CthulhuTech is a tabletop roleplaying game that can be described as Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Cthulhu Mythos put into a blender and set to purée.It all begins when a scientist discovers a Tome of Eldritch Lore called ''The Mysteries Within") and uses the information within to create the Dimensional Engine (D-Engine), an infinite-energy Magitek device deriving power from another dimension. Though both the creator and her apprentice were driven insane by the design process, the D-Engine proves to be a success and soon makes futuristic technologies like Humongous Mecha and Anti Gravity possible.This development does not sit well with the Migou, a local group of Starfish Aliens from Pluto that pride themselves on their complete and utter superiority to mankind. They declare war on Earth, first via the Nazzadi, a cloned puppet race of Proud Warrior Race Guys created from the human genome. After the Nazzadi discover their true origins and defect to the side of humanity, the Migou take to the stage of war personally with their own semi-biological mecha and a perfect form of Brainwashing called assimilation. This conflict is known as the Second Arcanotech War, and devastates the Earth.It is now the era of the Aeon War. Humanity has survived the Second Arcanotech War thanks to the totalitarian (but otherwise okay) New Earth Government, but greater threats are stirring under the surface. Various Eldritch Abomination cults are enjoying a resurgence thanks to the development of Functional Magic and are attempting to revive The Old Ones from their slumber. An army of Deep Ones lurk below the waves of the ocean, planning to swarm the land and enslave/transform its people. An avatar of Hastur (He Who Must Not Be Named) has been summoned into the world, organising its crazed devotees into the trigger-happy "Rapine Storm" that threatens to sweep across the world like a plague. And the Migou, stubbornly proud and terrified of the idea that even one of the Old Ones could be awoken, have declared war on everyone.However, all is not lost. Realising that they were ill-equipped to fight against all of these threats at once, the New Earth Government have been busy creating new weapons to defend the last bastion of humanity: the Engels, a line of Evangelion-esque bio-mechanical super-mecha with apocalyptic firepower and a mind of their own. Meanwhile, there are factions that fight their own shadow wars against the darkness, such as the Eldritch Society and their Tagers, a group of elite agents that have literally fused their bodies with an alien symbiont to gain otherworldly power.And so it begins, in a brave new world that teeters on the brink of complete collapse. You find yourself on the front lines with your futuristic weaponry or otherworldly powers as the only barriers between you and the madness that lies beyond reality. Good luck.The following books are part of the series.
CthulhuTech (Mongoose) — The core rulebook
Vade Mecum (Mongoose) — Companion which details para-psychics, zoners, additional spells and mecha for various factions
Dark Passions (Mongoose - black and white; Catalyst - color version) — A sourcebook for cults
Damnation View (Catalyst) — A metaplot sourcebook for 2086
Mortal Remains (Catalyst) — Details culture, society of the New Earth Government, and their enemies, the Migou
Ancient Enemies (Sandstorm) — Details the struggle between the Tagers of the Eldritch Society and the Chrysalis Corporation
Unveiled Threats (Sandstorm) — Details the armaments, devices and technology of the Strange Aeon
Arcology: Although only mentioned in passing in the game rules, "arcos" are very integral to the storyline of the game. With the danger of cults and Mi-Gou attacks, you do not want to live outside a major city. So most have been converted into hardened, self-containedMega City structures.
Blessed with Suck: Congrats, you've survived a brush with the Zone, and now have incredible Psychic Powers. Now all you have to deal with is constant Burn, being slightly insane (ranking up to moderately and severely after a few days), and being a Weirdness Magnet. Oh, and did we mention that you're unable to control your powers and pretty much every group wants to kill or experiment on you? You know, screw it, being a Zoner is a perfectly good reason for saying I Just Want to Be Normal.
Brain in a Jar: Harvested human brains, kept alive indefinitely in metal jars, form the core of Migou computer systems.
Brainwashed: The Migou have a process known as "Assimilation" which is a perfect brainwashing system. It creates fanatically loyal subjects, is irreversible, and can only be detected with advanced brain scans.
Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: The Chrysalis Corporation uses one of these as their insignia. Incidentally, they also specialize in turning people into hybrid monsters. Symbolism anyone?
Captain Ersatz: Several prominent ones. It's worth mentioning that the core rulebook acknowledges and lists the various anime influences on the game.
The Engels are alive, they go berserk when the wrong person gets in them or when the right person is knocked out, they're the only proper defense Earth has against unstoppable monsters, and their pilots tend to be a little bit nuts. Sound familiar to anyone else?
OIS Evil FSB Good: The OIS gets a far worse rap than the FSB in the books; while it's portrayed on the whole as Necessarily Evil, the moment a criminal goes into OIS hands, all concepts of human rights go out the window. The FSB, by contrast, have an organizational culture of integrity, their largest division is Internal Affairs to keep the cults out, and generally play their cases by the book.
Cloning Blues: The Nazzadi have mostly gotten over theirs, although the game mentions they still get sore when something reminds them of it.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Chrysalis Corporation takes it to a whole new level, as their Director is actually Nyarlathotep. Don't think anyone else is gonna be topping that one any time soon.
Cosmic Horror Story: Considering the source material that this is based upon, this pretty much comes with the territory.
Despair Event Horizon: Finding out there's a second Hive Ship headed towards Earth. The section of the adventure that this happens in is even called "That's It, We're Totally Effed." GMs are advised to have a supporting NPC or two blow their brains out right there. It's a tad bleak.
Empathic Weapon: The Engels, which the core rulebook admits are essentially Evangelions. Mortal Remains add Nephilim to this trope.
Enemy Mine: Played with by Migou. They're even more terrified than us about the rising of the Old Ones, for they remember how things were during the reign of Cthulhu. The Esoteric Order of Dagon is Migou's top priority threat, and their scholars work hard researching method to dismiss Hastur. They even have groups of Blanks inside the New Earth Government whose job it is to fight against the influence of the Children of Chaos. However, they consider against working with humans to stop them, for we will just mess it up and make things worse.
Everybody Has Lots of Sex: As part of the same process that legalized many illegal things (like drugs) in order to keep the general population sane, sexual morality became a lot looser: the average age when someones loses their virginity is 12; prostitution is legal and resembles modern-day Dutch practices; the porn industry rivals modern Hollywood; major porn stars are minor mainstream celebrities; and the sex in mainstream media is borderline softcore. Of course, Death Shadows and various other cults are trying to take this into Squick territory. There are indications that the cults set it up this way, and want to make it worse. Also see Free-Love Future below.
Evolution Power-Up: The Tagers can go through metamorphosis, gaining an even more powerful form, possibly as an analogue to the Guyver Gigantic. Phantoms evolve into Wraiths, which can totally control their own interia, rendering themselves unmovable and unstoppable. Whispers evolve into Dreams, who can see thoughts, dreams and emotions. Shadows evolve into Phantasms, who can perfectly mimic any appearance or sound. Echoes evolve into Impulses, gaining the ability to teleport. Mirages evolve into Memories, who are instantly forgotten about the moment they can no longer be seen. Spectres evolve into Revenants, gaining such a potent Healing Factor they can no longer feel pain and can revive from any wound. Widows evolve into Horrors, who are immune to fear and can inspire tear and madness with a look. Nightmares evolve into Torments, who can cause unbearable agony with just a touch. Vampires evolve into Bloodgods, who can reshape flesh, blood and bone at will. Finally, Efreeti evolve into Infernos, which are master pyrokinetics.
Fake Memories: The Migou made the Nazzadi think that they were millennia-old galactic conquerors instead of a newly-made clone race. The Nazzadi finding out that these memories were fake led to their Heel-Face Turn.
Free-Love Future: Casual sex is seen as perfectly normal in the 2080's, although most people use it as a way to eventually meet someone with which they want to have a monogamous relationship - and also, y'know, because sex feels good.
In the first story book, The Rapine Storm overruns China completely, the Deep Ones find something, and the summoning of an Outer God is barely averted. There are five books remaining. Also, the big reveal at the end of the book? There's another Migou Hive Ship on the way to Earth. The presence of ONE has driven mankind nearly to extinction. Yeah. It's about to get much, much worse.
The book Mortal Remains has some interesting information, but the opportunity it opens up is so minute as to be nonexistent. The two hive ships hold the ENTIRETY of the Migou in our solar system. Pluto, their mining colony, is going to have a skeleton crew once the second ship launches. Some may question the rationality of leaving Pluto defenseless, but according to Migou intel, there are no threats to it since nobody is capable of getting there (And the Earth is locked down by the first Hive ship).
Nazzadi/Human hybrids are justified. Since they are essentially the same race, it is natural that they would be able to interbreed.
The Deep One Hybrids are...pretty much the same as they are in Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," except that they can't pass down their Deep One genes to an ordinary mortal... at least until they become fully Deep Ones.
Most Nazzadi, once they learned about their true origin.
When a group of Dhohanoid agents of the Chrysalis Corporation studied Ta’ge Fragments, they began to think that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to be bringing Great Old Ones into this world again. So they runaway, taking the tome with them, and become founders of the Eldritch Society.
Good news: 1. New Arcanowave technology lets the NEG make a devastating strike on the Hive ship in orbit. 2. The second hive ship is forced to turn back when remnants of the NEG space forces (left behind when the second arcanotech war began) strike at Pluto using new technology of their own. 3. The NEG and Remnants join together and form the Coalition, which causes a massive moral boost in universe.
Bad News: 1. In response to their setbacks, the Migou created a nasty disease that resembles the unholy fusion of Ebola and the common cold which cripples the NEG (along with the Eldritch Society and Chrysallis Corporation). 2. Chrysalis Corporation has made inroads into corrupting the OIS, which is supposed to stop things like them. 3. The Rapine Storm has made inroads into Australia and Thailand after overruning China in Damnation View. 4. The Cult of Dagon have managed to adopt the process of making Dhoanoids for their own uses.
The core book notes that The Great Race of Yith issued warnings to Humanity, claiming that the future is not entirely yet set. It's vague, but at least that mean the Aeon War isn't hopeless one.
First, there's the Real Robot NEG mecha, classified as the Sword line, all of which are Chicken Walker style and are generally considered baseline models, but aren't to be underestimated when they coordinate.
Second, we have the Engels, Super Robots of the Evangelion style, being partially organic based. They require advanced, specialized training to pilot correctly, but are far stronger than individual Swords.
Fourth, we have the Migou biomecha, which are referred to as "Bugs" by NEG troopers, and with good reason. They all resemble Earth insects, such as mantises, fleas, cockroaches and dragonflies. On the power scale, they sit slightly higher than Swords in raw power, but only the most powerful Bugs can compete with Engels.
Innocent Fanservice Race: The Nazzadi have no nudity taboo. They don't run around naked in public or anything, but they think nothing of stripping down if the situation might possibly call for it.
Internal Affairs: Sectarian Crimes at the FSB fills this role for the entire NEG, though they aren't there to irritate Cowboy Cops, they're there to clean out Cult infiltration in the NEG, and they have quite a few Cowboy Cops on their own payroll.
Jerkass: The Migou aren't utter evil like other antagonists. However, they think of humans no higher than labor animals and experiment subjects. They'll also kill every Nazzadi, even the loyalists, simply because they remind the Migou of their dismal failure.
"Join the Army," They Said: The NEG runs a recruitment program that allows citizens to sign up for temporary enlistment. In theory, a recruit would join the armed forces for two years, and they get a ton of benefits from it. In practice, the wording of the small print at the bottom of the contracts is so vague that the NEG can keep them for as long as they're needed.
Jump Physics: CthulhuTech is animesque, so characters are allowed to pull wicked jumps.
Just Before the End: Sure, it may not seem like it in NEG-controlled territory, but the government has become quite adept at hiding just how utterly screwed humanity is.
Knight Templar: The Office Of Internal Security has a lot of these on staff.
Lovecraftian Superpower: Dhoanoids and Tagers have this as their schtick. The Dhoanoids are closer to the strict definition of the term, due to the fact that they're basically Eldritch Abominations wearing human skin-suits, instead of symbotically merged with humans like Tagers are.
Magitek: Well, sort of. The line between science and magic is basically arbitrary in CthulhuTech, based off the ability of humanity to understand the underlying principles without going crazy. The D-Engines, with their whole infinite-energy-but-finite-power nature are a clear example of this trope, though.
Masquerade: The NEG with its Ministry of Information tries really hard to hide how utterly screwed humanity is.
Mêlée à Trois: The Migou, Humans/Nazzadi-run NEG, and Cults all want each other dead/conquered/changed.
Metaplot: Present and integrated into the game mechanics. By the rules as written, the largest available XP award available to characters comes from witnessing the end of a metaplot arc.
Mon: Project Nephilim introduces CthulhuTech's own take on the anime genre, with genetically engineered mini-mecha horrors that have to be kept under control by psychic handlers. There's also a plethora of spells which allow sorcerers to summon various Eldritch Abominations, usually to serve as assassins or bodyguards.
Multiple Endings: Right now, none of them look very good. Likely endings include human extinction, getting enslaved by a mythos race, and surviving to become a Mythos race. The best possible one may very well be getting the hell away from Earth through whatever means necessary — and it would still imply only a fraction could escape.
Mutant Draft Board: All parapsychics (people born with innate abilities, which can range from mind control to having control over gravity) have to register with the Office of Internal Security, be tested, are subjected to surveillance, and if their powers are deemed Invasive or Dangerous, they have to wear badges in public to inform people of it. On the other hand, looking at what kind of place the CthulhuTech setting is, it's fairly justified.
Negative Space Wedgie: The Zone, which is what happens when you try to compress infinite dimensions into just three. As it turns out, it doesn't work out well at all.
Omnicidal Maniac: Pick a member of the Rapine Storm. Any member of the Rapine Storm.
Only One Name: Nazzadi don't use surnames. They identify themselves by occupation, instead.
Orcus on His Throne: Hastur. Sure, the Rapine Storm does all of his dirty work, but if a Great Old One—even a weakened one—actually entered the Mêlée à Trois himself, it would be over very quickly. It's implied that he's actually unable to leave his domain on the Plateau of Leng, but he's an Eldritch Abomination, so it's hard to say for certain.
Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Subverted. In the time of the Strange Aeon, Christianity and Islam are effectively dead, but most people are very much spiritual. Also, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism are still around, essentially unchanged.
Palette Swap: The Migou mech have new design in Mortal Remains, but the description say they're same as the old design, both in function and stats.
Path of Inspiration: The Church of All, which is actually a front for the Esoteric Order of Dagon. The basic beliefs of the cult are innocent enough for the NEG to leave them alone, but once an initiate is introduced to Harmony, they're well on their way to being a full-blown Dagonite.
Pet the Blank: Migou turn humans into 'blank' slaves by invasive brainwashing...on the other hand, blanks retain their memory and identity, are allowed to have a vaguely normal life, and are treated very well by their masters.
Nyarlathotep as well, being the physical avatar of the soul and messenger of Outer Gods.
Consistent with his portrayal as having many simultaneous "Masks", Nyarlathotep currently has two avatars on Earth (at least): the Director of the Chrysalis Corporation (the ultimate Corrupt Corporate Executive), and the Blind Lady (who rules The Circle, a splinter cult made up of powerful Evil Sorcerers).
Playing with Fire: Pyrokinesis is one of the valid options for psychics, introduced in Vade Mecum. Ancient Enemies introduces the third "Super Tager", the Efreet, which is an Elemental Embodiment of flame that can melt solid metal, breath flames at enemies, is immune to any fire, plasma or explosion-based damage, and radiates heat intense enough to set fire to everything directly nearby. It can also evolve into the Inferno Tager, which gives it all the powers of a Pyrokinetic Psychic as well.
Plot Armor: Yog-Sothoth's Guard is designed to be used as this. It grants Nigh Invulnerability and immunity from any kind of restraint to a character for five minutes, is completely indestructible, and is, by design, extremely inconvenient for PCs to use (though it's not impossible if they're planning ahead and willing to spend a significant amount of money in exchange for guaranteed victory). In any published adventure that includes an NPC with the Guard, the writers will put in a statement to the effect of "keep this guy alive regardless of what the players do."
Police State: The NEG, which is understandable given the amount of threats they face from internal enemies and the Migou's Mind Control. Although, the New Earth Government can also be seen as a more dystopian example of The Federation, which has to follow policies more suited for the Imperium of Man in order to survive.
Power Incontinence: When para-psychics overexert themselves, they can enter a state called Burning, wherein they can still use their powers...with the catch that their powers don't turn off for quite a while. Zoners are in a permanent state of Burning, so you can probably figure out why they're considered a public menace.
For reference, a para-psychic whose skill at pyrokinesis can barely heat up cold coffee are capable of making a house explode when they Burn. No pun intended.
Pick a Nazzadi, though they are a subdued example; see Warrior Poet below.
The Deep Ones have instances of this.
Psychic Powers: Parapsychics, who can vary quite a lot in power. At the low end, they can keep their coffee hot. At the high end, they can crush a Humongous Mecha into a little tin can, set fire to entire buildings with a thought, and rebuild your personality from the ground up. For this reason, they're subject to mandatory registration with the OIS, and those with powers deemed Dangerous or Invasive have to wear public identity tags. On the plus side, both the government and corporations love their abilities, so they tend to migrate to high paying jobs.
The Quisling: Many people who believe (perhaps correctly) that humanity will lose the Aeon War become this. Despairing Humans tend to go to the cults, and Nazzadi seek to return to the Migou's service, believing that they will be spared if they work for their former masters. If they aren't killed outright, the Nazzadi tend not to last long.
Screw You, Nazzadi: According to some, the authors of Mortal Remains overemphasized the Nazzadi's natural fitness, and made their culture too aloof.
State Sec: The Office of Internal Security. They're supposed to just be the police for Functional Magic-related crimes, but in practice, they seem a lot more like a more democratic Ministry of Love, which is probably a good thing considering what kind of enemies they have.
Considering that they do themselves employ parapsychics to counter hostile parapsychics and that they have an extensive R&D division running...experiments on their more interesting detainees, the OIS crosses over from State Sec into a kind of Ghostapo at a few points.
STD Immunity: STDs have essentially been eradicated in the NEG, and any new outbreaks can be quickly solved with a little arcanotherapy.
There Are No Therapists: Averted. Every NEG government person working with sorcery, arcanotech, or the sanity-straining bond with the inhuman Engels gets regular psychiatric care from well-trained therapists to keep them sane. Well, sort of sane. Functional at the very least, so they won't (hopefully) have a breakdown in the middle of an attack and be unable to pilot. Even psychiatry has its limits.
Training from Hell: How Tagers are prepared to bind with their symbiont. First, they're practically tortured and emotionally manipulated by their instructors for at least six months, in order to learn how to maintain complete control over their bodies and minds. Then, they undergo the Rite of the Sacred Union, a three-day ritual in which they can't eat, drink, or sleep, having to remain focused the entire time. If everything goes correctly, they permanently fuse witha monster from beyond space and time. If something goes wrong, well...
Humanity is in the process to doing this to itself. It's either that or extinction.
Dhohanoids, Tagers, Engels (which use human and Nazzadi DNA in their template), and Deep One Hybrids already are already examples of this.
Villain Protagonist: Mortal Remains has rules for playing as Migou, while the rules for playing Dhohanoids are in Ancient Enemies.
Warrior Poet: The Nazzadi were specifically created by the Migou to be intelligent ass-kickers, and it shows. Also, one of the things that gnaws at the Nazzadi is that as a cloned race with no members chronologically in their 40s, they have no true culture of their own, and are desperate to create one. Therefore, any of the 2nd generation Nazzadi who take up one of the arts are highly prized by their families and the Nazzadi as a whole.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Invoked and justified in Mortal Remains. There are three simple methods that Migou could have use to ensure victory, but none are practical. First is a mass nuclear attack; however, they want Earth to remain habitable. Second is an engineered virus that could kill all Nazzadi, but their DNA is so close to humans that the virus will kill all humans as well, and the Migou want us as labor animals. Finally, there's orbital bombardment from their hive ship, but the Migou learned that humanity is capable of attacking orbital targets from ground with unlaunched sattelites, and thus it's risky to move the hive ship close to Earth.
Godzilla Threshold: However, if it looks like they will lose the war, or if it looks like the Old Ones are truly going to return en masse, they will use both nukes and virus.
You Have Failed Me: The Migou consider the Nazzadi as failed experiments, and mercilessly kill them on sight.