Jib Jabber from Beyond

Tempus fugit, eh?  The longer I go between updates, the longer posts take to write.  I’m sure there’s a mathematical function to chart that problem, but you’ll have to work it out for yourself.

I thought it might be a useful exercise (for me at least) to put down in pixels exactly what I’m up to (or was up to, or should be up to) on the writing front, but first, let’s recap what’s been going on in the wider Lovecraftian Gaming world:

Gaming news:

  • The dust has (hopefully) begun to settle at Chaosium.  Communications, with their Kickstarter backers and with the wider gaming community, have been much improved, and European backers of the Horror on the Orient Express Kickstarter have actually started receiving their long-promised copies.  I think the change, at least so far, has been for the good.  As far as I can tell their warehouse-clearing sale (up to 50% off certain whole lines, including monographs and licensee products) is still going on, so snag a copy of whatever you might have been waiting to pick up.
  • Cubicle 7 has launched their Kickstarter for World War Cthulhu: Cold War.  If you thought fighting the Mythos was too easy in the Roaring Twenties, have fun trying to slip something past Section 46 in the 1970s.  It has already blasted past its initial stretch goals, so who knows where things will end up. 
  • Pelgrane Press is hinting about some announcement in four days, give or take.  I’ve no clue what they are announcing – they’ve said it is unrelated to “Cthulhu Apocalypse” or even if it is Lovecraftian, but I’ve got to make some assumptions I suppose.

    Look kids – Big Ben, Parliament!

  • Golden Goblin Press have released the PDF of De Horrore Cosmico to their Kickstarter backers. Excelsior!

What about all the Lovecraftian Podcasts?

Necronomicon (or is that NecronomiCon?) 2015’s schedule is now available for your plotting and planning.  I’m still up in the air when it comes to attending.  Sorry!

Moving from news to… err… me, here are the projects I’ve got in and around my plate:

  • Finishing Issue #3 of the Arkham Gazette.  On my end, this is editing and slimming down our featured scenario “The Queen of Night”; who knew a scenario with dozens of NPCs set all over Arkham and beyond would be so large?  I’m still hoping to get the final text of the issue, albeit in rough form, out to backers by the end of the month.  Chris Huth, who is doing our layout work, has been otherwise handling similar tasks for Pelgrane Press’ Dracula Dossier, so he has been otherwise occupied, but the Gazette is next on the to-do list, happily.
  • Prepping call for submissions for future Arkham Gazette issues.  Like a true masochist, I cannot wait to get to work on future issues of the Gazette.  I’m preparing to solicit articles for future issues of the Gazette, with suggestions for articles and general encouragement for contributors.  I think we are going to offer two or three main topics for our next issue(s), since topics help get submissions it would seem, but I’m not fixed on any particular one.  Ready your (virtual or otherwise) pens!
  • Kickstarter stretch goals: We’ve already put several out to Kickstarter backers – including the autopsy of Walter Gilman and a giant handout all about the Unvisited Island – but there are still two scenarios, a scenario seed, and the revamped versions of our first two regular issues of the Gazette to go.  The scenarios are both written, with one being readied for layout and the other in editing.  The scenario seed being worked on currently and the older issues are being left aside for now until Chris’ finished his work on issue #3; the work required there is primarily in layout, but we may be adding a little content here and there, so a close reread is in order as well.
  • Sundry Sentinel Hill Press side projects are further down in my queue: There’s our Keeper’s resource for running games in Lovecraft Country, part bibliography, part gazetteer, part overview.  Ditto for updated versions of earlier issues.
  • My scenario for the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion Kickstarter.  I’m about 2/3 done with the writing, trying to make sure the scenario serves as not just some CoC fun, but a good way to introduce Jackson Elias.
  • Unspeakable Oath submissions – a Mysterious Manuscript/Arcane Artifact, a Tale of Terror.  A few ideas I’ve been kicking around but none are quite ready for submission.
  • A solicited scenario for a collection, about which I can say no more.
  • Other stuff – New England research.  Always ongoing.
  • Orphan projects – sundry scenario ideas I’ve had, none worth mentioning in particular.

That’s all of them… hopefully!

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A sextet of horrors, Arkham Gazette news, podcastery, and a forgotten witch

Thing have been busy here as I try to put the finishing touches on the (text at least) of the next issue of the Arkham Gazette (about which see item #3 below).  Here’ s the news, of late:

Item #1 – Nameless Horrors
Chaosium has released the scenario collection Nameless Horrors on PDF. As they put it: “Nameless Horrors brings you six new scenarios that will frighten even the most experienced of Call of Cthulhu players, giving them reason to fear the unknown.” The sextext of scenarios were written by Paul Fricker, Scott Dorward, and Matthew Sanderson (aka the Good Friends of Jackson Elias) and I look forward to a print version… Speaking of which, Chaosium has also put out a print version of Cthulhu Through the Ages, their setting sampler book for 7th Edition.

Item #2 – Updates to the blog
I have added a new page here for the blog-
The Audient Void, which collects the various times I’ve been interviewed on podcasts.
I have also updated the Lovecraftian RPG 2015 list.

Item #3 – News on the Arkham Gazette #3
I posted an update to the Kickstarter page for the Arkham Gazette #3 discussing where the project stands, an estimated time of delivery, etc. Backers also were sent a preview of most of the issue’s contents, save the scenario Queen of Night.

Item #4 – Podcasts of late
The Good Friends of Jackson Elias – Ep. 51, Talk on a pair of horror films – Repulsion and The Babadook. They also are conducting a poll of their listeners.
Ken and Robin talked about Vehmic Courts, the research secrets, and CthulhuCon.
Miskatonic University Podcast – Talked about organized crime, among other things.
(While the Yog-Sothoth.com’s Cthulhu Breakfast Club has not released a new episode, they are having a fundraiser to improve their microphones.)

Item #5 – Bonus Witchcraft
Finally I wanted to include a little bit of New England folklore that was left out of the forthcoming third issue of the Arkham Gazette – the witch of Littleton. In 1720 in the small village of Littleton, Massachusetts, was the scene of fresh witchcraft allegations in the vein of Salem almost 30 years earlier (from An Historical Sketch of the Town of Littleton by H. J. Harwood [1891]):

The Witch’s Tree a.k.a. The Kimball Elm. This tree is supposed to have stood on the Dudley farm. The tree is long gone, thanks to Dutch Elm disease.

An incident occurred in 1720 which made quite a sensation in town at the time. It was no less than a witchcraft accusation which might have proved still more sensational had it not been for the death of the person accused. Joseph Blanchard, who lived on or near Mr. Elbridge Marshall’s place, had at that time three young daughters — Elizabeth, aged about eleven, Joanna, about nine and Mary, about five or six years. These children, first the eldest, then the next, and finally the youngest, began to act in a very strange and unaccountable way. Elizabeth began by telling very strange stories of things happening at the time, or supposed to, and forced into the water, and in danger of drowning, at which she would cry out in distress. She also complained of pinches and prickings of the flesh, and showed wounds, and rents in her clothes, asserting she was bewitched, and accused Mrs. Dudley, wife of Samuel Dudley, town clerk, of bewitching her.

When put to the test of reading Scripture she would read, but fall down apparently lifeless when she came to the words “God,” “Christ,” or “Holy Ghost.” She would bite people, excepting Rev. Mr. Shattuck, whom she appeared to have no power to hurt. About four months after Elizabeth began to act in this way, Joanna also began to do the same things, and once was found on the top of the barn, a place apparently impossible for her to reach by her own exertions, and whither she said she was carried up through the air.

About two months later Mary began the same actions. Elizabeth would often cry out, “There she is! there’s Mrs. Dudley!” when Mrs. Dudley was nowhere visible. Once she told her mother there was a little bird in a certain part of the room ; her mother having something in her hand, struck at the place, at which Elizabeth cried out, “Oh, mother, you have hit it on the side of the head.” It was afterwards found that Mrs. Dudley was at the same time hurt on one side of her face. Another time Elizabeth said to her mother, “There’s Mrs. Dudley; she is just there; coming to afflict me!” Her mother struck the place with something and Elizabeth cried out, “You have hit her on the bowels.” It was found that Mrs. Dudley, at the same time, felt a pain, took to her bed and died in a few weeks.

On the face of this story it appears very mysterious and inexplicable by natural causes. Blanchard and his wife believed the children sincere and guileless, and though some wiser ones including, it is thought, Mr. Shattuck, advised separating the children by taking one or more to their homes, the parents would not consent to it, and the majority believed them bewitched. A few days after the death of Mrs. Dudley the strange actions of the two older children ceased. It proved however, that Mrs. Dudley’s death was perfectly accountable; she was in a delicate condition, and on riding horseback behind her husband at a rapid rate felt something break within her.

Though the children for a long time persisted that their stories had been true, and Elizabeth did not weaken, even when, requesting baptism, she was questioned by Mr. Shattuck about the circumstances, and told that some of her neighbors suspected her of falsehood; yet eight years after the girls confessed to Rev. Mr. Turell, minister of Medford, to which place they had moved, that their stories were all false and that their strange actions, begun in a playful spirit of mischief, had been continued because they were ashamed to own up.

When they heard of Mrs. Dudley’s death, who, by the way, was a most estimable woman and against whom the children had no cause for ill-feeling, the two oldest children were thoroughly frightened, and for a long time lived in fear of a ghostly retribution. Elizabeth told Mr. Turell that she got her idea of acting in the strange manner from reading about witchcraft, and the other children picked it up from her.

As we can see, there are all sorts of interesting annecdotes to be found in 19th century town histories. This incident is not recorded in the usual register of witch accusations as the there never any formal charges made, and so the case was never a part of the legal record. Here is an interesting discussion of how a town history in the 1970s badly got this story wrong.

Guns, lots of guns (and other news)

Time continues to race by, as it always seems to when I have a project overdue!

First off, I’m still working on issue #3 of the Arkham Gazette. Hopefully our next issue won’t take nearly as long! It will definitely be shorter. Our goal is to have a draft of the issue, sans scenario, available for our backers before the end of the month, with the issue itself getting a regular release soon after. I’m more likely to update the Kickstarter (and our G+ group) before I post something here, if you’re awaiting it with bated breath.

Text by Hans-Christian Vortisch, cover by Chris Huth

Sixtystone Press just announced that their Print on Demand version of their excellent Investigator Weapons vol 2: Modern Day is now available. Buy it now for an excellent discount!

We’ve had, oddly enough, lots of podcasts in the month since my last update:

(and very incongruously for the above gun and podcast talk, I am currently listening to this: https://youtu.be/Rgb8am3NQU0 . Such is life.)

Updatery, March Edition

First off, welcome Spring!  Please clean up after your Ostara sacrifices people – that altar to Yog-Sothoth, hewn from the very basalt of the lost Eiglophian Mountains is a privilege, not a right.  (Well, it’s a rite, but, you get my point.)

Vast and sundry apologies for the sporadic updates to the blog.  I’m still hip-deep in finishing up the next issue of the Arkham Gazette and I’ve done my best to focus on wrapping that up rather than taking care of other things.  If I owe you an email, this is why.  Fortunately being but hip deep means that A) I am no longer neck-deep, and B) I can slowly move about doing other things while I finish it up.

There have been several Lovecraftian RPG releases so far this year.  I’ve been trying to keep up to date with them in my page about new RPG material but I don’t think I’ve mentioned any of them here.  Let’s bullet point these, shall we?

I must confess that, given the research needs of the Gazette (today’s book is Poisons: Their Effects and Detection by Alexander Wynter Blythe (1895) I’ve barely had time to even look at most of the books, save Investigator Weapons v. 2, which is great, and Alone Against the Flames… which was… eh… adequate but underwhelming.  Perhaps I’ll discuss it more at some point?  It was free.

On the podcasting front there have been too many new episodes to summarize, from Ken and Robin, the MU Podcast, RPPR, the Unspeakable Oath (though I covered that one!), the Good Friends of Jackson Elias – hell, even the old Yog Radio gang might be up to something.

I am sure there is more to cover, but that’s all for now.  Was I supposed to mention a Kickstarter?

Post-Yule Post

Shockingly, between the Arkham Gazette Kickstarter (48 hours to go!) and other seasonal obligations, I’ve had scant little time to update good old Tomes in Progress.  Sorry!

So, here’s what has been going on in the world of Lovecraftian roleplaying games.

In other news, Shane Ivey might possibly have had the best Christmas of us all.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Finally, a bit of seasonal poetry from HPL himself:

Festival

by H.P. Lovecraft

There is snow on the ground,
And the valleys are cold,
And a midnight profound
Blackly squats o’er the wold;
But a light on the hilltops half-seen hints of feastings unhallow’d and old.

There is death in the clouds,
There is fear in the night,
For the dead in their shrouds
Hail the sun’s turning flight,
And chant wild in the woods as they dance round a Yule-altar fungous and white.

To no gale of earth’s kind
Sways the forest of oak,
Where the sick boughs entwin’d
By mad mistletoes choke,
For these pow’rs are the pow’rs of the dark, from the graves of the lost Druid-folk.

And mayst thou to such deeds
Be an abbot and priest,
Singing cannibal greeds
At each devil-wrought feast,
And to all the incredulous world shewing dimly the sign of the beast.

Drowning in new gaming news

I’m sure that cave is safe.

The Good Friends of Jackson Elias have released their first post-GenCon episode, with Matthew Sanderson recapping his experience in Indianapolis this year while Scott and Paul pepper him with questions.

The Delta Green panel from GenCon has also been released (as Episode 12 of the Unspeakable Oath Podcast.)  Time to feed Hecubus again!

If that’s not enough DG for you, tonight (8/28) there will be a live chat on RPG.net with some of the DG writers.

(If you really want more DG stuff, contribute to Dennis Detwiller’s Patreon.)

Pelgrane has made a public release of Mythos Expeditions (after tantalizing us all with selling print copies at several cons).  I’m sad to see not all of the originally announced content made it in, but I’ll pick it up eventually and give it a closer look.

CoC scenario reviews has posted their take on 2003’s Unseen Masters.

Metal Kings, New Orleans’ Beasts, and a 124 year old man

We’ve got a lot to cover today… First two new releases-

Cthulhu Reborn has unleashed The Machine King, a free Gaslight and Dreamlands scenario by Geoff Gillan.

Meanwhile Golden Goblin Press have released (to Kickstarter backers of Tales of the Crescent City only) The Black Goat of New Orleans, developed by New Orleans Mythos.

Gen Con is over and there are various after-action reports:

Speaking of Mr. Ivey, I’d like to note that, as per usual, I’ve been sent my payment for two pieces in the latest issue of the The Unspeakable Oath.  Arc Dream continues to be the most prompt-paying company I’ve written for.  Thanks!

A poster by Daniel Spitzer

Finally, today marks (among other things) two different anniversaries.  It is the 124th birthday of H.P. Lovecraft, without whom this blog would not exist. Here are few folks doing likewise:

I am of two mind about old Grandpa Howie.  On one hand he was a uniquely creative writer, synthesizing earlier horror writing with new fears and terrors of the 20th century, spawning not just the Cthulhu Mythos, but a community to foster his nightmare imaginings even after his death.  At the same time he was, even for his era, a racist and bigot, and wrote some pretty terrible things that we cannot wish away no matter to what degree these views may have softened or changed as he aged.  I think it is fitting, when we recall his good qualities we must also temper it by acknowledging his worst ones.   Today I think it best I have a small dish of ice cream (sorry, no beans and toast, my fandom only goes so far), think of HPL, and make a small donation in his name to a charity he would likely have despised.