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?


‘Call’, waiting

Chaosium has announced that the release date for the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition  has been pushed back to October, citing art delays. Here’s the main point of the latest Kickstarter update:

Thus, our initial estimate of 7th Edition delivery for late Spring has had to be pushed back. Which is something neither you or we wanted to happen, but given the circumstances, is something that cannot be avoided – unless we want to diminish the quality of the 7th Edition products, which is something we definitely do not want to do. So, our new estimate on shipping 7th Edition (Rulebook, Investigator’s Handbook and Keeper Screen Pack) is Halloween.

I’ve been publicly agnostic about the new edition – I’m not innately against it but I worry about too much change – and wasn’t part of the Kickstarter, but I’m sorely surprised that the book got pushed back so far due to late art. Surely there are other artists? Not that I’ve got a lot of room to talk, since the Arkham Gazette’s next issue was supposed to be out in February, but I’m doing that with only a small number of authors, for free.

Let hope Halloween is more treats, fewer tricks.

Beware the Flail Snail!

All the time in the world! (crunch)

I’ve started preparing my notes for my 3rd annual year-end wrap up essay when Chaosium threw a spanner into the works releasing a Kickstarter-backer only preview of Horror of the Orient Express ver. 2.0 AND a new Lovecraft Country scenario called “Dead Light“. More news when I find the time to read all this stuff.

Throw another book (and a campaign) onto the to-read (or re-read) stack.

London Kingstarter endgame; also, Dean Engelhardt is nuts

Sorry for the lack of updates.  Things have been busy around TiP HQ with the holidays, and scenario writing (sorry Stuart!), and homunculus wrangling.  Rest assured gentle reader(s?), I’ll have more to say when I wring more time from the fabric of reality, or after Christmas, whichever comes first.

First off, we’ve entered the final few hours of the Cubicle 7 Kickstarter for their London Boxed set.  With nearly 700 backers and over £80,000  pledged, I suspect those of your who were thinking of joining, have already done so, but just in case you missed it, give it a look.

That’s just a tiny part of the thing.

Meanwhile, Dean Engelhardt, who is clearly a lunatic, graphed the evolution of the skills of the various editions of Call of Cthulhu.  It’s huge (and fascinating, frankly) and definitely worth a look.  I’m really amazed how much the skills have been winnowed down in 7th Ed.  I hope they’ve cut down the skill points.

Breaking News- The Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion is free*

I probably will never have Breaking News again but I wanted to post here that, at long last The Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion is available for your enjoyment.

See more HERE

I will have more to say soon. Until then enjoy the book.

*Literally and figuratively

(CoC) 7th Edition Blues

Disclaimer- What I say on my blog reflects my opinion only and does not necessarily represent any website I volunteer at or company I have worked for.

As I suspect everyone reading this blog is aware, Chaosium has embarked on the revamping of the Call of Cthulhu rules, with a rapidly ballooning Kickstarter raking in now over $200k.  There has been a lot of passionate debate about what to change or not change when it comes to the 7th edition… a debate that I can’t much interest in.

I’ve never had much interest in the nitty gritty of RPG rules.  My interests are in telling a story and having an entertaining time, not worrying about bell-curve distributions or challenge ratings or damage per second ratios.  Call of Cthulhu has always worked well for me because I rarely had to look at the rules.  I played a lot of different systems in my youth, when I had more time and knew more people who were gaming but CoC is the only system I really taught myself (save perhaps Red Box D&D but that is a different story).  In short, it is easy to use and does everything I need a rule system to do.

It seems like 7th edition will not be a wholesale overhaul of the CoC ruleset but it does sound like there will be mechanical and cosmetic changes.  Others have covered these details better than I can recap, but I wanted to comment generally on my, well, I guess you’d call it fatigue at the thought of a new edition.

I am not fundamentally opposed to adjustments to the rule set and I certainly acknowledge that the CoC ruleset is not perfect – the tome rules are kludgey, know one understands how dodge and parry work, etc.  Additionally most of the rule changes are treated as optional, so I suspect if there is something I truly hate, I don’t have to use it in my game.

Please allow me to indulge in a metaphor- CoC is a Toyota Corolla.  Reliable, dependable, easy to operate… high millage perhaps, but still running well.  The 7th edition seems like someone trying to sell me a new car.  You can talk up the features, but I’m reluctant to give up something that I know works for something that might blow a rod ten miles down the road.  I mean no disrespect to Paul Fricker and Mike Mason or to the playtesters involved in the process.  I’m just not sure that the car really need more than an oil change.

I’ve never been one for rule systems.  I understand the utility of having an agreed method of conflict resolution but I cannot understand the passions that ‘Edition Wars’ unleash.  I’ve had fun playing a lot of games that had less than optimal combat systems, unbalanced character creation rules, etc.  I don’t understand how people get quite so agitated over these things.

Finally, I also worry about Chaosium.  They’re the car dealer in this case, but not the manufacturer and it shows.  The Kickstarter for 7th Ed. has been rather… bumpy and I wonder how much direction they will provide to this change once the new edition is released.  I hope that their goal is to improve the game and not simply cash in on the likely profits from all those shiny new rulebooks (and reprints updating old books to the new rules.)

That is probably enough for now.  I hope to have another post soon.

Blog recommendations

I’m still working on a draft of my next installment of “Memories of the Orient Express”, but in the mean time I thought I might suggest two other blogs to check out whilst I’m otherwise engaged.

Top of my list is Adam Gauntlett’s Ephemera.  Adam’s written for Call of Cthulhu (“Spare the Rod” and “See No Evil“) as well as for Trail of Cthulhu (“Not So Quiet“, “Flying Coffins“) but he is perhaps best known for his book reviews that appeared on the late lamented Yog Radio, “The Bookshelf“.  He’s well-read and offers a lot of great ideas, especially for for Trail of Cthulhu and Bookhounds of London.

I’ve talked about Dean Englehart’s Cthulhu Reborn (and especially his interview series “State of the Tentacle” interviews).  He is also put together loads of great free scenarios and an awesome program to create your own newspaper handouts.  His most recent post described his process in crafting newspaper articles and is a must read for those looking to make their own.


NecronomiCon Kickstarter and Bass Rock

Two news items:

A Rocking Bass?

The folks running the revived NecronomiCon have started a Kickstarter to cover their early expenses.  If you’re interested in this convention for all things Lovecraftian, take a look.  They’re offering a plethora of interesting treats for donors.

Cubicle 7 have released their first PDF scenario- “The Ballad of Bass Rock“.  This was a scenario cut from Shadows Over Scotland (due to length).  I’ve added this to the 2012 Lovecraftian RPG release page and will check it out when I have the time.  I suspect it will be of the same high quality as the rest of Stuart’s other work.

New books for the list

A quick note to mention I’ve added two new titles to my 2012 Lovecraftian RPG releases:
First off we have The Timeless Sands of India, the seventh in Goodman Games’ “Age of Cthulhu” scenario series.  Written by the Miskatonic University Podcast’s own Jon Hook and edited by reviewer par excellence and friend of the blog Matthew Pook, I will probably end up getting a copy as I’ve been told that the quality of the series has been improving.  India is certainly an underused location… I do have some questions about why Bettie Page is pitching in to help the chap in the pith helmet and lightning gun and his pal Kilik fight off a gaggle of… sand-dwellers maybe?
Secondly there is Terror from the Skies, a 1920s campaign set in the United Kingdom. Beyond that I know it involves the Shan, and apparently some sort of zombie wyverns or maybe shantaks?  I will almost certainly pick this up, assuming I don’t get it as a gift first.