Just in Time for the End of the World

The release of the APOCTHULHU RPG is definitely our biggest achievement of the year — the culmination of a mammoth project that kicked off in December 2017. And while the core APOCTHULHU rulebook and the Pay-What-You-Want APOCTHULHU Quickstart have been out for a while (and are both selling better than we could have hoped), we’re definitely not done with APOCTHULHU.

Today we released three digital resource bundles that may help folks who are considering running one of the two big scenarios from the APOCTHULHU Core book — Jeff Moeller’s “Kick the Can” or Jo Kreil’s “A Yellow and Unpleasant Land.” If you’ve previously bought the core rules from DriveThruRPG you should receive a message to say three additional ZIP files have been added to your purchase: these are the newly-released bundles. But if you don’t receive such a message — or if you haven’t bought the book but are curious about its handouts — the links below will also get you to the new goodies.

Even while we were working on Jeff Moeller’s “Kick the Can”, we were kind of impressed by the inventive and weird way in which the scenario uses radio messages and voicemails. It’s hard to explain what’s so cool about it without spoiling the scenario, but if you’ve read it chances are you know what I mean. With all the odd audio snippets mentioned in the adventure it was only a matter of time before we got the urge to try to compose some recorded MP3 versions of the clips … to serve as kind of Audio Handouts. While we’ve done lots of Lovecraftian scenario handouts before, these are a first for us. But we are really excited about how well they turned out … and even more excited by the roster of gaming industry folks who lent their voices to recording these clips. I don’t want to be a shocking name-dropper, but if you grab the files below you’ll see some of those gaming luminaries in the PDF credits document.

All up, we recorded seventeen MP3s to go into the “Kick the Can” Audio Handout bundle. You can grab them ALL in one go by downloading the following ZIP file.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/zh/e/e8/WinZip_icon.png “Kick The Can” Audio Handout bundle — all 17 MP3s as a ZIP (16MB)

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to browse the 17 files individually (and also the PDF credits), the links below will let you do that.

ย  “Kick The Can” Audio Handout Credits (3 pages, 1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – CORE – Melqart’s Morse Summons (5MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – CORE – Jeanette [scenario handout #3] (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – FUTURE – All Hail Melqart (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – FUTURE – Radio Free Columbia (2MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – 911 Call (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Creeper (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Saoirse’s Call [Lita Version] (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Saoirse’s Call [Seth Version] (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Sports Talk Radio (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Telemarketer (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PRESENT – Kimmy (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #1 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #2 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #3 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #4 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #5 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #6 (1MB)

As well as now having a bunch of nifty MP3s, the “Kick the Can” scenario has a new bundle of images — JPG versions of the scenario’s handouts, map, and pre-generated Survivor characters. We had previously released all this material in a PDF, kind of like a booklet for GMs to pull apart and use. Various people have contacted us since we released the core rulebook to say that they’re playing our scenarios online using VTTs … and having all the handouts in a PDF makes prepping the online games harder than it should be. Given how many people are playing online at present, this seems like an important think for us to fix — hence the pack of JPGs we also released today for “Kick the Can”.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/zh/e/e8/WinZip_icon.png APOCTHULHU “Kick The Can” Isolated JPG Resources (15MB)

Naturally we never want to play favourites when it comes to our scenarios … so while we were at it, we also created a digital JPG pack (handouts/map/pre-gens) for Jo Kreil’s superb “A Yellow and Unpleasant Land”, also in the core rulebook.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/zh/e/e8/WinZip_icon.png APOCTHULHU “A Yellow and Unpleasant Land” Isolated JPG Resources (15MB)

We really do hope that the various new free add-ons that we’ve released today will be useful to everyone who’s been so kind as to purchase our book. This year has been a trial for everyone, but the number of folks who have come forward to grab a copy of our APOCTHULHU books (and also the game SRD) has really lifted the spirits of everyone on the creative team. Yeah, 2020 sucked, but you guys made it suck a lot less. You have our eternal gratitude!

Roll on 2021.

Ticket of Leave #16: The Devil to Play, Released!

We have to admit that Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket of Leave #16 — our 20th supplement for the popular setting — has taken a while. Geoff Gillan first came up with the idea for this release, a PDF which explores the unlikely phenomenon of convict theatre in the early penal colonies of Australia, about a year ago. Since then a whole lot of RealLife[tm] stuff has affected both Geoff and me … and Cthulhu Reborn has become whisked into the hurricane of success that has come with our APOCTHULHU product line. But despite all that, we still really wanted to press ahead and bring out something new for Convicts & Cthulhu.

And today — finally — I can proudly announce the release of Ticket of Leave #16: The Devil to Play. It is available for download right now, for FREE, directly from the Cthulhu Reborn blog. The version linked here includes game stats for the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition RPG. If you prefer running other D100 games (or earlier editions of CoC), there’s also a version which refers back to the Open Cthulhu SRD, which might be closer to your game of choice.

The subject matter for this Ticket of Leave is theatrical performance in the early convict colonies. While the idea of theatre in the grim and isolated world of early Australia may seem a little peculiar, there is ample historical evidence to confirm that the performance of theatrical plays by convicts did indeed form a unique form of entertainment almost from the time of colonization.

While the existence of a convict theatre might have been tolerated, that’s not to say that it was exactly welcomed — indeed it seems that the earliest theatres were perpetually threatened with closure by the colonial government. Ironically this was not because of lewd or unbecoming behaviour caused by convicts gathering at the theatre (although doubtless that occurred), but rather because a few opportunistic thieves decided that performance nights were an unprecedented chance to burgle the houses of theatre-goers.

This supplement includes some background historical source material that would be useful to any GM interested in introducing theatrical performance to his or her Convicts & Cthulhu game. It also neatly summarizes everything that’s currently known about the preeminent theatre of the C&C era, the establishment run by Mr Robert Sidaway (himself an ex-convict). Historical details on this topic are, unfortunately, pretty sketchy — which is one of the reasons this supplement has taken so long to research and complete. However, there are a few handy books (and even a very helpful Ph.D. thesis) that Geoff was able to track down to ensure that this material is as accurate as humanly possible, given the records that still exist.

As well as this historical material, the PDF includes a lengthy and detailed scenario which revolves around brutal deaths on the streets of Sydney Town which are linked solely by the victims having attended Sidaway’s Theatre. Unlike many of the other scenarios we’ve created for C&C, this one is deliberately intended to be challenging, even for experienced Lovecraftian gamers — so is a handy adventure to throw at players who are finding traditional scenarios too easy.

Like most of our “Ticket of Leave” supplements, the scenario half of ToL#16 includes three different Mythos backdrops for the peculiar events the investigators will be examining. That allows the GM some latitude in picking a backstory that will best meet the gaming group’s preferences … or slot in to an ongoing campaign.

Ticket of Leave #16: The Devil to Play is available right now, via the link below. It’s also available (with genericized stats) as a DriveThruRPG Pay-What-You-Want title (just in case you’d prefer to generously send a small amount of money our way, to help pay for the creation of new Convicts & Cthulhu material).

Ticket of Leave #16: The Devil to Play (CoC7e STATTED version) [36 pages; 5.8MB]

As with the majority of things released via this blog, this file is released under a Creative Commons License, which means you’re free to whatever (non-commercial) things you’d like to do with it. If you end up running this scenario, or creating something cool using this material we would love it if you got in touch with us (use the “About” menu-item at the top of the blog). We are always interested in how our games get used, and if you’ve made something nifty we might be interested in sharing it for other gamers to enjoy!

Busy Last Days of the Year

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a very productive year for us here at Cthulhu Reborn — we’ve brought the whole APOCTHULHU RPG into the world (for better or worse) and a couple of other publications as well.

But, we aren’t content to rest on our horrific laurels just because the demon-spawn-year (a.k.a. 2020) is almost at an end. In fact there are two nifty things that we are hoping to sneak out before the calendar clicks over. I thought I’d share a couple of details about what we have coming out soon …

With the massive amount of effort that has gone into our Post-Apocalyptic Lovecraft stuff, a couple of our other popular lines have received a lot less love. It’s a sad consequence of there being only so much time to go around … but we always wanted to go back and catch up on some new titles for ongoing lines.

Our first return to older fields will be Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket of Leave #16. This will be our 20th supplement for Convicts & Cthulhu, which is quite an achievement. Well I think so anyway. ToL#16 centres upon the theme of theatrical performance in the penal colonies … which is perhaps not something that immediately springs to mind as part of a prison settlement, and yet historically there were theatres almost from the very earliest days of Australian colonization.

Geoff has been working on the research for this supplement for a long time … and to be honest it might be backed up by the most thorough historical delving we’ve done so far. Because the historical records are pretty spotty, Geoff’s chased down quite a number of unusual avenues to get the sorts of details that we were after. Any time when you start celebrating because of a rare discovery buried away in someone’s 1975 Ph.D. thesis (recently shared online), you know you’re in the right place for some premium C&C writing. Geoff is so good at that kind of historical research that I am constantly in awe.

As well as all the evocative history stuff, this supplement will contain a challenging scenario that might just be our most baffling Lovecraftian mystery we’ve written yet. It’s also looking destined to be our longest scenario to date — I’m guessing it’ll be about 33 or 34 pages. And, as always, a Pay-What-You-Want release (here and on DTRPG)

If you have purchased the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook and read the two epic scenarios that are at the back, you will have encountered Jeff Moeller’s intriguing Apocalypse-by-fire tale “Kick the Can”. Without giving out any spoilers for this gruesome adventure … one unusual thing about it is the way the plot revolves around curious radio transmissions.

The Survivors begin the scenario in a bunker, having lived through some pretty unpleasant times, and their only clue about the new state of the world comes in the form of a weird message received on their CB Radio. As things go on, there are other stranger things that similarly lurch forth from the electromagnetic aether.

Because there are so many nifty radio/telephony kinds of clues in this scenario, one thing I thought would be sort of cool was to create a kind of “audio handout” pack. Something with a bunch of MP3s that the GM could whip out and play when the players say “ok, so what do we hear when the strange signal comes on?”

And so … that is exactly what we have created. With the help of a lot of folks willing to give their vocal talents (including some very famous people from the gaming industry, who have graciously agreed to help out). To make things more interesting than just nifty voice signals, we’ve put quite a bit of effort into creating a multi-layered background of interference, half-heard snatches of old broadcasts, and the like. In doing this we have found that there is a mountain of free (mostly Creative Commons released) audio over on The Internet Archive (a.k.a. the best place on the entire Web). We often source media from here — and we always ALWAYS give them a hefty donation each year to help them keep it free to everyone.

The “audio handouts” pack for Kick The Can will probably be about 15 MP3s of various sorts. In total it will be about 16 minutes of audio weirdness that you can bring to your gaming table — real or virtual — to make Jeff’s scenario even creepier than it already is. And it’s already pretty creepy. We will be releasing the MP3 pack as a free download … hopefully just before NYE. It’ll definitely be downloadable from here, and maybe elsewhere too.

Sharing the Apocalypse

If you’ve downloaded or purchased any of the APOCTHULHU books we’ve released this year, you might have noticed that they are released under the Open Gaming License (that is, the true Open Gaming License as originally created by Wizards of the Coast).

Why is that an important thing?

We’ve previously written here on the blog about the huge possibilities that are created through the open sharing of game mechanics and other content. While some parts of the Lovecraft RPG world seem to have spiraled in recent years towards bigger publishers trying to create proprietary closed games, there continues to be a huge general trend towards releasing content as free to re-use or remix. It’s a lot like the “open source” movement that has had a major impact on some parts of the IT industry, but for game mechanics and content.

We have always been excited by the possibilities created by the handful of D100-based games that have had their core mechanics released under OGL. In fact it was two such systems — Mongoose’s “Legend” and Arc Dream’s “Delta Green RPG” — that served as a direct inspiration for APOCTHULHU. Truth be told, there is no way that we could have created such a well-honed and balanced D100 system without the countless hours that went into making those earlier games … and those designers deciding to release their mechanics as open content.

Even as we have hugely benefited from OGL D100 rules, we want to make it easy for future gamers and designers to benefit from our own humble efforts. To that end we have compiled ALL of the open game mechanics from APOCTHULHU into a single document, our “System Reference Document”.

You can download it either directly via this link, or by going to DTRPG. It’s free either way.

Why might you be interested in the APOCTHULHU System Reference Document (SRD)? Well, if you are a game moderator or player you might like to take a look at the full (unillustrated) text of our game system. In fact, you could even play an entire game using the rules contained therein — all for free. Of course we think that the beautifully illustrated core rules make for easier reading, and that book contains mountains of setting and scenario content that aren’t in the SRD … but the system is described there in its full detail. If you are a game designer, you might be interested in nabbing a copy of the APOCTHULHU SRD if you wish to re-use some well-tested and extensive rules covering all aspects of a Lovecraftian D100 game (characters, skills, combat, sanity, etc).

If you do grab our SRD, you’re really free to do anything with it that meets to conditions of the Open Gaming License (see the end of the document for the full license text). That includes making future commercial products … as long as the licenses requirements around attribution and release are met. So, if you want to make the next great RPG and these rules will help you do that … borrow whatever you wish and make your dream system a reality!

Psst. Wanna Buy the al-Azif?

Normally we don’t fill this blog with promos about other people’s products … but I am going to make an exception today. Because today, dear reader, something very cool got released — issue #3 of Lovecraftian gaming magazine Bayt al-Azif.

You can download the PDF right now from DriveThruRPG, but the print edition is still a little way off.

Where once upon a time there used to be a whole bunch of gaming magazines which regularly included Lovecraftian game material, now there are only two. Bayt al-Azif is a kind of spiritual successor to the probably-dead-again The Unspeakable Oath. Like that earlier mag it covers a broad spectrum of games from the Lovecraftian family rather than just limiting itself to one or two. Also like TUO it offers a good mix of scenarios, helpful gaming resources, and even some material about gamers and the gaming hobby (which isn’t that common).

For issues #1 and #2, the fine publishers of Bayt al-Azif approached us to ask if they could reprint the “Year in Review” articles that I’ve been writing each January for the past few years. This year I didn’t actually manage to find time to write such a retrospective for the blog … so when they came asking for a contribution for Bayt issue #3 I needed to quickly research and write one especially for them. Well, I say quickly … but it still took over a week to pull everything together and write. There’s a lot of Lovecraftian RPG stuff released each year — especially if you try to cover ALL of it, not just the obvious CoC and DG material. Even with 10,000 words to devote to the topic there are still things that can only be mentioned fleetingly in passing.

In addition to writing the Year in Review article, I was also fortunate enough to contribute a handout for one the magazine’s scenarios … and we were able to scrape together some spare R’lyehan-coinage to take out a brand new full-page display ad promoting APOCTHULHU (see below).

The Apocalypse Laid Bare

Now that the first batch of physical copies of the APOCTHULHU Core Rulesbook is arriving, we’ve been getting some great feedback about the book.

Long time Cthulhu gamer (and writer) Max_Writer even went so far as to record a 9 minute video of his “unboxing” of the hardback book. This is great, because it shows pretty much the entire interior of the book as he pages through … so if you ever want to take a sneak peek, the link below is your gateway. In true Lovecraftian style, though, once seen … there’s no going back ๐Ÿ™‚

Apocalyptic News

A few small updates about the APOCTHULHU RPG.

1. We have heard that the first batch of print copies of the APOCTHULHU Core rules — pictured above — are starting to arrive in people’s mailboxes (in North America, at least). That’s fantastic news. We hope that everyone enjoys the book … and gives the game a spin with their gaming buddies sometime.

2. After a few delays, we have now approved the B&W interior editions of the APOCTHULHU Core book for sale. We made these editions (a softcover and a hardcover) to cater to old school gamers who prefer classic and sparse interior layouts.

The B&W versions are available via completely different channels to the colour print editions (hopefully to avoid confusion). If you want one, you can order it direct from Lulu using these links:

Note that Lulu frequently runs promotions which include discounts to the normal retail price of all printed books. Right now there is a 10% discount code; these appear fairly often and are definitely worth looking out for.

3. Our very VERY good friends at Yog-Sothoth.com (aka YSDC) are running a give-away APOCTHULHU promo as part of their live broadcast this Friday (the 13th of November). If you’d like to be in the running to score a free Hardcover copy of the core rules, listen in to their Beyond the Vale show.

We think YSDC is the premier online community for Lovecraftian RPGs (which, unlike some others is also quite tolerant of a diversity of games and viewpoints). As such, we’re proud to support them in this small way ๐Ÿ™‚

APOCTHULHU Core Available in Print

Halloween has come a little bit early here at Cthulhu Reborn’s non-Euclidean towers. For today we have the immense pleasure of announcing the first of the print editions for the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook has gone on sale!

For the record, we are planning to make the rulebook available in four(!) different editions — two with full-colour interiors (hardback, softback), and two with streamlined monochrome interior layouts (hardback, softback).

Today, we’ve made the two colour editions available for sale — these correspond directly to the (default) appearance of the PDF that many folks have purchased on DriveThruRPG. Photos of the two colour books are scattered through this post.

One of the features of our launch of the PDF back in August was that early purchasers of the PDF would receive a discount voucher for purchasing the print edition (the discount amount equaling the PDF purchase price). We are working through implementing those discounts now … if you bought the PDF you *should* have received an email from DriveThruRPG with details of a discount voucher for the Hardcover rulebook.

I say *should* because … well … DriveThru’s tools for doing this kind of thing are a little basic, and also many customers opt out of receiving mail from publishers (to avoid spam). So, if you did purchase the PDF and have NOT received an email about the discount … please, PLEASE drop us an email at vouchers@cthulhureborn.com so we can sort something out for you.

Creating a massive (330 page) rulebook for a brand new RPG has proven to be an exhausting experience … although thanks to the help of an amazing and inspiring crew of collaborators, we’ve not only made it but also created a finished product that I’m really proud of. I hope that those of you who decide to pick up a hardcopy think likewise when it slithers its way into your mailbox.

Oh, and for anyone who is curious about the monochrome interior editions … we are still waiting on one of the proofs before putting them on sale. They won’t be sold via DTRPG, but instead via direct purchases on Lulu (and perhaps Amazon if we can figure out how to do that :)).

APOCTHULHU is on Roll20!

A small (but important) news update for APOCTHULHU today. If you are like most gamers, you are probably doing a lot more online gaming than you used to do. Social distancing and other pandemic-related factors has pushed a lot of RPG sessions and conventions into “virtual” mode.

If you have an interest in running APOCTHULHU as part of your online games, we would be chuffed … and to make that just a little bit easier, we have recently created a nifty APOCTHULHU online character sheet for the Roll20 Virtual Tabletop. So, if you use Roll20, you can now pick our character sheet from the list of (gazillions) of pre-defined character sheets when you set up a new online game.

The Roll20 sheet is pretty neat — not only does it contain all the key info on the APOCTHULHU sheet but most of the common dice rolls can be triggered by clicking buttons (skill names, stat names, resources ratings, bond values, etc). Plus the sheet knows about the dice-rolling conventions of APOCTHULHU with regards to criticals and fumbles.

Coming Next …

We will shortly be making an announcement about print editions of the APOCTHULHU core rules becoming available for order. We’ll also be describing how folks who’ve previously purchased the PDF of the core rulebook can claim a discount on the print edition of their choice.

Watch. This. Space.


UPDATE: We’ve been informed that for reasons outside our control, the folks at “Into The Darkness” have had to repost their APOCTHULHU Actual Play video at a new YouTube URL. If you’d like to watch it, the correct video can be reached by clicking this link.

Thanks again to “Into The Darkness” for making such an entertaining on-shot session. Prior to the old video being removed, it had already attracted a lot of interest and a number of enthusiastic viewer comments.

Several people have asked us already whether there are any instructional videos about APOCTHULHU, or which show the game system in action. Until now we’ve had to say “eh, not yet”.

But that all changed yesterday when the amazing “Into The Darkness” gaming group released a YouTube video of a recent APOCTHULHU one-shot they played. The scenario they played was a custom creation of GM Tyler Hudak (a friend of the Cthulhu Reborn family) — althought it’s a tale set in one of the nine Lovecraftian Post-Apocalypse settings included in the core rulebook.

Join Tyler and five desperate Post-Apocalypse Survivors as they navigate their way through the shadow-haunted reality of Dave Sokolowski’s “Under A Charcoal Sky” setting. In the actual play recording the characters are lured out of their compound by a peculiar looping transmission that starts to emerge from their AM radios. The female voice is apparently broadcasting live … but all she ever says is the same sequence of numbers. Over and over. And over. What does it mean? And what terrible fate will transpire if she ever stops?

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