Machine King in Print (for a short time)

Machine King - Proofs @1400

Late last year, Cthulhu Reborn was delighted to release a professionally-laid out PDF version of Geoff Gillan’s almost-but-not-quite-lost Cthulhu By Gaslight epic scenario “The Machine King.” Since making this available as a free 63-page PDF, it has rapidly become our most frequently downloaded item. A few folks have even contacted me to ask whether there is any possibility of a print edition of Geoff’s excellent scenario … and the answer is: well, sort of.

Machine King p28&29 @1400

As an excercise in teaching ourselves the ins-and-outs of preparing a layout for print publication via a POD (print on demand) service, we thought we’d take”The Machine King” layout all the way through to being a print-ready title with LULU. Just to see how much work is involved in ironing out the layout for print. As you can see from the photos nearby, the print proofs from LULU turned out pretty well.

Machine King p40&41 @1400

Now, while this whole experiment was undertaken as an in-house learning exercise (a pretty successful one by my reckoning), having readied this book for print I *do* have some capacity to print and ship additional copies should any of you loyal blog-readers desire one. Because I am not (yet) an official Call of Cthulhu licensee, I can’t offer these for commercial sale … that would be inviting the ire of Chaosium (and fair enough). But if you are willing to figure out some way to cover the raw printing & shipping cost from LULU (about USD11 per copy of the 64-page printed “Machine King,” including shipping to US, UK, Australia or Europe), or if you have something nifty of similar value that you’d be willing to trade for a copy … drop me a message via the form below and we’ll see what can be worked out.

In order to preserve the last remaining shreds of our sanity, I can only really keep this offer open for a limited period: let’s say, until end of June … after that, the PDF will continue to be available (of course), but we won’t be offering any more printed copies.

BTW: to make this perfectly clear — the contents of this book are identical to the free PDF you can download right now over on this page or on RPGNow; this is just an opportunity to get a nice glossy professionally-printed version of same. If that strikes you as a strange proposition, this probably isn’t the offer for you — but some folks swear by “dead tree” versions of books over PDFs; if that’s you, maybe this is of interest.


That is not Dead, which Can …

… eternally be occupied on other projects :)

Well, it’s been quite a few months since the last post here on Cthulhu Reborn. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t been busily working away on Cthulhuoid goodies, though. Quite the opposite, actually. In fact, since December we’ve helped out on a whole bunch of different Kickstarter projects for a whole bunch of different people and companies. In the absence of any new freebie content to post here I thought I’d include a brief “sneak peek” at our contributions to two of those projects.

Arkham Gazette

The Arkham Gazette is a nifty gaming magazine published by Bret Kramer’s Sentinel Hill Press. It’s devoted to printing awesomely-detailed gaming resources set in “Lovecraft Country,” that creepy and haunted fictional part of Massachusetts often visited in HPL’s horror stories. Back in December, Sentinel Hill Press ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign to bring the third issue of the Arkham Gazette to print, with a whole bunch of cool content and add-ons. Also stretch goals unlocked during the campaign allowed for the previous issues of the magazine to also be revisited and brushed up with professional layout and handouts.

I was lucky enough to be invited to contribute a whole bunch of different items to the various print and PDF products that backers of this Kickstarter will receive. Below are just a few of them.

Arkham Gazette 2 - Handout 5C - Newspaper Article (sml)Arkham Gazette 3 - Handwritten Notebook, Page 8 (sml)

The Dracula Dossier

Another great Kickstarter from last year (although one not strictly relating to Lovecraftian stuff) was Pelgrane Press’ campaign for The Dracula Dossier. This is an awesome resource for Ken Hite’s intriguing “Night’s Black Agents” game which mashes the Spy Thriller genre with the Vampire genre and fuels the whole thing with Robin Laws’ Gumshoe system (as seen also in “Trail of Cthulhu”). The purpose of this Kickstarter is to mine the tale of Dracula to create a framework for conspiracy thiller gaming. One of the interesting add-ons that was unlocked during the wildly successful campaign (the 32nd (!) stretch goal reached), is a series of prop documents from a range of different eras, all relating to the government conspiracy known as “Operation Edom”. I was incredibly pleased to be invited to take on the challenge of producing these for Pelgrane. A few of the many, many designs can be seen below.

Hawkins Papers - Goetic Org Chart (texture)Hawkins Papers - 1940s Military Memo (texture)Finally …

In between all of this work for other people I *have* found a little bit of time to work on some of the freebie projects that have been the staple of Cthulhu Reborn. Keep your eyes on this page for an announcement — hopefully soonish.


Christmas in Arkham

Happy holidays, dear reader of Cthulhu Reborn. It’s certainly been a great year for the blog, and one that has allowed us to release a bunch of free prop-goodness to (hopefully) enhance your Lovecraftian tabletop gaming experience.

As always, though, a significant proportion of the prop design work we have done this year has been for commercial publishers — and while some of that has made it into products, a lot of it is still waiting to see the light of day. One of the projects that falls into that category is an amazing and fun project involving the creation of dozens of high-detail Arkham-themed prop documents for a deluxe kit that a publisher has yet to announce. As always with these kinds of jobs there ends up being too many ideas and designs to put everything into the final product — leaving cool but extraneous bits of left-overs.

Postmarks Montage

I figure it would be in the spirit of the holiday season to work one of these left-overs up into something that I could release here as a free Arkham prop document. A Cthulhu Reborn Christmas gift :).

The design I chose to finish is … a dance card that is both Arkham-themed and Christmas-themed. “What’s a dance card?” I hear you young whipper-snappers quipping to yourselves. Well, I’m sure everyone is familiar with phrases “having a full dance card” and the like, but few of us today really appreciate the very important social function that that this humble piece of cardboard once held for people. When dancing was one of the primary form of social interaction (which it certainly was in the 1920s … and several later decades too) people would dance with many different people on any given night. If one wanted to recall the name of the dishy Army officer one foxtrotted with last Saturday evening, chances are you’d pull out the dance card that you’d kept as a souvenir of the night. Similarly, when one was asked to dance later in the night it was important to be able to “book” people into a free slot — and the dance card was the way of doing that.

CR Prop Freebie - Dance Card (outside)

Dance Card (outside)

 

One can imagine that nine decades ago, in the fictitious town of Arkham, MA, the yuletide dance at the most prestigious hotel in town — the glittering Hotel Miskatonic — would have been the social occasion of the season. So, when one of the party-goers is found in a back alley, apparently assaulted on his or her walk home — by something with tentacles! — the bloodied dance card on their corpse could be a clue!

CR Prop Freebie - Dance Card (inside)

Dance Card (inside)

 

The freebie prop that I have created is a 2 page PDF that allows you to create a realistic-looking 1920s dance card. Print double sided, cut out, and fold in half. If you’re really keen you can even punch out the hole and attach a piece of string with a small pencil on the end. That’s how the dance cards of the 1920s were done … a bit like this:

 

Click the link below to grab the PDF … and send your Lovecraftian investigators off to solve the mystery that haunts the mayor’s big Yuletide party!

Freebe Prop – Arkham Christmas Dance Card (5MB, 2 pages).

As an aside, the photo of the Hotel Miskatonic on the front of the dance card is actually something that I created as a mashup of several different period photos of luxury hotels. That picture *does* make it into one of the props I delivered to the publisher … so you might see it again someday on a letterhead or something.

CR Prop - Hotel Miskatonic

Hotel Miskatonic … as envisioned and Photoshopped by CR

 

In the meantime — back here in Christmas, 2014, far from the luxury of the roaring twenties — we here at Cthulhu Reborn would like to offer our best wishes for a fun, safe and enjoyable holiday season. And down wander into any alleys that smell … fishy :)


Prop Competition Winners!

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos of their prop newspaper articles made using our Mutable Deceptions PDF toolkit. As promised, we’ve picked two winners — each of which will receive a shiny new Call of Cthulhu supplement for their efforts.

The first of our winners is Daniel Myers, who created a neat newspaper prop to go along with a crystal ball that he inherited from a stage magician. The photos below show the wonderful display case which houses both the newspaper backstory and the haunted globe, as well as showing a close-up of the newspaper.

MD Competition Entry - Crystal Ball 1MD Competition Entry - Crystal Ball 2

Our other winner is Lisa Woodward who used the templates from Mutable Deceptions to create some props for the scenario “The Madman” (which appears in many of the Call of Cthulhu rulebook editions). Not only has Lisa done a great job with the newspapers, she’s also created a bunch of other props for the scenario, also pictured. Nice work.

MD Competition Entry - Lisa Woodward - The MadmanFor their troubles, Daniel has collected a copy of Golden Goblin Press’ first book “Island of Ignorance”; Lisa has scored herself a copy of the second GGP book “Tales of the Crescent City”. We hope that both of them enjoy their winnings … and keep on making awesome props using our templates!


Prop Competition: Extended One Week

We’ve had some impressive prop photos submitted as part of our “Mutable Deception” competition. The pic below by Daniel Myers is a great example!

In order to give any last-minute prop-makers a little more time to put together their work and snap a few quick photos, I have agreed to extend the deadline for the competition by one week (until the end of November). Prizes will definitely be awarded on 1 December.

MD Competition Entry - Crystal Ball 1MD Competition Entry - Crystal Ball 2


Book Giveaway: Show Us Your Props!

I guess everyone familiar with Cthulhu Reborn will know us best for all the free Lovecraftian stuff that we release via this site.

But … did you know that Cthulhu Reborn also publishes commercial gaming aids? Well … has published ONE commercial gaming aid. I am talking about “Mutable Deceptions, Volume 1″ — a toolkit to allow devious gamemasters to create realistic 1920s newspaper props for their games.

Mutable Deceptions 1 - Front Cover (400)

“Mutable Deceptions, Volume 1″ has been out for a while and has sold pretty well — you can still get it via RPGNow or DrivethruRPG.

One thing I realised the other day, though, is that I never quite got around to putting together a nifty gallery of “props of awesomeness” that can be created using this toolkit. That would be a nice thing to have, and would also be a cool way to promote what can be done with the tools provided in our humble PDF toolkit.

Mutable Deception 1 - Badger edits

Rather than just go ahead and take a bunch of photos of my props to build up a gallery … I thought a much more interesting and fun thing to do would be to ask folks who have purchased the product to send me photos of THEIR awesome props. To sweeten the deal, I thought I would run a bit of a giveaway promotion here on the blog …

So here’s my proposal: send me some awesome photos of real physical props you have created using “Mutable Deceptions, Volume 1″ (using the form below). Your photos can showcase other awesome props as well, as long as the Mutable Deception piece is prominent. Include fancy backdrops, lighting, whatever you want — heck, take a photo of your prop next to the original of the Magna Carta if you want. You know, if you just happen to have one lying around somewhere.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am only looking for photos of physical props that have been created using our product. If you’ve got a cool digital design that’s great … turn it into a physical prop (preferably on some suitably antique-looking paper) and snap some photos of it! Send us those.

At the end of 30 days, the contributors of the best prop photos will win their choice of the following (brand-new) Call of Cthulhu dead-tree game supplements — doubles from my own personal collection:

Past is Doomed Print - Book Covered in Handouts (800)

Clear Divider 700x10

If there’s enough demand, I might extend this out to a second prize round.

Hooked? Want to start sending me your creative prop photos? Upload your wonderful images to a public photo sharing site somewhere and copy a URL of your uploaded photo into the form below. Alternatively if you would like to simply email your photo … just enter “I wanna email it” into the URL field of the form below and I will contact you via your nominated email.

Happy propping … get your photos to me no later than 23 November 2014.

Nifty Form


Machine King Lives!

Following on from the post earlier in the week … Cthulhu Reborn are delighted to announce that our fifth freebie PDF book — Geoff Gillan’s mind-blowing “The Machine King” — is now available for download. Scroll down to the bottom of this announcement for links (or if you’re impatient, just jump across to our Downloads page)

Machine King - Front Cover Mockup C

This book has been a long time in the making: the scenario was first written by Geoff back in 1995 and we have been working with him since April last year to revise the original text, give it a thorough editorial treatment and commission some art which realises the grand and imaginative vision of the scenario. For this latter task we were extremely fortunate in securing the talents of Cinthya Álvarez (aka CinTheBarbarian) whose moody portraits and depictions of mechanical monstrosities perfectly complements the themes in Geoff’s writing.

Although “The Machine King” was always envisaged as a freebie release, in terms of production values, we have treated it with exactly as much attention to detail as we would apply to a commercial release and we’re very pleased with the visual look that Cinthya’s amazing art has allowed us to achieve.

Machine King - The Cog Wheel Machine III (Cynthia)

In his Geoff’s author intro to “The Machine King”, Geoff describes the curious path by which this “musty old work” has finally made its way to publication:

For once when I say musty it is not hyperbole. The manuscript was feared lost when most of the contents of my home were destroyed back in the Wollongong floods of 1998. Since it was written years before, for a Chaosium Dreamlands book that never got beyond the planning stages, the typescript was the sole copy. After the flood cleanup it could not be found. I felt its loss quite keenly since unusually among my own works, I actually liked it. Years passed and my friend and brother in law, Martin Knight was clearing out his garage and found a garbage bag full of stuff from my flood cleanup. The cleanup had been a frantic drive to claw up as much as could be salvaged since we were warned by the cops that looters would be by as soon as the premises were left unattended. Boxes and bags were packed up and went in all directions. In the garbage bag were a bunch of my old manuscripts, still stinking of river mud but essentially intact. I rejoiced that some lost material had been found, but being then in the middle of yet another house move, I boxed it all up in an airtight container and promptly forgot about it.

Skip forward another decade and I was contacted by Dean who wanted to bring to life an old adventure of mine, The Past Is Doomed. I let him loose and in the process gained not just an editor and colleague but a good friend. As you all probably know Dean has an insatiable hunger for old Chthloid scribblings and is probably more to be pitied than shunned—in this spirit, when he asked me if I had more from the old days, I began to wonder. Was Machine King, the unwanted Dreamlands scenario still around? Could it be that Martin, ironically one of its original playtesters, had salvaged it unknowingly from the river muck? I had a vague feeling it was among those papers but it had been so long I could not honestly remember. So I rummaged through the papers in my current house in Brisbane and there after much digging in all the wrong boxes was a clean Manila envelope with an ancient manuscript inside. Also there were all the notes and photocopies of steam-age illustrations that had inspired it …

 

Machine King - Handout 2 - advertisement grey fx2

You can download your own ABSOLUTELY FREE copy of “The Machine King” using the links below. The difference between the two versions is simply that the “Printer-Friendly” version omits background textures and the ornate borders around text boxes to make them a little less “ink hungry”. Both versions are 65 Page full-production PDFs with colour covers and greyscale book interiors. Each PDF is a 17MB download.

As always with all content that published here on Cthulhu Reborn, this is provided as a copyrighted file but freely distributable under a Creative Commons license. That means basically, you can do whatever you want with this material … except make money out of it. In case it isn’t obvious, the copyright holder here is Geoff Gillan & Dean Engelhardt for the text and layout.

On a personal note, I would really like to thank Geoff for working with us so closely to adapt his remarkable adventure via the addition of a considerable amount of content, and also the re-imagining of the story in a different setting (the Gaslight era rather than the 1920s assumed by the 1990s Chaosium book). Thanks also to Andy Miller for his excellent work doing copy-editing for this book!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 187 other followers

%d bloggers like this: