Category Archives: Convicts & Cthulhu

Released: Convicts & Cthulhu Muster #2

Today we are very excited to announce the release of the second entry into our newest line of support materials for Convicts & Cthulhu, the C&C Musters. We debuted this format back in December — it’s basically a short supplement which examines a real-world historical figure through the lens of their potential for use in a Lovecraftian investigative game scenario. There are lots of ways to use historical character detail as an inspiration for new plots, NPCs, and even investigators — and the goal of the Musters is to give you the tools to do any of these with the background of an intriguing, real-historical figure.

C&C Muster #2, subtitled “The Master of Convicts” focuses on the eventful life of Nicholas Divine (sometimes spelled “Devine”) who served for most of the C&C era in an important government role of “Superintendent of Convicts.” This made Divine the man ultimately in charge of which convicts were assigned to which work gangs or other labour — obviously something that is important to you if you *are* a convict, but also if you are someone whose day-to-day life is enabled by plentiful free convict labour.

Perhaps even more interesting than Nicholas Divine’s official life are some of the details of his personal life. Sent out to New South Wales in 1789 aboard the HMS Guardian, Divine was an innocent party caught up in a dramatic encounter which left the Guardian fatally damaged thanks to an unfortunate encounter with an iceberg off the southern coast of Africa. This unusual situation came to be thanks to the ship’s captain making the decision, upon sighting the iceberg, to cautiously approach it to carve off ice to supplement the ship’s limited supplies of fresh water — as a sailing maneuver, it doesn’t go down in history as one of the Royal Navy’s finest (although to be fair to Captain Riou, the sudden night fogs that rose up shortly after the ice carving maneuver really didn’t help). But as an event with potential for exploitation in a Lovecraftian scenario … such an encounter is pure gold.

This PDF also includes some additional description of the 18th Century British practice of creating Prison Hulks — non-seaworthy ships converted to floating (temporary) prisons and left floating in the Thames or one of the major shipping harbours. Your convict’s backstory might very well incorporate some time spent aboard a Hulk (none of which BTW warrant the name “incredible,” quite the opposite in fact) … so it’s good to have some historical data to help fill in that part of his or her personal history.

C&C Muster #2 is an eight-page PDF available for download right now, from here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog. It has game statistics for the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition rules.


Roll for Library Use, Convicts

I’m sure everyone who drops by the Cthulhu Reborn blog is well-acquainted with Convicts & Cthulhu, our roleplaying game of Lovecraftian horror in the early penal settlements of Australia. But apparently it’s not just gamer-types who have an interest in our humble game … but also curators at the National Library of Australia (the official Aussie Library of Record, and also our biggest).

Some time back, much to our surprise, we were approached by the NLA to add Convicts & Cthulhu (and eventually all the Tickets of Leave) to their games and e-book collections. Recently, the first of these additions made it to the catalogue. You can even view and download the PDF version of the title from the library’s website, for free.

It’s great (if more than a little surprising) to discover that the NLA is seeking to archive pieces of Australian “culture” like ours. It feels somewhat of an honour to have our work preserved in this way … although it does make feel a little self-conscious about making our humble scribblings about mad cultists and rampaging Cthulhuoid monstrosities just a bit more “library worthy” 🙂


Released: Convicts & Cthulhu Muster #1

Today we are delighted to be announce the release of our fifth (and final) Convicts & Cthulhu product for 2018 … and the launch of a brand new line of supplements. Available for free download right now is Convicts & Cthulhu: Muster #1 — The Turbulent Mason.

Most readers of Cthulhu Reborn will probably be familiar with the “Tickets of Leave” line of supplements that we have been releasing since July 2016 on a (somewhat) regular schedule. Those PDFs have mostly been a combination of sourcebook material and scenario seeds or full-blown detailed “ready-to-play” scenarios. Those supplements have been very well received, and by my count we have now released about 224 pages of scenario-related “fuel” to keep a Convicts & Cthulhu campaign going (on top of the extensive scenario seeds and starter scenario in the 96 page core book).

But, we are always looking for interesting new things to try — and the C&C Muster series represents a different kind of product altogether. Each is based around a detailed portrayal of a single historical (or historically-accurate) person, offering not only a complex and three-dimensional portrait of their character, background, and general history but also looking at the character through a “Lovecraftian gaming” lens to offer some ready-to-use ideas about dropping the character into an ongoing campaign or scenario, either as an ally or adversary. Or even a replacement Investigator.

For the first installment of the C&C Muster series, Geoff has chosen to write a piece on an intriguing fellow by the name of Anthony Fenn Kemp. History records Kemp is figure that lived a multi-faceted life on the periphery of many of the major events which defined the early history of the penal colonies. He had mercantile interests despite also being a soldier, and despite being a somewhat upstanding member of society Kemp also was at the heart of some rather scurrilous campaigns to defame some of the colonial leaders of the day.

While there is plenty of juicy history written about Anthony Fenn Kemp, the C&C Muster also takes inspiration from a much less documented aspect of this curious man … namely his strong ties to Freemasonry. As all good Lovecraftian game authors know, it’s only a hop-skip-and-jump from masonic affiliations to associations with all manner of OTHER secretive societies, and we suggest a few different ways of creatively being inspired by this facet of Kemp’s history.

C&C Muster #1: The Turbulent Mason is available for free download right now from this very blog. It will also be available (in a stat-free form to meet Chaosium’s licensing constraints) on DrivethruRPG soonish.

We will be keen to hear back from our loyal Convicts & Cthulhu readers, players, and lurkers to hear whether the C&C Muster format meets its goals of providing helpful “drop in” character resources for games. If you have any thoughts about this or any other C&C release, feel free to let us know via the contact form below. In the meantime … best wishes for a rugose and squamous Christmas, and may all your Convicts be accounted for at the January muster 🙂

 


Convicts Need Any Luck They Can Find

Today we are pleased to announce the release of our 13th “Ticket of Leave” supplement for Convicts & Cthulhu. Entitled, “The Thirteenth Convict” the 27-page PDF is available right now here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog. This supplement was originally supposed to be released in late August, but competing demands and limited time has forced its delay. We apologize to C&C fans who’ve been waiting for a few months for new ways to inflict woe upon their convict investigators 🙂

The subject matter for this “Ticket of Leave” is superstitions and ‘folk magic’ of the early Australian colonial settlements — a topic suggested by one of our readers (based on some interesting news articles about recent discoveries shedding light on the beliefs of early colonists). It is a fertile area to explore for a Lovecraftian setting: HPL himself was not above taking folk traditions of colonial America (in particular beliefs in witchcraft) and riffing on them to create some new Mythos-fuelled horrors. The superstitions of early Australia, while they share similar roots, have their own quirks and idiosyncrasies which lend a different flavour.

As well as providing some general notes on superstitions and “good luck” practices of colonists, this supplement also includes a full-length scenario (or mini-campaign outline, really) based on the curious phenomenon of concealed objects. There is a growing body of historical evidence to suggest that it was not uncommon practice for early colonists to embed mundane objects into the walls of homes during their construction as a kind of protective ward. In some cases these were simple charms written on paper, or common objects like boots. In other cases these were more outlandish, like the practice of embedding a dead cat in the wall to symbolically “chase away” any stray malign spirits that might try to enter.

Of course in the context of Cthulhu Mythos horrors, the notion of things being concealed in the walls of the family home lends itself to more destructive and terrifying possibilities, as explored by the scenario “The Thirteenth Convict.” Investigators are summoned to the site of a farmhouse in a remote corner of the colony, where death and calamity seems to have visited in the form of a great force that seems to have burst forth from within the wall. A few days later, a remarkably similar incident destroys a second farmstead — in a far-distant settled region.

What, if anything, do these strange calamities have to do with the odd, black-robed Frenchman who has recently arrived in Sydney? And why has the itinerant minister who tends to the spiritual needs of both settlers and convicts in these remote localities mysteriously disappeared? Unless the investigators can get to the bottom of these unprecedented happenings, the number of those killed or sent mad will surely soar … and as disasters multiply, a cruel plot to sow discord through the forces of Outer Gods begins to unfold. Who is the Thirteenth Convict and why does his (or her) future matter so much to the shadowy forces casting terror across all corners of colonial New South Wales?

Ticket of Leave #13: The Thirteenth Convict is available right now as a free 27-page PDF download. The version linked here is complete with game statistics for the Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition (under Chaosium’s fan license). As with other recent releases, we have been obliged by fine print in Chaosium’s license to also create a stat-free version of the supplement for distribution via RPGNow and DrivethruRPG. That version will go on-sale as a “Pay-What-You-Want” title in a day or so. We trust that this supplement about all things superstitious will bring you and your gaming group good fortune as you plumb the dark depths of the worst that the Cthulhu Mythos can throw at humanity (that insignificant upstart species!).

If you love this free download so much that you feel offended by the fact that you haven’t paid money for it (and yes, believe it or not people have said that us) … you can always head over to our brand new “donations” page. There’s no obligation, though — honestly, we’re thankful for the continued support we receive from our loyal readership that downloads (and plays!) our gaming supplements. Long may the cruel tyranny of Convicts & Cthulhu flourish, and the sharing horror just helps is spread!

 

 

 


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