When Playroom Entertainment offered me a review copy of Unspeakable Words, I couldn’t resist the little purple Cthulhu pawns. You may not be so lucky as some copies of the game have them in green or black. But otherwise, I highly recommend this simple word game with a sinister twist.

Unspeakable Words consists of a deck of letter cards, a 20-sided die, and a set of Great Old One miniatures. Each player receives a hand of cards and must spell a word with the letters on those cards. Every letter is worth a certain number of points. Higher point words are better, of course, but also risk a player’s sanity, represented by the plastic Cthulhus. After spelling a word, a player must roll equal to or greater than the point value of their word; if not, giving up one pawn. When a player has lost all five pawns, that player has gone insane and is out of the game. The first person to 100 points wins.

Unspeakable Words is a good choice choice for mixed age groups, as bigger words entail a certain added risk. Also, other than the typical exclusion of proper names, any word in common usage is acceptable. It’s usually pretty easy to find at least one among the seven cards in a hand. I love that the game takes a generally conservative category and adds a bit of attitude. Even the few optional rules fit the Cthulhu theme. Psychotherapy would allow a player to roll against the value of a discarded hand in order to recover a lost pawn. The Unspellable Oath would allow a player with only one pawn to make gibberish words because “unhinged folk can believe anything is a word.”

We’re having a great time with Unspeakable Words in my family. I’m only a little concerned about what my daughter’s teddy bear is going to do with his army of mini Cthulhus.