Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning standalone game produced under license from Chaosium, set in the 1930s, now in its third print run, and produced in five languages. Trail of Cthulhu uses the GUMSHOE system, which is finely tuned for investigative play – the challenge is in interpreting clues not finding them.
It supports both Pulp (for Indiana Jones, Robert E. Howard, thrilling locations sorts of games) and Purist styles of play (for intellectual horror and cosmic dread). HP Lovecraft’s work combined both, sometimes in the same story.
It includes a new take on the creatures, cults and gods of the Lovecraft’s literature, and addresses their use in gaming. It adds new player backgrounds, and bulk out the GUMSHOE system to give intensive support for sanity, incorporating into the rule set the PCs desire to explore at the risk of going mad.
Trail of Cthulhu won two Ennie awards for Best Rules and Best Writing, as well as receiving an honourable mention for Product of the Year.
Trail of Cthulhu is a very well supported game, with award-winning supplements by Ken Hite, Robin Laws, Jason Morningstar, Adam Gauntlett, Graham Walmsley, Gareth Hanrahan and Bill White.
See the complete reviews to date here.
…I was concerned that my traditional style of low prep freeform gaming would have trouble with the GUMSHOE clue system included here… I quickly discovered that this was not an obstacle at all, … it was very easy to constantly push new clues through different Investigative Abilities. In fact, I found that the game worked spectacularly well with this style as the nature of these Abilities encouraged me to constantly engage each of the players thereby resulting in a mystery that was continuously moving forward to its PC driven conclusion. My play experiences have been far more satisfying than I would have expected, though my group has largely avoided physical conflict whenever possible.
CW Richeson on rpg.net
Overall, this is a masterful melding of the Gumshoe system with classic Cthulhu Mythos gaming, an inspired match. There’s so much goodness in this that I’ll be back again and again, not just to play but to mine for ideas whatever I am doing.
Megan Robertson on rpgnow.com
By now it should be evident that I really love Trail of Cthulhu. I think it manages to capture the feel and style of HPL’s stories, particularly when played in Purist mode, with rules built to complement the stories. GUMSHOE is a perfect fit for investigative type adventures, and well-suited for a plotted out set of scenes. It also is simple enough to be run in a more “off-the-cuff” improvisational style and doesn’t require a great deal of prep on the part of the Keeper.
Michael Harnish on RPG Geek
…the section on the Cthulhu Elder Gods/Outer Gods is superb and packed with so many incredibly insane ideas for running plots it is hard to talk about it without waving hands around incoherently. One small sentence about Elder Gods as meme loads was so compelling it was a hot topic in my house for three days. If you’re into CoC at all, this is worth getting to juice up campaigns and take them to 11.
The Gumshoe system is an investigation-oriented one, and this orientation is well suited to many Mythos scenarios. We enjoyed playing our characters and didn’t have too much trouble picking up the system. I’d recommend it.
Duncan Hunter on rpg.net
This book is gorgeous; my copy is a lovely 248 page hardcover. Jérome Huguenin does a masterful job with art and layout. That art is consistent throughout– something not to be underestimated as a key to make a game feel complete … Worth buying for any gamer interesting in horror or Lovecraft.
Lowell Francis on rpggeek.com
With enough for everyone and a system flexible to have from a purely investigative adventure to a action fuelled Indiana Jones style game, if you like Lovecraft, you simply can’t go wrong with it
Paco G Jaen of G*M*S Magazine
- Sample pages from Trail of Cthulhu.
- Order from the Pelgrane Press Store
- Visit Yog-sothoth – the Trail of Cthulhu forum.
- See the complete reviews to date here.
||Author: Kenneth Hite and Robin Laws
|Artist: Jerome Huguenin
||Format: 248-page, two-color, smythe-sewn hardback
Rickard Gudbrand was so inspired by the image on page 123 in the Eternal Lies book (left) that he decided to do a similar thing on his own, to be able to give his players during the game. Then he realised that he’d have to update the map as the investigators travelled to different locations, and possibly in a different order after the initial chapter.
The result is a beautiful interactive PDF map with layers, which the Keeper can use whatever order the players decide to travel in, as each layer can be activated individually and then printed (it’s designed as an A3-handout, so some fudging might be required to print to US letter size).
The PDF-reader must support layers for it to work. As it is very much a spoiler to a big part of the campaign, Rickard has protected it with a password: the first word on page 376 in the Eternal Lies rulebook.
You can download Rickard’s interactive map here.
Rickard Gudbrand has designed another handout for his upcoming Eternal Lies campaign which he’s happy to share with everyone. This is cards for the main NPC’s of the campaign, intended to be printed, cut out and placed in suitable plastic card sleeves.
As not all of the NPCs in the book have pictures, he’s used all the pre-gens in the Eternal Lies book – as well as some NPCs from other Trail of Cthulhu books – to give a unified look to the NPCs.
The results are lovely – you can download them yourself here.
The man who gave Night’s Black Agents its sleek carnivorous look, Chris Hüth, has designed (and posted on his blog, The Elder Sküll) a modified Night’s Black Agents/Trail of Cthulhu Burn/Dust mode character sheet with slots for Magic, Mediumship, and Clairvoyance, should you want to play a paranormal spies vs. the Mythos game a la the sadly unproduced British TV series Rough Magik. You know, maybe I’d better let him explain it.
Forms and Handouts
- Download the Trail of Cthulhu condensed rules PDF by Tony Williams.
- Trail of Cthulhu Cheat Sheet by Yunus Wesley
- Download the character sheet and other forms as a small PDF.
- Download the Cthulhu Apocalypse Character Sheet.
- Download a character sheet formatted for A4 by Przemyslaw ‘Marksjus’ Ryba.
- Download a two-page character sheet.
- Download a character sheet that includes the Magic ability from Rough Magicks.
- Download a simple, black-and-white character sheet with no background.
- Download another two-page character sheet.
- Download a fillable PDF character sheet, courtesy of Josh Clark – Myca in our forums
- Download a Pulp character sheet (A4) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Pulp character sheet (US letter) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Purist character sheet (A4) by Tony Williams
- Download a Purist character sheet (US letter) by Tony Williams.
- Download a fillable PDF Investigator Matrix.
- Download a Keeper’s Investigator Ability Matrix (A4) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Keeper’s Investigator Ability Matrix (US letter) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Bookhounds of London Pulp Character Sheet (A4) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Bookhounds of London Pulp Character Sheet (US letter) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Bookhounds of London Purist Character Sheet (A4) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Bookhounds of London Purist Character Sheet (US letter) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Bookhounds of London Bookshop Record Sheet (A4) by Tony Williams.
- Download a Bookhounds of London Bookshop Record Sheet (US letter) by Tony Williams.
- Download Stunning Eldritch Tales hand-outs.
- Download a map of the Cleveland Torso Murders by Enrique Esturillo
- High-resolution maps of Cleveland for the ToC example adventure.
- Download Arkham Detective Tales hand-outs
- Download Bookhounds of London rumours
- The Armitage Files handouts (for purchasers for the Armitage Files only). The password of the zip file is the first word on page 38 of The Armitage Files.
- The Armitage Files Excel spreadsheet of all the NPCs, organisations, places and magical tomes, thanks to Scott C Bourgeois. Download it here.
Adventures and campaigns
Call of Cthulhu Adventure Conversions
Chaosium and other companies have very kindly agreed to let us put conversion notes for their excellent adventures up here for ToC users. You’ll need the original CoC adventure, of course! Special thanks to Arseny Kuznetsov for this section.
- Conversion Template 1.1 with sample styles and a font, created by Arseny Kuznetsov with additions by Ben Phillips
- Beyond the Mountains of Madness from Chaosium, converted by Arseny Kuznetsov, David Bruce Cousins and Belinda Kelly.
- Death in Luxor from Goodman Games, converted by Arseny Kuznetsov
- Wasted Youth from Miskatonic River Press, converted by Christopher Smith Adair
- Malice Everlasting from Miskatonic River Press, converted by Christopher Smith Adair
- Proof of Life from Miskatonic River Press, converted by Christopher Smith Adair
- Spirit of Industry from Miskatonic River Press, converted by Christopher Smith Adair
- The Night War from Miskatonic River Press, converted by Christopher Smith Adair
- The Reeling Midnight from Miskatonic River Press, converted by Christopher Smith Adair
- Our Ladies of Sorrow from Miskatonic River Press, converted by Christopher Smith Adair
- The Haunting (PDF), converted by Arseny Kuznetsov
- The Haunted House (PDF), converted by Arseny Kuznetsov
- The Edge of Darkness (PDF), converted by Arseny Kuznetsov
- Song of the Sphere (PDF), converted by Evlyn Moreau
- Horror of the Glen (PDF), converted by Ken Hickman
- Masks of Nyarlathotep, converted by Dustin Stevens
- Trail of Tsathoggua, converted by Harris Burkhalter
- The Curse of Tsathoggua, converted by Harris Burkhalter
- Crack’d and Crook’d Manse, converted by Sam Friedman
- Tell Me, Have You Seen The Yellow Sign?, converted by Gabriel de Bourg
Trail of Cthulhu Adventure Conversions
And the other way around; here, our Trail of Cthulhu adventures have been converted for Chaosium’s classic Call of Cthulhu. You’ll still need the original Trail of Cthulhu adventures to play these!