I first heard about the game Unspeakable Words on Tabletop.
I am a sucker both for Cthulhu Mythos games and word games so this game really hits the sweet spot for me in terms of what I like.
Unfortunately, Unspeakable Words has been out of print for a while and getting hold of a copy takes $200.
Making A Pirate Copy
However, the letter distributions are available online. Obviously a copy like this would not have the marvellous card art, nor the delightful little Cthulhu figures, but the letters could be represented by tiles from another game.
Scrabble tiles are no good for this – there are 100 tiles rather than 96, but the letter distribution is different and the numbers on the tiles conflict with the scores for this game. Upwords tiles would be better since there are no numbers, but the serifs on the tiles add unwanted angles.
Bananagrams tiles, though, are ideal – there are a lot more than 100 tiles so the distribution can be made to match, and the font used is clear.
I made a cheat sheet to collect the scores for the letters and pulled together some poker chips to act as proxies for the Cthulhu figures. I of course have the d20 needed to roll to see if you lose sanity.
Unspeakable Words is a game of sanity, like all the best Mythos games. You play cultists seeking to summon dread horrors from beyond space, and this is done by playing words with as many angles in them as you feel comfortable with. The score for each word is based on the number of interior angles on the letters – N scores 2, whereas O scores nothing. You are racing the other players to get to 100 points first.
The sanity loss mechanic is that you start with five sanity points, and after you play your word you try to roll at least that score on a d20. You lose a sanity point if you do not make that roll, and if you lose all your sanity you are out of the game.
I had the great pleasure to play this pirate copy with some friends at work the other day, and it played extremely well. I lost horribly in both games we played, and I haven’t had that much fun losing a game in ages.
I really hope this game gets reprinted. It’s not just that buying a copy now would cost so much, but if I bought it none of the money would go to the people who wrote it.