Recently our good friends at Kalandhorizont in Hungary released their translated version of the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook! We are so pleased to have been able to work with them on this — they’ve got a great track record (having produced Hungarian language versions of such diverse RPGs as Trail of Cthulhu, Blue Planet, and Runequest).
Over the past couple of days we have been sharing some of the winning entries in our recent “Nyarlathotep’s Favorite Things” competition (aka that thing where we asked people to invent cool Post-Apocalypse settings brought about by NFTs and the Cthulhu Mythos).
Today we are THRILLED to be presenting the entry by Alonso Aguilar that our judges awarded FIRST PLACE. For his troubles, we’ve sent Alonso two hardback books — a copy of the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook and a copy of its scenario anthology companion Terrible New Worlds.
We hope you enjoy Alonso’s entry (reproduced below in full) as much as we did! If you’d like to turn it into a setting for your own game of dystopian Post-Apocalyptic horror …? Heck, we won’t stop you!
The NFT Apocalypse … by Alonso Aguilar
There’s an auction happening. Nobody really knows what exactly is being offered, but that hasn’t been a problem before. The site does seem a little bit shady, at least for these kind things. A bidding form and an Ethereum value constantly going up.
Nobody really knows what the initial asking price was. Everyone that’s in this mentions a different sum. Some started bidding a week ago, some a month ago. Some even say they’ve been bidding for a year. But no one can stop. The thrill that comes from submitting that bid is like something no one has experienced before. Goosebumps, orgasm, a chill down your spine, the sensation of a spontaneous decline on a dodgy roller coaster… All happening at the same time. A brief epiphany of pure, unadulterated joy rapidly vanished by someone outbidding almost immediately.
Everyone I know is a part of this now. We haven’t gone out in weeks, waiting for the perfect moment for the final scoop. We take turns looking at the screen, omnipresent in its reddish glow. It isn’t a question of wanting, it’s a necessity. Something primal, even.
Lately we’ve heard some tremors coming from behind the door, but nobody I’ve spoken to knows what’s really going on. The news occasionally pop in the background with mumbles about “insurmountable damage” and “creaking from the skies”, “a worldwide phenomenon” and “the end of the social contract”. Nobody really knows anything about that, we’ve got bigger things to worry about.
The number of bids is now in the billions. The tremors have increased, and protests have started outside. I can hear their howls and hollerings beyond the door. Some of the other bidders have succumbed to the outcry, but that just means a better chance for the rest of us.
Yesterday we shared the third-place entry in our recent competition to describe a dystopian future which somehow arose through the combination of cosmic Cthulhoid horrors and Non-Fungible Tokens.
Second place in the contest went to long-time friend of the Cthulhu Reborn blog, Tyler Hudak, who submitted an intriguing take on the NFT-Apocalypse (his entry is below). For his troubles, we sent Tyler a hardback copy of Terrible New Worlds, our first scenario anthology for the APOCTHULHU RPG.
We hope you enjoy Tyler’s nightmare vision of the future … who knows, you might even want to run a game there …
The NFT Apocalypse … by Tyler Hudak
In late 2021, the world was introduced to Ingress, a new blockchain that used one-tenth of the power needed by other blockchains. This allowed anyone to run the Ingress program, on any system, anywhere.
Ingress also allowed runners to automatically create unique images, or NFTs, iterating toward a final perfect image. Ingress founders stated that the runner who created the final image would win millions of dollars. People joined into teams, jokingly calling themselves “cults”, to run Ingress on devices worldwide.
In reality, Ingress was casting a ritual. When the program was run, a spell was cast that claimed a piece of the runner’s soul into the blockchain. The more souls taken by Ingress, the closer it came to its final goal – opening a gate to allow the Great Old One, V’ev’anox, to enter this world.
When the final image was created, the ritual completed and the gate was opened through the runners themselves. 70% of the world’s population were immediately consumed by the ritual. Another 20% were shortly destroyed by V’ev’anox and its unspeakable minions.
Years later, many attempt to survive but deal with warring cults and the indescribable horrors brought through the gate. Insane runners that survived the ritual continued their cults and took over power centers to run Ingress, keep the gate open, and V’ev’anox in this world. Non-runners have acquiesced to these cults and joined them to survive and keep their power on.
The cults are power hungry and hunt down those with any type of energy. To stay hidden from these cults, some communities have reverted to pre-industrial revolution ways. Other survivors, however, work to find a way to stop Ingress, free those trapped in the blockchain, close the gate, and return the world to humanity.
Recently we ran a competition asking folks to pitch us their ideas for a Mythos-fuelled Apocalypse which somehow involved those real-world modern-day horrors: Non-Fungible Tokens.
Our judges were incredibly impressed by the diverse and imaginative entries we received; picking a pair of winners for the hardback books was certainly quite a challenge.
Narrowly missing out on the first and second prize was the entry below, submitted by Aaron Sinner. As a thank you, we decided to create a third prize (a PDF of the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook) and award that to Aaron for his fine work!
We will be sharing the first and second place entries over the coming days … in the meantime, congratulations Aaron!
The NFT Apocalypse … by Aaron Sinner
The near future: Crypto enthusiast Valentin Dyatlov develops a computer virus engineered to wreak havoc upon the global financial sector, wiping out balances and mucking up records in order to demonstrate the folly of a centralized banking system. The ensuing distrust in financial institutions leads the populace to abandon banks en masse, moving their money into decentralized blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. Bank runs cause the implosion of major financial institutions, marking a point of no return.
Like the proverbial dog that caught the car, this mass migration to cryptocurrency poisons the system. Individuals shift their finances between different decentralized cryptocurrencies, chasing The New Hotness as they strive to become early adopters and capture the greatest financial reward. Rampant cycling between currencies creates substantial volatility in personal wealth —everyone’s personal fortunes are driven by precisely when they cash in and out of any particular currency.
The real consequence, however, is that the energy consumption required to sustain these decentralized currency networks is eating the planet. Energy costs soar, destabilizing the electrical grid and leading to rolling blackouts. Astronomical gas fees on every transaction grind commerce to a halt.
Into this wasteland enters the Mythos. Shoggoths leave the frozen wastes of Antarctica and exploit the blackouts, migrating under cover of darkness. Cults emerge worshipping The God of the Green Flame, a deity its devotees claim can provide ample energy in a world of power scarcity. No one is certain as to the veracity of their claims—and if true, what unintended consequences summoning The Green Flame might bring, or terms might undergird this devil’s bargain.
Mystery surrounds the fate of Valentin Dyatlov and his culpability in the world he created. Is he a misguided fanatic who unleashed a future he never envisioned? An unwitting stooge to greater forces? Or the mastermind behind this new world order?
There’s been a lot of interesting debate in recent days on various online platforms about the role of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) in tabletop RPGs. This has all been spurred by news that one of the traditionally largest publishers of Lovecraftian RPGs reportedly has ambitions to capitalize upon this technology to help fund their business model. If you haven’t seen the lively conversation — these Reddit threads give you a good sample: thread one, thread two, thread three, thread four.
Now, while we have our own very strongly-held views on NFTs (we would never touch them, not even with a large bhole), we figure that you folks don’t read this blog to hear about our position on finance technology and the social and environmental ills particular schemes generate. So, we won’t be using this forum to discuss or debate the topic.
However, as publishers of an RPG of Post-Apocalyptic Lovecraftian horror, a few of the comments dropped casually into the Reddit comments got us to thinking … is there a way to turn this whole topic into a creative resource? Is there SOME way in which NFTs, in some foul conjunction with one of the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos actually brings about a literal Apocalypse? I don’t know about you, but that feels like a cool (and topical) game that I’d love to play.
Rather than try to dream up one set of ideas (based on our own limited imaginations), we thought it might be a lot more fun to solicit ideas from all of you fine readers. And to incentivise folks to put some of their precious time to sharing their cool ideas, we’ve decided to offer a couple of hardcover print editions of our APOCTHULHU books as rewards for the best ideas.
Yes, that’s right … I think I am announcing a competition!
“Imagine there’s an NFT or Crypto Apocalypse” Contest
Here are the important details:
What do you have to do? Just describe a Post-Apocalytic setting where some combination of NFTs/Cryptocurrency and the Cthulhu Mythos (not necessarily working in collaboration), brought the downfall of civilization. What terrifying forces now rule the planet? What groups of survivors eke out a tenuous living amid the rampaging horrors? Can they still access their Crypto wallets? There’s no need to include game stats, just your descriptive ideas.
How many words? To keep it easy for us to read everyone’s cool ideas, we’ll cap the submissions at 300 words (which is the same we ask for authors pitching ideas for our publications).
What are the prizes? For the idea that we think is the most evocative, creepy, and original we’ll happily reward the devious submitter two books: a hardback copy of the APOCTHULHU RPG (RRP US$41.95) and a hardback copy of Terrible New Worlds (RRP US$38.95). For the idea which is the most off-the-wall-crazy we’ll send the submitter one or the other of those books, whichever they prefer.
How to submit? You can either use the form at the bottom of this page to send ideas, or email them to contest [at] cthulhureborn.com.
How long do you have? We will keep submissions open until midnight UTC on Tuesday, March 15 (the Ides of March)
What about ownership of ideas etc? You will retain ownership and copyright of all the content you submit to us, but by submitting it you’re also agreeing to us sharing some or all of your submission here on the blog. If we really like your idea, we reserve the right to work with you to develop it into a full-blown APOCTHULHU scenario for publication, but that would be via a separate paid arrangement that we’d sort out with you under our standard freelance contract.
Other random Ts & Cs: Winners will be judged by a panel of Cthulhu Reborn core contributors; after their decision is made, no correspondence will be entered into. Books will be sent to all winners with all shipping and other fees paid by us.
Things are ticking along nicely with plenty of folks picking up free (or donation-backed) copies of our first three SRDs for Cthulhu Eternal (Modern Age, Jazz Age, and Victorian Era). We’ve been delighted to see downloads of the SRDs recently click over to 1500 copies — and have been a little surprised to see that the Modern Day edition of the rules seems most popular with downloaders.
One comment we’ve received several times (for CE and also APOCTHULHU) is that it would be great if there were statted versions of Lovecrafts monstrous creations that could be easily dropped in to a Cthulhu Eternal scenario. Rest assured, on this particular subject we have something special planned.
Long-time readers of the blog might remember some discussion a couple of years back that scratched the surface on which of HPL’s creations are definitively in the public domain. This investigation was picked up by an amazing team of researchers in Germany who went back and re-read every public-domain Lovecraft story and created stats for the original monsters mentioned in their pages. They created their own (German-Language) RPG called FHTAGN which collected all these game stats into a fully-OGL sourcebook and free-to-access website.
The best part — the FHTAGN system is derived from the exact same game engine that we have used for APOCTHULHU and Cthulhu Eternal. So, their creature stats, ritual stats, tome stats, etc., are all fully compatible with our games. The only snag is that they are only available in German.
Recently, though, the FHTAGN folks — heartily encouraged by us — decided to translate all this treasure trove of fantastic material (some 40,000 words of game content) into English. As they do this, we will absorb (and maybe tweak if needed) their awesome material to be useful for APOCTHULHU GMs and Cthulhu Eternal GMs.
So excited are we by the prospect of having fully OGL open creature stats for Lovecraft’s public domain creations, that we have jumped ahead slightly and had a few of the stat blocks from FHTAGN translated ourselves. So, without further ado, I bring you … the Mi-Go (or Fungi from Yuggoth)! More translated critters in coming days …
The Fungi from Yuggoth
The body of a Mi-Go is essentially comprised of a colony of fungal microorganisms. Each is part of a larger whole and together form an independent, functional unit that is designed for a specific task. Depending on the situation, a Mi-go’s physical form can be redesigned and reconfigured. As a result, eyewitness descriptions often differ, sometimes drastically. Some accounts describe encounters with hairy “snowman”, while others report cancerous beings. Still other people claim to have seen terrible fungal monstrosities. In fact, all are accurate reports.
In order to transport minerals and ores, Mi-go can form hair-like tentacles all over their bodies, capable of holding and carrying rocks. In combat situations, they can defend themselves with cancerous nippers.
In order to move unseen among communities of other beings, Mi-go have the ability to camouflage their exterior with a waxy substance. In this way, they can take on an almost human appearance. In some situations, Mi-Go may develop membranous wings that enable them to fly between planets (or even into the depths of interstellar space). The dense atmosphere on Earth makes these wings less effective, but the Mi-Go can still use them to (gracelessly) launch into flight and remain aloft for an extended period. One of their favorite tactics when engaging humans in combat is to grapple them up with their nippers (PIN maneuver) and drag their victim upwards into the sky – dropping them from a great height.
The “shell” that comprises the outer layer of a Mi-go’s physical form interacts with visible light in an unnatural way and therefore cannot be captured on conventional film or digitally. Because of this and because Mi-go have numerous sense organs that alien to human understanding, the creatures are extremely sensitive to light. During the day they retreat into mines and cave systems, usually only coming out at night.
STR 16 CON 14 DEX 13 INT 17 POW 15
HP 15 WP 15
Size category: Medium.
Movement: Mi-Go can move 9 meters/yards in a combat turn on the ground; 11 meters/yards while flying.
Armor: none, but see RESILIANT TO PUNCTURE AND BULLETS and UNNATURAL ORGANISM below.
vs Lethal Damage: UNEARTHLY COMPOSITION – Mi-go are comprised of a spongy fungoid matter that absorbs some types of energy and morphs around kinetic shocks. If attacked with a traditional weapon or explosive that deals Lethal Damage, check to see whether the attack roll was an odd or even number. If odd, the Mi-go’s alien composition renders the damage ineffectual; if even, it is affected as per normal. A successful Lethality roll kills the creature.
50%, damage 1D6+2
50%, range 20 yards, damage is electric shock. Can vary from simply STUN damage to Lethal 20% damage (see ELECTRO-PULSE WEAPON below). [Note that normal armor does not provide protection against electric shock].
Skills: Alertness 60%, Athletics 40%, Search 60%, Stealth 60%, plus numerous specialized scientific and technical skills, all at expert level (60%+).
LIMITED SHAPE CHANGING: The body of a Mi-Go can be reconfigured to a limited extent for its current activity. This takes a few minutes. No matter what a Mi-Go looks like from the outside, its inside remains a hideous fungal creature.
ELECTRO-PULSE WEAPONS: Mi-go Lightning Weapons can be set to varying intensity levels. At the lowest level, effect is limited to STUN. At the highest level, a successful attack delivers 20% Lethality damage. Whether struck by a low-powered or high-powered blast, any target that survives is effectively immobilized as their sensory and motor nerve center is paralyzed. Each subsequent turn, the survivor can make a CON × 5 test to shake off the paralysis and return to mobility next turn. Even after the immediate paralysis subsides, the victim suffers –20% on all actions for 1d20 turns. The human body is an excellent conductor of electricity. Anyone who touches the target of a Mi-Go Lightning Weapon attack will suffer the same effects.
THOUGHT TRANSFER: The Mi-Go usually communicate using telepathy. Without technical aids, they are unable to audibly speak. However, through a communication implant, they can understand and imitate human language.
SENSITIVITY TO LIGHT: Bright light is very uncomfortable for Mi-Go and they avoid it where they can, as it confuses their senses. In strong artificial light or in broad daylight, they receive a penalty of –20% on all tests.
ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY: Mi-Go have access to many different forms technology, each superior to anything humanity has developed. This includes Lightning Projection Weapons (see above) and Brain Cylinders (capable of keeping a human brain alive outside the body indefinitely).
RESILIANT TO PUNCTURE AND BULLETS: Damage from puncturing weapons and firearms is halved.
UNNATURAL ORGANISM: The fungal colony that serves as the physical body of a Mi-Go does not have any obvious weak points or vulnerable body areas. A CALLED SHOT to increase damage is therefore not possible, and critical success on an attack roll does not deliver double damage as normal. Their weird physical composition also makes them partially resistant to Lethal damage (see above).
SAN Loss: 1/1D8.
The Mi-Go are extremely intelligent. It is safe to assume that they have both economic and strategic goals on earth, where they are known to mine certain mineral resources. They would seem to have developed infrastructure, technology and suitable structures to support their mining activities. In some cases, they may even have entered into bargains or deals with corrupt human to help achieve their unknowable goals. In this way it is conceivable that some stray individuals might be acting as agents of the Mi-Go in human society.
Within our solar system, the Mi-Go’s primary base is the planet Yuggoth, which we call Pluto.
A second facet of Mi-Go behaviors is their intense scientific curiosity. Their biological experimentation extends beyond simple surgical manipulation of humans and animals. Indeed, given their extensive technological abilities and their outstanding knowledge of anatomy, biology, chemistry, etc., there is no end to the bizarre and clinical tests that the Mi-Go might carry out on terrestrial inhabitants.
The Mi-Go are known to worship some of the greater Unnatural Beings which comprise the Cthulhu Mythos. Most notably they demonstrate allegiance to Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, and Shub-Niggurath. It is possible that they are among the million minions of Nyarlathotep mentioned in some written accounts of the Unnatural. The same accounts hint at an enmity between the Mi-Go and a cult that reveres Hastur, with the latter cultists hunting down the fungi and eliminating them whenever the groups cross paths. Exactly why they do this remains unclear.
References / Sources
“The outer beings are perhaps the most marvelous organic things in or beyond all space and time-members of a cosmos-wide race of which all other life-forms are merely degenerate variants. They are more vegetable than animal, if these terms can be applied to the sort of matter composing them, and have a somewhat fungoid structure; though the presence of a chlorophyll-like substance and a very singular nutritive system differentiate them altogether from true cormophytic fungi. Indeed, the type is composed of a form of matter totally alien to our part of space — with electrons having a wholly different vibration rate. That is why the beings cannot be photographed on the ordinary camera films and plates of our known universe, even though our eyes can see them. With proper knowledge, however,any good chemist could make a photographic emulsion which would record their images.“ — The Whisperer in Darkness, Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
In the 12 months since we made that release, our SRD has been downloaded an enormous number of times. There have also been a steady trickle of questions and inquiries about just what someone can and cannot do with our text. I thought I’d take this opportunity, at the closing of a dismal year, to summarize some of the most commonly answered questions about the APOCTHULHU SRD … and make a first announcement about something cool we are ourselves planning to do with the ruleset (for the latter, scroll to the end of this post).
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Can I do “X” using the rules you’ve released as open content in the APOCTHULHU SRD?
Regardless of what “X” is, the answer is pretty much the same. You can do anything you like with our material, with ONE proviso. Anything that you release, publish, or even distribute needs to be released under the same version of the (WotC) Open Gaming License that we have used in our SRD. What does that mean in practice? Well, it means that you need to attach the same OGL contract/license page somewhere in your new creation (“X”) … and you need to modify the list of copyrighted works (part of the contract) to show the “ancestors” of your work. Thus you’d take the list of works we have cited in our OGL contract as ancestors to the APOCTHULHU SRD and then add your own copyright below that. This basically keeps the lineage of your work (and, indeed, our work) explicitly part of the OGL text. But, that is ALL you need to do.
Q2: So … does that just mean I can do free supplements, or can I make commercial products too?
You can do either free or commercial releases — in fact the OGL pretty much empowers you to do any kind of release you want using whatever mechanism you’d prefer. Want to run a Kickstarter for a game fueled by our rules? … Go right ahead! Want to use these rules to make a best-selling Lovecraftian RPG campaign? … More power to you (although we might come and ask if you’ll hang with us after you’re mega famous, so we can bask in your glory 🙂 )
Q3: When you say people can “use the SRD material” do you mean they can be inspired by the rules … or can I just lift whole sections verbatim and dump them into my game?
Again, the OGL covers both of these scenarios (and many others). If you want to copy/paste our rules for Sanity or Resource Scarcity to be part of your manuscript, go right ahead. As long as you adhere to the OGL’s rules for attaching a contract and keeping the lineage of your work accurate, you should feel free to take literal text, be inspired, or publish material that leverages our rules to fuel your own scenario by implication.
Q4: You’ve already said some of the Cthulhu Mythos IP isn’t in the Public Domain. How can your game be free and open? And the new IP (critters, frex) found in scenarios in your rulebooks, they must be under a copyright, right?
Well, if you take a close look at the APOCTHULHU rulebook, you’ll notice that we were very careful to separate the rules engine parts from the bits that talk about specific Lovecraftian names, places, tomes, etc. The SRD is made up of the first of those — and none of the Mythos stuff (or sections of our published scenarios) are considered part of the Open Content covered by the SRD’s license. That was a conscious decision by us to avoid the horrible (partially manufactured) complexities that have grown up in recent years around using Mythos names in games.
Q5: Are you guys crazy? Why would you give away the rules engine for your game to anyone who wanted it … and ask for nothing in return?
Well, we have blown a few SAN checks in our many decades of playing Lovecraftian TTRPGs, but our decision to release our rules as free and open content is quite a rational one. We know that many other publishers jealously guard their core rulebook’s contents, since it’s by selling those titles that they make most of their profits. We think that’s a fine business model, and would never criticize any publisher for operating in this tried-and-true way. However, having rulesets locked away as proprietary items of IP can (in many cases) stifle community and independent creators who want to do their own experimental thing. Given that Lovecraft himself spent virtually his entire writing career trying to encourage new writers by supporting them finding their own creative voice, we strongly believe there is a place for a game system that supports community/independent creation of game content inspired by his works. If we can be a small pillar that supports that kind of community effort, we will have achieved what we set out to do.
Q6: So … can I call my published work “compatible with APOCTHULHU” or “fuelled by” or something? Can I use the APOCTHULHU logo?
Technically our logo is trademarked by us … but we are not against it being used or referred to in other people’s work, as long as they aren’t inherently offensive or illegal in some way. If you’re interested in doing something like that, I’d suggest getting in touch with us (use the contact form at the bottom of this post) and we can work something out.
Q7: I have this idea for a game … but it has nothing to do with Post-Apocalyptic modes of play. It seems like it might be hard to use your rules for something like that … is there something you have that would help me?
Hmm … well that sounds like a (not-at-all contrived) cue for me to make a small announcement. Here we go.
A Small Teaser/Announcement
Since January this year, we have been playing with the core mechanics that drive APOCTHULHU, trying to tease apart the pieces that are “Post-Apocalypse-y” and the parts that could equally well apply to a Lovecraftian game set in pretty much any historical or future era.
But while those brief notes demonstrate the basic feasibility of making more traditional games/settings, they still required a lot of work from someone to breathe them into life as a fully-playable game. We realized (over a good part of 2021) that to support a diverse range of different game settings, it would be far more helpful to have a family of different SRDs — each catering to a specific era or style of setting. These would each be their own “pick-up-and-play” set of rules, tailored to the types of gameplay that would befit a Lovecraft-inspired game in that era/setting. To manage the sheer complexity of having a whole family of different rulesets we envisaged the idea of having each era-specific game be a “localization” of an abstract set of rules — replacing and tailoring the parts which differ between settings, but leaving the rules that transcend settings identical across versions.
We call this family of SRDs “Cthulhu Eternal” … and it is our hope to unleash the first batch (perhaps 3 or 4 eras) in January or February. Like the APOCTHULHU SRD, they will be absolutely free and fully open — ready for someone to pick up and use as the backbone for a terrifying and original beast of a game.
If you are a game creator who believes they have a potential use for something like this — or who might like to collaborate on something using our rules engine, we would like to hear from you. Maybe you have some amazing creation out there already written for a different system but looking to translate it? Fill out the form below and we will keep you in the loop as we finalize the first era localisations of Cthulhu Eternal.
We recently signed the first deal to have APOCTHULHU translated and published in other languages. We couldn’t be more excited — we’ve had other Cthulhu Reborn titles republished before, but never have we seen our work in Hungarian!
Kaland Horizont, the company who is bringing our humble game to a Hungarian audience is already well advanced on translating the APOCTHULHUQuickstart … and is actually probably already hard at work on the core rulebook. If you are a Hungarian speaker, definitely check out their Facebook page for updates!
Terrible New Worlds Gets Unboxed
APOCTHULHUTerrible New Worlds has now been available in print for a month or so, long enough that we are starting to hear back from excited fans who have received their hardcover or softcover books.
Andy Miller (aka MaxWriter) is a long-time friend of Cthulhu Reborn. He recently posted a great video showing him unboxing his Terrible New Worlds hardcover and flipping through the entire book. If you’ve been curious to see what our latest tome of terror looks like in physical form … you could do a lot worse than checking out Andy’s 6 minute summation:
The pictures below show the same pages from the two versions:
Both books are great presentations of these four mini-campaigns, highlighting the great original art we commissioned for the book. Best of all, we are super-happy to announce that because of investigations/changes we’ve made into print options at DTRPG (see below), we are able to offer both books at a competitive price — certainly much better than the painfully-high prices we were obliged to charge for APOCTHULHU Core after print costs rose abruptly in July. A full-colour hardback will set you back about USD 38.95 + shipping; the softcover B&W interior book is USD 24.95 + shipping. Purchasing either will also nab you the PDF plus associated digital resources for free.
Changes to Print Options
As mentioned above, one of the most disappointing developments for us in 2021 has been the big hike in the raw costs to print POD books via DTRPG. The problem seems to originate with some extortionate rises in print charges by Lightning Source (who are DTRPG’s print partner). The big price increases applied to so-called “Premium Color” books, making them super expensive to produce. At the same time “Standard Color” books remained largely untouched by those print increases. Previously we have always chosen the Premium option since the printers advertise that it is superior for books which have a lot of graphical content, which all of ours do.
But … we were curious about how much difference there is in quality between Premium and Standard, so we ordered some proof copies of our APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook (previously Premium) as Standard Color POD books. We were expecting them to be far inferior … but, guess what, they look extremely similar.
We ran the two books past several unsuspecting folks here at Cthulhu Reborn Towers without telling them which book was which … and while most people did eventually pick the Premium book as having ever-so-slightly more vivid colors, everyone needed very close side-by-side comparisons of multiple pages to see it.
If the two printing technologies cost about the same, this would be no big deal … but the way the pricing works now, the cost difference is such that the Premium option costs us about TWICE the Standard Color option. That’s about a USD30 difference — for hardcover, we’ve been asking $72, but with the non-Premium we could ask $42 instead. For a very, VERY slight improvement in quality we don’t think that extra $30 is worth it. So we have now discontinued the Premium options for APOCTHULHU Core and enabled the Standard Color versions instead.
In addition to making the hardcover full-color book $30 cheaper … it similarly reduces the softcover (color-interior) option from $65 to $35. All prices exclude shipping, of course.
We’ve already shared a bit of sneak peek here on the blog into one of the four mini-campaigns that are collected together in this book. Now let’s take a look at another. Christopher Smith Adair is a pretty well known name in the Lovecraftian RPG writing circle — he has written a great deal of amazing stuff for Chaosium and its Call of Cthulhu licensees. When we approached him back in late 2017 to pitch an adventure for APOCTHULHU, we were delighted to receive his highly-original, quirky, and thoroughly brilliant version of the Post-Apocalypse.
His adventure, titled “Hold the Flood” is set in a version of the late 21st century, in which the world is recovering from a terrible and deadly pandemic, 50 years past. Back in 2017 when we were first talking about this it seemed an intriguing hypothetical game setting. Obviously in more recent times real-world events have crept up on us, making this particular kind of “Apocalypse” seem strangely resonant — although, to be perfectly honest, that’s an unhappy accident than anything else. It’s a coincidence that created a minor headache as we put together the published version of the book: obviously Christopher’s world is a fictional construct, but we also don’t want to present a Pandemic-based Apocalypse in terms that current readers might find disrespectful of real-world circumstances (which we are all personally navigating still). We hope we’ve navigated these difficult waters.
The thing that sets Christopher’s vision of the post-Pandemic world apart from others isn’t really the common tropes of survival and fear of a resurgence of the “Gray Plague”. Yes, those are concerns … but the tone of the setting and the campaign revolves around something far more hopeful and quirky: A troupe of circus freaks who have taken on the task of travelling from survivor settlement to survivor settlement, bringing much needed entertainment.
The player characters in this campaign are all performers in this larger-than-life troupe of carnies — Professor Mysterioso’s carnival. They travel by colorful mule-drawn wagons, visiting communities for a few days at a time before moving on to the next on their circuit. Communities relish a visit from Professor Mysterioso’s … even if each settlement might only host the carnival for a few nights every year or two. Such is their legendary status.
But when the circus troupe suddenly all become mysteriously ill shortly after departing their most-recent stop — a township called Astor — people begin to worry. Has the terrible “Gray Plague” re-emerged? Was there something or someone in that community that was the origin for the outbreak? Perhaps someone there knows the secret to rapidly containing it?
As the few among the crew not to have succumbed to the disease, it falls to the Survivors to save the carnival.
“Hold The Flood” is a fantastic campaign that will keep most gaming groups — especially those who can embrace its slightly surreal or expressionist flavor. It’s kind of like “Cabinet of Dr Caligari” meets “Terry Nation’s Survivors” … and if anybody out there can mentally fuse those cultural references, I will be impressed. Unlike many Post-Apocalyptic scenarios, this one has quite an investigative vibe — there is a mystery to be solved in the town of Astor, and the carnival folks must find answers to avoid the terrible plague outbreak which threatens their friends and colleagues. It’s a race against time … and one in which surprises abound which cast doubt on many things the survivors in this Post-Pandemic world thought they knew.
“Hold The Flood” is a 52-page setting and campaign available RIGHT NOW in PDF form as part of our “Terrible New Worlds” anthology — if it seems like the kind of thing that your gaming group might like, definitely check out the product page for more info!
More sneak previews of the mini-campaigns in “Terrible New Worlds” to follow …