Category Archives: Cthulhu Game Aids

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.

 

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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 🙂


Back to Basics: Upgrades for “In The Shadows”

Back when I first created the Cthulhu Reborn blog, its stated purpose was to create freebie stuff that helped to rescue scenarios from undeserved obscurity. I’m very conscious of the fact that it’s been quite a while since I’ve had time to make good on that worthy “mission statement” … so I figure it’s high time that I fix that situation.

While most of the work that I’ve done so far has involved taking scenarios that had been released by their authors as text-only adventures (often copright-free). This time around I thought I’d try a different tactic … finding a published book that, for whatever reason, is undeservedly obscure because it is lacking in some nifty handouts and creating some new designs to make the published material more accessible to Keepers and players alike.

It wasn’t too hard to find a good candidate … “In The Shadows,” Chaosium’s 1995 book of scenarios by Gary Sumpter. Why is this book such a good candidate? Well, because when it was first published it seemed like it was trying very VERY hard to be a great little package of diverse scenarios, each supported by extensive and deluxe handouts. Indeed on the surface of it, these scenarios might have some of the largest count of handouts Chaosium ever created for standalone scenarios (Scenario#1 has 24 handouts!). So … why aren’t these scenarios better known as great examples of handout-fuelled tabletop fun? Well, perhaps because the production process at Chaosium seemed to have had a few gremlins when it comes to the way the handouts were printed. For whatever reason, pretty much *all* of the books 40 handouts are barely readable — mostly because of heavy mottled grey texture that runs across all of them. This is a real shame because, as written, the handouts are quite crucial to running the scenarios.

Shadows - Shadow Papers 02 - Telegram

So, what I have done to try to make this book more useful … well obviously there’s nothing much I can do to fix the original handouts. But with a bit of squinting (ok, a LOT of squinting) I was able to figure out the text that appears on them, and from that I have been able to re-enginer a brand new suite of handouts for these three scenarios.

While I was going through the process of working with these scenarios, I also jotted down some conversion notes for running them under the latest (7th) Edition of the Call of Cthulhu rules. I figured this might also help time-poor Keepers who were tempted to run one of the three scenarios.Shadows - Devil Papers 15 - Book ExtractTo take a glimpse at the replacement handouts I have created (some of which appear scattered through this page), you can visit this portfolio page which collects them all together. If you want to download the entire “Scenario Upgrade Pack” — which includes the handouts in high-res plus the 7th Edition conversion notes — scroll down to the bottom of this page.

If you don’t already own a copy of “In The Shadows” — either the printed book or the PDF — this material will be useless to you. However if you’re willing to shell out a fairly modest fee you can still buy the PDF (currently on DrivethruRPG it can be had for US$6.57). It’s probably not so easy to track down a physical copy, since the book is doubtless out of print by now.

Shadows - Devil Papers 13 - Newspaper

If you are curious about the three scenarios that make up “In The Shadows” (CHA2357), here is a bit of spoiler-free info from the CthulhuWiki page for the book:

  • “Devil’s Hole” begins with the disappearance of an old friend in Scotland. Subsequent investigation uncovers dreadful secrets about his ancestry, and his terrible fate.
  • “In the Shadows of Death” takes place in what was once the plantation country of Louisiana. Visiting a friend at his newly-inherited mansion sets the stage for a series of haunting encounters, culminating in the monstrous legacy of a blasphemous experiment.
  • “Song of the Spheres” takes place in New England, where the elderly father of a respected colleague has been inexplicably stricken mad. The investigators discover that a slighted musician and his act of supernatural revenge have far greater implications.

Each of the three scenarios has some interesting ideas, and as a package the book is quite diverse. My personal favourite is the third of the scenarios “Song of the Spheres” which features a rather unusual Mythos threat at the culmination of a plot involving crazed composers and musicians. What’s not to like?

Shadows - Song Papers 03 - Song of the Spheres

So … if you want to grab the full “Scenario Upgrade Pack” for “In The Shadows”, what should you do? Well … click the link below!

Scenario Upgrade Pack – In The Shadows [41 pages, 82MB]

As always with material released here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog, this upgrade pack is released under a Creative Commons license which means that you can do pretty much anything you want with it as long as it’s not commercial. Obviously the text of the handouts remains copyrighted by Gary Sumpter, but he has kindly agreed to these reverse-engineered versions of the Chaosium handouts being created.

Shadows - Song Papers 02 - Handwritten NoteWe hope that this set of resources encourages folks to check out this book of scenarios (or pull it off the shelf again, if it’s been sitting in your game library for 20 years gathering dust). If it encourages you to give the adventures a spin then the pack has done its job (and you will be making me, and I am sure Mr Sumpter, very happy :)). Here’s hoping your Investigators find themselves a suitably nasty demise … In The Shadows 🙂


Free Addon for Mutable Deceptions 1

Readers of Cthulhu Reborn that are interested in creating 1920s era Newspaper-based props for their Lovecraftian games probably already know about Mutable Deceptions, Volume 1. For those that don’t it’s basically a PDF-based toolkit for making nifty authentic-looking 1920s newspaper articles, complete with surrounding articles/ads and a reverse side. It’s Cthulhu Reborn’s only commercial product to-date … and you can find out more about it over on RPG Now if you are so inclined.

One of the things that people ask me most about this package is … “how come there aren’t more ‘reverse side’ pages of ordinary news articles and ads? I’ve made lots of articles using the templates but they all have the same stuff on the back! My players are bored of reading the same fake articles.”

MDB1-1 - Generic Reverse FS1 (small)

This is a fair comment — although the original PDF pack for Mutable Deceptions, Volume 1 does include 8 or so pages you can use to create reverse sides for your awesome home-made newspaper clues, there’s always room for more. And I do hate bored players.

So … in the spirit of giving out Freebies for loyal readers of this blog, I thought I would put together some additional PDF pages that can be used along with Mutable Deceptions if you want a bigger selection of material for the reverse side of your clippings.

MDB1-2 - Generic Reverse FS2 (small)

Of course, there’s nothing to stop anybody from using these files on their own (without Mutable Deceptions) — if you can do that, more power to you. Celebrate the spirit of sharing free stuff on the Internet! Print ’em out and use them to wrap your fish and chips for that authentic old-school dinner (disclaimer: if you do this, I am not responsible for anything that happens – you’re on your own :)).

You can download a PDF with two full pages of new newspaper content (based on real American newspapers of the 1920s, but re-typeset to look more consistent with the fonts and typography used in Mutable Deceptions, V1). Each page is provided as a version with background texture and another without — for those who like printing their newspaper articles on exotic paper to give them even greater authenticity.

I hope folks find these helpful — I am likely to create a second batch of freebie newspaper add-ons sometime in the future.


Christmas in Arkham

Happy holidays, dear reader of Cthulhu Reborn. It’s certainly been a great year for the blog, and one that has allowed us to release a bunch of free prop-goodness to (hopefully) enhance your Lovecraftian tabletop gaming experience.

As always, though, a significant proportion of the prop design work we have done this year has been for commercial publishers — and while some of that has made it into products, a lot of it is still waiting to see the light of day. One of the projects that falls into that category is an amazing and fun project involving the creation of dozens of high-detail Arkham-themed prop documents for a deluxe kit that a publisher has yet to announce. As always with these kinds of jobs there ends up being too many ideas and designs to put everything into the final product — leaving cool but extraneous bits of left-overs.

Postmarks Montage

I figure it would be in the spirit of the holiday season to work one of these left-overs up into something that I could release here as a free Arkham prop document. A Cthulhu Reborn Christmas gift :).

The design I chose to finish is … a dance card that is both Arkham-themed and Christmas-themed. “What’s a dance card?” I hear you young whipper-snappers quipping to yourselves. Well, I’m sure everyone is familiar with phrases “having a full dance card” and the like, but few of us today really appreciate the very important social function that that this humble piece of cardboard once held for people. When dancing was one of the primary form of social interaction (which it certainly was in the 1920s … and several later decades too) people would dance with many different people on any given night. If one wanted to recall the name of the dishy Army officer one foxtrotted with last Saturday evening, chances are you’d pull out the dance card that you’d kept as a souvenir of the night. Similarly, when one was asked to dance later in the night it was important to be able to “book” people into a free slot — and the dance card was the way of doing that.

CR Prop Freebie - Dance Card (outside)

Dance Card (outside)

 

One can imagine that nine decades ago, in the fictitious town of Arkham, MA, the yuletide dance at the most prestigious hotel in town — the glittering Hotel Miskatonic — would have been the social occasion of the season. So, when one of the party-goers is found in a back alley, apparently assaulted on his or her walk home — by something with tentacles! — the bloodied dance card on their corpse could be a clue!

CR Prop Freebie - Dance Card (inside)

Dance Card (inside)

 

The freebie prop that I have created is a 2 page PDF that allows you to create a realistic-looking 1920s dance card. Print double sided, cut out, and fold in half. If you’re really keen you can even punch out the hole and attach a piece of string with a small pencil on the end. That’s how the dance cards of the 1920s were done … a bit like this:

 

Click the link below to grab the PDF … and send your Lovecraftian investigators off to solve the mystery that haunts the mayor’s big Yuletide party!

Freebe Prop – Arkham Christmas Dance Card (5MB, 2 pages).

As an aside, the photo of the Hotel Miskatonic on the front of the dance card is actually something that I created as a mashup of several different period photos of luxury hotels. That picture *does* make it into one of the props I delivered to the publisher … so you might see it again someday on a letterhead or something.

CR Prop - Hotel Miskatonic

Hotel Miskatonic … as envisioned and Photoshopped by CR

 

In the meantime — back here in Christmas, 2014, far from the luxury of the roaring twenties — we here at Cthulhu Reborn would like to offer our best wishes for a fun, safe and enjoyable holiday season. And down wander into any alleys that smell … fishy 🙂


Prop Competition Winners!

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos of their prop newspaper articles made using our Mutable Deceptions PDF toolkit. As promised, we’ve picked two winners — each of which will receive a shiny new Call of Cthulhu supplement for their efforts.

The first of our winners is Daniel Myers, who created a neat newspaper prop to go along with a crystal ball that he inherited from a stage magician. The photos below show the wonderful display case which houses both the newspaper backstory and the haunted globe, as well as showing a close-up of the newspaper.

MD Competition Entry - Crystal Ball 1MD Competition Entry - Crystal Ball 2

Our other winner is Lisa Woodward who used the templates from Mutable Deceptions to create some props for the scenario “The Madman” (which appears in many of the Call of Cthulhu rulebook editions). Not only has Lisa done a great job with the newspapers, she’s also created a bunch of other props for the scenario, also pictured. Nice work.

MD Competition Entry - Lisa Woodward - The MadmanFor their troubles, Daniel has collected a copy of Golden Goblin Press’ first book “Island of Ignorance”; Lisa has scored herself a copy of the second GGP book “Tales of the Crescent City”. We hope that both of them enjoy their winnings … and keep on making awesome props using our templates!


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