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Review: Stealing Cthulhu

4 Feb

I recently received my copy of Stealing Cthulhu by Graham Walmsley with annotations by Ken Hite, Gareth Harahan and Jason Morningstar.

I have to say that I am quite impressed with this tidy little hardcover. What it lacks in design (pretty much typset in a basic serif font with basic layout) it makes up for in fantastic content. As Walmsley puts it “Its central idea is: by stealing, adapting and combining Lovecraft’s ideas, you can create scenarios that seem new and horrific.”This might sound like a limited premise but the book really does thoroughly investigate the Lovecraft’s stories and provides alternatives and ways of reworking overused tropes into new and engaging scenarios.

Stealing Cthulhu does assume you’re familiar with a few (but not too many) of Lovecraft’s stories. Personally I found this commendable. I’ve often felt that too many players/gamesmasters rely on a second hand knowledge of the mythos to play games. Such a shame seeing how excellent Lovecraft’s work is and how much there is to gain by trying to stay true to his setting. It’s not all tentacles, cults and Gatling guns.

The book has got me thinking about new ways of coming at Cthulhu scenarios particularly steering away from the dreaded ‘thwart the ritual’ finale. I’ll put my ideas in a new post shortly. I would unreservedly recommend this book for anyone who is looking at refreshing their way of handling the mythos and keen to inject some new material into their campaigns.


Quick post: Blood Money non-player Characters

19 Nov

I haven’t forgotten about this project. At some point I do intend to finally get all my campaign notes up about this Vampire: The Requiem game I finished over six months ago now… One of the issues when faced with a political game with a number of non-player characters is providing the players with a useful way of keeping track of everyone they meet. Once the primary antagonists had been introduced (gradually over a few sessions) I knocked up this play aid to put all the character’s contacts and foes in the one place. I include it here as it a) took a hell of a long time to edit all the images until I was satisfied with them and b) because it will help act as a useful reference point when I start spelling out a few basics about each of these NPCs and how I used them in my Moscow game setting.

These images are drawn from a variety of sources, stock, screen caps, creative commons… I am asserting no ownership over them at all. In the unlikely event that an owner has a problem with my using them here for not for profit reasons, I’ll gladly take the image down.

blood_money_npcs (1.4 MB PDF)

Eclipse Phase: first play thoughts

2 Nov

The other night I had ran my first session of the transhuman roleplaying game Eclipse Phase.  I was initially attracted me to its dark science fiction setting and the novel approach to player character life/death. A central conceit is that technology has advanced to a point where the human mind can be mapped and transferred into new genetically engineered bodies.  This changes the entire dynamic of a game where ‘death’ is only ever temporary as long as a character has a back up of their mind. Continue reading

Madness at Miskatonic Teaser

25 Aug

Of course I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Putting together this mini-campaign for public consumption is taking a little longer than expected (no surprises there, I guess). What has been an important part of the process for me is balancing my desire to produce a user-friendly document with avoiding lengthy tracts of text that ramble on and on about the minutiae of each session. I want something that is part tool kit part “colouring book” providing just enough scope for Keepers to fill in the details based around their own idiosyncrasies. But enough of the griping.

For the time being here are some sample PDF pages from the final Madness at Miskatonic document:

Campaign Introduction example PDF

Non-player characters example PDF

Session One flow chart example PDF

Documenting the Madness

12 Aug

I’ve commenced putting together a PDF for Madness at Miskatonic, a short Call of Cthulhu campaign where the investigators play freshmen students at Miskatonic University. Rather than put it out in dribs and drabs (but very tempting in terms of keeping the blogging regular), I’ve decided to put it up in one shot when it’s ready to go. I’m probably a bit over optimistic in that I’ll have it done in within the next fortnight. Starting next week I’ll do a but of promotion on this blog to generate a bit of interest before going live.

(Oh, and the site passed 10,000 visitors earlier this week. Probably small by most RPG blog standards, but an occasion worth noting none-the-less).

Blood Money 2: Dark Territories (Part 2)

9 Jun

Completing the dissection of Moscow’s Vampire territories. Again the city map is here, some general notes on this Vampire: The Requiem chronicle setting are here.

Continue reading

Blood Money 2: Dark Territories (Part 1)

4 May cab drive

Before moving on to the denizens of Moscow’s vampire community, is is necessary to give some detail on the territories they control. The city itself was a central ‘character’ in my Blood Money Chronicle and as such I thought I’d share my brief notes that tend to focus on mood and atmosphere. Important in understanding what is being discussed is the Moscow city map, available here. Some general notes on the ethos behind the setting are also available here.

A city divided…

Although the Crones hold sway over Moscow, their recent ascension to power was not sweeping and the other Covenants hold on to territories of their own. The Prince, Rusalka, would hold that this is by her decree, and while this assertion is not without some authority, it is also true that the Crones had to forfeit these territories in order to secure their authority.

Continue reading

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