dce

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dce last won the day on November 26 2016

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About dce

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  • RPG Biography
    I write, design & occasionally publish material for Call of Cthulhu, a game that I've been associated with since 1983.
  • Current games
    Call of Cthulhu
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    I live in Adelaide, South Australia.
  1. Chances are that if you have ever run Call of Cthulhu games set in the modern-day era, you will have bought a copy of Chaosium's excellent scenario anthology "The Stars Are Right!" First published in 1992, then again in a second edition in 2004, the book is Chaosium's only collection of contemporary scenarios published to date. It's writing team boasts some of the best names from 1990s era Call of Cthulhu (including Richard Watts, Kevin Ross, John Scott Tynes, and Gary Sumpter -- just to name a few). While the scenarios in "The Stars Are Right!" are generally well-written and tackle a bunch of modern-day horror themes, there's no denying that the fact that most of the scenarios are now 25 years old does lead to a few anachronisms. Most of these relate to the ways that technology -- in particular information and communication technology -- has changed over the past few decades. Fortunately, game scenarios being somewhat fluid things, the majority of the anachronisms can be easily fixed with a combination of small plot tweaks and conversions of old information sources from older to newer formats (e.g., printed newspaper clipping to online news article). To make this process of "modernising" the scenarios from "The Stars Are Right!" easier, Cthulhu Reborn have created a free PDF "upgrade pack" (which also updates the scenario's stats up to 7th Edition). This is available right now for download direct from our site. The upgrade pack contains Keeper resources which fall into three categories: New versions of each of the scenario handouts, converted to more "modern" forms and rendered in full prop-quality detail. For some scenarios we've also created new handouts (things that are alluded to in the scenario, but never explicitly provided as handouts) Some brief notes on ideas for tweaking plot elements in the scenarios to make them feel more "contemporary" -- mostly these are slight, but one of the scenarios (Steve Hatherley's intriguing "Fractal Gods") has some deeply embedded anachronistic elements that warrant some more significant rewriting [sorry Steve] Updated statistic blocks and skill roll descriptions, which bring the scenarios up to 7th Edition compatibility The montage below shows just a few of the 48 handouts that are included in the pack: We hope that fans of modern-day Call of Cthulhu will consider using these revised handouts and resources to revitalise the scenarios in "The Stars Are Right!" and terrorise their players anew. And if you *don't* currently own a copy of "The Stars Are Right!" the good news is that Chaosium still has print copies (and PDFs) of the 2nd Edition for sale on their website. [Legal Note: The Stars Are Right! Upgrade Pack is released under a Creative Commons license, and complies with the terms of Chaosium's policies on "fan material" which must always remain free of charge. The pack is not a standalone product, and will not be helpful unless you already own one of the two editions of the Chaosium book. Call of Cthulhu is a trademark of Chaosium Inc.] Thanks, Dean (from Adelaide)
  2. Those who have been following the (rapidly-expanding) Convicts & Cthulhu product line that Cthulhu Reborn has been publishing, might be interested to hear that we've just released the sixth supplement in the "Ticket of Leave" series. Ticket of Leave #6: Night of the Convict Dead is available right now over on RPGNow. This supplement differs slightly in format from some of the previous "Ticket of Leave" titles in that it devotes most of its 15 pages to a somewhat-ready-to-run scenario (the eponymous "Night of the Convict Dead"). This is supported by some historical source material which can be extrapolated by Keepers for other purposes. It also featurs some awesome new artwork from Reuben Dodd (see above). The subject matter of this supplement is simple: it's about death in the early penal colonies of Australia. Because of a combination of rampant disease, poor hygiene, horrific and barbaric punishments, and the occasional hanging, Death is a pretty frequent visitor to the colonies. This creates some practical problems, mostly relating to the sanitary disposal of so many corpses. Remarkably, the early colonies seem to have approached this in an entirely haphazard way -- while there were allocated burying grounds, the arrangement of graves within those spaces was pretty random, and no official records were kept of who was buried where. Because gravedigging was a job given to convicts -- who hardly had an incentive to do a good job -- many graves were dug much shallower than is ideal. This created noxious odours whenever the weather got hot, and attracted pigs and goats from neighbouring farmlands, who sometimes dug at graves. All of this adds up to a setting where there is an ample supply of corpses, and not too much care taken in keeping track of them ... and in the worlds of the Cthulhu Mythos, that can only spell trouble. After all, how much easier would the "researches" of young Herbert West have been if he had a ready and limitless supply of source materials sitting right at his doorstep? The scenario component of this "Ticket of Leave" explores a detailed investigation where an unlucky bunch of investigators are given the task of getting to the bottom of a sudden rash of dead bodies discovered in several places around the colony. In each case, two corpses were discovered in close proximity -- one a recent victim of violence, but the other ... well those all look to have been dead for a considerable time. Do your plucky investigators dare to plumb the depths of this macabre mystery -- and, more importantly, can they act fast enough to stop -- The Night of the Convict Dead?! As a side-note, this release also marks a special occasion for "Convicts & Cthulhu" -- it's one year ago today that the core C&C book was first released. As we described over on this blog post, since that time that book and its supplements have sold around 3,600 PDFs and softcover books -- which is an amazing achievement for a tiny publisher like Cthulhu Reborn. We are heartily indebted to the many, many people who've grabbed our book, whether as free downloads or accompanied by an ever-helpful donation. We hope that Convicts & Cthulhu has brought some quirky fun to your gaming table! Ticket of Leave #6: Night of the Convict Dead is downloadable right now via RPGNow -- as with other larger titles we have made this a "Pay-What-You-Want" title. Of course we are more than happy if folks (particular readers of this forum) want to grab it free of charge -- but equally, if you'd like to chip in a small donation to help keeping the C&C line going, everything that you're able to contribute is very, very much appreciated. We hope you enjoy the "Night of the Convict Dead" ... and trust that you will put on a suitably creepy-sounding voice when you declare "They're Coming To Get You, Convicts!" Dean (from Adelaide)
  3. While it's true that there is a post-apocalytic "End Time" kind of setting described in Cthulhu Through the Ages, it feels more like a new attempt at creating such a beast than a continuation of the material created by Michael LaBossiere for the monograph. Actually the new stuff kinda makes me think of a roleplaying tie-in to Sandy Petersen's "Cthulhu Wars" boardgame, which might be closer to what Chaosium has in mind ... To answer the OP's question, though -- I think it's safe to assume that there's no current development of the La Bossiere "End Time" setting (which was really only published in book form at all because Pagan dropped the project sometime in the late 1990s IIRC). It would be cool to have more post-Mythos-apocalypse game material out there ... but the only stuff that's even come close in recent years are the Cthulhu Apocalpyse scenario/setting books Pelgrane published for Trail of Cthulhu. And they take a different tack again. Dean (from Adelaide)
  4. Those who have been following Cthulhu Reborn's ongoing series of mini-supplements to the Convicts & Cthulhu setting, may be interested to learn that we've just released the fifth installment in the "Ticket of Leave" series -- ToL#5: The Damned & The Degenerate. This PDF completely overhauls and massively expands the character generation guideliness from the original C&C book. ToL#5 is avalable right now via RPGNow as a Pay-What-You-Want PDF. This supplement weighs in at 24 pages (and as such really doesn't qualify as a "mini-supplement" anymore). Unlike previous "Ticket of Leave" titles which have focussed on expanding the setting by introducing narrative elements like scenario seeds, this supplement revisits the character options/templates for the colonial Australian convict setting and adds almost 30 new occupation types. Ever wanted to play an indigenous "bush constable" who works with prison guards to track down escaped convicts? What about a convict who was a professional gambler before being caught? Or one of the colony's fearless explorers charged with the task of filling the huge blanks on the maps? Alternatively, maybe you'd care to play a French spy who has been paid to infiltrate the colony to find out the strength of the British military presence in Australia? All of these character types -- and lots, lots more -- are now at your fingertips. To complement the character creation templates, we've also peppered the PDF with examples of real-world ordinary characters who held those professions: these fully-statted write-ups are based on real historical figures (since the real lives of people in the colonies is far more rich and colourful than any fiction we could dream up). Also included are some notes on unusual character options -- like early bushrangers (escapees that decided to try to survive off the alien land), or free wives that accompanied their convict husbands[*] ... All up, this PDF replaces the few scant pages devoted to character creation in the main Convicts & Cthulhu with a comprehensive set of interesting and colourful options for player investigators or Keeper NPCs. You can grab it right now from RPGNow -- because this is much longer than we really intended for the "smaller" Ticket of Leave releases we've made this another "Pay-What-You-Want" title. However, in the interests of keeping the whole C&C line as accessible as possible, we are more than happy if folks (particularly BRP-Central-ers) want to grab it for free -- consider anything you contribute to be a small (and very welcome) donation to help Cthulhu Reborn keep these coming ... We hope you enjoy filling your Convicts & Cthulhu games with all manner of ... the damned and the degenerate Dean [*] This is a weird historical detail that I never knew about -- some convict men transported to Australia were accompanied by their (non-convicted) wives, who effectively came out as free settlers. Because convicts were often assigned to settlers as a kind of free labour force this led to a number of unusual cases of men being assigned to their own wives as workers.
  5. It is highly unlikely that anybody could trademark the term "Miskatonic University" in its totality. For starters that's not how Trademarks work. It might be the case that someone has made a "Miskatonic University" branded thing -- say a brand of beer. If they successfully managed to trademark their logo/name then all that would mean is nobody else can make a beer or similar beverage with that branding. You could still make any other kind of thing with the same name -- unless that was obviously referencing the original logo in some way (like making clothing using the exact logo of the beer, using the exact fonts etc). As a reference, check out the long legal battle that eventually decided that Apple computers had no rights to force Apple Studios (of Beatles fame) to give up their name. So -- the only time this could ever cause a problem for Chaosium is if somehow someone had trademarked a line of books with the name, and given the fact that the original stories that mention MU are all now in the public domain (in the US at least) that would be pretty hard to do. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer ... but I have talked with lots of lawyers about Intellectual Property stuff over the years, and this is how I understand things to work. Dean (from Adelaide)
  6. That's a great pick -- and it was only reprinted a year or two back by Golden Goblin Press (in "Tales of the Crescent City"). Kevin also wrote a new scenario for that book which is a direct sequel to "Tell Me Have You Seen The Yellow Sign?" Other suggestions -- "Tatterdemalion" by Richard Watts & Penelope Love (in the book "Fatal Experiments") ... and for modern-day conspiracy creepiness, the obligatory "Night Floors" by Dennis Detwiller (in "Delta Green: Countdown"). Honestly, though, there are quite a lot of creepy and not-at-all-cheesy scenarios out there which showcase The King in Yellow -- it's a shame that those encountered by the OP weren't like that Dean (from Adelaide)
  7. Those are all sensible and valid points, and as you say it really all comes down a question of personal preference. I would mention, however, that my own experience has been that the tone of any CoC game depends a lot *less* on rules than it does on the particular player group and the specifics of the pre-written scenario (if using a published scenario). This seems to be the true for CoC even moreso than any other RPG I've played. So -- for both 6e and 7e rules I have seen a huge variance in the "tone" of the game, based on the direction that the Keeper and players want to take the game and how "pulpy" or "gritty" the scenario. Given that, my own personal alarm bells would have gone off if the "7th edition" scenarios that have been published subsequent to the new rules were written in a way which seems to promote a different style of game. And really that has NOT happened as far as I can see (with the exception of the Pulp Cthulhu rules and campaign, which are intentionally different). BTW: while I can see the potential for "pushed" rolls to be abused, my own experience of seeing folks play 7e is that more often than not players turn down the offer of a pushed roll, out of fear of a truly awful outcome if they fail the second time. Usually people seem to only want to take the chance if it is a truly critical game-changing roll. Of course that assumes that the Keeper has made it clear that he or she is willing to devise appropriately terrible outcomes of failed pushes -- but most CoC Keepers I've seen running 7e seem to have enough "evil streak" in their kit-bag to impress the gravity of the situation upon their players. Also: with respect to the chase "mini-game" ... I am with you, I have no time for it either. But, like most of the parts of the CoC rules (in any edition) it's just a tool that a Keeper *can* use if he or she wants to. Personally I'd never use it, but I don't think having it there detracts from the game (if other people like it). Dean (from Adelaide)
  8. I'd agree with nclarke -- it's probably easiest to think of 7e as still being "almost BRP-based" with the changes being more cosmetic than radical. The most obvious deviation from the established BRP stream is that the main investigator attributes (STR, POW, INT, etc) are now on a 1-100 scale, avoiding the need for rolls against POW x 5 and the like. But as long as you are able to do a bit of mental arithmetic (dividing by 5 or multiplying by 5) this isn't really a major departure and certainly doesn't change the "feel" of the game in any way. As nclarke also said, the 7e rules do change the flow of combat and damage, though, aiming to optimize out some things that lots of people find "less fun" -- like endless rounds of both sides missing, or characters dying from an accumulation of very small damage attacks. A second area of departure from pure BRP is the idea of "pushed rolls" which effectively give players the choice of re-rolling some rolls if they are willing to risk the outcome of the second failed roll being something truly awful. Another more substantial addition is the optional rule for treating Luck as a "resource pool" which a player can burn points from in return for improving the value of a die roll. All up, these more substantial deviations from BRP seem to have been accepted by most long-term CoC players as being an incremental evolution which enhances the "net fun" of the game ... but there are still some that prefer the older, sometimes more arbitrary, rules because they present players with a more bleak set of options. It's a personal preference really ... and like nclarke said, Chaosium have made a Quickstart version of the 7e rules available for free as a PDF, so you can always give it a spin and see if its for you. Regarding the long-term future of 6th Edition ... I'm sure that some people will continue playing it, and there are 30 years of published scenarios that work "out-of-the-box" with those rules. And if you really want to stick with those rules and are willing to do some mental arithmetic, you can easily port newer material over to 6e rules without too much fuss. You should be aware, though, that nobody will be publishing NEW material for 6th Edition -- Chaosium have made it a condition on licensees that they only produce books for the latest edition of the rules (and right now, that means 7e). Dean (from Adelaide)
  9. Cthulhu Reborn is delighted to announce the release of the fourth in the Tickets of Leave supplements for Convicts & Cthulhu. This PDF -- our largest yet, weighing in at 14 pages -- is titled "The Vanishing Ensign". It's written primarily by Geoff Gillan (with minimal tinkering from yours truly). Ticket of Leave #4 collects together two different types of game resources -- an overarching campaign frame, and a much more detailed sketch for a specific scenario. Both of them revolve around a real-world historical incident: the Grand Muster of 1807, an attempt to undertake a huge survey of the full extent of the (badly provisioned) military forces in the colony of New South Wales. Everybody who lived in the colony was well aware of the short-comings of the force of troops that had been sent out by the Colonial Office to keep the peace, and even more aware of the poor quality of military equipment at their disposal. This "census" was supposed to prove to those back in London that this far-off colony really *was* on the brink of rebellion, anarchy, or invasion by the French. Of course in the world of Call of Cthulhu, there are much more terrifying things that might consume the poorly-defended fledgling colony before any of those ... In addition to providing resources to allow a Keeper to use the circumstances of Bligh's muster as the basis for an ongoing series of scenarios, Ticket of Leave #4 also presents a detailed sketch for one specific scenario, an investigation into odd anomaly -- a soldier who turns up on every record book, but cannot ever be found. Rather than presenting just one Mythos explanation for these dark events, three different Mythos "solutions" are offered, allowing the Keeper to pick something that ties in best with his or her ongoing game. Ticket of Leave #4: The Vanishing Ensign is available right now at RPG Now. Because this supplement is considerably larger than those we've previously released, we've chosen to make this a "Pay What You Want" title rather than simply a free download. You are, of course, more than welcome to grab it free of charge (with our blesing) -- but if you do want to chip a dollar or two our way to help us keep making these titles, your donation would be very welcome! We hope your players enjoy scouring the grubby streets and bushland of early New South Wales, in search of that damn Vanishing Ensign. Dean (from Adelaide)
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  11. Folks who are running Convicts & Cthulhu games (or contemplating doing so) might be interested to hear that today Cthulhu Reborn released the third free PDF mini-supplement with cool resources for Lovecraftian gaming in the penal colonies of early Australia. You can download Ticket Of Leave #3 -- Criminal Enterprise right now from RPGNow. This 8 page free PDF expands upon the C&C setting by providing details of the seedy criminal underworld that existed in the townships of early New South Wales, and giving players the opportunity to see life through the eyes of gang members. The majority of the Europeans living in the penal colony of New South Wales are there because of their guilty association with the world of crime. This is just as true for the gaolers as it is for the convicts they guard. Not surprisingly, incarceration in a large and remote prison has done little to turn felons from their criminal ways (despite brutal attempts to enforce "law and order"). The larger cities are rife with shadowy criminal groups -- some merely thieving to survive, others plotting sketchy political and business dealings. But in a place where the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos are never far away, there is always the chance that "a simple plan" might lead criminals into something far, far more dangerous. Ticket of Leave #3 - Criminal Enterprise provides Keepers with resources to portray the seedy criminal underworld, and allow players to take on the roles of gang members. The PDF includes backgrounds and CoC 7th Edition stats for a ready-to-use gang of nefarious folks; it also includes a detailed scenario sketch which focusses on a double-crossing smuggling mission that leads the criminal investigators into the clutches of some rather unsavoury Mythos forces. We hope that folks who are running Convicts & Cthulhu games will find this a useful (freebie) addition to the setting. Dean (from Adelaide)
  12. Some of the smaller companies that publish Call of Cthulhu have made a scenario book's set of handouts available in either a separate free PDF (Stygian Fox and Golden Goblin have done this) or as paid PDFs which were somehow "enhanced" beyond the basic handouts (Sixtystone has done this). Chaosium haven't yet done much like this. In this day and age, I can't help but wonder whether it would be better for *all* publishers to skip including collated copies of all the handouts at the end of the book (which just takes up space) and instead provide a free PDF of all handouts online. I don't think anyone these days seriously wants to photocopy handouts from a book -- or even tear them out of a special "handout book" (like the one included in 2nd Ed "Horror on the Orient Express"). People would rather print them. Also, releasing the handouts for free would be a great way for Keepers getting their hands on colour versions of handouts even if they were only published in B&W in the actual book ... That's just my $0.02 on the subject Dean
  13. Spicy, The game you have planned for your players sounds like it would be really fun. Regarding the two different games with similar titles -- I will admit that it's pretty confusing, but here goes ... Sixtystone Press released a book called "Cathulhu" which is a translation of something that was originally written in German. That material was all based off Call of Cthulhu (6th Edition) and so has stats relating to Chaosium's system. At about the same time, a fellow called Joel Sparks ran a Kickstarter to re-release a tiny independent RPG that he had published a year or so previously, which had a similar premise but uses its own rule system. Unfortunately that game had a very similar title -- it's "Call of Catthulhu" (note the two "T"s in Catthulhu compared to one "T" in the Sixtystone name). The Kickstarter for "Call of Catthulhu" went pretty well and not only did the book get re-released in greatly expanded form but a setting book got commissioned as a stretch goal. So ... when this *non*-Chaosium system book hit the streets it was as three volumes -- Vol 1: The Nekonomicon (player's book), Vol 2: Unaussprechlichen Katzen (cat herder's guide), and Vol 3: Worlds of Catthulhu (setting book). It sounds like you own the second of these ... and no, it has no relationship to the rules system in the Sixtystone book. I hope this helps you wade through the confusion Dean (from Adelaide)
  14. I'm not what you're basing that off ... Over the years the Dreamlands book has been published in five editions; the most recent one was released in 2004 -- although it doesn't state it anywhere in the book itself, it is written to be compatible with the 5.6th Edition Call of Cthulhu rules (the current one at the time it was released). Converting the full-book material from CoC 5.6th Edition to CoC 7th Edition would theoretically not be too hard from a mechanical point of view -- the hardest part would be translating the mechanics for each of the spells in the Dreamlands grimoire. One thing that would help a little in running Dreamlands with 7th Edition is the few pages of 7e Dreamlands mechanics included in Chaosium's slim setting book "Cthulhu Through The Ages" which also includes a 7e Dreamlands character sheet (for humans, not cats :)) BTW: I believe there have been rumours lurking around on other forums (possibly based on things mentioned in convention panels) suggesting that Chaosium are planning to revisit the Dreamlands again in a new edition specifically targetting 7th Edition ... Dean (from Adelaide)
  15. The short answer is that the Cathulhu book (the BRP-based one from Sixtystone Press, not the similarly titled RPG by Joel Sparks) does contain a small rules section which is based off Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition. So, for example it still refers to stats like INT, POW, DEX, etc as though they are on a 3-18 scale rather than the 1-100 scale used in CoC 7th Ed. But, realistically, "converting it" to be usable with 7e would not be very hard -- mostly just remembering to multiply stat modifiers by 5. As an example of the sort of thing you'd need to do: one of the "tricks" you can purchase for your cat during character generation is "Fence Runner" which adds +2 to your DEX; for use with the 7e rules that would need to be +10 to DEX. Pretty much everything would fall into that kind of category .. So: yes, it would need some kind of effort to use the material with 7th Edition, but not much. Dean (from Adelaide)