Convicts Reviewed


Convicts & Cthulhu Logo 2Most readers of Cthulhu Reborn will likely be quite familiar with Convicts & Cthulhu, the Colonial Australian setting we published back in May. But if you’ve been curious about the setting but wavering about whether to pick it up you might be interested to read the rather comprehensive review of Convicts & Cthulhu recently published on the Reviews From R’lyeh blog. Generally the review is very complimentary, though it does mark C&C down slightly because in one or two areas it refers back to the forthcoming Chaosium book “Secrets of Australia.” I am hoping that this particular “flaw” will be fixed next year …

A couple of the folks have asked what the relationship is between our (BRP-based) Convicts & Cthulhu and Cthulhu Hack: Convicts & Cthulhu. The short answer is that the latter is an adaptation of our Colonial Australian horror setting to an OSR-type rule system, made with our full endorsement. The Cthulhu Hack version only includes a bare-bones depiction of the setting, and in fact suggests that readers go and download our book for a more thorough treatment of the setting. It does include some nifty random tables and an interesting scenario, though … so even if you have our Convicts & Cthulhu, you might still want to check out the Cthulhu Hack version as well.

In other Convicts & Cthulhu news, we are just putting the finishing touches on the third in our series of mini-supplements which expand the setting in specific areas while also (hopefully) providing Keepers with resources that they can pick up and use directly in their Convicts & Cthulhu games. The third “Ticket of Leave” supplement concentrates on criminal enterprises in the penal colony (unsurprisingly rather common). We’re hoping to get it out before the Holiday Horror descends.

BTW: if you still do not have your very own copy of the base Convicts & Cthulhu book, you can get a PDF or print copy as a “Pay What You Want” title on RPG Now. For the PDF, that means you can nab a copy for as little as … well, nothing … and for the softcover book you can grab it for the cost of printing (about US$4) plus shipping. The two “Tickets of Leave” are completely free PDFs which can be nabbed from here and here.

Convicts @ PAX

I am just back at Cthulhu-Reborn-Central after 2 & 1/2 days spent in Melbourne for PAX Aus 2016. At the convention I had the opportunity to hang out with the Chaosium folks and also meet up with many great Call of Cthulhu writers, past and present. In fact I even had the absolute honour of sharing the stage with many of those same writers for a really entertaining panel session titled “The Cool of Cthulhu” which delved into the many different reasons why HPL’s creations are successful today and how much the CoC RPG has helped that success.


However, the highlight of PAX was undoubtedly meeting dozens upon dozens of gamers and running sessions of Call of Cthulhu. My aim this year was to get some Australian content onto the Chaosium running list. So, while there was ample Arkham-based mischief being run for gamers who wanted it there was also four different Australian-themed scenario — all of them from future or recent publications. Thanks especially to Tristan who ran three separate sessions of Phil Anderson’s eerie Tasmanian scenario “Black Water, White Death.”

Convicts & Cthulhu Logo 2One of the best play experiences I had, though, was running “Un-Fresh Off The Boat” for a group of six players on Saturday morning. This run of the scenario featured all the things that make Convicts & Cthulhu such a compelling setting. We had moments of high tension between the three convict investigators and the military investigator who suddenly had responsibility for the (unruly) convicts thrust upon him. We also had investigators on both sides struggling to come to grips with the new society that they were about to join — with convicts desperately trying to figure out ways that they might clamber up from the bottom of the social heap to avoid the worst that the colony has to offer. There was plenty of revulsion (again on all sides) when confronted with the nature of “convict settlement justice” … although that was as nothing compared to the revulsion that they encountered when the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos entered the scene.

Convicts & Cthulhu - Illo D7

In the end the scenario ended with many semi-insane investigators trapped in a room with a pair of horrors while one of their number set off an enormous explosion by selflessly dropping a lit lantern into a prised-open barrel of gunpowder. It was almost a total-party-kill, although the reluctant leader Captain Ross did manage to survive to limp back to civilisation to explain. Or to try to explain at least. It seems like a Call of Cthulhu type ending ๐Ÿ™‚

In prepping this scenario for convention play I created a bunch of resources that others might find helpful. Here’s some download links:

BTW: if you do use this material to run your very own convention session of “Un-Fresh Off The Boat”, we would love to hear about it (and in particular how well the scenario ran for you)!


Finally, thanks to the six brave players who signed up for the Convicts scenario — they all approached their chosen roles with great enthusiasm and commitment. A particular thank-you to the (I assume) father and daughter group who took on the two female characters (the plucky free settler Charlotte Savage and the mild-mannered convict Molly Rowson). Both did an incredible job at portraying their characters and trying to establish a moral compass for the group when conflict threatened to tear the group apart … I’m sure the fact that the players hail from somewhere not too far from Sydney Town made it just that bit easier to imagine the squalid life of NSW convicts ๐Ÿ™‚

A Plethora of Periodical Proppery (potentially)

UPDATE: Well, the Hudson & Brand Kickstarter managed to reach its Stretch Goal … so this will definitely be happening! (so ignore the “potentially” in the post title). Yay!

Just a quick post to say that Cthulhu Reborn have been asked by Stygian Fox to join its team for the Hudson & Brand book of Gaslight Goodies, currently entering its final day of Kickstarter fundraising. The book funded amost as soon as it went live, and has stormed through seven Stretch Goals.

If the book hits its next stretch goal (currently ยฃ1100 away, as I write) the book will receive an upgrade which sees six full-pages of Victorian-era newspaper props added to the back of the book. These will be co-designed by myself and Stygian Fox, and will be highly authentic in terms of content and presentation (something we *always* aim for :)).

So … if you have been wavering about getting on board with this excellent Kickstarter, and you love awesome propware … it might be worth checking out the campaign page once again. Cthulhu Reborn would really enjoy making some cool looking Victorian era newspapers for this book — so I hope we get the chance ๐Ÿ™‚

We’re All Bundled Up!

Cthulhu Reborn are absolutely thrilled to announce that Mutable Deceptions, one of our non-free titles, is featured in the latest Bundle of Holding (“Bundle of Tentacles +4”). You can purchase the bundle at this page.

Mutable Deceptions 1 - Front Cover (400)

For those who are unfamiliar, the Bundles of Holding are really cool ways of buying a bunch of related gaming PDFs at reduced cost, and contributing money to charity at the same time. For the Bundle of Tentacles +4 the full list of goodies — all Call of Cthulhu related — that you will receive if you purchase the full bundle is as follows:

  • Tales of the Sleepless City: A collection of 1920s scenarios in New York City, also by Miskatonic River Press. A great book.
  • A Peculiar Pentad: An unusual sourcebook released by Super Genius games which details five curious NPCs which could form the core of a larger story.
  • Mutable Deceptions: Our PDF toolkit for making your very own authentic-looking 1920s newspaper clippings. Recently praised by the HPL Historical Society (the absolute legends of Lovecraftian prop-making).

This truly is an exceptional collection of Call of Cthulhu resources (and no, I am not just saying that because it includes my own humble product). Several of the titles in the bundle are among my picks of the very best books published in the last five years by any CoC publisher, so you really could do a lot worse for the $25 or so that the Bundle folks are asking. For reference, the normal price of all these items combined is about $107.

Plus … a cut of all profits from this bundle go to a cause which I personally support quite strongly: the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The Bundle of Tentacles +4 offer runs until Monday 14 November … so don’t wait too long. And the way the pricing works on the Bundles, there is an advantage to being an earlier purchaser rather than a late-adopter. So if you’re interested, consider grabbing it soon.

CR Gaming at PAX

For Aussie readers who might find themselves at next weekend’s PAX Australia convention in Melbourne, I thought I’d share some brief info about the FOUR (!) Australian-themed Call of Cthulhu games I will be running at the con. For everyone who isn’t attending … er .. maybe this small taste of what will be on offer might inspire you to run some similar (maybe Convicts & Cthulhu) games at your own local cons!

Game Sessions

All four of the games that I’m bringing to PAX are destined for future publication (in longer forms) — one is already included in Convicts & Cthulhu, the other three will be in future Call of Cthulhu titles published by Chaosium Inc.

  • Un-Fresh Off The Boat: In convict-era Sydney a plague-ridden convoy of ships arrives carrying both the investigators and the seeds of a rather unsavoury mystery. [included in Convicts & Cthulhu]
  • Red in Tooth and Claw: During the earliest days of World War I a fighting force of plucky Aussies patrol the waters around New Guinea in the submarine AE-3, having recently conquered the German colony. But as they are about to find out, ย there are places in the remote and empty oceans where the threat of enemy detection is the least of your worries. [Written by Chad Bowser]

Aus Aeons Illo #F3final

  • Black Water, White Death: A call for help brings a group of 1920s well-heeled city types from Melbourne to the remote old-growth forests of NW Tasmania. There they become drawn into the curious mystery surounding an ill-fated convict team that escaped its bonds in 1832 and fled into the dark, eerie forests … and into a terrifying battle for sanity and survival. [Written by Phil & Marion Anderson]
  • Wilderland: This scenario is set in Australian wilderness during the days after the Apocalypse, two decades after the fateful day when the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos finally woke to reclaim ownership of our planet. Humanity still lives on in scattered pockets and dreams of one day re-establishing civilisation. Into one such desperate settlement a stranger arrives one day with a tale of hidden knowledge … [Written by Jo Kreil]

Australian Aeons Illo #B2

There is currently no schedule for when these games will run over the 3 days of the con (and some may run more than once), so if you happen to be attending and like the sounds of one of these games, track down the Chaosium table/booth/whatever in the Tabletop part of the con and sign up.


There will also be two panels run at PAX that will be of interest to Call of Cthulhu gamers (and more generally to those who keep an eye on what’s going on with Chaosium). They are:

  • Fri 11:00am-noon: Kickstarting Yourself to Death: Chaosium’s Cautionary Tale
  • Fri 9:30pm-10:30pm: The Cool of Cthulhu

Do You Zew Cthulhu?

Over the years Call of Cthulhu has been translated into oodles of different languages … so it’s no surprise that there are lots of people around the world playing CoC in tongues other than English. I was recently asked by one such gamer — a wonderful Polish guy called Wojtek — whether it would be possible to get a version of the 7th Edition CoC sheet created for Zew Cthulhu (as CoC is called in its Polish-language edition) version of the game. Now Zew Cthulhu isn’t even currently being supported by a publisher, but clearly that’s not stopping folks in Poland from picking up the newest edition of CoC and running it!


Anyway … after some very enthusiastic discussions with Chaosium (in the form of Mike Mason and Rick Meints) all the rights issues were squared away, allowing me to create and release this Polish-language rendition of the 1920s CoC 7e sheet.

If you are a Polish CoC Keeper or player — or just really want to see what the character sheet looks like in another, somewhat beautiful and exotic, language — click on the links below!

Cthulhu Reborn @PAX Aus

While this news is probably only of interest to Australian-based readers of Cthulhu Reborn, I thought I’d share it anyway (in a brief and hopefully non-spammy way). What’s the news? Well Cthulhu Reborn will be making the trek to be at the PAX Australia game convention (November 4-6).

As well as generally hanging out with our friends at Chaosium (who will be arranging several neat things at the convention including a panel “The Cool of Cthulhu”), I am planning to run some demo sessions of Convicts & Cthulhu as well as a few other Aussie-themed scenarios from upcoming books. I will also be bringing along some printed copies of Convicts as well as Geoff Gillan’s awesome Machine King.

If you’re planning to be at PAX and think you might like to sign up for some Australian-based Call of Cthulhu gaming (or would just like to drop by and say hi), feel free to drop me a note using the form below …

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