Category Archives: News & Updates

Coming Soon to a Ticket of Leave

One of the most enjoyable parts of putting together horror gaming material is working with some truly astounding artists and illustrators. We have been very fortunate over recent years to have Reuben Dodd (of Sorrowking Studios) create a lot of the visual identity for our Convict-era horror setting. Recently we set him a tough challenge for an illustration to accompany the eighth in our ongoing “Ticket of Leave” series of supplements (to be released in a week or so). And as usual, he has truly done an amazing job!



That One Night When Lost Souls Wander …

Halloween is traditionally the one night of the year when foul things from beyond the grave can break through to wander through our earthly domain. It’s kinda like the Vaults of Hell being left unlocked by some drunken infernal gatekeeper or something.

In the spirit of the season I thought it might be fun to let the infamous Vault-of-unseen-Cthulhu-Reborn-goodies creak open for just a bit and let some designs escape to haunt the internet … just for this one night.

Since starting Cthulhu Reborn back in 2011 we have been asked by a lot of different people to design things for their Lovecraftian projects … in many cases, our hellish designs have made it into PDFs and printed books. But in a lot of other cases, those designs are still sitting in the vaults waiting for the stars to be right and the projects in question to finally see the light of day. Normally we don’t share any pre-release pics of things we’ve made for other people, mostly to avoid stealing anyone else’s thunder. But, infused with the pumpkin-y Halloween goodness we are going to break that habit just once and share some unpublished things. [Apologies to any publishers who might be offended; hopefully you will also share in the spirit of the season]

All four of the tasty morsels we’re going to share have one things in common … they all feature Call of Cthulhu character sheet designs. It is no secret that Cthulhu Reborn has released a lot of different themed versions of the 6th Edition and 7th Edition character sheet. Just check out our downloads page, or the official Chaosium website for examples. But, as you will see below, there are plenty of others we’ve made over the years and which haven’t yet been loosed upon the world!

Ghoulish Morsel #1: Vestiges of Hate

Vestiges of Hate was the name given by Chad Bowser to a techno-thriller espionage-themed Call of Cthulhu campaign or setting that he had been working on. Back in 2013 he asked me whether Cthulhu Reborn might be able to put together some custom character sheets for his pre-generated techno-spy characters (all of which had cool handles like “The Face” or “The Wheelman”), as well as a couple of handouts.

Ghoulish Morsel #2: Punktown

Punktown is a much-delayed, but very cool-sounding, Kickstarter project which provides a near-future dystopian setting for Lovecraftian gaming based on the novels of Jeffrey Thomas. Initially this book was going to be released by the now-defunct (and sadly missed) Miskatonic River Press, but the project has since moved to being released by Chronicle City. It’s actually quite close to being released to its very patient backers … and as a last-minute addition I was asked a couple of weeks back to create a brand new Punktown character sheet.

Ghoulish Morsel #3: Cthulhu By Arclight

Cthulhu By Arclight is a setting book for Delta Green, set during the Vietnam War. It was announced back in 2011 as an upcoming title from Sixtystone Press, but there hasn’t been a lot of news in recent times about its current status … We were asked back in 2011 whether we could contribute some character sheet designs (actually the first commission we received!)

Ghoulish Morsel #4: Colonial Lovecraft Country (CoLoCo)

Also on the “upcoming titles” list from Sixtystone Press is a series of most excellent books set in Colonial-era America, or more particularly Colonial-era versions of the townships made famous by Lovecraft — Arkham, Kingsport, and the like. This is a truly inspired setting for historical gaming, made all the more special by excellent writing by Kevin Ross and others. We really, REALLY hope that these books see the light of day sooner rather than later. We were asked back in 2012 to design a character sheet for the core setting book, Colonial Lovecraft Country.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into our normally-tightly-bound vaults of secret-unreleased-stuff. We hope that you haven’t been unduly disturbed by the nocturnal meanderings of things that should, by all rights, never have seen the light of day!

Kevin Ross, Resurrected!

Most people would be aware that the Cthulhu Reborn blog was originally created as a way to bring-back-to-life some old gems from the early days of Call of Cthulhu scenario publishing. Hence we are absolutely excited to see the announcement today of a new Kickstarter by Sentinel Hill Press, great friends of the blog.

“The Dare” is a scenario written in the early days of Call of Cthulhu by Kevin Ross, one of the all-time great authors to have ever written for the game. It’s biggest claim to fame is that, rather atypically, it affords players the opportunity to take on the roles of everyday 1980s kids who innocently become swept up in the horrors of the Lovecraft Mythos, courtesy of a haunted house (Stranger Things style). The scenario was published in 1996 as part of an anthology titled Dwellers in Shadow. That book was released by a small licensee publisher, Triad Entertainments, and likely only printed in smallish print runs. That means that this great scenario — and many others from this era — are now almost impossible to find; this problem is exacerbated by the fact that Triad closed its doors long, LONG before the era when books were released as PDFs.

Not content to have such a wonderful piece permanently inaccessible to 21st century gamers, Sentinel Hill have chosen to not only reprint this classic, converted to the current 7th Edition. They have also decided to greatly expand upon the original ideas of Kevin Ross, turning the scenario into a much more substantial piece — but one whose “essential salts” are still firmly Kevin’s original concept.

We are very excited by this project — it’s exactly the sort of thing we love. If you think a dose of classic, long-out-of-print scenario madness might also be your thing, you can check out the KS campaign page. But if you are thinking of backing, don’t hesitate too long … unlike most Kickstarters, this one only runs for 10 days!

ENnies Winner are Grinners

Those of you who follow the tabletop RPG industry closely will likely already know that the winners of this year’s ENnie awards (presented each year at GenCon) were announced a few hours ago. Call of Cthulhu in general was well represented, which is great to see.

Of the many Cthulhu-related titles that took prizes, Cthulhu Reborn had a hand in the crafting of three:

  • Pulp Cthulhu (Chaosium) — GOLD: we contributed maps and the character sheet;
  • Doors to Darkness (Chaosium) — SILVER: we contributed maps
  • The Things We Leave Behind (Stygian Fox) — GOLD: we contributed handouts

We congratulate the various publishers whose works have received some much earned industry recognition — even though our contributions are relatively slight (in the context of the finished books), Cthulhu Reborn is very pleased to have been involved in such successful projects.

Particularly noteworthy is the achievement of our good friends at Stygian Fox — for your very first book to take out a hotly-contested industry award is quite remarkable, but very much deserved. The Things We Leave Behind is a collection of extremely well-written scenarios which sets a very high standard for modern-day Lovecraftian adventures. Our congratulations in particular go out to Stygian Fox stalwarts Stephanie McAlea and Jeffrey Moeller — those folks must be on cloud nine right about now :)!

The Future of Convicts & Cthulhu

Over the past few weeks, several people have asked me about Cthulhu Reborn’s plans for the (surprisingly-popular) Convicts & Cthulhu line, in light of the announcement about the direction of our future publication efforts. This is something that has played on our minds a lot and has received a lot of attention, with a number of different options considered.

At the end of all that navel-gazing, though, we have decided on both a near-term and short-term direction for Convicts. Both are exciting in their own way, so I thought I’d share some details with you guys.

Short Term Future

Prior to Chaosium releasing its new policies on licensed material, Cthulhu Reborn already had a healthy pipeline of upcoming (mostly smallish) Convicts & Cthulhu supplements in the works. Most of these are Ticket-of-Leave type releases whose manuscripts specifically target Call of Cthulhu as their game system. In the short term we plan to continue with our plan of releasing one of these every two months — a goal we’ve mostly managed to maintain over the past year.

The next of these releases, Ticket of Leave #7, will be titled “Seams of Peril” and concerns a wayward expedition to validate a peculiar convict claim of having stumbled upon a rich gold deposit … only of course the truth is something far weirder and more dangerous. The original plan was to release this PDF in August, which would align with our bi-monthly release schedule. Unfortunately that probably won’t happen due to a combination of ill-health and prolonged travel, but we will certainly have it out sometime in September.

ToL #7 will follow the format of recent releases, but will be an exclusively FREE download. The major difference between this PDF and previous releases will be that it will be produced in two versions: one with Call of Cthulhu game stats (for download direct from here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog) and another with the stats removed (for download from RPGNow). This may seem like a strange thing to do, but it is unfortunately necessary for us to comply with the letter of Chaosium’s “fan use” license. We sincerely hope that this doesn’t inconvenience anyone too much.

Following on from ToL#7 we have a enough additional things in the production queue to keep that line ticking along until the end of the year.

Longer Term Future

The longer-term plans for Convicts & Cthulhu are, however, far more ambitious. Put simply we would like to re-launch Convicts as a standalone RPG of its own. Now, before you raise your eyebrows and mutter to yourself “why does the world need yet ANOTHER new RPG system?” … we are not proposing to create a brand new tabletop gaming system, but instead re-purpose the Renaissance system published by the most excellent guys at Cakebread & Walton. For those of you who haven’t checked out their work, it’s definitely worth a look. Renaissance Deluxe is a d100 RPG system which has a pedigree that stretches back to earlier versions of Runequest which have now become open platforms (by virtue of being published under the OGL). Thus Renaissance has a very BRP-like feel to it, and many of its systems will be very familiar to gamers who have played other similar games.

The most recently-published version of the Renaissance system is in Cakebread & Walton’s rather splendid book Dark Streets, 2nd Edition which is a historical RPG set in a Lovecraft-infused version of 18th Century London. If you are a fan of our Convicts material, chances are you’d probably like this setting as well (in our humble opinion). The 2nd edition of Dark Streets (unlike the first) is also a standalone game, which includes all the cutdown parts of the Renaissance system that you need to play. We are kind of using this as a starting template for how a standalone Convicts & Cthulhu game might look.

In terms of content that we want to roll into the new standalone C&C game — well, we certainly will be aiming to bring all the scenario and source material that we’ve released under the Ticket of Leave series back into the core book. We’re also looking at expanding out the historical coverage in a few areas as well as covering a bigger part of the New South Wales colony. But I guess the biggest new sections — still to be written — are those which describe supernatural manifestations (spells, creatures, gods). In this we will be sticking as close as possible to two sources: Lovecraft’s writings themselves, and some of the traditional Indigenous Australian songlines and mythologies. It’s an exciting thing to be tackling … and I’m sure we will be sharing some of that work-in-progress as it gets written.

In the meantime, though, here’s a (very draft) version of what the standalone C&C cover might look like.

Last Days of the Castaigne Reign

As I type these words, there is about 66 hours left on Pelgrane’s behemoth of a Kickstarter for its Yellow King Roleplaying Game. The success of this fundraiser has been quite impressive — some 35 stretch goals have been smashed through, and the current funding is around £142,000 (which, for comparison purposes is about US $185,000). Even at this level, this campaign is up there with the highest-performing Lovecraftian RPG-related Kickstarters ever run, far surpassing Pelgrane’s previous runaway hit, the Dracula Dossier (approx £88,000) and approaching the territory of Chaosium’s mega-campaign for Horror on the Orient Express, 2nd Edition (US $207,000).

Despite having met a whole stack of stretch goals, the campaign still has more up its sleeve … and the very next one is something near and dear to our hearts. To quote the campaign page itself:

£143,000: Perfectly Normal Handouts  

A band logo that incorporates the Yellow Sign. A disturbing infographic ripped from a corporate prospectus. A handbill for a club where the soultakers prowl. If we hit this stretch goal, document artiste extraordinaire Dean Engelhardt will take a break from his work on Absinthe in Carcosa to create 6 pages of modern handouts for This is Normal Now. NOTE TO ALL CAT TOBINS READING THIS: these will all appear in the book, and GMs will print them out from their PDFs, no actual physical document creation or tea-staining required.

This goal is only a few hundred pounds from being met, so hopefully with a few days still to go it will safely be surpassed … and then the fun can really begin.

[As an aside: in case anyone is wondering, the “note to all Cat Tobins” is a sly reference to the gruelling task of creating physical versions of our Hawkins Paper props, part of the previous Pelgrane KS. While digitally creating a bunch of aged documents is easy for us, making a few hundred packs of physical versions was (shall we say) quite a bit of effort. Most of this was done by the hard-working Cat Tobin, co-publisher of Pelgrane and document tea-staining expert par excellence.]

One of the other great things about this Kickstarter is that quite a substantial amount of Robin Laws’ text for all four books already exists — and backers get access to this “early draft” as soon as they back. If you signed up and haven’t grabbed your copy of these PDFs, check out this update for the link (after you’ve logged in to KS of course). Having now had a chance to read through these hundreds of pages of goodness I can really get a good appreciation of exactly how ambitious Robin’s vision of the game truly is. In some ways its more like four games in one, with each of the four settings re-imagining or expanding on the original ideas of Chambers and others in weird, compelling, and strangely quirky kinds of ways. Even if you have absolutely no intention of ever running a Gumshoe-based game, the concepts and settings that are outlined in this volumes would make amazing fuel for a creative and uniquely refreshing gaming experience in any system you’d care to run. I was particularly impressed by the odd tweaks of “modern day” that make up the last two books — if you’re looking for a oddly-disturbing yet subtle twist on the real-world of 2017, you could do a lot worse than mining these settings for ideas!

Speaking of Kickstarters that are much bigger on the inside, I have also recently found time to look through the quickstart “Cthulhu Dark Zero” that Graham Walmsley released almost immediately after his recent Cthulhu Dark KS closed. Given that the rules to Cthulhu Dark are incredibly lean (the basic rules take up only 2 pages, and even the “extended” version is only a handful) most of the book is occupied by general — and very insightful — advice on how to go about making cool and evocative mystery-based scenarios. Pretty much *all* of this great material would be helpful to gamemasters regardless of whatever system they are running. Looking for helpful tips on avoiding common structural errors in mystery-based scenarios? It’s here. Looking for some cool suggestions for making things feel authentically Lovecraftian? That’s here too. If you’ve ever read Graham’s previous (system agnostic) book, Stealing Cthulhu, you’ll already know how deeply he has delved into the structure of what makes HPL’s tales tick — that deep knowledge goes a long way towards making the advice in Cthulhu Dark Zero just that much more … helpful. Highly recommended for folks who like to roll-their-own Lovecraftian RPG scenarios.

ENnies, ENnies, Everywhere

It’s that time of year again when the tabletop RPG world goes into a frenzy as voting opens for the annual ENnie awards.

While Cthulhu Reborn doesn’t have any of its own products up for illustrious prizes, pieces of our work are scattered through quite a number of different (at least 5) books which are up for awards. Because these come from several different publishers, it probably not appropriate for us to suggest, dear reader, that you vote for one book over the other … however I would especially single out the book The Things We Leave Behind by newcomer small publisher Stygian Fox. The team behind that volume are a bunch of small-scale fan-friendly folks (like us), and the book of modern-day scenarios they created is IMHO perhaps the best new book published for Call of Cthulhu in the past year. Plus they are currently selling it at a 25% discount during the ENnies voting period!

Regardless of who you vote for … I would strongly urge you to consider casting your vote. The poll is open until 21 July, you can get there by following this link.

Pulp in any Language is … Pulp

One of the several Lovecraftian books that is up for an ENnie is Chaosium’s Pulp Cthulhu (nominated for Best Supplement). Recently we were approached by a Call of Cthulhu gamer in Poland and asked whether we’d be willing to translate the official Pulp Cthulhu character sheet design into his native language. Well, he offered to do the translation part — which is just as well, since our knowledge of the fine Polish language is sadly lacking. But, we were more than happy to re-typeset the sheet so that it works for Polish gamers.

Just in case there are other readers of Cthulhu Reborn who would also like to have a Polish Pulp sheet … here’s the front and back. Click on the thumbnails to download full-sized images.

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