Harlem Unbound - 2nd Edition - PDF

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Investigate the Cthulhu Mythos during the Harlem Renaissance!

Chris Spivey's ENnie-winning breakthrough book is back and better than ever!

New York City.

Prohibition is in full swing and bootleggers are living high. African-Americans flee the oppressive South for greener pastures, creating a new culture in Harlem. The music of Fats Waller and Duke Ellington pours out of the city’s windows, while women in stylish skirts and silk stockings, and men in white gloves and Chesterfield coats crowd the sidewalks. There’s a feeling of possibility in the air, like never before.

But, even in this land of promise, Harlem is a powder keg, ready to explode. While classes and cultures collide, the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos lurk beneath the streets, creeping through dark alleys and hidden doorways to infect the hopes and aspirations of the unwary.

Can you hold it together and keep the terrors at bay for one more song?

The Cotton Club

The Skinny on the Goods…

Harlem Unbound 2nd Edition is expanded and improved from the first edition. New areas are shown below:

  • Seven scenarios (four new to 2nd Edition).
  • Unique occupations tailored to Harlem.
  • New Mythos monsters to terrify your players.
  • Ready-to-play investigators.
  • Random plot generator.
  • Crash course on addressing race in gaming.

Harlem Auto

This PDF package includes the following:

  • Harlem Unbound - 2nd Edition - PDF
  • Handouts and pre-generated characters - PDF
  • Harlem Unbound Investigator Sheet - PDF
  • Map of Harlem with and without scenario locations - PDF
  • Two Scenario Maps - PDF

Downloads for this Product

Map of Harlem
Scenario Locations
Handouts and Pregens
Harlem Investigator Sheet

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What The Critics Say

Harlem Unbound - 2nd Edition - Reviews

  • An essential Call of Cthulhu 1920s supplement, expanding not just the game we love, but how you view the entire genre and society itself."

    — Mark Morrison, Call of Cthulhu writer (Horror on the Orient Express, Reign of Terror, Terror Australis, etc)

  • "Harlem Unbound gives raw material for creating journeys as well as destinations... [it is] a strong labor of love that combines both passion for a vital time and place in American history with a deep pool to draw various strains of horror, both familiar and unfamiliar, into the Call of Cthulhu game. I love this book and cannot recommend it enough."

    — Never Read the Latin.

  • "Style 5/5, Substance 5/5: Anyone who already bought and enjoyed the first edition should definitely get the second: there's so much more material that it presents almost literally double the content, depth, playable material, and sheer value. For anyone who doesn't have it, Harlem Unbound belongs on just about every Call of Cthulhu or cosmic/investigative horror gamer's shelf..."

    — Paul StJohn Macintosh, RPGNet review.

  • "Harlem Unbound understands what it is to create atmosphere… this game is set in the world of the Cthulhu Mythos, but more explicitly, it’s set during the Harlem Renaissance... Classes and cultures brush up against each other in a melting pot on its boiling point–and then layer the eldritch horror of the Mythos underneath all of that, and you have a recipe for a game that’s rich and wonderful."

    — Bell of Lost Souls.

  • "1920’s Harlem turns out to be a great place to set a game. You get prohibition and gangsters, you get zoot suits, lindyhop, jazz music, flappers and the Cotton Club... the intention is not that you play investigators from elsewhere who pass through Harlem en route to traditional adventures in New England. The intention is that you play characters from Harlem, who are connected to Harlem and bound up in the explosion of creativity that is going on there... For $22 (PDF) you’re getting a great setting, some fantastic gaming advice and scenarios that will provide your table with at least many sessions of top quality gaming."


  • "A R’lyeh different perspective"

    — Dicebreaker.

  • "Somewhere along the line Cthulhu campaign settings have made the realization that it isn't all about having a backdrop for horror. Investigators have lives, loves, and reasons to fight the forces of the Mythos. Thus, the richer the setting, the more incentive the players have to care about it, and frankly it doesn't get richer than Harlem Unbound."

    — Andrew Logan Montgomery, Exploring the Otherworlds of Fiction, Magic, and Gaming.

  • "Don’t play CoC? Get Harlem Unbound anyway; the history and reality that it adds to any real-world campaign is essential and is presented agnostically with respect to system... Am I happy I bought it?: There are no other gaming purchases I’ve made that have been as personally impactful in a very long time. You can have fun with a lot of games, but this one will make you a more informed human being."

    — Tumbleweird.

  • "An expansion of Call of Cthulhu, Chaosium’s wildly popular tabletop roleplaying game based on Lovecraftian lore... Spivey’s critically lauded expansion of the game is a landmark for both the tabletop roleplaying world and for Lovecraftian literature. It focuses on the Harlem Renaissance and assumes that all players, regardless of their real world ethnicity, will be stepping into the shoes of a black, indigenous, person of color in that time period. The book is an engrossing historical tome as well as a literal guidebook for meaningfully exploring racism in Lovecraftian fiction."

    —  Consequence of Sound.

  • "Chaosium absolutely do not half-ass this new edition of the book, and nor should they have: the original edition of this has been selected for inclusion in the libraries of multiple museums, after all, so we’re talking an RPG supplement of significant artistic merit... With this new edition of Harlem Unbound, Keepers have never been better-supported in presenting this era in Call of Cthulhu."

    — Refereeing and Reflection.

  • "An amazing book and one you need in your Call of Cthulhu collection."

    — Rolling Boxcars.

  • "Strongly Recommended–This product is exceptional, and may contain content that would interest you even if the game or genre covered is outside of your normal interests."

    — Gnome Stew.

  • "Harlem Unbound takes the fight to New York City during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s. Not only does the book offer an excellent history of Harlem, how the Renaissance came to be and what caused its downfall, it also offers thoughtful discussion of the racism of the era and different ways in how to address the issue."

    — Forbes, Fight Cthulhu Across Time and Space on your Tabletop.

  • "A top tier supplement, which I think belongs in every Keeper’s library... All in all, it is the best historical RPG sourcebook I’ve encountered. It is very high quality, and has material enough for multiple campaigns, and it will both educate and inspire you. I highly recommend it."

    — Mindlands, That Jazz Craze & Harlem Unbound: Review and Keeper Advice.

This supplement is best used with the CALL OF CTHULHU (7th Edition) roleplaying game
and optionally the PULP CTHULHU sourcebook, both available separately.

Product Configuration

Physical Product Settings

Is Physical Product: [N]
Has Inventory: [Y]
United States: [Y]
United Kingdom: [Y]
Europe: [Y]
Australia: [N]
Canada: [Y]

Is PDF Available: [Y]
PDF Product Name: [Harlem Unbound - 2nd Edition - PDF]
PDF Product Link: [/harlem-unbound-2nd-edition-pdf/]

PDF Settings

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Physical Product Name: [Harlem Unbound - 2nd Edition - Hardcover]
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Product Footer

Footer Name:[ChaosBrandCthulhu]

Year Released:
7th Edition Call of Cthulhu
Full Color PDF
Page Count:
Chris Spivey, Sarah Hood, Alex Mayo, Steffie de Vaan, Dr. Cameron Hays, Bob Geis, Noah Lloyd, Ariel Celeste, Neall Raemonn Price
Brennen Reece, Alex Mayo, Jabari Weathers
Alex Mayo
Nicholas Nacario
Dixie Cochran, Jill Spivey, Adam Alexander, and Mike Mason
  • 5
    Real History is what Call of Cthulhu has always been about

    Posted by Michael F on 15th May 2020

    Harlem Unbound frames cosmic horror RPG scenarios in the context of real history. This is one of the major draws of Call of Cthulhu as a role-playing game. It gives gamers opportunities to learn real history. In this case, understanding that there is real human history, the history of racism in America, that is just as horrible as the horror of the Mythos is critical. This supplement is particularly special, because it is written from the experiences of a veteran of our Armed Forces. It is great to hear the voices of veterans in gaming. From a gaming standpoint, and from someone who purchased the 1st Edition, I am excited about the amount of added material to this 2nd Edition. The 1st Edition was a great book and had excellent uniquely-styled art. This edition adds more excellent art and updates handouts to professional quality. If you like maps, this edition has you, with an absolutely gorgeous map of 1920s Harlem. There are seven scenarios here, coupled with historical setting material, swelling this book to 370 pages. You are getting a wealth of working material to run your games. Lastly, I just want to say that if some aspects of history are too much for some gamers to handle, this supplement likely isn't directed at them. There are thousands of RPG supplements available, and hundreds in the Chaosium catalog alone. I want people in the audience to understand that there are many gamers who want ALL history to be part of their learning experiences, not a sanitized version that pretends that horrible things haven't happened in our past. There is a a market for a product that explores history that has been deliberately hidden by some. I am a part of a large segment of the gaming community who is happy to keep engaging products like this alive with our wallets.

  • 5
    Excellent Book!

    Posted by Kurt on 15th May 2020

    One of my favorite CoC books of all time. Interesting content, well written and covers topics few CoC products do. Brings Harlem to life for powerful campaigns and scenarios. The 1st edition was great, this one is better.

  • 5
    Excellent source book and scenarios!

    Posted by Ross Payton on 15th May 2020

    Excellent historical information and presented in a useful way to run games set in Harlem. Great scenarios too! A must purchase for players and GMs who want to run games set in New York.

  • 5
    Absolutely awesome!

    Posted by Brandon Aten on 15th May 2020

    This product is full of great material, and one of the most important sourcebooks for this game to come out. I highly recommend picking this up!

  • 5
    Great Content!

    Posted by Ben Nitti on 12th May 2020

    Tons of great, informational content. The first part of the book focuses on the history and culture of the Harlem Renaissance and is so fleshed out and in-depth that I'd have bought it for that alone! I can't wait to run a campaign with this. A+ material.

  • 5
    Phenomenal Product as always

    Posted by Kody Raslawski on 10th May 2020

    Chaosium has never failed me with their quality products. I've only ever been able to skim the original Harlem Unbound, so I really didn't know what to expect going in. I was very pleased with the plethora of information available and I look forward to using it in a game. Keep up the great work!