ENnie voting, Interviews, and Gravestone Carvers galore

First off – I’ve put out a new call for submissions to the Arkham Gazette for our fourth (!) issue.  Please give it a read and consider submitting something.  The Gazette lives by the aid of many hands. 🙂

If you’ve somehow not heard, ENnie nominations have been announced, including a whole host of Lovecraftian-related projects have honored:

Vote now!

Speaking of of the MUP, I had a great chat with Keepers Jon and Murph of the Miskatonic University Podcast about the soon-to-be-released next issue of the Arkham Gazette, long-forgotten witch trails of New Hampshire, and Colours Out of Space.  I’m always glad to talk to the MUP crew and it was a special treat to talk a bit about one of my favorite of Lovecraft’s creations.

What else is new in podcast land?

In other news have Pelgrane Press revealed the subject of their recent countdown – Cthulhu Apocalypse, The Doomsday Edition, which collects the previously released Apocalypse Machine, the Dead White World,  and Slaves of the Mother and adds on eight new short scenarios.

Cubicle 7’s World War Cthulhu: Cold War Kickstarter continues to recruit assets, crossing over $40k.

FeltonI have been doing research on New England’s Colonial gravestone carvers, and drawing upon that research, I’ve put together an annotated list of all those carvers known, including the related sources about each carver.  If that pique’s your interest, give it a look.  It is still very much a work in progress – I need to regularize all the citations and start adding more links

Let’s conclude with a projects update:

  • The Arkham Gazette #3 – issue save scenario is done and laid out (I guess I need to write an intro though); out scenario author Chris Huth is revising “The Queen of Night”.  When that it ready, be assured I’ll trumpet the news here.
  • My Jackson Elias scenario for the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion backers is still in progress.
  • My unnamed scenario for an unannounced project is in the earliest draft stages – outline only currently, waiting for me to finish the two projects above.
  • Our first stretch-goal scenario for the Arkham Gazette Kickstarter backers is done and waiting layout.  The other scenario is being worked on and the bonus article is still being written.  The former will be released in the near future.
  • I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but those projects are what has been on my mind of late.

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!

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?

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.

An Untrue Detective?

As GenCon grows closer – and it looks like I won’t be able to attend sadly due to circumstances beyond my control – various folks have begun to outline their plans for the Doritos consumption event to come.  Arc Dream (and Delta Green)ChaosiumDennis DetwillerPelgrane PressYou Too Can Cthulhu.  Perhaps most importantly, Christopher Smith Adair provides his insight into the Vegan dining options available to GenCon attendees, a topic I suspect doesn’t get much coverage unfortunately.

The biggest news in the various circles of Lovecraftiana are the serious accusations that the writer of True Detective, Nic Pizzolatto, plagiarized portions of the script from other authors, Thomas Ligotti in particular. While this particular story is a bit outside TiP’s usual remit, aside from the biggest bit of Lovecraft-adjacent news (i.e. True Detective), the issues it raises about issues of copyright and fair use that I think are important. It also reminds me of how… mature and rational… (what are some good antonyms there?) internet discussions can be. Caps Lock is not a replacement for facts people.

To wrap things up some bullet points:

  • The retro-reviews of Call of Cthulhu scenarios continue with The Stars are Right.
  • The Dan Harms media empire has moved on to radio.
  • The Kickstarter for Pagan Publishing’s A Covenant with Death is about 2/3rds of their way to its target.
  • Finally, Cubicle 7 have released a PDF preview of The London Boxed set.  Drool.

Move along now, nothing to see here.

“That old lie…”†

(to die pointlessly in a pile of French or Belgian mud, Turkish sand, Iraqi muck, or what have you)

Prolific (and skilled) Trail of Cthulhu author Adam Gauntlett has had a trio of his World War One scenarios bundled up and released in printDulce et Decorum Est collects “Vaterland”, “Dead Horse Corner” and “Sisters of Sorrow” (only the last previously released as a PDF). As with all of his work, I highly recommend it. To date in 2014 Adam has had a hand in creating 3 of the 8 releases I’ve listed on my “New Releases” page. Well done!

Oddly I’ve had the outline of a scenario called “Pro Patria Mori” floating around for over a decade now, though set after the war, since my remit has mostly been the 1920s. Perhaps I should dust that off…

† If you’re unfamiliar with where the collection’s title (or my post’s title) originate, A) call your former schools and complain and B) look here.

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.

2012: The year in Lovecraftian RPGs

It’s that time again… time for my year-in-review recap of 2012’s Lovecraftian RPG releases.  I suppose the first thing I should mention is that caring for the homunculus is rather time intensive and my free time for reading has greatly diminished. I find that books sit on my nightstand longer and longer and my desire to sacrifice sleep to finish another scenario shrinking. C’est la vie. Without further ado (and with apologies for the delay), let’s get started — Continue reading

ENnie winners, Kickstarter, again

A couple of items I wanted to note-

First off, I guess I have pretty good taste, as both Liber Fumo (aka the Occult Guide to London) and Shadows Over Scotland won gold at the annual ENnie awards presented at GenCon.  It was a good showing for Lovecraftian gaming overall, with this excellent pair joined by Kevin Ross’ outstanding revamp of Cthulhu by Gaslight and several PDF only products from Pelgrane.  Congratulations to all.

I also should mention there is yet another Kickstarter… really an avalanche, no?  This time it’s Chaosium, raising money to do an expanded box version of Horror on the Orient Express.  Of course, within about a day they have already raised in excess of their goal of $20,000, suggesting there is a wee bit of pent-up demanded.

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?