The Kickstarter for Cthulhu Awakens, which brings cosmic horror from the unimaginable past, through the 1920s, and into the 21st Century, is now live! Both The Expanse RPG and Cthulhu Awakens are powered by AGE: the Adventure Game Engine, which opens new realms of possibility for both universes.
The stars have truly aligned….
Part of the appeal of The Expanse are the elements of horror carefully blended within a science fiction setting. Certainly, some chapters are as chilling and terrifying as any horror novel. The changes that the protomolecule causes in humans are ghastly and reflections of Frankenstein’s monster can be seen in Project Caliban. And, of course, the entities beyond ring space could step right from the pages of the Cthulhu Mythos. By now, I suspect you know where I’m going with this: how can Cthulhu Awakens be used with your Expanse game? Even if you don’t want to bring the eldritch horrors into the Expanse universe, Cthulhu Awakens offers both players and narrators some intriguing new possibilities.
Let’s start with the good stuff. In Cthulhu Awakens, alienation represents the influence of eldritch forces on the psyche. Through Holden’s eyes, we see throughout the Expanse series how much effect close encounters with the protomolecule can have on an individual, particularly through his ability to communicate with “ghost” Miller. A protomolecule connection like Holden’s could easily be replicated by the use of Enlightenment stunts which give Cthulhu Awakens characters insight into the Mythos. The other aspect of alienation—terror—could also be implemented to manifest the primal fear and horror resulting from many encounters with the protomolecule.
Cthulhu Awakens has Bonds that are very similar to Relationships in The Expanse, but they are greatly expanded in both concept and utilization. Personal Bonds, which are much the same as Relationship Bonds in The Expanse RPG, are broadened to include a character’s ideals, oaths, or beliefs. There is also a completely new kind of Bond called External Bonds. These represent involuntary influences on characters and can be used by the GM to generate Stunt Points that put characters at a disadvantage. Interestingly, External Bonds may appear on the surface to be advantageous (membership in an OPA faction, a close relationship with a friend or sibling), but the GM controls them. Examples of External Bonds might be ties and obligations to organizations (the OPA, religious group, or employer), or individuals(someone you care about so much that it can become a detriment to you). And as with personal bonds, they could also be personal ideals, beliefs, or oaths. Alienation is also a form of External Bonds.
The talents in The Expanse are tightly focused and allowing some of the new talents from Cthulhu Awakens could offer some diversity that could make for interesting character development. Talents such as Bootlegger, Emergency Care, Esthete, and Hard Case could all fit quite comfortably into an Expanse campaign.
Finally, Cthulhu Awakens contains an enormous amount of information about the Mythos that has been adapted for the Adventure Game Engine. The two games are compatible and require very little tinkering to tell Mythos stories beyond the Weird Century. Or perhaps you want to take your Expanse campaign in a completely different direction and surprise your players with true cosmic horror. Perhaps the entities beyond the gate are something other than described in the novels and are, in fact, the Outer Gods, now awakened after untold millennia of slumber. Or maybe the Ring builders were the Mi-Go or the Elder Things. The possibilities are endless. The universe is yours to make as you will.