Author Archives: deanadelaide

Dateline: Wallpaper + German Apokalypse

If you are a regular viewer of the Yog-Sothoth.com (YSDC) chat/podcast-y-type show “Beyond The Vale” and you tuned into yesterday’s episode, you might have noticed a nifty and large broadsheet newspaper page being used as a backdrop to their video feed. (And if you *don’t* know about all the great Lovecraft community stuff that goes on via YSDC, you should really check it out).

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That was a page from the physical newspaper at the heart of our Dateline: Lovecraft kit, a kind of prop-newspaper Arkham-based scenario-resource thingamy. Obviously the PDF version of this kit has been continuously available on DTRPG ever since we released it in 2018 … and the four tie-in scenarios that we’ve released to tie in with elements of the newspaper can all be downloaded for free from here on the blog. Heck, for one of those tie-in scenarios (Rachael B. Randolph’s soda-licious scenario “Bottoms Up!”) we even designed RedBubble merch! No, seriously.

But for anyone who has a yearning to obtain the physical newspaper prop and book set … we do have a small number of those physical items available. We haven’t been able to restock them at the HPLHS webstore (where they sold like hotcakes, I’m told) but we can sell individual copies direct from our own (very humble) webstore. Numbers are quite limited, though, and we’re not currently sure when we will make another print run — so if you’re interested, check out the store or otherwise drop us a line (feedback [at] cthulhureborn [dot] com always gets to us).

Hot on the heels of the recent detailed English-language review of the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook on Rolling Boxcars, we are very happy to announce another review of that book — this time in German, on the gaming blog Ringbote. If “du kannst Deutsch sprechen”, you can read the whole review via this link!


Rolling Boxcars Reviews APOCTHULHU Corebook

APOCTHULHU got a brand new — and very, VERY detailed — review today over on Rolling Boxcars. Veteran RPG reviewer Modoc put the game through its paces and teased out everything good (and less-good) about the game’s mechanics, settings, scenarios, and … everything else.

One point raised in this review is the variability of physical books produced Print On Demand (which is the only way to get APOCTHULHU at present). We agree with Modoc’s assessment that POD is much more variable than traditional offset printing — our own experience bears that out. To counterbalance that, though, we have heard anecdotal reports from customers who have identified shortcomings in their physical books — and complained to DriveThruRPG. All of those had been replaced for free …

So if ANYONE buys a POD title from us and finds the physical books not up-to-scratch (e.g., bad binding, as sadly occurred with Modoc’s review copy), we strongly encourage you to go back to DTRPG and ask them politely to replace the book. We don’t think it’s a common occurrence, but knowing that the printers will replace faulty items should give everyone a bit more confidence in the process.


The Victorian Apo-Hack

Welcome to another year — we’re looking forward to something new and (eventually) better from 2021, and we sincerely hope that’s true for you also.

Back in December we released the APOCTHULHU SRD — the barebones version of our full RPG engine that’s absolutely open and free for anyone to use (for personal or commercial projects). Ever since we did that we have been getting a steady stream of folks downloading the SRD, but also a steady stream of questions about the SRD.

The most frequent thing people ask about the SRD is … “so, can I use this to make game content that has nothing to do with Post-Apocalyptic stuff?” The simple answer to that is, “of course you can!” Open means OPEN; if you can find some way to recycle the rules of our game to make something completely new and original and unrelated to Apocalyptic worlds, you absolutely can. Not only that, we would LOVE for you to build your new content based on the skeleton of our game, and as per the terms of the OGL you don’t need to pay us a cent in licensing (as long as you follow the attribution and other rules in the OGL contract).

These various questions about recycling APOCTHULHU’s core system got us to thinking, though … what could WE do with that same rules engine. When designing the game — based upon other pre-existing OGL rulesystems, we might add — we looked to make something as flexible as possible. After all, APOCTHULHU is supposed to be able to power any number of different “end of the world” scenarios so it can’t be terribly specific to any one setting.

We realized when combing through the rules subsystems in our SRD, there are really only 4 areas that need to be tweaked to adapt the rules to an entirely new Lovecraftian setting. These are:

  1. Harshness: what types of environmental backgrounds in the new setting (if any) might be considered so awful that someone growing up there might be stronger-but-mentally-scarred? This is what APOCTHULHU’s Harshness ratings are all about. An auxiliary question is: if there are Harsh backgrounds, what types of “Adversity Skills” might someone be given to recognize the challenges they’ve needed to overcome to become a player-character adult
  2. Skills: The APOCTHULHU skills list is sort-of generic in lots of ways, but if you’re targetting a historical era or somewhere far in the future, they’ll need a bit of tweaking in some places
  3. Archetypes: Similarly, the set of character templates in the APOCTHULHU SRD are geared towards Post-Apocalyptic games; for other settings you’d need to devise some new archetypes particular to the time/place
  4. Equipment-related: Weapons and Vehicles available at different historical periods vary a lot. The generic list of both in the APOCTHULHU SRD are a good cross-section of possibilities, but for other settings you’d probably want to build more specific tables of both.

And that’s about ALL that needs tweaking to make a brand new flavour of Lovecraftian gaming — well, from a rules perspective anyway. To make a fully evocative setting you’d need to write a lot of flavour text to spark ideas in both players in GMs, but that’s a whole different type of RPG development.

As an experiment to validate the above, we decided we would see how easy it would be to hack the APOCTHULHU SRD to build the core mechanics for a Pre-Apocalyptic game set somewhere in the Victorian Age of history. That’s basically 1850s through to 1900. So, the kind of Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes kind of era.

Based on the above we devised a Victorian-Age variant of the APOCTHULHU Skills List and using that built 11 typical character archetypes for the era. We also put together some tables of weapons and vehicles common in the era.

You can download the PDF hack-notes here:

SRD HACK – Victorian Age Cthulhu

(it should go without saying that for this to be useful to you, you’ll also need the APOCTHULHU SRD file. Thankfully you can get this for free via this link or from DriveThruRPG if you’d prefer).

In the spirit of collaborative invention, we thought we’d share the results of our experimental hacking — if this material is helpful to you, feel free to use it however you want! If this kind of thing is especially helpful to other designers or game-hackers, we’ll create some more for other historical eras … drop a comment below if you have any ideas about cool settings that you’d think are crying out for a Lovecraftian treatment.


Just in Time for the End of the World

The release of the APOCTHULHU RPG is definitely our biggest achievement of the year — the culmination of a mammoth project that kicked off in December 2017. And while the core APOCTHULHU rulebook and the Pay-What-You-Want APOCTHULHU Quickstart have been out for a while (and are both selling better than we could have hoped), we’re definitely not done with APOCTHULHU.

Today we released three digital resource bundles that may help folks who are considering running one of the two big scenarios from the APOCTHULHU Core book — Jeff Moeller’s “Kick the Can” or Jo Kreil’s “A Yellow and Unpleasant Land.” If you’ve previously bought the core rules from DriveThruRPG you should receive a message to say three additional ZIP files have been added to your purchase: these are the newly-released bundles. But if you don’t receive such a message — or if you haven’t bought the book but are curious about its handouts — the links below will also get you to the new goodies.

Even while we were working on Jeff Moeller’s “Kick the Can”, we were kind of impressed by the inventive and weird way in which the scenario uses radio messages and voicemails. It’s hard to explain what’s so cool about it without spoiling the scenario, but if you’ve read it chances are you know what I mean. With all the odd audio snippets mentioned in the adventure it was only a matter of time before we got the urge to try to compose some recorded MP3 versions of the clips … to serve as kind of Audio Handouts. While we’ve done lots of Lovecraftian scenario handouts before, these are a first for us. But we are really excited about how well they turned out … and even more excited by the roster of gaming industry folks who lent their voices to recording these clips. I don’t want to be a shocking name-dropper, but if you grab the files below you’ll see some of those gaming luminaries in the PDF credits document.

All up, we recorded seventeen MP3s to go into the “Kick the Can” Audio Handout bundle. You can grab them ALL in one go by downloading the following ZIP file.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/zh/e/e8/WinZip_icon.png “Kick The Can” Audio Handout bundle — all 17 MP3s as a ZIP (16MB)

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to browse the 17 files individually (and also the PDF credits), the links below will let you do that.

ย  “Kick The Can” Audio Handout Credits (3 pages, 1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – CORE – Melqart’s Morse Summons (5MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – CORE – Jeanette [scenario handout #3] (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – FUTURE – All Hail Melqart (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – FUTURE – Radio Free Columbia (2MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – 911 Call (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Creeper (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Saoirse’s Call [Lita Version] (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Saoirse’s Call [Seth Version] (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Sports Talk Radio (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PAST – Telemarketer (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – PRESENT – Kimmy (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #1 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #2 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #3 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #4 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #5 (1MB)

“Kick The Can” Audio Handout – RANDOM SIGNALS – Background Wash #6 (1MB)

As well as now having a bunch of nifty MP3s, the “Kick the Can” scenario has a new bundle of images — JPG versions of the scenario’s handouts, map, and pre-generated Survivor characters. We had previously released all this material in a PDF, kind of like a booklet for GMs to pull apart and use. Various people have contacted us since we released the core rulebook to say that they’re playing our scenarios online using VTTs … and having all the handouts in a PDF makes prepping the online games harder than it should be. Given how many people are playing online at present, this seems like an important think for us to fix — hence the pack of JPGs we also released today for “Kick the Can”.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/zh/e/e8/WinZip_icon.png APOCTHULHU “Kick The Can” Isolated JPG Resources (15MB)

Naturally we never want to play favourites when it comes to our scenarios … so while we were at it, we also created a digital JPG pack (handouts/map/pre-gens) for Jo Kreil’s superb “A Yellow and Unpleasant Land”, also in the core rulebook.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/zh/e/e8/WinZip_icon.png APOCTHULHU “A Yellow and Unpleasant Land” Isolated JPG Resources (15MB)

We really do hope that the various new free add-ons that we’ve released today will be useful to everyone who’s been so kind as to purchase our book. This year has been a trial for everyone, but the number of folks who have come forward to grab a copy of our APOCTHULHU books (and also the game SRD) has really lifted the spirits of everyone on the creative team. Yeah, 2020 sucked, but you guys made it suck a lot less. You have our eternal gratitude!

Roll on 2021.


Ticket of Leave #16: The Devil to Play, Released!

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!


Busy Last Days of the Year

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a very productive year for us here at Cthulhu Reborn — we’ve brought the whole APOCTHULHU RPG into the world (for better or worse) and a couple of other publications as well.

But, we aren’t content to rest on our horrific laurels just because the demon-spawn-year (a.k.a. 2020) is almost at an end. In fact there are two nifty things that we are hoping to sneak out before the calendar clicks over. I thought I’d share a couple of details about what we have coming out soon …

With the massive amount of effort that has gone into our Post-Apocalyptic Lovecraft stuff, a couple of our other popular lines have received a lot less love. It’s a sad consequence of there being only so much time to go around … but we always wanted to go back and catch up on some new titles for ongoing lines.

Our first return to older fields will be Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket of Leave #16. This will be our 20th supplement for Convicts & Cthulhu, which is quite an achievement. Well I think so anyway. ToL#16 centres upon the theme of theatrical performance in the penal colonies … which is perhaps not something that immediately springs to mind as part of a prison settlement, and yet historically there were theatres almost from the very earliest days of Australian colonization.

Geoff has been working on the research for this supplement for a long time … and to be honest it might be backed up by the most thorough historical delving we’ve done so far. Because the historical records are pretty spotty, Geoff’s chased down quite a number of unusual avenues to get the sorts of details that we were after. Any time when you start celebrating because of a rare discovery buried away in someone’s 1975 Ph.D. thesis (recently shared online), you know you’re in the right place for some premium C&C writing. Geoff is so good at that kind of historical research that I am constantly in awe.

As well as all the evocative history stuff, this supplement will contain a challenging scenario that might just be our most baffling Lovecraftian mystery we’ve written yet. It’s also looking destined to be our longest scenario to date — I’m guessing it’ll be about 33 or 34 pages. And, as always, a Pay-What-You-Want release (here and on DTRPG)

If you have purchased the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook and read the two epic scenarios that are at the back, you will have encountered Jeff Moeller’s intriguing Apocalypse-by-fire tale “Kick the Can”. Without giving out any spoilers for this gruesome adventure … one unusual thing about it is the way the plot revolves around curious radio transmissions.

The Survivors begin the scenario in a bunker, having lived through some pretty unpleasant times, and their only clue about the new state of the world comes in the form of a weird message received on their CB Radio. As things go on, there are other stranger things that similarly lurch forth from the electromagnetic aether.

Because there are so many nifty radio/telephony kinds of clues in this scenario, one thing I thought would be sort of cool was to create a kind of “audio handout” pack. Something with a bunch of MP3s that the GM could whip out and play when the players say “ok, so what do we hear when the strange signal comes on?”

And so … that is exactly what we have created. With the help of a lot of folks willing to give their vocal talents (including some very famous people from the gaming industry, who have graciously agreed to help out). To make things more interesting than just nifty voice signals, we’ve put quite a bit of effort into creating a multi-layered background of interference, half-heard snatches of old broadcasts, and the like. In doing this we have found that there is a mountain of free (mostly Creative Commons released) audio over on The Internet Archive (a.k.a. the best place on the entire Web). We often source media from here — and we always ALWAYS give them a hefty donation each year to help them keep it free to everyone.

The “audio handouts” pack for Kick The Can will probably be about 15 MP3s of various sorts. In total it will be about 16 minutes of audio weirdness that you can bring to your gaming table — real or virtual — to make Jeff’s scenario even creepier than it already is. And it’s already pretty creepy. We will be releasing the MP3 pack as a free download … hopefully just before NYE. It’ll definitely be downloadable from here, and maybe elsewhere too.


Sharing the Apocalypse

If you’ve downloaded or purchased any of the APOCTHULHU books we’ve released this year, you might have noticed that they are released under the Open Gaming License (that is, the true Open Gaming License as originally created by Wizards of the Coast).

Why is that an important thing?

We’ve previously written here on the blog about the huge possibilities that are created through the open sharing of game mechanics and other content. While some parts of the Lovecraft RPG world seem to have spiraled in recent years towards bigger publishers trying to create proprietary closed games, there continues to be a huge general trend towards releasing content as free to re-use or remix. It’s a lot like the “open source” movement that has had a major impact on some parts of the IT industry, but for game mechanics and content.

We have always been excited by the possibilities created by the handful of D100-based games that have had their core mechanics released under OGL. In fact it was two such systems — Mongoose’s “Legend” and Arc Dream’s “Delta Green RPG” — that served as a direct inspiration for APOCTHULHU. Truth be told, there is no way that we could have created such a well-honed and balanced D100 system without the countless hours that went into making those earlier games … and those designers deciding to release their mechanics as open content.

Even as we have hugely benefited from OGL D100 rules, we want to make it easy for future gamers and designers to benefit from our own humble efforts. To that end we have compiled ALL of the open game mechanics from APOCTHULHU into a single document, our “System Reference Document”.

You can download it either directly via this link, or by going to DTRPG. It’s free either way.

Why might you be interested in the APOCTHULHU System Reference Document (SRD)? Well, if you are a game moderator or player you might like to take a look at the full (unillustrated) text of our game system. In fact, you could even play an entire game using the rules contained therein — all for free. Of course we think that the beautifully illustrated core rules make for easier reading, and that book contains mountains of setting and scenario content that aren’t in the SRD … but the system is described there in its full detail. If you are a game designer, you might be interested in nabbing a copy of the APOCTHULHU SRD if you wish to re-use some well-tested and extensive rules covering all aspects of a Lovecraftian D100 game (characters, skills, combat, sanity, etc).

If you do grab our SRD, you’re really free to do anything with it that meets to conditions of the Open Gaming License (see the end of the document for the full license text). That includes making future commercial products … as long as the licenses requirements around attribution and release are met. So, if you want to make the next great RPG and these rules will help you do that … borrow whatever you wish and make your dream system a reality!


Psst. Wanna Buy the al-Azif?

Normally we don’t fill this blog with promos about other people’s products … but I am going to make an exception today. Because today, dear reader, something very cool got released — issue #3 of Lovecraftian gaming magazine Bayt al-Azif.

You can download the PDF right now from DriveThruRPG, but the print edition is still a little way off.

Where once upon a time there used to be a whole bunch of gaming magazines which regularly included Lovecraftian game material, now there are only two. Bayt al-Azif is a kind of spiritual successor to the probably-dead-again The Unspeakable Oath. Like that earlier mag it covers a broad spectrum of games from the Lovecraftian family rather than just limiting itself to one or two. Also like TUO it offers a good mix of scenarios, helpful gaming resources, and even some material about gamers and the gaming hobby (which isn’t that common).

For issues #1 and #2, the fine publishers of Bayt al-Azif approached us to ask if they could reprint the “Year in Review” articles that I’ve been writing each January for the past few years. This year I didn’t actually manage to find time to write such a retrospective for the blog … so when they came asking for a contribution for Bayt issue #3 I needed to quickly research and write one especially for them. Well, I say quickly … but it still took over a week to pull everything together and write. There’s a lot of Lovecraftian RPG stuff released each year — especially if you try to cover ALL of it, not just the obvious CoC and DG material. Even with 10,000 words to devote to the topic there are still things that can only be mentioned fleetingly in passing.

In addition to writing the Year in Review article, I was also fortunate enough to contribute a handout for one the magazine’s scenarios … and we were able to scrape together some spare R’lyehan-coinage to take out a brand new full-page display ad promoting APOCTHULHU (see below).


The Apocalypse Laid Bare

Now that the first batch of physical copies of the APOCTHULHU Core Rulesbook is arriving, we’ve been getting some great feedback about the book.

Long time Cthulhu gamer (and writer) Max_Writer even went so far as to record a 9 minute video of his “unboxing” of the hardback book. This is great, because it shows pretty much the entire interior of the book as he pages through … so if you ever want to take a sneak peek, the link below is your gateway. In true Lovecraftian style, though, once seen … there’s no going back ๐Ÿ™‚


Apocalyptic News

A few small updates about the APOCTHULHU RPG.

1. We have heard that the first batch of print copies of the APOCTHULHU Core rules — pictured above — are starting to arrive in people’s mailboxes (in North America, at least). That’s fantastic news. We hope that everyone enjoys the book … and gives the game a spin with their gaming buddies sometime.

2. After a few delays, we have now approved the B&W interior editions of the APOCTHULHU Core book for sale. We made these editions (a softcover and a hardcover) to cater to old school gamers who prefer classic and sparse interior layouts.

The B&W versions are available via completely different channels to the colour print editions (hopefully to avoid confusion). If you want one, you can order it direct from Lulu using these links:

Note that Lulu frequently runs promotions which include discounts to the normal retail price of all printed books. Right now there is a 10% discount code; these appear fairly often and are definitely worth looking out for.

3. Our very VERY good friends at Yog-Sothoth.com (aka YSDC) are running a give-away APOCTHULHU promo as part of their live broadcast this Friday (the 13th of November). If you’d like to be in the running to score a free Hardcover copy of the core rules, listen in to their Beyond the Vale show.

We think YSDC is the premier online community for Lovecraftian RPGs (which, unlike some others is also quite tolerant of a diversity of games and viewpoints). As such, we’re proud to support them in this small way ๐Ÿ™‚


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