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Fate of Cthulhu €16,91 €12,68
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Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/12/2020 14:03:42

The fate of humanity - a Mephisto review

Fate of Cthulhu

Combining the Fate rules system with the background of Cthulhu is an idea that is actually quite obvious, so you almost have to wonder how long it took until Fate of Cthulhu was released (strictly speaking; however, with the Fate variant of Achtung! Cthulhu already exists a roleplaying game that combines both parts).

If you now expect Fate of Cthulhu to be a simple adaptation of the usual background and (presumably) necessary rule mechanisms for Fate, you will be surprised by this book. Fate of Cthulhu is not merely an adaptation of the rules, but provides, as is so typical for Fate, a very unusual approach to the setting. The starting point is bleak: In 2030, one of the Great Old Ones appears, and humanity is almost completely wiped out. Or rather: that would have happened. For with the solution from the Terminator films, the last humans - here in a dangerous ritual - send several people back ten years into the past to change the timeline and stop the events that led to the appearance of the Great Old One.

Fate of Cthulhu thus follows a very schematic approach in its gameplay: There are always four core events that led to the appearance of the Great Old One - and the player characters familiar as time travelers are familiar with these events. It is now up to the player characters to stop or at least mitigate these events, which in turn are defined by four so-called catalysts - places, people, enemies, and objects - so that humanity still has a chance in the future. The book provides five such scenarios, each one focusing on one of the most famous Great Old Ones: Cthulhu, the King in Yellow, Shub-Nigurrat, Dagon, and Nyarlahotep. At the end of the book, however, there is also advice for the game master, how to plan a tailor-made apocalypse (to be prevented by the player characters, hopefully).

Playing with the timeline is not only a ruse for drama, but depending on how the players act, they can change the events, which should also manifest itself visibly in their timeline. But beware: the risks and side-effects that are typical for the genre will probably occur.

In terms of rules, the book provides complete, very compressed and adapted Fate rules, so that you do not necessarily need Fate Core for this roleplaying game. In fact, Fate Condensed is based on this variant of the rules and has taken up many of its simplifications. Of course, such a book also provides additional rules needed for the setting. In contrast to classic Cthulhu scenarios, however, the investigators are not driven insane but corrupted by the events, which manifests itself in aspects and also stunts. The corruption gives the player characters additional power and strength - but at a very high and very dangerous price. The rules that determine whether the player characters in the individual scenarios change the story for the better or worse - and how this affects the overall timeline - are also explained in detail and are surprisingly mechanistic for Fate at first glance. But they are very useful for measuring the success of the player characters more objectively.

The five exemplary scenarios are well designed and build on the individual characteristics of the Great Old Ones. And as you might expect, the information of the time travelers is not always accurate, so there will be some surprises in this respect as well. Even with the trick of time travel, the chances of humanity are minimal.

Even though Fate of Cthulhu surprised me with its approach initially, which I did not expect at all, I like this roleplaying game very much. The concept of time travel is a fitting element for the Cthulhu background and gives the game its additional charm. Of course, most groups will probably not play several apocalypses—still, the option to choose the appropriate variant or use it as basic material for your background is very helpful. If you are looking for a simple adaptation of the Cthulhu setting to Fate rules, you will only find a few pieces of the puzzle here. But if you want to play a truly epic campaign against the Great Old Ones, which can be bizarre, dark, and sometimes a bit black-humored, this book is one of the Fate series' highlights so far.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by simone b. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/07/2020 05:23:49

I really loved this product (backed on Kickstarter) and we're enjoing playing it so much!

An Italian language review by me (Recensione in Italiano)

https://dungeonwords.blogspot.com/2020/05/fate-of-cthulhu-recensione-my-two-cents.html

A quick summary in English of what I loved:

  • a new approach to the Cthulhu Mythos, no more investigators delivered as packages around the world, but stories build around them (or better, characters established in the story)
  • no more madness or sanity crap, no more investigators trembling in a corner or gaining improbable phobias to justify a loss of sanity
  • a refreshing "pulp" approach to the Mythos
  • many references to the Lovecraft stories (e.g. the Nyarlatothep's timeline)
  • all timelines are a so different playing experience
  • new and exciting magic and rituals system

much more but you should buy the product for it :D



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by George K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/13/2020 06:04:40

Nothing more than Terminator, with the Mythos name slapped onto it. With nothing that really screams "horror", or the substance of what Lovecraft created. No Madness rules, a cheap Corruption system, that is there to just give characters helpful mutations. Something that's a positive, which should be a huge negative where this type of writing is concerned. Hard pass, feels more like a cash grab by Evil Hat, nothing more.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for your review! While I disagree that madness mechanics are a necessity in any Cthulhu game, and that corruption is merely about mutation, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a review with your rating.
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Jeff P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/07/2020 14:13:54

Fate of Cthulhu is a nifty new roleplaying game using the Fate rules, which I'm already a huge fan of. Fate is a game which emphasizes narrative and story-telling, making it a great choice if you like dynamic, fast-paced, action-oriented games about highly competent heroes doing heroic deeds. The rules for Fate of Cthulhu are completely self-contained, meaning that you don't have to own a copy of Fate Core to play this game.

If you're already familiar with the Cthulhu mythos, it's worth mentioning here what this game is NOT.

First of all, the Cthulhu mythos was directly inspired by the literature of H.P. Lovecraft and expanded upon by his fans and other authors. Lovecraft's distinct style and narrative voice have rightly been praised by generations of readers. As a distinct genre or subgenre of psychological horror, the mythos has had an outsized influence upon horror in several mediums, including literature, film, and roleplaying gaming. However, H.P. Lovecraft's legacy also poses a problem to modern readers: the man was an outspoken bigot and antisemite. So the first thing that this game is NOT is an endorsement of Lovecraft's views. The authors of this game made it a point to firmly call out Lovecraft's racism, distance themselves from it and disavow it in its entirety, and then go on to explore the world created by Lovecraft and others as a fantastic setting for their roleplaying game. Fate of Cthulhu tackles this elephant in Lovecraft's room directly and unambiguously, and good on them for doing so.

But even with that said, Fate of Cthulhu also takes a unique approach to this setting. It differs from most other mythos games in that it isn't about a group of scholars and investigators on the trail of unspeakable eldritch horror, gradually losing their grasp on sanity with each successive encounter with powerful alien intelligences, which only accelerate their descent into madness, hopelessness, and despair-- or something like that. Keep in mind, I've been a fan of the 'original' Cthulhu mythos roleplaying game since its debut back in 1982, so I'm not saying anything derogatory about that roleplaying experience: it's a blast!!! I'm just letting you know that this isn't that-- it's something different entirely. Fate of Cthulhu advances the storyline from the mythos' typically gloomy, hopelessly-doomed present, projecting that forward to a point a few centuries into an unspeakable future, where the Old Gods and their minions have triumphed over what remains of the human race, ruling earth with all of the insanity and cruel indifference you'd expect of them. This game BEGINS with utter hopelessness, instead of ENDING with it; instead of presenting a gradual slide into ultimate destruction, it begins at that point of utter devastation and then dangles the most poisonous substance imaginable: hope. You see, the player characters are servants (slaves?) of the Old Gods in this bleak future, but are given the opportunity, through the deus ex machina of time travel, to return to our present-day and set things right.

I've heard Fate of Cthulhu described, therefore, as "Terminator meets the Cthulhu mythos," a game where horribly corrupted and tortured souls from an unspeakable future travel back to our world to prevent that future from taking place.

I think a better analogy would be "the Cthulhu mythos meets 12 Monkeys," for those of you familiar with the TV show: an episodic set of missions undertaken to rewrite the past in hopes of averting an unbearable future.

Lastly, there's one other thing that this game is not. Unlike most other roleplaying forays into the Cthulhu mythos, it isn't a profile of inevitable, encroaching insanity. Evil Hat has long been an advocate for disabled players who enjoy roleplaying games, and there aren't any mandatory rules forcing players to roleplay insanity as a consequence of in-game plot events (though character insanity is presented as an option for groups which embrace this style of play).

So that's what this game is not: it isn't bigoted and doesn't condone racism; it isn't gloomy or hopeless, but is instead about a desperate gambit based upon the faintest glimmer of hope; and it doesn't force people to roleplay forms of mental disability unless they want to.

What this game IS, on the other hand, is a little more straight-forward, especially in terms of the story arc already described. The player characters are heroes from the future who have traveled back to our time in order to save both realities. The genius of this game, if you will, is in what it calls 'timelines,' which are key events which the players believe must take place in order to bring about their nightmare future. A Fate of Cthulhu campaign is essentially a race to prevent these events from taking place, although in many of the timelines provided, the player characters are misinformed about some of these events or misunderstand several important details surrounding them. Having multiple timelines for a GM to choose from prevents players from knowing, in advance, which story arc they will be following, and it also makes the game replayable.

So there you have it. Fate of Cthulhu uses a great system to tell an interesting story in a way which puts a new spin on the Cthluhlu mythos. It does so using clever timeline mechanics, which serve to increase replay value and diminish player foreknowledge of what is about to happen. And it does so in an honest and inclusive manner, rejecting Lovecraft's bigotry and racism and creating a safe space for gamers with mental disability.

Other than a noxious, sulfurous green haze, a few tentacles, and a group of cultists trying to open a way which should never be opened, what more could you ask for? Strongly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Jeff!
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Adrian B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/05/2020 10:54:02

I was looking forward to this one since the kickstarter, as I was unable to participate at the time and instead purchased it at my FLGS. The PDF copy comes courtacy of Evil Hat's Bit and Mortar program.

When it comes to Lovecraftian RPGs, Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu is the gold standard, having carried the torch for the genre for decades now. But with Lovecraft's material clearly in the public domain, there as been a flood of Cthulhu materials in the last decade plus. Call of Cthulhu is as moderately complicated system, with the 7th edition now avalible probably the best version so far. So for a new Lovecraft inspired game to have traction, it can do so by having a distinctly different system. Fate of Cthulhu does this well. If you haven't played Fate before, I feel this is one of the best intros you can find. Stripped down Fate rules are baked into this book, allowing this to be a single book game if you wish. What Fate brings to the table is being much more freeform than CoC, which allows for more player and Keeper creativity and colaboration.

The second way for a new game to stand out is how the setting is different to explore Lovecraftian themes. When I read the concept of time travel, I was intrigued. The book fleshes out this idea very well, giving specific details in an abundance, so you can use what you like and discard what you do not. The PCs are desperate heroes, just like is often the case in CoC, but with clearer goals typically. I was reminded of Delta Green in this regard, with the war against the Mythos being just that, fought by soldiers.

If you love Fate and have never given cosmic horror a go, this is a gateway for you. If you love Call of Cthulhu and want to try a more freeform system like Fate, this is for you. What is most important is that this is doing something decidedly new and does it well. This was not only a solid purchase for me, it is in my opinion the best Fate book released so far.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Adrian!
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Christopher L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/01/2020 03:50:34

There's a lot to love in this take on the Cthulhu Mythos I was in on the kickstarter for this. I was a little apprehensive because the Cthulhu Mythos is generally so overdone. Though, I like the Fate Core system and I have been happy with the publisher in past works, so I backed it. I'm glad that I did.

What does it have?

  • Time travel and interesting mechanics for tracking and handling changes to the timeline and the repercussions of it.
  • Iinteresting scenarios to get started. (I particularly like The King in Yellow scenario).
  • A clear explanation of the Fate Core rule system used by the game.
  • Doesn't shy away from taking on the problematic parts of Horror, Lovecraft, and the typical assumptions in the genre. (Consent is emphasized. Diversity is promoted. Mental illness isn't being used as a prop.)
  • It's still horror, and it still looks bad for humanity, but this time it's not completely futile. You might not have much chance for a happy ending, but it's at least some chance! I see no reason that you can't adjust this chance to be more or less based on your taste though.
  • Speaking of giving humanity a chance, the Heroic Last Stand mechanic in the rules gives you a chance to make a dramatic noble sacrifice for humanity. It's probably the first time I've been enthusiastic about a death mechanic in an RPG.

It's an easy title to recommend.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for getting right to the heart of it, Christopher!
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Pascal G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/31/2020 19:28:22

Evil Hat Productions and the creative team behind this book have outdone themselves. Fate of Cthulhu is a refreshing take on a genre that has been somewhat overdone, blending Lovecraftian horror with Terminator-style angst of time travellers trying to prevent a seemingly unavoidable apocalypse.

Fate of Cthulhu maintains the standard Fate book format. It is a gorgeous hard cover with evocative hard that pays homage to its two main sources of inspiration.  The book is well laid out, briefly introducing the setting and then providing an updated and condensed version of the Fate Core rule. As such, the book stands alone on its own, proving the GM and players all they need to play. Before delving into character creation, action resolution and detailed setting and timelines, the authors provide some brief but essential advice on players consent in horror games, and acknowledge Lovecraft's legacy - both his contribution to the unique genre of cosmic horror, as well as the disturbing fact that he was a racist. 

I am a huge fan of Fate.  I enjoy how the creative control is shared around the table, the story-first approach (focusing on what characters would do first, rather than the game mechanics to resolve action outcomes), and the ease with which rules can be hacked to suit a specific setting and feel. Fate of Core introduces some neat mechanics to complement this approach:

  • Corruption.  The sweet temptation of power and success is there at the PCs' fingertips. Rather than use insanity rules that encourage players to poorly role-play characters with mental health issues (potentially offending other players who suffer or know a loved one suffering from mental health issues), Fate of Cthulhu relies on corruption. PCs can willingly embrace corruption, or be exposed to it, resulting in weird powers that give them an edge... at a cost.  This provides the players a lot of agency, with the temptation to use these corrupted aspects to more easily win a fight - at the potential cost of losing the war.

  • The Timeline.  The timeline is a very cool concept with elegant mechanics.  A  timeline has four key events that shape the timeline. Each event has multiple catalysts that the time travellers think are pivotal - but they could be wrong.  These events present themselves as missions for the time travellers and their present-day companions to try to influence.  As they complete a mission, their successes or failures cause ripples across the timeline and affect other events.   As with the Terminator franchise, PCs often face moral dilemmas.  Does the end justify the means? And how sure are you that what you are doing is making things better? 

To get GMs started, the authors provide four complete timelines, each featuring the arrival of a Great Old One.  In addition, guidelines are provided to build other timelines and creating new Great Old Ones.  I walked through the guidelines and found it very easy, given the four examples provided, to create my own timeline.

The authors also provide sound advice to GMs on how to run a Fate of Cthulhu campaign, with lots of helpful advice from the creators also available online. The concept of loosely defining the Great Old One's ambition, goals, tactics, and cultists if awesome, and provide some very helpful inspiration for the GM to improvise opposition for the PCs throughout a campaign that reflects the specific methods of the Great Old One they face.

The Stars Were Just Right for this team of creator to unleash this awesome product. I look forward to play multiple timelines, and eventually hack these rules for non-Lovecraftian time travelling campaigns.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Pascal! You’ve zeroed in on the stuff that excites me the most in this design.
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Keith S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2020 11:19:53

Full disclosure, Fate is my go-to system and has been for quite a while now, so obviously, I'm inclined to like this book. But I really have to say, Fate of Cthulhu worked for me as a premise. The mix of Terminator and Cthulhu tropes are a good mix. My issue with a lot of Cthulhu systems has always been the idea that you cannot win, you fail/get corrupted/die inevitably, and you're just holding on, but this book takes a different path, balancing between hope and corruption. Players can have victories even if they, themselves, are destroyed in the process.

It's also important to know that the book doesn't sweep Lovecraft's racism and ableism under the rug. They're addressed right up front. The book explains why it does what it does and gives readers sources for inspiration that avoid the more problematic elements of Cthulhu mythos. As with a lot of Fate books, one of the strengths of this book is how much it can serve as a resource for games even outside of the immediate scope of the book.

If you've read the Fate Worlds books, the timelines in this book are about on par with those. They're pretty mix-and-match-able, though, so there's a lot of ability to throw curves at players.

It's totally possible that this book might not be someone else's flavor, but it really worked for me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Keith! Glad you like the premise. Once the mash-up occurred to us it seemed like we really had to do something with it.
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Matt C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2020 10:50:41

If you take all of the interesting things from Lovecraft - the eldritch abominations, alien fears, and cosmic horror - and then remove the incredibly foul racism (while acknowledging that it existed!), sexism, and general assorted bigotries of a man who was literally scared of everything from geometry to air conditioning, then follow up by taking the hopeless dread and terror of it and seasoning it nicely with some of the "I have come back from the future to set right what went wrong" of movies like Terminator, you get Fate of Cthulhu.

Laid out neatly in the standard Fate format that makes the hardcopies easy to carry around, it's an excellent addition to the library of anyone who plays Fate - not in the least for the cleverly designed Timeline mechanic it implements, which can be easily adapted for tracking the balance of power in almost any situation; by influencing the events of the past, the players can either improve things and give humanity more of a chance, or possibly bungle it and make things worse; the nature of Fate is that it makes accepting those failures as readily a part of the mechanics and design as success is - failure is failure, but not an ending point by any means.

Additionally, Fate of Cthulhu deals with the incredibly screwed up "sanity" that many Mythos games simply keep wholesale - which is pretty ugly, when you consider how many of us today suffer from actual mental illness today - and instead replaces it with a Corruption mechanic more in keeping with the Terminator meets Cthulhu vibe by letting you get creepy, alarming, and deeply alien abilities at the risk of becoming a corrupted servant of the alien horrors whose rise to power you're supposed to be preventing.

All in all, it's excellently designed, written, and put together in the way that all Fate rulebooks are, it addresses the problems of the Mythos up front and makes a point to address and acknowledge them while refusing to perpetuate them, making it an excellent update to the Mythos.

The stars are right. It's our job to make them wrong again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Matt! Glad to hear the game's hitting on all its targets with you. :)
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Megan T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/30/2020 10:46:16

I play a lot of Mythos game, and Fate of Cthulhu has a very different feel - one that I still love. I think one of the most interesting changes is to remove any sort of sanity mechanic (common in most horror games, but it's a very unnuanced understanding of mental health) and change it to a corruption aspect. The corruption aspect adds so much fun to the game, because while it is obviously something you want to avoid happening to your character, the possibilities for what you can do as a corrupted individual are incredibly tempting.

Time travel is generally not my favorite type of game to play, but I was surprised to see how much I liked the system they built here. Another great idea is that there are multiple places to try to prevent the future from being quite so terrible, and your players can choose to try to fix as many as they want. Don't worry, the nihilistic tone of most mythos games remains - you can't prevent the horrors in the futures, you can only attempt to make the future less bleak.

I highly recommend this game for a new take on Mythos gaming, and especially to anyone who loves Fate. I can definitely see borrowing the idea of corrupted aspects in my future games in other settings.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Megan! I'm delighted with our time travel system in FOC too. :)
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Patrick G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/29/2020 23:57:04

The basic idea is good. But like many other books by this company, Fate of Cthulhu is also lacking substance. Many things are hardly explained at all. In general, most of the texts appear rather superficial. The worst part is the practically nonexistent layout. The texts are presented to the reader as pure block texts. Other books divide their texts into clear two columns. The text design in Fate of Cthulhu is just loveless and amateurish. The description text on the sales page also speaks of a great system for rituals and spells. But just two pages were spent on both. Accordingly, there are hardly any examples or content here. Overall, it would have been better to spend about 20-30 pages more to fill such gaps. For over 18 Euro this book has a very poor value-for-money ratio and there are other more extensive, optically more beautiful and also much more appealing books on the market. I am very disappointed with Fate of Cthulhu.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Two-column layouts are a bad idea in a 6x9 formatted book. They're largely found in books that are 8.5x11, where there's enough available column width to support two columns. The vast majority of our books are 6x9. Most of the "examples or content" aren't in a centralized location — they're spread out through the various timelines in the book, to avoid spoilers for players who are reading only the sections prior to those. Sorry the book wasn't to your taste.
Fate of Cthulhu
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Peter C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/10/2020 05:31:25

Wow. what a great idea. Im still reading it - but its as if Terminator and Yog-Sothoth had a baby. An absolute antidote to those years of Call of Cthulhu, where you'd have a few beers at a speakeasy then go out to become a gibbering insane mess. While there's nothing wrong with that classic style of play, here to some degree the odds are changed in your favor. Sure you are fighting against cultists, monsters and a choice of great old one, but finally you have a chance to triumph. The future is dominated by the horrors of the mythos, by acting in the past you can change that outcome.

The book itself? Snappy narrative. The FATE mechanics are presented in condensed form so its really a complete game (but get the core book anyway - its a great and useful purchase which will provide much more detail). Some nice mechanics on how the flow of the future is changed (or not). There is plenty of meaty background material (organized by great old one), where a specific entity will/has been released, and needless to say, at first blush it seems like your work is cut out for you.

Bottom line. A nice take on a mythos that has been applied to every genre in the RPG world. This is a game where instead of watching your SAN drain away as you behold a gibbering blob of slime, offset it by throwing a grenade into its slavering jaws. As Conan would say (Howard used the Mythos as well) "if it bleeds it can die," so very, very true.

A five star purchase. Nice work!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Peter!
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