Monthly Archives: April 2012

Virtual Horror Made Real

Most readers of Cthulhu Reborn will be well aware of the many and varied PDF goodies that have been released on this site, including several full-colour glossy scenarios (usually overflowing with handouts). If you don’t know what I’m referring to, scoot over to the downloads page and you’ll quickly see what I’m on about.

For a little while I have been wondering what some of the virtual horrors I have created would look if they were ever translated across to physical (print) form. To satisfy this curiosity I recently had a very small number of “promo only” professionally printed copies made of the biggest, glossiest layout that I’ve released here — Geoff Gillan’s “The Past Is Doomed”

I’m really pleased with the way these turned out, so thought I’d share a few photos here on the blog.

A bundle of horror, fresh from the printers

Internal Page Layouts

The book, covered in handouts

The biggest and most ornate of the handouts: the infamous “Dust Jacket”

These digitally printed booklets were create using more-or-less the same layouts as are available here for free on Cthulhu Reborn … so if you really like what you see, it’s probably possible for you to create something similar yourself. Of course you *may* need to spend quite a bit of time printing up newspaper props on grungy paper, scrunching them up, then flattening them out … just to achieve that authentic prop newspaper look. But then, hey, join the club 🙂

Great Cthulhu is Coming to Town

While there is still some “making a list” happening, and I’m sure much “checking it twice,” … it is looking quite likely that Great Cthulhu will be coming to my city at some time during this year.

Let me just back up a bit and explain what the heck I’m talking about.

Over on the forums, Paul Maclean (aka Paul of Cthulhu, founder of YSDC) is a man with a plan. His plan is quite simple: he wants to arrange for his plush toy Cthulhu to visit as many places around the globe and be photographed doing as many squamous and non-Euclidean things as possible. It’s all in the name of charity. But it also sounds like it will be a LOT of fun.

So, of course I volunteered to host a visit from the Great Old One, despite the fact that I live far from most other Call of Cthulhu fans … in sunny Australia. I’m sure the international postage will be ridiculous, but it’s going to be fantastic.

One of the rules of Paul’s “Cthulhu World Domination Tour 2012” is that each person who receives Great Cthulhu is expected to put some small token or piece of ephemera into his cardboard vault (aka the packing container) before sending it on the the next victim host. So excited am I by this exercise that I have chosen to create a custom piece of ephemera for this purpose: a mock 1920s newspaper clipping recording a supposed previous visit by Cthulhu back in 1925. It looks like this (click image for a full-sized version with legible body text):

And before anybody asks what a “pie floater” is … check out this page on Wikipedia. Do you not agree that this local food speciality looks like it comes from the pits of R’lyeh?

BTW the look and feel of this newspaper prop closely mirror issues of the local newspaper, circa February 1925 … and indeed, everything apart from the main article is actually material lifted from scanned newspapers from this period. And, yes, the headline “Women Who Marry Aliens / What Is Their Nationality?” is copied word-for-word from a real article. This prop features something that is a bit of an experiment for me … the creation of a new font based on scanned images: The main headline font (e.g., “PIE-CART FOUND ABANDONED”) is rendered using a hastily-cobbled together font made from letters cut from scans of the actual 1925 newspaper. Considering how quickly it was done, I guess it looks ok … but the experience of attempting this gives me new-found respect for the folks who do this professionally — there are a lot of things you need to get right for a font to look “not-broken.”

CthulhuReborn Gets Its First Award

There are quite a number of blog awards floating around the blogosphere, but until now this site has never received any nominations.

AlwaysDisconcerted, a very good friend to this site (not to mention a very talented artist whose work I have been privileged to use in PDF projects), changed that by listing us as a “Very Inspiring Blog” and granting us an award. That’s pretty cool: I guess the reason I originally created CthulhuReborn was to give something back to the online community … whether that be something tangible like free PDF scenarios, or whether it’s just giving people ideas they can take away to use in their games … it’s all about giving people inspiration.

I would strongly encourage folks to check out AlwaysDisconcerted’s own blog (not only because she clearly has superb taste in blogs, but also because her artwork deserves to get more attention).

It’s traditional in these circumstances to “pay it forward” by nominating a bunch of other people who are inspirational. While I don’t read a lot of other blogs, two that I do check on a daily basis are:

  • Propnomicon’s superb blog on Lovecraftian prop-making, a daily source of weird props and news about Propnomicon’s own excellent prop projects
  • Badger McInnes’ sporadic but ever-interesting blog on the behind-the-scenes machinations of his design and layout studio, Squamous Studios

While not really a blog, another source of continual inspiration to my work is the incredible H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. They produce a bunch of nifty products in a range of catagories including prop-elements (fonts etc), paper and sculpture props, Lovecraftian apparel, as well as producing excellent film adaptations of Lovecraft’s stories. Their Angell Box (a massively detailed prop recreating the full set of research papers collected by the narrator of the “Call of Cthulhu” short story) is perhaps the coolest object that I own. Please consider buying their stuff — I want them to make more, much MUCH more.

Backsides By Gaslight

As I’ve mentioned before, here on Cthulhu Reborn and also over on the forums, I was fortunate enough to have a (rather small) role in the production of the 3rd Edition of Chaosium’s 1890s horror setting, “Cthulhu By Gaslight” (shipping in the next few days in paper-form, already available from Chaosium in PDF)

It was a lot of fun helping out, both by contributing some designs (handouts and the new character sheet are mine) … and also by tracking down some obscure graphics and illustrations from old Victorian-era books (such as the rather splendid engravings of 1890s firearms which made it into the final version).

As with all these kinds of things, there’s a lot of additional *stuff* that was produced along the way that didn’t make the Chaosium book but are still kinda neat. I figure it might be kinda fun to share some of these on the blog … and if someone can do something useful with them, well more power to them! (or, in Gaslight-speak, “Top-ho!”)

Not the Title Page

One of the last items to be completed in Badger’s layout for the Gaslight book was the front-title page and the table of contents. The Great Old One in charge of the book (Kevin Ross) put forward the idea of creating some pages that had a Victorian typographic look to them. I liked that idea, and contributed a couple of ideas as to how the title page might look. One of my two ideas was taken up, but the other — much more bonkers — idea was something that I thought was kinda cool in its own way, though not really right for the book. The idea was basically to attempt a page layout in the form of a 19th Century playbill. Here’s what my attempt at such a beast looks like:

Images of London

While trawling through old books about 1890s London I found heaps of wonderful examples of sketches and engravings from the era that so perfectly capture the mood that I just had to snip them into Photoshop and tidy them up. Here’s a flickr gallery I made of some of these great pictures — if you want some illustrations for your own game in 1890s London, use these to your hearts content!

Here are a couple of examples, to give you and idea of the goodness included in this gallery of 130+ engravings:

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