About 2 months ago, I pledged for a Kickstarter called The Necronomicon Gamebook : Dagon, which is essentially a game book where you encounter first hand the horrors as told by H. P. Lovecraft himeself. This game book is an adaptation of The Cthulhu Mythos: Dagon, The Festival and The Hound with a Dreamlands section in the book with extracts from The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

Overview

The digital version of the book was released to the Backers yesterday and I had some time to go through the materials. I haven’t played it yet but I plan to do so over the next few days on my trip. As a game book, it lets you select your path in discovering the horrors and attempting to stop them before they cause irrevocable harm to mankind, provided you do not loose your sanity beforehand. Not only do files comes in both English and Italian in the digital version but the game book has a .pdf, .epub and a .mobi format allowing you to experience this game in any of your devices.

What was nice was the inclusion of the digital copy of the sketchbook as well of arts used throughout the book. Some of the art can be printed and made into props for your own Cthulhu RPGs as well.

Since I wanted to bring a physical version of the book with me on my trip, I decided to get it printed out. However, I didn’t want to have it on an A4 paper instead I wanted it in booklet form. I used the pdfjam command on Ubuntu from the texlive-utils-extra package to convert the PDF into a booklet form and got it printed out. It turned out well and I now have this to wither my mind away on the trip.

This game fills a niche of playing a horror game in the world of Lovecraft. I hope they will make more games based on the other books and inspirations. While I’m aware there are some solo adventures available for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition using their Quick Start rules, having it in a game book format harkens back to days of yore for a number of gamers. Many of us remember playing Lone Wolf or Choose Your Own Adventure style books growing up and some of these are making a come back now. It’s good to see the same treatment is being applied to Lovecraft stories as well.

The book itself is beautiful in its layout with gorgeous illustrations such as those below and many more

Cloaked figures... Kingsport cemetary Cthulhu door knocker

Character diary comes as as PDF so you can print and play the game as many times, trying different combinations without writing in the book itself.

Game stats

To those who have played game books before, the set-up is the same, you will create your character by distributing 6 points to 1. FORCE - fighting ability to overcome obstacles or fighting an opponent. 2. WILL - tolerance to stress and nightmarish vision encountered along the way.

When you come face to face with difficulties throughout the game, you will roll a D6 and add the values of either FORCE or WILL to be compared against a target number. Having a low WILL makes you easier to succumb to MADNESS, as expected from a game of Lovecraft.

There is also RESISTANCE which is used to indicate physical skills of your character and tolerance to pain. You start the game with 10 and you will loose and heal it throughout the adventure. Once your RESISTANCE reaches 0, your character is dead and the adventure is over. Start over.

Madness

No game of Lovecraft will be complete without losing sanity with the discovery of truths that have laid hidden for eons. Your character starts the game as Well Balanced but degrades as the adventure continues, naturally. The descent into madness is tagged as follows

  • Well Balanced - no penalties.
  • Stressed - +1 to dice roll when venturing into the Dreamlands.
  • Paranoid
    • +2 to dice roll when venturing into the Dreamlands.
    • -1 to WILL tests.
  • Schizophrenic
    • +3 to dice roll when venturing into the Dreamlands.
    • -2 to WILL tests.
    • -1 to FORCE tests.
  • Delirium - no penalties.
    • +4 to dice roll when venturing into the Dreamlands.
    • Automatic failure to ALL WILL rolls.
    • -2 to FORCE tests.

Equipment

You can only carry a maximum of 5 items at any given time. You start off with a few but you can gain some more as you progress through the game. Additionally, at times, you will be forced to loose some items during gameplay. Items like Money and Bullets have no limit you can have on you.

Weapons

You start the game with a knife that gives a +1 to the attack value. As the game progresses, you’ll discover new weapons. In combat, you’re only allowed to use one weapon at a time however you can switch weapons between each combat round.

Combat

Combat is pretty straightforward. Your or your opponent will try to bring the RESISTANCE of the other party down to 0. It lasts for several rounds and in some cases, the number of rounds will matter. The process for combat is as follows

  1. Write down your RESISTANCE and FORCE in the Table of Combat Section or the Diary. FORCE is influenced by the type of weapon being used.
  2. Write down the opponents RESISTANCE and FORCE in the Table of Combat Section or the Diary.
  3. Roll a D6 and add YOUR FORCE + choice of weapon being used resulting in TOTAL FORCE.
  4. Subtract opponent’s FORCE from TOTAL FORCE and refer to the Table of Comparison which indicates the number of RESISTANCE deducted from you AND your opponent.
  5. If neither of the combatants are dead, begin the next round of combat from (3).

A thing to note is - IF your RESISTANCE drops to 3 or below, subtract 2 from _YOUR__ dice roll. - IF the opponent’s RESISTANCE drops to 3 or below, subtract 2 from THEIR FORCE.

Resting & Dreamlands

You can only sleep when it is explicitly mentioned during the adventure to recover points of RESISTANCE. The Dreamlands has a mini game section of its own which makes it that much more interesting and really brings home the point of horror in a Lovecraft game. Accessing the Dreamlands requires a D6 roll with any modifiers for the level of madness afflicting the character. The following are rules for the Dreamlands

  1. Access the Dreamlands with the same RESISTANCE value you had before sleeping.
  2. Access with no equipment or weapons (they will be there when you awake).
  3. The points of RESISTANCE which have been lost in the Dreamlands are also lost in reality. Reflect this in the Diary. If you die, your fate will be mentioned in that section of the Dreamlands.

IF you survive AND are not directed elsewhere, return to the section of the adventure from where you entered the Dreamlands. Unless otherwise indicated, you wake up with 3 additional RESISTANCE without exceeding the maximum of 10.

Retrace your steps

In the adventure, you will retrace your steps, revisiting places you have already visited prior. Unless stated, you will not meet any defeated opponent, unless you somehow managed to escape, in which point they will still be there with their RESISTANCE back to full. Any items you have collected are gone and cannot be collected again. If you left something along the way, the item is no longer available for pick-up anymore.

Overall I know I will enjoy this game alot and I hope the creators continue to make more games in this line. We are lacking good adventure game books in this specific genre. Additionally, it is a great tool to share with the newer generation or to revisit the “Good Old Days” of gaming.

Happy gaming everyone!

Note: I do not own the rights nor do I take credit for all the images used in this post. They just help illustrate some of the points of this post.