Category Archives: News & Updates

The ANZAC legend didn’t mention …

Today (25 April) is ANZAC day.

That probably doesn’t mean anything much to you unless you happen to be an Aussie or a Kiwi. But if you do hail from one of those countries then you’ll likely know that today marks the 103rd anniversary of one of the first major military engagements that Australia and New Zealand were involved in — the disastrous Gallipoli campaign of early WW1. Somehow I’ve always thought it says a lot about our two countries that the biggest national day of remembrance doesn’t reflect on a military victory, but on a struggle against impossible odds which ultimately led to a terrible defeat.

A few years back when I was putting together a group of writers to create Call of Cthulhu scenarios set in different eras of Australian history, references back to these early defining moments of the nation were proposed by a few different people. In the end, two of the eight proposed scenarios had some relationship to the ANZACs (or other similar forces). These both made it into the final manuscript for Australian Aeons, a book that is in Chaosium’s forthcoming products queue (release date TBA). Because today is ANZAC day I thought it would be cool to share a few illustrations commissioned for those scenarios, all drawn by the uber-talented Reuben Dodd (of Sorrowking Studios).

The first scenario with a WW1 connection is Chad Bowser’s creepy story about the true fate of the AE-1, the very earliest Australia submarines which formed a part of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF). This group saw action in the seas north of Australia even before the ANZACs sailed for Turkey. At the time Chad was writing this scenario, the fate of this lost vessel remained a mystery — since then, its wreckage has been located. Here’s a couple of the illustrations created for the scenario:

The second Australian Aeons scenario with a WW1 connection is a modern day scenario written by myself and Vian Lawson which imagines a modern-day Cthulhu Mythos-related terror incident Sydney which has its origins on the fields of Gallipoli. This scenario actually received its first playtest on ANZAC day 2016 … here are a couple of its illustrations:

 

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Horrors in our Future

I promised a bit of an update on what Cthulhu Reborn is working on, and what we hope to release in 2018. In the past couple of years most of our attention has been on getting the Convicts & Cthulhu product line up and properly supported. Now that that’s going along well (with well over 1000 copies of the core C&C book out there and in the hands of gamers), it gives us some bandwidth to think about other things as well. Of course that doesn’t mean that we’re going to slow down on the C&C releases — far from it — but rather that we hope to kick off some other product lines as well as supporting and growing C&C.

I always feel that announcing future products (and product lines) is a bit like tempting fate — as soon as you put pen to paper (or electrons to screen, or whatever), Fate seems to conspire to throw up roadblocks to make you look stupid. Or maybe it just seems that way. Anyway, let’s throw caution to the wind and announce some stuff anyway.

We have previously announced our plans to re-issue Convicts & Cthulhu as a standalone RPG, and that is still the plan. Geoff Gillan has been hard at work digging up new historical data to flesh out the system. We have also been looking closely into the Rennaisance system, as well as chatting with the (extremely helpful and nice) folks at Cakebread & Walton, who created Rennaisance. There is still work to be done at figuring out exactly how we want some of the game mechanics to work, to best bring out some of the unique features of the convict setting. One thing that we’re toying with is making some heavy use of Renaissance’s “faction” system to try to capture some of the grubby corruption, nepotism, and graft that was a core part of life in the prison colony. We have a first draft of a game, and it’s looking good … but it all needs some more time and effort to finishing off.

In the meantime, though, we don’t want to let the Convicts & Cthulhu setting languish. So we will still be continuing our general plan to release one new PDF supplement every two months or so. We were supposed to release one in April, but ill-health has consumed a big chunk of people’s time this month, so Ticket of Leave #11 probably won’t see release until May. In some ways, though, that is fitting because May is the second birthday of the C&C product line!

 

Sometime late last year, we were approached by the super-talented Jo Kreil who we had worked with on a post-Apocalyse Australian wasteland scenario for Australian Aeons (forthcoming from Chaosium, date TBD). Jo really enjoyed the idea of writing about post-Apocalyptic horrors, and wondered whether we might be interested in publishing an anthology of scenarios with that kind of flavour. Of course we said “yes!” And so was born the idea of APOCTHULHU, an anthology which aims to showcase several different visions of what the dystopian world “after the stars come right” might look like. We have been able to sign up a collection of some of our favourite Lovecraftian RPG writers — some of them seasoned veterans, others relative newcomers to the industry. Jo will be the principal editor for the book, but  I will be doing all the boring behind-the-scenes things that need to happen to bring a book like this together. The current plan is for the scenarios to make use of a slightly tweaked version of the Delta Green RPG (although none of the scenarios have any reference or relationship to the Delta Green universe — we just like their OGL system mechanics).

So far I have been really impressed by the different perspectives that authors have brought to their view of what a Cthulhuoid post-Apocalypse might look like. I must confess to being a little worried that everyone would dream up similar Apocalypses (“armies of deep ones march out of the sea; roll credits”). But I guess there are a lot of different Lovecraftian ways to destroy the world — and our seven writers have each found a fairly unique approach.

This book is currently still in the writing phase, and we will be surely announcing lots more details about it at a later date. We might release some parts of it early, too, just as a taster for what the end of the world might look like. Crispy.

 

Most readers of this blog will know all-too-well Cthulhu Reborn’s long-held fascination with Jazz-Age newspapers and providing cool-looking props that soup up that old-faithful handout, the newspaper clipping. Heck, a while back we even released a nifty PDF-based toolkit to make it easier for people to make their own high-quality Jazz-Age newspaper clips.

A while back we dreamed up the concept for a new type of game product. We are all well-used to the idea of buying a cool book of game scenarios and then perhaps having deluxe versions of the prop handouts available as free downloads. What if the reverse were true? What if folks bought a huge, high-quality prop handout which in turn formed the core for a line of free scenarios that made use of plot seeds, clues, situations, and other elements drawn from the handout?

This is (broadly speaking) the concept that launched Dateline Lovecraft — a massive newspaper prop which puts a complete 12-page broadsheet issue of the Arkham Advertiser in the hands of you and your players. Buried in its pages are hundreds of hints of weird goings-on — right from the front-page headlines, all the way through to the wall-of-text that is the classified ad section on page 12. Whether its coded messages buried in the crossword clues, or cryptic allusions in an article on historic but notorious buildings up on French Hill … any of them might be useful launching-off points for a devious scenario of your own making.

Even on its own, we think this kind of uber-prop would be a cool product … but something that could be made even cooler by the release of a series of free scenario PDFs that each picks up some of the quirky features (or even some of the mundane ones) and weaves a Lovecraftian tale of horror — much in the same way that our Ticket of Leave series continually builds and refines a library of plot ideas and nasty scenario options.

About 2/3rds of the newspaper prop is already created … and believe me, there is a LOT of text that goes into each page of a 1920s broadsheet newspaper. We have also commissioned some awesome writers to create the first few of the freebie scenarios. Two are already written, awaiting illustration and layout.

So … there you go … that’s a bit of a general update on SOME of the things we are working on (at least when we’re not individually working on projects for other Lovecraftian game publishers!). Now, let’s see how Fate conspires …


Brand new Greek-Language CoC7 sheets

Well, it’s been a bit quiet here on the blog … although there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes activity here at Cthulhu Reborn Underwater Lair, including the launch of a few new projects. I hope to share some news about cool new future releases sometime in the coming days.

We are also still working on the next in the Convicts & Cthulhu “Ticket of Leave” PDFs, although it is starting to look like that may not be released in April as planned but spill over into early May. It will be themed around colonial medical horror — so it’s strangely ironic that its delay is due to key folks getting ill. Maybe it’s evidence of the Curse of the Convict Sawbones at work!

One small activity that we *have* recently completed is the translation of both the 1920s and Modern-day CoC7e character sheets into Greek. This came as a request from a fervent fan of CoC who lives in Greece — where there is no current local publisher for the game — and wished that he and his players could use sheets in their local language. We were happy to oblige … with a lot of translation notes (we don’t speek Greek!). And since it’s always possible that there are other Greek-speaking gamers out there who might like to use these same sheets, I figured I would make them available for download here.

So … I present to you, the PDF version of the Greek-language 1920s CoC sheet, and the PDF version of the Modern-day equivalent. These files are also available on the Cthulhu Reborn downloads page (along with a lot of other cool character sheet designs). There are also JPG versions of front and reverse sides as well, if those are what you’re after.


The Handout to End All Handouts

Despite the fact that this blog is really supposed to be dedicated to promoting all the great Lovecraftian products released under the Cthulhu Reborn banner, every now and again we are seduced into promoting amazing things released by other people. This is particularly the case when said things heavily feature content created by us …

In this vein, we are extremely excited to be able to share with you the first sample pages for Absinthe in Carcosa, a huge “in world” prop/sourcebook thingamy to be published by Pelgrane Press as part of their hugely successful Kickstarter-funded Yellow King RPG. The concept behind this 192 lavishly illustrated tome is explained over on the Pelgrane Press website (by Robin D. Laws, no less!). We were involved fairly heavily in turning Robin’s concept into fully-realised faux scrapbook pages — contributing about 180 pages of Photoshop montage illustrations to make up the body of the book. And yes, that is a lot of things to Photoshop.

For a glimpse at a few of these, see below!

 


Australia: where even the insects can kill

It’s February … and that means it is time for our bi-monthly Ticket of Leave release. This time around we will be going for a slightly different format … but one which I think most C&C gamers will be able to fit easily into their convict campaigns. The text of the ToL is written … assuming editing and layout go smoothly, you should see this new release sometime around the middle of the month.

Here’s a teaser … a new art piece by the always brilliant Reuben Dodd.

Watch the skies!


Cthulhians All Let Us Rejoice

Australian readers would be well aware that today, January 26, is Australia Day — the national holiday that commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet of colonists to the shores of New South Wales in 1788. Although the significance and symbolism of this particular day has recently been hotly debated, in the context of Convicts & Cthulhu, these early events in the history of European settlement “down under” are more than a little significant. So, if there were any day that inspired the need to brush off your copy of C&C and invite a few friends over to share a horrific tale of convict life … today would be it!

But January 26th is important to Australian history not just because of the arrival of the First Fleet … but arguably just as important as the anniversary of the rather scurrilous and corrupt military uprising known popularly as the Rum Rebellion. Exactly 210 years ago today, a group of highly-placed military officers (egged on by a wealthy landowner hungry for more power and influence) stormed into Government House in Sydney and put the Governor — the infamous and foul-mouthed William Bligh — under arrest. They then proceeded to set themselves up as de facto rulers of the colony, much to the dismay of the Colonial Office back in London.

The historical details surrounding this rather dramatic and dark part of Australia’s early history is described in a fair amount of detail in the Convicts & Cthulhu book (so I won’t repeat it here). Interestingly, this unusual quirk of history very seldom gets a lot of mention … growing up in Australia and being schooled in early colonial history I never once heard that, for a short time the country was under the rule of an upstart military junta.

Folks who have read the material we have published for the Convicts & Cthulhu setting might have imagined to themselves that the dramatic and booze-soaked events of the Rum Rebellion might be an interesting backdrop for a degenerate tale of Lovecraftian horror. Guess what …? We thought so too — in fact the whole C&C setting began life as the sourcebook half of a Rum Rebellion scenario called “The Demon Drink” that Geoff Gillan wrote for a compilation of Australian historical scenarios for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition.

Now, you might be wondering what exactly happened to this fine scenario of Rum-soaked horror … well, it (along with seven other great scenarios) is sitting with Chaosium as part of a book tentatively titled “Australian Aeons”. Prior to selling the book to Chaosium in June 2016, we made the decision to commission art for it from the ever-amazing Reuben Dodd. Most of the pieces he drew for “Australian Aeons” have yet to see the light of day … but I thought in the spirit of Australia Day, and the Rum Rebellion, maybe I would share some here on the CR blog.

Before anyone asks what the publication ETA might be for “Australian Aeons” … I have no idea, although I am hopeful that it will progress through Chaosium’s production queue and hopefully emerge sooner-rather-than-later. But, for those who hunger after some juicy morsels of Antipodean horror both historical, modern, and post-Apocalyptical … the wait will be worth it, believe me 🙂

In the meantime … fire up the barbie, pour yourself a coldie, and celebrate the anniversary of the libidinous summoning of one of the horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos.


CthuReview 2017, part 4 – Dreams of Future Nightmares

The previous fragments of this piecemeal review of Lovecraftian RPG material published in 2017 have focussed on professionally-published material that actually saw light of day in 2017.

To round out the review (and bring it to a much-awaited close), I thought I’d include a quick roundup of Cthulhu-related RPG Kickstarter campaigns that were run in 2017 but haven’t yet delivered products — these are “leading indicators” of some of the cool products that will emerge in 2018 (or maybe 2019, or 2020, or … :)). I also thought I’d briefly mention some amateur-press publications that came out in 2017.

Kickstarters of Doom

George Cotronis' cover

In March 2017, Stygian Fox completed their second successful Lovecraft-related Kickstarter campaign, for the creation of a book of short one-night modern-day scenarios. The book is called “Fear’s Sharp Little Needles”. This comes hot on the heels of the previous Stygian Fox modern-day Call of Cthulhu book which was an incredible collection of scenarios which went on to win a (much deserved) gold ENnie. “Fear’s Sharp Little Needles” seems poised to deliver in early 2018, with the book just going into layout as I type these words.

Also in March 2017, Golden Goblin Press ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of their reboot of the Cthulhu Invictus setting for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition. This project is the first of many Roman-era books planned by the Goblin, who has received a license from Chaosium to be the “official” source of all things Invictus. The goals of this campaign seem mostly to involve rewriting the Cthulhu Invictus setting from the ground-up, which seems a little strange since the previous editions seem mostly to have been well-received by those who’ve run games set in Ancient Rome. I can only assume that it’s some kind of rights thing, where GGP do not have a license to reuse the text of the earlier versions. Either way it will be interesting to see how this project goes — it’s probably the most ambitious thing attempted yet by Golden Goblin, but they have a solid track record on delivering Kickstarters (albeit one that has gotten steadily more shaky as projects have gotten larger and larger).

In April 2017, Cubicle 7 & Make Believe Games (a company founded by Mark Rein-Hagen) jointly ran a Kickstarter to fund the creation of Unspeakable Sigil & Sign, a tabletop roleplaying game in which players take on the roles of Mythos cultists. It makes use of the Axiom system created by MBG for its games, which uses a special deck of cards as the primary game mechanic. Target delivery date of March 2018.

In July, 2017 Pelgrane Press ran what proved to be the biggest and most expansive Lovecraft-related Kickstarter of the year, a monumental campaign to fund the launch of The Yellow King RPG. Written by industry-veteran Robin D. Laws, this new gaming adaptation of the works of Robert W. Chambers isn’t strictly “Lovecraftian” but is probably of interest to many of the same crowd. The YK RPG is another game fuelled by the Gumshoe system, and aims to provide four separate but inter-related “worlds” in which to set weird and surreal tales of terror. An interesting feature of the Kickstarter campaign — which also featured an insane number of small stretch goals — was the fact that Pelgrane released a text-only early draft of Robin’s text for all four books immediately after the campaign closed. So, despite the fact that the game won’t ship until December 2018, it’s easy to get some kind of idea about what it will cover.

In August 2017, Atomic Overmind Press ran a Kickstarter campaign to create a sequel to an earlier book of essays by Kenneth Hite about Lovecraft’s fiction. This new book, Tour de Lovecraft — The Destinations, focusses less on the stories of HPL and more on the places (real and fictional) that they describe. Although not pitched as a gaming book per se, anyone who has read Kenneth Hite’s previous Lovecraft essays will know that pretty much any time he sets pen to page it produces something that could inspire a game scenario (or ten).

In the frightful month of October, there were two Lovecraft RPG-related Kickstarters run. The first was by Sentinel Hill Press, for the publication of a revised version of a scenario written by Kevin Ross back in the 1980s (and previously published in a long-out-of-print-and-impossible-to-find book by Triad). The scenario, titled simply The Dare, is unusual in that it places players in the roles of teenagers who are faced with a range of horrors as they explore a “haunted house.” Given the recent pop-culture sensation that is Netflix’s Stranger Things, this seems pretty fertile territory to explore for Call of Cthulhu, so a reboot / rewrite of this classic-era scenario seems well worthwhile.

The second Kickstarter of October 2017 was the campaign by New Comet Games (the new name of the company formerly known as Dark Cult Games) for a new 1920s “sandbox style” Call of Cthulhu scenario called Devil’s Swamp.

Concept art for the Cover

The final Cthulhu-related Kickstarter run in 2017 was a campaign by Delphes Desvoivres to fund the creation of The Idol of Cthulhu. This is (I believe) the fourth Kickstarter by Delphes, but differs from previous installments in that it ventures beyond just providing physical props for use in previously-published Call of Cthulhu scenarios. This campaign (primarily to create a version of the Cthulhu Idol described by HPL in “The Call of Cthulhu”) also funded the publication of a brand new game scenario by Matthew Sanderson, ostensibly a sequel to Lovecraft’s tale.

Small End of Town

Image may contain: one or more people and text

As well as being a great year for professionally-published material, 2017 also saw a good crop of amateur publications for Call of Cthulhu and related games. A couple of highlights were:

  • Hypergraphia Magazine: a new fanzine-style (physical print) magazine launched at Necronomicon 2017
  • Dark Times Fanzine: while this free PDF mag is notionally aimed at the Dark Conspiracy RPG, its first few releases have featured a fair bit of Lovecraft-related material

And last, but (hopefully) not least, it’s probably worth a quick summary of what we at Cthulhu Reborn have managed to publish in 2017. It has actually been a record year for us, releasing 7 PDF products. Six of them have been supplements to our surprisingly-successful Convicts & Cthulhu product line. The other one is a free “Scenario Upgrade” pack (prop/handouts and 7th Edition stats) for the older Chaosium anthology of modern-day scenarios titled “The Stars are Right.” All of those PDFs are available over on RPGNow either free downloads or “Pay What You Want.” Some are also available via the Download page here on the blog.

The End (of 2017) … now on to the Beginning (of 2018).

 


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