Well, we’ve been talking about it here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog for several weeks, but today I can finally announce that our newest product line, Dateline: Lovecraft, has hit the streets. Not only can you right now buy the core Dateline: Lovecraft package (a lavish 12-page period-authentic Arkham broadsheet newspaper) … but we have also released the first in our line of support PDFs for the line.
Dateline: Lovecraft Issue #1 is a system-independent resource to help both Game Moderators and players of investigative horror games to bring the town of Arkham to life for their players. Arkham is one of H.P. Lovecraft’s most enduring creations, and a perfect backdrop for dark tales of Cthulhu Mythos terror — and what better way to immerse your players in the “real” Arkham than to provide them with realistic “in-world” artifacts which evoke the unique brooding atmosphere of the witch-haunted college town?
The Dateline: Lovecraft package is, at its core, a massive newspaper-based prop: a PDF copy of an entire 12-page issue of the Arkham Advertiser (the issue for Monday, 15 October, 1928 to be precise). Newspapers of the 1920s typically featured enormous broadsheet pages jam-packed with text and advertising, and our newspaper prop fits that bill too. Each of the 12 newspaper “pages” spans to about 6 sheets of US Letter or A4 paper, and each is packed with thousands of words of news, editorial pieces, advertising, society pages, magazine-style articles, radio programmes, stock quotes, and much more. Buried inside those (usually) innocent-seeming pieces lurk a wealth of odd hooks and details which can be used to inspire or fuel games of investigative horror.
Our design goals for Dateline: Lovecraft was to produce something that is meticulously authentic to both the late-1920s era and also to previous game interpretations of Arkham. Rather than producing a joke-y or pulpy scream sheet (with dubious “Shoggoth Loose on Trolley, Again!” headlines) we’ve opted for starting with something that looks like a real newspaper for a smallish Massachusetts university town and then infiltrating weirdness into most of the articles, columns, and sometimes even advertisements. Some of that weirdness is obvious, some remarkably subtle and well-hidden — but all of it is there for you to exploit in your games.
While the newspaper itself is the heart of Dateline: Lovecraft package, purchasers also get a 58-page companion PDF which contains a wealth of handy information aimed to make it easier to weave the different strands of newspaper-y weirdness into a compelling game. That guide includes:
- Detailed instructions on using the newspaper prop PDF to create physical handouts for players, with a variety of different effects;
- A system of quickly finding relevant clippings from throughout the newspaper, and extensive indices of every person, place, and address mentioned anywhere in the paper;
- Advice and ideas about using newspaper clippings as a springboard for adventures, or clues for investigation;
- A campaign frame, “Inkhounds of the Miskatonic Valley”; and
- A sample system-independent investigative horror scenario which ties closely into articles from the newspaper.
For a quick PDF preview of some of the sections of the Guidebook PDF, click here.
The Dateline: Lovecraft package is on-sale now at RPGNow and DrivethruRPG. While Cthulhu Reborn is mostly-known for producing high-quality items and then giving them away for free, in this case the amount of writing, art and layout that has gone into both the newspaper prop and support material means that we must release Dateline: Lovecraft as a commercial product (if only to recover our costs). However, as an incentive to buy the product — and also as a thank you to loyal Cthulhu Reborn blog readers — we are hoping to use ALL profits from Dateline: Lovecraft to fund the creation of free (or PWYW) add-on PDFs that enhance the utility of the core newspaper package.
To give you some idea of what those free add-ons will look like, we have already released the first supplemental PDF (which we’re calling “EXTRA!s” in keeping with the old-newspaper-vibe). So, right now you can download a 20-page PDF scenario by seasoned Lovecraftian game writer Jo Kreil (Fear’s Sharp Little Needles, Tales of the Caribbean, Colonial Lovecraft Country). Her scenario is titled, “Help Wanted” and is written to make use of the 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu rules.
Here’s the blurb for Jo’s scenario:
EXTRA! “Help Wanted” is a short investigative scenario of Cthulhu Mythos horror, set entirely in H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional town of Arkham. The strange events related in this dark tale from legend-haunted Arkham center upon a strange series of ‘help wanted’ advertisements that have been appearing in the Arkham Advertiser over a period of months. Each advertisement has a very similar, and very odd, style but asks for assistance with a different – but equally specialized – skill. The advertisement runs sporadically for weeks on end, then disappears, only to be replaced with another variant version a few days later.
Anyone whose curiosity is piqued by these cryptic “want ads” will find themselves swept up in a most unusual mystery – perhaps one of the weirdest cases of their investigative careers. Why would someone have need of such oddly specific skills? What pattern is there in the serial disappearances? How do these events tie in with unbelievable tales about an 18th Century self-style sorcerer from Arkham’s dark past?
We are extremely excited to be able to (finally!) release both the Dateline: Lovecraft core product and its first supplement. We really hope that both sell well enough that we will be able to fund an entire line of supplemental scenario add-ons which will make the newspaper a ready-to-use gaming resource for pre-prepared, professionally written games (as well as a tool for inventive Game Moderators and creative players). There are numerous established and up-and-coming writers we would love to be able to commission to write those scenarios … if we raise the funds to do so. As such, more than any other Cthulhu Reborn creations, we ask that you consider spreading the word about Dateline: Lovecraft (if you like it and want to see more, that is!)
[ As with some of our recent Convicts & Cthulhu releases, we have been obliged due to fine-print in Chaosium’s licensing legalese to also create a separate non-statted (system-independent) version of Jo’s scenario “Help Wanted”. If you want to obtain that, you’re welcome to grab it from RPGNow — it’s a pay-what-you-want title, so you can send a donation our way which we’ll happily add to the “make-more-Dateline fund” too. ]