Dark Ritual: Failbetter Co-Founder’s Cultist Simulator

Former Failbetter Games creative director Alexis Kennedy is hoping to release his Cultist Simulator [official site] around Halloween next year, he’s said. Since leaving the Sunless Sea and Fallen London studio, he’s signed up for gigs including writing on Stellaris and for BioWare, but bless ‘im he can’t resist the call of unspeakable horrors from beyond the stars. Cultist Simulator is a singleplayer digital board game about dreams and hints of dark gods, rituals, research, recruitment, and slowly losing your grip on anything resembling a normal human life. Always a splendid idea, that.

Kennedy explains the idea thusly:

“Find abominable rites in dreams. Craft tools and summon spirits. Indoctrinate innocents. Choose between sane and insane victory conditions. Become the herald of a new age.

“Cultist Simulator combines my usual pungent prose with crunchy crafting mechanics, and with parallel victory conditions. It’s possible, though very difficult, to find success in career or romance. You can always turn back from the brink and try to make a life. But why would you do that?”

Kennedy released a very early, artless, browser-based prototype earlier this year, which you can still play online. That’s the very basics of it – using dreaming, studying, talking, and so on to uncover hints of awful things, recruit followers, and try not to die before the truly awful stuff kicks off. Do be aware it’s only a prototype.

Should the stars align, Cultist Simulator will be out around Halloween 2017.

“But this might slip, depending on how much client work I do (I’m booked out with BioWare at least half next year, and I have a couple of consultancy gigs), whether I run a Kickstarter to cover the costs of art, whether I work with a publisher, and whether the moon turns red.”

These things happen. Sounds like he is planning a Kickstarter now, so it may be a bit later. Surely that won’t be any sort of covert dark ritual drawing upon the cash and blood of followers/cultists/backers.


  1. FLoJ says:

    Is there going to be a Christianity DLC?

    • syndrome says:

      No. Simple Judaism add-on and then Gardens of Elohim DLC.

    • batraz says:

      There are more satanic cults around, these days, you know. The kind with bloodbaths.

  2. DompR says:

    That’s something to keep an eye on.

    Now that That Which Sleeps seems to be circling the drain the “cosmic horror simulator from the winning side” genre got empty again.

  3. FreshHands says:

    Strange Aeons we live in.

    I get older and my tastes ever more restrictive.

    …and the games that interest me thematically look very similar to those I played as a child (from a technical perspective).


  4. Shiloh says:

    Hmm, I could be interested in this but to be honest, what I really want is Inkle or somebody to make Eldritch Horror as a text adventure along the lines of their 80 Days. I’d play the Cthulu out of that.

  5. X_kot says:

    One of my favorite D&D characters was a murderous little kobold named Zenith who worshipped the evil storm god Talos. Zenith evangelized his little reptilian heart out at every village he visited, although the villagers never seemed to appreciate his sermons. One group got fed up, bound him, and turned him over to the authorities. He was set to be burned at the stake as he screamed “Praise Talos” to the stormy sky. A lightning bolt streaked down and disintegrated Zenith on the spot. I couldn’t tell whether it was because he was pious or annoying.

    tl;dr I am all about that cultist simulator

    • klops says:

      Just yesteday I saw kobolds referred as reptilians which confused me greatly. How about their dog heads? Now this. Googling a bit it seems D&D has changed kobolds to reptilians at some point. Strange.

      • invitro says:

        did sumbuddy say U NO TAEK CANDUL!

      • Arglebargle says:

        D&D mythos was heavily scavenged, frequently retconned, and generally murky and haphazard, much like their mechanics.

      • X_kot says:

        I believe that you are correct that the original Gygaxian kobold was described as being similar to a goblin. However, by 3.5, the Monster Manual pegged them as kin to lizardfolk, and they claimed to be descendants of dragons (always worth a laugh).

        • Einsammler says:

          Up until you run into one that’s 300 years old, anyway!