Category Archives: Cthulhu Game Aids

Cthulhu Eternal: All Systems Mi-Go!

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.

Mi-Go Don’t Love Me At All

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 …

Mi-Go

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.

Attacks:

Nippers50%, damage 1D6+2
Lightning Gun50%, 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.

Yog-Sothothery

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.

DNA of a Cthulhu Sourcebook

It’s funny what you find lying around on your hard drive when you go back and “tidy up” some old folders.

Back in 2013 I was asked to take on the job as project leader/coordinator for what would eventually become Chaosium’s “Terror Australis” Revised Edition. This was an exciting, if somewhat daunting, task to take on. The hardest choices that needed to be made were around what types of contents make for a truly great Cthulhuoid sourcebook — sure there are many examples out there, some much better than others. But there doesn’t really seem to be an accepted “template” for what people want so see.

After re-reading virtually every geographical-based sourcebook previously published, I came away with some thoughts about the utility of different types of contents and also about the categories of readers who buy Cthulhu sourcebooks. To try to make sense of all this information (and also apply it to planning for the Australian sourcebook) I wrote a short “discussion paper” on the topic. It was titled: “Call of Cthulhu Sourcebooks: What they contain and how people use them.” I only ever shared this paper with a few people on the project team … but re-reading it now I wonder whether it might be of interest to a broader community of game designers and writers. So I figure I’d release it here.

Call of Cthulhu Sourcebooks: What they contain and how people use them.

Before anyone comments that the final Terror Australis Revised Edition doesn’t exactly match the template described in this paper … that is (to some extent) true. The plan outlined here was, however, the starting point for that book (which went on to eventually take out the 2019 ENnie for “Best Setting”). Obviously much editing and selection of written content from the full original manuscript — about half of which didn’t end up in the final book — took place between the start and finish of that long, LONG process. All of which skewed the DNA of that book to a lesser or greater degree.

As a kind of summary of what’s in the discussion paper (for the TL;DR crew), here’s a quote from the conclusions section of the discussion paper:

This paper proposes that there are four classes of readers for a Cthulhoid RPG sourcebook:

    • Players,
    • Keepers who just want to play the scenarios,
    • Keepers who want to build “homebrew” scenarios, and
    • Keepers who like to tweak existing scenarios, ad lib around existing scenarios or who otherwise want to adopt a “plug & play” approach to creating something original.

All four of these groups have different information needs, although their needs clearly overlap.

A range of ten different forms of information need have been described (four for players, six for Keepers), which is admittedly an entirely arbitrary system of categorisation based mainly on what has been published previously and what people (claim to) want from books.

Using this very simple modelling tool it is conceivable that one could guide the design of a sourcebook by assigning proportions of different types of information based its utility to a specific target audience. An example of this process, undertaken for “Secrets of Australia” is included.


Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1984*

You know what I find kind of weird? The fact that decades that I personally remember quite clearly are now legitimate targets for “historical settings” for film, TV, and games. At the moment we’re going through a bit of a 1980s nostalgia revisitation, perhaps thanks to Stranger Things … and this has bubbled over to the gaming world.

Some time back, the very fine folks at Sentinel Hill Press ran a Kickstarter to re-publish a great old Kevin Ross scenario called “The Dare” featuring a typical 80s bunch of teenaged Kid Investigators who take on the challenge of exploring the local “haunted house.” While that Kickstarter has been a bit delayed due to a variety of health and family issues, it will be a wonderful book when it arrives (trust me).

Back in 2017, Sentinel Hill asked if I would design a custom “1980s Themed” character sheet to go into that book. While those designs are still waiting to go into the book layout for “The Dare”, I was recently thinking about running a completely different Call of Cthulhu scenario with an 80s theme. So naturally I wondered whether I could brush up the (very cut-down) 1980s character sheets for “The Dare” to make them into general-purpose 1980s fillable sheets for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition.

Turns out … I could. So I figured I’d share this new (unofficial) flavour of character sheet for 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu. Use them to stat up the members of Spandau Ballet and send them across the barricades to fight Great Cthulhu in The Lebanon! Send your crack team of 1980s investigators up against the mysterious neun-und-neunzig Lufballons!

Or, perhaps, do something sensible with the sheet. Either way … feel free to do whatever you wish with the PDF. Just don’t blame me if you can’t get that Hall & Oates song out of your head for weeks 🙂

As usual with things we release here via Cthulhu Reborn, this 1980s character sheet is copyrighted but released under a Creative Commons Share-Alike license. That means, you can use it for any non-commercial use. If you have a burning issue to use it in your awesome commercial product, get in touch with us and we can talk about a full-commercial license.

Here’s the PDF:

  Unofficial 1980s era sheet for Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition (US Letter, 2 sided, with autocalculation) [NB: For use with Adobe Reader or Acrobat ONLY]

For those who would prefer a NON-fillable sheet that works in any PDF reader, here’s one of those:

  Non-Fillable Unofficial 1980s era sheet for Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition (US Letter, 2 sided) [NB: For use with any PDF reader]

 

[*] With apologies to Anais Mitchell who wrote a wonderful folk-protest-type song featuring this exact line, for her 2004 album “Hymns for the Exiled”. Her usage is art; mine is shameless.

“Sure is going to be lonely … after I turn you in.”


Propping Up the Convict

As mentioned here last week, today marks the third anniversary of the Convicts & Cthulhu setting being released. In those three years we have released 15 supplemental PDFs to flesh out the setting with campaign ideas, scenarios, NPCs, and curious nuggets of historical detail. It’s probably fair to say that, by now, there is enough Convicts & Cthulhu content out there that you could easily run a lengthy campaign set in and around the penal colony of New South Wales

If you don’t already have all 15 of the supplements, they are downloadable either from our Download page (free), or by searching “Convicts & Cthulhu” on DriveThruRPG (“Pay-What-You-Want”).

What makes especially happy about this flourishing product line is that we’ve been able to bring these several hundred pages of content to you *entirely* as Pay-What-You-Want. That means that if you’re not in a position to shell out the (sometimes significant) cover prices for other publisher’s Lovecraftian RPG books — there’s always C&C as a cheap alternative. Heck, if you want to grab it all for free, you can (although chipping a little money our way certainly helps a lot when it comes to keeping the product line going).

On this occasion of C&C’s third birthday we wanted to give all our loyal readers a bit of a birthday present. We also thought it might be a good occasion to try something different — hence was born the idea for the “Convict Document Pack” which we are proud to be releasing today!

So, what is the “Convict Document Pack,” anyway? Well … in simplest terms it is a resource that helps you in the creation of realistic prop documents representing some of the most important records kept about convicts in the colony. If your convict was fortunate enough to be granted a “Ticket of Leave,” he or she would be given a (probably grubby) piece of paper proclaiming this status. Same for the rare cases where penal sentences were pardoned because a convict had done something spectacularly wonderful (or been somehow proven innocent after all). And if your convict survived long enough to serve out his or her entire sentence (assuming it wasn’t imprisonment “for life”), they would receive a “Certificate of Freedom.”

All of these important convict documents are included in this pack, in both flat (print & fill) form and also as fillable PDF forms. For the print & fill blanks we’ve included actual signatures for the two most important colonial Governors of the C&C era.

So … never again shall your convict Investigator’s special status need be a minor detail on the back of his or her character sheet. Now they can proudly carry their documents … and present them to snarky NSW Corp Redcoats who challenge them in the street! Further more, these blank documents make great starting points for GM-inspired handouts and clues as part of scenarios. In a similar vein, we have also included in this pack a fillable blank PDF of the single-page broadsheet newspaper produced in the colony, the “Sydney Gazette.”

Downloading the Convict Document Pack

Depending on your preference, you can download these docs either as a single ZIP file (17MB), or via the individual PDF download links below:

Convict Document Pack Info + Print & Fill templates [6.5MB]

Fillable Convict Prop Documents (blank) [4.1MB]

Fillable Convict Prop Documents (sample text) [4.1MB]

Fillable Sydney Gazette (blank) [2.1MB]

Fillable Sydney Gazette (sample text) [2.1MB]

We hope that these prop document resources will give you a set of handy tools to enhance your games of Lovecraftian horror set in the penal colonies. And if you wind up using them in some especially nifty way … feel free to drop us a note telling us about your brilliant prop-fuelled goodness (emails to feedback <at> cthulhureborn.com).

[As always, these resources are released here under a Creative Commons license which means basically that you can use these prop document templates for whatever personal use you can dream up. If you want to use them for a profit-making endeavor — say, for some splashy new TV Series set in the penal colonies — you’d need to contact us about obtaining a separate license.]

 


Exit the Dateline; Enter the Zombies!

Thank you to everyone who spent some of their hard-earned cash to pick up one of the combo-packs of printed Dateline: Lovecraft newspaper and book. These sold far quicker than we had anticipated, and in the end our modest print run was well-and-truly exhausted a week or so ago. Everyone who ordered one should now have their printed Dateline winging its way towards them … though many folks have already reported it landing upon their doorsteps!

While we are very thankful to *everyone* who bought one of these packs, we do want to give a special shout out to a few folks who are serial supporters of Cthulhu Reborn and who chipped in above-and-beyond to help make this print run even more successful. Those folks are: Adam Alexander, Jeff Vandine, Douglas Bailey, and Perry Tatman. We feel very humbled to have such wonderful folks backing our publishing endeavours!

On a different — but no less exciting — subject, we recently got word that long-time collaborator and friend of Cthulhu Reborn, Geoff Gillan, has taken the plunge and created a publishing imprint for his genre fiction. Some hard-core Call of Cthulhu fans may already know that Geoff (in addition to being the driving force behind Horror on the Orient Express) has already had novel or two published in dead-tree format by major publishers. Not content with that, he has been madly scribbling away penning novels and short stories … and now, for the first time these will be available in eBook form.

Available on:

Formats: PDF, EPUB, MOBI

An advantage of being Geoff’s collaborator on Convicts & Cthulhu is that I’ve been able to get a sneak peek at some of these … in particular the first series of novels and stories, the “Man From Z.O.M.B.I.E.” series. If Cold War spy fiction tickles your fancy but you always wished for a little supernatural spice to season your Fleming or similar, these are definitely worth checking out. Similarly if you’re a zombie buff whose interested in unusual and innovative (not to mentioned nuanced) uses of the walking dead, maybe they might be your thing also.

 

 


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 🙂

 


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