Author Archives: deanadelaide

Brand new Greek-Language CoC7 sheets

Well, it’s been a bit quiet here on the blog … although there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes activity here at Cthulhu Reborn Underwater Lair, including the launch of a few new projects. I hope to share some news about cool new future releases sometime in the coming days.

We are also still working on the next in the Convicts & Cthulhu “Ticket of Leave” PDFs, although it is starting to look like that may not be released in April as planned but spill over into early May. It will be themed around colonial medical horror — so it’s strangely ironic that its delay is due to key folks getting ill. Maybe it’s evidence of the Curse of the Convict Sawbones at work!

One small activity that we *have* recently completed is the translation of both the 1920s and Modern-day CoC7e character sheets into Greek. This came as a request from a fervent fan of CoC who lives in Greece — where there is no current local publisher for the game — and wished that he and his players could use sheets in their local language. We were happy to oblige … with a lot of translation notes (we don’t speek Greek!). And since it’s always possible that there are other Greek-speaking gamers out there who might like to use these same sheets, I figured I would make them available for download here.

So … I present to you, the PDF version of the Greek-language 1920s CoC sheet, and the PDF version of the Modern-day equivalent. These files are also available on the Cthulhu Reborn downloads page (along with a lot of other cool character sheet designs). There are also JPG versions of front and reverse sides as well, if those are what you’re after.

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The Handout to End All Handouts

Despite the fact that this blog is really supposed to be dedicated to promoting all the great Lovecraftian products released under the Cthulhu Reborn banner, every now and again we are seduced into promoting amazing things released by other people. This is particularly the case when said things heavily feature content created by us …

In this vein, we are extremely excited to be able to share with you the first sample pages for Absinthe in Carcosa, a huge “in world” prop/sourcebook thingamy to be published by Pelgrane Press as part of their hugely successful Kickstarter-funded Yellow King RPG. The concept behind this 192 lavishly illustrated tome is explained over on the Pelgrane Press website (by Robin D. Laws, no less!). We were involved fairly heavily in turning Robin’s concept into fully-realised faux scrapbook pages — contributing about 180 pages of Photoshop montage illustrations to make up the body of the book. And yes, that is a lot of things to Photoshop.

For a glimpse at a few of these, see below!

 


Ticket of Leave #10 Released!

Who would have thought, back when we published the Convicts & Cthulhu core setting (in May 2016), that it would go on to spawn 10 supplements! Certainly not us. But we are very pleased that the demand for Convict-related Lovecraftian game material has allowed us to explore many diverse corners of this dark and brutal world.

Ticket of Leave #10 is available right now as a 17-page PDF download from here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog, absolutely free. This release differs in format slightly from previous releases in the series in that it is almost entirely scenario-related material (as opposed to a mix of historical source material and game stuff). It’s also probably true that the specifics of this particular scenario are less tied to the Convicts setting than usual, making it transplantable to being set in other times and places.

This release is titled “The Doom That Came To Five Dock” and concerns a tale of devastating destruction in a remote corner of the convict colony. In the early days of European settlement, knowledge of the (very unfamiliar) Australian flora and fauna was very sketchy — and many lived in fear that strange beasts might roam the darker corners of the bushland. This scenario begins with a lurid story that suggests that one of the staging docks used by ferrymen as they ply the river between Parramatta and Sydney may have been destroyed — in a most unlikely way. According to a lone survivor, the wharves and buildings were not brought down by a storm, or freak tide, or even an uprising by the Aboriginal people. Rather, it was destroyed … by an enormous insectoid horror!

Keepers who have been itching to send their Convict-era investigators on a (literal!) bug-hunt, will find this the perfect scenario to slake that desire. Of course, in true Lovecraftian fashion there is also an investigative element as well … although, as usual knowledge of what is really going on does not necessarily equate to a quick and easy solution to the horror. Life as an investigator is never simple.

As with all of our Ticket of Leave scenario seeds, the Keeper is provided with three different ways in which the machinations of the Cthulhu Mythos may have become entangled in the affairs of mankind, providing several options for integrating the scenario into your ongoing campaign.

Ticket of Leave #10: The Doom That Came To Five Dock is available right now for free download from the Cthulhu Reborn blog, complete with game statistics for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition (under Chaosium’s fan license). For complicated reasons associated with Intellectual Property restrictions imposed by Chaosium, we’ve also created a stat-free version released via DrivethruRPG — in all likelihood, if you’re reading this post, you’ll probably want the version with all the game stats.

We hope you and your group enjoy this bug-filled tale of horror and convict intrigue! We are hoping to continue with the pattern that we’ve established of releasing something new for Convicts & Cthulhu every couple of months — certainly if this one “sells” as well as the past few have done, then we will certainly keep this line of “mini” supplements going.


Australia: where even the insects can kill

It’s February … and that means it is time for our bi-monthly Ticket of Leave release. This time around we will be going for a slightly different format … but one which I think most C&C gamers will be able to fit easily into their convict campaigns. The text of the ToL is written … assuming editing and layout go smoothly, you should see this new release sometime around the middle of the month.

Here’s a teaser … a new art piece by the always brilliant Reuben Dodd.

Watch the skies!


Cthulhians All Let Us Rejoice

Australian readers would be well aware that today, January 26, is Australia Day — the national holiday that commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of colonists to the shores of New South Wales in 1788. Although the significance and symbolism of this particular day has recently been hotly debated, in the context of Convicts & Cthulhu, these early events in the history of European settlement “down under” are more than a little significant. So, if there were any day that inspired the need to brush off your copy of C&C and invite a few friends over to share a horrific tale of convict life … today would be it!

But January 26th is important to Australian history not just because of the arrival of the First Fleet … but arguably just as important as the anniversary of the rather scurrilous and corrupt military uprising known popularly as the Rum Rebellion. Exactly 210 years ago today, a group of highly-placed military officers (egged on by a wealthy landowner hungry for more power and influence) stormed into Government House in Sydney and put the Governor — the infamous and foul-mouthed William Bligh — under arrest. They then proceeded to set themselves up as de facto rulers of the colony, much to the dismay of the Colonial Office back in London.

The historical details surrounding this rather dramatic and dark part of Australia’s early history is described in a fair amount of detail in the Convicts & Cthulhu book (so I won’t repeat it here). Interestingly, this unusual quirk of history very seldom gets a lot of mention … growing up in Australia and being schooled in early colonial history I never once heard that, for a short time the country was under the rule of an upstart military junta.

Folks who have read the material we have published for the Convicts & Cthulhu setting might have imagined to themselves that the dramatic and booze-soaked events of the Rum Rebellion might be an interesting backdrop for a degenerate tale of Lovecraftian horror. Guess what …? We thought so too — in fact the whole C&C setting began life as the sourcebook half of a Rum Rebellion scenario called “The Demon Drink” that Geoff Gillan wrote for a compilation of Australian historical scenarios for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition.

Now, you might be wondering what exactly happened to this fine scenario of Rum-soaked horror … well, it (along with seven other great scenarios) is sitting with Chaosium as part of a book tentatively titled “Australian Aeons”. Prior to selling the book to Chaosium in June 2016, we made the decision to commission art for it from the ever-amazing Reuben Dodd. Most of the pieces he drew for “Australian Aeons” have yet to see the light of day … but I thought in the spirit of Australia Day, and the Rum Rebellion, maybe I would share some here on the CR blog.

Before anyone asks what the publication ETA might be for “Australian Aeons” … I have no idea, although I am hopeful that it will progress through Chaosium’s production queue and hopefully emerge sooner-rather-than-later. But, for those who hunger after some juicy morsels of Antipodean horror both historical, modern, and post-Apocalyptical … the wait will be worth it, believe me 🙂

In the meantime … fire up the barbie, pour yourself a coldie, and celebrate the anniversary of the libidinous summoning of one of the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.


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).

 


CthuReview 2017, part 3 – Other Games

In preceding parts of this review of 2017 Lovecraftian tabletop RPG releases, we have focused mainly on the squamous ecosphere that exists around Chaosium and it’s venerable Call of Cthulhu RPG. While this is where the idea of Lovecraftian roleplaying started, it’s certainly not true that Chaosium has a monopoly on the creations of HPL and others — and as such it is unsurprising that numerous other games release material that feature those dread horrors, sometimes in familiar context and other times in quite radically-different ways. This trend towards more and more non-CoC supplements featuring investigative horror scenarios and resources inspired by Lovecraft, has kicked into high gear over the last decade or so. Hence it’s hardly surprising that 2017 saw quite a number of new Lovecraftian RPG products that target non-Chaosium game systems.

This summary is, by necessity, going to probably be incomplete. There’s a lot of stuff out there and only some of it drifts across my consciousness — if you know of something important that I’ve missed, get in touch via the contact form at the bottom of the post and I’ll try to remediate the oversight later.

Cthulhu Dark

One of the titles I’ve most looked forward to in recent months is the re-published (super-deluxe) hardback for Cthulhu Dark, Graham Walmsley’s minimalist RPG of Lovecraftian terror. Those who have previously encountered Cthulhu Dark will know that it is extremely lean when it comes to mechanics — in fact the basic rules can be written down in just 2 or 3 pages of a book. So, you might be wondering how Graham’s highly successful Kickstarter could possibly take that super-simple system and turn it into a 192-page hardback book.

As it turns out, the answer is … very easily. The deluxe edition of Cthulhu Dark still features (slightly tweaked versions of) the same ultra-streamlined rules that has been published for free elsewhere. But it also includes a slightly more expansive explanation of those same rules and then a mountain of helpful resources and scenarios for the Gamemaster’s eyes. The rules themselves take up only the first 20 or so pages of the beautifully-illustrated book. The next 40 or so pages are given over to general advice about how to write compelling mysteries featuring Lovecraft’s creations (and more importantly his thematic elements). The remainder of the book is taken up by setting and scenario information. In order to promote diversity, Graham has chosen to not just support the traditional “Arkham 1920s with stodgy old white professors” type of setting, either. Yes, you can certainly play Cthulhu Dark that way .. but the settings described in the rulebook are much more unorthodox than that. There is a Gaslight setting which focuses on players taking on the roles of mudlarks rather than gentlemen; there’s an Arkham 1692 setting (by Kathryn Jenkins); there’s a modern-day setting in a fictional African nation (by Helen Gould); and there’s a Cyberpunk Mumbai setting. For each of these there is a scenario included in the book. All up that makes for a pretty full book.

Because the rules part of the Cthulhu Dark rulebook are so brief, it’s also very tempting to think of this book as much as a source of ideas for other Lovecraftian games — it would be quite easy to pick up any of the elements described in its pages and repurpose them for Call of Cthulhu, or any other system.

In addition to the printed book, the Cthulhu Dark Kickstarter unlocked two other PDF-only supplements as well. One of these is a 1930s “Dust Bowl” scenario by Mo Holkar; the other is a WWI scenario featuring African-American soldiers (by Chris Spivey of “Harlem Unbound” fame).

Delta Green RPG

Ever since Pagan Publishing first created Delta Green as a modern-day conspiracy-style horror setting for Call of Cthulhu (in the mid-90s), it has occupied a unique place in the world of Lovecraftian RPGs. Much-beloved by a loyal cadre of fans and almost blatent in its efforts to strike out on a different type of route for modern horror than the “default” Call of Cthulhu setting for modern-day, Delta Green has been continuously developed and detailed as a setting through a series of books sporadically published first by Pagan and then as joint ventures between Pagan Publishing and Arc Dream.

In 2015, the creative forces behind Delta Green surprised the Call of Cthulhu world with the announcement of a Kickstarter for a new “rebooted” edition of the setting. The surprise came not so much from the fact that the setting was being radically overhauled (to bring the pre-Millenial sensibilities of the original DG into the post-9/11 age) … but from the announcement that the future Delta Green would *not* be a sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu, but have its own rule system, somewhat reminiscent of BRP but independent of it. Furthermore, the rule system developed for the new game (although not the DG setting itself) would also be released under the OGL, meaning that anyone could use it freely as part of a different game as long as the terms of the OGL license were honoured.

The first book release by Arc Dream’s hugely successful Kickstarter — the Agent’s Handbook — came out in 2016, and detailed the basic rules for the game. But it was in 2017 when the bulk of the books began to see the light of day. The biggest DG release during the year was the Handler’s Guide, a massive (370 page) book which outlines the past and present shape of the DG conspiracy, the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos, and a range of other things that a Gamemaster needs to know to run games using the setting.

In addition to this major milestone, Arc Dream have also slowly been drip-feeding the release of scenarios for the new game system, all of which are available for free to Kickstarter backers as PDF but also available as Print-on-Demand softcover books. In a generous move, Arc Dream have provided KS backers with discount vouchers on the print versions of the books. During 2017 six scenarios were released in this way:

There were also several other Kickstarter-backer-only PDF releases during 2017 — so it was certainly the year that the “rubber hit the road” for the DG:RPG.

Gumshoe / Trail of Cthulhu

Pelgrane Press have carved out a very enviable niche for themselves in the Lovecraftian and Horror RPG domain — they are kind of the folks whose experiments with form and structure continue to delight (and also keep winning ENnie Awards!). This probably shouldn’t be surprising since the company has a couple of the most prolific and accomplished writers in the industry working on their books … and is also the most professionally run of any of the companies producing Cthulhu-related material (and nice to work for as well).

The main organ for Pelgrane’s forays into the Cthulhu publishing world has, til now, been the Trail of Cthulhu game — an adaptation of the Gumshoe rules to the genre of Lovecraftian investigative horror. While the game system isn’t necessarily to everyone’s taste, I’ve always thought that the quality of the writing that Pelgrane brings to this line more than justifies picking up most of its releases … even if just as examples of alternative ways that the genre can work.

In 2017, there were two releases for Trail of Cthulhu“Out of the Woods” and “Cthulhu City”. The first of these is a scenario anthology which weighs in at five scenarios spanning 168 pages. The theme binding all these tales together is the primeval ancient fear of the archetypal “deep, dark forest” and the opportunities for nasty Lovecraft-inspired horrors to lurk in such places. The second volume, “Cthulhu City” is something much stranger. Written by the always-impressive Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan this book offers a somewhat surrealistic alternative depiction of the town of Arkham which takes Lovecraft’s geography and twists it into a nightmarish world where cyclopean skyscrapers stand side-by-side with baroque ruined buildings … It all sounds weird and evocative (and since I haven’t yet read it, I can’t really say anything more).

Technically not part of the Trail of Cthulhu line, but a pioneer release of a new line called Gumshoe One-2-One, Cthulhu Confidential is the other big Lovecraftian release by Pelgrane during 2017. The idea behind the One-2-One line is that it is an adaptation of Gumshoe that is especially designed for running games with one Gamemaster and one player. The Cthulhu Confidential setting is a hard-boiled “film noir” setting which plunges players into either the seedy underbelly of 1930s Los Angeles, or other similarly grimy American settings (the core book also includes a noir depiction of 1930s NYC, and a Washington, DC setting as well).

Clockwork & Cthulhu / Rennaisance

For reasons described in mid-2017 blog postings on Cthulhu Reborn, we have recently been very actively looking around at other game systems that provide convenient (and license free) vehicles for publishing Lovecraftian material. Perhaps the biggest surprise to emerge from that survey of game systems was the (re-)discovery of the excellent work that has been done in recent years by Cakebread & Walton to create and support various Lovecraftian adaptations of their BRP-clone Rennaisance system. In 2017, there was one notable release for this line — “The Heydelberg Horror”. This scenario, set in Europe of the early 17th Century, is the first part in an ongoing campaign called “A Clockwork of Orange” which promises to take investigative agents across Europe and into the heart of the Holy Roman Empire.

Systemless

One of the stranger Cthulhu-related tabletop RPG Kickstarters to be run in 2017 was the campaign to fund a systemless scenario called “Pax Cthulhiana”, written by a couple of Norwegian guys. The approach taken to the challenge of avoiding all game mechanics — and thereby making the scenario equally playable (or non-playable, depending on your perspective) with any game system, make it a noteworthy experiment. Having recently received the print copy of the Kickstarter book it’s easy to see that a lot of work went into this book, which has some great art. The scenario also has its own musical soundtrack. Without having read the scenario itself I can’t really comment on whether it achieves its goal of making a fully-playable game without reference to specific rules. The idea certainly has promise, though.

Other Games

As well as the products mentioned above, there were a number of other game products released in 2017 that had ties to Cthulhu and Lovecraft in some way, shape, or form:

  • The “Leagues of Cthulhu” Kickstarter by Triple Ace Games (which brings Lovecraftian gaming to the Ubiquity game system) delivered its final PDFs in 2017 (although print copies are still pending.
  • The long-delayed “Raiders of R’lyeh”, which had previously released early PDF versions of their d100-inspired system in previous years. In 2017 they released a final version of the rules (although print copies are still pending).

  • Another huge 2016 Kickstarter was one to create a guidebook outlining game statistics of Cthulhu Mythos horrors for the Pathfinder system. Drawing heavily on artwork created for Cthulhu Wars, this monstrously-huge (500+ page book) finally saw light of day in 2017. Titled (somewhat inaccurately) Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos, it includes game information relevant to all the standard open-source Cthulhu Mythos gods and monsters, as well as a handful of original creations designed for the Cthulhu Wars miniatures game.
  • Lurking at the borderlands of being an “RPG product” is Cubicle 7’s boxed storytelling game “Cthulhu Tales”, also funded as a Kickstarter which delivered in 2017. This game features a deck of “story cards” and “hazard cards” and challenges players to each spin a tale using them (the central conceit of the game being that everyone is a patient in an asylum flashing back to the horrific situation that brought them there).

To be Concluded …

Did We Miss Something?


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