What a year (part 2)

Continuing on…

Innsmouth House Press
The Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion {PDF}

I edited all of and wrote much of this titanic project. Hopefully I will be able to announce a print version soon.

Miskatonic River Press
Tales of the Sleepless City

MRP’s swan song (not counting the delayed “Punktown”), Tales was bittersweet; a great book but one that marked the end of a publisher. Unlike the forgettable scenarios included with Secrets of New York, it managed to wed the Cthulhu Mythos to its New York setting in a way that would no doubt driven Lovecraft from Brooklyn even faster. If you are running Masks of Nyarlathotep or want a change of pace from remote places or rural New England, give this book a look.

Modiphius
The Trellborg Monstrosities {PDF}
Achtung Cthulhu: Keeper’s Guide to the Secret War {PDF}
Achtung Cthulhu: Investigator’s Guide to the Secret War {PDF}

As per my comments about World War Cthulhu yesterday, while I’m very glad that Modiphius has had great success, this series simply didn’t capture my imagination. Perhaps some day I’ll pick up a copy and be swayed.

Pelgrane Press
The Final Revelation

I’ve read (and enjoyed) all but the framing scenario when they were published previously, but I wanted to have a reading copy so I can keep my limited edition Dragonmeet copies up on the shelf. I should probably read that framing scenario…

Eternal Lies {PDF}

Time for another confession… I can’t get into this. There is something so clinical about most Trail of Cthulhu scenarios that they simply are not, unlike Call of Cthulhu ones, fun to read. It’s like reading a grocery list merged with a horror story. Maybe it was the overall plot (which reviewers have appropriately avoided spoiling and I will do likewise) but I’ve still not finished it despite making a couple attempts. I should read it since it is Trail’s first campaign and I’m curious to see how they handle an on-going game.

Sentinel Hill Press
The Arkham Gazette #0 (PDF)
The Arkham Gazette #1 (PDF)

Wrote and edited most of these two. Give them a read!

Sixtystone Press
Lost in the Lights (PDF only)

An interesting, well-written and attractively presented modern scenario. Wondering why it still hasn’t come out in print.

Investigator Weapons, Vol. 1 (Classic era)

Essential for any Classic era game. Hans knows his stuff but this isn’t a dry catalog of weapon stats and damage tables. This presents weapons as historical artifacts that enriches your game, not just adds nifty kill machines, by giving you the context to the weapon and a deeper understanding of how they function. If you’re like me and aren’t someone with a lot of experience with weapons (reading that polearm table in Unearthed Arcana counts as experience, yes?) this is fascinating.

Solace Games
Fungi Mine (PDF)

I tend not to read PDF-only release. I may pick this up at some point, but I am in no rush.

Tomorrow, Chaosium and perhaps additional comments.

Farewell to Miskatonic River Press

Farewell MRP 😦

It has been announced via an interview on Yog-Sothoth.com that Miskatonic River Press is going to shutter (possibly forever) as a publisher once they wrap up some of their current projects.  As someone who has written for MRP and worked with Tom Lynch (who will focus on his teaching career) I wanted to post my best wishes to Tom and express my sadness at the passing of this CoC licensee.  Tom cites lack of time, ever-growing cost of shipping (especially international), and poor sales (in large part due to shipping costs).  If you haven’t picked up Tales of the Sleepless City (or any other of MRP’s books) I recommend doing so now.  I do not know what the fate of Forgotten Corners of Lovecraft Country Vol. 1 (aka the Aylesbury Book), a book to which I have contributed, will be unfortunately.

I hope that the Arkham Gazette, which I hope to have the first issue of done soon, will carry on a small part of the MRP legacy.

Keith Herber, 4 years on: The Arkham Gazette (Demo)

Today marks the 4th anniversary of the death of Keith Herber and I was hoping to mark it with the release of some new bit of writing (as I did two years back with Notes on the Turner Codex).  Unfortunately I hit a time crunch (why, oh why did so many CoC books come out in February?!) and have not had a chance to finish the project I was working on.  Nevertheless I wanted to take a moment to think about Keith.

What I have been, in fits and starts, working on is a project that Keith and I discussed as he was forming Miskatonic River Press; one of the things he wanted to have was an in-house magazine focusing on Lovecraft Country material.  He thought it would fill a niche that fine publications like the Unspeakable Oath did not cover, be a way to find new writers, and keep up interest in the company between books.  Obviously this did not come to pass; I approached Tom Lynch about this periodical (they dubbed it “the Arkham Gazette” on the MRP page of future products) but he lacked the time and did not want to spread their resources any thinner than they were.

I think the Arkham Gazette (or something similar) remains a good idea.  Using the very rough template I made up for Tom, I decided to finish up a trial issue and see if there was wider interest.  Since it is not quite ready, I thought I might post a short sample just to Tomes in Progress and see if my readers (all dozen of you) had any opinion on the matter.  Consider it a special treat to the people (now from New Caledonia and Mongolia!) who read my blog.

DOWNLOAD THE ARKHAM GAZETTE DEMO

I will make a bigger posting announcement when I finish the issue (which is about 80% complete) but in the mean time, feedback is very welcome.

Six years of the Masks Companion and other news

The Companion

It is a little hard for me to comprehend, but I’ve been working on the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion for over six years now.  Damn.  In that interval I’ve lost two cats, created a homunculus, and eaten a great deal of pudding.  I hope to have news to announce soon… good news.

In other news Arc Dream has announced its production schedule for 2013, including (ideally) four (!!) new issues of the Unspeakable Oath, release The Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man, and a bunch of other stuff.  Hopefully I’ll wrap up my latest submission to the Oath and it will see print soon.  I think it is one of the creepier things I’ve written.

The Dan Harms media empire also had similar news about his Ghouls sourcebook, Tales of the Sleepless City, some secret project (oooooh!), and a bunch of non-fiction about magic (an oxymoron I suspect, save from an academic perspective).

The DGML Shotgun scenario contest has wrapped with a total of six entries.  Members should vote now.

The Music (and books) of God’s Lost Children

Nearly four years ago I wrote “Notes on the Turner Codex” for Miskatonic River Press as a tribute to Keith Herber (and his scenario “The Evil Stars”).  I recently discovered the article had inspired another blogger, one Craig Stanton, to create art for the various bogus album covers for the band (along with a few sundries).  I’ve dropped him a line… to make sure he corrects some blurring between what Keith created and what I built off of from his fine work (and to politely suggest he link to my original article).  Anyway, I thought I’d share what he created based on my descriptions.

God’s Lost Children (S/T)

God’s Lost Children (S/T) :

The cover depicts the logo of the band, the three letters of its name in silver on a black background, tumbled together forming a strange shape. Viewers making a Cthulhu Mythos roll note the similarities with the dreaded Yellow Sign, though the cover art is completely mundane.

Unspeakable:

Unspeakable

The cover is a triptych of photos of the three band members (Lochnar, Schwartz, and Holland), each bound in a straight jacket. Holland glares at the viewer, his head low. Schwartz has his head turned to the side and is muzzled. Lochnar stares straight ahead, his moutha bloodied mess, two streaks of blood framing his chin. Behind each is a large stone pillar engraved on which are the letters G (Schwartz), L (Lochnar), and C (Holland). Scribbled across the front is the title, as if painted in blood. Careful examination of Lochnar reveals he is wearing an onyx v-shaped earring, set with nine diamonds; anyone familiar with the spell Free Hastur will see a parallel between this shape and the monolith arrangement in the spell. The reverse of the cover shows the band members in full regalia standing behind a bonfire. Lochnar has his hands raised above his head. An Astronomy roll notices his arms frame the constellation Taurus.

Forever Lost: The Best of God’s Lost Children

Forever Lost: The Best of God’s Lost Children

The cover art is the band, photographed from behind, at the conclusion of their final performance in Jacksonville. Lochnar is at center-stage, back lit and casting a long shadow, while Holland holds his bass aloft in one hand and Schwartz pushes his drum-kit off its weird faux-stone riser. The audience is awash in flash bulbs and cigarette lighters held aloft.

All things considered, a pretty impressive job.

Check out the rest (Part 1 and Part 2).

A boon from Boon, Stuart; FoCoLoCo news

That was easy; when asked about the status of Cubicle 7’s other Call of Cthulhu products, Mr. Boon replied:

I can tell you that I have received the completed manuscript for Cthulhu Britannica: London, yes. So watch this space!

I have also received the layout proof for ‘The Ballad of Bass Rock’, the seventh scenario from Shadows Over Scotland which had to be cut when the book ran long. I’ll be able to say more about this soon.

We also have writers working on two other projects, but those will have to remain secret for the moment.

To which I say, “Excellent!”  I hope at least one of those in development secrecy is the hinted at new unspecified Northern British County sourcebook.

In other news, while I can’t say anything more on the topic, at least not until the publisher does so, known serpent (owning) man Dan Harms has mentioned the following regard Forgotten Corners of Lovecraft Country Vol. 1 (aka “The Aylesbury Book”):

It’s moving homes. More on this as it develops.

More indeed.  No matter what happens, my scenario “Shadow Alchemy” will see the light, ha ha, of day somewhere.

 

Omnibus catch-up

I’ve had a myriad of items to report here to my corner of Blogsylvania.  Life has kept me away, but I have declared “No More!”  Of course, I started this post when it was still September, so you might infer from that how well I can slap life around.  Let’s get cracking!

  • Paul Maclean of Yog-Sothoth.com was extraordinarily generous and sent me a copy of The Express Diaries as a thanks for my ‘work’ as a moderator at the site.  What a splendid book!  Now if I only could stay awake for more than 10 minutes after laying down for the evening…  Speaking of slow reading pace-
  • I’ve been very slowly working my way through Bumps in the Night and am generally enjoying it.  My favorite scenario so far the the Westerfield Incident but I’m only about 1/2 way through the book and two scenarios and change are yet to come.  John Crowe 3 definitely has a style of scenario, which I generally like.  Now if he might only be convinced to allow his work to be sold as a PDF…
  • Various Kickstarter projects continue to progress.  Chaosium managed to raise in excess of $200,000 for their revamp of Horror on the Orient Express.  Updates for both Cristoforo and Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man suggest those two projects are moving forward satisfactorily as well.  Excelsior!
  • My friends at Miskatonic River Press have started taking pre-orders for Tales of the Sleepless City, their newest scenario collection.  Check it out.
  • I’ve slowly been adding to my Massachusetts graveyard maps.  In addition to Worcester County and Middlesex County which I’d finished previously, I’ve completed Norfolk County and am making progress on Hampden.
  • I’ve been compiling a list of all the CoC scenarios set in New England.  When I have it something closer to done I’ll share it
  • Speaking of, I’ve got some gaming news, all of it forcibly ambiguous… a cult for Delta Green… an old work in translation… a new [redacted]… fun stuff.
  • Finally, yay October!  What candy do I buy for… the kids?

Shadow Alchemy (revised) is done(ish) and other news

Today I submitted my revised draft of “Shadow Alchemy”, my scenario for Forgotten Corners of Lovecraft Country vol. 1.  I revamped the plot the scenario, streamlining things by taking out a layer of characters, which allowed me to shorten it from about 18,000 words to 13,000.  While my target was 10k, I’m still mostly satisfied with how it turned out (save for losing the text of one of the handouts… where the hell is that notebook?!?).  I know there are a few places where I was less than economical with my words, so I’m sure Oscar will find ample targets for his editor’s pen.

In other news, yesterday was the birthday of one of my favorite Call of Cthulhu authors, Kevin Ross.  Kevin authored some of my favorite CoC books – Kingsport and Innsmouth, as well as great scenarios like “Dust to Dust” and the fantastic modern campaign Our Ladies of Sorrow.  Happy Birthday, Kevin!

The Year in Cthulhu (gaming)

Now that 2011 has gone bye bye, I thought I might look back at the past 12 months and assess the state of Lovecraftian gaming. By the numbers we have a grand total of four (4!) in-print books for Call of Cthulhu, two reprints, five monographs, and two pdf only products; for Trail of Cthulhu we have two in-print books and eight pdf releases. I think this speaks to the vitality of Trail as well as Pelgrane’s embrace of PDF releases and the relative sluggishness (to be kind) of the Call of Cthulhu game line.

Let’s break this down company by company

Chaosium:

Chaosium put out but a single new book this year- the Cthulhu Invictus Companion. Clocking in at 64 pages it is rather a slight book (I’ve not read it and can’t really comment on the quality beyond noting it was authored by the same people who wrote Cthulhu Invictus, which bodes well). This release was followed by a reissue of Curse of the Chthonians, osteinsibly as a “second edition” but doing little more than removing references to out-of-date rules (no more Oratory skill checks!) and, apparently, doubling the font size. Even generous reviewers were openly surprised by this move. Unlike the Dreamlands book, also reprinted, the source material is painfully dated, with scnarios that are little more than expanded narratives with statistics.

Cthulhu Invictus Companion

Curse of the Chthonians (reprint)

H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands (reprint)

As to the monographs, I confess I have only read some of them, so I can’t speak to the quality of each one. I did pick up a copy of The Sevenfold Path, entirely based on my enjoyment of author Jeff Moeller’s previous work. I’ve not yet finished it, but I am not disappointed so far. The same can also be said for Horrors of War; I’ve listened to a podcast version of the scenario “Goodnight Vienna” already and I think the book offers some interesting scenarios anchored around WW2. Finally I picked up Dead Leave Fall, a scenario collection and the latest installment in their annual Halloween scenario competition. I’ve only skimmed it, but there are a couple of scenario that look interesting.

The Dreaming Prince (monograph)

The Gods Hate Me (monograph)

Dead Leaves Fall (monograph)

The Sevenfold Path (monograph)

Colonial Terrors (monograph)

Pelgrane Press:

Pelgrane had one of (if not the) best books of the year in their Bookhounds of London, a sourcebook and, to coin a term, a campaign anchor for a game set among the community of occult book dealers in Depression-era London. What a setting! More than just a great idea, the book is a cornucopia of detail about London in the period, accompanied by beautiful maps of the city. I splurged and picked up the limited edition version, which came with a copy of The Occult Guide to London, an in-game resource book and prop AND murder-mystery all in one, as well as some period ephemera (ostensibly related to the murder-mystery) and a satchel dressed up to appear to be a possession of the murder victim. While we’ve yet to crack the case, I unreservedly loved this book.

As for their other published book, Out of Time, I haven’t picked up a copy yet but, I suspect it keeps up the same quality level of Pelgrane’s other releases.

Bookhounds of London

Out of Time

The Big Hoodoo (pdf only)

They also release a raft of individual scenarios (or discrete campaign chunks), dwarfing the competition in quantity if not total page count. I’m rather old-fashioned though, and really hate to get a PDF without a print edition as well, so I’m waiting to get these once they’re in print.

Cthulhu Apocalypse Pt. 1: The Dead White World (pdf only)

Cthulhu Apocalypse Pt. 2: The Apocalypse Machine (pdf only)

Hell Fire (pdf only)

Invasive Prodecures (pdf only)

Many Fires (pdf only)

The Rending Box (pdf only)

The Repairer of Reputations (pdf only)

Miskatonic River Press:

I must first note that I’ve written for MRP and am currently working on a project for MRP, so my comments are colored by knowing (and liking) the crew at MRP. With that caveat, I must confess that, while I generally liked The Legacy of Arrius Lurco (MRP’s sole release for the year), I didn’t love it. I think it comes down to a different sense of game style; Oscar Rios’ campaign is unabashedly ‘Swords and Sandals’ and I’m more a gritty, personal horror sort of guy. Obviously my mild feelings weren’t so widely held, because Lurco got very favorable reviews and, apparently, was enough of a seller that MRP released their first PDF only release hot on its heels. Lux in Tenebra (Light in Darkness) is a sort of spiritual twin of Chaosium’s Cthulhu Invictus Companion, covering different ground for the Invictus setting.

The Legacy of Arrius Lurco

Lux in Tenebras (pdf only)

Cubicle 7:

Cubicle 7, while only releasing one book, released a monster in Shadows Over Scotland, a guidebook to Scotland in the 20s, including six scenarios. A lovely hard-back book, Shadows was a fascinating read, stuffed full of fun ideas and more than enough to fuel a Scotland campaign. The only book to give Bookhounds of London a run for the best book of the year.

Shadows Over Scotland

Goodman Games:

Goodman continues to put out scenario in a pulp vein; I’ve not yet read their release this year, but will give it a look-see at some point.

The Long Reach of Evil

Everybody else:

A couple other folks put out a release this year. I probably won’t take a look at these (I don’t play Cthulhu Live and don’t usually get PDF only books), but kudos to these folks for getting a book done.

Cthulhu Live: the Island (pdf only)

The Red Eye of Azathoth (mostly pdf)

MIA:

Of course, it goes with out saying that there are books promised that are, as I write this at least, unreleased. Here are those books…

Chaosium: Pulp Cthulhu, Blackmoore Global Laboratories, Cthulhu by Gaslight, 3rd Ed., Atomic Age Cthulhu, the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion

Cubicle 7: Folklore

Supergenius Games: Deep in the Heart of Texas

Miskatonic River Press: Tales of the Sleepless City

Sixtystone Press: Lost in the Lights, Ghouls: Eaters of the Dead, the Investigator’s Weapons Compendium: Classic Era

I mention these not to mock, but to suggest what, hopefully, is coming soon. 2011 was a pretty slow year for Cthulhu book. While the quality of the releases- save Chaosium’s weak tea- was high, I’d really like to see more releases of a wide variety. I’m glad the licensees are at least keeping up the standards of the game.

Here’s hoping for 2012?

Forgotten Corners of Lovecraft Country Vol 1

Zounds, two posts in a month?!

Indeed, for I am now able to announce one of my works in progress – Forgotten Corners of Lovecraft Country Volume 1; Aylesbury and Dean’s Corner, from Miskatonic River Press. The esteemed Dan Harms (The Encyclopedia of the Cthulhu Mythos) and prolific Oscar Rios (The Legacy of Arrius Lurco) have each tackled the eponymous two locales, giving them the same sort of detailed treatment of the original Lovecraft Country books edited by the late Keith Herber. Most of my work was done for Dan, doing some local research (trolleybusses!) and giving feedback but I have written the regional notes for the book and, fingers crossed, will have one of the scenarios. Having read the manuscript, I’m happy to say the book follows on in the grand tradition of the original Lovecraft Country series, presenting a compelling new location for Cthulhu gaming, loaded compelling scenario hooks, intriguing NPCs, and of course Lovecraftian horror.

See the Miskatonic River Press site for the official announcement.