East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Fear of finishing, part 2

And let’s admit it, it is fitting that a post about the endless reworking / rewriting / tweaking / revising we do to our work in order to push the finish line as far as possible should have a second part.
I mean, the first was not quite finished, right?

Well, here is where I talk about academia, roleplaying games, and “the funny incidents that happen when you try and make your living as a writer” (remember? this was the topic of the comic book I was told to start posting instead of these useless words I am putting on my blog and nobody reads anyway).

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There was a strong and positive response to my idea of doing a general catalog/overview of pulp roleplaying – so positive in fact that a fan decided to help, by giving me as a present a nice selection of Achtung!Cthulhu handbooks (thanks, Alex!)


The result of a spectacularly successful Kickstarter campaign, the Achtung!Cthulhu line is a set of handbooks designed to allow for playing scenarios against the Lovecraftian horrors of the Cthulhu Mythos during the late 1930s and early 1940s – in other words, during the Second World War. Continue reading


The Miskatonic Repository

On the 12th of this month, Chaosium announced on their blog the forthcoming Miskatonic Repository, basically doing what D&D and TORG and other roleplaying games are doing: opening the door to user-created content.


Through the Miskatonic Repository, it will be possible to create and distribute Call of Cthulhu material on DriveThruRPG…

Here’s how it works – you create content, format it to our design template, and then upload the PDF to the site. Your work becomes part of the Miskatonic Repository content on DriveThruRPG – able to be accessed by the community and, optionally, providing a financial return to you.

Meaning it will be possible to distribute these contents as pay what you want, or for free, or for a fixed price. Continue reading


Nyarlathotep, probably

Masks_of_Nyarlathotep_(3rd_Edition)I mentioned Masks of Nyarlathotep a few days back, talking about the Pulp Cthulhu handbook.
Now, for the uninitiated, Mask of Nyarlathotep is probably the War & Peace of Call of Cthulhu, if not of the whole horror gaming genre.
Granted, Beyond the Mountains of Madness is bigger, and Horror on the Orient Express is probably creepier, but for globe-trotting variety, implied menace, cast of characters and locations, plot intricacies and sheer gaming goodness, Mask of Nyarlathotep remains a classic, sort of the standard against which Call of Cthulhu scenarios are evaluated. Continue reading

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Pulp Cthulhu

Pulp Cthulhu – where has this thing been all my life?

51w9H3aTqiL._AC_UL320_SR244,320_Now, the answer is simple – it was in a folder filled with notes on my gaming table, sitting underneath my copy of Call of Cthulhu, 3th edition.
Meaning, we always played Call of Cthulhu as a pulp game.
I played with other keepers, that were more “lovecraftian”, or maybe just more depressed, or more sadistic – in the end, adventures lost their meaning as character after character died horribly and in the end nothing hung together anymore.


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Hunters of Legends

Roleplaying games are great for learning languages.
Without D&D, my brother would have never learned English, and I used the gorgeous French version of Call of Cthulhu, L’Appel de Cthulhu, by Sans Detour, to brush up my French, and give it a thorough workout.
Now, it’s time for some Spanish – courtesy of NOSOLOROL Ediciones and their fine book, Cazadores de Leyendas.

cazadoresSo, ok – I’m a sucker for pulp games.
I saw the cover and I knew I had to take a look at this baby.
My birthday arrived, and my brother sort of had this vibe, and he knew somehow I was interested in it, and therefore he gave it to me as a gift.

Published in February 2013, Cazadores de Leyendas (Legend Hunters) is a 132 pages pulp adventure campaign, distributed as a PDf with color cover and black and white interior illustrations.
It was written by Ismael Diaz Sacaluga, and runs on the D20 system.

The set-up is classic – it’s the second half of the thirties, and the Nazis are looking for mystical artifacts to further their plans of world domination. The British intelligence sets up a team of adventurers to get at the artifacts before the Nazis. The players take the roles of members of this MI6 offshoot group.
Nice and smooth.

The Indiana Jones movies were clearly an inspiration – and basically, this campaign is probably the closest you can get to the Indiana Jones franchise without the Lucas & Spielberg lawyers coming after you with bullwhips and guns.
And it’s fine.

The book provides a general framework for the campaign, ample Keeper’s notes, five pre-generated, well detailed characters, and a campaign in ten episodes spanning the years 1936 and 1937:

  1. The Mask of Fu Kang
  2. The Mouth of Hell
  3. Zimmer’s Evil
  4. Venetian Masque
  5. The Devils Hunters
  6. The Last Will of Seneca
  7. The Return of Ravek
  8. The Ring of Odin
  9. The Heart of the Beast
  10. The Final Plague

Screenshot from 2013-05-29 05:07:12The book also includes a condensed, lightweight but fully functional version of the D20 system.

The campaign grants a fair amount of globe-trotting (Nepal, Egypt, Italy, England etc.) and pitches the heroes against the Thulegesellschaft.

The scenarios making up the campaign are fun, well-detailed and with some nice touches (like suggesting the music for each scene, from pulp adventure movie soundtracks). The cast of NPCs is large and varied. The artifacts are interesting, and the overall plot is well designed.
Some of the artwork is nothing to write home about, but most of it is still more than adequate, and a pair of pieces are very very good (such as the one here on the left).

I personally do not care for theD20 system, but converting this baby to a more suitable system (such as Savage Worlds, for instance) is not a big deal.
Some scenarios might require some tweaking – but the book leaves ample space for customization.

All in all, a fine addition to my collection of pulp-themed games.
And a good opportunity to improve my Spanish.