Cultists of Cthulhu

Created by Sixpence Games

Cultists of Cthulhu
Photo original
515 backers pledged $57,248.26 on Kickstarter

A horror boardgame of teamwork, and betrayal set in H.P. Lovecraft's Miskatonic University. Now fully funded and with Stretch Goals!

Raised in Kickstarter
$57,248.26 / 515 backers
Raised in BackerKit
$7,600.00 / 521 backers

Learn About Our Project:

All Stretch Goals reached! Now for one last super secret stretch goal at $70,000!

It is a dark and stormy night. A lightning bolt has shattered the Elder Sign over the entrance to Miskatonic University's library, leaving open the path for unspeakable eldritch horrors to encroach upon our world. Are you an Academic, investigating these strange happenings and trying to preserve your school, yourself, and your sanity? Or are you the Cultist, secretly plotting the downfall of your so-called "friends"?

After the success of our first game, Professor Pugnacious, I wanted to try something more ambitious, and thus, Cultists of Cthulhu was born. Cultists of Cthulhu is a semi-cooperative game for 3-6 players. All but one of the players are Academics, working together to accomplish the scenario-specific goals, while the final player is the Cultist, who pretends to be an academic while secretly working to kill the other players.

"That's the kind of stuff I talk about for months later, and that's what this game is. It's mechanically sound, it's got a lot of narrative, and it's a lot of fun! If you like this kind of game, if you like Betrayal at House on the Hill, if you like Arkham Horror, if you like Dead of Winter, you're going to love this game." - Undead Viking

"Really, really good... I really like this game. It's a game that has a lot of opportunities to provide a fresh experience every play session...the hidden role here and the whole traitor element just works so well in this game. It's very easy to play, very easy to set up, and it's one that I think will be hitting your table quite a bit if you decide to back it. [Cultists of Cthulhu] has all the markings of the next big thing in Cthulhu tabletop gaming." -Let's Level Up

"If you're a Lovecraft fan, you probably enjoy 1)imagining a world filled with unspeakable horrors, 2)vicariously experiencing madness, and 3)feeding your friends to the Elder Gods. On all three counts, Cultists of Cthulhu delivers!" - Carlos Hernandez, designer of Banzai Sumo and Meriwether

"This could be the next Arkham Horror." - Nina Salvador, Doomed Legion Games

"This is very cool, good job." - MC Frontalot, the World's 579th Greatest Rapper

"Cultists of Cthulhu has unique gameplay mechanics, a fun setup that is enjoyable just by itself, and has plenty of theme to intrigue the most die-hard fans of the genre. It scratches the RPG itch too! Definitely check it out." - Rocco Privetera, designer of Ninja Dice

  • 45 minute to 3 hour playtime, depending on which scenario you choose, yet less than 10 minutes setup time
  • Unique roll-and-reroll mechanic provides interesting, meaningful decisions every turn
  • Unique combat mechanic introduces new twists every fight
  • The map is laid out and the goals are known at the beginning of the game, so the Academics can plan their strategy
  • The Cultist knows who they are at the beginning of the game, so they too can play strategically
  • Anyone could be the Cultist, preventing "Alpha Player Syndrome": you have to cooperate, but can't just let one person make all the decisions
  • The game state changes significantly each round, so you must make decisions on your turn, not just mindlessly execute the strategy you came up with
  • 4 Scenarios (The Fungi from Yuggoth, the Cult of Cthulhu, the Esoteric Order of Dagon, and the Coming of Nyarlathotep), 3 Cultists per Scenario, 12 Characters, and a dynamically constructed 39 tile map means you'll never play the same game twice!

The players first choose a Scenario and each pick a Character. Then the map is built in real time, according to simple Carcassone-style rules (doors must touch doors, etc). 

A timelapse of three different maps, out of billions of total possible map setups
A timelapse of three different maps, out of billions of total possible map setups

After building the map, everyone receives a Role card saying whether they are an Academic or the Cultist. If you are a Cultist, your Role card says at what point on the Star Chart you can reveal yourself and what happens when you do. If you are an Academic, your Role card says what Madness you will acquire during the course of the game.

If you are an Academic, you are trying to complete the Elder Sign and accomplish the other unique Scenario goals. If you are the Cultist, you are trying to kill all the Academics!

On your turn, you draw an Event card based on your location (indoors or outdoors) and then take two actions: Move, Attack, Steal, Use an Item, Use a Room, or attempt a Scenario Action. Once everyone has had a turn, the starting player draws two Star cards, chooses one to play, and shuffles the other back into the deck without revealing it. Any monsters on the board go, and then the next player becomes the starting player and the next round begins.

Events and Star cards move the Star Chart forward, and when it reaches the secret number that only the Cultist knows, the Cultist can reveal themselves, transforming themselves into or summoning one or more horrible monsters and wreaking havoc on the Academics! 

One of my main goals with this game was to make it so you make at least one new interesting, meaningful decision every turn, yet still have that fun, thematic element of randomness. To that end I came up with a new Ability Check mechanic. There are three possible results on the dice you roll: Good (which is good for the group), Bad (which is bad for you as an individual), and Weird (which is weird and bad for the group). After rolling, you may reroll either all of the Weirds or all of the Bads, but not both! This forces you to make a trade off between the good of the group and your own personal well being, and provides the Cultist an opportunity to sabotage the group while potentially maintaining plausible deniability. For more details see the full rules.

 Announcing our first stretch goal: at $40,000, every copy will come with the two player mode for free!

Art Gallery There is a gallery showing at Miskatonic University, and the campus is covered in pieces of art. Some are beautiful, while some are horrifying, but all will leave an impression. This contains a new type of card, the Work of Art, which are spread around the map. Examining them can grant you bonuses, or scare you out of your wits, depending on how discerning your taste is. Contains 25 Art cards, 1 Cultist Card (Pickman's Model). A subset of art cards are placed face down in rooms on the map, and when examined, are revealed, and have an effect on everyone in that tile, and remain for the duration of the game. $20

Music Recital Old folks may disapprove of it, but college kids know that there' s just something magical about that Jazz. Includes a deck of 13 Music Cards and rules for how to use them. Music is an optional rule: play the 15 minute soundtrack, which functions as a timer. Every 15 minutes a loud, easily noticable bell will prompt you to draw a new card from the Music Deck. Music cards can be good or bad for the Academics, and are resolved by whoever the current player is. $20

Tomes and Spells There wouldn't be much point in having this amazing library if nobody ever read anything in it, right? Includes Forbidden Book Cards which are hazardous to read at best, and at worst, outright maddening to try to understand. If you do understand them, though, you just might get access to the new selection of Spell Cards. The Forbidden Books are the Book of Eibon, De Vermis Mysteriis, Unaussprechlichen Kulten, and Cultes des Ghoules, as well as an alternate version of the Necronomicon. Also contains 13 Spell Cards and rules governing how to use them. $20

The Dunwich Horror - In this all new scenario, the Cultist is either Wilbur Whateley or an agent of his, sent to retrieve the Necronomicon from the library and use it to unleash the terrifying, invisible Dunwich Horror upon the world. $20

The Great Race of Yith - this scenario is unique in that it is not played on its own, but can be added to any other scenario, creating two Cultists working at cross purposes. The Yith want to abduct your minds to learn from you, and the Academics and the other Cultist want none of that! $20

Character Pack - Four extra characters: the hobo who hangs out on campus, the groundskeeper, a townie who tends bar at the local watering hole, and one secret character! $20

Art eBook - Not gameplay related, this is an ebook showing not only all the art in the game, but how the art evolved over time, from first sketches to final product. $10

Miskatonic University Diploma - Not gameplay related, this is a custom diploma declaring you to have graduated from Miskatonic University, with a degree in your chosen major. Note: this is not included with the $150 reward tier, you've got to add this on separately if you want it. $25

Professor Pugnacious - The first game from Sixpence Games! You can see more info about it on its old kickstarter page or this review from Let's Level Up. Note that this game has nothing to do with Cultists of Cthulhu apart from being designed/published by the same people, and that it does not come with the $150 reward tier, you've got to add this on separately if you want it. $40

Want to get into the Cosmic Horror mood? Looking for something to help you pass the time before your copy of Cultists of Cthulhu arrives? Here are a few of my favorite stories from the Cthulhu Mythos that I offer as suggested reading. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

  • The Call of Cthulhu. There's a reason the whole thing is named after this story. It's a really great, gripping yarn, with a broaderscale than you might expect. 
  • The Dunwich Horror. This story gave us our first glimpse at the Miskatonic University library and its dread contents, including the fabled Necronomicon. 
  • The Fungi from Yuggoth. This is actually a collection of sonnets. Poems about space monsters! 
  • The Colour Out of Space. This is a delightfully creative story that really puts the focus on the "Cosmic" part of Cosmic Horror. 
  • At the Mountains of Madness. This is probably Lovecraft's best story. It's certainly my favorite. It really captures the sense of dread at things unknown and alien. Strongly recommended. 
  • The King in Yellow. I should probably put at least one non-Lovecraft story on here, and this collection of short stories by Robert W. Chambers fits the bill nicely. The stories are interconnected through the titular play, and the effect is to create the same scale of dread that surrounds the Necronomicon all in one go.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

5 days ago – Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 09:00:45 PM

Here is the FAQ! If you have any questions that aren't answered herein, please don't hesitate to ask me them.

How does trading work?
As an action, you can offer to trade with another player on the same tile as you. If they accept, you can swap back and forth as many items, artefacts, and elder sign pieces as you want. If they reject your offer, you have wasted your action.

Explain Scenario Actions
Scenario Actions are printed on the scenario card, and labeled S1 through S4. Each one can be done successfully once per game. To succeed at them you need 3 Good results. Two Weirds will advance the Star Chart 1, and two Bads will inflict 1 Horror on you.

Explain "first goal effects"
When a player completes A2 or B2 the first goal effect happens. The player who completed the goal makes any necessary decisions.

What happens to your items when you die?
They drop in a pile on the tile you were on, and later any other character can pick up as many of them as they want as an action, if they are on that tile.

Do the Academics know when the Cultist can reveal themself?
The Cultist can reveal themself once the stars align. This happens when the star chart reaches 15, or 20, or 25. Only the Cultist knows which of those three options is in play in any given game.

When do monsters and tentacles spawn?
Tentacles spawn when a card effect says they do. Other monsters only appear when the Cultist reveals themself.

Is there a limit to how many Elder Sign pieces can be found?
There are two complete Elder Signs, consisting of five outer and one central piece each. Players can find up to all 12 pieces. In the Esoteric Order of Dagon scenario, the Academics must find all 12 pieces and complete two Elder Signs!

When the Cultist and any monsters are dead, do the players still draw from the Stars deck?
Yes. Note that at this point, the Cultist can, if they wish, choose to concede, and the Academics will win the game.

What all is public knowledge?
Everything is public knowledge apart from your role card and which Stars card you choose not to play during the University turn.

Do weird effects affect both combatants?
Yes, unless they cannot affect one (such as causing a monster to drop a weapon).

Does the Star Spawn resurrect if it's been killed and a new tentacle would spawn?

How do the various wound tokens work?
All wounds count towards your total number that you can take before dying. On their backside, they each either say "1 wound", in which case that is all they do, or they say something else, in which case they also do that. They might reduce your speed, or your defense, or add a red die to your ability score, or inflict Horror, or in one case, count as 2 wounds towards determining when you die. If you heal a wound, you may choose which wound token to remove. If it has a secondary effect other than inflicting Horror, that effect no longer applies to you - but if it inflicted Horror, you do not lose that Horror.

Let's write a FAQ!
10 days ago – Fri, Apr 14, 2017 at 12:18:06 AM

Do you have any questions you want answered? Please let me know by commenting on this status! In a bit, after collecting the questions, I will write up a FAQ and post it as an update, and on BGG, and on

Questions so far:

How does trading work?
Explain Scenario Actions again
Explain "first goal effects"
What happens to your items when you die?

What other questions do you have?

The Add-Ons are progressing, and my new game, Murder Most Foul is on kickstarter now!
about 2 months ago – Thu, Mar 02, 2017 at 10:39:54 PM

Now that you guys have Cultists of Cthulhu, I feel good about launching my next game, Murder Most Foul.


Murder Most Foul is a murder mystery dinner party game for four or more players. One player is the host, destined to be killed, one player is the detective, determined to solve the mystery, and everyone else is a guest, trying to commit the murder and get away with it.  

Since the players commit the murder during the game, and it doesn't run off of a script, it's infinitely replayable! And one of the ways you can commit the murder is by "poisoning" someone's food by spiking it with a hot sauce - so I teamed up with Dane Wilcox of FYM Hot Sauce to make a custom hot sauce, called Poison, for the game!

In other news more directly relevant to you guys, the first round of art for the add ons is done! That means that now I need to confirm that it's all formatted correctly, that there aren't any errors, and get a proof printed. Once that's done, it'll be time to send it out to you guys!

Guess what arrived in America!
2 months ago – Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 07:45:23 PM

That's right! The games are right now, as you read this, being accepted into Amazon's warehouse. I am currently formatting the spreadsheet with all your addresses on it, will be submitting it later today, and then your game should arrive very soon! I waited as long as I could on the spreadsheet to get as many of you as possible (holy cow a lot of you have moved since the campaign ended) and now the day has finally arrived!

If you filled out the form back when I sent it to you, then you are good to go and you will receive your copy of Cultists of Cthulhu in the next few days. If you didn't, send me a direct message, and I'll get yours in the mail too. 

Do you live in Colorado? Come pick up your game at GenghisCon 40!
3 months ago – Mon, Feb 06, 2017 at 10:22:21 PM

GenghisCon 40 is happening from February 16th to 19th. I'm going to have a booth there, my very first time having my own booth at a convention!

Your games should be winging their way to you by then, but if you would prefer to meet me and pick them up in person, come on by! I will be in booth 20 in the exhibition hall. I'll also have copies of Professor Pugnacious for sale, a sneak preview of Murder Most Foul, and free samples of the "Poison" hot sauce!

If you aren't in Colorado, or don't want to come to the con, then don't worry, you should be (fingers crossed, knock on wood, draw the Elder Sign, et cetera) getting your game in the mail at just about the same time.

If you do want to come by, then please comment on this update saying so, so that I don't end up sending you an extra copy by mistake! And please be sure to bring an ID or a phone logged into your kickstarter account so that I know it's you and not somebody trying to scam you out of your game.

Thomas Eliot
Sixpence Games