In relating the circumstances which have led to my confinement within this refuge for the demented, I am aware that my present position will create a natural doubt of the authenticity of my narrative. – The Tomb, by H.P. Lovecraft
The dawn of the 20th century. New England, America; Lovecraft country.
Home to university libraries filled with worm-eaten tomes, legend-haunted towns populated with degenerate locals and their rustic superstitions, Cyclopean ruins from long-forgotten aeons, and the disquieting glimpses of things from beyond…
You are the unwilling guests of an antiquated sanatorium, perhaps the infamous Arkham Sanatorium, or maybe the Danvers State Asylum.
Your only hope of escape is to convince your fellow inmates, and perhaps yourself, that you do not belong here. And so you begin to explain the sinister series of events that led to your unjust incarceration.
Unfortunately, your memories are populated by the stuff of nightmares…
In Cthulhu Tales, each player tells their story using a hand of Story cards. The other players play Hazard cards to disrupt and darken the tale. In the course of the game, the narrators receive Treatment tokens, representing the misguided therapies and medication administered to them by the terrifying medical staff.
When everyone has told their tale, the game is over. Count up each player’s Treatment tokens and the player who underwent the least therapies is the winner.
Designed by Francesco Nepitello and Marco Maggi, the designers behind award-winning games such as The One Ring Roleplaying Game, Hobbit Tales, The War of the Ring and many more, Cthulhu Tales brings horrifying and darkly humorous story telling to your gaming table.
Inside the box you'll find:
• 132 beautifully sinister and disquieting, large-format playing cards with artwork from the C7 art team Scott Purdy, Jon Hodgson and Sam Manley
• A board to guide your tale-telling
• A 16-page full colour rulebook (which you can download for free now here)
• A 12 sided die, or perhaps if the stars are right, a unique Cthulhu Tales 12-sided die
• A set of Treatment tokens
About the Game
In Cthulhu Tales you take the role of unwilling inmates of a fictional 1920s asylum or sanatorium. Using the cards as both inspiration and guide, you'll take it in turns to make an accusation explaining why one of your fellow inmates, the Narrator, should be incarcerated.
The unfortunate Narrator then answers the accusation with their card-driven tale – choosing to either explain away the mysterious and sinister events, or perhaps having little choice but to reveal the secrets of the deeper horror that lurks just beyond the veil of reality.
As the Narrator attempts to refute the accusation of madness using Story cards, the other players disrupt the tale with Hazard cards, trying to force things to take a darker turn.
The cards have three main elements that can be used to aid your story. The title, the illustration and a quote from Lovecraft's fiction. You can use any or all of these as inspiration for your tale. This makes replayability huge, with endless combinations of scenarios, mysteries, situations and horrific scenes possible.
Cthulhu Tales is very much a game, rather than simply a guided storytelling activity – it features structured and elegant rules for the telling of the tale, and for Hazard card interruptions. Players use the symbols on the cards to determine whether a card can be played, and its effect on the Narrator's tale. The die introduces an element of luck into the proceedings – perhaps that Viscous Black Slime was merely a passing detail, or perhaps its arrival was the precursor to something far more sinister and madness inducing...
Players keep score with Treatment tokens, the aim of the game being to gain as few tokens as possible, and thereby be judged the least insane inmate.
There are, of course, some tweaks along the way – some cards are harder to match with, and thus harder to interrupt. But they come with other dangers: Phobia and Hazard symbols make playing these cards a risky gamble. There are also Deity cards, featuring the mind-bending Mythos deities, whose appearance can change the course of a tale entirely.
There are optional rules for awarding a bonus to the best storyteller, allowing the most Lovecraftian tale to shine, and perhaps take first place.
The History of the Game
Cthulhu Tales has its roots in another award-winning Cubicle 7 game – Hobbit Tales™, our Middle-earth™ story-telling card game. Cthulhu Tales is not a simple reskin of Hobbit Tales with Mythos elements – it builds on the rules and structures of that game and has grown into its own unique game.
Francesco and Marco have spent years developing Cthulhu Tales, so whilst you might recognise the mechanic of matching symbols, you'll be doing it in a wholly different way in Cthulhu Tales.
A completely new and unique feature is The Accusation phase at the beginning of each round, wherein a Hazard player gives the Narrator the initial premise of their incarceration, revealing rumours or dark mysteries that the Narrator must attempt to refute in their story. The Accusation is made up of three cards played below the main board, and provides additional elements that have to be worked into the tale by the narrator, whilst they fend off Hazard cards.
There is also the secret ending card, which you can read about in the rulebook.
Scoring in Cthulhu is completely different, with players attempting to avoid gaining treatment tokens, rather than gain Hobbit Tales' Cheers tokens.
And no, you cannot shuffle Yog Sothoth into your Hobbit Tales deck…