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The Quickstart is a 73-page PDF which gives you everything you need to start playing a game of APOCTHULHU. The PDF will be a “Pay-What-You-Want” release … and we’re planning a softcover version later in the year.

As well as having a cut-down (but feature-complete) version of the game mechanics, the QS contains:

Rules for creating Survivors (the player characters in the panoply of possible Mythos Post-Apocalypses you can play),
A Two-sided character sheet,
Six Pre-Generated Survivors,
A ready-to-use Post-Apocalypse setting (in fact, it’s one of the four we previewed here on the blog back in February), and
A fantastic pick-up-and-play scenario by Chad Bowser called “Amber Waves”.

Except for dice (or online dice substitutes) it contains absolutely everything you need to take the APOCTHULHU game rules for a spin, either for a one-shot run of the supplied scenario or for an extended scenario of your own invention.

In the lead up to the Quickstart release this Friday I thought I’d share some additional info in the coming days regarding the game and its approach to tackling the subject of “Lovecraftian” Post-Apocalypse gaming.

As you’ll note from the description of the QS, one unusual thing about APOCTHULHU is that it isn’t a game which is tied to a single Post-Apocalyptic setting, but rather a set of rules for bringing any number of different such settings to life. This was an early design choice we made. The reasoning behind that was fairly simple … we noticed that there are an awful lot of different ways in which Mythos fiction hints that our world might end. Even in Lovecraft, there are hints of several different nightmare scenarios which “are foretold” as ways in which the unthinkably alien forces of the Mythos might unseat mankind from his illusion of pre-eminence. Picking just one such setting as the Apocalyptic fall of humanity inherently sidelines a lot of *other* cool ideas which would be equally fertile springboards for game scenarios. Furthermore, picking one possible dystopian future as the basis for our game would make it difficult for folks to use APOCTHUHLHU as a vehicle for playing things like “the continuation of classic campaign X, in the event that the Mythos Investigators *didn’t* save the day after all.”

With all that in mind we tried to build a game that would support any kind of Mythos “End of the World.” Do you want to explore a world in which civilization fell after Shub-Niggurath bestowed her terrible gift of fertility on the land? Or would you prefer an Apocalypse where Nyarlathotep’s smooth words seduced global superpowers into mutual annihilation? Would your players find it fun to explore the ruins of the world left behind after R’lyeh rose heralding the return of Great Cthulhu? All of these things are possible settings for APOCTHULHU.

Now there are perils to building a game which has no deeply-embedded “world” associated with it, the biggest being that the GM has more work to do in establishing the setting. We’ve tried to counter that in APOCTHULHU in two ways. First, the core book — which will be out later in the year — has a lot of material which aims to streamline the process of defining and establishing a custom Post-Apocalyptic setting. The second approach we’ve taken is also providing a diverse set of “pick-up-and-use” game settings that our awesome writers have already outlined. Several of these pre-defined settings are also further fleshed out by way of “ready-to-run” scenarios. The goal is to provide a spectrum of different resources: if you’re a world-building kind of GM, you have simple, elegant and flexible tools to customize things to your heart’s content. If you’re after a one-shot, the scenarios have you covered … and if you’re somewhere in the middle, the pre-defined settings are an awesome springboard for your own creative elaborations.

The Quickstart has a slice of most of these elements — it has a stripped back version of the core rules, which you can use in any Post-Apocalyptic setting you like, it has a pre-defined setting called “This Fecund Earth”, and a ready-made scenario called which is tied to that setting.
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