Monthly Archives: December 2012

2012: The Year in Re-Blog

So, as 2012 comes to a close, I guess it’s worth reflecting a little bit about another year of CthulhuReborn.

It’s actually been a remarkably busy year … although most of the great stuff that has been completed in our hidden digital publishing sweatshop (hidden high up on the Plateau of Leng) hasn’t yet found its way to a screen or a page near you. Why’s that? Well … although CthulhuReborn did manage to put out two sizeable scenarios as freebie PDFs — one as a limited-run test print as well — most of the design and writing I’ve done in 2012 has been for commercial projects, none of which have yet to be released.

Freebie PDFs

In case you missed  it earlier in the year, 2012 saw Cthulhu Reborn release the following great scenarios — each released as a glossy-layout PDF overflowing with handouts:

As an experiment, a very limited quantity of professional prints were made of The Past Is Doomed — some were sent to folks who have helped out CthulhuReborn over the years, others were traded to gamers and other Lovecraft enthusiasts … I hope those who received these nifty books enjoyed them: I thought they turned out really well.

Stuff for Other Folks

Although I can’t really say anything much about any of the projects individually, Cthulhu Reborn was busy for much of 2012 undertaking handout design for a few Call of Cthulhu licensees for use in their upcoming projects. The montage below shows just a fraction of the designs that are eagerly awaiting the completion of four-or-five upcoming books:

2012 Unreleased Sampler Montage

Coming in 2013

There are still lots of things in the works, as part of books to be released for free here on CthulhuReborn, as well as contributions to upcoming books. In addition to all the artwork mentioned above, I’ve also got writing contributions which will (hopefully) grace the pages of commercial releases in 2013. I am particularly excited about a contribution I put forward to a certain as-yet-unnamed book of Gaslight scenarios, which looks like it may make it to print. That will be a very nifty thing to see make it to the light of day.

I also have a bunch of ideas for things to make the CthulhuReborn a more interesting place to visit (and hopefully one that is more frequently updated). Stay tuned for some further announcements a little further down the track.

Last Words

I’ll leave you with a glimpse at the very last artwork I completed for 2012, a 3D lighthouse schematic for a Mark Morrison scenario which has been in the works for some time. It’s called The Shadows Over Lulworth — and, er, it features a lighthouse. Mark’s original map sketch from 1983 (left) was hand-drawn; my version (right) is the first real experiment I’ve done with 3D … it sort of works, but some stuff was way harder than it should have been …

Anyway. All the best for a squamous 2013.

MMorrison Map of Beacon Tower

Lulworth Map - Portland Bill 3D redlight 2 crease

Squamous But True: Collateral Damage

Typical investigators in Lovecraftian RPG scenarios have a habit of deploy some pretty .. ahem .. drastic problem solving methods. Have you ever wondered why none of the after-effects (or collateral damage) from their exploits never end up in the newspaper?

As this real-world news clipping from 1921 shows … there are plenty of things that sure sound like Cthulhuoid investigators at work:

Exhibit E: News article from August 9, 1921




PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Sweeping down Narragansett Bay with its machine gun spraying the water with a rain of bullets, an unidentified airplane this afternoon riddled and nearly sunk a launch containing five people and severely wounded a girl passenger.

Failing to observe frantic signals from the boat, the plane sped on its way. With the boat sinking and the girl in danger from loss of blood the launch party traveled eight miles to shore to reach medical assistance. The wounded girl is Grace Buxton, 24, of Oakland Beach, near this city.

Squamous But True (for Christmas)

Here are a couple of Christmas-themed articles from real newspapers of the 1920s  & 1930s which … well, which have a kind of strange aspect to their subject matter which could easily be twisted to form part of a Lovecraftian-themed game scenario. Because I know some of you out there in Internet-land love Christmas, while others hate it with a passion, I have included one upbeat story and, er, one not-so-upbeat story.

The first article is about a little girl who slept for almost three earthly years … anybody know how long that is in Dreamlands years?

Exhibit C: News article from December 23, 1934

Sleeping Beauty’s

Christmas Planned

CHICAGO — For the first time in three years Patricia Maguire, the modern sleeping beauty, is to join the family circle around the Christmas tree.

She slipped away into that strange unnatural sleep on Feb. 15, 1932.

Last Christmas her eyes still had the unseeing dullness of the blind. She was unresponsive to the world.

Today, though still in a twilight of sleeping sickness, her brown eyes have the sparkle of one who sees again.

So Christmas, 1934, is to have something of the cheer that has been lacking since Christmas, 1931, at the modest little yellow home in Oak Park. With a happy twinkle in her blue eyes the girl’s mother, Mrs. Peter Miley, and her elder daughter, Mrs. Gladys Hansen, are trimming the Christmas tree that stands near the big window of the living room.

Here’s a Christmas story that is a bit less light-and-fluffy … (and if it puts you off your Christmas cake, just be thankful that I chose not to go with the 1930s story about the young actor kidnapped and brutally tortured … with his ransom not coming on a Christmas card from the abductors; that one might, er, put you off receiving Christmas cards FOR LIFE :-)).

Exhibit D: News article from December 21, 1929



Action by U. S. Food Officials Probably Saves Suffering.

WASHINGTON, D. C. — By speedily establishing the presence of poison, in nine Christmas fruit cakes, the United States food and drug administration not only protected the persons who might have eaten them but also probably saved the life of the woman who baked them.

Her case had baffled physicians up to the time the analysis was made. Now she is being treated for poisoning, and is responding, though still seriously ill.

Names Are Witheld

Inspector G. P. Larrick, who traced eight fruit cakes in this region and one to Quebec, Canada, Monday told the peculiar circumstances which led to the investigation but refused to reveal the name of any of the persons concerned. “The fruit cake first was brought to our laboratories by a physician,” he said, “he had been treating a woman who was very ill of some sort of poisoning, but he could not establish its nature. The symptoms might have indicated one of several poisons. “It just chanced that he was invited to the home of a dentist friend, and the doctor and his wife and the dentist and his wife sampled the Christmas fruit cake. All four became ill.

Finds Source of Cake.

The doctor asked where the fruit cake had been purchased, and when he learned that it was at the home of his patient, he at once thought of the possibility that he might have hit upon her ailment.”

Inspector Larrick’s story was that a poison, flour like in appearance, had been so unevenly mixed through a batch of flour that the housewife had eaten but small doses in her baking. It was his opinion that some person, wanting a paper bag, had dumped its poison contents into a sack of flour, thinking it was flour.

(and in case you’re wondering what the last sentence actually means … I have no idea, either).

Squamous But True: Car Crash

Newspapers seems to delight in showing us pictures of the carnage caused by road accidents. These days it’s horrors of mangled metal that barely resemble a vehicle. In 1930, the same photo looked like this:

Exhibit B: Milwaukie Car Crash, April 1930

SBT Photo - Fatal Car Crash

One person was killed in this two-car collision (a passenger in the other vehicle). Five other people were injured.

Not to diminish fromthis 70+ year old tragedy … but, I figure there are any number of different ways this photo could be re-used in a Lovecraftian RPG scenario. Who knows, maybe *this* is what your shiny new automobile would like like after it had come off second best in an encounter with a Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath … (“after horror collision with tree, it was only the tree that walked away.”)

Squamous But True #1

So, I am currently working on a project to produce a range of nifty templates that will help Keepers (or other prop-obsessed folks) easily create realistic-looking 1920s/1930s newspaper articles. Hopefully I will be in a position to announce more about this on the blog soon.

Anyway, one important aspect of this project has been a mountain-load of research. After all, there’s no point me claiming things are “realistic-looking” if I haven’t done the hard yards to survey the broad ranges of typography and writing styles used in actual period articles. Fortunately there is a wealth of research material readily available these days … so there’s plenty of samples to look at. That is both a good and bad thing (as my weary eye-balls will attest).

One thing that I always find entertaining when going back to read through real newspapers of the 1920s is the language used in articles and … well … the way that a whole bunch of news is reported in such hysterical and quirky ways that the real-world articles SOUND like they should be part of a Lovecraftian horror scenario.

I thought it might be fun to share some of the weirdest and most Lovecraftian examples here on the blog. Feel free to use these odd-ball articles to inspire scenarios, form baffling red herrings to fool your investigators, or simply fill out police case files bursting with reports of weird happenings. Or you could just laugh at the way folks of yesteryear saw the world.

Exhibit A: from several news sources, January 1929

Six Murder Mysteries In One Family

Doctor Accused of Slaying Wife Relies on Baffling Chain of Crimes to Prove His Innocence and Win Freedom

Olathe, Kas. — A mysterious curse that brought death to six members of one family in the course of a third of a century is cited by Dr. S. C. Netherton, retired Olathe physician, as the real reason for the murder of his wife nearly two years ago.

And on this strange explanation, unsatisfactory as the courts thus far have found it, Dr. Netherton bases his hope of being freed from serving the rest of his life in prison.

He was convicted some months ago of the murder of his wife, and is now waiting for the Kansas supreme court to pass on his appeal. His appeal is based on his denial of guilt and his suggestion that the weird, unexplained curse that, he says, hung over his wife’s family, was responsible for her death.

Now he says he fears for the life of his 9-year-old daughter, Dorothy.

“I’m afraid she is the next on the murderer’s list,” he says. “If I go to prison, she will be left to the mercy of those who appear bent on wiping out my wife’s family.”

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and a world traveler, Dr. Netherton retired on a suburban farm here with his wife a decade ago. Mrs. Netherton was well-to-do; she possessed property worth $100,000, but none of the neighbors ever suspected it. The Nethertons lived frugally. The only money they ever spent for anything except actual necessities went to buy dresses and toys for little Dorothy.

In February of 1927, Mrs. Netherton was found, shot to death, in the basement of their home. The bullet had come from behind.

Circumstantial evidence pointed to Dr. Netherton and he was arrested and brought to trial. He insisted he had been in town at the time of the murder, but was unable to prove it. His attorneys tried to bring into court the tale of the previous murders in Mrs. Netherton’s family, but the judge would not admit the evidence. Dr. Netherton was convicted.

Dr. Netherton admits that he is unable to explain the strange chain of killings. He firmly believes that some person or persons have followed his wife’s family for years, trying to wipe it out of existence, but why this is being done he has no idea. At any rate, here is his list of the crimes:

In 1882 Dode Strahl, a trapper, and a nephew of Mrs. Netherton’s mother, was shot to death near Deadwood, S. D.

A few years later Roll Strahl, Dode’s brother, was found shot to death in a farm wagon at Exira, Iowa.

The same year, Colbert Strahl, father of the two slain men, was shot to death while riding on his horse from the town of Exira to his farm.

In 1916 Arthur Strahl, a first cousin of Mrs. Netherton, was shot to death in Chicago.

Four years later Paxton Muir, a second cousin of Mrs. Netherton, was found murdered in a Los Angeles hotel.

No arrests were ever made in any of these murders.

It is upon this story that Dr. Netherton depends to save him from serving the life sentence to which he has been sentenced.

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