Category Archives: Scenario Downloads

Released: Convicts & Cthulhu Muster #2

Today we are very excited to announce the release of the second entry into our newest line of support materials for Convicts & Cthulhu, the C&C Musters. We debuted this format back in December — it’s basically a short supplement which examines a real-world historical figure through the lens of their potential for use in a Lovecraftian investigative game scenario. There are lots of ways to use historical character detail as an inspiration for new plots, NPCs, and even investigators — and the goal of the Musters is to give you the tools to do any of these with the background of an intriguing, real-historical figure.

C&C Muster #2, subtitled “The Master of Convicts” focuses on the eventful life of Nicholas Divine (sometimes spelled “Devine”) who served for most of the C&C era in an important government role of “Superintendent of Convicts.” This made Divine the man ultimately in charge of which convicts were assigned to which work gangs or other labour — obviously something that is important to you if you *are* a convict, but also if you are someone whose day-to-day life is enabled by plentiful free convict labour.

Perhaps even more interesting than Nicholas Divine’s official life are some of the details of his personal life. Sent out to New South Wales in 1789 aboard the HMS Guardian, Divine was an innocent party caught up in a dramatic encounter which left the Guardian fatally damaged thanks to an unfortunate encounter with an iceberg off the southern coast of Africa. This unusual situation came to be thanks to the ship’s captain making the decision, upon sighting the iceberg, to cautiously approach it to carve off ice to supplement the ship’s limited supplies of fresh water — as a sailing maneuver, it doesn’t go down in history as one of the Royal Navy’s finest (although to be fair to Captain Riou, the sudden night fogs that rose up shortly after the ice carving maneuver really didn’t help). But as an event with potential for exploitation in a Lovecraftian scenario … such an encounter is pure gold.

This PDF also includes some additional description of the 18th Century British practice of creating Prison Hulks — non-seaworthy ships converted to floating (temporary) prisons and left floating in the Thames or one of the major shipping harbours. Your convict’s backstory might very well incorporate some time spent aboard a Hulk (none of which BTW warrant the name “incredible,” quite the opposite in fact) … so it’s good to have some historical data to help fill in that part of his or her personal history.

C&C Muster #2 is an eight-page PDF available for download right now, from here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog. It has game statistics for the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition rules.


Convicts Need Any Luck They Can Find

Today we are pleased to announce the release of our 13th “Ticket of Leave” supplement for Convicts & Cthulhu. Entitled, “The Thirteenth Convict” the 27-page PDF is available right now here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog. This supplement was originally supposed to be released in late August, but competing demands and limited time has forced its delay. We apologize to C&C fans who’ve been waiting for a few months for new ways to inflict woe upon their convict investigators 🙂

The subject matter for this “Ticket of Leave” is superstitions and ‘folk magic’ of the early Australian colonial settlements — a topic suggested by one of our readers (based on some interesting news articles about recent discoveries shedding light on the beliefs of early colonists). It is a fertile area to explore for a Lovecraftian setting: HPL himself was not above taking folk traditions of colonial America (in particular beliefs in witchcraft) and riffing on them to create some new Mythos-fuelled horrors. The superstitions of early Australia, while they share similar roots, have their own quirks and idiosyncrasies which lend a different flavour.

As well as providing some general notes on superstitions and “good luck” practices of colonists, this supplement also includes a full-length scenario (or mini-campaign outline, really) based on the curious phenomenon of concealed objects. There is a growing body of historical evidence to suggest that it was not uncommon practice for early colonists to embed mundane objects into the walls of homes during their construction as a kind of protective ward. In some cases these were simple charms written on paper, or common objects like boots. In other cases these were more outlandish, like the practice of embedding a dead cat in the wall to symbolically “chase away” any stray malign spirits that might try to enter.

Of course in the context of Cthulhu Mythos horrors, the notion of things being concealed in the walls of the family home lends itself to more destructive and terrifying possibilities, as explored by the scenario “The Thirteenth Convict.” Investigators are summoned to the site of a farmhouse in a remote corner of the colony, where death and calamity seems to have visited in the form of a great force that seems to have burst forth from within the wall. A few days later, a remarkably similar incident destroys a second farmstead — in a far-distant settled region.

What, if anything, do these strange calamities have to do with the odd, black-robed Frenchman who has recently arrived in Sydney? And why has the itinerant minister who tends to the spiritual needs of both settlers and convicts in these remote localities mysteriously disappeared? Unless the investigators can get to the bottom of these unprecedented happenings, the number of those killed or sent mad will surely soar … and as disasters multiply, a cruel plot to sow discord through the forces of Outer Gods begins to unfold. Who is the Thirteenth Convict and why does his (or her) future matter so much to the shadowy forces casting terror across all corners of colonial New South Wales?

Ticket of Leave #13: The Thirteenth Convict is available right now as a free 27-page PDF download. The version linked here is complete with game statistics for the Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition (under Chaosium’s fan license). As with other recent releases, we have been obliged by fine print in Chaosium’s license to also create a stat-free version of the supplement for distribution via RPGNow and DrivethruRPG. That version will go on-sale as a “Pay-What-You-Want” title in a day or so. We trust that this supplement about all things superstitious will bring you and your gaming group good fortune as you plumb the dark depths of the worst that the Cthulhu Mythos can throw at humanity (that insignificant upstart species!).

If you love this free download so much that you feel offended by the fact that you haven’t paid money for it (and yes, believe it or not people have said that us) … you can always head over to our brand new “donations” page. There’s no obligation, though — honestly, we’re thankful for the continued support we receive from our loyal readership that downloads (and plays!) our gaming supplements. Long may the cruel tyranny of Convicts & Cthulhu flourish, and the sharing horror just helps is spread!

 

 

 


Expedition to the Blue Mountain Peaks

It’s only just over a month since we released the previous title in out Convicts & Cthulhu line … but we find ourselves again today quite breathless with excitement, announcing the release of Tickets of Leave #12: Fallen Stars. This PDF is an exciting release for us, since it brings a brand new writer into the C&C production team, long-time historical RPGer Matthew Ruane (who has a long relationship with Colonial-era Lovecraftian RPGs having run many of the convention previews for Sixtystone Press’ excellent-but-sady-still-forthcoming Colonial Lovecraft Country line).

Matthew’s Ticket of Leave weighs in at a respectable 22 pages, and is available for download right now, absolutely free! The format for this supplement is a little more like a traditional convention scenario — which is not surprising, because a version of this scenario will be run at GenCon 2018 in August as our official C&C scenario for the convention. So, if you are already booked into playing on one of the runs of this game in Indy, you may want to hold off reading this Ticket of Leave straight away (or do so with your spoiler-sensitive sunglasses on).

The historical subject matter for Ticket of Leave #12 draws on two related strands important to life in the early penal colony of New South Wales. One of those is the growing need to find new farmland to house and feed the growing settlement, an ambition significantly hampered by the tall slopes of the Blue Mountains bordering the western edge of the colony. Despite several efforts by determined explorers, there is still no known path through this vast natural barrier (at least, Europeans know of no such path — Aboriginal peoples actually had two well-established “highways” to traverse the mountains). The other facet of colonial life explored in this supplement is the inquisitive scientific elite who look upon the strange and vastly unfamiliar flora and fauna of the new continent of Australia and see great new opportunities to expand humanity’s knowledge. And every reader of Lovecraftian fiction knows that expanding the limits of human knowledge *always* works out well …

In this scenario, the Investigators are invited (or obliged) to join an expedition to the remote foothills of the Blue Mountains where, some nights prior, a fiery ball of rock fell from the sky — a “falling star.” Several members of the colonial administration see the opportunity to collect specimens from this scientific oddity as an offer too good to pass up. But, few white men have ever penetrated this far into the hinterland, and the maps of the region are more akin to blank leaves of paper with a few stray scratchings. Thus, the expedition calls for hardy and fearless souls who can survive on their own in the wild bushland … and who knows, somewhere along the way they may even stumble upon the much-sought-after pass through the vertiginous Blue Mountains. Or they may find something (or be *found by* something) far stranger altogether …

Ticket of Leave #12: Fallen Stars by Matthew Ruane (with some minor historical sidebars by Geoff Gillan) is available right now as a free download from the Cthulhu Reborn blog. The version linked here is complete with game statistics for the Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition (under Chaosium’s fan license). As with other recent releases, we have been obliged by Chaosium’s somewhat arbitrary licensing rules to also create a stat-free version of the supplement for release via RPGNow and DrivethruRPG. We would encourage you to share the links to either or both of these versions with your personal network of Lovecraftian RPG enthusiasts. The more free stuff out there in the wild, the better for everyone!

This release also brings us back into our regular bi-monthly schedule of releases (after April’s release being delayed); so from here we’re aiming for another Ticket around GenCon time, one around Halloween, and maybe even a third Convict Christmas-themed supplement.

As a final note, I would really like to express my thanks to Matthew Ruane, our all-new Convicts & Cthulhu writer. In producing this product line we strive for a very high level of historical accuracy — sometimes creating a whole bunch of work for ourselves just to present the Colonial Australian setting in all its grim and gritty (and horrific) detail. Matthew has embraced this obsessive mania for historical verisimilitude and run with it … and the result of his research is a fine, if rather sanity-sapping, adventure which showcases everything we love about Convicts & Cthulhu. So, well done, Matthew … but if all the GenCon groups end up going hideously insane before completing the scenario, we wouldn’t be at all surprised 🙂


Happy Birthday, Mister Convict …

Believe it or not, today marks the two-year anniversary of our first publication of Convicts & Cthulhu, a setting for Lovecraftian horror roleplaying in the early penal settlements of Australia.

In the months since it’s original publication, we have been supplementing the original C&C setting by publishing a series of PDF releases under the “Tickets of Leave” series. Our initial goal was to release one of these every two months — and amazingly we have largely been able to keep to this release tempo, having now released 11 Tickets of Leave. While we initially planned for these to be small, free supplements (a little like the “one sheets” popular for Savage Worlds) … the needs of a mystery-based game have meant our supplements have been more substantial (and continue to grow moreso). They are still all obtainable free-of-charge, or Pay-What-You-Want if you shop via RPGNow.

In case you’ve missed some of these Convicts supplements, here’s a quick roundup of everything that’s been released so far:

Convicts & Cthulhu [96 pages]. This is the core setting book (with CoC 7e game statistics): this is the flagship book in our C&C line — at least until our release of the standalone Convicts & Cthulhu RPG, which is still in development.

Convicts & Cthulhu, Player’s Edition [57 pages]. A cut-down version of the above which focuses on the setting and the information required by players creating convict (or settler, or aboriginal) investigators.

 

Ticket of Leave #1: Night Terrors [4 pages]. Our very first “Ticket of Leave” supplement contains information about the Night Watch, a nocturnal patrol created by the early penal settlements. As well as describing character options and encounters typical to a Night Watch campaign, the PDF includes a short sketch of scenario involving an incompetent cultist and the messy consequences of a summoning that didn’t go as planned . . .

 

 

Ticket of Leave #2: Tricolour Terror [6 pages]. This supplement explores the rather tense relationship between the British penal colony and the French ships which occasionally visited; an antipathy fuelled by the on-again-off-again war between Britain and France in the era. As well as including character options (including French spy!) it has a scenario which begins when a French ship limps into Sydney Harbour with a tale of running into a strange creature at sea … is this a true account of a Mythos horror, or just an attempt to gain the trust of the Colonial authorities for nefarious purposes?

 

Ticket of Leave #3: Criminal Enterprise [8 pages]. This “Ticket of Leave” explores the phenomenon of criminal gangs within the penal settlement. A good proportion of those in the colony are there for their illegal dealings … so is it any surprise that some continue their criminal enterprises even once inside the prison settlement? As well as notes on playing criminal gang members (and a ready-made gang of ne’er-do-wells), the supplement includes a scenario based around a smuggling deal that takes a serious turn for the weird thanks to some rather … odd … clients.

 

Ticket of Leave #4: The Vanishing Ensign [14 pages]. This supplement explores the historical “musters” that took place periodically in the early colonies — massive census-like exercises in which a small team was sent into every corner of the colony to tally up the population, arms, and other defences to determine the colony’s readiness for attack. It features a scenario based around a mysterious sailor whose name appears on many different official records in numerous places around the colony … but nobody seems to be able to locate.

 

Ticket of Leave #5: The Damned & The Degenerate [24 pages]. When the core Convicts & Cthulhu book was published there was only limited space to outline profession templates for “investigators”. This PDF greatly expands upon the list in the core book providing dozens of additional occupations for players to roleplay … all the way from Aboriginal trackers to colonial undertakers. It also includes some slight tweaks to the skills list in the core book. There is a revised C&C fillable character sheet that goes along with these changes.

 

Ticket of Leave #6: Night of the Convict Dead [15 pages]. This PDF explores the subject of cemeteries in the early penal settlement, and the way in which authorities disposed of the (many) people who died, whether from disease, mistreatment, or other violence. It features a scenario with overtones of dark necromantic arts, cruel experiments, and dangerous hubris. All of these collide in the eponymous “Night of the Convict Dead.”

 

 

Ticket of Leave #7: Seams of Peril [14 pages]. Later history of Australia is heavily shaped by the gold rushes that brought many to Antipodean shores … but decades before that, shameless convicts were not above faking “gold strikes” and bargaining authorities to exchange their early release for the “secrets” of their discovery. The supplement includes a scenario about an audacious convict that tries just such a scam … but the location he picks for his phony mine is somewhere that he (and the investigators) would be better not to visit. But their mission is to accompany him to exactly that place.

 

Ticket of Leave #8: Gentlemen Convicts [20 pages]. While the majority of convicts sent to Australia were from the lower classes of British society, there were exceptions — so-called “Gentlemen Convicts” who were sentenced to transportation despite their relative wealth. These elite prisoners had a range of special priveleges, and a kind of society of their own. This “Ticket of Leave” features a scenario centering on just such a group, haunted by a curious and apparently spectral ‘stalker’. Who is behind the brutal murders of the society? And what strange and supernatural hand fashions such gruesome deaths for the gentlemen convicts?

 

Ticket of Leave #9: Orphan School Horror [23 pages]. This “Ticket of Leave” is our (vaguely) Christmas themed release, centering upon the only benevolent institution in Sydney township, the Female Orphan school. This worthy establishment was set up to ease the problems of unwanted children on the streets. The scenario included has a decidedly “ghostly” theme: several of the female orphans at the school claim to have seen strange poltergeist-type manifestations. But there is a lot more going on that just a mere ghostly manifestation … and investigators had best hurry to solve the mystery before whatever lurks in the school succeeds in its mission to break through into our world.

 

Ticket of Leave #10: The Doom That Came To Five Dock [17 pages]. This supplement is a scenario-only release that describes a Mythos-heavy manifestation of doom in a remote riverside ferry station between Sydney and Parramatta. Can the tales of frightened ferryboat captains be believed; lurid stories which claim that Five Dock station was reduced to splinters by a massive and terrifying … insect horror?

 

 

Ticket of Leave #11: The Dispensatory of Doctor Macdead [25 pages]. This is our most recent “Ticket of Leave” (released just a few days ago), which focusses on the practice of medicine in the early colonial era. Even by the primitive standards of 18th century surgery, the health care available in the colonies was horrific, basic, and woefully lacking in medical supplies. The scenario included in the PDF is a lengthy tale revolving around a hoaxer who claims to be a private doctor, a most curious medical text book, and a rash of stories about patients who have exhibited the most bizarre transformations … what is the truth behind these terrible events? And why can nobody seem to find the self-styled “Doctor Macdead?”

 

 

 


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