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Stealing Cthulhu
by Pietro [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2024 05:09:14

"The most important idea in this book, however, is: nothing is sacred. Nothing is canon. You need never, ever be faithful to something you’ve read."

The essay has more limited objectives than it might seem if you read only the description and this irritated me a little at first but in reality it was a wise choice on Walmsley's part. It takes some iconic stories by Lovecraft plus some extras by other authors such as Chambers for Hastur and offers the tools to analyze them, unpack their components (characteristics of the creatures, plot developments, descriptions, etc.) and then take the latter and recombine them at will, generating something of "original" but still with the same soul as the source material.

The objective is not to distort or modernize at all costs but to learn to recycle, to work on the "original sources", on a few but significant stories by the original writer. A return to the origins without limiting itself to lazy emulation. Today it can be paradoxically fresh.

I especially appreciated the analysis of individual creatures. By reading them I rediscovered aspects that I didn't remember or underestimated. Some "recombinations" suggested by the author and the editors are themselves worthy for those who want to prepare Lovecraft-themed scenarios for role-playing. Although I also greatly appreciated the game described at the end of the book (Cthulhu Dark in his first and basic form), I found the essay a little lacking in giving practical suggestions for managing the dynamics of the stories at table. It is no coincidence that it seems to me to be a more universal and useful essay for potential writers than a specific manual for role-playing players. I understand that the book is rules-agnostic and it is difficult to make certain dissertantions without a specific game to which to apply them, but in my opinion could have been done more.

Personally, I found Stealing Cthulhu mainly focused on the Lovecraft stories that I like least. The Call of Cthulhu is now properly pop but for me, who love stories linked to the Dreamlands such as Celephais and The Silver Key, I feel like I have only read comments on a minor part of the author's poetics. However, I recognize that I give much more weight to these things and Walmsley explains his "limited" approach at the beginning.

Therefore recommended to lovers of Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos who want creative ideas to reread and reuse these classic stories.

(Review from my Goodreads profile)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Stealing Cthulhu
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Stealing Cthulhu
by Patrick C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/19/2023 19:56:30

An essential resource for any keeper who wishes to spark new life at their table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Stealing Cthulhu
by Allen A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2023 09:20:12

Lots of great information in a small book. Well worth it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Stealing Cthulhu
by Sebastian S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/27/2023 08:28:34

I simply love it. I write all my adventures and cosmic horror stories using this book as a guide. I think is a must.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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A Taste For Murder
by Aidan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2022 00:19:53

A Taste for Murder is very simple, but it's also just elegant: it captures the genre in a beautiful and easy to follow method. (I also love the cover... very similar to the Father Brown I have in my bookcase.) So if you want to recreate Agatha Christie style novels with a small group of friends (or just want a shining example of on-point game design) then get this game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Taste For Murder
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Play Unsafe
by Florian K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2022 11:27:25

Writing in 2022, the ideas contained on these 80 pages are probably no longer particularly original. Play culture has evolved. If you're well-versed in improvisation and "play to find out" gameplay this may not be the book for you.

It is THE book for me, though. It is my favourite book on roleplaying. Play Unsafe was a relevation to me. Even as someone who likes to prep, this helped me change the way I prep - and improvise from there. It changed the way I converse with my players. Alas, it has also made me somewhat impatient when I'm a player and the GM unwilling or unable to react to player input.

Yes, the book is short. It is also well-written. You can read it in less than 2 hours. Each time I do, it immediately makes me want to play an RPG.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Play Unsafe
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Play Unsafe
by Daan T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/09/2021 15:52:05

It isn’t really mind blowing stuff and a lot of ideas are not new. If you are familiar with improv than a lot of the things in this book you already know and I find that this Youtube video (https://youtu.be/xBkMOsZ7KDo) by Adam Koebel tells a lot of the same stuff about getting to the table with nothing prepared way better.

Some things I also flat out disagree on. I’m truly against the idea of pushing players boundaries just so you can make a more ‘interesting’ game. I personally think describing sexual content in a RPG is a really bad idea as it can quickly come over as creepy and sexual acts in a group setting feels weird.

I also think writing in a structure as if it is a story can be quite hard if you fly completely by the seat of your pants and some moments may feel a bit random as I if you were making it up on the spot (which you are!)

I would personally advice from experience the best way to run a complete improv game (especially oneshots) is to use a rules light, narrative system (my favorites are Fate Core and Dungeon World) and come with nothing prepared at the table. During character creation ask your players a lot of questions and generally saying ‘yes, and…’ to everything they say and what they think the adventure should be about. Then once something has formed, take a little break and write a structure of encounters one sentence each. Then if you want to you can write a little paragraph you narrate at the beginning of your adventure. And that’s it.

Just keep saying ‘Yes, and…’ (unless it is something completely ridiculous or impossible but if you play with people you trust this rarely happens) to your players until the session comes to a conclusion.

I think wanting to completely improvise a session shouldn’t come at the cost of having nothing written down.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Play Unsafe
by Nathan L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2020 23:15:34

The writing and formatting could be improved, however the concepts contained in here make this mandatory reading for GMs and players alike in my opinion. Articulating the importance of trust and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to tell the best possible story; I wish more people understood this and were able to implement it in games.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Play Unsafe
by Michael H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2018 11:24:23

The first thing that jumps at you is just how horrendous the type setting is. The second thing is how little is on each page. And the third is that the contents aren't worth $8, which will buy you some considerably more worthwhile things around here.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Cthulhu Dark Preview
by Federico T. c. L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2017 07:37:15

This and 'Lovecraftesque' (Based on Graham works as well) are the ONLY games around true to Lovecraft. This is the only RPG. The system is sleek, the creation guide is just the best you can find about creeping horror. Must buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Dark Preview
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Cthulhu Dark Preview
by Edward P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2017 09:18:08

For me, this is one of the most exciting RPG products coming out this year. I find it well written, engaging, and easy to learn and run. And dark. Very, very dark. The included scenario, Screams of the Children, is amazing. This is how horror games should be played. Love it, love it, love it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Stealing Cthulhu
by Rodney W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/22/2017 09:44:39

I first read H.P. Lovecraft's fiction over fifty years ago and first played the Call of Cthulhu RPG about twenty-five years ago. I have written and run CoC events at the Origins con most years since 2001 and have run (and played) CoC and ToC scenarios online for more than a decade. All that is to say that I am very conversant with and experienced in Mythos stories and games.

Stealing Cthulhu takes a very prescriptive turn on mining HPL's stories for game scenario purposes. It also goes into the scenario-writing process. The suggestions for scenario writing are very well organized and prompt a writer to think about what is needed to engage and maintain player involvement in a story. The side comments by other experienced content creators amplify and enhance the main author's points very effectively. I believe it can help anyone drawing from an established fictional world to fashion their own RPG take on it.

Stealing Cthulhu was a very worthwhile read. It made me think more deeply about what I do when creating Mythos stories and has already shaped the way I will do so in the future. I recommend it to anyone who crafts game materials for any title or genre.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stealing Cthulhu
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Stealing Cthulhu
by Mario N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/14/2017 17:10:31

Very nice book, besides helping you in designing Lovecraftian-style adventures (and horror ones in general) it also serves as a guide to various Cthulhu-mythos creatures, and it pinpoints some specific aspects of Lovecraft's literary style. Reads in a breeze, higly reccomended! One last word, that you will understand only if you read it thoroughly: catacombs!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Stealing Cthulhu
by eric t. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/14/2015 22:48:24

Excellent resource for anyone wishing to understand the structure of Lovecraft's stories and how to integrate them into purist games.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Play Unsafe
by Jordan R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2015 17:54:42

« Play Unsafe » is a list of tips, insights and ideas about RPGs organized under 5 broad categories : Play, Build, Status, Tell Stories ans Work Together. I put 3 stars, but don’t let it fool you in thinking the book is not worth reading. It’s good : it makes you think differently about RPG, and can make you reconsider some things you do, thus improving your game. But I feel this would have been an excellent blog series : 8 US$ is a bit much, especially if you already read improv-oriented games or blogs and forums about this play style.

The thing is that if the book makes you realize and question some of your assumptions, it does not help you do much more than that. For each insight the author share, he gives a good short explanation and illustrate it with a helpful example, then proceeds to another insight. No deeper discussion, no analysis, no nuances are given; and if good practical advices are sometimes offered, they still feel incomplete. Sometimes this is no big deal, but it is often frustrating : « Don’t plan ahead » means avoiding to plan contingency plans (if A happens, B will, but if C happens, D will instead…) and Walmsley’s practical advice to help the reader is to « Hold ideas lightly ». But should I plan something, some kind of scenes maybe, or some places, or maybe an evil plan that some bad guy will put in motion, or some stats blocks, or a story hook, or NPCs? How much does that change if I play a crunch-heavy game versus a light-rule one? None of those issues are acknowledged, much less discussed; some tips, like « Screw with each other » or « Shooting ideas deliberately » are in dire need of that.

This superficial treatment leaves you at the end of the book realizing that for most of the tips, one or two sentences does not only sums, but basically says pretty much everything the book itself said about it. That does not make it bad or useless : the right one or two sentences can improve your game, and the book contains a healthy dose of « right ». But that still is an obvious lack of substance. Imagine a book of aphorisms and quips about entrepreneurial success : it can be uplifting, eye-opening, maybe even life-changing, but it’s leaves a lot to be desired if you actually try to start a small business. « Play Unsafe » is the tabletop RPGs version of this. To be fair, the author tells you at the very beginning about the « Zen of gaming » approach of his book, so in retrospect, that was to be expected.

Of course, the quality of those insights will also vary. For example, « Keep the action onstage » (« Never describe action from a distance […] when you can bring the action closer ») strikes me as either false (it’s actually a great way to give life to the universe and/or to hook the PCs on some adventure) or uselessly cryptic (of course you don’t want to describe in detail a great battle if the PCs cannot take part in it in some way; but why then not write « make sure PCs are part of whatever is happening » or « make sure you are not monologuing for more than one minute »?). On the other hand, « Get to the action » presented just before is great advice : instead of stalling cool things from happening (« we kill the usurper! ») with dull obstacles (« the usurper isn’t in the room we thought, but miles away! »), let them happen and continue the story from there (« we become the new rulers of the kingdom. ») Your mileage may vary, but I’m pretty sure that you’ll find some tips great and others quite bad.

In summary, « Play Unsafe » is a book that will help you reflect on how you play and see RPGs. It may change some of your attitudes, but do not expect much else beyond that. 8$ is probably too expensive, but it’s not a waste of money.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Play Unsafe
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