Category Archives: News & Updates

Terrible New Worlds: Coming Soon

A few people have been in touch with us to ask how things are going with our upcoming anthology book of APOCTHULHU “mini-campaigns”, titled “Terrible New Worlds.” We’ve posted a little bit of information about this book, but now that things are getting closer to its completion I am planning on sharing a bunch more. I’m sorry that updates about our projects are so sporadic — when you’re a small publisher it’s not uncommon to get so caught up in whatever piece of the creative process you’re knee-deep in right now, and forget that it’s been ages since sharing any news here on the blog.

“Terrible New Worlds” sees us publishing four brand new Post-Apocalyptic Lovecraftian “mini-campaigns”, each set in a new and horrible dystopian future. We’re using the term “mini-campaign” to describe these pieces, rather than simply calling them “scenarios” because in reality each of the four is a chunky piece of gaming that would occupy any group for many sessions of play.

The nightmare adventures contained within these pages range from 50 to 85 pages. All up the book of four mini-campaigns run to approximately 256 pages.

I aim to post a short (spoiler-free) thumbnail of each of the campaigns in coming days, but I can reveal titles and authors now. The four terrible new worlds are:

  • “Hold The Flood” by Christopher Smith Adair
  • “A Throne of Corpses” by Emily O’Neil
  • “A Small Price” by Dave Sokolowski
  • “… even death may die …” by Fred Behrendt

More details and some art previews to follow … Estimated release for the book (in PDF format) is early August.

And In Other APOCTHULHU News

We have been delighted to see that a group of awesome gamers has decided to run an APOCTHULHU game online as a “play by forum” thing over on RPG.net. The game is called “The Vulture Committee”. The GM of the game — friend of the blog Paul StJohn Mackintosh — has crafted an original and highly inventive Post-Apocalypse setting of his own. Here’s a link to the game’s thread.

In this setting, the end of the world was somehow brought about by mankind’s dabbling in Quantum Computing, brought to a head by the Cryptocurrency craze. When the mass use of parallel Quantum computers began in earnest, it opened gates — logic gates — and through them, SOMETHING slithered into our reality. Spreading like a digital plague, the non-human intelligence came to infect the world’s networks, mutating reality (and people) as it went. Fast forward several years and the world is now a fragmented place of desperate survivor groups, raiding parties, and other ne’er-do-wells, huddled together in communities to avoid the weird Unnatural manifestations that roam the wastelands.

Prior to the game starting off, Paul and a few other folks had some great discussions about how this unique setting might work. That thread is also a pretty good read.

We’re thrilled the read the adventure as it unfolds …


Print Pricing for APOCTHULHU

I want to provide a quick “Public Service Announcement” about looming big price hikes in all POD-printed colour books from DTRPG. Publishers (like us) who sell hardcover or softcover versions of  colour-interior books have been advised that from July 1 the cost for printing each book (via Lightning Source / Ingram) is increasing.

A lot. Like +25-30%ish.

For our APOCTHULHU Core book — which is available as either soft or hardcover colour-interior — I’ve crunched the numbers provided by DTRPG and it looks like both of them will get $15 more expensive on July 1. That is not really good for purchasers, and it’s not really good for us.

The only saving grace is that DTRPG have hastily organized a sale from now until June 29, where affected print books are being sold up to 25% off their *current* price. We have signed up to that sale for both our APOCTHULHU Core and APOCTHULHU Quickstart books. If you have any interest in perhaps picking either up as colour-interior print books, we’d urge you to consider doing it during this sale.

We currently also offer B&W interior versions of these books via LULU, and none of this change affects those versions.

It’s worth noting that Cthulhu Reborn is far from being the only publisher who is affected by this change in DTRPG/LS pricing — so if there are other things you’ve been considering buying in print from DTRPG, I’d definitely suggest looking at the listings this week to see if they too are part of this big sale. Chances are most publishers are like us, lamenting the fact that customers are about to get slugged …

Finally, it’s also worth pointing out that this change doesn’t affect the print cost of Convicts & Cthulhu on DTRPG — because that book is B&W interior only.


It’s Virtually the End of the World

There is no denying that the events of the past year have changed the way many people play roleplaying games, shifting many people’s gaming from face-to-face to online. This has definitely been true for APOCTHULHU games that we have run or participated in — those have 100% been “virtual”.

Lots of people seem to be gravitating towards different Virtual Table Top (VTT) platforms to add a little bit of extra collaboration to their voice-only games on Discord or Skype. We’ve done a bit of gaming on Roll20, and even developed an APOCTHULHU character sheet for that tabletop.

Recently, we’ve dipped our toe into the realm of Roll20 “modules” with the release of the R20 VTT version of “Amber Waves”, the introductory scenario that is in the back of the APOCTHULHU Quickstart (still a free download from DriveThruRPG).

The Roll20 Marketplace pretty much obliges us to charge a minimum price of US $4.99 for this module. BUT because we are so indebted to our loyal blog readers that we will happily send a free gift copy to anyone who contacts us via email to vtt [at] cthulhureborn.com … make sure to include your Roll20 ID (that is, the email address you use to log into Roll20).

Of course if you would PREFER to pay for the module, you can buy it direct from Roll20.

If you don’t know what goes into a Roll20 Module … they basically combine:

  • the full text of the scenario (hyperlinked for convenient reference),
  • the scenario handouts,
  • scene graphics you can show to players are key moments,
  • maps for all significant locations (we added some new ones for “Amber Waves”), and
  • pre-filled character sheets for all pre-gens, NPCs, and critters.

So, they’re kind of like online game configs that are pretty much ready to run. You can just find some friends, fire up a new instance of the module, allocate each player a pre-generated character, and start to play. Since the character sheets automate some of the dice rolling conventions of APOCTHULHU (e.g., remembering that matching digits means crit or fumble), it can be a slightly easier way to learn a new game system.

We hope that the added convenience of having a pre-made Roll20 VTT version of “Amber Waves” encourages a few more folks to give the scenario a run … it’s a very fun little introduction to APOCTHULHU. I was lucky enough to play in an early Roll20 version of the scenario run by Chad Bowser (who wrote the scenario). It’s a perfect mix of creepy exploration, mystery solving, and pulse-pounding terror. With lots of green killer plants and creepy flying things 🙂

While we’re talking about online APOCTHULHU, it’s probably worth mentioning that we are always interested in hearing about any “actual play” recordings of our games that you decide to share online. In the past we’ve been thrilled to see these, and have sent some nice rewards (print books and merch from our Redbubble store) to the generous folks who have got in touch. If you’ve similarly shared the word about your APOCTHULHU games, we’d be happy to extend the same generosity to you! Get in touch via the same email mentioned above.


A Glimpse of Future Apocalypses

It’s been a while since we posted any updates about upcoming APOCTHULHU titles. Rest assured we’ve been hard at work on several future books relating to different Lovecraftian Post-Apocalypse settings. In fact we’ve been so busy working on editing manuscripts for the very next book — an anthology of mini-campaigns — that we’ve been rather neglecting the blog. Sorry about that.

Starting next month I will be writing a series of posts describing some of the horrifically good adventures and source material that will go into a couple of books we will release later in the year.

For now, though, I thought it might be fun to simply share some of the cool art that has been created for upcoming APOCTHULHU books. Today I’d like to showcase a selection of pieces for our anthology book “Terrible New Worlds”. We have a mock up cover for that book …

Terrible New Worlds: An Anthology of four Mini-Campaigns for APOCTHULHU

When it came to commissioning the custom illustrations for this book we looked around at a lot of different artist portfolios, searching for the right look and feel. During that search we stumbled upon the work of an incredible Polish artist named Anna Helena Szymborska. You can see a sample of her work on this portfolio page.

We initially gave Anna the commissions for one scenario, but were so delighted with her creativity and eye for the macabre that we ended up asking her to do ALL the custom pieces for the entire book. And then we got her back for another entire book project (more on that later).

All that is my way of saying that Anna is an outstanding horror/sci-fi/fantasy genre artists. If you’re a publisher of games, fiction, or comics who commissions art in any of those genres, you might want to check out her style.

Anna’s Art for Mini-Campaign #1: Hold the Flood

Anna’s Art for Mini-Campaign #2: Throne of Corpses

Anna’s Art for Mini-Campaign #3: A Small Price

Anna’s Art for Mini-Campaign #4: Even Death May Die

Intrigued by these illustrations? Keep an eye out for future blog postings where we preview the four mini-campaigns that make up “Terrible New Worlds”, our next APOCTHULHU title!


Terror’s Triumph: Another review of APOCTHULHU

Since releasing the core rulebook for APOCTHULHU — just a few months ago — we have been excited to see a number of great (and mostly complimentary!) reviews published in a range of online venues.

Today, the much-read “Reviews From R’lyeh” posted their review … which is also pretty complimentary. You can read it here.

BTW for the several folks who have asked how things are progressing with future books in the APOCTHULHU line, the answer is … “very well, thanks for asking” :). We have the written manuscripts for the next two titles submitted and queued for editing. One will be an anthology of epic-sized-scenarios (each the same size as the ready-to-run adventures in the back of the core rulebook, ~50pp each). The other will be the highly-anticipated full sourcebook for William Hope Hodgson’s “Night Land” setting. For this, Kevin Ross has crafted a trio of amazing and imaginative journeys of exploration out into the pitch-black wastelands …

We are predicting both these books will be 2021 titles, with the scenario anthology arriving first. I don’t want to jinx things by setting actual release-dates yet, but rest assured we are working flat-out on getting these out there for folks to use in their Lovecraft and/or Post-Apocalypse games!


Alone Against the Apocalypse

We’ve recently been stoked to see mention of APOCTHULHU turning up on several discussion boards and other RPG-related channels. As a micro-sized publisher, we don’t have a lot of funds (or indeed time) to devote to comprehensively advertising our game in all the different places that gamers lurk, so having some word-of-mouth recommendations out there is gold for us.

One interesting (and unexpected) theme that’s emerged from a few comments posted online is the idea of adapting APOCTHULHU to solo play (that is, for running by yourself without a GM). I guess the continued locked-down state of many parts of the world means that a lot more people are getting their gaming fix in this way … and the free (and we think pretty awesome) scenario at the back of the APOCTHULHU Quickstart makes a great self-contained solo game.

Or so it would seem based on this recent comment accompanying Bob V.G.’s 5-star review of the Quickstart on DTRPG:

This week, I soloed my way through APOCTHULHU Quickstart Rules. I used the Mythic Game Master Emulator as the solo engine. It is in a unique setting about a gritty life in a Lovecraftian Post-Apocalypse. I used the six characters that are included with the adventure. The adventure quest is to meet up with a scientist. When the characters get near the town, everything starts going wrong. While they were waiting for him to show up, they had time to explore a town for food and weapons. In the hardware store they found Adam Hanes, a teenager. They got some information from him and agreed to meet at his place later. After exploring for a few hours, they visited Adam and two things happened there, (1) Adam fell in love with the dog that was travelling with the adventurers and (2) Adam’s sister told them that the scientist was taken by the cultists. The dog was left with Adam and the characters went to the “Church of the Blessed Rain”. There was a huge shootout inside the farmhouse. The characters managed to kill the cult leader and three cultists. And then a grenade was thrown into the kitchen where the PCs were fighting. Mariano died. Sig was the second to die as they were escaping. They did not want to lead the remaining cultists to Adam, so they went back home. They were not able to find the scientist, so the quest failed. Maybe you will have better luck. This quickstart has 72 pages – 31 pages for the rules, 24 pages for the adventure, 13 pages for the characters, and 2 maps. It was designed for a game master and several players. Give this exciting adventure a try!

Bob V.G. on DriveThruRPG

Bob isn’t the only person who has thought of adapting APOCTHULHU for solo play … in fact we were most excited to see an entire product turn up on DriveThruRPG dedicated to just that purpose. “Sole Survivor” is a PDF written by Peter Rudin-Burgess who has a blog called Parts Per Million which somewhat specializes in solo RPG adaptations. While we haven’t seen a copy of Peter’s PDF, the video on the DTRPG page does sound quite intriguing.

Sole Survivor, a PDF by Parts Per Million

The Victorian Apo-Hack

Welcome to another year — we’re looking forward to something new and (eventually) better from 2021, and we sincerely hope that’s true for you also.

Back in December we released the APOCTHULHU SRD — the barebones version of our full RPG engine that’s absolutely open and free for anyone to use (for personal or commercial projects). Ever since we did that we have been getting a steady stream of folks downloading the SRD, but also a steady stream of questions about the SRD.

The most frequent thing people ask about the SRD is … “so, can I use this to make game content that has nothing to do with Post-Apocalyptic stuff?” The simple answer to that is, “of course you can!” Open means OPEN; if you can find some way to recycle the rules of our game to make something completely new and original and unrelated to Apocalyptic worlds, you absolutely can. Not only that, we would LOVE for you to build your new content based on the skeleton of our game, and as per the terms of the OGL you don’t need to pay us a cent in licensing (as long as you follow the attribution and other rules in the OGL contract).

These various questions about recycling APOCTHULHU’s core system got us to thinking, though … what could WE do with that same rules engine. When designing the game — based upon other pre-existing OGL rulesystems, we might add — we looked to make something as flexible as possible. After all, APOCTHULHU is supposed to be able to power any number of different “end of the world” scenarios so it can’t be terribly specific to any one setting.

We realized when combing through the rules subsystems in our SRD, there are really only 4 areas that need to be tweaked to adapt the rules to an entirely new Lovecraftian setting. These are:

  1. Harshness: what types of environmental backgrounds in the new setting (if any) might be considered so awful that someone growing up there might be stronger-but-mentally-scarred? This is what APOCTHULHU’s Harshness ratings are all about. An auxiliary question is: if there are Harsh backgrounds, what types of “Adversity Skills” might someone be given to recognize the challenges they’ve needed to overcome to become a player-character adult
  2. Skills: The APOCTHULHU skills list is sort-of generic in lots of ways, but if you’re targetting a historical era or somewhere far in the future, they’ll need a bit of tweaking in some places
  3. Archetypes: Similarly, the set of character templates in the APOCTHULHU SRD are geared towards Post-Apocalyptic games; for other settings you’d need to devise some new archetypes particular to the time/place
  4. Equipment-related: Weapons and Vehicles available at different historical periods vary a lot. The generic list of both in the APOCTHULHU SRD are a good cross-section of possibilities, but for other settings you’d probably want to build more specific tables of both.

And that’s about ALL that needs tweaking to make a brand new flavour of Lovecraftian gaming — well, from a rules perspective anyway. To make a fully evocative setting you’d need to write a lot of flavour text to spark ideas in both players in GMs, but that’s a whole different type of RPG development.

As an experiment to validate the above, we decided we would see how easy it would be to hack the APOCTHULHU SRD to build the core mechanics for a Pre-Apocalyptic game set somewhere in the Victorian Age of history. That’s basically 1850s through to 1900. So, the kind of Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes kind of era.

Based on the above we devised a Victorian-Age variant of the APOCTHULHU Skills List and using that built 11 typical character archetypes for the era. We also put together some tables of weapons and vehicles common in the era.

You can download the PDF hack-notes here:

SRD HACK – Victorian Age Cthulhu

(it should go without saying that for this to be useful to you, you’ll also need the APOCTHULHU SRD file. Thankfully you can get this for free via this link or from DriveThruRPG if you’d prefer).

In the spirit of collaborative invention, we thought we’d share the results of our experimental hacking — if this material is helpful to you, feel free to use it however you want! If this kind of thing is especially helpful to other designers or game-hackers, we’ll create some more for other historical eras … drop a comment below if you have any ideas about cool settings that you’d think are crying out for a Lovecraftian treatment.


Busy Last Days of the Year

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a very productive year for us here at Cthulhu Reborn — we’ve brought the whole APOCTHULHU RPG into the world (for better or worse) and a couple of other publications as well.

But, we aren’t content to rest on our horrific laurels just because the demon-spawn-year (a.k.a. 2020) is almost at an end. In fact there are two nifty things that we are hoping to sneak out before the calendar clicks over. I thought I’d share a couple of details about what we have coming out soon …

With the massive amount of effort that has gone into our Post-Apocalyptic Lovecraft stuff, a couple of our other popular lines have received a lot less love. It’s a sad consequence of there being only so much time to go around … but we always wanted to go back and catch up on some new titles for ongoing lines.

Our first return to older fields will be Convicts & Cthulhu Ticket of Leave #16. This will be our 20th supplement for Convicts & Cthulhu, which is quite an achievement. Well I think so anyway. ToL#16 centres upon the theme of theatrical performance in the penal colonies … which is perhaps not something that immediately springs to mind as part of a prison settlement, and yet historically there were theatres almost from the very earliest days of Australian colonization.

Geoff has been working on the research for this supplement for a long time … and to be honest it might be backed up by the most thorough historical delving we’ve done so far. Because the historical records are pretty spotty, Geoff’s chased down quite a number of unusual avenues to get the sorts of details that we were after. Any time when you start celebrating because of a rare discovery buried away in someone’s 1975 Ph.D. thesis (recently shared online), you know you’re in the right place for some premium C&C writing. Geoff is so good at that kind of historical research that I am constantly in awe.

As well as all the evocative history stuff, this supplement will contain a challenging scenario that might just be our most baffling Lovecraftian mystery we’ve written yet. It’s also looking destined to be our longest scenario to date — I’m guessing it’ll be about 33 or 34 pages. And, as always, a Pay-What-You-Want release (here and on DTRPG)

If you have purchased the APOCTHULHU Core Rulebook and read the two epic scenarios that are at the back, you will have encountered Jeff Moeller’s intriguing Apocalypse-by-fire tale “Kick the Can”. Without giving out any spoilers for this gruesome adventure … one unusual thing about it is the way the plot revolves around curious radio transmissions.

The Survivors begin the scenario in a bunker, having lived through some pretty unpleasant times, and their only clue about the new state of the world comes in the form of a weird message received on their CB Radio. As things go on, there are other stranger things that similarly lurch forth from the electromagnetic aether.

Because there are so many nifty radio/telephony kinds of clues in this scenario, one thing I thought would be sort of cool was to create a kind of “audio handout” pack. Something with a bunch of MP3s that the GM could whip out and play when the players say “ok, so what do we hear when the strange signal comes on?”

And so … that is exactly what we have created. With the help of a lot of folks willing to give their vocal talents (including some very famous people from the gaming industry, who have graciously agreed to help out). To make things more interesting than just nifty voice signals, we’ve put quite a bit of effort into creating a multi-layered background of interference, half-heard snatches of old broadcasts, and the like. In doing this we have found that there is a mountain of free (mostly Creative Commons released) audio over on The Internet Archive (a.k.a. the best place on the entire Web). We often source media from here — and we always ALWAYS give them a hefty donation each year to help them keep it free to everyone.

The “audio handouts” pack for Kick The Can will probably be about 15 MP3s of various sorts. In total it will be about 16 minutes of audio weirdness that you can bring to your gaming table — real or virtual — to make Jeff’s scenario even creepier than it already is. And it’s already pretty creepy. We will be releasing the MP3 pack as a free download … hopefully just before NYE. It’ll definitely be downloadable from here, and maybe elsewhere too.


Sharing the Apocalypse

If you’ve downloaded or purchased any of the APOCTHULHU books we’ve released this year, you might have noticed that they are released under the Open Gaming License (that is, the true Open Gaming License as originally created by Wizards of the Coast).

Why is that an important thing?

We’ve previously written here on the blog about the huge possibilities that are created through the open sharing of game mechanics and other content. While some parts of the Lovecraft RPG world seem to have spiraled in recent years towards bigger publishers trying to create proprietary closed games, there continues to be a huge general trend towards releasing content as free to re-use or remix. It’s a lot like the “open source” movement that has had a major impact on some parts of the IT industry, but for game mechanics and content.

We have always been excited by the possibilities created by the handful of D100-based games that have had their core mechanics released under OGL. In fact it was two such systems — Mongoose’s “Legend” and Arc Dream’s “Delta Green RPG” — that served as a direct inspiration for APOCTHULHU. Truth be told, there is no way that we could have created such a well-honed and balanced D100 system without the countless hours that went into making those earlier games … and those designers deciding to release their mechanics as open content.

Even as we have hugely benefited from OGL D100 rules, we want to make it easy for future gamers and designers to benefit from our own humble efforts. To that end we have compiled ALL of the open game mechanics from APOCTHULHU into a single document, our “System Reference Document”.

You can download it either directly via this link, or by going to DTRPG. It’s free either way.

Why might you be interested in the APOCTHULHU System Reference Document (SRD)? Well, if you are a game moderator or player you might like to take a look at the full (unillustrated) text of our game system. In fact, you could even play an entire game using the rules contained therein — all for free. Of course we think that the beautifully illustrated core rules make for easier reading, and that book contains mountains of setting and scenario content that aren’t in the SRD … but the system is described there in its full detail. If you are a game designer, you might be interested in nabbing a copy of the APOCTHULHU SRD if you wish to re-use some well-tested and extensive rules covering all aspects of a Lovecraftian D100 game (characters, skills, combat, sanity, etc).

If you do grab our SRD, you’re really free to do anything with it that meets to conditions of the Open Gaming License (see the end of the document for the full license text). That includes making future commercial products … as long as the licenses requirements around attribution and release are met. So, if you want to make the next great RPG and these rules will help you do that … borrow whatever you wish and make your dream system a reality!


Psst. Wanna Buy the al-Azif?

Normally we don’t fill this blog with promos about other people’s products … but I am going to make an exception today. Because today, dear reader, something very cool got released — issue #3 of Lovecraftian gaming magazine Bayt al-Azif.

You can download the PDF right now from DriveThruRPG, but the print edition is still a little way off.

Where once upon a time there used to be a whole bunch of gaming magazines which regularly included Lovecraftian game material, now there are only two. Bayt al-Azif is a kind of spiritual successor to the probably-dead-again The Unspeakable Oath. Like that earlier mag it covers a broad spectrum of games from the Lovecraftian family rather than just limiting itself to one or two. Also like TUO it offers a good mix of scenarios, helpful gaming resources, and even some material about gamers and the gaming hobby (which isn’t that common).

For issues #1 and #2, the fine publishers of Bayt al-Azif approached us to ask if they could reprint the “Year in Review” articles that I’ve been writing each January for the past few years. This year I didn’t actually manage to find time to write such a retrospective for the blog … so when they came asking for a contribution for Bayt issue #3 I needed to quickly research and write one especially for them. Well, I say quickly … but it still took over a week to pull everything together and write. There’s a lot of Lovecraftian RPG stuff released each year — especially if you try to cover ALL of it, not just the obvious CoC and DG material. Even with 10,000 words to devote to the topic there are still things that can only be mentioned fleetingly in passing.

In addition to writing the Year in Review article, I was also fortunate enough to contribute a handout for one the magazine’s scenarios … and we were able to scrape together some spare R’lyehan-coinage to take out a brand new full-page display ad promoting APOCTHULHU (see below).


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