The tabletop is no stranger to Lovecraftian adventures, whether it’s Call of Cthulhu’s classic romps against the Old Ones or the more modern reimaginings of indie RPGs such as Lovecraftesque. Among the many tabletop RPGs to delve into cosmic horrors mysteries, Trail of Cthulhu personally stands out as one of the best - and good news, you can pick up the core rulebook and a whole host of supplements for a whopping discount right now.
Trail of Cthulhu, for the uninitiated, emerged in 2008 as a spiritual successor of sorts to Call of Cthulhu’s seminal take on the Cthulhu Mythos. Trail of Cthulhu dialled down Call of Cthulhu’s more direct encounters with otherworldly creatures in favour of adventures built more around investigating mysteries and uncovering conspiracies than blasting thralls in the face with a shotgun. (Though that remains an option.)
Powering Trail of Cthulhu’s standalone experience was Kenneth Hite’s Gumshoe system, which - as the noir-ish name implies - leans into the ability of players’ characters to spot clues, use their noggin to draw conclusions and draw from their specialist knowledge to progress stories.
The game system is also much more forgiving than Call of Cthulhu’s Basic Roleplaying use of d100, both in rules and outcome; in Trail of Cthulhu, players only roll a single six-sided die to resolve tests. A finite pool of points in each of their ability scores can be used to help modify rolls, but even failed rolls won’t stop the characters discovering vital clues - and therefore risking the whole mystery grinding to a halt. Instead, spent points simply reveal additional details that might help them on their way, rather than being required to make any progress at all.
Trail of Cthulhu is a fantastic game, and one that continues to stand out 15 years later amidst the very crowded list of Lovecraft-inspired RPGs.
If you’re yet to play, Trail of Cthulhu’s core rulebook and a number of its supplements - from bestiaries and setting sourcebooks to adventure collections and additional resources for the game’s GM figure of a Keeper - can currently be grabbed in PDF form over on Humble Bundle for close to 95% off.
Just over £14/$18 will get you the core book and over 20 additional sourcebooks, a significant saving on their combined total value of over £275/$342. Also included in the collection are multiple EPs of original music for use while playing, a Keeper’s screen and a 20% off voucher for use on publisher Pelgrane Press’ online store.
As with all Humble Bundles, a portion of the proceeds will go towards charity - Cancer Research UK in this case. The default split favours the publisher and Humble itself, which can be adjusted to your liking under the ‘Adjust Donation’ tab.
The Trail of Cthulhu bundle will be available until September 28th, ahead of a planned Kickstarter launch for a second edition of the RPG in November.