Category Archives: Prop Elements

Propping Up the Convict

As mentioned here last week, today marks the third anniversary of the Convicts & Cthulhu setting being released. In those three years we have released 15 supplemental PDFs to flesh out the setting with campaign ideas, scenarios, NPCs, and curious nuggets of historical detail. It’s probably fair to say that, by now, there is enough Convicts & Cthulhu content out there that you could easily run a lengthy campaign set in and around the penal colony of New South Wales

If you don’t already have all 15 of the supplements, they are downloadable either from our Download page (free), or by searching “Convicts & Cthulhu” on DriveThruRPG (“Pay-What-You-Want”).

What makes especially happy about this flourishing product line is that we’ve been able to bring these several hundred pages of content to you *entirely* as Pay-What-You-Want. That means that if you’re not in a position to shell out the (sometimes significant) cover prices for other publisher’s Lovecraftian RPG books — there’s always C&C as a cheap alternative. Heck, if you want to grab it all for free, you can (although chipping a little money our way certainly helps a lot when it comes to keeping the product line going).

On this occasion of C&C’s third birthday we wanted to give all our loyal readers a bit of a birthday present. We also thought it might be a good occasion to try something different — hence was born the idea for the “Convict Document Pack” which we are proud to be releasing today!

So, what is the “Convict Document Pack,” anyway? Well … in simplest terms it is a resource that helps you in the creation of realistic prop documents representing some of the most important records kept about convicts in the colony. If your convict was fortunate enough to be granted a “Ticket of Leave,” he or she would be given a (probably grubby) piece of paper proclaiming this status. Same for the rare cases where penal sentences were pardoned because a convict had done something spectacularly wonderful (or been somehow proven innocent after all). And if your convict survived long enough to serve out his or her entire sentence (assuming it wasn’t imprisonment “for life”), they would receive a “Certificate of Freedom.”

All of these important convict documents are included in this pack, in both flat (print & fill) form and also as fillable PDF forms. For the print & fill blanks we’ve included actual signatures for the two most important colonial Governors of the C&C era.

So … never again shall your convict Investigator’s special status need be a minor detail on the back of his or her character sheet. Now they can proudly carry their documents … and present them to snarky NSW Corp Redcoats who challenge them in the street! Further more, these blank documents make great starting points for GM-inspired handouts and clues as part of scenarios. In a similar vein, we have also included in this pack a fillable blank PDF of the single-page broadsheet newspaper produced in the colony, the “Sydney Gazette.”

Downloading the Convict Document Pack

Depending on your preference, you can download these docs either as a single ZIP file (17MB), or via the individual PDF download links below:

Convict Document Pack Info + Print & Fill templates [6.5MB]

Fillable Convict Prop Documents (blank) [4.1MB]

Fillable Convict Prop Documents (sample text) [4.1MB]

Fillable Sydney Gazette (blank) [2.1MB]

Fillable Sydney Gazette (sample text) [2.1MB]

We hope that these prop document resources will give you a set of handy tools to enhance your games of Lovecraftian horror set in the penal colonies. And if you wind up using them in some especially nifty way … feel free to drop us a note telling us about your brilliant prop-fuelled goodness (emails to feedback <at> cthulhureborn.com).

[As always, these resources are released here under a Creative Commons license which means basically that you can use these prop document templates for whatever personal use you can dream up. If you want to use them for a profit-making endeavor — say, for some splashy new TV Series set in the penal colonies — you’d need to contact us about obtaining a separate license.]

 


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


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: Extended One Week

We’ve had some impressive prop photos submitted as part of our “Mutable Deception” competition. The pic below by Daniel Myers is a great example!

In order to give any last-minute prop-makers a little more time to put together their work and snap a few quick photos, I have agreed to extend the deadline for the competition by one week (until the end of November). Prizes will definitely be awarded on 1 December.

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


Book Giveaway: Show Us Your Props!

I guess everyone familiar with Cthulhu Reborn will know us best for all the free Lovecraftian stuff that we release via this site.

But … did you know that Cthulhu Reborn also publishes commercial gaming aids? Well … has published ONE commercial gaming aid. I am talking about “Mutable Deceptions, Volume 1” — a toolkit to allow devious gamemasters to create realistic 1920s newspaper props for their games.

Mutable Deceptions 1 - Front Cover (400)

“Mutable Deceptions, Volume 1” has been out for a while and has sold pretty well — you can still get it via RPGNow or DrivethruRPG.

One thing I realised the other day, though, is that I never quite got around to putting together a nifty gallery of “props of awesomeness” that can be created using this toolkit. That would be a nice thing to have, and would also be a cool way to promote what can be done with the tools provided in our humble PDF toolkit.

Mutable Deception 1 - Badger edits

Rather than just go ahead and take a bunch of photos of my props to build up a gallery … I thought a much more interesting and fun thing to do would be to ask folks who have purchased the product to send me photos of THEIR awesome props. To sweeten the deal, I thought I would run a bit of a giveaway promotion here on the blog …

So here’s my proposal: send me some awesome photos of real physical props you have created using “Mutable Deceptions, Volume 1” (using the form below). Your photos can showcase other awesome props as well, as long as the Mutable Deception piece is prominent. Include fancy backdrops, lighting, whatever you want — heck, take a photo of your prop next to the original of the Magna Carta if you want. You know, if you just happen to have one lying around somewhere.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am only looking for photos of physical props that have been created using our product. If you’ve got a cool digital design that’s great … turn it into a physical prop (preferably on some suitably antique-looking paper) and snap some photos of it! Send us those.

At the end of 30 days, the contributors of the best prop photos will win their choice of the following (brand-new) Call of Cthulhu dead-tree game supplements — doubles from my own personal collection:

Past is Doomed Print - Book Covered in Handouts (800)

Clear Divider 700x10

If there’s enough demand, I might extend this out to a second prize round.

Hooked? Want to start sending me your creative prop photos? Upload your wonderful images to a public photo sharing site somewhere and copy a URL of your uploaded photo into the form below. Alternatively if you would like to simply email your photo … just enter “I wanna email it” into the URL field of the form below and I will contact you via your nominated email.

Happy propping … get your photos to me no later than 23 November 2014.

Nifty Form


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