Rites of Solstice

Well, it’s been a while since I posted an update on Cthulhu Reborn, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busily working away on a variety of different Call of Cthulhu projects. It just means that I haven’t quite managed to entirely finish any of them off. Hopefully early in the New Year, some finished goodies will appear here for all to download and enjoy.

In the meantime, imbued with the spirit of the season, I thought I would share a couple designs for Cthulhu props and handouts from projects that are still in progress . Given the nature of your typical Cthulhu prop/handout, though, I’m not sure that any these “gifts” are particularly filled with Xmas Cheer. Maybe if you use your imagination 🙂

Essex Count Autopsy Form

You don’t have to run many Cthulhu scenarios set in Lovecraft Country before you start having a need for a prop form describing an autopsy conducted by the Essex County Medical Examiner. Most of the core of fictional Lovecraft Country (in particular Arkham, Kingsport and Innsmouth) lie within the real-world Essex County of Massachusetts … so its the unfortunate authorities from that part of the world who get to investigate the somewhat-higher-than-average rate of bizarre murders and attacks by animals which seem to bear no relationship to any known species.

One of the projects I’m working on is a prop-heavy mini-campaign set in Kingsport … it’s the same one for which I designed the new masthead for the Kingsport Chronicle (which has been getting a LOT of work in my designs over the past couple of months). A few weeks back I had a need to produce a few autopsy reports as props. Since I couldn’t find anything particularly well suited to the task of a 1920’s Massachusetts autopsy prop, I drew my own.

In case you’re wondering where the inspiration for the form design came from … all I’ll say is that one of the main sources was a real autopsy report (albeit from a much later era). I’m not going to say whose autopsy it was … just that cheeseburgers were involved.

I created a couple of different versions of the form (each using a different method for artificially stressing the inked portion to simulate flaws in the 1920s printing process). The version below is the “low stress” version. If you want to see the same form put through the wringer a bit, here’s a more stressed version.

Click on image for larger version

If anybody would like to use these forms as the basis for their own props, please feel free to. Like everything else on Cthulhu Reborn, these designs are provided under a Creative Commons license which means you can do pretty much anything with them except make money.

If you want to derive designs, you might want to grab these high-res versions (which lack paper texture and signature): low stress version, high stress version

Suicide Tableau for Jeff Moeller

A month or so back, over on Yog-Sothoth.com, talented scenario writer Jeff Moeller posted requesting some help with creating a “police photo of a blood stained suicide note” based on a detailed hand-drawn design he had already made in pen. I thought I would take a shot at creating a design for this intriguing mini-project. One of the balancing acts that you always have to perform with things like blood-stained props is deciding how much blobby design grunge you can add (to create a look-and-feel) while still retaining a readable document, which is after all the point of a handout. Looking at Jeff’s scanned up note I was a little concerned that by adding a lot of bloody markings, much of the fine detail of his beautiful design would be lost — so I made a suggestion. Why couldn’t the police photo be of the entire tableau: the note and the desk around it. That way, I could add loads to blood to areas around the note, but keep the central part relatively readable.

Here’s my take on the tableau of a suicide by ritual disembowling. Not a nice way to go IMHO.

Click on image for larger version

In putting together this tableau design, I actually started out with a larger area of the desk — if you want to see this bigger version of the tableau, you can scoot over to this page.

The Arkham Advertiser … as a Website?

For yet another project I am currently working on, I will be called on to produce some modern-day newspaper props for a scenario set in Arkham. One of the things I toyed with was the idea of creating online-looking news articles, i.e., an online visual presence for the venerable Arkham Advertiser. To make such a think look vaguely authentic I figured the best method would be to mock up some HTML, make some dummy images for advertisements, and capture some screens from Firefox or IE. So, that’s what I did for the design below. Truth be told, I’m not sure now whether I’ll use it now … but I guess the layout and images will turn up somewhere in a future project.

Click on image for larger version

That’s It for the Strange Aeon of 2011

Unless some miraculous stars align in the next few days (allowing me to finish one or more scenario PDFs), this will be my last post for 2011. It’s been kind of fun creating free designs and layouts for the past 8 months … here’s hoping I can maintain enough free-time to keep it up in 2012 🙂

Be-tentacled Holidays to all!

2 responses to “Rites of Solstice

  • Humanizing Handwriting « Cthulhu Reborn

    […] Cthulhu Reborn has been getting quite a bit of additional traffic over the past few days thanks to it being mentioned, initially over on the rpg.net forums, but then over on the dark-king-of-all-Lovecraftian-blogs, the excellent Propnomicon (how cool!). The source of this unexpected interest is … well, something quite simple really: the blank Essex County autopsy form I posted here back in December. […]

  • Raven

    Just one detail you’ll want to remove from that form if it’s supposed to be from the 1920s, Dean: the five-digit ZIP Code after the state name, an innovation introduced about 35 years later. Salem might *possibly* have used a two-digit in-city delivery code after the city name, as bigger cities like New York did, but (from the 1960s on) NYC has its own three-digit prefix and Salem shares 019 with all of Essex County — so the “70” stands for all of Salem. (And it’s possible to look at the list of towns and realize that the only ZIP Code in the scheme for Arkham is 01914 — the number’s unassigned, and that name fits the gap in the alphabetical series.)

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