Times of Daylight Saved

Oh geez, this blog has been left to go fallow for quite a while. I’m giving up on trying to recap all the news of the past two(!) months and will just hit the highlights of what I have been up to in these past few months.

Sentinel Hill Press:

  • We had our second annual ‘October-ganza‘ on the Sentinel Hill Press blog, covering topics relating to Call of Cthulhu and/or New England, including New England’s Islands, Boston’s ‘ghoulish’ history, and Native Americans in New England.
  • Issue #3 will be ready any day now – I am awaiting my printer proof copy to confirm that the layout is correct, and once that happens, copies will start going out to our Kickstarter backers, and it will become available for purchase on DriveThruRPG and at Chaosium’s online store just after.  The crew at the Cthulhu Breakfast Club flipped through an earlier proof copy recently on their show if you want to see a real life copy… in video.
  • We continue to look for submissions for future issues of the Arkham Gazette – likely topics include Kingsport, Dunwich, and ‘Law and Crime’ but we are interested in anything Lovecraft Country related.
  • For more about what’s coming next for Sentinel Hill Press, see this blog post.

Delta Green:

  • I was very pleased (and frankly flattered) to have a revised version of my Shotgun Scenario “Last Things Last” used as part of the free Quick-start rule set for the new Delta Green RPG, which completed a very successful Kickstarter campaign ($360k+).  I’ve set up a separate page on the blog here to collect all the real play recordings, actual play reports, and Handler advice (and hopefully some commentary from me on the genesis of the scenario) all in one place.  (I also pitched them a couple scenarios, but I’ve not heard back on those yet.)

Blog news:

  • I have been adding more information and making corrections to my Bibliography of New England Gravestone Carvers.  I think I’ve caught all the articles from Markers (the Association for Gravestone Study’s journal), up through issue #24 (as well as the first volume of the AGS’s newsletter, up through 1990).

Projects in development:

  • I am still (sorry!) revising my scenario “The Smoking Heart” for the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion kickstarter backers.  Happily it will be released separately from the print copy of the Companion so my delays aren’t holding that project back.  I am sorry for the delays.  I’ve made a few stabs at the thing but keep being dissatisfied with the results and have torn it apart again.  My apologies to the all of the Kickstarter backers.
  • I am working on a scenario for a scenario collection.  Slow going, but my deadline is the end of the year, so I keep plugging away, an inch at a time.
  • I am also revising an old project, about which I cannot say anything else, at least at this time.

Other News:

  • Adam Gauntlett, one of my favorite RPG authors, has launched a Patreon account to fund his creation of more RPG materials.  Let’s see if we can boost that pledge level, shall we?
  • Yog-sothoth.com is running its 10th (!) annual Secret Shoggoth Yuletide gift exchange.  Members should definitely sign up.  I’ve done it every year and it is always a lot of fun.

Hopefully I will have more news soon!

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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?

News bonanza

Sorry for the lack of updates recently; real life has kept me otherwise engaged, stealing away those free moments when I might be blogging, instead insisting I deal with ailing family members, logistical luggage arranging, and (most recently) snow removal.  Note to past self – budget more time for everything.

This is, however, a blog about Lovecraftian RPGs (and my occasional involvement therein) with a dash of my other hobbies, not a chat about the mundane adversities that strike anyone who is not a sociopathic millionaire orphan.  Let us instead turn to the world of polyhedral die and polymorphic nightmares…

Podcasts – Despite some technical glitches with the feed on iTunes, the Good Friends of Jackson Elias have released another episode covering all the best game master techniques they’ve cribbed from other Keepers.  (They’ve also set up a Patreon page to cover some of the show’s costs, so far netting them a princely $15 a show).

The muttering miscreant mavens of multi-sided mayhem at the Miskatonic University podcast had some technical issues of their own with episode 67.  The audio for their first try was so poor they scrapped nearly the whole thing, save for the news from the Campus Crier section – including a lovely summary of the October-ganza on the Sentinel Hill Press blog; listen to that preserved fragment here.  The redo attempt turned out a far better piece (in audio terms a least – who knows what bon mots were lost in the sonic catastrophe that was ep 67 mark I ?!?), covering the delayed release of CoC 7th ed, one player/one Keeper games, and Science Fiction (mostly gadgets) in Lovecraftian RPGs.  It’s also that rare beast when all four hosts are (eventually) in attendance.  But what of Keepers Shemp and Murphy-Joe?

Kickstarter offers an abundance of news, large and small, so let’s bullet point these:

In other news, Dreamhounds of Paris is now available for pre-order.  Awesome!

That’s plenty for now, isn’t it?

ENnies 2014 and more (no meanie, minie, or moe)

It is that time of year again – ENnies voting season has arrived. There are loads of Lovecraftian products in the running this year – The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man Eternal Lies, Achtung! Cthulhu, the Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed. quickstart rules – loads of stuff. Go vote!

Tentaclii has posted links to free versions of two books from H.P. Lovecraft’s library – A Book of New England Legends and Folklore (1883) and Nooks and Corners of the New England Coast (1875).

The print version of Tales of the Crescent City has arrived at the noisome warrens of Golden Goblin Press and are now being shipped to the Kickstarter’s happy backers. That’s some fast turn-around Oscar. 🙂

Finally there’s a new episode of the Good Friends of Jackson Elias, in which they discuss the aforementioned Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed. quickstart rules.

‘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!

…and it turned into a podcast blitz

Lordy lou, have there been a bunch of podcast releases whilst I’ve been otherwise occupied desperately trying to finish my scenario for the London Boxed Set (the Kickstarter of which has nearly quadrupled its initial goal) and learning how to repair an F21 error on a Maytag 3000 washer.  Who knew socks were so dangerous?

Here’s what been going on in the realm of Lovecraftian RPG podcasts:

  • The Unspeakable Oath released the audio of a meal time conversation between Adam Scott Glancy, Ken Hite, Shane Ivey, Robin Laws, and Ross Peyton (and a waitress) that occurred at GenCon 2013 talking about their various works in progress.  While it is a wee bit dated, the geological pace that most gaming books progress at means that there is much to entertain and inform here, not the least of which is half-audible Muzak background.  Frankie Valli costs me 1/1d4 points of Sanity)
  • The Miskatonic University Podcast crew (this time of Keepers Chad and Dan) have a grab-bag episode covering everything from Twists in gaming, baby farms, and the London Box set.
  • The Good Friends of Jackson Elias have been very busy of late, release one episode a week!  Since I’ve mentioned them last, they’ve talked about The Rats in the Walls and spells in CoC 7th Ed.  Apparently my ribbing them about their monomaniacal hatred of “Attract Fish”* struck a nerve. 😉

Hopefully that will keep you occupied for a few hours.

* For my part – and I’ve not finished listening to the episode – all I feel obliged to say on this point is that “Attract Fish” is a simply little spell that the Deep Ones can bribe their human victims… err… friends with and are implied in the text of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”.  Maybe we can just have a generic “Attract {Animal}” spell?

(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.