Category Archives: Convicts & Cthulhu

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.

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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.


This Year, Give The Gift of Horror

This year has certainly been a bumper year for Cthulhu Reborn, at least in terms of releasing new Lovecraftian PDFs to shock, horrify (and we hope delight) your RPG gaming group. So, it only seems fitting to close out 2017 by releasing one final PDF — our Christmas gift to gamers everywhere. With today’s release of Ticket of Leave #9: Orphan School Horror we have done just that. This 23-page PDF is available for download right now, absolutely for free.

This release also brings up a small milestone for the Convicts & Cthulhu product line, being our 10th C&C release! We’re also particularly proud of the fact that this is our largest scenario seed release to date (and arguably, the scenario that is most easily transplanted to other historical — or even more contemporary — settings). So even if you have absolutely no interest in the C&C setting, this PDF may have something of interest.

As with previous Tickets of Leave, ToL#9 aims to explore a previously glossed aspect of the colonial Australian setting — this time, the perilous plight of children in the penal settlements. It’s easy to imagine that a place set up as a full-time prison, thousands of miles from Britain, would have had no children whatsoever. But that was very far from the truth. Some children were sent to the colonies as convicts themselves, but many more accompanied mothers who had been convicted of crime. Quite a number of children were even born during the long (and rather horrific) journeys which brought their mothers out to Australia. And when the convict colonies became more established, many many children were born as the products of liaisons between convicts or between convicts and gaolers.

Even aside from the fact that the prison colonies were a rather unwholesome place for children, the presence of such a vast number of (mostly illegitimate) children created more than a few problems. Most disturbing of these was the rise of an underclass of destitute children, boys and girls whose convict parents simply could not afford (or in many cases want) to raise them. These unfortunate children lived mostly on the streets … at least until a few “benevolent” institutions were founded to protect destitute children from being preyed upon. In the Convicts & Cthulhu era the only real facilities of this type were the Female Orphan Schools at Sydney and (later) Parramatta.

This Ticket of Leave includes historical information about the Sydney Female Orphan School. It also includes a mountain of information about using this intriguing historical institution as the setting for tales of personal-level horror, riffing on the familiar theme of orphanages as places of horror fuelled by the misfortune and suffering of young innocents. If you don’t know the type of horror tale we’re talking about, grab yourself a copy of the amazing 2007 Spanish horror firm “El Orfanato” (aka “The Orphanage”) and you will soon see the story potential such places offer.

We’ve saved this particular Ticket of Leave until Christmas since … well … tales of spectral horrors haunting drafty orphanages seems to tick a lot of the boxes that people have come to expect from horrific tales at Christmas. Having said that, there’s really nothing that would stop you from setting the detailed scenario seed incorporated in Ticket of Leave #9 at any time of calendar year. But if you particularly want to gather your gaming group for an evening of egg-nog, mistletoe, and creepy extra-dimensional horrors thirsting for the downfall of humanity — well, this is the scenario for you!

As usual with the scenario portions of our Ticket of Leave releases this seed sets up a complex, investigation-based scenario premise and then provides the Keeper with three different Cthulhu Mythos forces that may be responsible. This time around, Geoff Gillan has been particularly inventive with his talented weaving of the themes common to dark tales told around the Christmas fireplace, with the dark visions of H.P. Lovecraft and a couple of other similarly-minded authors.

Ticket of Leave #9: Orphan School Horror 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 some wonderful Christmas horrors! And, if you have supported Cthulhu Reborn throughout 2017 (as many readers have done), please accept our heartfelt thanks and appreciation! It’s feedback and support from the community that keeps us going.


Christmas is Coming to Convicts & Cthulhu

Better not shout …

Better not cry …

Something is watching …

We are currently putting the finishing touches on the final Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket of Leave release for 2017, a (slightly) Christmas themed tale of ghostly terror.

Out soon … (watch this blog!)


(Some) Gentlemen Prefer Crime

We are super excited to be able to announce the release, today, of the latest in our “Ticket of Leave” supplements for the Convicts & Cthulhu setting for Lovecraftian roleplaying in the penal settlements of early Australia. This, our eighth “Ticket of Leave” is titled Gentlemen Convicts and weighs in at a respectable 20 pages — and it is available right now as a totally free download here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog.

This PDF release also marks a bit of a milestone for Convicts & Cthulhu in that it brings the total amount of supplemental material we’ve released more than 100 pages. When combined with the original 96 pages in the original C&C book, that means that there is now about 200 pages of pro-quality Convict-related Lovecraftian material that is available for download effectively for free. [A few of our titles are “pay what you want” on RPGNow, which means that you certainly *can* pay a small donation for them if you want, but you can get them free if you want as well]

The eighth Ticket of Leave covers an intriguing, not often discussed, aspect of the early Australian penal settlements — the so-called “Gentlemen Convicts”. These were persons of high standing in Britain who (for one reason or another) still found themselves on the wrong side of a sentence of transportation. Sometimes this happened because the wealthy gentleman (or lady) was truly guilty of a crime — perhaps quite a serious offence — yet despite using the full force of their power and influence to try to manipulate the (highly-corruptible) judicial processes of the day, had somehow still been convicted for it. But equally well, a “Gentleman Convict” might find themselves transported not so much because of their actions as their politics: wealthy persons who had connections to upstart anti-establishment political organisations (such as those advocating free rule for Ireland, or better treatment of Scots), could sometimes find themselves spontaneously found guilty of “sedition” and whisked off to the penal colonies. In some cases all they had done was dare to publish a pamphlet. A third group of “Gentlemen Convicts” were persons of influence who crossed swords with other, even more powerful, members of the upper British classes, and had incurred the wrath of someone with true power. Even the high station of such upstart minor nobles was not enough to protect them from trumped-up charges and a hurried kangaroo trial, and a one-way trip to Australia.

While the “Gentlemen Convicts” were always a numerically small proportion of the overall convict population, they were immensely influential. Their wealth back in Britain meant that, despite the fact that they were indeed convicts (at least by law) they were treated somewhat better than any other convict. Sometimes such convicts travelled with a letter from a wealthy patron in England addressed to the colonial Governor — when they arrived in New South Wales, the government would usually immediately grant them a “Ticket of Leave” which meant that, unlike all other convicts, they would be free to live in their own accommodation and spared a life of harsh physical labour. Other wealthy convicts achieved the same level of freedom by literally buying it. Regardless of how it was obtained, such freedom established the “Gentlemen Convicts” as a sub-class of their own. This was reinforced by the loose associations and organisations they set up amongst themselves.

“Gentlemen Convicts” offer an intriguing opportunity for characters in a roleplaying game. They might be key NPCs in a game, paradoxically a person who is a convict, but also someone who may have more privileges than the investigators. Alternatively, for players who would like to play a convict character but don’t necessarily want to roleplay the harsh treatment of the lower class prisoners Gentlemen convicts provide a useful alternative character type.

The “Ticket of Leave #8” PDF contains some historical background on the Gentlemen Convicts as well as five capsule biographies which illustrate the breadth of this unique social sub-class. The supplement is rounded out with a lengthy scenario seed which centres upon a mysterious supernatural figure that seems to have taken an unnatural interest in a secret society of Gentlemen Convicts. Can the investigators figure out the true motives of this gruesome stalker in time, or will his bloody trail of murder and dismemberment end with every member of the society dead and in pieces? This scenario seed is the longest that we have included in a free C&C supplement — about 11,500 words in all. That’s actually almost as long as a full scenario manuscript!

Because of licensing reasons this “Ticket of Leave”, like the previous one, has been produced in two versions — one which includes Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition statistics and one which does not. The version linked here is the STATTED (CoC 7e) version, which is likely to be what most readers want. The non-statted version will shortly be available via RPGNow. When we published the previous “Ticket of Leave” we were a little worried that splitting things into different versions like this might be off-putting to our customers but sales/download figures seem to indicate those worries were unfounded — which is quite a relief!

We hope that this free PDF will enliven and inspire your own tabletop RPG adventuring in the worlds of Convicts & Cthulhu. If you decide to run the scenario seed, or even pull it apart to create an awesome game scenario of your own devising, we’d love to hear about it! And (since this is Northern Hemisphere convention season), if you decide to run Convicts & Cthulhu at your local Con, you should certainly get in touch — we are always happy to throw some free merchandise your way if you’re willing to write up an account of your incredible gaming experience playing in the C&C setting!


Coming Soon to a Ticket of Leave

One of the most enjoyable parts of putting together horror gaming material is working with some truly astounding artists and illustrators. We have been very fortunate over recent years to have Reuben Dodd (of Sorrowking Studios) create a lot of the visual identity for our Convict-era horror setting. Recently we set him a tough challenge for an illustration to accompany the eighth in our ongoing “Ticket of Leave” series of supplements (to be released in a week or so). And as usual, he has truly done an amazing job!

 


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