Category Archives: APOCTHULHU

A Glimpse of Future Apocalypses

It’s been a while since we posted any updates about upcoming APOCTHULHU titles. Rest assured we’ve been hard at work on several future books relating to different Lovecraftian Post-Apocalypse settings. In fact we’ve been so busy working on editing manuscripts for the very next book — an anthology of mini-campaigns — that we’ve been rather neglecting the blog. Sorry about that.

Starting next month I will be writing a series of posts describing some of the horrifically good adventures and source material that will go into a couple of books we will release later in the year.

For now, though, I thought it might be fun to simply share some of the cool art that has been created for upcoming APOCTHULHU books. Today I’d like to showcase a selection of pieces for our anthology book “Terrible New Worlds”. We have a mock up cover for that book …

Terrible New Worlds: An Anthology of four Mini-Campaigns for APOCTHULHU

When it came to commissioning the custom illustrations for this book we looked around at a lot of different artist portfolios, searching for the right look and feel. During that search we stumbled upon the work of an incredible Polish artist named Anna Helena Szymborska. You can see a sample of her work on this portfolio page.

We initially gave Anna the commissions for one scenario, but were so delighted with her creativity and eye for the macabre that we ended up asking her to do ALL the custom pieces for the entire book. And then we got her back for another entire book project (more on that later).

All that is my way of saying that Anna is an outstanding horror/sci-fi/fantasy genre artists. If you’re a publisher of games, fiction, or comics who commissions art in any of those genres, you might want to check out her style.

Anna’s Art for Mini-Campaign #1: Hold the Flood

Anna’s Art for Mini-Campaign #2: Throne of Corpses

Anna’s Art for Mini-Campaign #3: A Small Price

Anna’s Art for Mini-Campaign #4: Even Death May Die

Intrigued by these illustrations? Keep an eye out for future blog postings where we preview the four mini-campaigns that make up “Terrible New Worlds”, our next APOCTHULHU title!


Terror’s Triumph: Another review of APOCTHULHU

Since releasing the core rulebook for APOCTHULHU — just a few months ago — we have been excited to see a number of great (and mostly complimentary!) reviews published in a range of online venues.

Today, the much-read “Reviews From R’lyeh” posted their review … which is also pretty complimentary. You can read it here.

BTW for the several folks who have asked how things are progressing with future books in the APOCTHULHU line, the answer is … “very well, thanks for asking” :). We have the written manuscripts for the next two titles submitted and queued for editing. One will be an anthology of epic-sized-scenarios (each the same size as the ready-to-run adventures in the back of the core rulebook, ~50pp each). The other will be the highly-anticipated full sourcebook for William Hope Hodgson’s “Night Land” setting. For this, Kevin Ross has crafted a trio of amazing and imaginative journeys of exploration out into the pitch-black wastelands …

We are predicting both these books will be 2021 titles, with the scenario anthology arriving first. I don’t want to jinx things by setting actual release-dates yet, but rest assured we are working flat-out on getting these out there for folks to use in their Lovecraft and/or Post-Apocalypse games!


Alone Against the Apocalypse

We’ve recently been stoked to see mention of APOCTHULHU turning up on several discussion boards and other RPG-related channels. As a micro-sized publisher, we don’t have a lot of funds (or indeed time) to devote to comprehensively advertising our game in all the different places that gamers lurk, so having some word-of-mouth recommendations out there is gold for us.

One interesting (and unexpected) theme that’s emerged from a few comments posted online is the idea of adapting APOCTHULHU to solo play (that is, for running by yourself without a GM). I guess the continued locked-down state of many parts of the world means that a lot more people are getting their gaming fix in this way … and the free (and we think pretty awesome) scenario at the back of the APOCTHULHU Quickstart makes a great self-contained solo game.

Or so it would seem based on this recent comment accompanying Bob V.G.’s 5-star review of the Quickstart on DTRPG:

This week, I soloed my way through APOCTHULHU Quickstart Rules. I used the Mythic Game Master Emulator as the solo engine. It is in a unique setting about a gritty life in a Lovecraftian Post-Apocalypse. I used the six characters that are included with the adventure. The adventure quest is to meet up with a scientist. When the characters get near the town, everything starts going wrong. While they were waiting for him to show up, they had time to explore a town for food and weapons. In the hardware store they found Adam Hanes, a teenager. They got some information from him and agreed to meet at his place later. After exploring for a few hours, they visited Adam and two things happened there, (1) Adam fell in love with the dog that was travelling with the adventurers and (2) Adam’s sister told them that the scientist was taken by the cultists. The dog was left with Adam and the characters went to the “Church of the Blessed Rain”. There was a huge shootout inside the farmhouse. The characters managed to kill the cult leader and three cultists. And then a grenade was thrown into the kitchen where the PCs were fighting. Mariano died. Sig was the second to die as they were escaping. They did not want to lead the remaining cultists to Adam, so they went back home. They were not able to find the scientist, so the quest failed. Maybe you will have better luck. This quickstart has 72 pages – 31 pages for the rules, 24 pages for the adventure, 13 pages for the characters, and 2 maps. It was designed for a game master and several players. Give this exciting adventure a try!

Bob V.G. on DriveThruRPG

Bob isn’t the only person who has thought of adapting APOCTHULHU for solo play … in fact we were most excited to see an entire product turn up on DriveThruRPG dedicated to just that purpose. “Sole Survivor” is a PDF written by Peter Rudin-Burgess who has a blog called Parts Per Million which somewhat specializes in solo RPG adaptations. While we haven’t seen a copy of Peter’s PDF, the video on the DTRPG page does sound quite intriguing.

Sole Survivor, a PDF by Parts Per Million

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.

  “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.


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!


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 🙂


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 🙂


APOCTHULHU Core Available in Print

Halloween has come a little bit early here at Cthulhu Reborn’s non-Euclidean towers. For today we have the immense pleasure of announcing the first of the print editions for the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook has gone on sale!

For the record, we are planning to make the rulebook available in four(!) different editions — two with full-colour interiors (hardback, softback), and two with streamlined monochrome interior layouts (hardback, softback).

Today, we’ve made the two colour editions available for sale — these correspond directly to the (default) appearance of the PDF that many folks have purchased on DriveThruRPG. Photos of the two colour books are scattered through this post.

One of the features of our launch of the PDF back in August was that early purchasers of the PDF would receive a discount voucher for purchasing the print edition (the discount amount equaling the PDF purchase price). We are working through implementing those discounts now … if you bought the PDF you *should* have received an email from DriveThruRPG with details of a discount voucher for the Hardcover rulebook.

I say *should* because … well … DriveThru’s tools for doing this kind of thing are a little basic, and also many customers opt out of receiving mail from publishers (to avoid spam). So, if you did purchase the PDF and have NOT received an email about the discount … please, PLEASE drop us an email at vouchers@cthulhureborn.com so we can sort something out for you.

Creating a massive (330 page) rulebook for a brand new RPG has proven to be an exhausting experience … although thanks to the help of an amazing and inspiring crew of collaborators, we’ve not only made it but also created a finished product that I’m really proud of. I hope that those of you who decide to pick up a hardcopy think likewise when it slithers its way into your mailbox.

Oh, and for anyone who is curious about the monochrome interior editions … we are still waiting on one of the proofs before putting them on sale. They won’t be sold via DTRPG, but instead via direct purchases on Lulu (and perhaps Amazon if we can figure out how to do that :)).


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