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Cthulhu Dreamt TTRPG: Sci-fi Horror & Metal Soundtrack

Created by Action Fiction

An original near-future Sci-Fi tabletop RPG system, including a fully-illustrated campaign with an accompanying heavy metal soundtrack.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Quick Production Update
28 days ago – Wed, Jan 31, 2024 at 09:15:09 AM

What’s up gang, Jaron here. I wanted to take time this weekend to update everyone on the production of Cthulhu Dreamt and how the writing is going behind the scenes, in addition to all the fun snippets and previews we’ve been sharing. Also sharing a picture of my brother as Master Chief, for reasons.

Writing Progress So Far

The Cthulhu Dreamt book progress breakdown by table of contents currently look like this:

  • Introduction (20%)
    • What is this book and how do I use it
    • The World of Cthulhu Dreamt
  • Content for All Players (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Rules for all players, including the Facilitator. This is a pretty beefy section, currently 85 pages. This is the bulk of the game rules, but is ultimately just a very detailed version of what was in the preview rules document available at the beginning of the Kickstarter campaign.
  • Content for Facilitators (75%)
    • Rules and guidelines only for the Facilitator. This section is shorter, currently only 11 pages and is likely to remain under 20. Since Cthulhu Dreamt is a game where the Facilitator doesn’t roll, most of the mechanics they need is actually in the All Players section. 
  • The Mission (85%)
    • Chapter 0: Session Zero (100% complete)
    • Chapter 1: Shock & Awe (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Chapter 2: Plausible Deniability (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Chapter 3: A Faustian Bargain (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Chapter 4: Cold & Righteous Fury (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Chapter 5: We Were Fools (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Chapter 6: Picking up the Pieces (50%)
    • Chapter 7: Hope (60%)
    • Chapter 8: Epilogue (100% complete)
    • Encounter: Springfield Nocturne (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Encounter: R’lyehian March (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Encounter: Canticle of the Stars (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Encounter: Orbital Fugue (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Encounter: Ohm’s Reprise (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Encounter: Kindalnum Etude (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Encounter: [Unnamed, Whisper Machine] (90%, First Draft complete)
    • Encounter: [Unnamed, Moorlands] (90%, First Draft complete)
  • Back Matter (?%)
    • Unsure what the specifics will be in this section other than index (which is, for the most part, generated by the final editor)

As you can see, we’re putting up a LOT of high numbers, which is great news! Brad, CJ, and myself have been hammering away many days of the week to make this happen. Every Friday and Saturday for the last few months, plus several weekdays throughout, we’ve been sitting down to body double and work together as a team. We’ve also done a lot of writing on our own to help bring all of this to life. So, special thanks to those guys (y’all should consider jumping down into the comments and giving the writing team a shout-out).

A very messy writer's table. CJ's quote: "I need an Oxford Comma." Also, peep those fuzzy Discord messages for a sneak peek at EDGe Trooper lore.

Production Process

After we finish writing our first draft, we’ll send it off to a dev editing team at Storyteller’s Forge, where we’ll get great meaningful feedback. After 3 months, they’ll send it back to us to spend a few weeks tackling any rewrites that need to happen. After that, the book goes into layout, and then print/ship happens. We’ll be posting an update here at each major milestone, with plenty of sneak peeks into the process behind the scenes.

Timeline to Complete

Our planned ship date for physical books was October, but due to some recent struggles (I’ll detail below for TW purposes), we’re going to have to push that back. The plan is to still ensure that you have digital products ready to go by October, in case you wanted to run Cthulhu Dreamt during the spookiest season.

TW: Family trauma, hospital stuff: In December, CJ and I caught COVID. I was also hospitalized for kidney stones. Then, my car (I’ve driven it for ten years) was totalled (not in an accident, just had a system in it die that was more expensive to fix than the car was worth). Then, to top it all off, three weeks ago, my mother was sent to the hospital for emergency surgery. She’s been in the hospital since then, and currently doesn’t have a discharge date. I have a complicated relationship with my mom, but right now, I visit her every day. It’s been one of the most difficult periods of my life, and I struggle to put it into any words which would feel appropriate to share with you as an audience of wonderful strangers who are really just here for the incredible book we’re producing.

All of this has combined to create what will undoubtedly be delays. We’re very close to the finish line for the writing phase, after which the book mostly exits our hands and goes into the hands of our publisher, Storyteller's Forge (who are amazing), after which I will mostly just need to review for changes and edits. All timeline events after the handoff remain unchanged, but at this point I’m spending a lot more time outside of our writer’s room than I had planned. Thankfully, Brad and CJ have really stepped up to the plate and helped me shoulder the writing burden in a VERY appreciated capacity, and everyone right now is writing more than they had initially anticipated. This means, you’ll still get an incredible book that we’ll all be very proud of. It’s just going to take a little longer as I navigate one of the most difficult years of my entire life.

I really need and appreciate your patience right now. I promise you that you’ll still be getting your books; making games and creating fun for folks is my purpose on this planet, and I still love doing it. This is the fourth major book we’ve released, so we know what the process looks like, and we have a lot more help this time around than we have in the past. So we’ll be making this happen: don’t you worry.

Thanks for reading.

I appreciate you all taking the time to read through this. As soon as we hand off the completed manuscript to the publisher, we’ll know the exact timeframe in which your books will be arriving at your doorsteps. Right now, the most specific we can get is “Q4 of this year.” But as soon as we have more details, we’ll share them.

Thank you again for understanding. Any positive thoughts you could send my mom’s way right now would be greatly appreciated. Cheers, talk soon.

Jaron R. M. Johnson and the Action Fiction Faction

jrmj 


 

Mid-January Update!
about 2 months ago – Wed, Jan 10, 2024 at 11:18:33 AM

Hey, gang! Welcome to our mid-January update. All good things on the R’lyehian front!

Wanted to stop in and give you a quick update on how things are looking on the writing side, then hand over to Reed for the music side of things. So, without further ado, let’s jump in!

Campaign & Book Progress

We’re looking at, I would estimate, 65-70% book completion right now. The campaign is well on its way, with a few chapters fully polished, a few chapters in a completed playtestable first draft, and a few chapters still under development. (Psst... if you’d like to help us by running a playtest of the campaign for your group, leave a comment below and we’ll reach out!)

The last update I provided, I got to talk a little bit about the gross penguins we created that make an appearance in Chapter 6 (they’re heavily inspired by the haunting depiction of penguins in Mountains of Madness, but we made them so much worse). Today, I’m going to spend some time talking about the environment of Chapter 6 - SPOILERS AHEAD.

I REPEAT. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Chapter 6 is the penultimate chapter of the campaign. It comes just after a massive tragedy at the end of Chapter 5 (which takes place at the infamous McMurdo Station), where the players will lose at least one, and maybe two, characters who are incredibly important to them.

Chapter 6 picks up as the characters are trying to find their way off of Antarctica, and on to their final destination. In order to do that, they travel through The City of the Old Ones, which is an ancient metropolis buried deep beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Here, the group will hunt for an object known only as The Conduit, which they are lead to believe is their ticket out of this icy hellscape.

When designing the City of the Old Ones, I wanted to create the most disorienting atmosphere possible. I achieved this off the bat by inverting the gravity when the players are beneath the ice sheet; the ice beneath their feet is now the only light source, as light from the sun on the other side filters through. This under-lights the entire city, giving it an insidious glow, and allows characters to look up where the sky should be, and see only a yawning, shadow-dark abyss. Here, great indiscernible shapes lumber through the petrified fungal forests in the distance, and players will navigate the maze-like streets in their search for The Conduit. 

In keeping with Cthulhu Dreamt’s meta-play mechanic themes, I designed the wandering through the city gameplay to lean on multiple senses. Players will initially be given an unmarked map of the city, with no idea where to go. Then, they will use audio logs to follow a breadcrumb trail left behind by a small squadron of EDGe Troopers: Oedipus Squad (self-described as, “a bunch of mother fuckers”). The Facilitator will read the audio log to the other players, who will listen closely and use the map to try and follow along based on comments Oedipus Squad makes about their surroundings. There are also some really fun obstacles along the way, and a very horrifying creature or two that we are art-ing up as we speak, all of which I cannot wait to show you. 

Also I’m not telling you what The Conduit is or whether or not the players find it. You’ll just have to wait and see. Or sign up to playtest it (COMMENT BELOW, DON’T FORGET)...

OKAY NO MORE SPOILERS YOU ARE NOW SAFE.

Well now, wasn’t that riveting? For those of you who skipped the previous section in fear of spoilers, MAN are you missing out. But you’ll get your hands on that content in due time. And it will be worth the wait.

Especially because one of the very cool secrets we’ve got going on is this thing we hid in the music, where we--

*HRRRGHK*

Reed here, ripping the keyboard out of Jaron’s hands to give everyone an update on music progress, as well as letting you know about something special we’re doing.

We’ve been busy getting all the music ready. The curated selections for the vinyl are going through the mixing and mastering phase, and we’re finalizing the artwork for the inside of the gatefold jacket for the vinyl version of the Facilitator’s Screen.

After going through the campaign and encounters, we’re currently estimating between 70 and 80 tracks, and are figuring we may have over 5 hours of ambient music when we’re finished (cue one of those hours-long YouTube videos of Cthulhu Music lol).

Here’s a screenshot of the current tracklist (track names blurred to avoid spoilers):

And the something special: Fable Factory had Cthulhu Dreamt logo patches printed up, and they’ll be listed on the Backerkit pre-order page shortly. AAAAANNNNNND, anyone who bought (or will buy) a physical copy of the OST will get one included FREE with their order, whether you supported at the Physical Edition and higher during the kickstarter, or added the CD or Vinyl as an add-on then or now on Backerkit! 😀

So, until the next KSU, we’ll keep plugging away. And don’t forget to check out the early sample previews of the OST, artwork, and other shenanigans on the Action Fiction Discord!!

Your brothers in Cthulhu: Jaron and Reed 🦑


 

A Poll, a Portrait, and a Penguin
3 months ago – Sat, Dec 09, 2023 at 07:22:43 PM

Hey Dreamers, Reed, your eldritch court composer, here.

First of all, how the heck does time move this fast? We’re really only a handful of days away from a new year!?!

Just wanted to shoot everyone a quick message to let you know that we’re still humming along on the writing and it is really turning out some wicked stuff. Here’s a screenshot of a creature stat block from the work server that tickled me:

Notably absent are any reproductive organs. In fact, all members of this species appear to be primarily sexless, exhibiting no gender roles. In place of traditional sexual reproduction, Aptenodytes escaproli exhibits a form of sexual cannibalism. A broodmother will consume the flesh of another member of its species,-------------------, and utilize the genetic information contained therein for the purposes of sexual reproduction. Lab results have shown that Aptenodytes escaproli is capable of reproducing in this way with -------------------------------, resulting in hybrid species. These hybrid species have thus far proven incapable of reproduction. Further study is not recommended.

Moving on to Music:

I’d love to run a poll: when it comes time to release the Soundtrack to the world (streaming services like Spotify, et al.), what would be your preference:

A: Release everything, everywhere, all at once

B: Release a curated selection of everything

C: Only release the stuff that isn’t ambient

Leave a comment with your preference A, B, or C (or some other random option :D). I’m curious to know what you all think, because there will be quite a bit of music and ambience! Backers at and above $30 will get ALL THE MUSIC, so this poll is only with regards to streaming for the general public.

In case you're interested in weekly samples of the music, I drop a short sample from a new track every week on Tuesdays, so make sure you're on the Action Fiction Discord Server (specifically #cd-discussion).

Last bit, our friend Jamil Lawyer (@JamilLawyer2  on Twitter), who is an excellent pixel artist, made a little piece of art for our endeavour, and we think it’s pretty awesome!

And look, he’s even included the Cthulhu Dreamt bespoke die 😀 

Now, I have to let you all go, but not empty handed; if you’d like some pieces of art for your mobile wallpaper, then look no further!

So, until next time, we hope your year ends splendidly!

Cthulhu fhtagn, 

Reed

Backerkit Surveys will be on their way soon!
4 months ago – Mon, Nov 06, 2023 at 09:08:39 AM

Cthulhu is one step closer to his great awakening.

Hey, gang! It's ya boi, Jaron, comin' at you live from McMurdo station. Been trying to learn Norweigan to help me with the locals, but in the meantime, the team and I have also been hard at work writing, building, creating, and getting our Pledge Manager set up for all of you! (massive shout-out to Reed, who has also been cranking out SO MUCH MUSIC. Preview is down below.)

Our hard work is about to pay off, and we're about to start sending surveys out!

What happens next?

First, we'll send out something called a smoke test, which means sending our surveys to only 5% of our backers. They will serve as our delicious little experiments, making sure there aren't any glaring issues with our surveys. After they've completed their surveys and we've fixed any outstanding issues, we'll be able to send out surveys to everyone else as well!

This means you may see some people posting comments on our Kickstarter page asking questions about their survey, but you may not have the survey yet. That's perfectly normal. That just means you weren't part of the smoke test! Backers who are not part of the smoke test should expect to receive the survey no later than the end of this week.

What about the writing, how's that going?

Fantastically! We've already cranked out thousands and thousands of words on the main campaign, and I'm editing through the ruleset with Brad. We're conducting a live playtest of our main campaign in parallel with writing it, so that when it arrives in your hands, you can trust it's balanced and effective.

We've also reworked all of our specialties, including switching the name of one of them, from Tracker to Hunter. We feel like this communicates the intent of the specialty a little more clearly, as they're a combat-focused parallel to the Survivalist. We'll be sharing some of the specialties in future Kickstarter updates, but folks over on our Discord will always get to see them first. So, if you're feeling particularly giddy and hungry for knowledge, that's where you should go.

Reed posts a new snippet from the OST every Tuesday - here's last week's snippet. Join the discord to check out the next snippet when he posts it tomorrow!

Oh, and here's an art preview too, from one of our artists, Emiliano Caceres (Capuzz) to whet your appetite.

A deliciously horrifying mutated woman, still wearing her glasses and business suit, but now with sunken eyes and murderous claws.

Anyway, I think I hear Brad and CJ fighting in the next room over, accusing each other of being imposter creatures. So, I had better get over there before somebody breaks out a flame thrower.

Until next time, Dreamers!

Jaron R. M. Johnson

And the Cthulhu Dreamt Design Team

R'lyehian March Playthrough Video, and Writing Status Update (Good News!)
4 months ago – Thu, Oct 26, 2023 at 04:56:44 PM

YEEEHAW, WHAT'S UP GANG!

It's me, ya boi, Jaron, coming at you from the darkest depths beneath an antarctic ice sheet, surrounded by sentient fungi. Doin' what I do, you know.

I wanted to swing by with a quick little update to share, first of all, that we recorded a playthrough of the R'lyehian March and Reed got it uploaded! 

You can find it here, or watch it in-line at the end of this update. At the end of the video, we did a bit of an impromptu Q&A, so you can check that out if you'd like!

But, you know what else?

Campaign Writing is well underway!

Brad, CJ, Snails, and I have been working tirelessly on the main campaign. This week (really, an hour ago or so) we finalized the complete outline for the Campaign Story's manuscript, which totals 9 chapters! The book-ending chapters are a Session 0 and an Epilogue, but the inner seven chapter titles are as follows:

  1. Shock & Awe
  2. Plausible Deniability
  3. Faustian Bargain
  4. Cold & Righteous Fury
  5. We Were Fools
  6. Picking Up The Pieces
  7. Hope

I think y'all are going to LOVE what we're going to put together. We'll be running a rapid-fire work-in-progress playtest over in our Discord, so if you wanna get your tentacles on some early game content, that's the best way to do it!

Anyway, here's the R'lyehian March playtest and Q&A.

Cheers, and thank you all for supporting us! We're on track for our release date next year, and we're in a great spot. I can't wait to share more with you soon! Probably an art dump is on the way.

Thank you all.

Jaron R. M. Johnson

And the Cthulhu Dreamt Design Team