Horror on the Orient Express, the legendary campaign for Lovecraftian RPG Call of Cthulhu, is being turned into a board game.
Horror on the Orient Express: The Board Game will adapt the 1991 Call of Cthulhu adventure set aboard the titular train during the 1920s into a full co-op board game designed by Nemesis and Frostpunk: The Board Game creator Adam Kwapiński and Michał Gołąb Gołębiowski, co-designer of the app-powered RPG-lite board game Destinies.
The original RPG campaign is known both for its epic length - spanning over 100 hours of playtime across almost 20 scenarios in its expanded 2014 re-release - and lethality, even for the punishing Call of Cthulhu, with the campaign’s own notes suggesting that around three-quarters of characters will perish during its scenarios. The 1991 edition was named as the best RPG adventure of the year at the Origins Awards, with the 2014 second edition similarly taking gold in the Best Adventure category at the ENnies.
The upcoming board game will follow the premise of the RPG campaign, as up to four players (with the option for a single-player run) become investigators making their way along the train as it travels into the otherworldly Dreamlands and is beset by both cosmic horrors and cultists.
Publisher Chaosium described the board game as offering a complete RPG-like experience in a board game format. Players will be able to customise and progress their characters, improving their skills and acquiring new items and spells over the course of each 90-minute to two-hour playthrough.
The board game’s gameplay will include the ability to interact with passengers on the train, interrogating them in an effort to try and identify hidden cultists before they’re able to perform a ritual. Protecting the train from monsters is also a concern, as the mystery must be solved before the train reaches its destination - but it must make it there to begin with, too.
Talking with passengers uses the game’s new interrogation mechanism, with custom dice - which aren’t rolled - used to track passengers’ states of mind. Players will need to gather clues, talk with suspects and fend off any foes in order to survive and avert doom. True to Horror on the Orient Express’ deadly RPG origins, it sounds like that won’t be too easy, with Chaosium explicitly describing the board game as “challenging”.
A Kickstarter campaign for Horror on the Orient Express: The Board Game will launch in the first half of next year, ahead of an expected release in 2025. Before then, a prototype will be demoed at this year’s Gen Con convention in the US next month.