Kevin Ross, Monstruwacan

I mentioned the other day that we had a big, BIG, announcement that we’ve been keeping under our hats for a week or so. Something very exciting. Here it is:

Kevin Ross — perhaps the most prolific and well-regarded author of Call of Cthulhu material in the history of the game — is writing a sourcebook chapter for the APOCTHULHU core rules!

I have been trying to entice Kevin to write something for Cthulhu Reborn for quite some time, but he is a very busy writer with a long waiting list of people who want to make use of his many and varied talents. But, we have struck lucky on this particular occasion and inveigled ourselves into his schedule … and it was all thanks to William Hope Hodgson.

As we’ve mentioned here on the blog several times, a key goal of APOCTHULHU is to be a reusable and multipurpose engine that can fuel games set in many different versions of the Post-Apocalypse. When asking around for ideas of example literary or film settings we could use as examples of things GMs could try, Kevin casually replied in an email “of course, you’ll have already considered William Hope Hodgson’s Night Land.”

I must confess, dear reader, that I’d only vaguely heard of Hodgson’s sprawling novel The Night Land which takes in a far future when the sun has burned itself out and the remnants of humanity live in a vast pyramid. It sounded kind of intriguing, but as Kevin described more and more about the weirdly horrific world of the novel — complete with vast and alien horrors that lurk in the countryside poised to devour the last humans — the more compelling it sounded.

After Jo and I picked our jaws up off the floor we hastily asked Kevin whether he might be enticed to write up the Night Land setting as a sourcebook chapter for APOCTHULHU. To our collective excitement, he said yes, and in a couple of weeks’ (!) time we had a letter-perfect game rendition of Hodgson’s bizarre and dangerous world. I could try to describe its scope and grandeur and tremendous potential as a RPG setting, but I’m sure I could not top Kevin’s description:

The Night Land is a dark fantasy world, perhaps the darkest such setting ever imagined. The powers of Evil rule this world, from the least living creature to the Great Old One-like Watchers, to the perhaps even more potent residents of The House of Silence and the glowing vaporous pit of The Shine. Here are entities to rival or even surpass the potency of Cthulhu himself, entities so terrible their mere presence causes men to go mad or rush into their monstrously alien grasp.

All of this makes The Night Land a superb setting for roleplaying adventures. With its brooding atmosphere, its harsh environment, and its host of different horrific creatures, the Night Land as written is like somebody’s dark fantasy roleplaying campaign: a cross between Tolkien’s Mordor, Fantasy Flight Games’ Midnight setting for D&D, and the trenches of the first World War. Stocked with hordes of nightmarish Lovecraftian creatures.

It’s worth mentioning that H.P. Lovecraft waxed lyrical about William Hope Hodgson in his seminal 1927 essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature”, and specifically wrote a review of The Night Land which I still think is one of the best summaries of the novel’s strengths (and weaknesses):

Of rather uneven stylistic quality, but vast occasional power in its suggestion of lurking worlds and beings behind the ordinary surface of life, is the work of William Hope Hodgson, known today far less than it deserves to be. Despite a tendency toward conventionally sentimental conceptions of the universe, and of man’s relation to it and to his fellows, Mr. Hodgson is perhaps second only to Algernon Blackwood in his serious treatment of unreality. Few can equal him in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and insignificant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and the abnormal in connection with regions or buildings …

The Night Land (1912) is a long-extended (538 pp.) tale of the earth’s infinitely remote future billions of billions of years ahead, after the death of the sun. It is told in a rather clumsy fashion, as the dreams of a man in the seventeenth century, whose mind merges with its own future incarnation; and is seriously marred by painful verboseness, repetitiousness, artificial and nauseously sticky romantic sentimentality, and an attempt at archaic language even more grotesque and absurd than that in [WHH’s other tale] Glen Carrig.

Allowing for all its faults, it is yet one of the most potent pieces of macabre imagination ever written. The picture of a night-black, dead planet, with the remains of the human race concentrated in a stupendously vast mental pyramid and besieged by monstrous, hybrid, and altogether unknown forces of the darkness, is something that no reader can ever forget: Shapes and entities of an altogether non-human and inconceivable sort — the prowlers of the black, man forsaken, and unexplored world outside the pyramid — are suggested and partly described with ineffable potency; while the night-land landscape with its chasms and slopes and dying volcanism takes on an almost sentient terror beneath the author’s touch.

Midway in the book the central figure ventures outside the pyramid on a quest through death haunted realms untrod by man for millions of years — and in his slow, minutely described, day-by-day progress over unthinkable leagues of immemorial blackness there is a sense of cosmic alienage, breathless mystery, and terrified expectancy unrivalled in the whole range of literature. The last quarter of the book drags woefully, but fails to spoil the tremendous power of the whole.

Kevin’s Night Land chapter for APOCTHULHU represents a self-contained sourcebook covering everything about the Night Land setting, from Survivor creation through to a detailed gazetteer of the weird geography of the setting and a statted bestiary of strange horrors. We’re expecting it will stretch to 40-ish pages, maybe a bit more.

William Hope Hodgson fans rejoice! Fans of dark and grim pseudo-fantasy-scifi rejoice! Fans of Kevin Ross rejoice!

Watch this space for future updates about APOCTHULHU and about Kevin’s excellent adaptation of WHH’s epic Night Land setting.


Apocalypse Sketch 4: The God From The Uttermost South

So … we’ve reached the end of February, our self-proclaimed APOCTHULHU preview month. So far we have provided “sneak peeks” of three of the example Lovecraftian Apocalypse settings that you could conceivably use our forthcoming RPG rules & sourcebook to bring to life at your game table. In truth, we’ve tried to design the rules to be open enough to power weird Apocalyptic games in a hugely diverse range of settings — so, the samples we provide in the book (and here) are really just that, examples to get your own creative juices flowing.

The sample settings we have revealed from our book manuscript so far are:

Now, its finally time to reveal the fourth-and-final Apocalypse setting preview. Before we do that, we’d like to thank the people who have given us positive words of encouragement about APOCTHULHU. Even more than that we’d like to thank  the many people who have voted in our poll — the number of folks casting their votes has truly amazed us. It’s also made us double our commitment to making sure that the APOCTHULHU book that we release in the coming months is high quality in terms of both writing and production values. We figure we owe you for the enthusiasm you’ve shown our humble project, and will repay that with the best our team’s collective skills can muster!

Anyway, with all that aside, let me present to you our fourth revealed setting.

Credits for the material from APOCTHULHU which appears below are as follows: the Apocalypse setting description was written by yours truly, while Car 648 and The Neural Netrix (both of which are statted in the actual book itself) are a creation of Chad Bowser.

The God From The Uttermost South (APOCTHULHU Example Setting #3)

In the early 1930s a pair of expeditions braved nigh-unsurpassable challenges to travel to the Antarctic regions – to not only reach the so-called Mountains of Madness but explore the ancient city ruins they contain. These structures, millions of years old, were built by the Elder Things as the heart of their empire. The twin expeditions uncovered a terrible secret that had lain buried for vast eons:  in the distant past, the Elder race had constructed a vast technological marvel, a machine that could attract a powerful Mythos god from space and trap it within a stasis. During a long-forgotten war the machine was used to lure and trap a vastly powerful yet unnamed thing – perhaps a Great Old One, perhaps a more cosmic god. When the expeditions reached the Mountains of Madness, they found that the trapped god-thing was still within the machine, and still alive. The only problem was that long millennia of entropy and decay had left the machine on the verge of permanent failure. Quick thinking was called for by the assembled expedition crew … but sadly they failed to avert the collapse of the machine.

With the ancient trap now ineffective the terrible and unknowable alien power was free to exert its influence across Earth for the first time. It began slowly, ejecting seedlings up into the atmosphere to fall across most of the Southern Hemisphere. Incredible news stories of black eruptions from volcanos in Antarctica hit the headlines. The black pods from these eruptions served two purposes: they devoured living things to channel much-needed energy down to the frozen thing at the South Pole, and they ensnared the minds of people with low character. These men and women worked to help spread the god’s influence still further by arranging for larger and larger samples of its alien flesh to be shipped around the world.

In time entire countries went dark, halting their communication with the world. Those places were ruthlessly depopulated by men and women mindlessly enslaved to the silent will of the alien god. Within a year, all communication from the southern half of the world had ceased and certain countries north of the equator were starting to fall as huge masses of the dark seeds were somehow smuggled into their borders. After another year, the entire world was under the influence of the once-imprisoned god, who had also now warmed from its million years of cold slumber sufficiently to leave its ancient jail.

  • When Did the Apocalypse Occur? The spread of the god’s influence started in 1935 but did not entirely consume the world until late 1937.
  • What Event was the Trigger? The original cause was the breakdown of the Elder Thing machinery that had long held the trapped god in stasis.
  • What Changed? The goal of the alien god is to subsume all of humanity into itself, and to kill anyone it cannot mentally integrate into its global telepathic control network. In the Post-Apocalypse world there is no need for communications technology (since everyone gets their instructions via telepathy and nobody has independent thoughts to share with one another). But all other forms of technology are still maintained – there is functioning electrical grids and well-maintained transport networks, both used extensively to harvest brains from captured “dissenters” (those who cannot be integrated) and ship them to wherever the alien god now resides.
  • How Long Afterwards? The game setting takes place a couple of years after the last ‘normal’ parts of the world finally fell to the influence of the alien god and its insidious dark seeds.
  • What is the World Like? Silent, and highly ordered. The controlled members of the human race work as an insect-like hive, following instructions issued telepathically by the once-imprisoned god. Concentration camps have been set up to house anyone who has not been successfully integrated – these people are subject to intensive ‘re-education’ and if that fails, they are slaughtered and their brains extracted as food for the god.

  • What Communities Exist? Not everyone has fallen under the spell of the ancient god; people of high integrity, will, or sensitivity have proven far more resistant. Such people, if they can survive the silent squads which trawl the cities and countryside in search of outcasts, still live a normal life scrounging what little they can safely obtain. Many small societies of such people have sprung up, but the larger the group the more likely they are to be tracked down by the black-suited elite squads.
  • What Mythos Entities? As the influence of the once-imprisoned god has gained dominance, it has become bolder in sending forth other extra-dimensional beings to work side-by-side with its mindless human workforce. Nobody knows whether these horrific alien monstrosities are parts of the god itself, children of the god, or simply allied creatures it has brought from some otherworldly or extra-dimensional place.
  • Is There Any Hope? The Game Moderator can decide whether there is any possibility of putting the alien god “back in the box” or somehow banishing it from Earth. If either of those (nigh-impossible) tasks could be achieved, it may be possible that the humans under its thrall could return to being independent.

Car 648, an example horror for The God From The Uttermost South

Those controlled by the world’s new god use the existing train infrastructure to ship the brains of dissenters to the central collection points. Sometimes, things go off the rails. Each train consists of the locomotive, a tender car, a guard car, and however many cerebral cars are needed. This train only had one.

Car 648 was carrying a supply of brains to the depot. What many don’t understand is that the god feasts upon the psychic energies of the brains, not the gray matter in and of itself. To that end, it’s a common occurrence for the god’s followers to link together the brains into a single psychic entity and torture it, creating even more food for their master.

A landslide eroded the tracks Car 648 was scheduled to use. As the train rolled over the weakened rails, it plummeted off the track and down a defile. The custodians of Car 648, as well as the crew and guards were all killed as the train plummeted. The one thing that didn’t die was the fused psychic entity.

Wounded and alone, in the wilderness, trapped in the train car, it thrashes in the psychic maelstrom, believing itself a veteran of a psychic war that was never fought.

It has access to numerous psychic abilities and could be a friend or foe, depending on how it’s approached and treated.

The Neural Netrix, an example ‘Tome’ / Device for The God From The Uttermost South

Created by the followers of the new god, these contraptions are a series of mental probes inserted into human brains and linked via cables. Each probe can be no more than a foot from the next and each netrix is limited to 256 probes.

Inserting a probe is an incredibly painful process as smaller feeler probes emerge and root their way through the neural pathways of the target brain. Once they find the memories they need – and it’s not one specific memory, it latches onto a different memory in each brain – it begins to interface and all the memories collide, creating a psychic feast for the new god.

What’s Next for APOCTHULHU?

While this is the last preview we are sharing for now, there are more announcements and surprises of an APOCTHULHU flavour that we’ll be making here on the blog (as well as on the Cthulhu Reborn twitter, @cthulhu_reborn). We might even share some more extracts of the book itself … though for now we need to switch back into actually getting this book of Apocalyptic horrors finished and published!


Apocalypse Sketch 3: The Stars Turn, Turn, Turn

So far this month we have posted two extracts from our forthcoming APOCTHULHU RPG book — each covering an example Lovecraftian Apocalypse you could use our game to bring to (gritty) life. If you missed the previous two segments, you can find them here and here. Since last week, several of you fine folk have cast additional votes in our poll as to which of remaining 6 sample settings you’d like to see us reveal next. This time round the winner is perhaps the most classically Lovecraftian “end of the world” you can imagine — the stars come right and Cthulhu and his slumber-buddies wake, no doubt ravenous.

Don’t forget we will be revealing one more setting next weekend as well. At the moment it looks like the front-running candidate might be “Under The Charcoal Sky” … but the poll is still open, and copied at the bottom of this post, so if you really want to see one of the others, cast your vote! If you’ve forgotten (or missed) the descriptions for the eight sample Apocalypses, you can find them here.

Credits for the material from APOCTHULHU which appears below are as follows: the Apocalypse setting description was written by yours truly, while The Wolf and The AAR of Sgt O’Neill (both of which are statted in the actual book itself) are a creation of Chad Bowser.

The Stars Turn, Turn, Turn (APOCTHULHU Example Setting #1)

Several of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories allude to vast cosmic cycles of time, some of which are inimical to the physical existence of alien forces of the Cthulhu Mythos. Mankind evolved in one such lacuna in the dominance of extradimensional terrors. And while it enjoyed thousands of years believing itself the ultimate intelligence and power on Earth (perhaps even in the universe), humanity’s pre-eminence was always destined to be short. When the cosmic cycle turned and Mythos beings could once again exist, all the might and history of the human race could not save it from near-instant destruction at the hands of Cthulhu and his ilk.

Alien cities rose from the oceans and beneath the ground. Great and terrible horrors crushed whole cities beneath a single enormous foot or tentacle. Almost the whole of humanity was wiped out in just a few months – the nukes didn’t save us, the might of the world’s militaries didn’t save us, the satellite weapons didn’t save us. Nothing saved us.

  • When Did the Apocalypse Occur? Humanity’s dominance over the Earth ended sometime in the first half of the 21st Century.
  • What Event was the Trigger? The world “ended” through no particular action, but merely because a pre-appointed cosmic cycle had come to an end.
  • What Changed? Cities were crushed, armies of inhuman creatures swarmed out of the oceans and the dark places below the earth. Rampaging monstrosities as large as a planetoid came down from the stars and crushed entire continents, leaving the outlines of some familiar landmasses scarred. At the same time, some hidden ancient places – like sunken R’lyeh – returned to the surface.
  • How Long Afterwards? The game setting occurs a decade after humanity’s grasp over the world came to an end.
  • What is the World Like? Much of the world remains as it was, although devoid of human population. Instead, colonies of Mythos creatures are the most common inhabitants to be found on land and at sea. It is common to find sights where familiar – even comforting – landmarks from before the fall are juxtaposed with alien and terrifying constructs, supernatural manifestations, or extra-dimensional creatures.
  • What Communities Exist? The vast majority of humanity was wiped out in the months after the Mythos forces rose. Those who still survive can be broken into two categories – those humans who have submitted to become servants of the horrors (at terrible cost to their sanity), and those who cling to a tenuous life in shadowy places stealing food and dreaming of the days when humanity thrived.
  • What Mythos Entities? The Game Moderator can populate the world with any of the Mythos races described by H.P. Lovecraft (and other authors). Similarly, the presence of any of the terrifyingly powerful alien gods can be justified – after all, now that a new cycle of cosmic reality has begun, any of those ancient horrors might take an interest in humanity’s former playpen.
  • Is There Any Hope? If playing in a “purist” interpretation of Lovecraft’s writing, there is no real hope of reversing the turn of the great cosmic cycle. That’s not to say that Survivors cannot make a significant change to the world, perhaps even beating back the forces of oppression and re-establishing a kind of civilization. But the wolves will always be at the door.

“The Wolf”, an example horror for The Stars Turn, Turn, Turn

(By Chad Bowser)

The Wolf lurks in the shadows, waiting for prey. It might have once been a wolf. It might have once been a human. The archivists don’t know. The guns don’t know. Hell, the settlement’s brains trust doesn’t know. All everyone knows is The Wolf is death incarnate.

It looks like a balding man with wild fringe hair; rotten, blackened teeth, with the breath to match; mismatched eyes – one yellow and one blue; a five-day stubble always coated in gristle and gore, and fingers that end in ragged talons. In a world of monsters, The Wolf hunts alone. But it never takes solitary prey. The Wolf sneaks into supposedly secure compounds and buildings to tear into the sleeping and vigilant.

Like its animal namesake, The Wolf possesses an uncanny sense of smell and the ability to see in near darkness. Even more terrifying, though, The Wolf is able to walk into one shadow and emerge from any other shadow within sight. It sometimes uses this technique to toy with prey, slashing at hamstrings and exposed flesh with its diseased claws.

When prey is captured, The Wolf tries to silence it first by slashing its neck with a claw or even tearing out its throat with a savage bite.

Although it stalks its prey silently, after feasting the Wolf can’t help but whisper, hum, or even sometimes flatly sing old folk songs by Leonard Cohen – “So Long, Marianne” and “Master Song” are his favorites.

The After-Action Report (AAR) of Police Sgt. Duncan O’Neill, an example “tome” for The Stars Turn, Turn, Turn

(By Chad Bowser)

Sgt. Duncan O’Neill was on patrol when it seemed like the world ended. What he didn’t know at the time was, it really was ending … and his side wasn’t going to win. Several police interceptors rendezvoused at a hospital and attempted to make a stand against an encroaching, formless monstrosity.

Whenever there was a lull in the fighting, Sgt. O’Neill wrote notes in the hopes that someone would find them. The notes detail the creature as well as the appearance of a mysterious woman who seemed to appear from out of nowhere and struck at the creature with her mere words before she too eventually succumbed.

His after-action report is a spiral-bound notebook on the passenger seat of his interceptor. The penmanship goes from neat, block letters to hastily scrawled cursive as he recounts the four-day stand against this monster. He initially writes in ink, but soon shifts to blood, before ending with the last few pages in a strange, black, ichor.

When viewed under the dark of a new moon, as was the last day of his battle, the ichor shifts and swirls, reforming to reveal hidden inscriptions

Vote For The Next Apocalypse

Next weekend we’ll be releasing the description of another example setting ripped from the pages of APOCTHULHU — you can help pick which one by voting in the poll below. Options #1, #2, and #8 have now been revealed, so to make your vote count pick one of the other five choices.


Apocalypse Sketch 2: This Fecund Planet

Since posting the first extract from our forthcoming APOCTHULHU sourcebook’s section on “example Lovecraftian Apocalypses” I have been closely watching the summary of votes in our poll. Right from the beginning there’s been a high level of interest in Apocalypse #8: “This Fecund Planet” … so let’s make that our second manuscript “sneak peek.”

As mentioned previously, the plan is to do four of these throughout February, so there’s still time to influence which of the remaining Apocalypses we leak as #3 and #4 in coming weeks. For a description of all of the example Apocalypses, head back to this earlier post. If you want to lodge a vote for the next one — the same poll is still open, and is repeated at the end of this post.

Credits for the material from APOCTHULHU which appears below are as follows: the Apocalypse setting description was written by yours truly, while the Hollow Men (which are statted in the actual book itself) are a creation of Chad Bowser.

This Fecund Planet (APOCTHULHU Example Setting #8)

Most Post-Apocalyptic worlds are defined by the scarcity of life, due to some horrific extinction event. This particular world is not like that – it is a horror brought about through an excess of life. A terrifying fertility.

Cults devoted to Shub-Niggurath have existed since the dawn of human thought, most seeking to invoke their awful god’s powers of corrupted fertility. But in the 1970s one cult achieved what no other had been able – to bring about a global manifestation of Shub-Niggurath’s ‘blessing’. Masquerading as a New Age movement dedicated to the protection of “mother Earth”, the cult duped hundreds of innocent Britons to participate in ‘fertility rituals’ held in an isolated Scottish castle owned by a popular musician. The weeks of gyrating dances and liturgical chanting seemed like harmless fun to most of the participants, but what none could see was the changes that were being wrought due to Shub-Niggurath’s ‘blessing’.

In the weeks that followed the ceremonies, many accounts were reported world-wide of odd floss-like matter blowing on the wind. Wherever this white fibrous material fell to earth, common plants grew rapidly – even in the most unlikely of places. Scientists took samples of the miraculous floss but could not explain its origins nor its amazing powers as a fertilizer. Then the day came when the floss-streams got higher into the atmosphere and seeded themselves into clouds. Wherever rain fell, it had tiny dissolved particles of the floss. And in every square foot of earth touched by this rain, things grew faster and bigger than normal.

At first the scientific community and the world-at-large embraced this miracle, even if nobody knew from where it had come. Parts of the world where food is perpetually scarce suddenly found themselves with bumper crops. Normally lush-and-green places found their harvests topping all-time records, so much so that business was soon booming and there was enough food that overabundance became more of a problem than scarcity. The cost of feeding the planet halved overnight.

However, what nobody knew – except perhaps for the shadowy Shub-Niggurath cult that had set events in motion with their orgiastic Scottish rites – was that food grown by such fertilizer is infused with something otherworldly. Something that is part of Shub-Niggurath. This enigmatic element causes the plants, fruit, and vegetables to grow rapidly … but they do not stop growing when they are harvested, nor does the miracle ingredient stop growing even after it is eaten. Instead, the mysterious substance accumulates inside those who consume it … and when it accumulates to the right level, it sends forth its “shoots” to find the soil, right through flesh and bone if needed. And once those steel-hard shoots are in fertile ground, they are almost impossible to remove.

 

After just four years, the normal order of civilization had crumbled. Vast numbers people were torn apart by thick verdant tendrils bursting from their chests; just as many were pinned to the ground to die a slow death of starvation. Too late the message went out to abandon eating produce grown in the soil, but by then the element was already in the flesh of livestock – and so an all-meat diet offered no protection.

  • When Did the Apocalypse Occur? The events unfolded in the mid-to-late 1970s.
  • What Event was the Trigger? The ceremony at the Scottish castle.
  • What Changed? The creation of the super-fertilizing floss, which is carried on the wind, right around the globe. It is eventually also dissolved into clouds. Everything it touches – directly or indirectly – grows fecund and tainted with Shub-Niggurath’s element.
  • How Long Afterwards? The game setting takes place four years after the beginning of the monstrous fertility and the fall of civilization.
  • What is the World Like? The world is greener and lusher than ever before, with abundance of foliage covering over even the most densely-populated cities. Scattered amid the foliage are the corpses of people torn apart or pinned down by greenery bursting forth from their internal organs.
  • What Communities Exist? Some people have sought out those places around the globe which are most inimical to life – rocky islets with no topsoil, harsh deserts, and the like. These people survive off stockpiles of tinned food from before the coming of the floss. But this scarce resource is rapidly running out.
  • What Mythos Entities? As regions of the planet have become depopulated to humanity, creatures of the Cthulhu Mythos have slithered from hiding to take up residence. Also, Shub-Niggurath’s many and diverse “children” have been drawn to the bountiful harvest infected with her seed.
  • Is There Any Hope? It may be possible to find a way of neutralizing the effects of Shub-Niggurath’s fecund floss but doing so will mostly stabilize the situation rather than reverse it.

The Bible of Southcross Fields, an example “tome” for This Fecund Planet

(By Chad Bowser)

Rumors say that there’s an unwilling scarecrow deep in the 400 acres that comprise Southcross field that will tell you all about a new god. Thomas Jacobson was a farmhand working Southcross field when he was transfixed. Stuck where he stood, a migrant with a beard down to his knees and wearing dusty traveling robes came by and began to pass on his wisdom. By carving it into the still living Thomas’ flesh.

The ritual practiced by the man keeps Thomas alive so that there is always fresh blood to keep the words bright. However, the ritual does nothing to dull the pain. The script is tiny and Thomas’ body contains thousands of words of this wanderer’s screed. To compound matters, the wanderer writes in the language he hears in his head – Akkadian.

Thomas’ body is filling up, though, and a new scarecrow, Heather Bunham, has just appeared not too far away.

Vote For The Next Apocalypse

Next weekend we’ll be releasing the description of another example setting ripped from the pages of APOCTHULHU — you can help pick which one by voting in the poll below.

 


Getting Stuff With Cthulhu Reborn Logos

Here at Cthulhu Reborn we’re not especially keen on the idea of “crass commercialism” when it comes to selling games.

So, you may be a little bemused to learn that we have just opened a RedBubble store where anyone can go to buy T-Shirts, other apparel, mugs, coasters, etc, emblazoned with our logos and designs.

“What gives?” you might be asking. “Has Cthulhu Reborn finally turned to the dark side?”

The answer is like this: several people who downloaded/purchased our last Dateline: Lovecraft add-on scenario (“Bottoms Up!”) really liked the vintage soda labels that I designed as potential in-game props to enhance play. “Some of those designs,” they said, “would look great on a T-Shirt.” So we looked into what was involved in getting one or two such items made up for the people who asked (and for me, since I wouldn’t mind wearing my own designs from time-to-time).

In the end the easiest and quickest way of making something like that was to create an account on RedBubble, upload the relevant image files and click “make me some T-Shirts”. But then, once all those designs are up there … it’s just as easy to click “make available to the public” as well. So that’s how our merch “store” was born — since then I’ve added some more designs, logos for APOCTHULHU, Dateline: Lovecraft, and Convicts & Cthulhu.

I’m not expecting that many folks (or maybe, anybody) who reads the CR blog to feel the sudden overwhelming need to own a Convicts & Cthulhu Hoodie or a set of 4 Dateline: Lovecraft coasters … but equally well those things are there if you want them. It’s not so much crass commercialism as a vanity project that I’m happy to share with anyone who happens to be interested.

Stuff that’s on the store: several styles of apparel, mugs/travel mugs, stickers, water bottles, weird resin block things, coasters, notebooks, greeting cards, art prints, throw pillow, draw string bags (for dice maybe), tote bags, and even a Convicts & Cthulhu wall clock (who doesn’t need one of those?).

Obviously the photos on the RedBubble store are renders based on the uploaded designs. If you’re curious about what the real, manufactured items might look like — here are some photos of things I ordered myself.

 


Apocalypse Sketch 1: Nyarlathotep Unmasked

Thanks to the many folks who have answered our poll to pick which Mythos Apocalypse sketches from our forthcoming APOCTHULHU RPG and sourcebook. Looking at the poll results there are a couple of clear front-runners, one of which is “Apocalypse 2: Nyarlathotep Unmasked” … so that’s the one I’ll unveil below.

I will leave the poll open, though, to allow folks to vote on which *other* sketches we should similarly “spill the beans” about during February. We’re aiming to do about one a week. You can get to the poll via this link — it’s also embedded at the bottom of this post.

Credits for the material from APOCTHULHU which appears below are as follows: the Apocalypse setting description was written by yours truly, while the Hollow Men (which are statted in the actual book itself) are a creation of Chad Bowser.

Nyarlathotep Unmasked (Example Apocalypse 2)

In the mid-1920s, a world-wide conspiracy of cults devoted to Nyarlathotep forged a bold plan to open a dimensional rift through which the Great Old Ones could return (early). Their covert machinations came to the attention of a group of occult investigators who undertook a globe-trotting adventure to track down and defeat the monstrous plan. They failed. At the appointed hour, in the shadowy light of a solar eclipse a rocket was launched from an island in China and exploded high above the world – the final act needed to open the invisible gateway.

Great yet insidious evil descended upon the world. While the way had been opened for the ancient and terrible gods, the nature of reality was still not ready for their physical manifestation. But their mental – and even more importantly, moral – influence certainly took shape across the face of the globe. Wars became bloodier, politicians more mean-spirited and greedy. By the time the Atomic age had been ushered in, the hidden influence of the Great Old Ones was in the hearts of many world leaders, whether they understood it or not. This dark stain led ultimately to the nuclear holocaust that shattered the civilized world. It began with a small rogue Asian nation obtaining atomic weapons and ended with a series of tactical strikes that killed hundreds of millions and pushed the world into nuclear winter.

Today, remnants of humanity still linger in many places – although isolated and without most of the trappings of technology and civilization. But the insidious stain of the Great Old Ones lives on as well, poisoning the minds of people towards actions designed to either wipe out humanity altogether or groom it as a slave race ready to mindlessly follow the physical forms of Cthulhu and his ilk … which surely must approach their long-awaited resurrection.

  • When Did the Apocalypse Occur? The downfall of humanity can be traced to actions in the 1920s, but the nuclear exchange that directly led to the current world happened in the mid-1950s.
  • What Event was the Trigger? The gate was opened by the Nyarlathotep cultists; the atomic war was the product of human greed and fear pushed onwards by subtle whispers and dreams from the Great Old Ones.
  • What Changed? Scores of cities burned under the mushroom clouds; electro-magnetic pulses rendered most complex electronics inoperable. Electrical grids and communications fell.
  • How Long Afterwards? The game setting takes place in the immediate aftermath of the 1950s atomic war.
  • What is the World Like? The fall of most infrastructure has left isolated bands of survivors huddled in small groups. Their lives were bad enough, with the after-effects of radiation casting a pall over everything. Then the RADHAZ-suited execution squads began roaming the countryside following orders given by national leaders, each a thrall to one alien god or another. They were accompanied by things that seem to be even more unnatural than the mutations.

  • What Communities Exist? Small groups of people are common, many of them survivors who weathered the atomic war in fallout shelters in their backyards or towns. There are not yet any large-scale communities established, although some people have a dream to reunite people into a form of civilization. But do those people do so for the good of humanity … or compelled by whispered instructions from the Great Old Ones?
  • What Mythos Entities? This game setting is light on physical manifestations of the Cthulhu Mythos, although a handful of monstrosities may be found. Far more common is dark mental and moral influences pushing people to commit terrible – sometimes inhuman – acts. Perhaps this is the world as Nyarlathotep, lord of chaos, truly wants it to be? Or perhaps it is the unintended impact of close mental contact between sensitive human minds and the now-adjacent realities where the Great Old Ones wait at the door?
  • Is There Any Hope? In theory humanity may still recover from the nuclear winter and re-establish some form of civilization. But for any such efforts to be long-lasting, the taint of the Great Old Ones must be removed or blocked, else any semblance of order that is brought into being will soon crumble under their insidious shadow influences.

The Hollow Men, an example monstrosity for Nylathotep Unmasked

(By Chad Bowser)

In the aftermath of the nuclear winter supplies are scarce and safety in short supply. Many communities lack the means to effectively protect themselves against ranging bandit groups let alone the Hollow Men.

Rumor has it that the Hollow Men were once men who have been warped and twisted by the radiation that permeates the world. That’s just a rumor, though. The reality is much worse. The Hollow Men are normal men and women driven mad by what they’ve seen and experienced. These are people who have lost any sense of mercy or morality.

While bandits loot, pillage, and rape, Hollow Men sweep across the landscape utterly devastating whatever life they encounter. In the grips of their psychoses, they can’t stop until they’re dead.

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