Origins 2010 Expanded Coverage – Cthulhutech

This is the only one of my expanded looks at my session from Origins that doesn’t have audio. That saddens me quite a bit, as the Cthulhutech session was one of the sessions in which I had the most fun. Sadly, I felt that the room as too much ambient noise to make the game worth recording. That’s not a mistake I will make again. After one of my later sessions, I realized that my voice recorder does a damn fine job, and I need to just let it do its thing.

That having been said, let’s get down to business with Cthulhutech.

Cthulhutech is a game that was once published by, well a number of publishers, really, but most recently by Catalyst Game Labs. The developing company, Wildfire LLC, has now found a (hopefully) permanent home with Sandstorm Productions, along with Posthuman Studios, the developers of Eclipse Phase.

Cthulhutech takes the popular Cthulhu mythos, places it some sixty years from our present day, adds in anime-style mecha robots and merges that with a unique dice mechanic. That mechanic is what I’ll start with.

Cthulhutech is based on a die mechanic known as Framewerk. Without giving too much away, you roll from a pool of d10s, and you basically form poker hands from the results. Get a pair? Add them together to try and meet your target number. Get a straight? Same thing. 10s ace, so you can re-roll them and add the results. It’s easy to understand and works well. As well, every player has a pool of Drama Points that a player can spend to let themselves, or any other player, add an additional pie to their die pool. The Drama Points can also be used to remove dice from an opponent’s die pool, thus resulting in some interesting tactical uses for the Points (Hint: use them to take dice away).

The session in which we played saw us taking on the role of a special ops team made up of a type of creature known as a Tager. Basically, take a soldier and try to bond them with an extra-dimensional being. If your subject survives the process (about 10% do), then you’ve got yourself a Tager. Tagers can shift at will from their humanoid form to their Tager form, but since the Big Bad Elder Things are kept secret from the world, doing that is a really bad idea. Tagers come in a variety of forms, and range from brute-type Tagers to tactical/recon-types.  There are a good variety of them in the core book, and there’s a supplement coming out that adds some more varieties.

The pre-generated characters they gave us were excellent. They had just enough of a description of how the character acts to give us all a good idea of how they should be played. As well, they included good information about how they characters interact with one another as members of the squad. That kind of info makes for some really good roleplay opportunities.

The session ran really well, aside from the large combat that we entered. There were eight players, and the module called for there to be the number of players in the game, plus two. That made for eighteen different actions that need to happen in combat, and I don’t care what system you’re using; that kind of combat will be slow.

When presenting a game at a big convention, it’s not always the easiest task to give players new to the game a good feel for the world, the setting and the mechanics, all in four hours or less. Fortunately, the module that Wildfire used for this demo did just that, as far as Tagers are concerned. They did run a different session that involved the use of the mecha untis that the game has, but I wasn’t able to participate in that one.

I have never played in a game like Cthulhutech before, and I doubt I ever will ever find anything else quite like it. I really wanted to pick up the core book for the system, but they did not have any available at the convention. I did find out that they will have a reprint available at GenCon, which is good news.

As a last note, I did have a chance to interview the creator of Cthulhutech, Matthew Grau. We talked both about Cthulhutech and his Origins Award-winning card game, Poo. However, you’ll have to wait a bit to get your ears on that interview, so just be patient.

[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, Cthulhutech, Origins[/tags]

4 thoughts on “Origins 2010 Expanded Coverage – Cthulhutech

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  1. Interesting! Cthulhu is so wedded to the 1920’s for me that the thought of thrusting the Mythos into the 2060’s is… mind boggling, and sounds strangely fun! One thing I’d be interested in learning more about is how the Mythos, which is based on secrecy, is handled in a total information age. Given that much of the Mythos knowledge warps and destroys minds, what would happen if that stuff hit the internet, and tens of thousands of people began to view those videos of Deep Ones or what have you..?


  2. Well, you still have your big bad groups like the Esoteric Order of Dagon, which is fronted by a giant corporation.

    Corporations are really the key to the secrecy. Corporations and big government do the job of keeping things under wraps. The Eldritch Society is the secret organization that the Tagers works for, and they do their best to keep the bad stuff away from the normals.

    That’s as much as I can glean from the session in which I played. I’ll give a more through rundown once I get the core book at GenCon.


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