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Call of Cthulhu studio halts work on upcoming sci-fi RPG, Harlem Unbound creator takes full control

Afro-Judeo setting Kadimah in development for 18 months.

The upcoming tabletop RPG from the creator of Harlem Unbound and publisher of Call of Cthulhu has been put on pause, with its lead designer taking full control of the sci-fi project.

The untitled sci-fi title was announced by Chaosium in June 2018, with designer Chris Spivey announced as creative lead. At the time, Spivey was said to be hiring additional writers for the project, with a core rulebook, game master pack and adventure anthology planned for launch. The game was confirmed to be based on Basic Roleplaying, the gameplay system used by Chaosium RPGs including Call of Cthulhu and RuneQuest.

Spivey previously created Harlem Unbound, a supplement for Lovecraftian RPG Call of Cthulhu and the GUMSHOE system set in 1920s New York that worked to confront and reverse the racist and otherwise negative portrayal of minorities in the works of HP Lovecraft and other horror authors. Chaosium will be publishing a second edition of Harlem Unbound later this year.

Spivey and his independent studio Darker Hue have since announced Haunted West, an upcoming tabletop RPG that seeks to similarly tell previously forgotten or ignored stories in a ‘Weird West’ setting. Haunted West is due for release this summer, following a successful Kickstarter late last year. Spivey is also writing a currently untitled superhero campaign book for Call of Cthulhu spin-off Pulp Cthulhu, also published by Chaosium, set in the modern day and said to be in the “early stages of development”.

18 months after its announcement, Chaosium has confirmed that it had “halted development” on Spivey’s sci-fi tabletop RPG. Executive editor James Lowder said that the publisher’s work on 7th Sea and King Arthur Pendragon - roleplaying titles it acquired recently - as well as original projects such as the Rivers of London RPG had meant that the company was unable to “schedule the BRP science fiction project as quickly as we had originally hoped”.

As part of an apparently mutual agreement between the publisher and designer, Chaosium has transferred the rights to all of the material produced for the game and setting so far to Spivey’s studio Darker Hue. Spivey confirmed his plans to continue to develop the project independently and publish it under Darker Hue in the future.

“I’ve been working on this project for quite some time and was looking forward to partnering with Chaosium to bring it to life. After months of positive discussion together, it became clear to both of us that the best way forward was to take the journey separately,” Spivey said. “I look forward to publishing this project in the future and I am thrilled Chaosium will continue to lend their support.”

The announcement also revealed some first details about the roleplaying game’s setting, described as an Afro-Judeo setting with the current name of Kadimah. The world and other material created for the project were said to be “intensely personal” to Spivey.

“The science fiction genre is perhaps my all-time favourite, and incorporating African and Jewish elements into the setting and story will reflect the richness of my and my family’s heritage,” Spivey said.

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