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Category Archives: Call of Cthulhu

Glorious Free Stuff

 

The last few days I somehow ended up delving into the free and pay what you want sections on rpgnow and drivethrurpg (what exactly is the difference between those two actually?). And there were some treasures to be found.

newsies-and-bootblacks-roleplaying-gameNewsies and Bootblacks

In which players play children having adventures in a world not unlike ours at the end of the 19th/beginning of the 20th century.

230 pages, rather simple mechanics, and free. Link

 

 

 

 

 

quillQuill: a letter-writing roleplaying game for a single player

This one takes the whole play-by-mail idea to the top. You aren’t even supposed to have another player, you are just supposed to write letters and see how well you do with them.

Created by Trollish Delver, 16 pages, multiple supplements, can be had for free (well, Pay What You Want) on drivethrurpg

 

 

 

190792Romance of the Perilous Land

And another one from Trollish Delver. This one is basically a stripped down OSR system, with the Britain as the setting of choice. Magic is rare, as are monsters. If you were looking for a low-fantasy/chivalric RPG…

52 pages, for free on drivethrurpg

 

 

 

 

 

crusader-statesCrusader States – Hex Grid Map

Exactly what it says on the tin. A map of the crusader states circa 1135AD. And some additional color plates with the coats of arms of the states in question.

4 pages, but detailed map. Pay What You Want on drivethrurpg.

 

 

 

 

 

convictsConvicts & Cthulhu

Roleplaying cthulhoid horror in the Australian penal colonies of the 18th century. As if dealing with cthulhoid monstrosities is not bad enough, you gotta deal with Australian wildlife as well…

98 gorgeous pages by Cthulhu Reborn, either as Pay What You Want, or as a softcover book, drivethrurpg.

Bonus: a fillable pdf character sheet for the setting, for CoC 7th ed.

[Call of Cthulhu] The Cubicle 7 London Box and general musings on what we assume is progress

I bought myself the Call of Cthulhu London Box by Cubicle 7 as a slightly belated birthday gift to myself. Have I even mentioned before that I started Masks of Nyarlathotep with my group a while ago?

It might be better that I didn’t, because work and life got between everything again and we are stuck just before the Ju-Ju House, so at the very, very beginning.

Having this box on the other hand fires the idea to play this up again. In fact I am wondering if maybe I should be playing this with the new players I managed to find a while ago. Well, in addition to the ones I already played the first few sessions through with I mean. Actually restarting the whole thing from scratch would be one idea I was floating. It’s not like they remember anything from back then. So we could start the whole thing at the Chelsea Hotel again and I could properly track what stuff exactly they already found and whatnot.

Yeah, I lost a bit of track there. I am not quite sure what exactly happened and which clues they managed to find, and I actually was working through the campaign again and I think I understand much better how to structure the whole thing now. Masks needs to be pulpy and action-packed and deadly.

Why I am thinking this right now?

Well, I did just get the London box, as I mentioned, and I really would like to use that one as well. And Masks does have a rather big part of it set in the London. And at least in this case I would have some printed maps and a guidebook my players can read. In fact my wife was nearly as giddy about the whole thing as me, taking over the box and reading the London guidebook as soon as I went to inspect the other things I bought.

So far it looks rather promising, if a bit cartoony and slightly too glamorous for, well, London. I think it slowly becomes obvious that we are nearly a hundred years away from the time most Call of Cthulhu material is set in. We just don’t have so much of a grasp for these times anymore.

Just yesterday I found an old forum entry on Yog-Sothoth.com wondering why exactly one would send telegrams in the 1920s, when the telephone already existed.

Not that this is a new phenomenon. I am lately reading the first few years of Amazing Stories (from the late 20s), and one reader had the gall to criticize H.G.Wells for not having planes in the War of the Worlds (published in 1897). It had to be pointed out that the story they were reading was written before planes were a thing. But I am going to go into that in some separate entry at one point.

The thing is: I don’t have a clue how my children will react when at one point I will tell that yes, we were alive in a time when not everyone had a mobile phone, internet was a once a week for an hour thing, and people watched whatever was on television for lack of a choice. And that was just my childhood.

Feline Horrors

Arkham Horror

Arkham Horror (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did I mention cats in my last entry?

Because… cats. If our tom wouldn’t also manage to be the sweetest of kittens in his good moments we would have sold him on ebay years ago.

So, after sleeving all the cards yesterday I decided to actually use today for learning the rules. My girlfriend was out with her colleagues and I didn’t have anything else to do. So I closed the door to the living room with the cats safely outside and set up the table with the Arkham Horror board.
Note to self: get bigger table, ours was only barely able to hold just the base game.
It went quite well until midnight. I was down to two open gates and had 2 locations sealed. Then, at midnight my girlfriend came home, opened the door and asked: “Why did you lock the cats out of the living room?”
“Because…” I managed to say, but our little Sherlock had rushed into this new mysterious room that had been locked for 3 hours, jumped on the table…

…and Arkham disappeared into a landslide.

“…I was afraid of this.” I finished my sentence.

 

As mentioned until then it went quite well. I was using three characters against Hastur. This made sealing the gates rather difficult, but some  luck with the Mythos cards had the monsters conveniently move out of the way in a few cases. I think I still have some issues with remembering special cultist powers though, and forgot to move them to the Sky (Hastur’s cultists all ride Byakhee obviously). I think I am slowly getting the hang of it though.

 

What I found in my shoe today…

Plush Cthulhu Keychain

Cthulhu Content!

The 6th of December is the day of St. Nicholas. At least in Europe.It’s a day when children put their shoes out at night and get some small gift.

So this morning I found this in my shoe.

Luckily I did not put my foot in there yet… 🙂

[Pictures] Boston, MA, 1920

Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue, 1920

Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue, 1920

Boston Court House 1920

 

Dock Square, Exchange Street and Devonshire Street 1920

Dock Square, Exchange Street and Devonshire Street 1920

Y.M.C.A. building, Huntington Avenue, 1920

Copley Square, Copley Plaza, and Trinity Church

Brattle Street, Boston, Massachusetts, ca.1920

Pemberton Sq., Boston

[Call of Cthulhu] Classic Haunting

Accession No.: 08_01_000459 Title: Washington ...

picture just for setting the mood

So at one point in our first session of Call of Cthulhu my players come across a victim of the haunted house they are investigating, and the poor sod is doing nothing but counting down the rosary, repeating the Ave Maria.
“Does anyone here understand that gibberish?” says the reporter character, but both her companions shake their heads. They, too, they soon determine, were brought up as good protestants. The joke was of course that my players were Polish, in other words: all Catholics.* But they had silently, all for themselves, decided to be Protestant. After all they all were supposed to be upperclass Bostonites.
Yes we were playing The Haunting, the classic introductory adventure that has been included on every version of the game so far. I also had prepared The Edge of Darkness, another of these introductory adventures, because it actually has a much better introduction into the game for the players, and because I was not sure if a small scenario such as The Haunting would carry a whole session.

It did, quite well even. Even though they missed out on the whole endfight with the undead sorceror in the house (true to the spirit of CoC they got scared by some good old poltergeist activity and wanted to get out as soon as possible).
It seems to have been a success. They seemed to like the detective work beforehand, and they seemed to really got scared (at least playwise) when strange things seemed to happen in game, and inbetween there was wonderful roleplay.
Of course there were a few things that went not so well, and let’s look over them rather than over the stuff that went so well. After all I always want to become a better GM:
1. Sometimes players don’t understand a nudging. Sometimes not even if you use a sledgehammer
There was a boarded cupboard in the house. It contained, rather easy to find, the undead sorceror’s old diaries.

They ignored it.

They searched the whole house. Well, there is that storage room that… oh, you want to look up all the neighbours that lived in this area for the last 60 years? Nevermind then.
The fuses in the basement blew. There might be some spare ones in that cupboard in that storage room, nudge nudge… They rather exchange some fusesfrom the fusebox than open that cupboard,
At times I really felt like I was talking to a wall there.

2. Sometimes a bit of background knowledge is already too much
One of the players had read the stories. He tried to keep more or less in character, playing an adventurer archaeologists clearly modelled on Indiana Jones. I don’t mind, I think it might give a good chance to put them into some more exotic locales in later adventures.

The problem was not that he was overplaying his character, he was overplaying knowledge he should not have. He kept on hinting about colleagues from the Miscatonic University saying this, hearing about strange Dutch people in the mountains,bout some weird stories he heard about an FBI raid on some town on the coast… And of course he was hinting about some fungus that might grow in the house and caused all the trouble. (in other words: he had read Lovecraft’s “The Shunned House” and thought he could use the knowledge from there; not completely wrong, but wrong in the wrong aspects).

It was, of course, annoying.

It would have been worse though if I had not read most of HPL’s stories already. Dealing with someone intent on pushing the canon into your game could be really unnerving.

3. My players are easily scared and very, very careful
I really should not give them any exit, even if it means railroading the in inescapable situations. Not because I want them to fail, but the way they played this adventure, and the way they played some Traveller and Das Schwarze Auge before, tells me something about them: they are too sensible for their own good. In my DSA game they managed to bypass most of the dungeon and escaped through a B-Exit. Because what sane person would want to stay in a hostile environment with limited sight and maneuverability?

Uhm… how about your run-off-the-mill hero type?

But of course they were right.

In this case the whole thing was even more pronounced: ok, they cannot really say that the house is really not haunted because they saw things move and blood dripping from the walls. Mission accomplished, not what the landlord wanted, but nobody told them to get rid of the ghosts (and the Keeper goes: “OHHHHHHDammit! I shoulda phrased that better!”)

—-

* yes I know, that is a bit too easy and stereotypical, but the fact remains that about 95% self-identify as Catholics. Of course my group is skewed in that respect anyway, with an agnostic GM and one Jewish player… whohoo…35% off the norm!

[Call of Cthulhu] Resources

An artist's visual representation of the Elder...

Image via Wikipedia

Newspaper Clipping Generator Because if there is one prop you need for Call of Cthulhu it’s newspaper clippings

Speaking of which: Masthead for the Kingsport Chronicle (fillable with your heart’s content. Text, I mean tex… nevermind)

And from the same: an Art Deco character sheet for the game, fillable pdf. And some Art Noveau for Gaslight era games.

Scooby Doo for Call of Cthulhu Maybe useful as NPCs or for a 1960s one-shot

The Young Twits, Wooster and Jeeves meet Call of Cthulhu

100 pregenerated Call of Cthulhu Characters I was looking for some. The corebook only has a handful, and sometimes one just needs a few pregenned characters for those times when new players show up. Especially as the really new players never know what the hell they want to play anyway. The only thing I wonder about when reading this: why are there so many bakers in there?

Byakhee, for creating new characters, quite the nice program and easy to modify, but a bit dusty (it might be prudent to load it from Yog-Sothoth.com though, there they also have various additional files)

I, Cthulhu and A Study in Emerald, both by Neil Gaiman, because Neil Gaiman knows how to tell that old Boy Eldritch Abomination meets World-story with flair.

Tales of Terror, exactly what it says on the tin. At least if you know that a tale of terror for CoC is a scenario with multiple possible outcomes

Jazz Age Slang