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 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.
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
Play online with our Licensed Partners
Do you play on a Virtual Tabletop? Our partners offer products for playing this scenario online.
What The Critics Say
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."
"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."
"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"
"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."
"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."
"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."
"An amazing book and one you need in your Call of Cthulhu collection."
"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."
"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."
"Harlem Unbound is exactly the sort of sourcebook and adventure collection which drives the popularity of Call of Cthulhu. I love the fact Chris Spivey treats the readers as adults and never pulls any punches about the overwhelming racism and racial tension of the era while also never engaging in the sort of finger wagging or handwringing we often see in RPG books tackling difficult subjects. It's also quite an accomplishment to fill a supplement with interesting and educational material, which keeps the reader (and thus the players in turn) entertained, AND present a series of uniquely engaging adventures at the same time. I give the second edition of Harlem Unbound my highest recommendation. 10/10"
— The Gaming Gang, Harlem Unbound 2nd Edition reviewed on the Gaming Game Dispatch.
This supplement is best used with the CALL OF CTHULHU (7th Edition) roleplaying game
and optionally the PULP CTHULHU sourcebook, both available separately.
Physical Product Settings
Is Physical Product: [N]
Has Inventory: [Y]
United States: [Y]
United Kingdom: [Y]
Is PDF Available: [Y]
PDF Product Name: [Harlem Unbound - 2nd Edition - PDF]
PDF Product Link: [/harlem-unbound-2nd-edition-pdf/]
Has Physical Product: [Y]
Is Physical Available: [N]
Physical Product Name: [Harlem Unbound - 2nd Edition - Hardcover]
Physical Product Link: [/harlem-unbound-2nd-edition-pdf/]
- 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
Harlem Unbound transcends being a fantastic gaming supplement and is outstanding reading for gamers and non-gamers alike. It is a welcome achievement that could not be more timely. 1. The history of the Harlem Renaissance summarized so lovingly is a worthy read for anyone who wants to better understand the impact of this period on world culture. 2. The weaving of Lovecraftian themes into that history is one of the most delightful world-building exercises I've read. 3. The book's goal of addressing the endemic racism of both Lovecraft and American culture is nonpareil. It is a welcome discussion of how to wrestle with these issues as we continue to confront them today. In particular, as a white father who's children are now intrigued by my enjoyment of Call of Cthulhu (and other Lovecraftian fare), I want to impart my joy of the genre while simultaneously ensuring they are aware and sensitive to the cultural issues of racism inherent in Lovecraft's works (and in the culture more generally) -- allowing for thoughtful discussion, empathy for others, and a concern for social justice. Harlem Unbound provides a vehicle for that discussion and is a delightful and thoroughly entertaining read at the same time. And that is quite an achievement. If I could give it more than five stars, I would. Thank you Chris Spivey for what is clearly a labor of love.
First off let me say this is first and foremost one of the best city sourcebooks Chaosium have released - equalled only by Berlin: The Wicked City (And I own and have read most of them from Tibet to Los Angeles). Presentation is great, the maps and background detailed, the scenarios fresh and exciting. So if you want your investigators to start or travel to New York this is a fantastic resource to make use of. But this supplement goes further than that and cuts to the core of why I enjoy running period piece games. Playing in a historical setting has a number advantages over a purely fantasy one - subtleties and detail abound and best of all you actually get to learn some history about the world we live in. But there are also potential pitfalls - the dangers of misunderstanding, generalising and being just plain offensive. So it is a joy and a help when you can buy a sourcebook that is rich in cultural knowledge and helps you navigate some tricky issues. With this and book and Berlin Call of Cthulhu has really upped its game. I look forward to future supplements (India, Paris, Leningrad please! Updates of other US cities too!)
Harlem Unbound is a great addition to Call of Cthulhu. The amount of detail and information contained within is amazing, considering the price. Harlem Unbound approaches HPL in a new way. When I play an RPG, I want to see a world I would never see or experience. HU allows that, letting players get a glimpse of the African-American experience in the 1920's, and Mr. Spivey has given Keepers plenty of great advice of how to approach running Investigators of color in way that doesn't evolve into a collection of stereotypes. (This is helpful as, let's face it, most keepers are white.) The is the game supplement to have if you want your RPG experience to mean something.
Proud backer of the original Kickstarter version, and just as thrilled to pick up the Chaosium addition. It's hard to find a richer or more culturally important time in American history than the Harlem Renaissance; adding the threat of Lovecraftian horror to the real terrors of ignorance, hatred, and intolerance only make the setting all the more captivating.
I kickstarted the 1st edtion. I was excited to hear that there was going to be a new, expanded editions. I can't wait for the physical book to come out, but the pdf is fantastic! Now I just need the right to group to run this for.
This is a great book. I missed out on the first edition, but I jumped as the 2nd edition came. Great information for Keepers and great adventures for Investigating.
Fantastic Investigations and information on the Classic period written in a socially conscious way. A must have for any Call of Cthulhu collection!
Having bought the first edition and been absolutely staggered by the sense of place and art design the new expanded version is even better. Even if you don't use any of the scenarios on their own, the background and ideas are worth it on their own. There's a reason why this got an Ennie first time out, and it's an absolute joy to see its development!
I kickstarted the first book. It was great. How did Chris and crew make 2nd edition Harlem Unbound even better? I have to assume dark magic and rituals. Serious, this book is great.