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Shotguns v. Cthulhu

So I started working on an Apocalypse World engine game. I’m not sure if I’m ever going to release it or if it’s just something I want for myself, I’d like to release it at some point. In any case it’s a lot easier these days than it ever used to be to design a PbtA (Powered by the Apocalypse) game because there are so many of them out there. You just cut and paste some moves into your doc and start massaging them into the feel you want for your game. So this is a thanks to all the game hackers out there, and a bit of process for you folks.

Step one was the idea that I want to play a more Shotgun v. Cthulhu game, a little bit of pulp horror. The next thing I did was talk through it with Phil to get the creative juices flowing for the feel of that. Then I went to Drew, the secret weapon of the Misdirected Mark Podcast, who is my expert on the field of all things Cthulhu. We had a discussion on what the game should be about and arrived on several things, but mostly this: it’s not about if you can stop the alien horror, but what it costs you to do so.

With those ideas in mind, Drew started a google doc and wrote them down to guide our design. I grabbed a bunch of basic moves from games I own as inspiration and threw them in the doc, Drew started working on the playbooks we wanted to start with, and we started crafting and cutting them into a game. Right now I have a move sheet with a number of action, investigative, and facing the void moves. That’s what we’re working with as a Cthulhu analog catch all. I’ve already cut down and combined a bunch of them. We have the basic outline of a hp and tags consequence system for the game, because we think rolling damage dice is fun. To end for now we have our core stats, each of which begins with an S because why not. We’re trying things out and we’ll probably change a bunch of stuff, or everything, as we continue to build this thing. I guess to be useful I’ll show the list of things I felt we needed to build to get the game to a playable state before we started iterating, adding, and finding the gaps.

  • Basic Moves
  • Playbooks
  • The stats, what they mean, and which moves they fit with
  • The escalation d6 mechanic
  • A sanity system
  • A damage system

So there’s how I’m approaching the beginning of this design for a shotguns v. Cthulhu styled game with the working title of Void World.


Christopher Sniezak

Since 2011, Chris has written and designed for games like Fate, Gumshoe (Dracula Dossier), Numenera (Tales from the Mechanical Bard), and D&D (Living Forgotten Realms scenarios). As a podcaster, he’s been the host, producer, and audio engineer of The Misdirected Mark Podcast, Down with D&D, and Geekin Out. In his spare time he loves listening to audiobooks and podcasts, playing board games, and watching or reading anything superhero related.

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