Great Games You May Have Missed #2 - Nocturnum


Nocturnum is a product published by Fantasy Flight Games for use with the d20 Call of Cthulhu rules system. Weighing in at 270 pages of content, not counting credits, ads and handouts, Nocturnum truly is an epic campaign. Fans of Call of Cthulhu, both d20 and Chaosium, will not be disappointed by this masterwork.

Nocturnum is a product published by Fantasy Flight Games for use with the d20 Call of Cthulhu rules system (see my previous column). Weighing in at 270 pages of content, not counting credits, ads and handouts, Nocturnum truly is an epic campaign. Fans of Call of Cthulhu, both d20 and Chaosium, will not be disappointed by this masterwork.

I have read several Call of Cthulhu adventures and campaigns and have often been very disappointed in what they had to offer. They claimed "epic scale" and sure looked the part, what with massive page counts, but once read I soon discovered that they were not what they appeared to be. On the rare occasion that I found one which truly was epic, and packed the pages with relevant information, I was disappointed by the flow of the campaign.

I must admit I was afraid the same thing would be true of Nocturnum. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, however, because I've been pleased with Fantasy Flight's other products and the cover price proved reasonable. Once I got to devour the text in earnest, I was not disappointed: Nocturnum offers a straightforward and linear story progression based on the path the characters choose to take, with quite a bit of material for the GM to use as they see fit. This allows for the characters and the GM to dictate the pace and style of play and not be limited by the adventures. Additionally, this proliferation of information allows GMs to explore the conspiracy that is presented and go well beyond the provided material.

if you want to make an omelet, you've got to break a few eggs

The campaign is based around a race of beings known as the Shk'ryth, born of a fleeting thought from the god Azathoth. The Shk'ryth have labored for millennia to return to the formless chaos that spawned them and their plans are nearing fruition. They are harvesting psychically active humans to power a great underground machine that is, in turn, pulling a comet from the depths of space on a collision course with Earth. The impact of this comet will open the gateway that allows them to return home. However, the impact will also destroy the planet, but if you want to make an omelet, you've got to break a few eggs.

The book is divided into four sections. The first is general information about all of the major players in Nocturnum and how they fit into the campaign. This section is the part that freeform GMs will love. It provides the threats and some suggestions on how to use them in the game. The threats are all very well fleshed out along with plots and statistics for agents and leaders and such.

Next is the first group of adventures called "Long Shades". These three adventures are designed to be a springboard to the rest of the campaign. They are all self contained and only remotely connected to the meat of the campaign, designed to be dropped into an existing game as stand alone adventures. Now, some GMs really like this method of introducing a larger campaign, but I find it a clumsy approach. I prefer adventures and campaigns to be entirely self contained so that I can choose what to introduce based on an encounter by encounter basis.

The next group of adventures is titled "Hollow Winds" and is the meat of the campaign. These adventures are designed to be played together, unlike those from "Long Shades". Also included in "Hollow Winds" are some encounters and situations that may or may not occur based on the character's actions and are, I think, inaccurately called adventures.

The fourth and final section is the climax of the campaign called "Deep Secrets". These adventures run in a very linear fashion from one to the next as the characters move from one plot point and location to another. The final climax of the campaign requires not a great skill of combat but, rather, the use of the player's brains. The whole work ends well in the final stages.

Included is some amazingly well written fiction.

Packed in with the adventures and source information is some amazingly well written fiction. When I ran this campaign, I read several of these to my players to give them a different look at things. The fiction sections do not give anything away if read aloud, but they do give a great mood for the adventure as they follow the path of an important NPC that the characters do not meet until very late in the campaign.

On a visual side, Nocturnum has some truly amazing artwork. Many of the images are very Lovecraftian and are great to give even more mood to the game. However, at times the artwork breached mediocre and even delves into pretty crappy. While I do not purchase these types of books for the artwork, I do feel that it is a big plus when they have some appreciable pieces.

Fans of d20 Call of Cthulhu will not be disappointed by this product. As well, fans of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu can easily play and enjoy this campaign with virtually no conversion work. Monster and NPC stats are all contained so they can easily be swapped out with those of a different rules system. While Nocturnum is based in the modern-day, people who prefer other time periods can easily play this campaign with virtually no change. The only portion that would require a bit more thought is one adventure that takes place on an oil drilling platform, but it is flexible enough to be placed elsewhere.

Nocturnum is an entirely self contained campaign and requires no supplementary material, besides the obvious core rulebook, to play. This allows for time crunched GMs to grab it and go. Because of this self contained nature, it need not even be used with Call of Cthulhu - the story stands on its own strongly and is written in a very non-Mythos manner. Nocturnum could be run using any d20 rules system (Spycraft works particularly well, as does d20 Modern)... for the crafty GM, Nocturnum could fit into any non-d20 modern-esque game with only the creation of appropriate monster and NPC statistics.

On the whole, I was very pleased with Nocturnum, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys good horror role playing. The end of this product eludes to more to the story and that future products were planned. However, with the discontinuation of Call of Cthulhu d20 I fear that this may never happen. For more, visit Fantasy Flight Game's official Nocturnum website.

I would like to say that d20 Call of Cthulhu has not be discontinued. Wizards produced the work with Chaosium's permission and was handed over to Chaosium after the first print run. Chaosium continues to support this product.

I havn't been able to find any information on this. Can you post a link to this information. If it is true I will be vary happy. I think it was a sad day for gaming when Wizards discontinued CoC d20.


Wizards did not have a choice. Their contract with Chaosium was basically for one print run and that was it. With their contract expired and so many other systems to manage (and Wizards being infamous for only going with the big money makers), I'm sure they were just not influanced enough to return to it.

Now it's up to Chaosium to continue the line. While I believe they will do so, don't hold your breath. They are a very small company and I don't think they really have the resouces to devote much effort towards the d20 version. I think if they do much of anything they will just include dual stats (basic and d20) in some of their books.

Chaosium's old website had generic information on all of their systems. On the d20 section they had mentioned that their new books would include dual stats and they would continue to support d20. With their new site they have no general information for any of their systems so it's hard to get specifics.

I have talked with Dustin Wright and he informed me that they have no current plans for future d20 products, but they may make a monograph at some point (these are basic, experimental, and usually short-run, books they put out on a regular basis)

I think a big problem has been that there is little marketing and talk for the d20 version (and I do appreciate these articles - hopefully they my make other people ware of these products). Plus with the lack of products not a lot of people are buying the material so I think Chaosium has not been overtly inclined to keep up. Although I do know there is a fair number of people who like the system.

Here is what Chaosium offers via their catalog:

Call of Cthulhu, d20 Edition (The WoTC version)

d20 Call of Cthulhu Gamemaster's Pack (GM Screen)

H.P. Lovecraft's Arkham (Both Basic & d20 stats)

H.P. Lovecraft's Dunwich (Both Basic & d20 stats)

H.P. Lovecraft's Kingsport (Both Basic & d20 stats)

Hey, thanks a bunch for those links. I wasn't able to find anything on Chaosium's website, I really don't like their new setup. I really hope they keep up with the line. I was so disapointed with CoC 4th & 5th Edition. I was glad to see it released under d20 because I really enjoy the game but not the basic rules system. I'd like to see more from Fantasy Flight also because I like what they did with the setting.


wow, thanks for the update on the products, i love the d20 version of CoC. didn't even know that GM pack existed! i also agree with eater of the dead about their TERRIBLE website. can't get any information or even navigate that thing. i've looked at that nocturnum campaign before, but was a bit leery considering what i'd seen from the chaosium campaigns as well. isn't there another campaign book like this out as well? i don't know if it was fantasy flight games, but i seem to recall some other campaign book released for d20 cthulhu.

This is the only Call of Cthulhu d20 product that Fantasy Flight has released and, according to FFG's Daniel Clark, they have no plans for more. If you find out if there is another CoC d20 campaign out there that isn't from Chaosium link to it, I'd be very interested in checking it out.


You are probably referring to the Delta Green d20 conversion. You can get Delta Green now, but the d20 version will (hopefully, it is has been delayed enough) be released this spring.

The website for Delta Green is at:

Ah, I see, Delta Green. I allways thought it was a neat concept though it did stray from the tone of Lovecraft's work. Unfortunately I felt it suffered from having a crappy rules system. This new product looks like it will be a hybrid which can work if organized well.

Speaking of hybrids. I had really wanted to review GURPS Cthulhupunk but my copy has vanished. That was cool book.


delta green wasn't what i was thinking of though i am excited about the prospect of the delta green book and especially the Cthulhutech book. I was very disappointed to read the following on regarding another release I was looking forward to, Pulp Cthulhu:

"The new Pulp Cthulhu book will be a stand alone Call of Cthulhu RPG. The format will be similar (but beefier) than our Cthulhu Dark Ages book. The book will no longer include d20 stats. The d20 stuff was a grand idea 3 years ago. Publishing a book with d20 material now seems downright silly.

Besides, we all like BRP better anyway don't we?

We envision Pulp Cthulhu releasing in early 2005."

Looks like that's the end of any dual-stat support for us. :( We'll have to rely on third-party suppliers now. :\

"Besides, we all like BRP better anyway don't we?"

I saw this post but I missed this line before. I was never a huge fan of Pulp Cthulhu but I think that is mostly because I never really checked it out.

Send them annoyed emails saying that you like the d20 rules better and think the Basic rules are annoying. I think I will.