Chaosium Interview: Expect To See More Board Games In Near Future, Says Creative Director

The company intends to do this while still publishing RPGs.

Story Highlights

  • Horror On The Orient Express marks the return of Chaosium to making board games.
  • This board game is a re-imagination of the cult classic Call of Cthulhu campaign.
  • We interviewed Jeff Richard from Chaosium to discuss their latest creation and what lies in the future.

Horror On The Orient Express is perhaps one of the most important titles by Chaosium in recent times, not only because it is a re-imagination of the 1991 classic Call of Cthulhu campaign but also because it marks the company’s return to making board games after a long hiatus. That importance is also reflected in the fans’ support for the project as they recently soared through its Kickstarter goal in just 10 minutes.

The campaign has thus far collected over $200,000 in funds to bring the project to life. In this game, players will find themselves in the 1920s aboard the well-known Orient Express to investigate a violent cult and monsters that not only want to stop the train but also sacrifice every passenger along the way.

In order to learn more about the development process and get a better understanding of Horror On The Orient Express, we spoke with Jeff Richard, Creative Director and Chairman of the Board at Chaosium, over an email interview.

Horror On The Orient Express
Horror on the Orient Express: Call of Cthulhu – Image Credits: Chaosium.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role?

Jeff: Hi! I’m Jeff Richard, Creative Director and Chairman of the Board at Chaosium. I’m involved in a lot of the creative and strategic vision of the company, as well as writing, editing, and art wrangling on various projects.

When did your interest in role-playing games develop? And how long have you been with Chaosium?

Jeff: Gosh, I am pretty sure I first got interested in role-playing games back in 1978 with the Holmes edition of the D&D Basic Set. That led to Metamorphosis Alpha, Gamma World, and AD&D. Then, a year or two later, one of my friends discovered RuneQuest. With that, we were hooked, and that was it. Chaosium all the way.

I’d been collaborating with Greg Stafford since the late 1990s and founded Moon Design with Rick Meints. Greg invited Moon Design to take over the management of Chaosium in 2015, and I’ve been here since!

Horror on the Orient Express Kickstarter campaign reached its pledged goal in just 10 minutes. Was this support something that you really saw happening and expected?

Jeff: I have been incredibly confident in both the design of this game and in the talent of our team. Nonetheless, the amount of support this campaign received was overwhelming and definitely surprised me!

A Time to Harvest
Call of Cthulhu RPG: A Time to Harvest – Image Credits: Chaosium.

Seeing as how this is a new take on the Call of Cthulhu, could you explain to us what new elements players of the cult classic can expect to see in Horror on the Orient Express?

Jeff: A board game experience is different from a tabletop RPG, and this is, in the end, a great board game that emulates elements of the RPG. Action is faster, the gameplay is far more balanced, and it doesn’t require a Keeper to narrate what’s going on. With a board game, tension can be continuously ratcheted up until the very climax of the game.

While designing the board game, what elements of the pen and paper campaign were the most important to you, which ones couldn't be integrated, and what was your thought process in translating a campaign book into a board game?

Jeff: It’s important to remember that board games and RPGs are very different. So, what matters is to keep the themes and the “feel” of the RPG without worrying about the specific mechanics.

Additionally, the RPG campaign takes months to play, while this is a game designed to be played in 90-120 minutes. So the board game can only deal with a slice of what is in the RPG – in this case, the Orient Express’s harrowing journey through the Dreamlands and the threat posed by sinister vampire Count Fenalik.

Will this be a legacy-style board game where you play over multiple sessions and then it's done, or is it an Arkham Horror-style game where the playtime is shorter, but you can play it again with different results?

Jeff: This is not a legacy-style board game – you play the game in 90-120 minutes and then can play it again and again with very different results.

Call of Cthulhu
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition – Image Credits: Detrix – Slix.

This marks the return of Chaosium to publishing board games. Could you tease us a bit about what else lies in the future of the company?

Jeff: Chaosium was actually founded to make board games, and this is something that we intend to do a lot more with while still publishing the best roleplaying games out there. We’ve also worked with computer game publishers, including Focus Home Entertainment and Bethesda, so expect to see more of that in the near future!

As one of the pioneers of tabletop role-playing games, how much do you think this side of the gaming industry has grown over the past decades? And does the future look bright for TTRPG lovers?

Jeff: Our experience is that the market for TTRPGs has grown tremendously in the last decade. Although much of that growth was associated with D&D 5e, Chaosium has contributed as well and enjoyed great growth as well. We think the future for the next decade will be even brighter.

Which other Lovecraftian horror stories do you think would translate just as well, if not better, than the Cthulhu Mythos?

Jeff: I personally am a big fan of Robert E. Howard’s contributions to the Mythos, especially his story “The Black Stone” and his crossovers with Conan, Kull, and Bran Mak Morn.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers? Something we haven't touched upon yet.

Jeff: We are super excited to be working with Adam and Gołąb and the new possibilities this project opens up for us.

YouTube video

Chaosium is one of the most notable publishers of TTRPGs, and it was established by Greg Stafford in 1975. Some of its major titles include Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest, and Pendragon. The company recently started a Kickstarter campaign for its re-imagination of the 1991 classic Horror on the Orient Express as a board game. We thank Jeff Richard for answering our questions and Ian Muller for assisting us.

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Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

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