CthuReview 2017, part 4 – Dreams of Future Nightmares

The previous fragments of this piecemeal review of Lovecraftian RPG material published in 2017 have focussed on professionally-published material that actually saw light of day in 2017.

To round out the review (and bring it to a much-awaited close), I thought I’d include a quick roundup of Cthulhu-related RPG Kickstarter campaigns that were run in 2017 but haven’t yet delivered products — these are “leading indicators” of some of the cool products that will emerge in 2018 (or maybe 2019, or 2020, or … :)). I also thought I’d briefly mention some amateur-press publications that came out in 2017.

Kickstarters of Doom

George Cotronis' cover

In March 2017, Stygian Fox completed their second successful Lovecraft-related Kickstarter campaign, for the creation of a book of short one-night modern-day scenarios. The book is called “Fear’s Sharp Little Needles”. This comes hot on the heels of the previous Stygian Fox modern-day Call of Cthulhu book which was an incredible collection of scenarios which went on to win a (much deserved) gold ENnie. “Fear’s Sharp Little Needles” seems poised to deliver in early 2018, with the book just going into layout as I type these words.

Also in March 2017, Golden Goblin Press ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of their reboot of the Cthulhu Invictus setting for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition. This project is the first of many Roman-era books planned by the Goblin, who has received a license from Chaosium to be the “official” source of all things Invictus. The goals of this campaign seem mostly to involve rewriting the Cthulhu Invictus setting from the ground-up, which seems a little strange since the previous editions seem mostly to have been well-received by those who’ve run games set in Ancient Rome. I can only assume that it’s some kind of rights thing, where GGP do not have a license to reuse the text of the earlier versions. Either way it will be interesting to see how this project goes — it’s probably the most ambitious thing attempted yet by Golden Goblin, but they have a solid track record on delivering Kickstarters (albeit one that has gotten steadily more shaky as projects have gotten larger and larger).

In April 2017, Cubicle 7 & Make Believe Games (a company founded by Mark Rein-Hagen) jointly ran a Kickstarter to fund the creation of Unspeakable Sigil & Sign, a tabletop roleplaying game in which players take on the roles of Mythos cultists. It makes use of the Axiom system created by MBG for its games, which uses a special deck of cards as the primary game mechanic. Target delivery date of March 2018.

In July, 2017 Pelgrane Press ran what proved to be the biggest and most expansive Lovecraft-related Kickstarter of the year, a monumental campaign to fund the launch of The Yellow King RPG. Written by industry-veteran Robin D. Laws, this new gaming adaptation of the works of Robert W. Chambers isn’t strictly “Lovecraftian” but is probably of interest to many of the same crowd. The YK RPG is another game fuelled by the Gumshoe system, and aims to provide four separate but inter-related “worlds” in which to set weird and surreal tales of terror. An interesting feature of the Kickstarter campaign — which also featured an insane number of small stretch goals — was the fact that Pelgrane released a text-only early draft of Robin’s text for all four books immediately after the campaign closed. So, despite the fact that the game won’t ship until December 2018, it’s easy to get some kind of idea about what it will cover.

In August 2017, Atomic Overmind Press ran a Kickstarter campaign to create a sequel to an earlier book of essays by Kenneth Hite about Lovecraft’s fiction. This new book, Tour de Lovecraft — The Destinations, focusses less on the stories of HPL and more on the places (real and fictional) that they describe. Although not pitched as a gaming book per se, anyone who has read Kenneth Hite’s previous Lovecraft essays will know that pretty much any time he sets pen to page it produces something that could inspire a game scenario (or ten).

In the frightful month of October, there were two Lovecraft RPG-related Kickstarters run. The first was by Sentinel Hill Press, for the publication of a revised version of a scenario written by Kevin Ross back in the 1980s (and previously published in a long-out-of-print-and-impossible-to-find book by Triad). The scenario, titled simply The Dare, is unusual in that it places players in the roles of teenagers who are faced with a range of horrors as they explore a “haunted house.” Given the recent pop-culture sensation that is Netflix’s Stranger Things, this seems pretty fertile territory to explore for Call of Cthulhu, so a reboot / rewrite of this classic-era scenario seems well worthwhile.

The second Kickstarter of October 2017 was the campaign by New Comet Games (the new name of the company formerly known as Dark Cult Games) for a new 1920s “sandbox style” Call of Cthulhu scenario called Devil’s Swamp.

Concept art for the Cover

The final Cthulhu-related Kickstarter run in 2017 was a campaign by Delphes Desvoivres to fund the creation of The Idol of Cthulhu. This is (I believe) the fourth Kickstarter by Delphes, but differs from previous installments in that it ventures beyond just providing physical props for use in previously-published Call of Cthulhu scenarios. This campaign (primarily to create a version of the Cthulhu Idol described by HPL in “The Call of Cthulhu”) also funded the publication of a brand new game scenario by Matthew Sanderson, ostensibly a sequel to Lovecraft’s tale.

Small End of Town

Image may contain: one or more people and text

As well as being a great year for professionally-published material, 2017 also saw a good crop of amateur publications for Call of Cthulhu and related games. A couple of highlights were:

  • Hypergraphia Magazine: a new fanzine-style (physical print) magazine launched at Necronomicon 2017
  • Dark Times Fanzine: while this free PDF mag is notionally aimed at the Dark Conspiracy RPG, its first few releases have featured a fair bit of Lovecraft-related material

And last, but (hopefully) not least, it’s probably worth a quick summary of what we at Cthulhu Reborn have managed to publish in 2017. It has actually been a record year for us, releasing 7 PDF products. Six of them have been supplements to our surprisingly-successful Convicts & Cthulhu product line. The other one is a free “Scenario Upgrade” pack (prop/handouts and 7th Edition stats) for the older Chaosium anthology of modern-day scenarios titled “The Stars are Right.” All of those PDFs are available over on RPGNow either free downloads or “Pay What You Want.” Some are also available via the Download page here on the blog.

The End (of 2017) … now on to the Beginning (of 2018).

 

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