Monday, 16 June 2014

Trail of Cthulhu: Soldiers of Pen and Ink

As Simon Rogers over at Pelgrane has been kind enough to Tweet about the cover art, I thought I'd take this opportunity to talk a little about an upcoming project: Soldiers of Pen and Ink, a mammoth Trail of Cthulhu scenario set during the Spanish Civil War. Let me give you the official precis:

The protagonists, sponsored by the Paris-based political organisation BNVS, have come to Spain to shoot a documentary on the war, and find themselves marooned in Madrid. One of their team goes missing, and their literary colleagues say it’s pointless – even dangerous – to ask what happened to him. In a war of competing ideologies, unorthodoxy can merit the death penalty, but is this Communist oppression or something more sinister?

The thing's huge - more than 43,000 words - and includes, among other things, four new character archetypes: the Extremist, Volunteer, Black Marketeer and Spy. For those of you who picked up Dulce et Decorum Est and liked the lists of tanks and aircraft, there's new stats here for even more military equipment. There's also a new Ability, Politics, and a new take on Hastur the Unspeakable and his terrifying Byakhee: The Hastur Mneme.

I really don't want to give away any plot details here, but I will say this: I loved writing it, am thrilled to see it come to completion at long last, and hope you enjoy playing it as much as I did writing it!

It is the duty of every citizen to defend Carcosa to the last drop of his blood!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Trail of Cthulhu: Arcane Tomes

From time to time I prepare a brief description of arcane tomes to drop into my own campaign, to be used whenever the characters go looking for something antiquarian and interesting and I don't have a plot-specific book to give them. I thought this might be of some use to you, particularly if you play Bookhounds, and as I have a quiet moment - a rare thing, these days - I've dusted off some of those old notes, as follows:

Zohar Kabbalist foundational work. Quarto bound in pale cream leather (brain-tanned) with the inscription Mensis meus vinco eram , Diabolus suus vinco eram (translation: Montagu my master was, the Devil his master was: a reference to Hellfire Club member John Montague, Earl of Sandwich); 1758 edition, Guild of Stationers mark with the printer listed as Thomas Beckton. Language: Latin.Study award: 1 dedicated pool point Latin, Occult or Theology, player's choice. Potential magic: 1 point.

Observations on Several Parts of Africa Author Sir Wade Jermyn. Octavo bound in limp vellum, binding water damaged, leather thongs beginning to fail. Signature on title page: August Schynse [Keeper's note: German missionary and explorer]. Listed as 1 of 240, 1768 edition, printer a Cairene identified only as του δύση καλά [translation: of the Western Well]. Language: Greek, though there are handwritten notes in German. Book also includes several sketches signed by A.S., in a small packet. One of the sketches has a handwritten note, ein Ritus des wich aus Volk  [translation: a rite of the shunned people], and depicts a ceremony in honor of Ahtu [Keeper: Nyarlathotep]. Study award: 1 dedicated point History, Anthropology or Archaeology, player's choice. Cthulhu Mythos: +1

The Secret Doctrine, Author Madame Blavatski. 2 of 3 volumes (Cosmogenesis is missing), each quarto bound  in wet-blue leather with gold inlay.  Anthrogenesis is scorched and slightly smoke-damaged. 1888 edition, printer Ettrick and Sons, Norwich. Study award: 1 dedicated point Occult or Theology, player's choice.  

Oracles of Nostradamus Author: unknown. Quarto bound in lamb skin, slightly foxed (markings on back cover). Published by the Milanese printer and engraver Baldini, 1704 edition. Excellent copper-plate engravings. Language: Italian.Study award: 1 dedicated point Occult or History, player's choice.

Culto del trasporto mangiatori Author: unknown. Folio bound in what appears to be brain-tanned leather [Mythos: ghoul skin] with the inscription egli chi passeggiata sotto il lapide avuto questo fatto , possesso dal scritto del padrone [translation: he who walks beneath the graves had this done, at the behest of the master]. Handwritten volume, time of binding unknown but probably early 19th century. Several of the later sections appear to have been excised [some of the spells have been cut out of the book]. Language: Italian. A small silver whistle is tied to the book by a length of black leather. [note on title page: il richiamare e controllo del stella bestia, il segno di potere. translation: to invoke and control the star beast with the sign of power.]  Study award: 1 dedicated point Occult or History, player's choice. Cthulhu Mythos: +1. Spells: none, or one; Keeper's choice as to what's left, given that much has been removed.

The Book of Werewolves Author: Sabine Baring-Gould. Octavo bound in chromium blue leather, second edition 1867 by the London bookmakers Rogers and Sons. Signed by the author to ‘Charles, in the hope that it may be of some small use.’ [Keeper: persistent research might indicate Charles Prescott, occultist and suicide 1871, as the possible recipient.] Study award: 1 dedicated point Occult, Anthropology or History, player's choice. Potential magic: 1 point. Special: this book was in Prescott's hands on the night he shot himself with a silver bullet. Each night, at 1 in the morning, it bleeds; Stability 3 to witness. It remains unstained after each event, but anything close to it - other books on the shelf, the shelf itself - may end up spotted with blood.

Azathoth and Other Horrors Poetry by Edward Pickman Derby; also includes several sketch drawings by M.S. [Keeper: a London artist, Miles Shipley] based on the poems. 1919 Onyx Sphinx Press edition, with repaired binding. This copy was Shipley’s personal volume; he has decorated the interior and cover with his own designs.Study award: 1 dedicated point Art. Potential magic: 1 point. Special: due to Shipley's contact with the Serpent People - see further Masks of Nyarlathotep - some of the markings on the book have special significance to the People. Another Serpent, seeing these marks, would become incredibly agitated and want to find out more. Whether or not the Serpent would actually stoop to paying good money for it is another matter; the People aren't in the habit of cooperating with monkeys.

Unpublished Monograph Author: unknown. 1915, limp vellum binding. The bookmaker is unknown but, judging by the style and materials, was most likely an Oxford binder working for one of the colleges.  The Merton College coat of arms is stamped on the interior cover. The monograph is signed ‘In gratitude, TSE.’ Handwriting analysis may tentatively identify the writing as T.S. Eliot. It is ‘a comparison of the runic symbols, recently discovered, to the early classic Vedic, with notes as to discrepancies and possible alternate translations.’ Study award: 1 dedicated point History (Mi-Go Runes). Potential magic: 1 point.

I hope you find this useful! I may return to this list with more books, later on.