Colour me blown away — purely by chance we just discovered that Convicts & Cthulhu was nominated for the category of “Best RPG Supplement of 2016” in this year’s Golden Geek Awards. Sadly, we only learned of this news a few hours before voting closed … otherwise we would have spruiked far and wide for votes! Ah well, as they say — it’s great just to be nominated.
In other Convicts & Cthulhu news, Cthulhu Reborn are right now working with Geoff Gillan to put the finishing touches on a double-sized Ticket of Leave supplement which gives C&C Keepers an entire new campaign frame for their 18th Century convict tales of horror plus an extended scenario sketch to get their campaign rolling. If all goes well that should be released sometime in March. Beyond that there are quite a number of other products bubbling away — some related to Convicts & Cthulhu, some in completely different Lovecraftian domains. So we’re quietly hopeful that 2017 will be a year of many horrific publications from us!
Just in time for Christmas and the holiday season, we are pleased to be able to announce the release of a third freebie mini-supplement to our hugely popular Convicts & Cthulhu setting. Ticket of Leave #3: Criminal Enterprise is an 8 page PDF that is packed with useful resources relating to the flourishing criminal underworld that existed in the townships of early New South Wales. With this supplement, Convicts & Cthulhu gamers have everything that you’d need to run a gang-related campaign or scenario in which the players took on the roles of scurrilous criminals.
The fact that crime played an important part in the early history of Australia shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. After all, about half of the Europeans living in the colony during this era were sent there as punishment for crimes they committed back in England or Ireland. The military gaolers charged with keeping law and order were only marginally less corrupt, with many having been obliged to “volunteer” for service in New South Wales in order to escape punishment for some misdemeanour of their own. While some of the convicts and blackhearted soldiers treated their incarceration in the colony as an opportunity to “go straight”, many others continued with their criminal ways — aided by some lax security measures and the corruptibilty of the NSW Corps. Over time shadowy criminal organisations sprang up — some as mere covens of thieves, stealing just to survive; others as sketchy political and business enterprises fixed on greedy profit or power. But in a place where the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos are never far away, there is always the chance that “a simple plan” might lead criminals into something far, far more dangerous.
Ticket of Leave #3: Criminal Enterprise provides Keepers with resources to portray the seedy criminal underworld, and allow players to take on the roles of gang members. The PDF includes backgrounds and CoC 7th Edition stats for a ready-to-use gang of nefarious folks; it also includes a detailed scenario sketch which focusses on a double-crossing smuggling mission that leads the criminal investigators into the clutches of some rather unsavoury Mythos forces. It’s available right now as a free download from RPGNow.
This will be Cthulhu Reborn’s last release for 2016 — and I wanted to take the opportunity (what, with it being “the season of good-will to all Shoggoths” and all) to thank everyone who has bought one of our books or downloaded one of our freebie PDFs this year. In particular I would very much like to thank folks who have donated money when purchasing our “Pay What You Want” titles; that money is extremely useful in allowing us to plan for some more ambitious future projects, including better art budgets and the like.
There’s no doubt that 2016 has been by far our most successful year, buoyed by some incredible sales of the Convicts & Cthulhu book and supplements. We are hoping to continue this momentum into 2017, and have already planned out a few tasty treats … in the meantime, all the best for a joyous Yithmas and a happy New Aeon!
Most readers of Cthulhu Reborn will likely be quite familiar with Convicts & Cthulhu, the Colonial Australian setting we published back in May. But if you’ve been curious about the setting but wavering about whether to pick it up you might be interested to read the rather comprehensive review of Convicts & Cthulhu recently published on the Reviews From R’lyeh blog. Generally the review is very complimentary, though it does mark C&C down slightly because in one or two areas it refers back to the forthcoming Chaosium book “Secrets of Australia.” I am hoping that this particular “flaw” will be fixed next year …
A couple of the folks have asked what the relationship is between our (BRP-based) Convicts & Cthulhu and Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu. The short answer is that the latter is an adaptation of our Colonial Australian horror setting to an OSR-type rule system, made with our full endorsement. The Cthulhu Hack version only includes a bare-bones depiction of the setting, and in fact suggests that readers go and download our book for a more thorough treatment of the setting. It does include some nifty random tables and an interesting scenario, though … so even if you have our Convicts & Cthulhu, you might still want to check out the Cthulhu Hack version as well.
In other Convicts & Cthulhu news, we are just putting the finishing touches on the third in our series of mini-supplements which expand the setting in specific areas while also (hopefully) providing Keepers with resources that they can pick up and use directly in their Convicts & Cthulhu games. The third “Ticket of Leave” supplement concentrates on criminal enterprises in the penal colony (unsurprisingly rather common). We’re hoping to get it out before the Holiday Horror descends.
BTW: if you still do not have your very own copy of the base Convicts & Cthulhu book, you can get a PDF or print copy as a “Pay What You Want” title on RPG Now. For the PDF, that means you can nab a copy for as little as … well, nothing … and for the softcover book you can grab it for the cost of printing (about US$4) plus shipping. The two “Tickets of Leave” are completely free PDFs which can be nabbed from here and here.
I am just back at Cthulhu-Reborn-Central after 2 & 1/2 days spent in Melbourne for PAX Aus 2016. At the convention I had the opportunity to hang out with the Chaosium folks and also meet up with many great Call of Cthulhu writers, past and present. In fact I even had the absolute honour of sharing the stage with many of those same writers for a really entertaining panel session titled “The Cool of Cthulhu” which delved into the many different reasons why HPL’s creations are successful today and how much the CoC RPG has helped that success.
However, the highlight of PAX was undoubtedly meeting dozens upon dozens of gamers and running sessions of Call of Cthulhu. My aim this year was to get some Australian content onto the Chaosium running list. So, while there was ample Arkham-based mischief being run for gamers who wanted it there was also four different Australian-themed scenario — all of them from future or recent publications. Thanks especially to Tristan who ran three separate sessions of Phil Anderson’s eerie Tasmanian scenario “Black Water, White Death.”
One of the best play experiences I had, though, was running “Un-Fresh Off The Boat” for a group of six players on Saturday morning. This run of the scenario featured all the things that make Convicts & Cthulhu such a compelling setting. We had moments of high tension between the three convict investigators and the military investigator who suddenly had responsibility for the (unruly) convicts thrust upon him. We also had investigators on both sides struggling to come to grips with the new society that they were about to join — with convicts desperately trying to figure out ways that they might clamber up from the bottom of the social heap to avoid the worst that the colony has to offer. There was plenty of revulsion (again on all sides) when confronted with the nature of “convict settlement justice” … although that was as nothing compared to the revulsion that they encountered when the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos entered the scene.
In the end the scenario ended with many semi-insane investigators trapped in a room with a pair of horrors while one of their number set off an enormous explosion by selflessly dropping a lit lantern into a prised-open barrel of gunpowder. It was almost a total-party-kill, although the reluctant leader Captain Ross did manage to survive to limp back to civilisation to explain. Or to try to explain at least. It seems like a Call of Cthulhu type ending 🙂
In prepping this scenario for convention play I created a bunch of resources that others might find helpful. Here’s some download links:
BTW: if you do use this material to run your very own convention session of “Un-Fresh Off The Boat”, we would love to hear about it (and in particular how well the scenario ran for you)!
Finally, thanks to the six brave players who signed up for the Convicts scenario — they all approached their chosen roles with great enthusiasm and commitment. A particular thank-you to the (I assume) father and daughter group who took on the two female characters (the plucky free settler Charlotte Savage and the mild-mannered convict Molly Rowson). Both did an incredible job at portraying their characters and trying to establish a moral compass for the group when conflict threatened to tear the group apart … I’m sure the fact that the players hail from somewhere not too far from Sydney Town made it just that bit easier to imagine the squalid life of NSW convicts 🙂
For Aussie readers who might find themselves at next weekend’s PAX Australia convention in Melbourne, I thought I’d share some brief info about the FOUR (!) Australian-themed Call of Cthulhu games I will be running at the con. For everyone who isn’t attending … er .. maybe this small taste of what will be on offer might inspire you to run some similar (maybe Convicts & Cthulhu) games at your own local cons!
All four of the games that I’m bringing to PAX are destined for future publication (in longer forms) — one is already included in Convicts & Cthulhu, the other three will be in future Call of Cthulhu titles published by Chaosium Inc.
- Un-Fresh Off The Boat: In convict-era Sydney a plague-ridden convoy of ships arrives carrying both the investigators and the seeds of a rather unsavoury mystery. [included in Convicts & Cthulhu]
- Red in Tooth and Claw: During the earliest days of World War I a fighting force of plucky Aussies patrol the waters around New Guinea in the submarine AE-3, having recently conquered the German colony. But as they are about to find out, there are places in the remote and empty oceans where the threat of enemy detection is the least of your worries. [Written by Chad Bowser]
- Black Water, White Death: A call for help brings a group of 1920s well-heeled city types from Melbourne to the remote old-growth forests of NW Tasmania. There they become drawn into the curious mystery surounding an ill-fated convict team that escaped its bonds in 1832 and fled into the dark, eerie forests … and into a terrifying battle for sanity and survival. [Written by Phil & Marion Anderson]
- Wilderland: This scenario is set in Australian wilderness during the days after the Apocalypse, two decades after the fateful day when the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos finally woke to reclaim ownership of our planet. Humanity still lives on in scattered pockets and dreams of one day re-establishing civilisation. Into one such desperate settlement a stranger arrives one day with a tale of hidden knowledge … [Written by Jo Kreil]
There is currently no schedule for when these games will run over the 3 days of the con (and some may run more than once), so if you happen to be attending and like the sounds of one of these games, track down the Chaosium table/booth/whatever in the Tabletop part of the con and sign up.
There will also be two panels run at PAX that will be of interest to Call of Cthulhu gamers (and more generally to those who keep an eye on what’s going on with Chaosium). They are:
- Fri 11:00am-noon: Kickstarting Yourself to Death: Chaosium’s Cautionary Tale
- Fri 9:30pm-10:30pm: The Cool of Cthulhu
While this news is probably only of interest to Australian-based readers of Cthulhu Reborn, I thought I’d share it anyway (in a brief and hopefully non-spammy way). What’s the news? Well Cthulhu Reborn will be making the trek to be at the PAX Australia game convention (November 4-6).
As well as generally hanging out with our friends at Chaosium (who will be arranging several neat things at the convention including a panel “The Cool of Cthulhu”), I am planning to run some demo sessions of Convicts & Cthulhu as well as a few other Aussie-themed scenarios from upcoming books. I will also be bringing along some printed copies of Convicts as well as Geoff Gillan’s awesome Machine King.
If you’re planning to be at PAX and think you might like to sign up for some Australian-based Call of Cthulhu gaming (or would just like to drop by and say hi), feel free to drop me a note using the form below …
In the wake of the surprise (but very gratifying) success of the Convicts & Cthulhu book — now a silver selling product on both RPG Now and DrivethruRPG — I have been asking Geoff Gillan, principal writer and historian for the book, for ideas for mini-supplements to enhance the setting. One of the first batch of ideas Geoff came back with was the idea of doing something about the French exploration of early Australia and the tensions between French and English explorers and colonists.
I’ll be honest — this wasn’t an area of history that I was even remotely well-informed about. This is despite the fact that the city where I live is rather close to the site where two of the great explorers of the early 19th Century — Englishman Matthew Flinders and Frenchman Nicholas Baudin — had a surprise (and somewhat tense) encounter in 1802, which thankfully didn’t escalate into conflict. But after reading through the material that Geoff wrote up I could completely see why he suggested exploring a French angle for Convicts & Cthulhu — in the era in question France and England were bitter foes, soon to become formal enemies in the Napoleonic Wars. The question of whether the French had an interest in laying claim to part of the newly-discovered continent of Australia was something that created much fear — both ration and irrational — in the minds of early Australian colonial settlers. And of course fear and paranoia is always great raw material to weave into a Call of Cthulhu story …
The other thing that Geoff’s historical material got me wondering about was whether any of those numerous French “scientific expeditions” to the coastline of Australia were really more … perhaps motivated by occult motives. After all, France is the home of many a great and accomplished occult tradition — who’s to say that some of those voyages weren’t subtly (or maybe not-so-subtly) infiltrated or directed by occult interests. After all, you have to wonder why France, of all the great European sea-faring powers of the days, placed such great emphasis on acquiring territory in the South Pacific during the great era of colonial expansion. It’s almost as if they were looking for something …
Convicts & Cthulhu: Tickets of Leave #2 — “Tricolour Terror” packs all this and more into a 6 page PDF of resources and scenario ideas which provide Call of Cthulhu Keepers with everything they need to start populating their Convicts & Cthulhu scenarios with French characters, either as investigators or as bitter foes for the investigators. It includes historical notes, NPC write-ups for the most prominent French explorers, two new French-themed professions, plus a developed scenario-seed from which several different tales can be spun.
The PDF is available right now as a free download from RPGNow.