August 20th 1890 Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born and it is fair to say that in his 46 years he managed to change forever the horror genre.  In honor of his memory we wanted to present our five top tips for doing something Lovecraftian.

1. Play a game of Call Of Cthulhu

Since 1981 people have been playing Chaosium’s Call Of Cthulhu Role Playing Game – it has become the definitive horror RPG, and frankly I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than deep into a 1920′s setting, battling the horrors of Lovecrafts Mythos.  If you are looking for a particular scenario to run or play then you could do a lot worse than to pick up one (or all) of Goodman Games “Age Of Cthulhu” games.

Set throughout the globe and torn from the pages of the hidden history of the world, Age of Cthulhu adventures bring new secrets and mind-bending horrors to your 1920′s Call of Cthulhu game. Each adventure comes with copious player handouts, detailed maps, and pre-generated investigators ready to risk their lives and their sanity to confront the horrors of an uncaring universe“.

In honor of Lovecraft’s birthday Goodman Games are offering the entire range of Age Of Cthlhu  PDF’s at 25% off of their full retail price.  Check them out here, I think they are some of the best materials around for Call Of Cthulhu.

2. Check out the Cthulhu Mythos Sales

I hate sounding like nothing but an advert for the Onebookshelf marketplaces, but if you like RPG’s then you can’t ignore the fact that they have changed the way we buy our games and have probably done more to keep our industry alive than anyone else.  But that’s a debate for another day, all you need to know is that for the next few days you can indulge in Cthlhu Mythos sales at DriveThruRPG, DriveThruFiction and DriveThruComics.

3. Lots to see on Cthulhu’Tube

Well actually I mean YouTube, but there are no shortage of really cool Cthulhu Mythos clips to be found.  My favorites are and will probably always be the “Calls For Cthulhu” series.  Check out the available episodes here, or click below to watch my personal favorite – Episode 1.

 

 

4. Watch a movie

For sure there are some awful adaptations of Lovecraft stories into film, but there are also some fantastic ones and more importantly there are some movies that are inspired by and just would not exist if it wasn’t for the influence of Lovecraft’s tales.  My personal favorites are clearly the Reanimator films starring Jeffery Coombes, (see the trailer for the 1985 classic below), but for greater and wider inspiration check out “MIKE DAVIS’ LIST OF RECOMMENDED LOVECRAFTIAN MOVIES” over at The Lovecraft eZine.

 

5. Read a book!

I’m always staggered by my CoC players who actually haven’t read any of Lovecraft’s books.  So treat yourself and read some of his works.  If you have an e-reader (Kindle, Nook etc) then treat yourself for free and visit Cthulhu Chick’s blog and download her fantastic “The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft” which contains all of the original stories which Lovecraft wrote as an adult. It begins in 1917 with “The Tomb” and ends in 1935 with his last original work “The Haunter of the Dark”.

It is a great piece of work and to make it available in this way I think is a truly kind spirited thing as I am certain it was no small effort.  If you like it, then you could always consider hitting the button on the page to make a donation.

Dice & Slice, Season One

I want to draw your attention to a slightly different games related Kickstarter, with some very curious backer rewards. I have several reasons for doing so but possibly the best of which being that I really like the idea and just wish that I a) had thought of it myself and b) had the time and the talent to follow through on it.  So… Feast, (literally), your eyes on G*M*S Magazine’s “Dice & Slice” Season One.

The basic idea is that the good folks at G*M*S Magazine - there’s a link in the sidebar – want to do a new kind of  webshow about gamers, gaming and of course food. The basic premise is that each of the 15 episodes will look at a game (board game/RPG etc) but will also throw in a recipe or two for the players to munch on while they get to it.  Maybe its partly because I’m advancing in years, but this really appeals to me – I love cooking, I love eating with friends and I really love playing games…  Dammit, they are onto a winning formula.  Here before we say anything else – checkout a muffin recipe.

Now at the top of the page I said that the Kickstarter offered some curious backer rewards, and it does.  Ultimately the show will be about the gamers; the pledge levels and rewards reflect that and give backers a big say in how the show will be run. As backers you can help decide what games are played and possibly more importantly what recipes are cooked.


There are also opportunities to participate in playing the games with with the guys from G*M*S Magazine, or to join them to record an unboxing video.  If you are a game designer/publisher then you could even back at a level to get your game featured in one of the shows.  As far as Kickstarters go this is something different, its by someone who is clearly passionate about the games industry and G*M*S Magazine is a great site that will only be further enhanced by the addition of Dice & Slice.  I for one can’t wait to see the web shows when they launch.  The guys have already reached their minimum funding target (and first stretch goal), so this is something that is really going to happen.  Throw them a few gold coins and help them hit their stretch goals, and help shape the shows – take a look at the Kickstarter and if nothing else try the muffin recipe (I’d suggest for my gaming group the addition of some very thinly sliced red and green chilis, candied in sugar sprinkled on the top of each muffin – but then we are a pretty hardcore bunch).

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.

Starblazer AdventuresBAD NEWS: A recent email from the nice folk at Cubicle 7 broke the news that they are discontinuing their classic “Starblazer Adventures” and “Legends of Anglerre” products. With their licensing agreement due to expire, and other projects in the pipeline they have had to make the tough decision not to renew it and to cease the publication of these landmark titles. After March 31st none of these products will be on sale.

GOOD NEWS: To celebrate these fantastic products, the nice folk of Cubicle 7 are running a special sale for the rest of March – all “Starblazer Adventures” and “Legends of Anglerre” PDF products will be $5. Which is an absolute BARGAIN! This means that for a measly $15 you could pick up the Starblazer Adventures, the Legends of Anglerre core book and the companion… Again I tell you BARGAIN!

Seriously though, “Starblazer Adventures” is a work of genius, if you are old enough to remember the Starblazer comic book of the 1970′s and 80′s you need to have this before it disappears from the virtual bookshelves. As well as lots of nostalgic artwork, (over 400 pieces spread through 630+ pages), the book details many recurring characters, organisations, empires and aliens such as the Fi-Sci (the Fighting Scientists of Galac Squad), The Star Patrol, The Suicide Squad, The Planet Tamer, Cinnibar the barbarian warrior of Babalon and galactic cop Frank Carter to name just a few. It has attracted much praise, none more impressive than:

“Enough galactic conspiracies, star creatures, space fleets, swashbuckling scientists and alien war worlds to keep you and your friends busy for years” – Ian Livingstone

As if that wasn’t enough, to quote the wonderful folk at Cubicle 7:

“Legends of Anglerre shoves a massive battle axe in the hands of the Ennie Award nominated Starblazer Adventures roleplaying game”.

Legends Of AnglerreJust like “Starblazer Adventures” itself, “Legends of Anglerre” is a stand-alone  interpretation of the FATE rules and features two detailed fantasy settings.  Most significantly “Anglerre”, the world featured in the original Starblazer fantasy comics, and secondly “Lords of the Hither Kingdoms”, an new and original setting.

As with “Starblazer Adventures” artwork from the classic Starblazer comics is used throughout, evoking the high fantasy nostalgia brings the worlds to life in a way that would have pleased even “Axel The Avenger”!

Finally the “Legends of Anglerre Companion” adds new rules for families and dynasties, city and island adventures, aspects-only play, and a complete random adventure generator, as well as two complete scenarios (“Dreams on Dragon Island” and “The Sirens of Simris”

Don’t miss out, it really is the last chance and its a lot of RPG for $15.

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.

 

The Clay That Woke

This is a last minute shout out in support of a Kickstarter by Paul Czege; “The Clay That Woke“.  It ends in less than 48 hours and is already fully funded, including reaching its two stretch goals to have the graphic design and layout done by Brennan Reece and to double the amount of interior art by Nate Marcel.

Now if those names don’t mean anything to you…  Shame on you!  Paul Czege is probably best known for his roleplaying game “My Life With Master“, which is far and away one of the best independent games I have ever read or played.  I’ve never written a review (lord knows why not), but you are just going to have to trust me that its brilliant.  He is the author of one of only 18 role-play games profiled in the Origins award winning Hobby Games: The 100 Best. 

The Kickstarter launches Paul Czege’s new game “The Clay That Woke“, which promises to be an immersive game set in a richly imagined world where the player characters take on the roles of Minotaurs.  If you watch the video and read the blurb you will see that the author is genuinely excited by the game and with Nate Marcel and Brennan Reece involved it promises to be visually stunning as well.  It features a unique token based game mechanic where tokens drawn from a bowl are matched to a menu of outcomes, sounds a bit weird (I can hear my friends asking “what about my dice”), but I think it looks really quite exciting.


I should have waved a flag about this much earlier, and I am sorry for not doing so, I think it is one of the most exciting Kickstarters around, if you back this in the next forty-seven hours I am certain you won’t regret it.

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek

A Taste For Murder

From time to time I like to browse “the indie rpgs un-store“, if you haven’t done so you really should.  Like they explain on their homepage the un-store isn’t really a store. It’s more of a clearinghouse for direct sales. Any sales driven through the un-store are processed directly by the publisher.  It gives us as buyers the benefits of dealing direct (and getting some great indie games at great prices) with all of the convenience of having a one stop shop.  The un-store was where I first came across D. Vincent Baker’s “Dogs In The Vineyard” which is a really brilliant game, as well as many other little gems from a wide range of smaller independent publishers.

On my most recent amble through the un-store I spotted “A Taste For Murder” by Graham Walmsley.  It is a very clever game for between four and six players set during the inter-war period in a traditional English country house, very much in the style of an Agatha Christie story.

A Taste For MurderThe game is quite special in that it doesn’t call for a GM, everyone plays a part.  It has a solid structure to direct the storytelling which gives everyone a chance to participate.  Simply put the game has two “acts” and a denouement, at the end of the first act one of the characters is murdered, the interactions and relationships of the characters up until that point will determine who and will begin to sow the seeds of our murderers motivation.  During the second act the slain player takes on the role of “Inspector Chapel” and rather than continuing to influence the relationships of the remaining characters will begin to investigate the dastardly deed.  Finally in keeping with all good murder mysteries once suspects have been fully fleshed out the inspector calls everyone together and outlines the suspects motives, they can defend themselves and finally the killer is revealed.

In itself the game is spectacularly simple, the die mechanics are elegant and the near crossover between Murder Mystery and RPG works incredibly well.  The PDF book costs a princely $9 on the un-store at the time of writing and is worth every penny/cent.  As an RPG it works really well with a more mature bunch of players, it has a leisurely pace to it and really lends itself to good storytelling.  The central focus of the game is on relationships, influence and motive – its not about clues and evidence, so the more depth that players put into their characters and their actions the richer the game.

The PDF runs to 128 pages, but don’t be put off by the size, the book has some stylish formatting which exaggerates the page count dramatically and also contains some nice background information and tips and hints on play, the mechanics and rules themselves are probably only around 40 pages or so, it is easy to read and quickly picked up.

I can’t recommend this game enough and at $9 I don’t think you should pass it up.  One of my favourite movies of all time is “Gosford Park”, and for me this is the perfect game system to role-play that kind of story.

“In an English country house, someone is about to commit a murder.  Even they do not know what they are about to do.”

Ia! F’tagn!

Derek.