Ticket of Leave #14: A Whale of a New Release

Today we are delighted to announce the release of Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket of Leave #14: Hark, Now Hear The Sailor’s Cry, written by Matthew Ruane. The PDF of this whale-sized (32 page) scenario is available for FREE right now from here on Cthulhu Reborn, complete with CoC7e stats.

This marks the 18th release for the Convicts & Cthulhu product line, and the largest supplement we’ve released to date for the setting. It is also our official GenCon 2019 scenario, and will be played out by groups in Indy in just a couple of weeks. [Obviously if you’re booked in to play in one of those groups, maybe don’t read the PDF until afterwards!]

As always with our Ticket of Leave supplements, this one is themed around one particular facet of life in the early Australian penal colonies … this time around it is centred upon the early maritime industries of whaling and sealing. Now, we are no particular fans of the slaughter of whales and seals for their blubber, bones and skins … but we can’t deny that historically this was an important part of life in the 18th and 19th centuries. Thankfully we’ve moved on from such barbarity (well, with a few notable exceptions …)

 

In creating this supplement and detailed scenario, Matthew has done something quite special — created a direct link between the Convicts & Cthulhu setting and the colonial world of New England, much beloved by H.P. Lovecraft. In this scenario, American whalers out of Kingsport, MA, have stumbled upon something quite horrific on their journeys across the Pacific in search of whales. And when their path brings them into the waters south of the Australian continent, an unexpected set of events has the potential to unleash Mythos terrors in a quite unexpected — yet typically destructive — way.

While the Convicts & Cthulhu setting is nominally limited to the era 1795-1810, Matthew has chosen to base this adventure slightly later, in 1812. There are several historical reasons for this choice … but one of the most intriguing from a plot perspective is that in 1812 Britain and America are at war! Half a world a way in the fledgling United States a conflict has erupted that will eventually become known as the “War of 1812.” In the colonies, news of this fighting is greeted with much interest and only serves to heighten the concerns raised when an American whaleship is discovered floating — seemingly derelict — in Bass’s Straits. The Investigators are hastily scrambled to find out what dire plot or deception those sneaky Americans are up to … but of course soon find themselves adrift in their own sea of troubles.

Ticket of Leave #14 is available right now, via the link below. It will soon also be up on DTRPG as a Pay-What-You-Want title (if you’d like to generously flick us some money to help keep the C&C line thriving!).

Ticket of Leave #14: Hark, Now Hear the Sailors Cry (STATTED version) [32 pages; 6.4MB]

As always with material published here on Cthulhu Reborn, this file is released under a Creative Commons License, which means you’re free to do whatever (non-commercial) things you’d like to do. If you do something cool with this scenario, say make an Actual Play recording of your C&C group running through the adventure — let us know and we’ll mention it here on the blog!


A Convict Went To Sea, Sea, Sea

Just a quick note to report that we’ve just finished up the editing for Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket of Leave #14. This will be our GenCon2019 tie-in scenario, written by our star-writer-and-GenCon-GM Extraordinaire, Matthew Ruane. We believe that all the spots in Matthew’s Convicts & Cthulhu sessions at GenCon are already full, but if you’ll be there and have a hankering to see how C&C plays at the table … definitely track down Matthew. I’m told that sometimes GenCon sessions have “no shows,” so sometimes you can just turn up at the right time and place and steal a spot in the game.

This Ticket of Leave will be titled “Hark, Now Hear The Sailors Cry” and be themed around the early whaling and sealing industries in Australian waters. This is new territory for Convicts & Cthulhu: pretty much every scenario we’ve released so far has been land-based and set in the general environs of the penal colony at New South Wales. This one takes Convicts out into much more uncharted waters — both literally and figuratively. It’s also given me an excuse to draw a deckplan for an 18th Century Whaling ship (think Moby Dick, but slightly earlier) … which was surprisingly fun to do.

And of course, a Ticket of Leave wouldn’t be a Ticket of Leave without a brand new art piece from our long-time collaborator Reuben Dodd (of Sorrow King Studios). While it might *seem* the illustration above might allow you to guess which Mythos creatures are the adversaries in this scenario, you’d probably be wrong … sometimes, even a tale with Deep Ones can have hidden depths 🙂

With the text, maps, and artwork for this new supplement now done we’re hoping to get this into layout ASAP. That means that we should get the PDF out to CR readers & DriveThru customers in a week or so!

 


Can Cthulhu Be Open? Part 2

 

Since posting about Chaosium’s stance on the Open Gaming License as it applies to the d100 game system, there has been a lot of chatter on various forums (in several different languages). Most recently, there has been some more detailed explanation by Chaosium, over on their BRP forum which I would urge anyone with an interest in publishing d100-like games to read.

Put simply, the Chaosium position is that while there was an OGL version of the Runequest rules produced by Mongoose in 2006, that fact does not mean you can use that OGL-published material in your own games. Why not? Because, they argue, Issiaries (Greg Stafford’s company which owned the Runequest IP at the time and licensed it to Mongoose) never gave a perpetual license for the use of the content … so Mongoose could never have produced an OGL version which allows any other parties a perpetual license to re-use content (which is what the OGL essentially is). By this logic, one assumes Chaosium believes that Mongoose was in breach of its licensing contract … although Issiaries did not object to the OGL version back in 2006, and it was only 5 or so years later that any questions were raised about the appropriateness of the OGL license.

The other assertion Chaosium make is that this same objection does NOT apply to the Legend RPG later produced by Mongoose. (The Legend RPG, for those who are unaware, was a product produced by Mongoose in 2011 — and still available from them. It is d100-like but is rewritten from the ground up and includes none of the Runequest-specific parts previously found in their Runequest SRD).

So How Does This Matter to Cthulhu Games?

While this is an interesting piece of history for fans of Runequest, I am personally much more interested in how this affects other games which have been developed since 2006 using content from the now-verboten Mongoose Runequest SRD. Some of those games are explicitly Lovecraftian, and it’s those which interest me most.

One of the great things about OGL-published games is that the publisher is obligated to include details about all the prior OGL titles from which they have derived content. That means the OGL statement at the back (or sometimes front) of a publication is a great source of information about the “ancestry” of a publication. In the current situation — when something from earlier “generations” has its legitimacy questioned, this kind of information can be invaluable in trying to sort out who in the “family tree” might also potentially be ruled “illegitimate”.

Sifting through the OGL statements for most of the “children” with a Lovecraftian leaning, I was able to synthesize the following “family tree” or inter-related games:

The part of the diagram shaded in red represents games which, under Chaosium’s interpretation of events, may have something to worry about. Each of these is either derived directly from the Mongoose SRD (which Chaosium asserts is now invalid) or derives from *both* the Mongoose SRD and Legend. The reason these games could be in trouble is that the chain of “claims to legitimacy” can be seen as a bit like a row of dominoes. If something you’ve relied on in your game is proven invalid — knocking down “their” domino — there’s a good chance that you’re somewhere downstream in the row of toppling plastic. even if that’s just one of several sources you’ve used.

Interestingly enough, of the Lovecraftian games I looked at the only game which has a rock-solid claim (according to Chaosium’s statements) is Arc Dream’s Delta Green RPG. So … anybody out there who is contemplating making a new d100 game, you’d do well to look at how the Arc Dream guys worked around the potential landmines.

 

 


The Safewords of Cthulhu

There has been many interesting things to come out of recent debate over on YSDC about the intersection between Intellectual Property law, the Cthulhu Mythos, Chaosium, BRP, and the Open Gaming Licence.

One of the most contentious of the discussion topics has been around which Mythos creatures/gods/characters are truly in the Public Domain, which are definitely “licensed” by their original creators for game use, and which fall into the enormous grey-area in between. For a game designer trying to put together a brand new Lovecraftian game, knowing this stuff is pretty important … but there really aren’t too many places you can go to find such details. The prevailing wisdom seems to be “buy yourself a copy of Dan Harms’ excellent Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia and figure out for yourself which things were first mentioned in stories now in the public domain.” For most people, that is more work than they expected.

Fortunately, one of the folks who weighed in to the YSDC discussion was @CaseUndefined who is creating a Lovecraftian RPG in German called FHTAGN. In order to determine which Mythos entities were safe to include, and which weren’t, he spent a long time researching the various named beings and gods that are mentioned in short stories to find which are truly Public Domain.

You can see the original German material produced by @CaseUndefined at this link … but in the interests of making the results of his/her research more accessible to English-speaking audiences, I have extracted the list of “safe” Mythos Entities and translated the relevant names back to English. I have done the same for FHTAGN’s list of Unnatural Rituals. Obviously the FHTAGN game itself has a lot more information and game-stats about each of these things, I am just giving the names of the entities or rituals in question. If you have an interest in FHTAGN or speak German and wish to see the source text, see the link above.

[ Standard Disclaimer: this is the results of original research for the FHTAGN game; it’s not legal advice about the Intellectual Property status of entities mentioned in Lovecraft’s tales. ]

 

Cosmic Horrors

·         Azathoth
·         Beings From Ib
·         Bokrug
·         Cthulhu
·         Colour Out Of Space
·         Dagon and Hydra
·         Deep Ones
·         Dholes
·         Elder Things
·         Flying Polyps
·         Ghasts
·         Ghouls
·         Gloon
·         Gnorri
·         Great Race of Yith
·         Gugs
·         Hastur
·         High Priest Not To Be Described
·         Hunting Horrors
·         Hypnos
·         Mi-Go
·         Miri Nigri
·         Moonbeasts
·         Nath-Horthath
·         Night-gaunts
·         Nodens
·         Nyarlathotep
·         Rat-Things
·         Re-Animated Corpse
·         Re-Animated Horror
·         Shantaks
·         Shoggoths
·         Shub-Niggurath
·         Star-Spawn of Cthulhu
·         Tamash
·         Winged Servants
·         Yog-Sothoth
·         Zo-Kalar
·         Zoogs and the Ancient Zoog

Unnatural Rituals

  • Aklo Sabaoth
  • Ancestral Bond
  • Dho-Hna Formula
  • Elder Sign
  • Essential Salts
  • Powder of Ibn Ghazi [added 30Jun19]
  • Sign of Koth
  • Summon Beings

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