ensemble Studios, which produced large real-time strategy (RTS) games. They did the Age of Empire series, Age of Mythology, and Halo Wars. I had several tasks there (for one...

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Spotlight on Great Cthulhu

Spotlight on Great Cthulhu

Spotlight on Great Cthulhu Great Cthulhu is pretty much the game's poster child. Yet some people struggle with him. Many Cthulhu players follow a course similar to this: take a slight early lead, because you are initially unopposed - our monsters are scary, and...

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Spotlight on Black Goat

Spotlight on Black Goat

Spotlight on Black Goat Black Goat can easily be misplayed or misunderstood. One result is that when I am in a core game with 3 people who haven’t played with me before, they often leave Black Goat (which they consider the feeblest) to me. I love Black Goat, and I...

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How to Lose at Cthulhu Wars

How to Lose at Cthulhu Wars

How to Lose at Cthulhu Wars Novice Mistakes to Avoid - don't DO these! Everyone starts as a novice. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Heck, in MY first game of Cthulhu Wars I was technically a novice (though an informed one). In an effort to help you take the first step...

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Spotlight on Sleeper

Spotlight on Sleeper

Spotlight on Sleeper Cthulhu Wars is widely praised for its wide-open, Ameritrash play style. It is freewheeling, with sudden changes of fortune, overclocked powerhouses, and fast action. But the fact remains that it also stands up to carefully analysis. We're going...

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Independent GOOs (Part 3)

Independent GOOs (Part 3)

Independent Great Old Ones, part Three Tulszcha I generated yet another random number, and today it came up Tulszcha! At last, one of the new ones! (My secret plan was to continue doing this till I got a new one.) So, how does Tulszcha change the game for everyone....

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Independent GOOs (Part 2)

Independent GOOs (Part 2)

Independent Great Old Ones, Part Two Mother Dagon this time I got Mother Dagon, so let's see how SHE affects the entire game. Well, Mother Dagon's spellbook is the Zygote - the way this works is, when you recruit a Cultist, you pay 1 Power and then place all Cultists...

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Independent GOOs (Part 1)

Independent GOOs (Part 1)

The Independent Great Old Ones, part One At this time, we have announced 18 independent Great Old Ones for Cthulhu Wars. They are: Abhoth, Atlach-Nacha, Azathoth, Bokrug, Byatis, Chaugnar Faugn, Cthugha, Daoloth, Eihort, Father Dagon, Ghatanothoa, Gla'aki, Gobogeg,...

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Pitpipo?!

Pitpipo?!

Why is Pitpipo one of the unique High Priests? A few people have wondered openly why I used Pitpipo as one of the special high priests. What has Pit done to deserve a role alongside Asenath Waite or Crawford Tillinghast? How does he fit into the Lovecraft Canon? Well,...

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Lovecraft … is Everywhere

Lovecraft … is Everywhere

I get interviewed a lot, and one of the most common questions I am asked is "what is your favorite movie/game/book/etc." Of course this is a problem, because I don't have a favorite, not exactly. I have several favorites among each category - sometimes dozens. Also...

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The Nightmares

The Nightmares

I have a confession to make - I am subject to gruesome nightmares, and have been for most of my life. Sometimes, a nightmare is unique, whole unto itself. But I also experience certain themes, that crop up again and again. (Unfortunately for me, one of my most common...

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My Philosophy

My Philosophy

My Philosophy (with respect to Game Design) In the last years of his life, Roger Ebert famously said that games were not art (he focused on computer games, but it applies to all). He gave three reasons to back up his opinion: He had never played a game. You can win a...

read more
My Rules (at least two of them)

My Rules (at least two of them)

Rule One - No Piddling Distinctions If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing Big. Plenty of folks sprinkle their games with marginal bonuses adding +2% to strength, or +1% to speed, or some other puny difference. Take a hint from Quake – the damage boost in that...

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Palettes

Palettes

Palettes - The Bright Inviting Colors We get different opinions about the jolly color scheme of Cthulhu Wars. The figures are nice primary colors (like plastic dinosaurs!) and the maps are far from gloomy. (At least the faction sheets and rulebooks are a little more...

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Power Management

Power Management

Power Management The Cthulhu Wars factions are, obviously, extremely asymmetrical. But they have some features in common. All of them have some way of earning extra Elder Signs, and all of them have some kind of interesting Power bonus. Let’s talk about the latter....

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High Priests

High Priests

The High Priests The High Priests are one of my favorite expansions. My son Arthur thinks that you should ALWAYS play with High Priests. But what do they add, exactly? When you play with High Priests, every faction has one extra unit in their pool - the Priest. He is...

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Giant Figures

Giant Figures

What about those giant figures? From the start, I asked for 28mm figures. I knew they'd be expensive, but I really wanted them. I had to fight like a demon to keep the figures so large. My partners wanted me to shrinky-dink them, but I needed cool giant figures to...

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Silence Tokens

Silence Tokens

The Silence Tokens The Library of Celaeno instigates a new mechanism in Cthulhu Wars – the Silence tokens. Here is how they work. During the Determine First Player phase, each player receives one Silence token. Then, the First Player must give his Silence token to...

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Timing and Opener of the Way

Timing and Opener of the Way

Timing and Opener of the Way Some factions in Cthulhu Wars are harder to figure out than others. This is not to say that any faction is trivial to master – my previous design corners on Cthulhu & Sleeper are meant to show this. But after all, people “get” the basics...

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The Orphans

The Orphans

The Orphans When I am designing new monsters or a Great Old One, often I run through several ideas for what, exactly, its special ability or spellbook ought to be. Sometimes after a test I reject an ability because it slows down the game, or because it is too powerful...

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Opener of the Way Spellbook Requirements

Opener of the Way Spellbook Requirements

Opener of the Way Spellbook Requirements As promised, I am now going to focus in a some design decisions, so you can all see how my brain works. The Opener of the Way, like every Cthulhu Wars faction, has six spellbook requirements. Let’s look at them in order: Eight...

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Independent Great Old Ones

Independent Great Old Ones

Independent Great Old Ones In developing the independent Great Old Ones, three factors were constantly warring within my brain. First, I wanted the entity to feel like the story or stories in which it featured – to have the personality of that Great Old One. Second, I...

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Satyrs

Satyrs

Satyrs What the hell is a “Satyr” in the Lovecraft world-view? Let me bloviate. In Lovecraftian tales, the human genotype is subject to degeneration or mutation under the influence of the Outside. Sometimes this is done purposefully, as with ghouls (who originate from...

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Sandy’s Creative Curse

Now it’s story time. I get nightmares. A lot. Some are even recurring nightmares. Some are one-offs. I suppose it makes sense - i spend my working hours immersed in Lovecraftiana, and much of my leisure hours are reading horror stories or watching scary movies. Now,...

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Changing the Game

Changing the Game

I spend a LOT of time testing out my games before they get published. This is part of the legacy I inherited from the late lamented Ensemble Studios. I remember once attending a seminar at the Game Developer’s Conference with Greg Street (a fellow designer). The...

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My Support System

My Support System

My Support System To design a game, you need more than a brain & some construction paper. You need a support system, to permit you to focus on the ideas & game at hand, to give you time to do your tasks. If you are constantly interrupted with brief tasks throughout...

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Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Planet Apocalypse is the most complex and in-depth co-op game I’ve ever designed. If you’re wondering what other co-op games I can take to my credit, let me list a few: Arkham Horror – yes, I know you’re thinking “Isn’t that by Richard Launius?” and of course it is....

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The Fantasy Flight Connection

The Fantasy Flight Connection

A lot of you guys have doubtless played Fantasy Flight games. For years, they have been one of the world's premier game manufacturers. One game, Twilight Imperium, influenced Cthulhu Wars spiritually. I love Twilight Imperium. I am especially impressed with the way...

read more
Lovecraft … is Everywhere

Lovecraft … is Everywhere

I get interviewed a lot, and one of the most common questions I am asked is "what is your favorite movie/game/book/etc." Of course this is a problem, because I don't have a favorite, not exactly. I have several favorites among each category - sometimes dozens. Also...

read more
The Nightmares

The Nightmares

I have a confession to make - I am subject to gruesome nightmares, and have been for most of my life. Sometimes, a nightmare is unique, whole unto itself. But I also experience certain themes, that crop up again and again. (Unfortunately for me, one of my most common...

read more
My Philosophy

My Philosophy

My Philosophy (with respect to Game Design) In the last years of his life, Roger Ebert famously said that games were not art (he focused on computer games, but it applies to all). He gave three reasons to back up his opinion: He had never played a game. You can win a...

read more
My Rules (at least two of them)

My Rules (at least two of them)

Rule One - No Piddling Distinctions If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing Big. Plenty of folks sprinkle their games with marginal bonuses adding +2% to strength, or +1% to speed, or some other puny difference. Take a hint from Quake – the damage boost in that...

read more
Giant Figures

Giant Figures

What about those giant figures? From the start, I asked for 28mm figures. I knew they'd be expensive, but I really wanted them. I had to fight like a demon to keep the figures so large. My partners wanted me to shrinky-dink them, but I needed cool giant figures to...

read more

Sandy’s Creative Curse

Now it’s story time. I get nightmares. A lot. Some are even recurring nightmares. Some are one-offs. I suppose it makes sense - i spend my working hours immersed in Lovecraftiana, and much of my leisure hours are reading horror stories or watching scary movies. Now,...

read more
Changing the Game

Changing the Game

I spend a LOT of time testing out my games before they get published. This is part of the legacy I inherited from the late lamented Ensemble Studios. I remember once attending a seminar at the Game Developer’s Conference with Greg Street (a fellow designer). The...

read more
Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard Hannah Hazard is an Israeli-trained sniper: Hannah’s start attack is 1d6, with a toughness of 2, starting Luck of 6 (!), and a mere 4 health. That health is bad, and keeps her out of the front lines, but her extra Luck means she is encouraged to take...

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Sleeper

Sleeper

Sleeper Cult Board The Sleeper board is full of Skulks, including the unique Ritual Skulk, the Flex Skulk, and the Block Skulk. Sleeper also has a site which rewards the user with 4 Treasure. However, the player must have at least one cultist on any Skulk (including...

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My Support System

My Support System

My Support System To design a game, you need more than a brain & some construction paper. You need a support system, to permit you to focus on the ideas & game at hand, to give you time to do your tasks. If you are constantly interrupted with brief tasks throughout...

read more
Doc Hunter

Doc Hunter

Doc Hunter is an MD who has been living on the road since the apocalypse. When he saw the horrors advancing towards his hospital, he went to the pharmacy, grabbed all the drugs and medical gear he could cram onto a gurney, and headed for the hills. Since then he has...

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Dice

Dice

All About Dice Why are the dice so plain? The dice are simple solid colors. Nothing fancy, like Q-Workshop's tribal dice, or SJG's cthulhu dice. Why? Because we are going for functionality here. This is not just theory either. You see, when I playtested this game for...

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Spider Mastermind

Spider Mastermind

Another Lord?! Yes we have something more coming. Another 4 crown demon suzerain. It’s a secret to everybody. The Spider Mastermind That’s right – we are doing a Keith Thompson version (assuming he's willing - he has yet to respond!) of the humongous cyborg arachnid...

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Philtre Argus

Philtre Argus

The Philtre The Philtre is of course named after healing potions and the like. I originally called it the Catholicon, which is an old term for a universal medicine, but I feared folks would misunderstand and think I was somehow slamming the Church. Which I’m not. I...

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Cthulhu

Cthulhu

Great Cthulhu?! Has Sandy Lost His Mind? Well … perhaps. But the reason Cthulhu has made his appearance is for the following reasons: first, some folks had been asking for a Keith Thompson Lovecraftian image. Second, yes I know that Cthulhu is a different genre...

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Pit Demons

Pit Demons

Pack of the Pit – all the Demons The Hortator Ever seen a movie about ancient Rome featuring galley slaves? You may notice that at one end of the banks of oars sits a muscular shirtless guy pounding on two drums with mallets, keeping the time for the rowers. That dude...

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Cissy

Cissy

Cissy Salem Cissy is intended to be a typical goth girl. No doubt she was a big fan of Behemoth and Pallbearer back in the day, got a pentagram tattoo (which she now regrets, like everyone else who gets a pentagram tattoo), and wore nothing but black in high school....

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Heroes Pit

Heroes Pit

Heroes of the Pit Amelia Azevedo Amelia Azevedo is a firefighter and emergency medical technician. She is inspirational, if a bit too willing to think of others instead of herself. She’s pretty good. Attack 1d8, starting Luck 4. Unfortunately, she only has a Toughness...

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Demon Dragon

Demon Dragon

Dragon Pack – All the Demons The Cendiary The Cendiary sculpt is based on a flaming Asian demon. I felt that at least one of the demons should spread hellfire. When the Cendiary spawns, every hero catches fire, regardless of his location. Furthermore, should you be so...

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Hero Dragon

Hero Dragon

Dragon Pack Heroes Bernice Kuchler I watch a lot of horror, alien invasion, and action movies. I dote on them. One of my best friends once mocked me when I remarked that “The Sound of Horror” might be too well-known for a movie night with my buddies. He immediately...

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Difficulty

Difficulty

Planet Apocalypse Difficulty It’s my firm opinion that a co-operative game needs to be fairly tight in difficulty, or why even play it, right? Planet Apocalypse follows this philosophy. The first time most people play the Invasion map against a basic boss like...

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Troopers

Troopers

Trooper Design The basic rule is of course that every map starts with 5 types of troopers. In the vast majority of regionsz their cost goes from 1-5, with one trooper at each price point. The number of troopers at each level is generally set at 8 for the 1-point...

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Battling Lords

Battling Lords

Fighting the Lords So let’s talk about the final battles in Planet Apocalypse, and how they work, along with an analysis of a typical battle. Let’s see how a fight goes! This is an actual example from gameplay. The game begins – a normal Invasion map, with Baphomet at...

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Lord Void

Lord Void

Lady Stheno Stheno in ancient lore was the elder sister of the Gorgons, but you can see we portray her awful reality very differently from the bowdlerized Greek version. Like her namesake (or perhaps the namesake is a reflection of the reality) she can petrify her...

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Regions

Regions

Regions! Another aspect of Planet Apocalypse, which doesn’t come into play until you get the expansions, are Regions. These are actually countries, and the country you are ostensibly playing in affects which troopers you have available and (sometimes) other parts of...

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RFS Gift Cards

RFS Gift Cards

Rapid Fire & Sergeant Gift Cards We have termed the player upgrades “Gifts” under the concept that they are talents or blessings of some sort. The Gifts are an extremely important part of the game. Your hero has his own tech tree, with his own unique upgrades, but...

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Hero Void

Hero Void

Heroes of the Void Pack Dorothy Hall Dorothy Hall is (a bit) based on a combination of several of my nieces. She has a puny starting toughness of 1, and low health of 4. Her attack is an average 1d6, but she does have 7 Luck. When she’s alone, she is quite vulnerable...

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Asmod and Procrustes

Asmod and Procrustes

Lord Asmod Asmod is kind of based on the medieval demon Asmodeus, famed today as the namesake for the mighty French game company Asmodee. Asmod’s figure bristles with heads. The two little heads on top are wearing crowns, and grin with idiot joy. A huge maw gapes...

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Jabootu

Jabootu

Jabootu We had discussed whether or not to have a special “early bird” bonus for this campaign. Some people love them. Many dislike them. In the end, we decided that because we had not properly announced and publicized an early bird before the campaign, it wouldn’t be...

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Tardigrade

Tardigrade

The Tardigrade and a personal story When I was in my early teens, one of my favorite activities was sitting down with my grandfather’s microscope and perusing tiny life-forms. I used to make hay infusions, gather mud from promising ponds, and observe animalcules for...

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Scylla

Scylla

Lady Scylla Yet another ancient Greek-themed creatures. Scylla is a multi-headed horror, with a central womanly body from which serpentine forms emanate. Why the Greek “Demons”? Planet Apocalypse is NOT a “laundry-list” of demons from all times and places. Our Hell...

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Pulgasaur

Pulgasaur

Lord Pulgasaur The Pulgasaur is one of our few entities not based on something from centuries in the past – it is actually derived from a North Korean film “Pulgasari” made in the 1980s. The backstory for this film is pretty amazing, but I’ll let you look it up in...

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Legions

Legions

Legions and how I made them Planet Apocalypse has a lot of little aspects that make every playthrough different. One of these is the Legions of Hell. I’ve named all the rivers after various rivers or cities or alternate names of Hell. The core game comes with four...

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Secutor Mandrake Magdalene

Secutor Mandrake Magdalene

Demons of the Void pack & running out of demons The Secutor Named after the Roman gladiator type, the Secutor is a warrior pure and simple. His armor & weaponry are reminiscent of the gladiator, and the chain around his neck, held by his stomach-face, is emblematic of...

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Lord Baphomet

Lord Baphomet

Lord Baphomet You can ONLY win Planet Apocalypse by killing the Lord. The core game’s Lord is Baphomet. Unlike some other co-op games, you’ll want to attack the lord several times during the course of the game. If you wait till the end, then gang up on Baphomet (or...

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Naomi Joslyn

Naomi Joslyn

Naomi Joslyn Naomi Joslyn is a determined, even fanatical, opponent to the demons. She is a terrific all-round hero. She is the character whose initial figure was misprinted by China, so I now own a giant action figure of her, which I love. In her backstory, her eye...

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Prof Maxwell

Prof Maxwell

Professor Maxwell Professor Maxwell is an older man, an academic. (In my head I picture him as 63 years old, because he is based on a friend of mine, also an academic, who is that age.) He is wise, but physically perhaps not in the peak of condition. (My friend is in...

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Tarang

Tarang

Tarang Tarang is an Indonesian transfer student with martial arts training. His start attack is 1d6. Toughness is 2 and starting luck 3, all average. Health is 6, nothing too amazing, but certainly enough to let him stand in the front lines. Tarang starts with the...

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The Hellhound

The Hellhound

The Hellhound Fourth Circle demons only spawn when the Lord track has cycled back to 1. This takes anywhere from 9 to 4 turns, depending on how many players are in the game. Sometimes it takes slightly less or more time, depending on certain gifts or abilities that...

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Cindrew

Cindrew

Cindrew Putorious Cindrew Putorious is a nurse (RN) with a trained pet ferret, named Fidgit. Her start attack is 1d4, which is terrible. Her toughness is 2 and starting luck 3, both average. Her health is 6, which is pretty good. She has the start ability of Fidgit,...

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Bellatrix

Bellatrix

The Bellatrix The Bellatrix is a fearsome force – a female soldier, as is obvious from her name. Her model shows Hell’s attempt to mimic human norms. No doubt the Bellatrix was ordered to be a beautiful woman, and so searched earth’s archives to find the loveliest...

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Leveling Up

Leveling Up

Leveling Up! For this next bit, get out your copy of Planet Apocalypse and look at some of the hero sheets. Improving your hero in Planet Apocalypse is a matter of spending Courage on your “tech tree”. Every hero has his own unique gift track. You can easily see how...

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Geryon

Geryon

Lord Geryon Geryon is of course named after the three-bodied herds-thing of Greek myth. But our Geryon is an entity of terror. All the demon lords ostensibly came about by the transformation and inversion of one of the fabled occult heroes, originally trained to stop...

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More About John Dark

More About John Dark

John Dark John Dark has an exceptionally dire backstory. Before the apocalypse, he was interested in the occult. During the lead-up to Hell’s rising, he managed to make contact with a demon lord, and actually sold his soul! Over time, he realized his horrible error,...

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Catoblepas

Catoblepas

The Catoblepas The Catoblepas is the bringer of death and plague. If you look at its miniature, it seems to be slumping and falling apart, or possibly being created, as it moves. Its anatomy is odd – looking more like a torture rack than a beast. It is a terrifying...

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Basic Demonology

Basic Demonology

Planet Apocalypse classifies demons into Circles. These do not correspond precisely to Dante’s Inferno, but represent increasing degrees of threat. How demons spawn The Limbo, First, Second, and Third Circle demons spawn by rolling the current number of Despair dice....

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Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Planet Apocalypse is the most complex and in-depth co-op game I’ve ever designed. If you’re wondering what other co-op games I can take to my credit, let me list a few: Arkham Horror – yes, I know you’re thinking “Isn’t that by Richard Launius?” and of course it is....

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Artist

Artist

The Artist The Artist is another investigator who can give you a break. Perhaps he has a short attention span, or he only cares about the real threats. Anyway, his effect is that all players have to quickly add up their victory points. This doesn’t take too long. Even...

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Sleuth Bhole

Sleuth Bhole

The Sleuth (investigator) For our non-English speaking fans, or those without a classical education, a “Sleuth” is a crime-solver extraordinaire. For example, Sherlock Holmes is a Sleuth. So is Gary Sinise’s character on CSI: New York. Incidentally, there is a great...

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Scott Author Yith

Scott Author Yith

John Scott (priest) John Scott was Carl Stanford’s chief aide and administrator in the Silver Twilight Lodge, an organization created for the first Call of Cthulhu campaign– Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. John Scott was a good friend of mine – John Scott Clegg (Hi Scott! If...

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Minister Polyp Carl

Minister Polyp Carl

Carl Stanford (priest) Carl Stanford made his original appearance as the sinister head of the Silver Twilight Lodge from the first Call of Cthulhu campaign ever published – Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. But there is more to his tale than that. You see, when I was growing...

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Yellow Sign

Yellow Sign

Have you found the Yellow Sign? The Start space on the Yellow Sign board costs nothing, and gives you the King in Yellow card. Place this card by your priest board. It acts as a new action space that only you can activate (while you have control of the King). To use...

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Shan Hobo Hound Servitor

Shan Hobo Hound Servitor

A bunch of Dudes! The Shan Queen (Priest) She is in fact an Insect from Shaggai (also known as Shans). Part-immaterial, she has the power to invest human brains and read, even control, their thoughts. Her ability requires timing, and usually isn’t effective in the...

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Orne Vampire

Orne Vampire

New Priest: Simon Orne Simon Orne is from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and is one of Joseph Curwen’s sorcerous associates. He has been around a long time, and is known to be a man of wealth. If you are playing as him for your priest, you have the ability to “call...

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Asenath

Asenath

Asenath Waite Asenath Waite is the star of Lovecraft’s tale The Thing on the Doorstep. I might mention in passing that this story means a lot to me – you see, in my very first (and for years only) book by Lovecraft, this tale did not appear. However, it was mentioned...

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Tcho Tcho

Tcho Tcho

Tcho-Tcho Cult Board The Tcho-Tcho board has two start sites, plus four special sites that are not unlocked during normal play. Instead, these four special sites are triggered by the Growth track, which charts the spread of Ubbo-Sathla, a terrible entity grown by the...

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Crawling Chaos

Crawling Chaos

Crawling Chaos Cult Board This cult board is in the Blood Ceremony box. It is strange, almost formalized, with a unique feel - in some ways harsher than any other cult board, in other ways easier. It offers many ways to interfere with your opponents. Azathoth Pool...

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Opener

Opener

Opener of the Way Cult Board First, all Opener sites are, in effect, "Starts"; i.e., they can be completed in theoretically any order. Some do have requirements which must be met first, but these are conditions, rather than the pattern of unlocking found on other cult...

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Ngah Kthun

Ngah Kthun

N’Gah Kthun Well, N'.Gah Kthun barely squeaked out a victory in our poll, but since a miss is as good as a mile, here he (it?) comes. N’Gah Kthun is a name overheard in Lovecraft’s tale The Whisperer in Darkness. I have posited that it is the name of one of the Fungi...

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Windwalker

Windwalker

Windwalker Map Three of the Windwalker sites activate entities which power the three mystic glaciers. The entities are the Wendigo, the Gnoph-Keh, and Rhan-Tegoth. Simply place the appropriate card on the relevant glacier to indicate this. When Rhan-Tegoth's Elder...

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Federal Agent

Federal Agent

It’s the Feds! How do unique Investigators work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then you already are on track for getting 10 special investigators. To use these, at the game start, you randomly shuffle your 11...

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Undead and Byakhee

Undead and Byakhee

Undead and Byakhee Refresher - How do unique Monsters work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then in that set you get 12 Monsters. Additionally, there are 2 in the Dark Ritual box (also part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), the...

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Herbert West

Herbert West

Herbert West & Priests How do Priests work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then you already are on track for getting 10 unique priests. To use these, at the game start, you randomly shuffle your priests and each player...

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Ancients

Ancients

Time for the Ancients We are now announcing the new Ancients cult board! (Hmm, “New Ancients” is quite the oxymoron.) It will be included in the Dark Rituals stretch goal box, for everyone at the Dunwich pledge level. It’s not a “stretch goal” per se. Just a fun bonus...

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The Fantasy Flight Connection

The Fantasy Flight Connection

A lot of you guys have doubtless played Fantasy Flight games. For years, they have been one of the world's premier game manufacturers. One game, Twilight Imperium, influenced Cthulhu Wars spiritually. I love Twilight Imperium. I am especially impressed with the way...

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Lovecraft … is Everywhere

Lovecraft … is Everywhere

I get interviewed a lot, and one of the most common questions I am asked is "what is your favorite movie/game/book/etc." Of course this is a problem, because I don't have a favorite, not exactly. I have several favorites among each category - sometimes dozens. Also...

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The Nightmares

The Nightmares

I have a confession to make - I am subject to gruesome nightmares, and have been for most of my life. Sometimes, a nightmare is unique, whole unto itself. But I also experience certain themes, that crop up again and again. (Unfortunately for me, one of my most common...

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My Philosophy

My Philosophy

My Philosophy (with respect to Game Design) In the last years of his life, Roger Ebert famously said that games were not art (he focused on computer games, but it applies to all). He gave three reasons to back up his opinion: He had never played a game. You can win a...

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My Rules (at least two of them)

My Rules (at least two of them)

Rule One - No Piddling Distinctions If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing Big. Plenty of folks sprinkle their games with marginal bonuses adding +2% to strength, or +1% to speed, or some other puny difference. Take a hint from Quake – the damage boost in that...

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Giant Figures

Giant Figures

What about those giant figures? From the start, I asked for 28mm figures. I knew they'd be expensive, but I really wanted them. I had to fight like a demon to keep the figures so large. My partners wanted me to shrinky-dink them, but I needed cool giant figures to...

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Daemon Sultan

Daemon Sultan

As Daemon Sultan, you need to react to what's going on. Because of this nature of your faction, you can't just make a plan from the start and stick with it. You have to be able to respond to the situation. This is really obvious right from the start, while you are...

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Nodens

Nodens

Nodens and the Elder Gods I was pondering what to add to you all for a big reward for your loyalty. I didn't want to make another "Dire" sculpt, largely because I am really happy with the other Great Old Ones. And I wanted something new, anyway. Felt you deserved it....

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Asenath and Jenkins

Asenath and Jenkins

Asenath Waite and Brown Jenkins Brown I loved Brown Jenkin from the first moment I read Dreams in the Witch-House. He was an amazingly creepy character, seemingly anchored in old-school satanic imagery, but yet instead he turns out to be a gateway into Lovecraft’s...

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Neutral Monsters vs. Indie GOOs

Neutral Monsters vs. Indie GOOs

Neutral Monsters vs. Independent Great Old Ones This article is inspired by (and based on) a great discussion from BoardGameGeek. Thanks to all the Cthulhu Wars fans who brought up these ideas, to which I’ve added a few of my own. To get a neutral monster, you have to...

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How to Defeat the Ancients

How to Defeat the Ancients

Beating the Ancients The Ancients have some excellent tricks they can use to shut down an enemy. First and most obviously, they have a great cost/combat ratio for their creatures. Second, they don’t have to cough up 6-10 Power for a Great Old One all at once, which...

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Ancients’ Strategy

Ancients’ Strategy

The Ancients Strategy So, how does one PLAY this unusual new faction? Most obviously, you need to worry about your Cathedrals. Because you don’t have a Great Old One, you get major power savings, but this is ultimately negated by your need to spend 4-10 Power on...

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Tcho Tcho Balance

Tcho Tcho Balance

Tcho Tcho Balance Change and Why and How For some weeks we have been listening to you, and analyzing the experience people have with the Tcho-Tchos. The conclusions we have reached are threefold. IT'S A NEW FACTION First, as a new faction, many people are unprepared...

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A Tcho Tcho Strategy

A Tcho Tcho Strategy

A Tcho Tcho Strategy Some players have trouble getting their head around the Tcho-Tchos. Others have trouble seeing how the Tcho-Tchos can be stopped. This strategy guide should help everyone understand this weirdo faction better. THE FIRST TURN CHALLENGE In your...

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Reanimated

Reanimated

What are the Reanimated? The Ancients are able to use their science revivify dead tissue, letting it move and perform tasks. They use these living corpses as workers or warriors, and can even reanimate a portion of a corpse. They generally use the corpses of criminals...

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The Un Men

The Un Men

Who are the Un-Men? Lovecraft reports the Ancients have the ability to transform a person into plasma-like, almost gaseous state. In this form, the victim becomes able to twist and distort his body in exaggerated ways. I have chosen to call these entities, former...

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The Yothans

The Yothans

The Yothans Deep below the blue-lit cavern of K'n-Yan is the red-lit cavern of Yoth, inhabited by a race of intelligent reptiles. Long thought extinct, the few remaining Yothans now work with the Ancients. Every faction has acolytes. Every faction has monsters....

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Ancients’ Acolytes

Ancients’ Acolytes

Ancients’ Acolytes Functionally, they are no different that the acolytes of other factions. To celebrate their tech-savvy nature, the Ancients Acolyte is dressed futuristically, rather than in hooded robes, and brandishes an ominous-looking eye-like device. She is...

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Haunter of the Dark

Haunter of the Dark

The Haunter of the Dark One of the “missing pieces” of Cthulhu Wars has always been Nyarlathotep’s multiplicity of shapes. Of course, we give a shout-out to it in the Crawling Chaos spellbook of “Thousand Forms” which is supposed to work by Nyarlathotep using his...

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Neutral Spellbooks

Neutral Spellbooks

Neutral Spellbooks The Azathoth "Faction" expansion has a truly unique feature – neutral spellbooks, that can replace any normal faction spellbook. But this obviously involves giving up a faction spellbook! When is this worthwhile? Well, this is overall too...

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Dire Azathoth

Dire Azathoth

Dire Azathoth?! Everyone loved Dire Cthulhu. SO... I started brooding on Dire Azathoth. Why? Well, even as I was concerned that our former Cthulhu was so svelte, I was never fully happy with our Azathoth. For me (I realize this is subjective) Azathoth was one of our...

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Chreating  Shaggai

Chreating Shaggai

Creating the Shaggai Map The Shaggai map was birthed from my desire to create a map which is destroyed over time. I already dabbled with this idea in the Primeval Map, but of course Shaggai feels and plays VERY differently from Primeval. Every map needs a particular...

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The Masks

The Masks

The Masks of Nyarlathotep One of Nyarlathotep’s best-known attributes is his multiplicity of shapes . There is a shout-out to it in the core game (his Thousand Forms spellbook), but he doesn’t actually utilize this ability. Players have remarked on this, and it always...

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Vooniths

Vooniths

The Vooniths Vooniths are an “amphibious horror” referenced by Lovecraft in his tale, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Pretty much nothing else is known of them. I have based my design of the Voonith upon sirens and amphisboenas – these are existing amphibians &...

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Meet the Ancients

Meet the Ancients

Meet the Ancients! Once more let’s talk about the Ancients. First, the basics. They have six acolytes, like everyone else. They also have two types of monsters – the Un-Men and the Reanimated, and get three of each. They also get three Yothans. Uniquely among all...

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Faction Development

Faction Development

Cthulhu Wars Faction Development There are a lot of considerations that go into developing a Cthulhu Wars faction. So much so that I’ve only done it 9 times in 5 years! (By comparison, I developed 17 factions in just over 18 months for Age of Empires II.) Some of...

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Whence the Ancients

Whence the Ancients

Whence the Ancients? The Ancients are the new faction for Onslaught 3. They are a human-oriented faction, and are particularly unusual, because they don’t have their own Great Old One. The Tcho-Tchos are, of course, also a human-oriented faction, but play quite...

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Dire Cthulhu

Dire Cthulhu

Let’s talk about Dire Cthulhu Why is there even a Dire Cthulhu? Well, our original Cthulhu sculpt is creepy, and terrific. But something about it always bothered me – Lovecraft describes Cthulhu as … corpulent. And our classic sculpt is pretty svelte. I guess he works...

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Tcho Tcho Intro

Tcho Tcho Intro

Introducing the Tcho Tchos The Tcho-Tcho faction faces numerous decisions throughout the game, and requires planning. Should you accumulate High Priests or expend them to gain immediate Power? Which enemy Start Areas should you target? It is almost impossible to gain...

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Custodian Job

Custodian Job

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? A player can take the "Activate Custodian" action on their turn. This costs 0 Power, but they have to discard their Silence Token.  The player can then move the Custodian to any Area, after which he (the Custodian) attacks by rolling the...

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Ubbo Sathla Concept

Ubbo Sathla Concept

Ubbo Sathla Concept and Why Things to note in the image:  It is a fungus-protozoan-jellyfish thing. I rather like this, because Ubbo-Sathla is the source of life, not just animal life. It is not a blob monster - while irregular, it has a definite body form, with...

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The unique character High Priests

The unique character High Priests

One of the stretch goals for this campaign was High Priests with personalities (this goal was reached long ago). This is how they work. I have created 8 unique character High Priests:Asenath Waite, Crawford Tillinghast, Ermengarde Stubbs, Herbert West, Lady de la...

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Tulszcha

Tulszcha

I generated yet another random number, and today it came up Tulszcha! At last, one of the new ones! (My secret plan was to continue doing this till I got a new one.) So, how does Tulszcha change the game for everyone. Well, conveniently for the point I've been trying...

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Librarian & Custodian

Librarian & Custodian

Librarian & Custodian Some people may notice that the Librarian is built rather like a nematocyte. The resemblance is intentional. She has two smallish grappling arms to sort and reshelve books. She has three large talons that can be used either to pacify unruly...

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Opening  Moves

Opening Moves

Opening Moves It is fair to stay that in the core game of Cthulhu Wars, certain semi-fixed Openings exist, much as in chess. (Though probably not as many as Chess!) If Cthulhu builds a Gate in the North Pacific, this conceivably generates different responses from...

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Fertility Cult

Fertility Cult

Shub-Niggurath’s Fertility Cult Ability This is probably the least-respected faction ability (it never gets stolen by Sleeper!), and it is admittedly weak, but it can be extremely useful on occasion in the mid-game or late game. First I want to say I see no need to...

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Nerfing Windwalker

Nerfing Windwalker

Nerfing & Buffing & Windwalker In many parts of the video-game industry, the words “nerf” and “buff” are used by designers when adjusting game balance. “Nerfing” means you’ve weakened a unit or faction or ability. “Buffing” means you’ve strengthened it. This can be...

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Proto-Shoggoth

Proto-Shoggoth

What is a Proto-Shoggoth? To me, Sandy, a proto-Shoggoth is a creature formed from shoggoth-like material, but with more delicate protoplasm. It is weaker proportionally, and lacks the mutational power of a true Shoggoth. However, because of its greater "liquidity",...

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Spotlight on Yellow Sign

Spotlight on Yellow Sign

Yellow Sign has generally weak monsters, no combat abiilities (except Hastur's Vengeance, which is generally a last resort), generally has the least Power and Doom in the early game, AND is the most difficult faction to master for a beginner. Nonetheless, he...

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How Do Expansions Work

How Do Expansions Work

Exactly how were the monster and great old one figure expansions designed? So here is another peek into Sandy's brain. I hope it doesn't creep out the younger and more impressionable backers too much. Early on, I wanted to have as many creatures from Lovecraft's...

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Spotlight on Crawling Chaos

Spotlight on Crawling Chaos

Spotlight on Crawling Chaos Well really Crawling Chaos doesn't need a lot of help. He's pretty straightforward. So instead, I will take a different tack. Crawling Chaos is a really flexible faction so it takes some ingenuity to come up with genuinely terrible...

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Tcho Tchos – Faction in Flux

Tcho Tchos – Faction in Flux

Tcho Tchos – faction in flux Balancing the Tcho-Tchos From 1997 through 2009, I worked at Ensemble Studios, which produced large real-time strategy (RTS) games. They did the Age of Empire series, Age of Mythology, and Halo Wars. I had several tasks there (for one...

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Spotlight on Great Cthulhu

Spotlight on Great Cthulhu

Spotlight on Great Cthulhu Great Cthulhu is pretty much the game's poster child. Yet some people struggle with him. Many Cthulhu players follow a course similar to this: take a slight early lead, because you are initially unopposed - our monsters are scary, and...

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Spotlight on Black Goat

Spotlight on Black Goat

Spotlight on Black Goat Black Goat can easily be misplayed or misunderstood. One result is that when I am in a core game with 3 people who haven’t played with me before, they often leave Black Goat (which they consider the feeblest) to me. I love Black Goat, and I...

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How to Lose at Cthulhu Wars

How to Lose at Cthulhu Wars

How to Lose at Cthulhu Wars Novice Mistakes to Avoid - don't DO these! Everyone starts as a novice. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Heck, in MY first game of Cthulhu Wars I was technically a novice (though an informed one). In an effort to help you take the first step...

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Spotlight on Sleeper

Spotlight on Sleeper

Spotlight on Sleeper Cthulhu Wars is widely praised for its wide-open, Ameritrash play style. It is freewheeling, with sudden changes of fortune, overclocked powerhouses, and fast action. But the fact remains that it also stands up to carefully analysis. We're going...

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Independent GOOs (Part 3)

Independent GOOs (Part 3)

Independent Great Old Ones, part Three Tulszcha I generated yet another random number, and today it came up Tulszcha! At last, one of the new ones! (My secret plan was to continue doing this till I got a new one.) So, how does Tulszcha change the game for everyone....

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Independent GOOs (Part 2)

Independent GOOs (Part 2)

Independent Great Old Ones, Part Two Mother Dagon this time I got Mother Dagon, so let's see how SHE affects the entire game. Well, Mother Dagon's spellbook is the Zygote - the way this works is, when you recruit a Cultist, you pay 1 Power and then place all Cultists...

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Independent GOOs (Part 1)

Independent GOOs (Part 1)

The Independent Great Old Ones, part One At this time, we have announced 18 independent Great Old Ones for Cthulhu Wars. They are: Abhoth, Atlach-Nacha, Azathoth, Bokrug, Byatis, Chaugnar Faugn, Cthugha, Daoloth, Eihort, Father Dagon, Ghatanothoa, Gla'aki, Gobogeg,...

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Pitpipo?!

Pitpipo?!

Why is Pitpipo one of the unique High Priests? A few people have wondered openly why I used Pitpipo as one of the special high priests. What has Pit done to deserve a role alongside Asenath Waite or Crawford Tillinghast? How does he fit into the Lovecraft Canon? Well,...

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My Rules (at least two of them)

My Rules (at least two of them)

Rule One - No Piddling Distinctions If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing Big. Plenty of folks sprinkle their games with marginal bonuses adding +2% to strength, or +1% to speed, or some other puny difference. Take a hint from Quake – the damage boost in that...

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Palettes

Palettes

Palettes - The Bright Inviting Colors We get different opinions about the jolly color scheme of Cthulhu Wars. The figures are nice primary colors (like plastic dinosaurs!) and the maps are far from gloomy. (At least the faction sheets and rulebooks are a little more...

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Power Management

Power Management

Power Management The Cthulhu Wars factions are, obviously, extremely asymmetrical. But they have some features in common. All of them have some way of earning extra Elder Signs, and all of them have some kind of interesting Power bonus. Let’s talk about the latter....

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High Priests

High Priests

The High Priests The High Priests are one of my favorite expansions. My son Arthur thinks that you should ALWAYS play with High Priests. But what do they add, exactly? When you play with High Priests, every faction has one extra unit in their pool - the Priest. He is...

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Silence Tokens

Silence Tokens

The Silence Tokens The Library of Celaeno instigates a new mechanism in Cthulhu Wars – the Silence tokens. Here is how they work. During the Determine First Player phase, each player receives one Silence token. Then, the First Player must give his Silence token to...

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Timing and Opener of the Way

Timing and Opener of the Way

Timing and Opener of the Way Some factions in Cthulhu Wars are harder to figure out than others. This is not to say that any faction is trivial to master – my previous design corners on Cthulhu & Sleeper are meant to show this. But after all, people “get” the basics...

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The Orphans

The Orphans

The Orphans When I am designing new monsters or a Great Old One, often I run through several ideas for what, exactly, its special ability or spellbook ought to be. Sometimes after a test I reject an ability because it slows down the game, or because it is too powerful...

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Opener of the Way Spellbook Requirements

Opener of the Way Spellbook Requirements

Opener of the Way Spellbook Requirements As promised, I am now going to focus in a some design decisions, so you can all see how my brain works. The Opener of the Way, like every Cthulhu Wars faction, has six spellbook requirements. Let’s look at them in order: Eight...

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Independent Great Old Ones

Independent Great Old Ones

Independent Great Old Ones In developing the independent Great Old Ones, three factors were constantly warring within my brain. First, I wanted the entity to feel like the story or stories in which it featured – to have the personality of that Great Old One. Second, I...

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Satyrs

Satyrs

Satyrs What the hell is a “Satyr” in the Lovecraft world-view? Let me bloviate. In Lovecraftian tales, the human genotype is subject to degeneration or mutation under the influence of the Outside. Sometimes this is done purposefully, as with ghouls (who originate from...

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Sleeper

Sleeper

Sleeper Cult Board The Sleeper board is full of Skulks, including the unique Ritual Skulk, the Flex Skulk, and the Block Skulk. Sleeper also has a site which rewards the user with 4 Treasure. However, the player must have at least one cultist on any Skulk (including...

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Artist

Artist

The Artist The Artist is another investigator who can give you a break. Perhaps he has a short attention span, or he only cares about the real threats. Anyway, his effect is that all players have to quickly add up their victory points. This doesn’t take too long. Even...

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Sleuth Bhole

Sleuth Bhole

The Sleuth (investigator) For our non-English speaking fans, or those without a classical education, a “Sleuth” is a crime-solver extraordinaire. For example, Sherlock Holmes is a Sleuth. So is Gary Sinise’s character on CSI: New York. Incidentally, there is a great...

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Scott Author Yith

Scott Author Yith

John Scott (priest) John Scott was Carl Stanford’s chief aide and administrator in the Silver Twilight Lodge, an organization created for the first Call of Cthulhu campaign– Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. John Scott was a good friend of mine – John Scott Clegg (Hi Scott! If...

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Minister Polyp Carl

Minister Polyp Carl

Carl Stanford (priest) Carl Stanford made his original appearance as the sinister head of the Silver Twilight Lodge from the first Call of Cthulhu campaign ever published – Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. But there is more to his tale than that. You see, when I was growing...

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Yellow Sign

Yellow Sign

Have you found the Yellow Sign? The Start space on the Yellow Sign board costs nothing, and gives you the King in Yellow card. Place this card by your priest board. It acts as a new action space that only you can activate (while you have control of the King). To use...

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Shan Hobo Hound Servitor

Shan Hobo Hound Servitor

A bunch of Dudes! The Shan Queen (Priest) She is in fact an Insect from Shaggai (also known as Shans). Part-immaterial, she has the power to invest human brains and read, even control, their thoughts. Her ability requires timing, and usually isn’t effective in the...

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Orne Vampire

Orne Vampire

New Priest: Simon Orne Simon Orne is from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, and is one of Joseph Curwen’s sorcerous associates. He has been around a long time, and is known to be a man of wealth. If you are playing as him for your priest, you have the ability to “call...

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Asenath

Asenath

Asenath Waite Asenath Waite is the star of Lovecraft’s tale The Thing on the Doorstep. I might mention in passing that this story means a lot to me – you see, in my very first (and for years only) book by Lovecraft, this tale did not appear. However, it was mentioned...

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Tcho Tcho

Tcho Tcho

Tcho-Tcho Cult Board The Tcho-Tcho board has two start sites, plus four special sites that are not unlocked during normal play. Instead, these four special sites are triggered by the Growth track, which charts the spread of Ubbo-Sathla, a terrible entity grown by the...

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Crawling Chaos

Crawling Chaos

Crawling Chaos Cult Board This cult board is in the Blood Ceremony box. It is strange, almost formalized, with a unique feel - in some ways harsher than any other cult board, in other ways easier. It offers many ways to interfere with your opponents. Azathoth Pool...

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Opener

Opener

Opener of the Way Cult Board First, all Opener sites are, in effect, "Starts"; i.e., they can be completed in theoretically any order. Some do have requirements which must be met first, but these are conditions, rather than the pattern of unlocking found on other cult...

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Ngah Kthun

Ngah Kthun

N’Gah Kthun Well, N'.Gah Kthun barely squeaked out a victory in our poll, but since a miss is as good as a mile, here he (it?) comes. N’Gah Kthun is a name overheard in Lovecraft’s tale The Whisperer in Darkness. I have posited that it is the name of one of the Fungi...

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Windwalker

Windwalker

Windwalker Map Three of the Windwalker sites activate entities which power the three mystic glaciers. The entities are the Wendigo, the Gnoph-Keh, and Rhan-Tegoth. Simply place the appropriate card on the relevant glacier to indicate this. When Rhan-Tegoth's Elder...

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Federal Agent

Federal Agent

It’s the Feds! How do unique Investigators work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then you already are on track for getting 10 special investigators. To use these, at the game start, you randomly shuffle your 11...

read more
Undead and Byakhee

Undead and Byakhee

Undead and Byakhee Refresher - How do unique Monsters work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then in that set you get 12 Monsters. Additionally, there are 2 in the Dark Ritual box (also part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), the...

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Herbert West

Herbert West

Herbert West & Priests How do Priests work? If you have The Blood Ceremony expansion (part of the Dunwich Pledge Level), then you already are on track for getting 10 unique priests. To use these, at the game start, you randomly shuffle your priests and each player...

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Ancients

Ancients

Time for the Ancients We are now announcing the new Ancients cult board! (Hmm, “New Ancients” is quite the oxymoron.) It will be included in the Dark Rituals stretch goal box, for everyone at the Dunwich pledge level. It’s not a “stretch goal” per se. Just a fun bonus...

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Black Goat

Black Goat

Black Goat But First, Let’s Talk About Custom Dice Well I have to say that I, Sandy Petersen, am not the biggest fan of custom dice. I was opposed to doing the custom dice in the very first Cthulhu Wars campaign (clear back in 2013), for example (obviously, I lost...

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Arkham

Arkham

Arkham Town Site’s Design The Arkham town site lets you give up a precious Elder Sign in exchange for 3 treasure, 2 blood, and 1 magic. It also releases a cultist from the Asylum (to your escape, as per usual).  Conceptually, the idea here is that the folk of Arkham...

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Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Planet Apocalypse is the most complex and in-depth co-op game I’ve ever designed. If you’re wondering what other co-op games I can take to my credit, let me list a few: Arkham Horror – yes, I know you’re thinking “Isn’t that by Richard Launius?” and of course it is....

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Two Sides

Two Sides

All of my “Design Corners” are in response to comments or questions from you, the backers. Feel free to suggest more and I’ll keep doing these forever! This one is because a backer asked the sensible question, “Are the Order & Unchained minions identical except for...

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Tundra and Mystery Hero A

Tundra and Mystery Hero A

Tundra (Order) Tundra is an intelligent polar bear, fighting for the Order. He is fairly tough (as you’d expect), and his weapon upgrades let him freeze dangerous enemies, which is both tactically and strategically useful. His special power is that all of the skulls...

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Player Number

Player Number

A backer asked how we are handling different numbers of players. If you play co-operative games, you know this isn't always done perfectly. He noted that each Army in Orcs Must Die! The Boardgame has 3 cards. He wonders how this works with fewer players. So I thought,...

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Minion evolution

Minion evolution

Let's talk about how the enemy minions work. Each minion basically consists of three stats - a Movement, an Attack, and a Vulnerability. Some minions also have a Special of some sort. All minions fall into one of two categories - they are either a Lesser minion or a...

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How different are the sides in Orcs Must Die?

How different are the sides in Orcs Must Die?

One of the choices I faced in creating the Unchained vs. the Order was how much overlap would be between them. I knew from the start I did NOT want them to be basically identical, except for art. I wanted them to feel different. One way in which I tried to accomplish...

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Hogarth & Kobold King

Hogarth & Kobold King

Hogarth & Kobold King For the Order, we are unlocking Hogarth, one of the favorite heroes of the Orcs Must Die! Unchained beta. He is a frost-based character, who is also a shield – a “tank” if you’re familiar with MMO terminology. He works the same in our boardgame....

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Gnolls vs Lions

Gnolls vs Lions

The "Lions" are actually named Pride Hunters in the digital game, but since they look like lions and hunt down players we call them Lions in the board game. Now you get 2 more Gnolls & 2 more Lions enabling even bigger, more challenging maps to be forged. The Gnolls &...

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Dobbin and Mystery Hero B

Dobbin and Mystery Hero B

Dobbin the Prospector Dobbin has the ability to tunnel himself or another hero in his tile to any tile on the map. He has pretty good health, is a dwarf, and is really good at killing smaller enemies, such as orcs or kobolds. His attacks are less helpful against large...

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The Apprentice and Blackpaw

The Apprentice and Blackpaw

The Apprentice She is a support hero, best used as part of a solid team. She is good to have along whether you are attacking or defending. She can shut down enemy heroes to an extent, and supercharge her allies. Her weapons give her a lot of flexibility – she is able...

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The Ancestor and Stink Eye

The Ancestor and Stink Eye

The Ancestor  The Ancestor looks like a creeptastic undead. He started out as the noble founder of the Order, and was an Order character during the Orcs Must Die Kickstarter, but then Robot decided to transfer him to the Unchained side. He is relatively low in health,...

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Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard

Hannah Hazard Hannah Hazard is an Israeli-trained sniper: Hannah’s start attack is 1d6, with a toughness of 2, starting Luck of 6 (!), and a mere 4 health. That health is bad, and keeps her out of the front lines, but her extra Luck means she is encouraged to take...

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Doc Hunter

Doc Hunter

Doc Hunter is an MD who has been living on the road since the apocalypse. When he saw the horrors advancing towards his hospital, he went to the pharmacy, grabbed all the drugs and medical gear he could cram onto a gurney, and headed for the hills. Since then he has...

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Dice

Dice

All About Dice Why are the dice so plain? The dice are simple solid colors. Nothing fancy, like Q-Workshop's tribal dice, or SJG's cthulhu dice. Why? Because we are going for functionality here. This is not just theory either. You see, when I playtested this game for...

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Spider Mastermind

Spider Mastermind

Another Lord?! Yes we have something more coming. Another 4 crown demon suzerain. It’s a secret to everybody. The Spider Mastermind That’s right – we are doing a Keith Thompson version (assuming he's willing - he has yet to respond!) of the humongous cyborg arachnid...

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Philtre Argus

Philtre Argus

The Philtre The Philtre is of course named after healing potions and the like. I originally called it the Catholicon, which is an old term for a universal medicine, but I feared folks would misunderstand and think I was somehow slamming the Church. Which I’m not. I...

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Cthulhu

Cthulhu

Great Cthulhu?! Has Sandy Lost His Mind? Well … perhaps. But the reason Cthulhu has made his appearance is for the following reasons: first, some folks had been asking for a Keith Thompson Lovecraftian image. Second, yes I know that Cthulhu is a different genre...

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Pit Demons

Pit Demons

Pack of the Pit – all the Demons The Hortator Ever seen a movie about ancient Rome featuring galley slaves? You may notice that at one end of the banks of oars sits a muscular shirtless guy pounding on two drums with mallets, keeping the time for the rowers. That dude...

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Cissy

Cissy

Cissy Salem Cissy is intended to be a typical goth girl. No doubt she was a big fan of Behemoth and Pallbearer back in the day, got a pentagram tattoo (which she now regrets, like everyone else who gets a pentagram tattoo), and wore nothing but black in high school....

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Heroes Pit

Heroes Pit

Heroes of the Pit Amelia Azevedo Amelia Azevedo is a firefighter and emergency medical technician. She is inspirational, if a bit too willing to think of others instead of herself. She’s pretty good. Attack 1d8, starting Luck 4. Unfortunately, she only has a Toughness...

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Demon Dragon

Demon Dragon

Dragon Pack – All the Demons The Cendiary The Cendiary sculpt is based on a flaming Asian demon. I felt that at least one of the demons should spread hellfire. When the Cendiary spawns, every hero catches fire, regardless of his location. Furthermore, should you be so...

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Hero Dragon

Hero Dragon

Dragon Pack Heroes Bernice Kuchler I watch a lot of horror, alien invasion, and action movies. I dote on them. One of my best friends once mocked me when I remarked that “The Sound of Horror” might be too well-known for a movie night with my buddies. He immediately...

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Difficulty

Difficulty

Planet Apocalypse Difficulty It’s my firm opinion that a co-operative game needs to be fairly tight in difficulty, or why even play it, right? Planet Apocalypse follows this philosophy. The first time most people play the Invasion map against a basic boss like...

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Troopers

Troopers

Trooper Design The basic rule is of course that every map starts with 5 types of troopers. In the vast majority of regionsz their cost goes from 1-5, with one trooper at each price point. The number of troopers at each level is generally set at 8 for the 1-point...

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Battling Lords

Battling Lords

Fighting the Lords So let’s talk about the final battles in Planet Apocalypse, and how they work, along with an analysis of a typical battle. Let’s see how a fight goes! This is an actual example from gameplay. The game begins – a normal Invasion map, with Baphomet at...

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Lord Void

Lord Void

Lady Stheno Stheno in ancient lore was the elder sister of the Gorgons, but you can see we portray her awful reality very differently from the bowdlerized Greek version. Like her namesake (or perhaps the namesake is a reflection of the reality) she can petrify her...

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Regions

Regions

Regions! Another aspect of Planet Apocalypse, which doesn’t come into play until you get the expansions, are Regions. These are actually countries, and the country you are ostensibly playing in affects which troopers you have available and (sometimes) other parts of...

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RFS Gift Cards

RFS Gift Cards

Rapid Fire & Sergeant Gift Cards We have termed the player upgrades “Gifts” under the concept that they are talents or blessings of some sort. The Gifts are an extremely important part of the game. Your hero has his own tech tree, with his own unique upgrades, but...

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Hero Void

Hero Void

Heroes of the Void Pack Dorothy Hall Dorothy Hall is (a bit) based on a combination of several of my nieces. She has a puny starting toughness of 1, and low health of 4. Her attack is an average 1d6, but she does have 7 Luck. When she’s alone, she is quite vulnerable...

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Asmod and Procrustes

Asmod and Procrustes

Lord Asmod Asmod is kind of based on the medieval demon Asmodeus, famed today as the namesake for the mighty French game company Asmodee. Asmod’s figure bristles with heads. The two little heads on top are wearing crowns, and grin with idiot joy. A huge maw gapes...

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Jabootu

Jabootu

Jabootu We had discussed whether or not to have a special “early bird” bonus for this campaign. Some people love them. Many dislike them. In the end, we decided that because we had not properly announced and publicized an early bird before the campaign, it wouldn’t be...

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Tardigrade

Tardigrade

The Tardigrade and a personal story When I was in my early teens, one of my favorite activities was sitting down with my grandfather’s microscope and perusing tiny life-forms. I used to make hay infusions, gather mud from promising ponds, and observe animalcules for...

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Scylla

Scylla

Lady Scylla Yet another ancient Greek-themed creatures. Scylla is a multi-headed horror, with a central womanly body from which serpentine forms emanate. Why the Greek “Demons”? Planet Apocalypse is NOT a “laundry-list” of demons from all times and places. Our Hell...

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Pulgasaur

Pulgasaur

Lord Pulgasaur The Pulgasaur is one of our few entities not based on something from centuries in the past – it is actually derived from a North Korean film “Pulgasari” made in the 1980s. The backstory for this film is pretty amazing, but I’ll let you look it up in...

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Legions

Legions

Legions and how I made them Planet Apocalypse has a lot of little aspects that make every playthrough different. One of these is the Legions of Hell. I’ve named all the rivers after various rivers or cities or alternate names of Hell. The core game comes with four...

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Secutor Mandrake Magdalene

Secutor Mandrake Magdalene

Demons of the Void pack & running out of demons The Secutor Named after the Roman gladiator type, the Secutor is a warrior pure and simple. His armor & weaponry are reminiscent of the gladiator, and the chain around his neck, held by his stomach-face, is emblematic of...

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Lord Baphomet

Lord Baphomet

Lord Baphomet You can ONLY win Planet Apocalypse by killing the Lord. The core game’s Lord is Baphomet. Unlike some other co-op games, you’ll want to attack the lord several times during the course of the game. If you wait till the end, then gang up on Baphomet (or...

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Naomi Joslyn

Naomi Joslyn

Naomi Joslyn Naomi Joslyn is a determined, even fanatical, opponent to the demons. She is a terrific all-round hero. She is the character whose initial figure was misprinted by China, so I now own a giant action figure of her, which I love. In her backstory, her eye...

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Prof Maxwell

Prof Maxwell

Professor Maxwell Professor Maxwell is an older man, an academic. (In my head I picture him as 63 years old, because he is based on a friend of mine, also an academic, who is that age.) He is wise, but physically perhaps not in the peak of condition. (My friend is in...

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Tarang

Tarang

Tarang Tarang is an Indonesian transfer student with martial arts training. His start attack is 1d6. Toughness is 2 and starting luck 3, all average. Health is 6, nothing too amazing, but certainly enough to let him stand in the front lines. Tarang starts with the...

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The Hellhound

The Hellhound

The Hellhound Fourth Circle demons only spawn when the Lord track has cycled back to 1. This takes anywhere from 9 to 4 turns, depending on how many players are in the game. Sometimes it takes slightly less or more time, depending on certain gifts or abilities that...

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Cindrew

Cindrew

Cindrew Putorious Cindrew Putorious is a nurse (RN) with a trained pet ferret, named Fidgit. Her start attack is 1d4, which is terrible. Her toughness is 2 and starting luck 3, both average. Her health is 6, which is pretty good. She has the start ability of Fidgit,...

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Bellatrix

Bellatrix

The Bellatrix The Bellatrix is a fearsome force – a female soldier, as is obvious from her name. Her model shows Hell’s attempt to mimic human norms. No doubt the Bellatrix was ordered to be a beautiful woman, and so searched earth’s archives to find the loveliest...

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Leveling Up

Leveling Up

Leveling Up! For this next bit, get out your copy of Planet Apocalypse and look at some of the hero sheets. Improving your hero in Planet Apocalypse is a matter of spending Courage on your “tech tree”. Every hero has his own unique gift track. You can easily see how...

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Geryon

Geryon

Lord Geryon Geryon is of course named after the three-bodied herds-thing of Greek myth. But our Geryon is an entity of terror. All the demon lords ostensibly came about by the transformation and inversion of one of the fabled occult heroes, originally trained to stop...

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More About John Dark

More About John Dark

John Dark John Dark has an exceptionally dire backstory. Before the apocalypse, he was interested in the occult. During the lead-up to Hell’s rising, he managed to make contact with a demon lord, and actually sold his soul! Over time, he realized his horrible error,...

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Catoblepas

Catoblepas

The Catoblepas The Catoblepas is the bringer of death and plague. If you look at its miniature, it seems to be slumping and falling apart, or possibly being created, as it moves. Its anatomy is odd – looking more like a torture rack than a beast. It is a terrifying...

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Basic Demonology

Basic Demonology

Planet Apocalypse classifies demons into Circles. These do not correspond precisely to Dante’s Inferno, but represent increasing degrees of threat. How demons spawn The Limbo, First, Second, and Third Circle demons spawn by rolling the current number of Despair dice....

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Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Sandy’s Background in Co-op Gaming

Planet Apocalypse is the most complex and in-depth co-op game I’ve ever designed. If you’re wondering what other co-op games I can take to my credit, let me list a few: Arkham Horror – yes, I know you’re thinking “Isn’t that by Richard Launius?” and of course it is....

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Meet John Dark

Meet John Dark

Meet John Dark Who is John Dark? John Dark is an occultist, who sold his soul to Otherworld Forces, and now regrets his decision. He now fights on the side of right until that dark day comes when he must pay the ultimate price with his mind and soul. John Dark has the...

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Bringing Startropolis To Life

Bringing Startropolis To Life

When I joined Jeff to help bring Startropolis to life, he already had it in a pretty good spot. Jeff and I  have worked together for years on various projects and he has always been a great idea man. However as fun as Startropolis was, we both knew it wasn't ready...

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Startropolis Sneak Preview

Startropolis Sneak Preview

Sneak Preview One of the titles Petersen Games will be Kickstarting later this year is Startropolis. This is one of those rare games that was NOT designed in house by Sandy or me, but rather brought to us by Jeff Petersen (no relation!), and Tony...

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Startropolis

Startropolis

Startropolis is a modular, 3-D space station game for 2-4 players. Each turn, players purchase modules and connect them to the existing space station, which creates revenue, allowing them to purchase more modules. The player with the most credits at the end of the game wins. Coming to Kickstarter Summer 2018.

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