Cthulhu: Age of Madness Rulebook
Cthulhu: Age of Madness Official Ruleset Version 1.0a
Cthulhu: Age of Madness, the game of Cultists and Cosmic Horror, is a competitive card game for 2-4 players. Players assume the role of representatives of one of four Elder Gods; Azathoth, Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, and Yog-Sothoth. Your Goal… to unlock 4 Seals, opening the Cosmic Gate, and allowing your Elder God to usher in the Age of Madness.
Each player takes on the role of the Earthly representative of an Elder God, recruiting Cultists and searching for Elder Signs to Unlock 4 Seals. When a single player has 4 Seals Unlocked, the game is won. Prepare to usher in the Age of Madness.
Each Player chooses an Elder God and places its Card on the table in front of them. The Elder God cards could also be placed face down and divided randomly. The matching Cultist Faction Cards are placed next to the Elder God Card. Any unused Elder God Cards and Cultist Faction Cards are placed outside the Play Area. A Dealer is chosen. The Deck is then shuffled, and five (5) cards are dealt to each Player. The remaining cards are placed face down and become the Deck. A space beside the Deck is allocated for the discard pile, or Graveyard, where cards are discarded face up. The Graveyard is not to be dug through unless indicated by a card in play. The Player to the Dealer’s left plays first. In further hands, the Deal is passed to the left.
On a turn, the Player performs two (2) Actions, and then draws cards from the Deck, up to their Hand Size. Unless modified by cards in play, Hand Size is five (5) cards. If the number of Cards in a Player’s hand at the end of their turn is more than their Hand Size, they retain all of their cards but do not draw any additional Cards. Play continues clockwise and ends when a Player has unlocked their fourth Seal, opening the Gate, and allowing their Elder God to usher in the Age of Madness.
The table area in front of a Player, below their Elder God card, is known as the Pool. Cultists are played to this area.
On a Player’s turn, two (2) Actions from the following list may be performed. No more than two (2) Actions per turn, unless indicated on a card.
- Play a Card: The most common Action is to simply Play a Card. Some cards are played to your Pool, some are played on other Players, and some are played directly to the Graveyard. These are detailed in the Card Descriptions. Playing a Card uses 1 Action.
- Sacrifice a Cultist: When a cultist is in a Pool, it can be Sacrificed as an Action. Sacrificing a Cultist removes a cultist of the Player's choice from their pool (NOT their hand, NOT another Player’s Pool) and sends it to the Graveyard. The Player is granted an instant Convert Cultist power for a single Cultist. Sacrificing a Cultist uses 1 Action, and can be used as a Player's 1st Action, 2nd Action, or both.
- Sacrifice Your Hand: Sacrifice Cards - A player can discard any number of cards from their hand to the Graveyard and redraw up to the Player's current Maximum Hand Size. Sacrificing Cards uses 2 Actions, and can only be performed as a Player's 1st Action. If a card has been played on a Player's turn, cards may not be further Sacrificed.
- Pass: Passing, or Sacrificing an Action, is perfectly acceptable at any time. The Action is simply skipped, and the Player does nothing.
Unlocking a Seal can be completed in several ways. Playing, or Stealing an Elder Sign unlocks a Seal. Completing a Ritual Circle of four (4) Cultists of your Elder God unlocks a Seal. When a Seal is unlocked, that Elder God’s Cosmic Primal Power is activated, and its powers take effect immediately.
Ritual Circles are the most common way to unlock a Seal in Cthulhu: Age of Madness. Ritual Circles are completed when a Player has a group of four (4) Cultists of their Elder God in their Pool. All the Cards in the Ritual Circle are then moved to an unoccupied corner of the Elder God Card, unlocking a Seal. This does not count as an Action.
Winning the Game
When a Player completes their fourth Seal, the game is over. They have unlocked all the Seals. The Cosmic Gate opens. Their Elder God spreads madness across the land. You have won?
The Elder Gods
Each Player assumes the role of the Earthly Representative of an Elder God, attempting to unlock four Seals, opening the Cosmic Gate, allowing that Elder God to traverse the Cosmic Void and usher in an Age of Madness upon humanity. Cthulhu: Age of Madness includes four Elder Gods, each with their own Cosmic Primal Power that is activated upon unlocking a Seal. At the start of each game, each Player chooses one Elder God Card and places it face up on the table in front of them.
Azathoth exists outside the ordered universe, at the center of all infinity, and we exist as Azathoth’s dreams. Azathoth appears as a shapeless, amorphous mass of chaos. Azathoth’s Cosmic Primal Power allows the Player’s Hand Size to increase by one. This is cumulative for each unlocked Seal, however, the bonus is lost if Seals are relocked. Cards associated with Azathoth have Ribbons and Wax Seals colored Blue.
Cthulhu waits beneath the sea, dreaming. We dare not ponder on what Cthulhu dreams. Cthulhu towers over humanity, with a tentacled head resembling an octopus, atop a bipedal body, with wings too small to be functional. Cthulhu’s Cosmic Primal Power allows the Player to perform one Convert Cultist Action as a Free Play. Cards associated with Cthulhu have Ribbons and Wax Seals colored Green.
Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, roams the earth as he pleases, often appearing as a man with the look of the old world, like that of an Egyptian Pharaoh. Nyarlathotep’s Cosmic Primal Power allows the Player to pull any two (2) Cultists from the Graveyard and Play them to their Pool. Cards associated with Nyarlathotep have Ribbons and Wax Seals colored Red.
Yog-Sothoth exists just outside our universe, seeing and knowing all that was, all that is, and all that will be. Yog-Sothoth appears as a mass of orbs, eyes, and tendrils. Yog-Sothoth’s Cosmic Primal Power allows the Player to Play an additional Card as a Free Play. Cards associated with Yog-Sothoth have Ribbons and Wax Seals colored Light Blue.
- Card Name
- Card Effects
- Flavor Text
- Card Type - There are 5 primary Card Types in Cthulhu: Age of Madness. Each of these Card Types are indicated with a label across the bottom of the card.
- Wax Seal/Ribbon - Each Card features a matching colored Wax Seal and Ribbon. The color indicates the Card Type, in addition to the Card Type label.
Cultists are the currency of the Elder Gods. They can be recruited, stolen, killed, and sacrificed. Cultists are key to unlocking Seals; combining four matching Cultists of your Elder God Unlocks a Seal. This is the most common way to Unlock a Seal. Cultists are played directly into your Pool, on the table in front of you. There are ten (10) of each Cultist Card in Cthulhu: Age of Madness. Cultists are indicated by the “Cultist” label across the bottom of the Card, as well as Wax Seals and Ribbons of their Elder Gods' color; Dark Blue for Azathoth, Green for Cthulhu, Red for Nyarlathotep, and Light Blue for Yog-Sothoth.
Cultists are played as an Action into your Pool. There are four types of Cultist Cards, one for each of the Elder Gods; Azathoth, Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, and Yog-Sothoth. Cultists are played into your Pool, with matching Cultists being grouped together. When a Player has four (4) Cultists of their Elder God in their Pool, known as a Ritual Circle, a Seal is Unlocked. This does not count as an Action. The Cultists are moved to an unoccupied Seal on the Elder God Card, and the Cosmic Primal Power is activated. Sacrificing a Cultist - Uses one Action. If a Cultist is in play in a Player’s Pool, it can be sent to the Graveyard as an Action, converting another single Cultist in the Player’s Pool. A Player may only Sacrifice Cultists in their Pool, and can only Convert a Cultist in their Pool with a Sacrifice.
The Elder Sign is one of the most powerful cards in the game. The Elder Sign unlocks a Seal. No need for Cultists; on your turn, simply play an Elder Sign on an unoccupied Seal on your Elder God as an Action, and activate your Cosmic Primal Power. Elder Signs are indicated by the “Elder Sign” label at the bottom of the card, as well as Wax Seals and Ribbons colored Grey. Elder Sign is played as an Action onto your Elder God. Placing an Elder Sign on your Elder God opens a Seal and activates the Elder God's Cosmic Primal Power.
Cultist Power Cards
Cultist Power Cards directly affect Cultists. They are played directly to the Graveyard, and the Cultists are immediately affected. Cultist Power Cards are indicated by the “Cultist Power” label at the bottom of the card, as well as Wax Seals and Ribbons colored Orange.
- Artefact of Old Played as an Action into the Graveyard, Artefact of Old sends a single Cultist from an Opponent’s Pool to the Graveyard (Player’s choice).
- Convert Cultist Played as an Action into the Graveyard, Convert Cultist affects a matching group of Cultists in any Player’s Pool. The Cultists are converted to the Elder God of the Player. The Card can affect a Player’s Cultists, or an Opponent’s Cultists (Player’s choice). Cultists can only be converted to the Player’s Elder God. This is indicated by placing an appropriate Cultist Faction Card on the Group of Cultists.
- Master’s Call Played as an Action into the Graveyard, Master’s Call allows the Player to call a group of Cultists of their Elder God from an Opponent’s Pool into their own Pool.
Advantage Cards are similar to Cultist Power Cards, though the cards do not affect Cultists directly. A variety of Advantages is presented, each with its own unique power. Advantage Cards are indicated by the “Advantage” label at the bottom of the card, as well as Wax Seals and Ribbons colored Orange.
- Barrier Spell Played as an Action into your Pool, the Barrier Spell blocks any effects against you until your next turn. The Player is immune to any effects from any card. On the Player’s next turn, Barrier Spell is dissipated, and the Card is sent to the Graveyard.
- Cannibalistic Endeavor Played as an Action into the Graveyard, Cannibalistic Endeavor allows the Player to choose a random Card from an Opponent’s Hand, and discard it to the Graveyard.
- Grim Banner Played as an Action into the Graveyard, Grimm Banner allows the Player to draw two (2) Cards, regardless of their Hand Size.
- Grimoire Played as an Action onto a Cultist in the Player’s Pool, the Grimoire effectively acts as an additional Cultist. This Cultist now counts as two Cultists. The Grimoire is attached to that Cultist until that Cultist ends up in the Graveyard. The Grimoire is Converted with that Cultist, stolen (Master’s Call) with that Cultist, sent to the Graveyard with that Cultist. Anything that happens to the Grimoire’d Cultist, happens to the Grimoire as well.
- Steal Elder Sign Played as an Action into the Graveyard, Steal Elder Sign allows the Player to steal an Elder Sign from another Player’s Seal, and place it on their own Seal. This also activates the Player’s Cosmic Primal Power.
Eldritch Power Cards
Eldritch Powers are among the most powerful cards in the game. So powerful that there is only one of each of the four (4) Eldritch Power Card in the game. Additional Eldritch Power Cards can be added into the game. These have been made available through Live Play Events, Kickstarter, and in future Tournaments. These cards can simply be shuffled into the Deck. Eldritch Power Cards are indicated by the “Eldritch Power” label at the bottom of the card, as well as Wax Seals and Ribbons colored Black.
- Ghoul Played as an Action to the Graveyard, Ghoul allows the Player to dig through the Graveyard, pull any two cards, and place them in the Player’s hand. Ghoul must remain in the Graveyard.
- Master of Horror Played as an Action to the Graveyard, Master of Horror causes every player to remove an Elder Sign from their Elder God and place it in the Graveyard. If a Player does not have an Elder Sign currently in play, They are not affected by Master of Horror.
- Star Spawn Played as an Action to the Graveyard, Star Spawn will take a completed Ritual Circle from another Player’s Elder God (Player’s Choice), and send it to the Graveyard.
- Whispers of the Void Played as an Action to the Graveyard, Whispers of the Void allows the Player to take a completed Ritual Circle (NOT an Elder Sign) from another Player’s Elder God, and place it as a Seal on the Player’s own Elder God (Player’s Choice). Cultist factions do not matter with the Whispers, the Ritual Circle is simply transferred.
Cultist Faction Cards
Cthulhu: Age of Madness includes sixteen (16) Cultist Faction Cards. These cards are separate from Deck. There are four (4) cards colored for each of the four Elder Gods; Azathoth, Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep, and Yog-Sothoth. The 16 Cultist Faction Cards are used in conjunction with the Convert Cultist card. When a cultist has been converted, a Cultist Faction Card of the appropriate color is placed crosswise on the cultist to indicate the change.