Thursday, December 15, 2016

How to Survive a Call of Cthulu Adventure

This WikiHow is lots of fun, but more importantly, can save your Investigator's life.


Read it.


Memorise it.


Use it.


And remember kids, if the Keeper just allowed you to tool up with automatic weapons and explosives, it's because she knows it's going to make no difference at all.

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.




via.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Voynich Manuscript.

http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/media/images/68289000/jpg/_68289512_new_3voynich_manuscript_(178).jpg

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 amazon.ca 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

Fog-Spawn

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.



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Montreal Timeline

There's a great timeline of the city of Montreal, prepared by the MtlBlog. Covering the last 500 years history of the city. Very useful to get an idea of what else is going on whilst running a game here in this city, complete with Wikipedia links on many of the entries. All in time for the city's 375th anniversary.


I for one will be going back to this resource, maybe I'll even steal it and add to it with more mythos/gameable events.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Harbinger, First Person Short Film

Another short film, this time as mentioned on the Miskatonic University Podcast ( MUP).





The Ordeal of Randolph Carter

Short film/skit, the Ordeal of Randolph Carter, by many of the people involved in the HP Podcraft. I'm pretty sure the inspiration for this came when Chris and Chad were discussing The Statement of Randolph Carter.


Based on 'The Statement of Randolph Carter' by H.P. Lovecraft. Written, directed and produced by Chris Lackey and Greig Johnson. Starring Greig Johnson and Chris Lackey, with a special appearance by Andrew Leman of The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. Music by Reber Clark and title design by Kristyna Baczynski.

Boston, the Birthplace of Poe


I didn't know that Edgar Allen Poe was a Bostonian, although, after a little research, it isn't all that surprising that the information is not wiespread, as he refered to the city as “Frogpondium,” 'a disparaging reference to a frog pond on its common and what he believed to be a parochial view of the world on the part of its literary set. (source)'.

However, as I am just returned from the city, I thought I would share my snaps of the building and the plaque where he is said to have been born, now a burrito restaurant.



The plaque is situated on a building at 176 Boylston Street, on the corner of Edgar Allen Poe way, the small alleyway running to the left of the building in this photograph. The plaque was installed by the Boston's Authors Club in 1925, to mark the supposed approximate location of the house in which the author was born.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Vatican Library Online

Through this article, I found out that the Vatican Library is uploading many of their manuscripts and books, and are putting them online for us all to see!

Of course, this is a project that will take time to finish, and as of the writing of this post, they have only done 4,200 or so of their 82,000 documents, but still, that's a lot of manuscripts to go for for gaming inspiration and handouts. Even if most of them are in Italian or Latin, some of the illuminations alone are worth the effort of digging through. Which does raise one issue, the means for searching through the documents leaves a lot to be desired.

The other issue is of course the surroundings are nowhere near the same as if you were in the actual Vatican Library, but a google image search will soon fix that.

Also, there's no mention of when they're going to get round to their secret archives, as lets be honest, that's what we're really all interested in!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Hunter of the Dark

As a signal boost for my friend Jason, I present to you The Hunter of the Dark. A short film "created for the 48 hour Tasploitation Challenge 2016. A Lovecraftian styled horror set in a remote Tasmanian Cabin


Make sure to leave an appreciative comment on the Vimeo page, that way he will be sure to make more!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Eye of Light and Darkness Unboxing

The last in this trilogy of posts on the Sedefkar Simulacrum Kickstarter that arrived last week, and this time, it is less to do with the Horror on the Orient Express, and all to do with that other stupendous campaign, Masks of Nyarlathotep.


Initially, when the box came through, I had completely forgotten that I had added this prop, so it was genuinely surprised when I opened the envelope.
Contents of the envelope
Inside, was a well wrapped resin prop in two parts. The two halves of the Eye were individually wrapped in foam paper, so that they did not chip against each other in transit. That is some well thought out packaging! There was also a signed certificate of authenticity for the eye. Of course I will do my best to heed the warning about reading of spells in close proximity to the Eye, so as ot to cause any unnecessary trans-dimensional disturbances. 


I found the line below to be very cool.
If you can't get the first off the production line, at least there is some small cache in getting the last!

So, on with the Eye. I unwrapped the two halves, and stuck them together, as shown. here:





The finish on the item looks good in the above pictures, but the varnish gives it a bit of a whitish tinge, that can be better seen in the below photograph. This isn't really a gripe, as the item is beautifully finished, and the varnish is there to protect it, but the shiny finish on what is supposedly a sandstone item is a bit anachronistic I feel.

The finished item
From the Kickstarter:
A lot of thought went into the making of this item. It is supposed to be a piece of the red pyramid, the first true smooth-sided pyramid located in Dashur, built to repulse the Black Pharaoh. But this is puzzling, if the pyramid is smooth-sided, there shouldn't be any carving on it. So I did some research; the red pyramid was not always red, it used to be cased with limestone but only a few of these stones now remain at the corner of the construction. I imagined that the Eye of Light and Darkness was hidden somewhere behind the limestone and when the limestone fell apart, the relief was revealed but still covered with a layer of coating composed of small stones brought by the desert. I tried to reproduce the results, the reddish aspect and the effects of time. Thinking of the reddish granite stone beneath the limestone, burning and drying under the sun for ages, I knew then how to show the burning secret of the red pyramid covered by the smooth limestone.
The prototype
If you look at the prototype above, this does have the white coating i the cracks and engravings, and without the gloss finish, this looks like sand and accumulated grime, so maybe all I need to do is knock off the sheen.This does suggest, however, that the prototype in terms of carving and casting is identical to the final version, the finish is not quite there.

Apart from the glossy finish, I am in love with this artefact/prop. Now I am torn between running Masks or Orient Express first. Unfortunately, due to the collapse of Ben Patey's Masks props KS, I think HotOE wins out by a nose.


Sedefkar Simulacrum Unboxing

As my last post was rather long-winded and ranty, I decided to cut it off before getting round to what I had planned as the main event, that is the unboxing of the Sedefkar Simulacrum, as delivered to me last week.

Each set came with a letter from Delphes, the campaign organiser and artist, as well as a certificate of authenticity. A packing error meant I got two copies of the letter and certificate, but as the certificates are not numbered, this isn't an issue.


The Box

First off, the box itself. Aged to look like it has sat on a shelf for some time (even the hinges are rusted), and labelled on the outside as part of the Miskatonic University collection. Inside, the Simulacrum is hidden in wood shavings/straw, and on the inside of the lid is a faded and slightly warped insignia for the Simplon Orient Express.



As was mentioned by Delphes on the KS page, the box is a touch too short to lie the Simulacrum flat, due to a later change in the positioning of the leg magnets, but it doesn't really seem to matter, either the Simulacrum can be disassembled for storage, as would likely the real thing, to protect the parts, or, he can be sat in the box, slightly bent, reclining on the straw inside.

The Sedefkar Simulacrum

The simulacrum itself is a wonderful thing. I was worried that the finish would be underwhelming after seeing some images online, but in real life it truly does look slightly otherworldly. Of course, my images here are no exception to the others I have seen, and don't quite do the figure justice.





The magnets on the arms and legs are nice and strong. There seems to have been some issues with some of the magnets falling out, but this isn't an issue with this copy. he magnets are also attached in a way that the right leg and left leg cannot be reversed, to ensure they attach with the torso facing the right way, and the same with the arms. This does mean however, that the arms and legs can be swapped!

The Shroud

The shroud is an Item I'm not quite sure what to do with. I think the suggestion is it is something the players can use to collect the parts if the Simulacrum as they find them. However, I'm not quite sure I'm at ease with players tossing the limbs of this sculpture in a  canvas bag together when there's a perfectly serviceable box for storage, after all, if you have this prop on the table, it makes sense to want to have it on display, not in a bag. There was an add-on to the campaign to buy an alter to do exactly that, but I felt I had already sunk enough cash into this adventure, so I didn't bother with that.


The Traveller Kit

I'm not quite sure why this name was chosen for the paper add-ons to this campaign, but I'm glad I went in for them, and not just the Simulacrum, they really add life to the project, and give something more visual to help the players get into the game. The Traveller Kit consists of:

• A postcard with the portrait of an arrogant XVIIIth century nobleman (not send from the Louvres)
• The close up pictures of the Simulacrum
• The scientific paper about the Scroll of the Head.
• A fine art print of an excerpt of The Scroll of the Head.
• The translation of the text from the excerpt
• A nice packaging
Postcard from the Louvre

Each of these images represents the close ups of the surfaces of the Simulacrum, 
Scroll of the Head

The translation of the text of the excerpt of the scroll of the head is included in the article as appendix B, as is a transliteration (the text in Turkic). The final appendix is a list of the contributors, yours truly included of course!

The nice packaging refers to the box the Simulacrum was sent in, (see above).

The Poster

The stretch goals reached meant that I also received 'a poster made in the style of the 1920s presenting "Caterina Cavollaro in Aida at the Scala of Milan".'


Finally, there was one final stretch goal that was not reached during the campaign:
30 000 € : HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT when unlocked every backer with the Simulacrum in its pledge will receive 6 printed copies of original drawings done by myself representing each part of the Simulacrum in context, from the point of view of the characters, when they find each part during the campaign. The drawings will be consistent with the sculpted simulacrum, and can of course be presented to the player as a visual support to dramatize each discovery.
However, even though this level was not reached, Delphes really wanted backers to have the chance to get these prints, so sent out details of how to buy these prints after the campaign had finished. I decided to go for it, and thus, have received these too. In fact due to a printing error, everyone got two copies of each, and what's more, due to a packing error, I got 4 copies of one of them. Lucky me.





The KS also gave backers the opportunity to buy a female head and torso to go with the male version, as indeed the Simulacrum is supposed to start to resemble more and more the person carrying it. I did not take this option, and I am regretting it dearly now. I already spent more than I had planned on this KS, with the additional art work, but now that I have it i my hands and see the quality of the workmanship, I see that it would have been worth the extra expense.

Finally, the pledge I went for included the the Eye of Light and Darkness too, but I'll post that in another post, as this one's already getting rather long.