Author Archives: deanadelaide

Convicts & Cthulhu & Spies & Zombies

I may have mentioned already that Geoff Gillan, long time friend and collaborator of Cthulhu Reborn, recently launched his own self-publishing imprint for genre fiction. I have been fortunate enough to be able to read quite a few of Geoff’s published and unpublished novels and short tales, and really enjoy the deft and witty way in which he fuses genre themes and traditional formats into something new and exciting.

Geoff’s fiction imprint is called Mutant Brainchild, and just a few days ago its snazzy new website went live! This site is kind of the go-to place for the different fiction lines and releases Geoff has planned, including material that you can purchase (or download for free) right now.

As a celebration of Convicts & Cthulhu’s third birthday (see a few blog posts ago), Mutant Brainchild put out a short gaming-related post which ties the Convicts universe to the Cold War/Weird/Espionage world of Geoff’s “Man from Z.O.M.B.I.E.” series. For those who haven’t yet checked out those stories (start with the free sampler short!), it’s basically a setting which fuses 1960s gritty spy drama with the “weird science” notion that spy organizations have created post-human agents (“Zeroes”) which are the perfect, cold-hearted, agents. The C&C Birthday posting introduces the idea of a shadowy organization — the Revivification Bureau — that serves a similar purpose in the 1800s. A great free addition to the C&C setting!


The False Bottom in the Case of Mark Edward Morrison

There is an old Nick Cave song that warns of the perils of burying that-which-you-think-is-dead in a hole that is too shallow. When the rains come, and the tide rises, those shallow-buried things can just … float up to the surface [*]. Well, it seems that the same holds true for Lovecraftian RPG scenarios. I say this because just when you think that there is nothing left from the ancient writings of classic-era Call of Cthulhu writers … up pops something that has lain brooding in the ground for 30+ years.

Here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog we are very much into the revivification of old Lovecraftian RPG material … and so were most excited by yesterday’s release of “The Saltwater Inheritance” by Mark Morrison. This new Miskatonic Repository title is available for sale right now ($1.99). There is a whole story to how this particular scenario came into existence, but Mark explains it most ably in the PDF itself and on the DriveThruRPG product page.

This might just be one of the very few Miskatonic Repository titles that I’d put into the “must buy” category. It’s interesting for both historical reasons — it was written just before Mark hit the big time as one of the core writers of 1980s/early-90s Call of Cthulhu — and also because it contains some delightfully gruesome pieces.

Now … this has just got us wondering what *else* might be hiding under the false bottom in Mark Edward Morrison’s infamous case.

 

[*] If anybody actually knows which Nick Cave song I’m alluding to, feel free to post it in the comments. For the first correct identification I’m happy to hand out a free PDF of our Dateline: Lovecraft PDF, normal value $14.99.


Propping Up the Convict

As mentioned here last week, today marks the third anniversary of the Convicts & Cthulhu setting being released. In those three years we have released 15 supplemental PDFs to flesh out the setting with campaign ideas, scenarios, NPCs, and curious nuggets of historical detail. It’s probably fair to say that, by now, there is enough Convicts & Cthulhu content out there that you could easily run a lengthy campaign set in and around the penal colony of New South Wales

If you don’t already have all 15 of the supplements, they are downloadable either from our Download page (free), or by searching “Convicts & Cthulhu” on DriveThruRPG (“Pay-What-You-Want”).

What makes especially happy about this flourishing product line is that we’ve been able to bring these several hundred pages of content to you *entirely* as Pay-What-You-Want. That means that if you’re not in a position to shell out the (sometimes significant) cover prices for other publisher’s Lovecraftian RPG books — there’s always C&C as a cheap alternative. Heck, if you want to grab it all for free, you can (although chipping a little money our way certainly helps a lot when it comes to keeping the product line going).

On this occasion of C&C’s third birthday we wanted to give all our loyal readers a bit of a birthday present. We also thought it might be a good occasion to try something different — hence was born the idea for the “Convict Document Pack” which we are proud to be releasing today!

So, what is the “Convict Document Pack,” anyway? Well … in simplest terms it is a resource that helps you in the creation of realistic prop documents representing some of the most important records kept about convicts in the colony. If your convict was fortunate enough to be granted a “Ticket of Leave,” he or she would be given a (probably grubby) piece of paper proclaiming this status. Same for the rare cases where penal sentences were pardoned because a convict had done something spectacularly wonderful (or been somehow proven innocent after all). And if your convict survived long enough to serve out his or her entire sentence (assuming it wasn’t imprisonment “for life”), they would receive a “Certificate of Freedom.”

All of these important convict documents are included in this pack, in both flat (print & fill) form and also as fillable PDF forms. For the print & fill blanks we’ve included actual signatures for the two most important colonial Governors of the C&C era.

So … never again shall your convict Investigator’s special status need be a minor detail on the back of his or her character sheet. Now they can proudly carry their documents … and present them to snarky NSW Corp Redcoats who challenge them in the street! Further more, these blank documents make great starting points for GM-inspired handouts and clues as part of scenarios. In a similar vein, we have also included in this pack a fillable blank PDF of the single-page broadsheet newspaper produced in the colony, the “Sydney Gazette.”

Downloading the Convict Document Pack

Depending on your preference, you can download these docs either as a single ZIP file (17MB), or via the individual PDF download links below:

Convict Document Pack Info + Print & Fill templates [6.5MB]

Fillable Convict Prop Documents (blank) [4.1MB]

Fillable Convict Prop Documents (sample text) [4.1MB]

Fillable Sydney Gazette (blank) [2.1MB]

Fillable Sydney Gazette (sample text) [2.1MB]

We hope that these prop document resources will give you a set of handy tools to enhance your games of Lovecraftian horror set in the penal colonies. And if you wind up using them in some especially nifty way … feel free to drop us a note telling us about your brilliant prop-fuelled goodness (emails to feedback <at> cthulhureborn.com).

[As always, these resources are released here under a Creative Commons license which means basically that you can use these prop document templates for whatever personal use you can dream up. If you want to use them for a profit-making endeavor — say, for some splashy new TV Series set in the penal colonies — you’d need to contact us about obtaining a separate license.]

 


Convict News Muster

We have been a bit quiet on the news front here on the CR blog, but be assured that there’s still a whole bunch of work being done to create new content for all our established lines, and also to put together brand new settings as well.

Convicts & Cthulhu has been cruising along with small “pay-what-you-want” releases for quite a while. We released a small supplement earlier this year … but I was recently reminded by Geoff Gillan (C&C creator and principal writer) that an important date is fast approaching. Yes, that’s right: on May 30 it will be exactly 3 years since the original C&C book was published. Since then we’ve added reams of content — thirteen Ticket of Leave scenario/setting supplements and a couple of Muster (NPC) supplements as well.

We are also currently working on a 14th Ticket of Leave — to be written by Matthew Ruane and also run by him in two sessions at GenCon 2019. Both sessions are already sold out. By releasing his convention scenario, we’ll be able to help dozens more C&C groups also enjoy his scenario … so everyone wins (except perhaps the investigators who will probably be driven inexorably insane)! There are also vaguer plans for a 15th Ticket of Leave as well.

Despite these upcoming planned releases for C&C, Geoff & I both agree that it wouldn’t be fitting to skip over our “third birthday” without giving some kind of Convict-related gift to all the wonderful people who have downloaded and played our stuff. So, we are going to do something a little different — a document prop pack.

This pack will feature period-realistic versions of some of the key documents which your investigators might run into as clues relating to convicts within the colony. The convict docs will be released as both fillable PDF forms and also high-quality flat images which you can print and write on. And as an added bonus, this pack will also include a blank fillable template for the one-page Sydney Gazette (the one and only “newspaper” printed in the colony).

This pack will be released on May 30 … but the montage image above will hopefully whet your appetite and get you thinking about ways you might weave these beautiful and historically-realistic prop documents into you games of Convicts & Cthulhu!

 

 


Long Road to Terror (Australis)

Terror Australis & Aboriginal Art

Keen observers of the published output of Lovecraftian RPG publishers will probably have noted Chaosium’s recent announcement of the release of the brand-new hard-cover full-colour Terror Australis (CHA23155).

This particular book is something quite close to my (Dean’s) heart, since I was not only the project manager for the majority of the project to craft this book, but also wrote a reasonable chunk of it.

Despite the fact that the publisher is billing this as a “2nd Edition” of Terror Australis, that title is a bit misleading since the new volume has only a tiny amount of overlap with the original 1980’s version of Terror Australis (CHA2319). It is, in fact more than 90% brand-new material. The decision to radically rework the Australian sourcebook rather than simply adapt the superb text that Mark Morrison and Penelope Love wrote back in the 80s was made for several different reasons. The biggest factor was the fact that the original Terror Australis, while brilliant, was written in the earliest days of Lovecraftian RPGs and takes a very “80’s view” of what constitutes a historical sourcebook — expectations of depth and complexity and comprehensiveness have moved on, and we wanted the new “edition” to fill those expectations. Another big factor was the very important consideration of treating Indigenous Australian culture and beliefs in a culturally-sensitive way. The original book has some cursory descriptions of these topics, but speaking with Penny (who wrote all those back in the mid-80s) she was eager to see them expanded out into a much more nuanced rewrite.

Another important consideration that was foremost in my mind when sketching out a plan for the book that became Terror Australis 2e was presenting 1920s Australia as a fully-fleshed setting for Lovecraftian games … not just an adjunct to HPL’s “Shadow Out of Time” and Masks of Nyarlathotep. There are plenty of intriguing and engaging tales of cosmic horror that could be set in the various different corners of Mythos-haunted Australia …

The process of getting this book out as a published work has been a very long road. I was brought on in 2012 as a writer (part of an all-Aussie team) and took over the project in 2013. A finished manuscript was submitted in early 2015 … and has taken a long time to make its way through the twisty-turny process of becoming a book. Subsequent to finishing this book, many of the authors expressed an interest in writing more Australian-based scenarios, but set in a diversity of historical eras — the resulting scenario anthology book, Australian Aeons, was completed in 2016 and subsequently purchased by Chaosium. The process of creating one of those historical scenarios in turn spawned Geoff Gillan’s awesome Convicts & Cthulhu setting which readers of this blog will probably be very familiar with. (If not, click here)

While the release of Terror Australis 2e is a moment of huge catharsis for me … it is probably even moreso for the very patient collection of authors who wrote parts of the book back in 2013 and haven’t heard much about the book since. So, I would especially like to extend some very special and heartfelt thanks to Marion & Phil Anderson (who wrote the two excellent new scenarios), Richard Watts (who wrote the sourcebook for his home-town of Melbourne, with flair of course), Geoff Gillan (who neatly summarized all of Australian history, while keeping all the juicy bits), as well as the book’s other writers (Darren Watson, Vian Lawson, and John Hughes, Tristan Goss, and James Haughton). I would also like to extend a particular thanks to James and John for their amazing an essential input to the sections on Indigenous Australian beliefs and culture — I learned a lot from writing and working through those sections with folks whose day jobs see them working to improve the (generally terrible) conditions in which most Indigenous Australian people still live.

[Note: the image at the top of this page shows Terror Australis 2e surrounded by original Aboriginal artwork from this blogger’s personal collection. All these pieces were sourced ethically — either directly from the artist or from established dealers who provided certificates of authenticity from the original artists to establish their provenance. The subject of cultural appropriation of Aboriginal art styles by Western artists is a big issue, and quite contentious one for cultural and spiritual reasons. I would strongly urge people purchasing such art to only do so when it is clear that their money is going to the original artist, and that artist is an Indigenous Australian person.]

 


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