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The Cruel Empire of Tsan Chan is a horror fiction role-playing game based on H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos set during the 50th century. The game is published by Chaosium and was published in 2010.


The game is set in a nightmarish Earth, approximately 5000 years in the future. In which the awakening of Cthulhu led to a world gone mad. Throughout the world, most of mankind has gone insane and worship the Great Old Ones. They fight for them and die for them, pray to them and are sacrificed to them. Ruling over them are the Great Old Ones and their servitor races. In what used to the Far East, is a human empire of sorts, ruling over what used to be the Middle Kingdom which is under siege by the forces of the Mythos.


When Cthulhu awoke, he returned to Earth not as a conqueror or destroyer, but as an evangelist. The high priest of fantastically powerful, mysterious, and dangerous gods. The shock of his rising and the power of his ministry resulted in what came to be known as the Dream. Humanity's psyche was damaged beyond repair by the rise of Cthulhu. The world became insane as humans turned into barbaric and immoral shrieking beings, who had zero scruples and acted without any thought to their consequences. Human culture and society collapsed, until every living human had onverted to a religion they barely understood, screaming Cthulhu's name. Vast teeming masses of humans who revel, kill, rut, and sing hymns to the Gods.

The only exception was in the Plateau of Leng within China, where the deathless sorcerers (the Kuen-Yuin) who were devoted to Nyarlathotep had taken precautions. They feared the rising of Cthulhu, as those immortals did not want to die nor did they wish to be converted. They relocated the plateau to a remote location in Northern China, near the Greater Khingan Range in Inner Mongolia. For unknown reasons, Nyarlathotep provided them with technologies, psychic drills, sorcerous knowledge, and memetic techniques to protect them from Cthulhu's rising. When Cthulhu returned, the only place in the world spared from the Dream, was a few square hundred miles in China. Nyarlathotep then left the sorcerers to their own devices, and ever since has had little interaction with Earth.

The Deathless quickly enslaved those humans who found themselves in the safe zone. After which they had their mountainous domain sealed by blocking every valley and passage into their stronghold. They planned to escape into the Dreamlands but discovered that Cthulhu's presence had turned it into a chaotic realm of madness. In the subterranean world, they found Abhoth who tried to consume them and Tsathoggua who would not aid them against Cthulhu but did provide them with gifts of magic in return for their homage.

The Serpent People who were unaffected by the Dream, found life under Cthulhu unappealing, and their ancient subterranean strongholds were threatened by the Chthonians, decided to approach the Dreamless with a proposal. Some of the Ophidians were millions of years old, and remembered when Cthulhu had earlier walked the Earth. They despised his wars and religious crusades. Having abandoned their god Yig as he was neither strong enought to stand against Cthulhu nor willing to do so, they turned to Hastur who due to his rivalry with Cthulhu, ordered the Ophidians to approach the Tsan Chanese colonists.

Worship of Hastur and Tsathouggua spread among the Dreamless. Who answered their prayers and granted them powers. They surged from their mountain stronghold and easily conquered the Dreaming humans of ancient China. With the magic they had learned and the technology that the Dreaming humans had forgotten, they forged an empire. The "Interdiction" was created, using science and magic. It was a colossal Elder Sign, which kept out out Cthulhu's thoughts. Those among the Dreamers who they captured were forced to breed. Their children who were born inside the Interdiction were sane and became the empire's serfs. Their parents were executed once they served their purpose.

The Tcho-Tcho had prepared for centuries for the return of the Old Ones and under their dominance they thrived. It was a sadistic nation which indulged in any perversions their minds could conceive. Though they reveled in the Dream, they were rationale beings. They built themselves an empire, one that reached all the way to what used to be Beijing. It threatened the newly formed empire of Tsan Chan, which nearly fell before their onslaught. The empire was saved by the Serpent People who devastated the Tcho-Tcho armies, giving the Tsan Chan time to regroup and push the Tcho-Tcho out of mainland China. The Tsan Chan established a military caste consisting of the brighest among their serfs, which formed the backbone of their military forces.

Enraged at their defeat the Tcho-Tcho appealed to their masters, seeking to avenge their defeat. Armies of Deep Ones marched against Tsan Chan, driving legions of Dreamers. The Star Spawn themselves took to the field against Tsan Chan, acting as the generals. Millions of Dreamers were sent in suicide waves against the Interdiction. Whenever the Star Spawn appeared, the Dreamless went mad at the sight and both Deathless and Ophidians fell to their might. Tsan Chan was saved from annihilation by two things. One was that the Star-Spawn wouldn't follow up on their victories for a dozen years, as they meditated and prayed. During this period, the Elder Things made contact with the Deathless and formed an alliance with them. In exchange for Tsan Chan's help in relieving their people trapped in Antarctica, they supplied the Dreamless with material support and technology. The Ghouls allied themselves with Tsan Chan, feasting on the Dreamers who fell and letting Tsan Chan move through their dark tunnels. Still it would have delayed their doom to years at most, not days or weeks.

The Deathless came up with a brilliant plan, one born out of desperation. In which they provided the Outer Gods with certain men and women, to breed with them. Most returned broken, screaming, and dead. Some resulted in pregnancies, most of which died at birth or had to be put down. Some of the offspring retained human intelligence. Some had them had nearly human forms. Some grew at incredible rates and some could follow orders. Known as the Mighty Children, they were indoctrinated and trained by the Deathless. They took to the field and turned the tide of the war. Dreamers, Deep Ones, and Star-Spawn, all fell to them. Saving the empire of Tsan Chan from annihilation and pushing their enemies beyond their borders.

Empire of Tsan ChanEdit

It's an empire which rules what used to be China and Korea, plus great parts of Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Tsan Chan is not a Chinese empire but it does exist as if it was a feverish dream of ancient China. The architecture is similar to that of ancient China, and so are the fashions and diet. The language has drifted due to mixing with other groups and the naming conventions are to a degree Chinese.

Using Deathless and Serpent magic, and the technology of the Elder Things, they've forged a more powerful and effective Interdiction. Turning it into a huge wall that surrounds the empire. Great monoliths have Elder Sings carved into them. God-Trap technology warns away those powerful predator races of the Mythos. Dreamers and Tcho-Tcho are kept away by mine-fields, barbed wire, and gun turret emplacements. Weapons that employ the technology of the Elder Things includes beam cannons that fire an invisible beam which creates an Elder Sign, lethal toward Mythos creatures.

The Mighty Children which survived the war became the Empire's nobility, it's new rulers. To prevent them from summoning their parents and other entities to the Earth, the Serpents closed every interdimensional and interplanetary portal within the empire. The Deathless became the priests of the empire. The Empire is presently campaigning in Antarctica against the Shoggoth, as part of their alliance with the Elder Things. It's currently ruled by the Empress, the greatest of the Mighty Children. The masses of the empire follow the "Way", a kind of philosophy, religion, and discipline created by the Deathless to keep the Dreamless sane, and prevent them from committing suicide or starting revolutions. The Dreamless pray to their gods and make animal sacrifices. While the Mighty Children barter with Hastur and his minions, and make human sacrifices.

In addition to warring with the legions of Cthulhu (the Star Spawn, the Deep Ones, the Tcho-Tcho, and the Dreamers) and the Shoggoth, the empire of Tsan Chan is also warring with the Mi-go in the Himalayas (as the empire claims it as part of their domain). It also sends expeditions to other parts of the world, to gather intelligence or find lost artifacts that may help them. Ultimately what the empire of Tsan-Chan hopes to do is survive the era of Cthulhu. Their goal is to continue resisting the Dream and hold out until Cthulhu tires of Earth and leaves it for another world or dimension. They have glimpsed into the future, where the human civilization of Zothique existed on a dying Earth, and that gives Tsan Chan hope.

Mythos DietiesEdit

  • Nyarlathotep = Unknown to the Tsan Chanese, Nyarlathotep is back on Earth. He is observing what is going on, especially the activities of the Dreamless, getting a good laugh. He helped the Deathless in the beginning because he wanted to see what they could do, if they would perish, survive, or evolve. He is waiting to see if Cthulhu achieves his objective on Earth.
  • Hastur = Though he's a rival of Cthulhu, that is not the real reason for that Tsan Chan received his help. The truth is that he ordered the Serpent People to form an alliance with Tsan Chan, because it amuses him. The struggle of the Tsan Chanese and those who oppose Cthulhu is a source of amusement to Hastur.
  • Cthulhu = The truth is that Cthulhu is conducting a colossal experiment on the human race. The reality is that Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones were all once mortals, who evolved and ascended, leaving behind their mortality and becoming gods. Which is the true purpose of the Dream, to see if the human race (or individuals) can transcend what they are and become gods, new Great Old Ones. If the Dreamers (or Dreamless) ascend or die, it matters not to Cthulhu.

Mythos RacesEdit

  • Elder Things = Who have great fleets roaming the void between the stars. They seek to regain the colonies they lost, or the bodies of their people. They keep away from Mi-go space traffic and are eager to not to attract the attention of the Xothians. On the moon they have a colony / base of 100s of thousands.
  • Tcho-Tcho = Their true form is part fungus, part beast, part human. To keep their intelligence they need to eat human flesh. Tcho-Tcho take the form of what they eat. Technologically they are primitive and their magic is inferior to that of the Serpents. By eating predators, the Tcho-Tcho can take the form of hybrid monsters. Tcho-Tcho looked forward to the return of the Great Old Ones, but have become frustrated at their lot as they find themselves below the Deep Ones in the hierarchy. They dream of eating Deep Ones and perhaps even Xothians, having greater ambitions.
  • Deep Ones = Who have become fabulously wealthy since the return of Cthulhu. Their numbers have exploded, they rule over the seas and most of humanity, and rank just below the Xothians. Yet they are frustrated and want an end to the wars with Tsan Chan. They are tired of the fighting but must continue on as long as directed by the Xothians.
  • Chthonians = They dominate in the southern parts of Africa , waging war against the Deep Ones and Dreamers in defiance of Cthulhu, led by Shudde M'ell. Tsan Chan appears safe from their attacks due to the labyrinth of tunnels and chammbers under their dominion which the Chthonians have not been able to navigate.
  • Flying polyps = Who have been released and swarmed across Australia where they feasted on the Dreamers. They are too dangerous and savage, therefor the Deep Ones and Star Spawn leave them alone. It appears that they may be about to swarm across the seas.
  • Shoggoth = They have expanding from Antarctica into Argentina where they have established colonies. In Antarctica, they have made the Elder Thing's city their own. Threatening to invade Tasmania.
  • Mi-go = Have mostly stayed out of the various wars on Earth. They still visit the Earth and continue their mining operations, in the remote parts of Earth such as the Himalayan mountains and in Canada. Likewise they still conduct experiments on humans, in this case Dreamers.
  • Serpent People = Only a few thousand of them left, of which only 200 are awake and active. The youngest of them were born when humans first learned how to farm and the oldest of them have been around since the last time that Cthulhu walked on Earth, hundreds of millions of years ago. Allied to the Empire of Tsan Chan, their strongholds are deep in the Earth. Like their allies, their goal is to survive and ride out the era of Cthulhu, just as they did millions of years ago.

Locations on EarthEdit

  • Songhai = Dreamless in western Africa (formerly Mali) who are protected by Shudde M'ell who they have dedicated themselves to. War on Dreamers who they sacrifice to the Cthonians.
  • Greenland = Where a few thousand Dreamless are safe from the Mythos deities, protected by Elder Gods. Who in return for their protection require that they battle each other for prestige.
  • Canada = It's mostly uninhabited, and the Mi-go are able operate to their content, mining what they need. Occasionally they raid further south to capture humans for experiments.
  • United States = Which was the first of the great nations to fall. The religious southern states quickly turned into bastions of Dreamers, resulting in a new civil war that quickly ended the United States. NY City is the mecca of the Dreamers. Where they come to become sacrifices for vast leviathans or to be bred with Deep Ones. Skyscrapers converted into colossal sculptures and statues of the Dreamers' masters and gods.
  • Europe = It's full of Dreamers, but its a battleground among lesser Old Ones. Some of whom maintain their own armies, such as Gla'aki who wars with Eihort.
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