Wednesday, August 16, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 16

Question 16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

The answer to this question is literally my post to the last question, since I answered in the negative. Most of them.

I guess I'm just dreadfully vanilla in this aspect. I suppose that comes from my basic rules-lawyer nature.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

NecronomiCon Providence 2017

I have not yet mentioned this here, but I am going to NecronomiCon 2017, in Providence, RI.

It is going to be an intense 4 days, my timetable is already packed, and there are a great number of things I want to see and do whilst there. I will try to update this blog while I am there, but I have the feeling that most of the posts will have to await my return, as long blog posts will not be a priority for me.

My experience of conventions has so far been limited to local conventions. I went to Conpulsion a couple of times when I was living in Edinburgh, and some of the smaller conventions here in Montreal, that have come and gone. This will be my first trip away just to go to a convention for hobby reasons (work congresses don't really count).

My previous experiences at Conpulsion have taught me that if you actually want to get any gaming done whilst at a convention, you need to be organised, so I have booked up at least one game per day. Including Delta Green, Call of Cthulhu, Cogs, Cake and Cthulhu ( a variation of Cogs Cakes and Swordcanes) and an evening LARP.

I'm also excited to go to the live recordings of the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast, as well as the Good Friends of Jackson Elias/Miskatonic University Podcast cross-over event.

Add to this, the tours of Lovecraft's Providence (both walking and bus tour), and the various panels on gaming and weird fiction, and socialising with other attendees, and I will have little time to visit the trade hall, which may indeed be the saviour of my wallet.

Thankfully, I have already scheduled my RPG a Day posts ahead of time!

This is going to be intense!

RPG a Day: Day 15

Question 15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

I'm not really sure what this question is getting at. Does it mean adapting a system to fit another background, or time period? If that is the case then I guess it would depend on the background or story I was trying to tell, and then I'd find a rules set that would best fit the tale I want to tell.

In the past, I may have used generic games systems to do this, such as GURPS, or the like, but these are not so fashionable in a day where people are building mechanics specific to the type of story, or core activity that the people at the table want to engage in.

If it means do I adapt rules, and make houserules? Well, if that is the question, then I don't really do that at all. Not with RPGs, wargames moreso. I sometimes play fast and loose with rules, adapting them to particular situations, or I forget what a rule is, and make something up on the fly to keep the game flowing, but that is the case for most games, even rules sets I know well.

So how to answer? I guess I don't adapt RPGs that much at all!

Monday, August 14, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 14

Question 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

Call of Cthulu. Next question.

Okay, let me go a bit deeper here. I like Call of Cthulhu for Campaigns, as this allows you to have a slow spiral downwards in terms of character progression. I am not one for killing off characters quickly, but allowing them to breathe, and for their players to lead them down the path of madness through their own curiosity.

Cthulhu is also known for its long campaigns, be it the old classics like Masks, Orient Express or Mountains of Madness, or the newer ones like the Two-Headed Serpent.

Okay, I mean, this is my perfered style of game to play or to run, so I can and would do open-ended campaign sytle with most (but certainly not all) games. Other shout-outs to the WFRP Campaign, and Legend of the Five Rings for wonderfully complex worlds that allow for this type of game, that I have both played in and run.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 13

Question 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play?

There have been a few. One of the biggest changed to my play style is easy to trace though, and it came with the simple act of changing gaming group.

For most of my life, I gamed with my brother and school friends, in a group that to my knowledge, still gets together weekly to game. We grew up together, and evolved together through many years of gaming, and playing certain games. However, there were certain tropes and styles that we stuck to, as that was how we did things. I'm not saying we were static, just comfortable.

The biggest change for me was moving through to Edinburgh, and joining GEAS. This exposed me to much more different ways to play games. I think the biggest change for me was allowing myself to become more immersed in my character, no matter which character. This immersion was allowed, and indeed encouraged in the GEAS crowd, without scorn or embarrassment. I loved that, and still aim for this immersion in my games today.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 12

Question 12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

SLA industries.

With art from Dave Allsop and Clint Langley as the backbone, with a  wealth of black ink drawing on the inside of all the books released for the game, the art was always integral to the game in terms of giving us a look into the headspace of the authors and artists. Not that that was always a comfortable place to be, but neither is the World of Progress!

This game was the essence of 90s gaming for me, and the art played a very big part in that.

Want to see what I'm talking about? Just go here and scroll down.

Friday, August 11, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 11

Question 11: Which 'dead game' would you like to see reborn?

Of course, 'dead game' is in quotations, as that is not dead which can eternal lie. No game is dead as long as the books exist in some form and someone somewhere decides to play it. I guess what the question is aiming at is which unsupported lines, or OOP games would I like to see getting the love! The thing is, in this golden age of RPGs, many of these games have been brought back. I mean, you don't have to look far to get new editions of Paranoia, or Chill, for example.


Yes, I know that since the demise of this super crunchy and of it's time Lord of the Rings game, there have been many other games that allow you to play in Middle Earth, but the death of MERP by Iron Crown Enterprises is one that still gets to me. Indeed, even though ICE has lost the license to write products for Middle earth, it seems I am not alone in this, as ICE still has a page to field questions about the game, so even this is not a completely 'dead game'.

For me, it was not just about Middle Earth, it was a conjunction of the world building through the connecting maps of the series, the Angus McBride artwork on the covers, the system, ok, that was of its time, but it was relatively simple. The books and adventure were affordable, and they introduced me to a concept that I strive for in my games even now, balance.

Yeah, if ever I would wish for a game to be brought back from the 'dead' it'd be MERP.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 10

Question 10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?

Into double figures, yay!

Okay, so reviews? does have a great wealth of reviews to search through of different calibre, I have been known to browse those if need be.

Reviews from R'lyeh is also a great place to go for reviews. It does have a Lovecraftian slant, but is not exclusive.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 9

Question 9: What is a good RPG to play for 10 sessions?

Very much like my last reply, as for one shots, so campaigns, if the story is good, and requires that format to be told, I can't see any game not working. For what it's worth, I'm not sure I would actually call 10 sessions all that long a campaign either, but that's just me.

What a 10 session game allows that a 2 hour session does not is you to explore many other aspects of the game, either story aspects, or rules aspects. So with that in mind, which game systems require space to breath to allow you to fully experience them? any with a power spiral, (either up or down) that add to the game experience. Levelling up in F20 systems, or the slow descent into madness of a Call of Cthulhu game. Both these experiences require longer games to get the most out of them.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 8

Question 8: What is a good RPG to play for 2 hrs or less?

I dunno, I've never played for that short a time. In answer, any game where the story that is being told, is told to completion and satisfaction in that time.

Its like a short story, what tales can be told in shorty story format? Answer, any genre, as long as it's told well. However, the skills for short story writing are completely different than for a novel, and someone who tends to run sprawling interlinked sandbox campaigns (i.e. me) isn't necessarily equipped to run a game in 2 hrs. However, I would like to try.

In terms of game system, there are some games that would work better than others, and some games where you certainly wouldn't get to see all the mechanics in use, but I can't think of a game system you couldn't use for a short session.

Monday, August 7, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 7

Question 7: What was your most impactful RPG session?

Hmm, from which side of the GM screen? I guess I'll answer from both points of view.

As a player:
There was once a Buffy game played in Edinburgh called The Watch House (it was only a matter of time before that game came up, no?). There are two sessions that stick in my memory. The first is the one where my character was possessed by his evil ancestor. The second was the breaking of the 4th wall episode, where some of us played our characters, the actors who played our characters in a TV show, and finally, played our versions of the actual players for another character at the table. It sounds confusing, but it was a hell of a lot of fun, and fun is the reason we're at the table. These sessions stuck with me, as they opened doors to my understanding of what you can do at the table, when the other people at the table are in it for the same reasons as you.

As a GM/Keeper:
Scaring the Players.

A Call of Cthulhu game, in Montreal, about 10 years ago. We were playing in the back of a games store, which was closed to the public at the time (the owners of the store were players in the game). I was running a pretty basic intro game in what went on to be a long running campaign, where the investigators had come into possession of a new house, which had a monster in the attic. I can't even remember what the scenario was based on, only that the players were exploring the house, and were deep in discussion as to what to do next, and in character. I banged on the table, to stimulate a nouse from what theya ssumed was the empty attic, and to a one, all the players jumped.

It was a cheap jump-scare, but it was well timed, and it showed me the players were deep into the game and their characters. It was that session that sealed the success of the campaign in many ways. It was also an insight into how the players were reacting to the game. In many ways, it's hard to get into their heads. We all know what we experience at the table, but as a GM it's important to understand how the players are feeling too.

Tabletop RPGs in Prison

Taking a little break from the RPGaDay posts to pass on this great article on how inmates conspire to play RPGs in prison, where dice are contraband due to gambling rules, and where even D&D is named as contraband in some cases. Very interesting.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 6

Question 6: You can game every day for a week, describe what you'd do?

Well, if I had a whole week of uninterrupted gaming, I'd actually more likely go for an over the top wargame, or inked wargame campaign, as it is very easy to run out of time with something like that, especially with all the setup involved. 

However, this is RPG a Day, not Game a Day, so I guess we're looking at a more RPG based response. With that in mind, there are some LARPs I have heard of that may be fun to try, and those take the time investment that requires this kind of time aside for them.

In terms of pure table top, I think a whole week at the table would actually be a lot of effort, and if I was stuck at one game, I can see burn-out coming on quite quickly, or it may got the other way, with people immersing so deeply, we end up in LARP territory again.

I think I'd be likely to want to end up with something like would happen at a convention, where you get to play many different games with many GMs, all short bursts and one-offs. Variety would be really something I'd look to in that situation.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 5

Question 5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

Quick answer, all the good ones! The good RPG supplements have good art, it kinda goes with getting it right.

Longer answer, I have a couple in mind

SLA industries, the artwork for this game was and is one of its central strengths, no surprise given the artists involved in its conception, but the grit and the rain on the front cover of the 1st edition to me sums up the spirit of the game, even better than the cover with Halloween Jack, as used on newer editions of the game.

Another game where the art and the game are intertwined. There is no doubt this is a fantasy game, but grittier, and gorier, and in some ways more real than the F20 games that came from the other side of the Atlantic at the time. Again, chaos, tattoos and goblin blood front and center.

The truth is, it's hard for me as a non-design guy to distinguish between art that does the job, and art that I love, or have fallen in love with through time and association.

Friday, August 4, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 4

Question 4: Which RPG have you played most since August 2016?

Easy one, since I have only played in one RPG since August 2016, and that was Call of Cthulhu. By the end of this month, after Necronomicon Providence, I hope to be able to answer differently.

As to games run, again, this rests solely with Call of Cthulhu.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 3

Question 3: How do you find out about new RPGs?

I wouldn't say I was in any way at the front of the curve when if comes to new RPGs. New miniature lines and games, yes, through facebook groups and podcasts, but RPGs less so. My social media bubble for RPGs tends to be limited to games I already know and love. However, if a new RPG comes up in one of my podcasts, for example, I'll hear about it. What I'm unlikely to hear about early on is games outwith the genres I am already into.

So, podcasts tend to be my largest source of RPG related info, with the odd RPG blog I follow (intermittently) as a secondary source.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Video: Waring´s Pennsylvanians "Hello Montreal" 1928

1928 song celebrating the lack of Prohibition in Quebec, and Montreal. Sung by Fred Waring, an his band, Waring's Pennsylvanians.

RPG a Day: Day 2

Question 2: What is an RPG you would like to see published?

Hmmm, this is a difficult one. I can't think of any that are not already out there in some form. Also, there are not many licenses for genres or properties that I like that have not already been taken up or have been cloned.

We truly live in the golden age of RPGs.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 1

I plan to do this every year, and up until now, I've never managed, or been able to commit. Let's try this year shall we?

The RPG a Day is a challenge to post something each day for the whole month of August.

Question 1: What published RPG would you like to be playing right now? 

Hmmm, that's both a very easy and a very hard question to answer. The easy answer is prettyy much any game! After many years hiatus, I got back into running RPGs through the Cult of Chaos for Chaosium, organising and running Call of Cthulhu, as a means of rebuilding a gaming group. That challenge then completed, I even got one of the palyers to run a game, thereby getting to play in an RPG for the first time in many years. The game was Call of Cthulhu, and I loved every minute of it. Indeed I had forgotten what fun it was to play in a game. Any game

So, that itch scratched (barely), what game, of any published would I like to play in?

I could split this into two. Games I have played and loved, and games I would like to try.

For those I have played, and want to play again, I think those are linked a little to nostalgia. The Oldhammer revival I have been following in terms of WFB 3rd edition, twinned with a love of fantasy RPGs that has always been there, has made me really want to play WFRP.

The release of Cannibal Sector 1, a skirmish wargame set in the World of Progress, has made me really want to play SLA Industries. However, I'm not sure that one would work so well with my current gaming group.

There are a great many other games I have played that I would love to go back to, but those two are currently at the top of the list.

In terms of games I have never played, I have yet to try any game based on the Gumshoe system, which is strange in some ways. Given the choice, I kind of like the idea of Timewatch, Bubblegumshoe, and of course Trail of Cthulhu.

The other game I'm really tempted by, is the locally written Fate of the Norns, based on Viking mythology. One of the reasons I'm really tempted by this is that the author is based in Montreal, so there is a good local meta, and I can see that this type of game would benefit hugely from the GM being steeped in the lore. This is also tinged by the fact I am currently reading Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology.

I could go on, but let's call it quits there.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Inspirational Artefact: General Montcalm's Skull

I saw this, and had to post it. As a relic/artefact. Who was Montcalm? Preserved as a relic by the Ursuline Order.

Find a grave link.

The skull was finally buried in 2001. (link1)(link2)

A skull as such doesn't make such a great Call of Cthulhu artefact, as it is human in origin, not mythos related. It would make a great item to be used in Unknown Armies.

Of course, in a Call of Cthulhu game, it may be on show, labelled as Montcalm's skull, but the cultists know, or at least believe it to actually be the skull of a great shaman and cult leader. The skull itself may not actually have power, but the possession of it can be used as an identifier, or bargaining tool with a being of power, thereby allowing the cult access to something they do not yet have.

The investigators could be hired to find the stolen skull, and thereby are in a race against time to find it before the cult accesses what it wants. Otherwise, the cult succeeds in it's plan, unleashing horrors in their quest for power that the Investigators must then defeat. Recovering/destroying the skull thereby ending the threat to the city.

In a modern game, of course, the skull is no longer on display, but since its burial place is known, that shouldn't stop anyone!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kickstarter: Tour de Lovecraft by Ken Hite

What's that? Three posts in as many days? Why yes, I am being rather productive over here, though it as, as it must be, at the detriment to my other areas of hobby interest.

I have been on the lookout for a paper copy of Kenneth Hite's book, Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales, for some time now, but it is out of print, and I am not looking for it so much that I'm willing for pay over the odds for a copy. yes, I could buy an eBook, but quyite frankly, I never get round to reading those.

This has now been remedied, in spades, with the launch of a new Kickstarter my Atomic Overmind Press. Where they are looking to print the second volume of Tour de Lovecraft: The Destinations. With this, the first stretch goal is the re-release of The first volume: the Tales. Problem solved!

Needless to say, I have backed this Kickstarter, and look forward to it's success. This also means that I now have the pdf version of the original book, to read through before Neconomicon in August.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

From Cthulhu to Christ

Not my usual browsing space, but I share here a link to a post on Christ and Pop Culture. A bi-weekly magazine with the mission to:
...edify the Church, glorify God, and witness to the world by encouraging and modeling a biblical presence within culture that is characterized by nuance and appreciation while resisting the extremes of thoughtless condemnation and uncritical embrace. We stand on the Gospel and exist for the church.
Anyway, without further comment, I direct you to the article From Cthulhu to Christ. The article gives a nice overview of Lovecraft and his work, and it is always interesting to read from an alternative viewpoint, and to "Why H. P. Lovecraft’s Cosmic Despair Is Still Worth Reading".

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pic of the Day: First Diving Suit

I've recently been on a trip to Long Island, NY, and came back with a few ideas to put together, maybe for a scenario. In the meantime, here's a wonderful picture that I came across of the first diving suit, tested in the Long Island sound. An older Chester E MacDuffee may be making an appearance as an NPC

Pictured here is Chester E. Macduffee and his newly-patented creation, the diving suit.  It was made of aluminum alloy and weighed over 550 pounds, which is exactly the kind of thing you want to be strapped into when you’re thrown into the ocean.  The invention did help advance deep-sea diving when, in 1914, the suit reached new depths of 212 feet in the Long Island Sound.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Adventuress

The Adventuress
Arthur B Reeve (1880-1936)
First published in 1917, 220 pages.

I found this little hardback book, and was initially attracted to the cover. The reason being that they book is published with the original 1930s cover. The original 1917 cover is on the back.

I had never heard of Arthur B Reeve before, but the inside cover of the book describes him as:
a New York author and criminologist, whose creation, the scientific detective Craig Kennedy, became famous as "the American Sherlock Holmes". Reeve's cutting edge stories, newspaper serials and movies about Craig Kennedy made him the most popular detective writer of the era, and The Adventuress was his first full-length novel.
I was interested by that description on many counts, and the foreword expanded upon this by suggesting that his use of cutting edge technology was what made him so well loved at the time, but may also have counted against his longevity, as it has not aged well.  

One criticism I would make on this, is that it is clearly the work of someone who may be versed in short stories, trying their hand at longer form novels. This may be a full length novel, but the story contained within could easily be edited down to a much shorter tale. Indeed, it may actually benefit from that. 

The first 100 pages or so, are actually a bit of a slog. With Kennedy, the Scientific Detective, a dead man's lawyer and some secret service types are following round the members of the deceased's family. This may indeed reflect real detective work, both from the perspective of a PI, and the secret service, but it does not make for a compelling read. This is clearly a pre-Chandlerian novel, in that we don't actually see another corpse after the initial death that starts it all, until page 117! 

That's not to say the initial 100 pages are not without merit. There's a nice scene where Kennedy uses the of the day to trace a bug in the lawyers office. Even the fact that there is a listening device seems to be a novelty to the other characters in the book. The stolen McGuffin is also original and forward looking in it's scientific description, and does coem back into the story in a useful fashion, making it les of a McGuffin. Indeed, the book borders on Sci-Fi in some aspects of its function, even though the novel never goes down this path.

The book is written through the eyes and words of Kennedy's journalist companion, Walter Jameson. This means we do not get the direct thoughts of Kennedy, and in many ways I think this means we don't actually get to know much of Kennedy, and he seems quite 2 dimensional because of this. He may have been known as the American Sherlock Holmes, but Holmes is a much more interesting character. Holmes is always described as much more over the top, and in some ways, this is required, as we never get to hear his internal thoughts, except for through Watson's words. Kennedy on the other had, is a much more calm and steady character, and the relationship between him and Jameson is much more equal, which all adds together to make them less interesting. 

In summary, I did enjoy this book, it is well written, and the personal relationships between the family and suspects is interesting, in that the story investigates these interactions deeply. So the human motivations are the key to the mystery that the science is used to solve, a nice balance. I do think it would be worth while to search down some of Reeve's short stories, to see if they hold the attention better than this long form novel (Arthur B Reeve on Gutenberg. Also may of the books are free on amazon as kindle ebooks).

Gaming the Book.

What sets this novel aside from others of the genre is the use of various sciences of the day, from radio broadcasting, to graphology, and no doubt what made it popular, is also what ages it. It would be very difficult to take this science, and make it playable in a straight RPG these days, mostly because it is almost impossible for the players to know what is cutting edge for the day, without having a list of skills, or machines which they have access to, which becomes rather unwieldy quickly.

In a pulp setting, we can get away with much more, and even though this is not set as a pulp action thriller, but is supposed to be more grounded, the science comes across as much more pulpy these days.

The second way to look at it is to bring it up to the modern day, to where the players are aware of where the edges of science lie, and how this can be used in game. I usually steer clear of technology in horror games, but in detective and investigation games, it is a different story. Having a scientist of any kind, who is able to bring bleeding edge science to the table, without making the rest of the game too pulpy, would be very interesting.

I found another review of the story here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pic of the day: Princess Theatre

Photo taken during the Houdini tour at the Princess Theatre, St Catherine's Street, east of Phillips Square (1926). This was the tour on which he took the backstage sucker punch that killed him nine days later.

On October 22, 1926, Houdini was performing in Montreal at the Princess Theater. Before the show, Harry was in his dressing room laying on the couch. While relaxing backstage, a young athlete from McGill University asked Houdini if he really could withstand punches to the stomach, as he had heard. Houdini said yes and would prove it to the boy. But before he could tighten his stomach, the student started punching Houdini. Harry didn't realize it, but his appendix had ruptured. After Houdini performed in Montreal, he headed to Detroit. He did only one performance there and then collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. Harry Houdini did not die in a stunt, nor did he drown, as most people believe. The greatest magician of all time died on October 31, 1926, of peritonitis.  (source).

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion

Call of Cthulhu is known for it's big campaigns, whether it's the Mountains of Madness, or the Horror on the Orient Express. These types of campaigns are one of the things through with Call of Cthulhu has made it's reputation. However, there is one of these that stands above the others, and that is Masks.

I don't even have to give it's full title, most people already know what I'm talking about just with that one word. I can't think off the top of my head of any other RPG property this works with.

I have tried to run Masks twice in my life, and both times it ran out of steam. This is not an issue with the game as such, just the length of the campaign requires a little commitment, and for the stars to align in a certain sense with players real lives and availabilities.

This Companion was first released as a 550 page pdf back in 2013. The Kickstarter was finally funded (as a fundraiser for back in 2015, and the book finally came into my hands a couple of weeks ago.

There are many other posts, threads and unboxing videos around that talk about this book's arrival, so I won't go into that too much, but I would just like to comment o the size of this tome. In a way that makes sense to me, at least. That is in comparison with the actual campaign book itself.

The version of the campaign book I have is the 1996 3rd edition version of Masks, The Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep, This is a 224 page book. Please see here, some photographic comparisons of this original campaign to the newly arrived Companion.

The Companion clocks in at 729 pages. That is over twice the page count of the original book (and we're not talking about a padded out book here. The text is pretty comparable to the first. Clean, yet full. Add to that the hardback cover, and we have something that approached 3-4 times the thickness of the Original campaign book. 

Needless to say, I have not yet read all of this book (even if I have had the pdf for at least 5 years, but as I have previously mentioned, I'm not very good at reading pdfs). But what I have seen and read is of the highest quality for any gaming book, not just Call of Cthulhu, which, when we think that this was essentially an amateur work (in terms of writers) by fans, is really no faint praise. My only slight complaint is that the rules present in the book have not been updated to 7th edition. However, the simplicity of this conversion combined with the fact that there are really not many rules/stats i this book, really makes this a non-issue.

For now, I am running Horror on the Orient Express, but the arrival of this book has sparked interest in Masks. If I can keep the players, this is back on the list.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Horror on the Orient Express getting ready to depart the Station

The wait has been long and the road winding, but we are finally there.. The Kicksterter funded in 2012, and was fulfilled in 2015. Furthermore, the Sedefkar Simulacrum kickstarter was also funded and fulfilled, leaving it only a matter to time, and building a gaming group, before I ran this monstrosity.

About 9 months ago, I started running the Time to Harvest organised play campaign at my FLGS, (which has sadly since closed its doors). This time I used to get together interested players to form an RPG group that is interested and committed to regular gaming. I have now assembled a group of like minded individuals, and through them, even managed to play! Yes after almost 12 years drought, I actually got to play in an RPG! It was a lot of fun.

Now, we have finally taken the plunge, we have assembled a group of investigators, met at a local Auction of occult artefacts, and finally , we are getting together to head off on a momentous journey together, through Europe and the ages, on the Orient Express. I for one am really looking forward to it.

With this goal in mind, I have spent the last few weeks organising all the various props I have for the campaign, from multiple sources, and with the help of a recently found colour printer at work, have been making some rather nifty and fun handouts for people to get into the game through.

The Investigators are, after 2 sessions of the actual campaign, already in Paris. The first chapter was a bit of a data dump, in many ways, and now they are working their way through the Biblioteque National.

I have chosen to skip a lot of the optional scenarios, as I do want to get to the end of this campaign. If we have time, and people are still interested afterwards, we can run through some of the side adventures in other eras. I also finally decided to run the Auction as a lead in adventure, rather than the Doom Train scenario, which is one of the optional London adventures, as a lead in. I had at one point even considered doing both, but that might be overkill, and goes against limiting the side options to get the main event finished. In the end, I just have too much stuff, and want to use it all!

For the time being, making this a regular weekly game means I am not for now running Cult of Chaos adventures, but I am not counting out doing the odd one here and there, for special events and the like, as long as I can decide on a new venue, now that Gamers' Vault has closed its doors for good.

So far, the players are mightly impressed with the level of support the game has in the box set, in terms of handouts and props. I can't wait till they actually get their hands on the actual Simlacrum!

Monday, April 10, 2017

1920s Gun Ads


I mean, $150? They'll be asking for 2.

1926 Philadelphia
Not that it'll matter against the Great Old Ones, but against a horde of cultists, ghouls or Deep Ones?

Actually, now I'm picturing a repetition of the Normandy landings, with the Players in beach bunkers, and the Deep Ones coming out of the sea en masse.

Or, for something more down to earth/affordable:


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Orient Express Posters and History App

There's a new exhibition in Paris, containing posters and brochures from the Orient Express. There are other posters from the Simplon line in SwitzerlandAs I am gearing up to finally run this campaign, I'll be sure to make use of some of these, though many of them are already available through a Google search. At the end of the sliodeshow, you can download the images in pdf format for ease of use.
A major exhibition on the Orient Express is currently on show in Paris. retours presents a brief history of the famous luxury train by taking a closer look at 10 posters along with matching brochures and photos, partly from the exhibition and partly from own collection.
The creators of this exhibition are also the authors of this amazing app and ebook on the history of the Orient Express. For a grand $6.99, I'll be sure to be investing in that for my tablet, for use at the table.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Complicated Friendship of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Barlow

Robert Barlow, 1931
H.P.L. was in the news in this recent New Yorker article, written by the author Paul La Farge, which has clearly come from the research for this book, looks at the relationship between Lovecraft and Robert Barlow. The article contains another attempt to guess at Lovecraft's sexuality through his associations with others, but I think the article pins it with this phrase, even if it continues afterwards to try to suggest otherwise.
"the salient feature of his sexuality really seems to be how indifferent he was to it"
Even the choice of image to accompany the article is provocative There are many more existing images that could have been used, even of Lovecraft and Barlow together
However, it is an interesting article in how it goes on to talk about Barlow himself. I have heard of him, but he isn't someone I looked into a great deal, and that seems a shame, as he looks to be an interesting character. It does strike me though, that Barlow's life as an academic would make a great Call of Cthulhu Investigator background.

It is slightly heartening to see that his influence as a writer may not have quite ended with the sad story of his exclusion from the weird tales community. After this article, I should track down what Barlow fiction I can. Not entirely sure that this has made me want to read La Farge's book however.

Barlow's collaborations with Lovecraft are all available on here, including The Night Ocean by Barlow and Lovecraft. Most of his work also seems to have been collected in Eyes of the God (2002).

Saturday, March 11, 2017

7th Edition Review Video

This is a nice little video as both a quick introduction to Call of Cthulhu, if not an in depth review of 7th edition, as the title suggests.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Star on the Shore

So, I can't help myself. I just backed another Call of Cthulhu Kickstarter, The Star on the Shore. There have been a couple that have passed by that I let go, as the price point was a bit too high, but for $25 US for the softcover book, plus the stretch goals was just about right for me (I couldn't justify the extra $15 US for the hardback. The exchange rate is ok, but not that great).

This is a sandbox type adventure for Call of Cthulhu classic era, released by Dark Cult Games, and licensed by Chaosium. The sandbox is really my preferred type of game to run, but there are not that many adventures written in this style, as most published adventures are shorter and more succinct. I'll be very interested to see how that works out.

I was really taken by the artwork and layout on the cover too. So clearly inspired by the 80s modules and adventures that Chaosum released. How could I refuse.

I'll be sure to let you all know how this one runs, once it arrives and I get a chance to read it and play through it.

Battle in the Mosque

In 1911 Montreal Syrians tried to open a mosque, the locals thought this so strange that they attacked and beat the participants and destroyed the Mosque.

With the recent happenings in Quebec City, I will refrain form gamifying this one. It's literally too soon. It is an example of what can be used to mirror current events in your game. Allowing you to link players to the past in a real way. I am looking for more info on this event, but resources are scarce.

The Gazette ran the same story.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Props of Nyarlathotep

One of the great things about the Call of Cthulhu community is the gusto with which they enter in their prop making. From the print outs of newspaper handouts to full blown resin props.

I was a backer of the Kickstarter by Delphes Desvoivres to make the Sedefkar Simulacrum, and am eagerly waiting to use it in the Horror on the Orient Express Campaign which I intend to start this year (after finishing the Time to Harvest Campaign I am currently running)


I already have the Eye of Light and Darkness that is pictured in the video, but I really like the look of the other props. The necklace is a nice touch, and it is nice to see that not all the props will be made out of resin. The Mirror is larger than I thought it would be, which means all in these are going to take up a lot of storage space in my gaming cupboard, but how can I not be tempted?

The Kickstarter will go live this Sunday (the 22nd), at 10pm GMT.