Hot on the heels of our announcement yesterday about the future direction of Cthulhu Reborn, we are delighted to announce the release of the first of our free “fan material” PDF supplements for Call of Cthulhu: “The Stars Are Right!” Scenario Upgrade Pack. It’s available as a free download right here on Cthulhu Reborn.
As many readers would be aware, ever since the 1990s Call of Cthulhu has (notionally at least) supported games set not just in the default 1920s setting, but also those in modern day. Chaosium haven’t released a huge number of scenarios set in the modern day, but the best of those they have released are probably those in the anthology titled “The Stars Are Right!” This book was first released in 1992 as CHA2337, featuring seven scenarios written by some of the best writers that were writing for the game at that time. This included some classic material by Richard Watts (perhaps one of his all-time greatest scenarios), Kevin Ross, John Scott Tynes, Gary Sumpter, Fred Behrendt, Steve Hatherley, and André Bishop. A second edition of the book was released in 2004 (as CHA23100) which includes a few minor tweaks to the original scenarios but also adds two new adventures, one by David Conyers and one by William Jones.
While “The Stars Are Right!” is doubtless a classic book — and probably one that is sitting on the shelf of every Call of Cthulhu Keeper who has ever thought of running modern-day games … its scenarios are mostly now almost 25 years old. In those two decades, quite a number of things have changed — particularly in the way that technology has altered everyday life. If you were born after 1992, take it from us: some things really were different back then. Because the text of the scenarios in “The Stars Are Right!” haven’t really been updated much since the time of their first publication, some of their plot elements feel kind of … dated, or anachronistic.
This is where our “Scenario Upgrade Pack” comes in — we’ve long thought that one easy way of modernising these classic scenarios would be to refurbish them with all-knew prop-quality handouts which better reflect the way in which modern day investigators might hunt down clues. So, for example, converting the numerous “newspaper clipping” clues into articles formatted like online news sites or mobile phone feeds. Or converting a clue hidden in someones (physical) address book into the same information squirreled away in their iPhone’s “Contacts” list. While these changes are largely cosmetic, they do go a long way towards covering over some of the things that do feel a bit “old-fashioned” about the scenarios.
Of course, not everything can be fixed with nifty props. So, for several of the scenarios we have also suggested some plot tweaks that might help to replace some anachronistic references (mostly to technology) with things that are more 2017-appropriate. For most of the scenarios, little or no major “surgery” is required — but there is one exception to this rule. Steve Hatherley’s rather intriguing scenario “Fractal Gods” has as its core backstory the notion of a electronic “zine” which is sent to subscribers via floppy disks sent through the mail. That feels more like a 1990s thing than anything that would happen in the 21st Century — so we’ve suggested an alternative backstory and plotline that hopefully feels a bit more contemporary.
Finally, because most Call of Cthulhu gamers seem to now be using the current (7th) edition of the game, we have included some game statistics for each of the scenarios which brings them in line with that edition. Mostly the conversion between editions is super easy, but we thought it might save some time-poor Keepers a few minutes of mental arithmetic.
If you’re not sure if it’s for you, check out the montage of handouts above– just a fraction of the 48 handouts we’ve included in the pack. BTW, because some of the scenarios in “The Stars Are Right!” are pretty light-on for handouts, we have invented a few additional pieces here and there inspired by textual descriptions in the scenarios themselves. Hopefully these capture the intentions of the original scenario writers.
We hope that Cthulhu Reborn readers will find these resources helpful. “The Stars Are Right!” is still a title that seems to be in print on the Chaosium site, and is also available as a PDF. If you’re looking for a set of modern day horror scenarios you could do a lot worse — particularly if you can supplement the Chaosium book with the sleek new handouts in our pack. Of course if you already own “The Stars Are Right!” in either first or second edition, you can always brush off the cobwebs and give the scenarios a fresh spin with our suggested tweaks — maybe breathing some new life into those classic tales of “modern” dread.
“The Stars Are Right!” Scenario Upgrade Pack is a 67 page free PDF, and weighs in at something like 15MB.