Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lovecraftian Newspaper Articles

The GNDN blog posted this post containing various newspaper articles from US newspapers from the era 1924-29. These are sold as filler articles, but to be honest, if you put one of these beside another article, the Investigators are likely to assume they are plot hooks, not filler. Though in that case, they make great red herrings.


Friday, November 18, 2016

The Voynich Manuscript.

This real life tome of forbidden knowledge is one that has been capturing the imaginations of occultists, historians, and of course gamers for centuries. If you have never heard of it, then, first off, why are you here? and secondly, go look it up (you can listen to podcasts on it here and here, or just read the Wikipedia page) then come back! Ok, so now you are up to speed on this very cool but unique document, great, you can go online, loft some images and away you go, instant tome of awesomeness. But wait!

Now, you can have your very own paper copy of this document. It is available for sale on or at Yale University. At $50, it's not at all an unreasonable price for a hardback book. If only I had more space on my bookshelves.

There are many options as to how this can be used. As a reference for the occult. Handouts can be easily made from it's pages, either as red herrings, or as clues for Investigators to follow.

The real life history of the book is in some ways as interesting as whatever the book is intended to portray. It can be used itself as an adventure seed for Investigators in the Classic era. In 1921, Voynich had valued the book at $100,000 (a fair sum for the time) and had boasted in the New York Times that he would translate it, claiming:
“When the time comes, I will prove to the world that the black magic of the Middle Ages consisted in discoveries far in advance of 20th-century science,”

He never did of course, and he dies in 1930 with the book still in his possession. However, such widespread publicity (clearly good advertising for a bookseller if nothing else) would of course in a world where the Elder ones are real have other darker consequences, as cultists reading the New York times would prick up their ears at such an article. This could lead to an alternative timeline where the Investigators are looking into the theft of the book from Voynich, (or the future owner of playing after 1930). The Investigators may also need access to the book, and if Voynich refuses, they have to then find a new mode of access, we all know how resourceful players can be! 

Of course, there is another option as to what the book actually is...

Voynich Manuscript

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hudson and Brand, Inquiry Agnets of the Obscure

What a wonderful title to a games supplement.

I've just backed the Hudson and Brand Kickstater. It looks like it's going to be a very well put together supplement
Hudson & Brand: Inquiry Agents of the Obscureis the first in our ‘Safe House’ series where players of the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game (published by Chaosium, Inc), have a home-base for their characters to work out of. At hand, they will have resources, a gun range, a collection of monographs on various subjects, a small library, three members of staff, and property consisting of offices and lodgings in the very heart of London.
One of the new options in 7th edition Call of Cthulhu that I have yet to use, but I see great promise in is the Organisations from the Player's handbook. Groups of researchers with a common goal, that provides an infrastructure for the Investigators to fall back on, and a means of easily introducing new Investigators without too much trouble. This has not been an issue for me as my current game is the Organised Play campaign, "A Time to Harvest" which allows new Investigators to be easily added, since they are all students at the Miskatonic University. That said, I do like the reasoning behind these Organisations, and see them being useful in games where the Keeper wishes to string together a bunch of adventures that are not necessarily written as one continuous campaign.

As mentioned in the quote above, Stygian Fox seem to have a few supplements based on these Organisations lined up, for various eras, and I do think they look very cool.

There are a few hours left so go check it out.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Once in a Black Moon

We all know what a Blue Moon is, right? A second full moon in a month. A rare, but not unknown event. But a Black Moon?
A Black Moon is the opposite of a Blue Moon if you will. A second New Moon in a month.
Why am I telling you this? Well for those of us in the western hemisphere, we can see one this week, on the 30th of September. They are not that rare, coming along every 32 months or so, but as the New Moon is not visible, then a second one in a month is almost literaly an event that cannot be seen. The name, however is so evokative that it is just screaming to be used in a scenario.

Here are some seeds that come to mind.
  • The Black Moon, being an astrological/astronomical event, is a time where certain rituals or spells have a greater effect.
  • The Black Moon, being a type of New Moon, means the sky is darker, allowing for a better view of the stars. what stars are visible now that are not always so? What does this mean for rituals, or alien visitors?
  • The Black Moon is not visible, but under a black moon, certain beings that are not normally visible can be seen.
  • If not creatures, then writing, like that in the Hobbit of the writing that only appears Under certain phases of the Moon, so coudl writing, or symbols only appear at this time.
  • This particular Black Moon follows on from an even rares recent event, the first new moon of this month was a ring of fire solar eclipse, as the new moon also passed directly between the Earth and the Sun. What keeper Worth their salt could ignore such an alignment of astronomical events?
  • The end of the world. There's always someone who thinks it'll be the end of the world.
  • Those in the Eastern Hemisphere however, they're the Lucky ones, they get a Black Moon next month. That's right, the Black Moon over there coincides with Hallowe'en. Now, there's a scenario that just writes itself!
So all these ideas, where the upcoming event is fixed in time, and not to be repeated often give great deadlines, or indeed starting times for plots.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Interview with Mark Morrison on Yoggie

An interview with Horror on the Orient Express (amongst other things) author Mark Morrison is up on YSDC, to mark the 25th anniversary of the release of the campaign.

Also included, some spoilers on an upcoming project, with HotOE links!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Photo of the day

Frontenac Beer
A photograph of a group of men and women drinking Frontenac Beer . This was taken by Rice Studio in Montreal. Brassiere Frontenac was located in the Mile End of Montreal from 1913 until 1926. This image was possibly used in an advertising campaign. James Bedford (Jimmy) Rice of Rice Studio was reknown for his work photographing the hockey players of the Montreal Canadiens, the Wanderers and the Maroons.

Likely this was taken as part of an advertising campaign to show the men and women of The U.S. that coming north of the border to drink Frontenac Beer was one civilised way to get around prohibition.

This makes a great 'before' photograph for a group of adventurers. Especially the guy in the turban!

Sunday, June 5, 2016


In a moment of brash spending, I spent a whole $1.25 in the dollar store on a set of little glass bottles. Why? Well, after the failure of the Masks Props Kickstarter, I was looking to make little Fog-Spawn Larvae or something like it as a prop for a game. I have recently got back into running games through the Cult of Chaos, but I'm a long way from running Masks again. Still, the idea stuck, and the bottles themselves look like they wouldn't take much to make them look realistic for the era.

I've looked up a couple of tutorials for aging the bottles, and they seem really easy. The hard part would be making the larvae, but I have some ideas based another tutorial I found on making maggots from liquid latex. This will be my first foray into propmaking beyond paper handouts, and I'm quite looking forward to it.

It seems that no-one has actually made this as a prop yet, as they're such a small part of the campaign, and only briefly mentioned as a bit of a sidebar.

The description of the 'Thing in the Fog', the beast that the Investigators may come up against in the London chapter of masks is:
The Thing is insubstantial, it can be seen momentarily in bright light - a sparkling gray cloud with thin, whip-like tentacles reaching out up to 35 feet.
The stats declare it to be an Other-Dimensional life form, and explain the creature as having six tentacles of mist.

The only reference to the Larvae are as ingredients in the spell required to call forward the Thing in the mist 'Quicken Fog-Spawn'. The spell is mentioned as being written in Hebrew on the Frisian Scroll. In Gavigan's Workroom, if the Investigators ever get there (or if they do, if they ever get out alive), then they can find:
On a shelf are two one-inch-long metal vials, Each bears an elder sign. Within each is a single, tiny, brittle larva - Potential Things in the Fog.
Google translate gives me Quicken Fog Spawn as לגדול שרצים ערפל in Hebrew, to match the scroll mentioned (that's actually grow fog spawn, but it wouldn't translate quicken as such, and really, how many players are likely to know Hebrew?)

Of course, I was a little miffed when I read this, as I had already bough the little glass vials, rather than metal ones. But I think glass makes for a better prop, as it allows the players to see the contents, without touching them and seeing they're made of latex or plasticine.

I sketched out what I thought the larvae might look like, based heavily on a drawing here (no, I have no idea what that original artwork is for).

As a first sketch, I'm rather pleased with it, and would be fine giving that out as a handout to players. The issue may come when I make a 3D version, and try to stick it in a bottle. The mere dimensions of the bottles I picked may mean this version is too complex to be made as small as it needs to be, so I'll have to give it a second draft. Also the tentacles seem rather thin and may break easily depending on how they're made.

As a final foggy note, when looking for inspiration for this prop, I found this Fog Creature on Yog-Blogsoth, which is a great place to go looking for inspiration, as the art there is tremendous. While this Fog Creature is not the same as the Thing in the Fog, It does have the distinction of being taken from Lovecraft's Commonplace Book.