Category Archives: Cthulhu Game Aids

Ticket of Leave #5: The Damned and Degenerate

We are very excited to announce the release of the fifth installment in our highly-popular “Ticket of Leave” series of mini-supplements for Convicts & Cthulhu. It’s available for download right now on RPGNow. This one is entitled “The Damned & The Degenerate” — it’s a bit of a departure from previous PDFs in that it doesn’t aim to expand the world of C&C by adding new narrative elements. Instead it is a comprehensive revisiting of the character generation sections of the original sourcebook. While we originally only had a small number of pages to devote to character templates and skills, the richness of the colonial prison setting lends itself to a very broad range of colourful characters, both roguish and virtuous (but mostly roguish). The opportunity to go back and expand the character rules as its own mini-supplement was just too good a temptation to resist.

Mind you, I *say* “mini-supplement” … but the reality is that when we started looking at the intriguing range of character types that are possible for the colonial Australian setting we ended up with quite a sizeable list. The original Convicts & Cthulhu sourcebook has something like 12 occupation templates — the list for this Ticket of Leave is just over 40. Of course, describing the game statistics and historical context of all those professions takes space. So our “mini” supplement weighs in at 24 pages, and includes a fresh copy of the C&C character sheet.

The set of character occupations in ToL5 is broadly divided into four categories — Indigenous Australian occupations, Convict occupations, Government/Military Occupations and Free Settler Occupations. All the obvious things are in there, but so too are a bunch of interesting and unusal character types. Ever wanted to play an Aboriginal tracker paid by the white colonists to track down escaped convicts? Well, now you have the “Bush Constable”. Ever wondered how “aristocratic” convicts, or convict confidence tricksters might work? Now those are options. And if you’ve ever speculated that maybe there were turncoat foreign spies lurking beneath the thin veneer of the colonies, plotting an overthrow … you can now create exactly such a character.

To illustrate the diverse range of convict-era character types, and also to give Keepers and players ready-made “drop-in” characters, this PDF is peppered with lots of examples of real historical people who performed those jobs in the colonies. These aren’t the high-and-mighty people of the colonial administration; rather they are the day-to-day people struggling to get by. In other words, perfect NPCs and replacement investigators. Full stats are provided for each example character, along with a historically-sourced bio (because the squalid details of real history is actually more horrible than anything we could dream up ourselves).

To round out “Ticket of Leave #5: The Damned and Degenerate” we’ve included some slightly tweaked and better-described rules around handling a few CoC 7th Edition skills in the colonial setting. And we’ve also included some notes on playing a couple of unusual character types. The first of these are early “bushrangers” — desperate escaped convicts (and occasionally deserting military types) who somehow manage to survive off the land. The second is the odd phenomenon of free settler women who came to the colonies to accompany their convicted husbands (now that’s dedication!).

If you are a Keeper or player with an interest in Convicts & Cthulhu, there will certainly be a wealth of character-based material in this PDF that is helpful to running your game. You can grab it right now from RPGNow. As with the previous Ticket of Leave we have decided to make this a “Pay What You Want” release rather than a straight free download — this is really just to reflect the amount of effort that has gone into creating a fully illustrated beautiful 24-page booklet. Of course we are more than happy if our loyal readers want to grab the book for free. But we would graciously accept any higher purchase price as well (and would consider it a valuable donation which will help us maintaining this product line well into the future!).


Ticket of Leave #4: Vanishing Ensign Released

We are delighted to announce the release of #4 in our popular series of mini-supplements to the Convicts & Cthulhu setting of Lovecraftian horrors in the early Australian colonies. This release, titled “The Vanishing Ensign” is by far our largest Ticket of Leave supplement — really more of a double-sized release, weigning in at 14 pages of PDF goodness. You can grab it right now from RPGNow. Because it’s a much bigger book than others in the line we’ve decided to make this a “Pay What You Want” title rather than just a simple free PDF. What that means is that if you still want to pick it up for free, you can do so (and that’s fine with us!) but if you would like to chip in a dollar or two as a “thank you” to Cthulhu Reborn, then that avenue is open to you also. Strangely, the number 1 complaint we receive about our free books is that some people wish they could pay for them, as a show of their appreciation I guess. The “Pay What You Want” pricing model is a good way of balancing both … and we will probably use it again if we make more large Tickets of Leave.

So, with all that preparatory stuff out of the way … I guess that just leaves me the task of describing what the heck “Ticket Of Leave #4: The Vanishing Ensign” is all about. At its core this release is inspired by a particular historical detail, Governor Bligh’s enormous military muster of 1807. In the early days of the Australian colonies military resources were pretty dire — there were never enough troops to keep the peace for such a huge population of convicts, and the NSW Corps were given the crappiest of equipment and ordnance (and yet somehow expected to be the front line of defence if other European nations, such as France, decided to invade the colony). Every Governor had complained about this dangerous situation, but it took the irascibility of Bligh to ramp it up a notch. In order to prove to the Colonial Office back in London exactly how terrible the military situation in NSW truly was, he commissioned a team to travel throughout the colony and tabulate a full muster of all troops and ordnance, documenting all the stuff that didn’t work. In the end this grand plan of Bligh’s led to nothing … but it provides an excellent concept for a Convicts & Cthulhu campaign.

So … that’s what this Ticket of Leave concentrates on — providing the historical, game, and narrative resources that a Call of Cthulhu Keeper might need to put together an extended series of scenarios which feature the intrepid investigators travelling to the most far-flung parts of the colony to gather information. Given the poorly-explored nature of the landscape at this time, there are ample opportunities for concealing any number of terrifying Cthulhu Mythos threats in places where “the hills rise wild.” And of course, there is always the chance that investigators digging too deeply into the records of the colony might stumble upon certain … irregularities … that need to be cleared up to ensure that the results of the Governor’s grand muster  will stand up to scrutiny. Whether it’s encounters with terrifying alien menaces, or battles against black-hearted murderers or cultists, this campaign frame has opportunities for incorporating any number of different threads, all within an overarching narrative construct. Plus, there is always the possibility that by piecing together disparate findings from different parts of the colony, investigators might stumble upon something really big … because “we live on an island of ignorance”, etc, etc.

The PDF is rounded out by a detailed scenario sketch that could easily be used as a springboard for a longer campaign spent gathering the Governor’s muster. The scenario involves a curious anomaly in the records held in lots of different parts of the colony — all of them record a certain Ensign Dobley as being among their contingent, but in reality there seems to be no such person. Or rather that he seems to exist, but nobody knows where he might be currently found. It is a mystery that needs urgent resolution for the statistics gathered to have any meaning at all. Rather than give just one Cthulhu Mythos explanation for this strange phenomenon, the PDF provides three different “solutions” each of which makes use of a different style of threat, allowing the Keeper to pick the flavour of horror he wishes to inflict on his players.

“Ticket of Leave #4: The Vanishing Ensign” is available for download right now — scoot over to RPGNow to secure your copy. And if you do decide to chip a dollar or two to help us keep the pipeline of glossy, high-quality, supplements going … you will incur our eternal thanks!


A Convict’s Christmas (of Crime)

Convicts & Cthulhu Logo 2Just 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.

cr3005c-convicts-cthulhu-ticket-of-leave-3-cover-sml

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!


Do You Zew Cthulhu?

Over the years Call of Cthulhu has been translated into oodles of different languages … so it’s no surprise that there are lots of people around the world playing CoC in tongues other than English. I was recently asked by one such gamer — a wonderful Polish guy called Wojtek — whether it would be possible to get a version of the 7th Edition CoC sheet created for Zew Cthulhu (as CoC is called in its Polish-language edition) version of the game. Now Zew Cthulhu isn’t even currently being supported by a publisher, but clearly that’s not stopping folks in Poland from picking up the newest edition of CoC and running it!

char-sheet-1920s-letter-polish-front-seg

Anyway … after some very enthusiastic discussions with Chaosium (in the form of Mike Mason and Rick Meints) all the rights issues were squared away, allowing me to create and release this Polish-language rendition of the 1920s CoC 7e sheet.

If you are a Polish CoC Keeper or player — or just really want to see what the character sheet looks like in another, somewhat beautiful and exotic, language — click on the links below!


Convicts Have Broken Loose!

Convicts & Cthulhu B&W Logo sml

Convicts & Cthulhu has just been released for download via RPGNow: you can grab yourself a copy by following this link. You can also find the promo text there, describing the Convicts & Cthulhu setting and what’s contained in the book.

The lavishly illustrated 96-page sourcebook is available entirely for free … although if you really wish to pay for it, you can make a small donation (whatever you like) to assist with the costs of keeping new Cthulhu Reborn content coming. We’ve enabled this “pay-what-you-want” approach because several folks over on YSDC violently objected to the idea of grabbing this book entirely for free :). Please don’t feel any obligation to donate — it’s purely there as an option if you are feeling especially generous.

[In case it isn’t obvious: you can download the file without paying a cent simply by entering zero dollars in the Pay-What-You-Want box and proceeding to the checkout.]

We have also created a fillable PDF version of the Convicts & Cthulhu character sheet (using the same Autocalc code used in Chaosium’s fillable PDF sheets). See the link below!

Convicts & Cthulhu - Char Sheet Sample - Thomas Jackson

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

We hope that you have many hours of convict-filled mayhem as you explore the depraved and corrupt world of the early Australian prison colonies! Horrors of all flavours lurk just around every corner … none so terrifying as the vast swearing vocabulary of the irascable Governor Bligh. Believe me.

 


Villa in France, One Peculiar Owner

Recently I was chatting with Chad Bowser — Call of Cthulhu writer extraordinare, inventor of Cthulhu Invictus, and sometimes collaborator on Cthulhu Reborn projects. Chad was bemoaning the fact that despite the fact that the recent Chaosium update of Horror on the Orient Express is an absolutely super-deluxe reimagining of the 90’s classic, most of the handouts didn’t get much revamping or update. Having recently (finally) found time to read through my own HotOE box, I’d have to say I agree.

One specific problem that Chad’s group had run into was the fact that while in the Paris chapter of the campaign (“Les Fleurs du Mal”) they had fixated slightly on the 17th Century Villa constructed by the Comte Fenalique. Investigators researching this can readily turn up the floorplans to this unusual building … but sadly it isn’t included as a handout. Chad asked me if I had any way of putting together a semi-realistic looking old document bearing the floorplan of a French Villa in Poissy. Here’s what I came up with:

HotOE Addon - Handout - Fenalik's Villa Floorplan (sml)

(click here download a higher-res version)

After sketching it out I thought maybe it should be a bit more beaten and weathered-looking, so I roughened and aged it some more:

HotOE Addon - Handout - Fenalik's Villa Floorplan, Aged (sml)

(click here download a higher-res version)

If you’d like to use this image as a handout to enhance your games of Horror on the Orient Express (1st or 2nd Edition) … feel free! Equally, if you want to remix it into some other prop of your own creation, that’s also cool with me. If you get a visit in the night from a shadowy  fiend, though, it’s not MY fault … 🙂

EDIT: For those who want the floorplan image minus background texture, here it is … (click for the full resolution version)

HotOE Addon - Handout - Fenalik's Villa Floorplan, No Texture


Welcome to a New Year of Horrors

Happy New Year from all of us here at Cthulhu Reborn! May 2016 bring you all the horrors you wish …

I thought that it would be a great idea to kick off the new year in style by releasing something that’s been sitting around on our hard disks for a while gathering dust — a customised 7th Edition character sheet, skinned with a “Masks of Nyarlathotep” theme.

MoN 7e Sheet - letter - Front sml

Where did this come from? Well … a bit over a year ago I was contacted by Ben Patey, whose ill-fated Kickstarter to create a physical prop set for Masks has been well documented over on YSDC and other blogs (so I won’t rehash its tale of woe here). Ben wanted to have a special “Masks of Nyarlathotep” character sheet designed as a reward to go along with the props. He had previously run an online poll to see whether people wanted a sheet aimed at the older (6th) edition of the rules, or the new (7th) edition — most people wanted the latter, hence this sheet was born.

I believe that some physical character sheets were produced and included along with the prop sets for the small number of backers who have received them. Since there is no current time-line on when any of the other backers (of which I myself am one) will be getting their props, I thought I would go ahead and release these sheets as free downloads for backers of Ben’s Kickstarter and anyone else who might like a Masks themed character sheet. You can grab the sheet either as a pair of high-resolution PNG images (front and back, 300 DPI colour) or you can download the PDF version which has the same autocalc logic as the official Chaosium 7th Edition character sheets.

Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Masks of Nyarlathotep Sheet (front side)

Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Masks of Nyarlathotep Sheet (reverse side)

  Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Character Sheet, 2 sided – Masks of Nyarlathotep edition (autocalc) 

Like all the official CoC 7th Edition PDF sheets, this one will probably only work properly when opened with Adobe’s free PDF Reader or with Adobe Acrobat. It uses a whole bunch of dynamic mojo that most PDF software doesn’t support.

As with every free download provided here on Cthulhu Reborn, this sheet is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license — that means you can do pretty much anything you like with these files, as long as it is not for commercial purposes. I hope folks find this a useful addition to their collection of Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition character sheets 🙂


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