"That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange aeons, even death may die."
You uncover mysteries in dusty libraries and bloody crime scenes. You walk the mean streets of Chicago or hack through the jungles of the South Pacific. You battle vile cults, or recoil in terror at the alien enormities they worship. You follow the clues wherever they lead, whatever the cost in life or sanity. But do you dare to follow... The Trail of Cthulhu?
Trail of Cthulhu is a complete game of investigative horror set in the 1930s, based on the work of H.P. Lovecraft. The game uses an adapted and enlarged version of the GUMSHOE system which offers a laser-like focus on investigation, with characters driven to explore and investigate, even at the expense of their own health and sanity.
Using the revolutionary GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, this game features:
Sanity, which measures your blissful ignorance of the true nature of reality; and Stability, which defines how robust your mental health is.
Investigative abilities, such as Cop Talk, Interrogation and Occult, which help you find the awful crypt, and maybe even tell you what you might find there.
Drives, such as In the Blood and Arrogance, to get your character into that crypt at night.
General skills, such as Sense Trouble, Filch and Scuffling, to get you out again.
Keepers are offered:
Rules you can tune to Purist cosmic despair, or to lurid two-gun Pulp.
Comprehensive support for adventure and campaign creation, as well as suggestions for improvisation.
Three exciting campaign frames, for tweedy academics, jut-jawed G-men, or grimy traffickers in the eldritch, plus "The Kingsbury Horror," a complete introductory adventure.
Techniques to run the game and maintain the atmosphere of mystery and malice.
And we reveal a new view of the Mythos:
Gods, tomes, and magic, presented with mystery and drama in mind, and including Cthulhoid lore never before revealed in any game.
Alien races, including their spoor, their killing techniques, and the forensic clues their victims reveal.
The original grim horror setting—the 1930s—set against depression, looming war and totalitarianism.
Trail of Cthulhu won two ENnie award—Best Rules and Best Writing—as well as an honourable mention for Product of the Year.
The Introduction dives straight in to the basic premise, that ancient and insane deities exist and are still trying to invade Earth and that someone has to stop them, whatever the cost to life and sanity. It then moves on to the burning question: there's already a Call of Cthulhu RPG dealing with just that, so why a new game? The answer lies in the Gumshoe ruleset, developed by Pelgrane Press for the purpose of running games based around investigation and discovery, and built so that any adventure depending on certain clues being found will have those clues found! It's designed for people - Keepers and players alike - who want to concentrate on figuring out what the clues mean, rather than having to wonder if they actually have all the clues. This game also aims to enable two styles of play - the Purist style of intellectual analysis which enjoys watching the horror unfold knowing that it will end in madness; and the Pulp style which allows for a more physical approach, value the actual struggle against evil... and pays a bit more regard to character survival. The best games mix a bit of both - certainly Lovecraft's writing did! - but as parts of the rules favour one or the other style, they are marked so players can choose the bias they prefer, if any.
And the whole thing hangs together so well, the Gumshoe system is ideal for presenting an investigative horror game, and the ideas for how to both play and run it are in places inspired.