RPG game mashup – Grand Theft Cthulhu

For those of you who watch my Youtube channel you will probably be aware that soon i’m going to be running a G+ game for some of my friends and that it is going to combine elements of the computer game Grand Theft Auto with elements from the Cthulhu Mythos.

I have christened the game Grand Theft Cthulhu and you can see some of the material I have produced for the game below:
Cover Design
(based on a modified version of the GTA cover layouts)
Player handout
(based on the layout for a GTA V manual I found on the web)
My original video that I posted about mashing up games
Mashing up Games

In the video I discuss how it is very important to decide what is going to be the main structure of your game, which of the elements of the mashup is going to be most important and then build the game around that, flavoured with elements from the other genre or system; if you try and put equal parts of both games in then you can end up with a muddy mess that doesn’t really capture the flavour of either of the inspirations.
So how do I choose which to focus on?

Think about what stories you want to tell with the game and the audience that you’re telling the game for and then choose appropriately; in my Grand Theft Cthulhu game i’m running it for three people, once who has a lot of TT RPG experience like myself and is no doubt familiar with the mythos and two who have little/no tabletop experience but who both have played computer games either in the present or in the past.
The aims of my GTC game are as follows:
  • Give the less experiences players someone easily recognisable that can be used to give them easy entry into their first tabletop session.
  • Facilitate this with a rules system that is easy to pick up and understand.
  • Add some additional elements to make the game more interesting that a standard computer game and to show how versatile and imaginative tabletop roleplaying can be.
  • Run a game that is fast-paced and exciting so that it encourages the guys to come back for more.
  • Don’t get bogged down in minutiae since this is our first attempt at a G+ online roleplaying game.
Looking at these aims it seems obvious that using GTA as the main inspiration and bedrock of the setting is the way to go, it’s a game concept that all of us are familiar with and that will serve as a good foundation for me to expand on; although the players might not all be familiar with the mythos, but sprinkling some names, concepts and elements from the mythos into a setting that they are familiar with it is my hope that this will give them a taste of Cthulhu and will encourage them to get involved in more tabletop.
It is also my hope that if the G+ session goes will then both them and myself might participate in the wider world of G+ tabletop gaming.
“But doesn’t everyone go insane in Cthulhu? Can’t say i’m keen on that…”

Was the response from one of the potential players when the game concept was being bandied about, showing that there’s not much point trying to draw him in using a ‘purist’ mythos campaign; so the game will focus on the high-octane, underworld focused style of GTA and won’t be so much a game of cosmic horror but more a game of criminals and high-speed chases that liberally uses references to the Cthulhu mythos and such horror games.
Things that I want to include in the game

Looking on the wikipedia page for GTA (and from my memories of Vice City) I can see that the following concepts are central in GTA:
  • Underworld/criminal involvement
  • Trying to climb to the top of the heap
  • An unfortunate event (normally a betrayal) motivating the character to climb the criminal ladder
  • Fictional city (in this case I have named the city Arkham and am using a map from the Chaosium Cthulhu supplement of the same name)
  • Cars
  • Gangsters
  • Violence
  • Fixers
  • Crime families
So I intend to incorporate most of these elements into the game, however, I will also be dropping in some of the following concepts from the Cthulhu mythos:
  • Names and places.
  • Some of the more iconic mythos creatures.
  • Evil and mysterious cults.
  • Strange tomes and forbidden icons.
  • The Innsmouth Look.
It’s my hope that by focussing on a handful of game aspects that I can meld them into something memorable and enjoyable for my players; my plan is (assuming no technical difficulties) to post the video of the session to Youtube after completion.

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