GTM #210 - Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder
by Petersen Games

Today, Lovecraft-based games are plentiful. Often the Cthulhu Mythos theme is an integral part of the game, but sometimes it’s just pasted onto some other idea. The plethora of Lovecraft games exist thanks to Sandy Petersen, who got his start as a designer by creating the very first Lovecraft-based game – Chaosium’s critically acclaimed Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. When this game was published, Lovecraft was an obscure horror author, barely in print. Call of Cthulhu and its supplements helped make him infamous in gaming.

From this auspicious start, Sandy Petersen, with almost four decades of experience, continues as a force in the gaming world. He worked on roleplaying games at Chaosium for eight years, and was the developer of the First Edition of Richard Launius’s notoriously fan-favorite Arkham Horror.

In the early days of game design, the task of designer and developer were separate. The designer created the basics of the game so that it was workable and playable. Then, the developer worked out the specifics, including some of the mechanics, balance, and other features that made it into the final product. These two roles are often melded into the same job today. Sandy Petersen is adept at both and, as such, is renown in his ability to design and develop legacy games.

In 1988. he moved from pen-and-paper games to computer games, and worked on the first version of Civilization, Doom, Doom 2, Quake, and the entire Age of Empires series. After more than two decades, the siren call to return to his roots became too powerful to resist. In 2013, he returned to the tabletop world and founded Petersen Games, releasing Cthulhu Wars, which instantly showed beyond doubt his expertise as a game designer and developer in the tabletop gaming arena.

Sandy maintained throughout his career a fondness for Lovecraft and its monsters (he read his first Lovecraft story when only eight-years-old). He’s snuck references to Cthulhu or other Lovecraftian concepts into almost all the games he worked on. (The video game Quake, for instance, has as the final boss Lovecraft’s deity Shub-Niggurath, thanks to Sandy.) Now, in his most recent venture, he exploits his Lovecraft knowledge and gaming talents to an extreme.

This is recognized in his new venture Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder — a comprehensive guide to Lovecraft’s creations for the Paizo’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Pathfinder is no stranger to the Mythos, and already established stats for many Lovecraftian horrors in various tomes and bestiaries, plus adventures based on these concepts. But, Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder is the first complete and comprehensive sourcebook, featuring an encyclopedic hoard of knowledge and rules for all things Lovecraftian. It contains new Mythos races for player-characters (you can even play a ghoul!), new ritual spells, magic items, a huge bestiary of monsters, guides to Mythos cults, cultures, philosophy, Great Old Ones, and more.

Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder is a massive tome, beautifully-illustrated and designed to complement other product in the Pathfinder line both visually and in game play. The basic challenge for Pathfinder and the Mythos is that the Mythos is more than just a collection of new, tough monsters; it’s a philosophy – a cosmos-changing idea which intrudes upon the world and alters reality. This presented itself in many ways throughout the course of development of the book. For example, the outer gods couldn’t merely be huge monsters with a CR of 30. That would be too simple, and not truly reflect what it means when a Great Old One is awakened on the world. Thus, we developed an entirely new type of stat bloc just for the Great Old One and outer gods representing them as forces and powers beyond simply a bag of hit points to attack. Their presence alters the entire scope of the world around them, causing the characters to make radically different decisions than simply determining the best tactics to defeat the monster at hand. Thus, Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder gives players and game masters new ideas and tools to adapt game play for their campaign, including many tips and tricks.

Sandy Petersen published his first Lovecraft-based RPG in 1981. Since that time, he has matured and developed as an author, and ­delved deeper into the secrets of the Mythos. He has incorporated his new ideas into Cthulhu Mythos for Pathfinder with concepts and abilities far beyond what he created in his earlier games. It’s filled with secrets, such as the truth behind the origins of the Deep Ones, what really happens when Cthulhu awakens, and how the Black Goat Cult functions. This is a sourcebook not only for Pathfinder players, but anyone inspired by and interested in Lovecraft’s nightmarish visions.