We have to admit that Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket of Leave #16 — our 20th supplement for the popular setting — has taken a while. Geoff Gillan first came up with the idea for this release, a PDF which explores the unlikely phenomenon of convict theatre in the early penal colonies of Australia, about a year ago. Since then a whole lot of RealLife[tm] stuff has affected both Geoff and me … and Cthulhu Reborn has become whisked into the hurricane of success that has come with our APOCTHULHU product line. But despite all that, we still really wanted to press ahead and bring out something new for Convicts & Cthulhu.
And today — finally — I can proudly announce the release of Ticket of Leave #16: The Devil to Play. It is available for download right now, for FREE, directly from the Cthulhu Reborn blog. The version linked here includes game stats for the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition RPG. If you prefer running other D100 games (or earlier editions of CoC), there’s also a version which refers back to the Open Cthulhu SRD, which might be closer to your game of choice.
The subject matter for this Ticket of Leave is theatrical performance in the early convict colonies. While the idea of theatre in the grim and isolated world of early Australia may seem a little peculiar, there is ample historical evidence to confirm that the performance of theatrical plays by convicts did indeed form a unique form of entertainment almost from the time of colonization.
While the existence of a convict theatre might have been tolerated, that’s not to say that it was exactly welcomed — indeed it seems that the earliest theatres were perpetually threatened with closure by the colonial government. Ironically this was not because of lewd or unbecoming behaviour caused by convicts gathering at the theatre (although doubtless that occurred), but rather because a few opportunistic thieves decided that performance nights were an unprecedented chance to burgle the houses of theatre-goers.
This supplement includes some background historical source material that would be useful to any GM interested in introducing theatrical performance to his or her Convicts & Cthulhu game. It also neatly summarizes everything that’s currently known about the preeminent theatre of the C&C era, the establishment run by Mr Robert Sidaway (himself an ex-convict). Historical details on this topic are, unfortunately, pretty sketchy — which is one of the reasons this supplement has taken so long to research and complete. However, there are a few handy books (and even a very helpful Ph.D. thesis) that Geoff was able to track down to ensure that this material is as accurate as humanly possible, given the records that still exist.
As well as this historical material, the PDF includes a lengthy and detailed scenario which revolves around brutal deaths on the streets of Sydney Town which are linked solely by the victims having attended Sidaway’s Theatre. Unlike many of the other scenarios we’ve created for C&C, this one is deliberately intended to be challenging, even for experienced Lovecraftian gamers — so is a handy adventure to throw at players who are finding traditional scenarios too easy.
Like most of our “Ticket of Leave” supplements, the scenario half of ToL#16 includes three different Mythos backdrops for the peculiar events the investigators will be examining. That allows the GM some latitude in picking a backstory that will best meet the gaming group’s preferences … or slot in to an ongoing campaign.
Ticket of Leave #16: The Devil to Play is available right now, via the link below. It’s also available (with genericized stats) as a DriveThruRPG Pay-What-You-Want title (just in case you’d prefer to generously send a small amount of money our way, to help pay for the creation of new Convicts & Cthulhu material).
Ticket of Leave #16: The Devil to Play (CoC7e STATTED version) [36 pages; 5.8MB]
As with the majority of things released via this blog, this file is released under a Creative Commons License, which means you’re free to whatever (non-commercial) things you’d like to do with it. If you end up running this scenario, or creating something cool using this material we would love it if you got in touch with us (use the “About” menu-item at the top of the blog). We are always interested in how our games get used, and if you’ve made something nifty we might be interested in sharing it for other gamers to enjoy!