Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Necronomicon Dissection: Part 7, Tours and Town Houses

Please excuse the delay between the rest of the NecronomiCon posts and this one. There is no good reason for it other than life getting in the way. These were taken whilst wandering round the town on various days, either as part of the bus tour, or just walking. Unfortunately I did not make it onto the walking tour. Maybe next time.

The image above is a view of the two main hotels of the Con. On the Right, the Omni, where Kris and I were staying, and on the left, the Biltmore, where the bulk of the literature talks were, as well as the gaming room on the 18th floor. The Biltmore is supposedly haunted, by quite a number of ghosts, but we didn't run into any. Inside the Biltmore, are some ver old elevators, including one in the central lobby with the sign opposite attached. Yes that's right, it is an unused glass elevator, to be used for time travel only. No I don't know what they mean (please excuse the fuzzy picure).
The bus tour I took, went around some of the more less central areas related to Lovecraft. These included the site of his Grandfather Whipple Phillips mansion, where Lovecraft was raised. The house is no longer standing, but a plaque has been placed on the spot.


Ladd Observatory, and the Observatory 'Library'. There were conflicting stories as to how HPL managed to access the observatory. The bus tour driver/guide stated that the head astronomer, Professor Winslow Upton, gave a young HPL a key, whereas the caretaker of the observatory said that back then as now, there was always a caretaker on site, so even though he probably let young HPL in whenever, the current caretaker didn't think it likely that HPL had a physical key. I know who I think I believe, but I also know which makes for a better story.



Phillips family plot in the Swan Point Cemetery. Just round the corner from the Butler Hospital where both his parent's perished.

When HPL was interred, there was no headstone placed for him, so his name was inscribed on the Phillips Pillar pictured on the left. Later funds were raised, and headstones placed for HPL, as well as his father and mother.



Above here on the left we have the Fleur de Lys building. This building was immortalised in the story 'The Call of Cthulhu' where HPL described it thus:
"a hideous Victorian imitation of seventeenth-century Breton architecture which flaunts its stuccoed front amidst the lovely colonial houses on the ancient hill, and under the very shadow of the finest Georgian steeple in America." 
Not mincing his words there! On the right, we have aforementioned 'Finest Georgia steeple in America'. The steeple of the First Baptist Church. So named, as it is in fact the first Baptist church to have been built in America.  

Finally, I have a couple of other pictures taken around town on the Sunday morning, as I took a final stroll on College Hill.
Plaque placed in the grounds of the John Hay Library on the centennial of HPL's birth.


John Hay Library at Brown University, where HPL's papers were donated after his death. Unfortunately closed on Sunday's, when we had the free time to go look, so I didn't get in to have a look around.


Providence Athanaeum, private library frequented by HPL, and Poe, amongst others. Also unfortunately closed on Sundays. This was really on my wish list of places to go, and is the only place I am sad not to have got to see the inside of.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Kickstarter: The Props of Nyarlathotep, New York and Kenya

I have mentioned the work of this artist before, and backed her first Kickstarter, the results of which I'm using at the table right now in my HotOE game. As as her 3rd Kickstarter is nearing a successful close, I thought I would post to tell you all of the latest work by Delphes Desoivres on the The Props of Nyarlathotep, New York and Kenya Kickstarter.

video

I'm not in a position to drop too much money on this one, but I thought the tattoos were a wonderful idea, and I might yet go in for the Scar of the Bloody Tongue latex prosthetic.



I love the Mask of Hyama she has designed here, this version of the artefact is unique, and the idea of making a latex version that fits to the players head when they inevitably try to wear the mask is inspired.

There are 4 days left on the clock on this one, so still plenty of time to get in on it!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 31


We made it to the end. A post a day. What an achievement. Want to know a secret? I wrote most of these posts in the first few days of the month, then scheduled them all to post one a day as I knew I would never be able to keep up the momentum (except for the 19th, where I was in Providence). Is that cheating? I don't care! Anyway, on with the last question of this year's RPG a Day challenge:

Question 31: What do you anticipate most for gaming in 2018?

Playing.

That's all I can really ask for in the next year is to continue gaming with friends. All the rest is just icing on the cake.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 30


Question 30: What is an RPG genre-mashup you would mostly like to see?

Oh goodness. Mash-ups are not my strong point, certainly not the obvious ones. I do use inspiration from all genres in my games, but I tend to find 'mash-ups' can be sometimes glaring and incongruous when not done well.

Keeping this on topic, at least for this blog, and looking at the Mythos, it seems that the very nature of the Mythos means that it fits well with almost every other genre, in a way that it has already been done.

D20 fantasy style? Already done with D20 Call of Cthulhu, or Cthulhu Invictus and Cthulhu Dark Ages.
Pulp Cthulhu? Done.
Gaslight Cthuhu? Done.
Steampunk Cthulhu? Just played a game of Cogs, Cakes and Cthulhu earlier in the month.
Cyberpunk Cthulhu? There's a GURPS book for that, as well as a whole game system.
Modern day? All over that in to many ways to list.
Straight up Historical game? That's what it's all about, for any time period you could imagine.
Cthulhu vs Nazis? Done. Twice.
Near Future/Post apocalyptic? Again, not hard to find.
70s/80s Pop culture/cartoon? Got that covered.
90s/00s Pop culture/cartoon? Gotta catch 'em all!
Anthropomorphic cats? Yeah, got that!
Psychadelic dreamworld of infinite possibility? Uhuh, and again, twice.
Western Cthulhu? It's on it's way.

What I'm not seeing is Space Opera, although that has been done in film with Alien and Event Horizon, to name two off the top of my head, so they can be transferred into game mechanics at the touch of a keyboard.

Superhero Cthulhu...

Ok, so maybe that's not been done yet, 3 colour superheroes don't match up with the type of horror that the Cthulhu mythos brings, although there are corners of both the Marvel and DC universe where Cthulhu and his buddies can, and do thrive.

Gar has got the closest to this. Damn that man! Though I insist that this is not the 3 colour version of any masked vigilanties!

My Mash-up of choice? Capes vs Cthulhu, the RPG! Gauntlet thrown!



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 29


Question 29: What has been the best-run RPG Kickstarter you have backed?

There are a couple that come to mind. The Sedefkar Simulacrum, was without a doubt the best produced Kickstarter I have backed, and they came through with what they promised.

I have backed a couple of RPG books and adventures that have not yet been fulilled, ut look to be on track, including two by Stygian Fox (Fear's Sharp Little Needles, and Hudson and Brand), Pax Cthulhiana by Two Starving Gnolls, Cold Warning by Golden Goblin Press, and The Star on the Shore by Dark Cult Games.

I have not yet recieved any of these products, but in terms of communication and being on time with what they have offered, I can fault none of them. I think most kickstarters these days have learned from the mistakes of others, and not stretched themselves too thin on the stretch goals, and kept things tight and reasonable, so as to be able to finish the product they are actually selling.

Monday, August 28, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 28


Question 28: What film/series is the biggest source of quotes in your group?

Surprising to say, it's not Monty Python. Not these days. Maybe if we played more fantasy games it would make a comeback.

Firefly/Serenity is up there, as is Alien and Star Wars. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 27


Question 27: What are your essential tools for good gaming?

Gaming to me, comes in many forms. RPGs are but one facet of this many-varoius hobby of ours. And to my mind, there is but one essential ingrediant to a good gaming experinece, and that is to game with like minded and fun people. 

Get a good gaming group around you, and the rest will follow.

Thus ends todays lesson in the Tao of Gaming.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

RPG a Day: Day 26


Question 26: Which RPG has the most useful resources?

The resources that imediately comes to mind here, are props and handouts.

I love props and handouts. Physical items that help with play, advance the game, and increase immersion are things I look for. Maybe I should be a LARPer.

Of course, one game excels in this, Call of Cthulhu (seeing a pattern here yet?, this is a Lovecraftian blog after all). This excellence is not through the company who make the game. Yes most adventures come with handouts to copy and give out at the back of the book, but other games companies make/made more effort than Chaosium (the handouts for the Empire in Flames campaign by GW come to mind). No, it is not through the efforts of Chaosium that Call fo Cthulhu makes it's name, but through the efforts of fans. It would take forever to list all the ways in which the support of the fan community help the game, and indeed all lovecraftian games, but here, for those amongst you who are neophytes to the scene, is a short list of places to go for Lovecraftian handouts and props:


Add to this list, resources available though the myriad of smaller companies who produce licensed Call of Cthulhu products, and the forums and podcasts available, and you have a community and resources for any part of the game you could think of.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Suckered in!

Ok, after the great game of Cogs, Cakes and Cthulhu with Lynne Hardy at NecronomiCon, I have folded and picked up this little book!


*Sigh* Just spent the last few evenings going through old books, comics, DVDs and miniatures trying to weed out the collection to stuff I actually use and read to make space, and then I go and do something like this!

I tried!

RPG a Day: Day 25


Question 25: What is the best way to thank your GM?


Simply say thank you. Also, tell them what you enjoyed about the game/session/campaign. Feedback is always welcome.

Of course, if there's something you'd like to see improved, a good GM will always want to hear that too, so don't be shy. Criticism, if constructive, improves the experience for all involved.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Necronomicon Dissection: Part 6, Purchases

Ok, so there were many reasons for going to a Con like this, but one of them is surely to pick up on products that you can't get elsewhere, or without spending too much on postage. With this in mind, I think I was actually quite restrained in my purchases.

First off, I had a list of books to buy at the Chaosium stand (although I did spend my Cult of Chaos credit, and won one of these through the Extra Life Charity event prize draw). I was able to get the following:

Pulp Cthulhu
Two Headed Serpent
Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic
Doors To Darkness
Dead Light

Another tip to the vendors hall led me to find a couple of second hand book stores, who had all the kinds of books you'd want to find at a Con like this, including: H P Lovecraft : The Shadow over Innsmouth and other Stories of Horror, as well as a copy of August Derleth's: The Reminiscences of Solar Pons.

The Necronomicon Press stand was there, where I hooked up with a copy of TED Klein's: The Events at Poroth farm. I had this in mind to buy before I went to the Con, as finding anything written by this guy is extremely hard. I have his novel, Dark Gods, and his short story the Man with the Horn in another compilation, but when I saw they had made a chap book of this story of his, I had to buy it. I have even put off listening ot the HPPodcraft episodes on this story till after I have read it. After my game on Sunday, I was reminded by Brian Courtemance of this book, also by Necronomicon Press. So, that's on the list for next time.

During the Extra Life charity event, I bought a copy of Hypergraphia, Special NecronomiCon Providence Edition. No doubt I'll be writing on this small booklet again, as it contains an article on the disappearance of Hochelaga, right here on the island of Montreal.

Lastly, not bought at the Vendors hall, but at the Lovecraft Arts and Sciences Council, on Wednesday morning:

Off the Ancient Track: A Lovecraftian Guide to New-England and New York Jason C Eckhardt.
Quite a useful little book for wandering round town, and other parts of New England. Came in handy when I missed out on the walking tour around town.

Journal of Lovecraftian Science: Biology of the Old Ones, and the Journal of Lovecraftian Science: Essays from Yuggoth, both by Fred Lubnow with illustrations by Steve Maschuck.

The conceit of these little volumes is that Lovecraft's fiction is real, and these explain the real science behind the creatures described, complete with references to real scientific articles. I think it would be great fun to build on this by using these books as references for further scientific articles. Like a scientific version of the Lovecraft circle.

So that's all from the con, except for a bunk of pictures of the town and the bus tour, which I'll post in the next day or so.


Necronomicon Dissection: Part 5, Sunday

Sunday was a short day in terms of scheduling, but I did make it to the Chaosium Panel: Favourite Scenarios in the morning. I'm not sure that any of the scenarios metioned were a surprise to anyone in the audience, in fact there was only 1 I had not heard of. here are the members of the panel with the scenario they chose to highlight as their favourites:

Christopher Smith Adair: Sacrements of Fear
Badger McInnes: Grace Under Pressure
Chad Bouchard: Paper Chase
Paul Fricker: Unhealthy Occupation (Unspeakable Oath 14/15)
Mike Mason gave the honorable mentions to Bad Moon Rising, Dead Light and Mr Corbitt.

Of these, the only one I hadn't heard of was the one Paul spoke of, but I have been looking into them all as options to run in the future.

As this was the last day of the Con, I had initially thought to do the walking tour, but decided at the last minute to do the morning stuff at the con, then go round and take a few more pictures in town. Unfortunately, both the John Hay Library, which had an exhibit of Lovecraft's papers on display, and the Providence Anthanaeum were both closed on Sunday, so I only got photographs of the outside. This of course does mean I have things to do that I need to go back to Providence for!

The last event of the con for Kris and I was a game of Cogs, Cakes and Cthulhu. A slightly re-purposed game of Cogs, Cakes and Swordsticks, run by the game's author, Lynne Hardy. I think this may have been the best game of the weekend, although Dan's Myanmar adventure ran it a very close second place. After that, there was nothing more to do than take the long drive home. Also at the table, Brain Courtemanche, writer of the Genius Loci scenario which appeared in Doors to DarknessSurvival tally +1! Ending on a high.

Adventure Tally
Death: 4
Survival: 2
Unsure: 1

Alright, so I died more than I lived, and I had most fun in the games where I died. That about says it all from a Call of Cthulhu gaming perspective I think.

There's one last post like this to come, with the small pile of loot from the Con.

NecronomiCon Dissection: Part 4, Saturday

Saturday morning started off as all the other mornings did, at 9am with the Chaosium panel on Campaigns in Call of Cthulhu, where amongst other things, it was announced that they have revamped the Masks of Nyarlathotep. Then went into detail on what the panelists thought about writing and running longer campaigns.

MUP and Good Friends podcast. Combined podcasts for combined fun. Here are some pictures for a segment they did at the start on the eclipse. I'm not sure how that'll work in the podcast version, which both teams will be releasing, but it'll be fun to listen to them try.

Extra-Life Charity event. If you don't know what this is, find out more here. What it was in actuality was a tremendous deal of fun, where I got to sit at the table with many great names in Call of Cthulhu gaming, for example Chad Bouchard, Scott Dorward, Con-organiser Niels Hobbs (who apparently never gets to actually game at the con) Badger McInnes, and of course, the GM for the finale (where I was extremely lucky to have a seat at the table), Mike Mason. Of course there is no winning in these games, as we all died in the end, but I was very happy to be sitting there at the table as the very last roll was made. Very satisfactory and so much fun! Death tally +2. Which was small for 2 hours of gaming at tables that were essentially TPKs every 30 minutes. My highlight of the game, killing off Mat Sanderson, even though he was neither at the table, nor indeed playing at any table!

The evening started off with the H P Lovecraft Literary Podcast Comedy Quiz Show. A second chance to be in the same room as these guys, who I have been listening to for the past however many years. It was so much fun to see them, though I did not actually go up to talk to them. Coward that I am. Not that they didn't look to be very approachable, just that I'm not entirely sure what I would say to them, except, I have been listening to your show and like it. Conversation would run pretty dry after that.

The evening game was the Owls Hollow LARP. Whilst this was fun, it did confirm that I am not a LARP player. The total free form aspect of these actually eave me floundering, I need a more structured adventure format as provided by more conventional table-top games, so I'm glad I did it, but won't bother again at any future con trips. Survival tally, 1 more death.

Finally, there was the Chaosium get-together, as advertised on the Yog-Sothoth Forums, at the Boom Box which was a Karaoke bar. I was somewhat confused by the choice of venue, but after hearing Mike Mason Sing, I'm not at all surprised. He has a very fine voice! We didn't make it along for the start of the night, but it was fun while we were there.

Adventure Tally
Death: 4
Survival: 1
Unsure: 1

Keeper Jon couldn't make it in body, but was there in spirit, and puppet.

Keeper Chad discusses Monsters related to the Eclipse

HPLovecraft Literary Podcast 'Comedy' Quiz

RPG a Day: Day 24


Question 24: Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

Dean (from Adelaide), owner of the wonderful blog Cthulhu Reborn, and maker of exquisite handouts for various Call of Cthulhu adventures, and indeed the fillable pdf character sheets available on the Chaosium site, has written a series of supplements and adventures under the title Convicts & Cthulhu. Go download them, and PWYW. They are worth it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

NecronomiCon Dissection: Part 3, Friday

Friday morning started off (at the wondrously early hour of 9am) with the Chaosium panel on Pulp Vs Pure. This was set upas a debate, with Keeper Dan, and Cris Lackey on the side of Pulp, and Paul Fricker and Lynne Hardy taking the side of the Pure, To be honest, it wasn't much of a debate, as both sides were pretty much fans of both, but I was taken by the thought put forward by Chris Lackey, that all games of Call of Cthulhu are Pulp, if not in tone, then at least in execution, as that is the way that most players will end up gaming it.

A fun panel, selling me on the Pulp rules even more than I originally had been, enough so that I bought them later that day (more on that later)

Lunch time was the tie to go listen to H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast live. I have been listening to these guys pretty much as long as they have been on air, and it was both surreal and wonderful to be in the same room as them while they recorded. I look forward to hearing the podcast version!

Scritch Scratch
Straight after the podcast, it was up to the gaming room for the first of two games with Lynne Hardy. This one was the 7th ed CoC modern day adventure Scritch scratch. I think this one will see light as a published scenario some time. I played Manda, a London based TV producer, filming in back woods Yorkshire. I died in a flaming mushroom cloud of spectral rat carcasses. Tally, 1 death. I loved every minute of this game, this was the kind of game I came to the con to play in. A google search of the name of the adventure and the Keeper suggests that Lynne has actually written a story of the same name. I must look that one up.

After an hours break for food, it was time for my second game of the day. Weekend in the woods, 7th ed COC classic era game, run by Dan Comb.This had to be the worst game I have ever played in. Not the worst scenario, I must say, it seemed quite well written, after all, the GM pretty much sat and read it out to us anyway.

I could go on at great length as to why this was a badly run game, and indeed, in the bar afterwards I did. And the next day when I ran into two of the other players. the other players turned out to be Jeff Erwin of the Into the Darkness Podcast, who, as I talked to him after the Podcasting for Gaming panel the next day, invited me to get in touch to game with them. Another of the Players was Daupo, whom we met the next day in the vendors hall, and where we commiserated with each other over the horror that was the previous day's game. Anyway my character survived, so tally 1 survival.

What I will say about this game is as follows. Before the con, I did consider adding my name as a Keeper to the con list. I didn't do this, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I have never run a con game, nor any game with such a short duration, so was extremely hesitant as to my abilities to make the format work. Secondly, I was insecure in my keepering abilities, and how they would go over with such an expert crowd. Lastly, I wanted to game, not keeper, as I get to do that here.
After this debacle, I will never doubt my abilities again, though I will say I need to practice games of this length before volunteering to keeper at the next NecronomiCon.

The evening there was supposed to be the Yog-Sothoth forums meet up, Maybe it happened, I dunno, I was held hostage at the table for 5 hours, so Kris and I went to the bar, had a couple drinks anyway, then went back to the hotel.

Adventurer tally:
Death: 1
Survival: 1
Unsure: 1



RPG a Day: Day 23


Question 23: Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

I'm not a great one for noticing design and layout, except for when it is done badly, I think this hots me more than when it's well done, as this is one of those things that the goal is to make something so user friendly that the actual layout isn't what hits the normal user.

I can think of a few RPGs that hit me as having bad layout. Old games aside of course, as back in the day we didn't really think of these things so much.

Call of Cthulhu 6th ed, English version, is one such layout. They got into the habit of making huge columns down the side of the pages with repeated art that just took up space, and padded out the book for nothing. This added with the use of dark pages with grey text. *Shudder*

However, the flip side is the way the european verions of Call of Cthulhu (German version by Pegasus, and French version by Sans Detour) changed how RPG books were made. With both art work and layout changes that literally rewrote the rules on RPG sourcebook design.

I never owned any of these versions, even though the French versions are readily avaiable here in Quebec, but what I have seen is pretty Jaw-Dropping. Furthermore, these versions of the game have had a huge impact on how Call of Cthulhu 7th ed was designed and produced, especially the new version of "S.Petersen's Field Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors".

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

NecronomiCon Dissection: Part 2, Thursday

Or how I survived the Con, Part 2. As I previously stated, this summary is split over five posts. The first four posts covering the days of the con, and the last being what I purchased and other pictures of things I saw.

The con proper didn't start till about 1pm, so we had the morning free. First we wandered up college hill, taking some pics of the area, then into the Ars Necronomica exhibition. The level of art was really very high. We are not talking fan art here.










After that, we had booked on to the Providence HPL Bus Tour. Met Keeper Dan from the MUP. As part of the tour, we saw the site of his birthplace (his Grandfather's mansion is long gone), a couple of his homes, as well as his grave and the Ladd observatory, where he did spend some time. There are conflicting reports as to how much time, and whether or not he had a key or did any observations The bus driver/tour guide said yes, the observatory caretaker said no, there's always a caretaker, who let him in, rather than giving him a key), but either way, the place is still very cool, and maintained as it was then.

I think I'm actually going to break the pictures of the tour up into smaller posts, as there are a few of them. Once I do all these summary posts, I'll get right on with the picture posts. So much content from one quick 4 day trip! However, the Good Friends of Jackson Elias seem to have done the same tour, and have posted some videos of the stops here.

After the tour, it was back to the hotels to get on with the gaming The first game was a Delta Green game with Dan Alban for Monsoon over Myanmar. The prep this guy had gone to in terms of setting the scene, and the way he wove actual Myanmar culture and history into the mythos was very well done. A lot of fun was had by all at the table. I didn't manage to figure out who was the other player who had TPKed my last squad, but I did make it through to the finale, and we did break up the Animist cult that was eating the locals and enemy alike, even though it is not entirely clear that we made it out of the jungle after that! So score for living through the adventure, that's a maybe.

RPG a Day: Day 22


Question 22: Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

The ones where I know the rules.

For me it isn't so much the RPG rules that dictate what I play, but the kind of adventures that can be told through the system at the table.

Though if you take this question to mean, rules aside, what is easiest to run? Then it has to be any game where I know enough of the setting to be able to improvise freely. There are a few games I can do that with due to many years of by-in in the past, but I can't see many newer games allowing me to have the time to do this unless they are based in the real world, or near enough!