Reviews for Convicts & Cthulhu

Convicts & Cthulhu B&W Logo sml

Well, Convicts & Cthulhu has now been out for more than 3 months, and a lot of folks have taken the opportunity to download a “Pay What You Want” copy of the 96 page book, or even to put down some cash to buy a printed copy. Quite a few folks have also grabbed our first mini-supplement to the C&C setting, “Ticket of Leave #1: Night Terrors”.

Given the (pleasantly) suprising demand for Cthulhu-infused convict brutality, we are right now busily working away to create a few more supplemental releases that will expand out the C&C setting in a variety of interesting directions. I’m hoping to be able to share some news about those various future titles … but in the meantime I thought I would share some of the nice reviews that people have been posting online about C&C (just in case you haven’t yet dipped your toe into the setting but were curious to know what others thought).

Australian Aeons Illo #D3

By far the most comprehensive review that’s been posted to date has been this excellent piece by Eric Dodd (aka red wine pie) over on RPG Geek. Eric does a great job at summing up the background to Convicts & Cthulhu, its presentation and contents. His final conclusion is:


For the price of pay what you want, Convicts and Cthulhu is highly recommended to anyone interested in this place and period of history. It’s also a great appendix to Revolutionary era Colonial American gaming. As part of an entire new Australian line of 7th Edition Cthulhu gaming we’ll have to wait and see how Convicts and Cthulhu fits in.
Unfortunately, although the presentation is well up to the standard of most 6th edition releases, the fact it is not in the full colour style of the 7th Edition books may be holding up the release of all the Secrets of Australia book.

– Fascinating details about an intriguing time and place
– Strong social structures to play with
– Plenty of adventure ideas

– Limited locations may feel claustrophobic or depressing
– Criminals and bad guys might have little to care for
– Full background and sourcebook not yet available

There’s no reason not to take a look at Convicts and Cthulhu, even if it’s just for some reading about a fascinating period in Australian history. The ‘remote prison’ concept can be adapted for any low technology level game, from fantasy to horror. Even Traveller’s Prison Planet has some themes and ideas in common, as the ‘tyranny of distance’ overcomes the advanced technologies. There are more ideas available for little extra in the Ticket of Leave adventure and Cthulhu Hack Convicts and Cthulhu book, which I’ll look at soon. Hopefully this is just the start of the whole Secrets of Australia line, and we can get a new fill of Terror Australis.

Similarly enthusiastic is this review posted over on DrivethruRPG by an anonymous purchaser:

The sheer authenticity of Convicts & Cthulhu makes it a truly excellent source book for setting the scene and one that is engagingly written. The underlying historical research is amazing — this is more early Australian colonial history than entire classes of Australian children learn! — and sufficiently gritty to make you wonder what was going on in the backstreets of Sydney at the time. Forked lightning frozen in the sky, violent and inhuman murders from one end of the colony to the other, prophetic visions, rumours of undiscovered cities, the birth of would-be unicorns…all true — or, at least, all actually reported as having occured. C&C makes for a fascinating read from that standpoint alone. The production standards are good with detailed maps and illustrations of a high quality. The location descriptions and details are well conveyed. The scenario hooks on offer are extensive and there is helpful advice on character classes and skill sets appropriate to the era. The Aboriginal contribution to the history of the time is not neglected and everything from weapons to Yowies (the Blue Mountains sub-species, anyway) is covered. With this book in hand, early colonial Sydney is the place to be when it comes to bringing on the Shoggoths.

Convicts & Cthulhu softcover pic1 (sml)

There have also been some positive remarks made by folks who have bought the physical print-on-demand edition of Convicts & Cthulhu. One such purchaser was Stephanie McAlea, herself a publisher of fine Call of Cthulhu RPG books under the imprint Stygian Fox (check out “The Things We Leave Behind”). Stephanie wrote here on Cthulhu Reborn:

I bought this from DTRPG. I wasn’t interested in the setting originally but thought I’d get it to nab ideas… It’s an amazing book. A great piece of work. I’m currently prepping an adventure for it. Well done!

Another purchaser, Kevin Lobzun, wrote:

I purchased the PDF and Print from RPGNow. The Print arrived yesterday. Awesome job, very professional looking, great writing. Thank you very much.

Convicts & Cthulhu - Illo D7

Last but certainly not least, Convicts & Cthulhu was also reviewed positively over on the Games vs Play blog by Leigh Carr. Leigh writes:

Every page is filled with easy to understand comprehensive information that will ignite a Keepers imagination, raring them to throw investigators into a situation which is already horrifying as it is! Times were tough back then and the book doesn’t sugar coat Australia’s dark past.

ENnies: Hawkins Papers Scores Gold!

Those of you who eagerly watch the annual ENnies awards (announced at GenCon Indy) might have already noticed that Pelgrane Press won an awful lot of awards this year … one of which was for the “Hawkins Papers” handout/addon set for the Dracula Dossiers.

Hawkins Papers - Second Letter to Dracula p2&3 (texture)

Cthulhu Reborn was heavily involved in designing all the prop-work for that set … so we’re obviously very excited to hear that it picked up the Gold for “Best Supplement”.

The huge awards success of the Dracula Dossiers, and Pelgrane Press more generally, is told in all it’s medally-glory by this photo of Ken Hite and Robin D. Laws. Congrats to all🙂

ENnies: Vote for Cool Props

As many readers would be aware, it is once again that time of year — the time when the tabletop RPG industry holds its de facto vote, the ENnies, for the best products of the past year.

Hawkins Papers - Flash Messages 01-06 montage

While there aren’t any Cthulhu Reborn products in the running (maybe next year?!) … if you’re a CR supporter you *can* still vote for us, sort of. One of the products that has been nominated in the category of Best Supplement is Pelgrane Press’ “The Hawkins Papers”. Readers with a good memory might remember this product — it’s a prop-based add-on to the uber-successful “Dracula Dossier” Kickstarter (for the Gumshoe vampires-and-high-tech-espionage RPG Night’s Black Agents). It’s been mentioned here because Pelgrane hired Cthulhu Reborn to design all the props for this package.

You can see a sampling of the items we created for our friends at Pelgrane — along with some additional info — over on this page.

If you love detailed period prop-designs and would like to see RPG publishers include more of it in their future projects, I hope you would consider casting your Ennies vote the way of The Hawkins Papers. You can vote here.

Hawkins Papers - Quake Notes (card montage)

While you’re there you will also find other cool Cthulhu-related products that have been nominated. Pelgrane has a bunch (in fact, so many that they created a special ENnies sampler where you can see bits of all of their nominated products, including “The Hawkins Papers”). The Modiphius folks have also scored a few nominations for their Achtung! Cthulhu campaign “Shadows of Atlantis” … and Cubicle 7 have also been nominated for their Cthulhu Britannica: London box set.

Ticket of Leave #1 Released

Convicts & Cthulhu B&W Logo sml

The success of Convicts & Cthulhu (in PDF and now in print) has taken us here at Cthulhu Reborn a little bit by surprise … but it’s a good kind of surprise. In the spirit of trying to find ways to support gamers and readers who have taken a punt and downloaded C&C I have been madly scrabbling around to see whether there is any additional material we can release that will help folks as they run games in this (rather unusual) Lovecraftian setting.

I have also been pestering Geoff Gillan (prime creator of C&C) for anything he might have … and it seems that this tactic has paid off in spades (yay for pester power!). Geoff has come back to me with an entire short manuscript for a mini-supplement to the C&C core book. I have frantically typeset and illustrated this gem and released it as a free 4-page PDF, available over on RPGNow: Convicts & Cthulhu — Ticket of Leave #1.

Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket Of Leave #1 cover (sml)

The goal of this small bite-sized (4 pages) addition to C&C is to give Keepers a small self-contained nugget of information which includes a variety of different elements which could conceivably be put together into a short scenario or alternatively picked apart to provide pieces for an all-original scenario of their own devising.

We are hoping to release further “Tickets of Leave” further down the track (as astute readers may have deduced by the “#1” in the title of this supplement :-)). In the meantime, we hope that folks find this small PDF to be a useful addition to the Convicts & Cthulhu setting.

Convicts in Print!

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It’s official … you can now get yourself a print-on-demand softcover book version of Convicts & Cthulhu. All you have to do is head over to this page on RPGNow and purchase either the print version of the book or the print & PDF combo.

As with the original PDF, the printed book is a “Pay-What-You-Want” title … now you may wonder how that works, given the fact that it obviously costs a certain amount of money to print and ship a physical book. The answer is simple: you can still pay whatever you want but the amount you type into the box must be AT LEAST the cost of producing the printed book (about USD $4.00). If you type an amount into the box that is more than the basic cost of printing, the rest of the money goes to Cthulhu Reborn — well, most of it anyway. After you’ve added the Pay-What-You-Want book to your shopping cart you’ll still need to add postage and handling as per a normal print book order from RPGNow or DrivethruRPG.

Convicts & Cthulhu softcover pic1 (sml)

By my estimate, most folks should be able to get a POD copy of Convicts & Cthulhu made and shipped to them for around USD $9 or maybe even less. I figure that’s not too bad for a 96-page B&W roleplaying book with a nice glossy cover.

The test copy that I had printed turned out looking really nice BTW. The phone camera pic above probably doesn’t do justice to the finished product, but should give you some idea of what you’re buying.


The Popular Convict

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Wow … Convicts & Cthulhu has proven to be a much more popular title than I could ever have hoped. For the first few days after its release it held the top spot in RPGNow’s “hottest product” list … and five weeks later it is still lurking in that list (currently at #13). All-in-all something like 700 copies have now been sold, with generous folks using the “Pay-What-You-Want” feature to donate a few hundred dollars towards the upkeep of Cthulhu Reborn.

We are both delighted and humbled by the success of this book … and in particular by the generosity of folks who have chipped in some of their hard-earned cash.

Armed with the success of the base Convicts & Cthulhu book I have been lobbying hard to get Geoff Gillan to write some additional material for the setting. Despite the fact that he is a very busy novelist and freelance scenario-writer (not to mention has a busy day job), I have been able to secure a little bit of his time for elaborating the setting.

Australian Aeons Illo #D1.1

At the moment, the plan is to release a small number of 3-4 page free PDFs which expand upon Convicts & Cthulhu in some way. We’re calling these bite-sized chunks of C&C goodness “Tickets-of-Leave.” The manuscript for the first “Ticket-of-Leave” is already written and awaiting layout and art … so hopefully there should be an announcement of its availability soon.

I am also hoping to have an announcement soon on print-copies of the original Convicts & Cthulhu book.

BTW: on the off chance that you’re reading this but *haven’t* already grabbed yourself a copy of the original Convicts & Cthulhu PDF, you can do so over on RPGNow.

Convicts Have Broken Loose!

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Convicts & Cthulhu has just been released for download via RPGNow: you can grab yourself a copy by following this link. You can also find the promo text there, describing the Convicts & Cthulhu setting and what’s contained in the book.

The lavishly illustrated 96-page sourcebook is available entirely for free … although if you really wish to pay for it, you can make a small donation (whatever you like) to assist with the costs of keeping new Cthulhu Reborn content coming. We’ve enabled this “pay-what-you-want” approach because several folks over on YSDC violently objected to the idea of grabbing this book entirely for free🙂. Please don’t feel any obligation to donate — it’s purely there as an option if you are feeling especially generous.

[In case it isn’t obvious: you can download the file without paying a cent simply by entering zero dollars in the Pay-What-You-Want box and proceeding to the checkout.]

We have also created a fillable PDF version of the Convicts & Cthulhu character sheet (using the same Autocalc code used in Chaosium’s fillable PDF sheets). See the link below!

Convicts & Cthulhu - Char Sheet Sample - Thomas Jackson

  Convicts & Cthulhu era sheet for Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition (US Letter, 2 sided, with autocalculation) [NB: For use with Adobe Reader or Acrobat ONLY]

We hope that you have many hours of convict-filled mayhem as you explore the depraved and corrupt world of the early Australian prison colonies! Horrors of all flavours lurk just around every corner … none so terrifying as the vast swearing vocabulary of the irascable Governor Bligh. Believe me.


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