Local Duo Produces Cult! – A Creative Tabletop Game

Samantha Kobs, photos by Andrea Paulseth

If you’re looking for a good get-rich-quick scheme, designing and distributing an original role-playing game probably isn’t the way to go. Or at least that’s not why Craig Sieracki chose to do it. Sieracki is a self-proclaimed nerd with a passion for fantasy adventure, and it’s this passion that has driven him to release his second original tabletop game – CULT!

CULT! is – along with its predecessor CHOMP! – a classic role-playing game similar to Dungeons & Dragons, except much simpler. (Those of you frustrated with the intricacies of D&D might appreciate this!) It’s basically a “theatre of the mind” where a group of people interact in a made-up world that follows a storyline told by a “director” (much like a Dungeon Master).

And it’s fun.

“With D&D, it’s very math heavy,” Sieracki said. “With CHOMP! And CULT!, we strip pretty much all of that away. ... We wanted a very simple game that you could play in an evening and didn’t take a lot of prep time.”

The premise of CULT! is straightforward: Unbeknownst to you, a powerful cult is trying to summon its gods into your dimension. You’re just ordinary people. Suddenly, a bunch of bizarre things start to happen, and you have to work together to try to survive. Is survival possible? Maybe. Do characters die? All the time. But it’s engaging and intense – the hallmarks of a solid tabletop game.

“It’s pretty much just slogging through monsters with your friends on a Friday night,” Sieracki jokes. But he’s not really joking. Much like D&D, players are faced with unforeseen encounters such as sanity attacks that may leave them dysmorphic or cause them to wander into a corner in a state of dissociative fugue. Players are called “survivors,” and the “director” facilitates the adventure through different scenes. The only thing needed is a pair of six-sided dice, a few pals, and some creativity. Never RPG’d before? No worries. Sieracki considers CULT! a gateway into the world of more complex role-playing games. The best part, he says, is that it allows people to work together and try new things.

“It’s a free space to experiment with different ways of acting. It’s collaborative problem-solving. It’s recognizing that other people have certain skills that are different from yours and figuring out how you can work together to solve problems,” he said. “Sure, those problems may seem fantastical, but in the long run, it’s collaborative teamwork.”

Along with artist Dave Recine (creator of local comic Fanboy), Sieracki has already put a lot of time and effort into the project. It began with conceptualizing the system by which the game operates: rules, character creation, and combat. Then came the hard work, which was writing instructions clear enough for any Joe Shmoe to understand. With the help of friends, the game was tested and tweaked until finally the product felt right.

Now, the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired game is available for pre-order on their Kickstarter page. Once funds are raised, the game will be printed and shipped, and those who purchase can expect to be annihilating cult members by mid-January. Due to its simplistic nature, the game works well for a slightly younger audience, too. Why play Bananagrams when you could engage in an epic battle to see whether your family could survive the next cult Armageddon?

And as all true passion-projects go, all proceeds will be put directly into production. After all, Sieracki and Recine aren’t in it for the fame or the fortune: “We don’t have these dreams of grandeur where we’re making a lot of money; we’re just having fun,” Sieracki says.

To learn more about CULT! and support the team’s Kickstarter.