From: Mongoose Publishing, Wildfire LLC
By Ron McClung
Mongoose Publishing in conjunction with Wildfire LLC and Black Sky Studios have released a twisted vision of a dark future, combining anime-style mecha with the Cthulhu mythos. This stand-alone roleplaying game uses the Framewerk system and is contained in a full-color hardcover book with amazing art and a compelling premise.
The game’s story is deep-seated in Cthulhu mythos and mixes it with world politics and sci-fi technology to create a world of amazing potential. Set in the year 2085, Earth as we know has changed. Since the discovery of arcanotechnology and the creation of the first mecha, global war engulfs the planet. Man’s expansion into space has attracted the attention of aliens called the Migou. Evil cults plot against the world government, summoning creatures from beyond. Mecha war machines walk the Earth battling the alien and cult forces.
Players take on roles of people in a war-torn Earth surviving under the New Earth Government (NEG), fighting alien and cult threats, and using fantastic technologies and dark magic. Character options include arcanotechnicians, intelligence agents, mecha pilots, or Tagers – dark magic tainted-humans with the ability to shape-change into horrific creatures that fight the cult and alien forces. Players also can choose between humans or a genetically engineered alien race, the Nazzadi. There are multiple factions one can pledge their allegiance to, including the NEG, the elite Engel Project, and the mysterious Eldritch Society.
The three primary aspects of a player character in Cthulhu Tech are the basic attributes, skills and qualities – made up of assets and drawbacks. It is a skill-based system with profession templates only acting as guidelines and not fixed classes. Players can also have access to magic but those used to easy-to-use instantaneous spells will be disappointed. This game makes magic hard and rare and link it closely to one’s sanity. What would a Cthulhu-mythos-based system be without a sanity rating and a fear system?
The Framewerk system is based on 10-sided dice and uses roll-higher-than-a-difficulty mechanic. It is fairly elegant and easy to learn. It uses intuitive mechanics combined with a system that favors drama and heroics to create a fun and action packed environment. For example, it provides a Drama Points system that allows players to affect tasks at critical moments.
At the heart of this game are two things – the Cthulhu mythos horrors and mecha. Whole chapters are dedicated to both. Many mecha are introduced – the tough and angular NEG units, the sleek and maneuverable Nazzadi, as well as the alien of the Migou. The horrors have their inspiration rooted in Lovecraftian mythos but also have their own uniqueness to them.
Overall, this game is very attractive. My only concern about it is the playability when you move from character scale to mecha scale. It feels like it is trying to be two games in one – a role-playing game and a miniature game system. It is a brilliantly laid out and visually powerful volume. The inspiring background will attract anime, sci-fi, and mythos fans alike.
Codex Rating: 16
From: Mongoose Publishing, Wildfire LLC
Type of Game: RPG Rulebook
Written by: Matthew Grau
Contributing Authors: Fraser Mckay, Aron Andersdon, Jeanne Grau, Jim Wong
Game Design by: Mathew Grau
Developed by: Mathew Gray
Cover Art by: Mike Vaillancourt, Travor Claxton
Additional Art by: Jason Walker, Maria Cabardo, Sriram Bhat, Whit Brachna, Jacob Hallstrom, Brandon Leach, Christian MacNevin, Marco Nelor, Joe Suitor
Number of Pages: 289
Game Components Included: One Core Rulebook
Game Components Not Included: Standard RPG trappings
Retail Price: $49.95(US)
Reviewed by: Ron W McClung
Review Addendum (04/13/2013); Since this writing a lot has changed for Cthulhutech since I wrote this. Wildfire LLC has moved on from Mongoose Publishing to Catalyst Game Labs. They continue to publish the games in that partnership.