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
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- See the complete reviews to date here.
||Author: Kenneth Hite and Robin Laws
|Artist: Jerome Huguenin
||Format: 248-page, two-color, smythe-sewn hardback
And the dead were the dead; this was no time to be pitying them or asking silly questions about their outraged lives. Such sights must be taken for granted, I thought, as I gasped and slithered and stumbled with my disconsolate crew. Floating on the surface of the flooded trench was the mask of a human face which had detached itself from the skull.
- Siegfried Sassoon
This collection of adventures considers the Great War, 1914-18, from the perspective of Trail of Cthulhu. From the conflict in the air, to the depths of the sea, the home front and the different battle fronts, the Great War affects the lives of countless millions of people. It also brings humanity into conflict with elements of the Mythos, and in particular the Charnel God Mordiggian who, for the first time in centuries, may actually have more to devour than it can stomach.
The forces of the Gods do not take kindly to being disturbed, and nor do they usually play favourites; unless your players are careful, they may find themselves attacked and wiped out in an instant, caught in an otherworldly crossfire they can only hope to survive, not understand.
Dulce et Decorum Est – Great War Trail of Cthulhu contains the following scenarios:
The once-mighty Vaterland is a prisoner of politics. She is trapped in New York Harbour, as war rages in Europe. Her crew and Commodore are just as much prisoners as the ship herself, though they are making the best of their captivity by hosting concerts in support of the German relief effort. You’ve come aboard at the behest of John Rathom, editor of the Providence Journal, in hopes of uncovering a German plot.
The crew of German U-boat UC-12, is sent on a standard mission; penetrate the North Sea defensive zone, make their way to Tyneside, lay their mines and return. But nothing in the Great War is that simple. While underwater, the crew start to hear a strange, muffled booming noise, ringing like a sequence of church bells. It’s not whales. It’s not enemy forces. Something else is down here. While settled on the sea floor to get some much-needed rest, the crew starts to act suspiciously. Someone is up to no good. The ship’s cat disappears and a strange weed is found growing on board.
Then the tapping on the hull begins…
Dead Horse Corner
The protagonists discover that a trench which ought to have been occupied by their fellow soldiers has been abandoned. Twenty men vanished without a trace, food still on the table and coffee cooling in their mugs. Was it an enemy attack, or something less ordinary?
|Stock #: PELGT32
||Author: Adam Gauntlett
|Artist: Jérôme Huguenin, Leah Huete, Phil Reeves
||Pages: 112 page perfect bound
“[I often have] the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world….From the anti-Fascist angle one could write a broadly truthful history of the war, but it would be a partisan history, unreliable on every minor point. Yet, after all, some kind of history will be written, and after those who actually remember the war are dead, it will be universally accepted. So for all practical purposes the lie will have become truth.”
- George Orwell, “Looking back on the Spanish War”
The protagonists, sponsored by the Paris-based political organisation BNVS, have come to Spain to shoot a documentary on the war, and find themselves marooned in Madrid. One of their team goes missing, and their literary colleagues say it’s pointless – even dangerous – to ask what happened to him.
In a war of competing ideologies, unorthodoxy can merit the death penalty, but is this Communist oppression or something more sinister?
Status: Art being done
Dreamhounds of Paris is the Dreamlands book for people who hate the Dreamlands. The players are prominent surrealists, their rivals, and occult adversaries, fighting to control the Dreamlands and thus alter human consciousness. The fractious, iconoclastic surrealists were the premiere troublemakers of the intellectual scene of 1930s Paris. Andre Breton, their ideological enforcer, considered the movement not an art or avant garde pursuit, but an exercise in literally changing the human spirit. The exploration of dreams was but one part of this quasi-mystical pursuit. In Dreamhounds of Paris, top surrealists–but never the hyper-rational Breton himself–not only discover a way of breaking through to the Dreamlands by randomly walking the streets of the city. They discover that their powerful imaginations allow them to reshape its oneric geography. Soon the Dreamlands look more like something envisioned by Lautreamont than Dunsany–then they’re overrun by melting watches, ants streaming from giant hands, and bowler-hatted men whose faces can never be seen.
Status: In development
The Mythos Expeditions are a collection of adventures designed to be run as a stand alone with new rules tailored for expeditions or as part of the Armitage Files campaign setting in the core rules. Take your Investigators on an expedition into the dense jungles of central Africa, trek through the arid wastes of the Gobi desert, and clamber through the lost cities of South America. Your travels will you take you through the skies and across the oceans, into the lava caves of New Zealand and the frozen peaks of Patagonia.
Written by Kenneth Hite and Robin D. Laws, with contributions from an eclectic mix of mythos experts, it includes the following expeditions:
An Incident at the Border – Kenneth Hite
On August 13 of 193-, during the Perseid meteor shower, something struck the Earth somewhere in the remote reaches of the Gran Chaco, a disputed and inhospitable borderland between Bolivia and Paraguay. Now, it’s late September, and the University has asked the Investigators to assist with a scratch expedition to find the impact site, make a full report of the incident, and recover any extraterrestrial material there, if any.
Cerulean Aureole - Matthew Sanderson
Tuesday July 17th 1934. Present Franklin D. Roosevelt, on a 12,000 mile voyage from the Caribbean to Portland, Oregon, arrives at Clipperton Island. Four years later, in the summer of 1938, the President is organising a return to the island as part of a 6,000-mile cruise examining various islands known for their curious wildlife, including the Galapagos. As the short-list of candidates is prepared, the Miskatonic decides to organise an expedition of its own to Clipperton Island. With the journey taking a week from the southern tip of Baja California, they will have a week on the island before they have to head back to civilisation before they make their report. Upon an island with a dark past, of which humanity knows so very little, a week can seem a very long time indeed…
Lost on a Sea of Dreams – Adam Gauntlett
The group, en route to Bermuda with a bathysphere to assist naturalist and oceanographer William Beebe, is blown off course. The captain is injured in the storm, and few others aboard know much about navigation. Moreover what little they do know seems contradicted by the stars; none of the constellations are in the right place. How will the expedition get back on course?
Tongued With Fire – Bill White
The investigators are members of a Miskatonic University expedition whose purpose is to travel to a Christian settlement in India which some evidence suggests dates as far back as the 1st century AD. Their destination is the village of Usmavasati, which lies in the Siwali Hills on the edge of the Punjab region of northwestern India. Their aim is to advance historical knowledge of early Christianity, as well as possibly locate the source of a Prester John legend.
The Dwellers in the Dunes - Steven S. Long
Famed explorer Roy Chapman Andrews leads one final expedition into the harsh Gobi Desert of Mongolia in search of fossils. His true hope is to find evidence that humanity evolved in Central Asia as his academic mentor predicted years ago. When his latest expedition uncovers some hominid fossils, he and his colleagues are ecstatic — until members of the expedition start dying horribly. Can the Investigators figure out what’s going on and destroy or escape a menace out of time before they and the rest of the expedition become yet another collection of bones scattered across the desert?
Status: Art in progress