Back before GenCon 2011, I went on a bit of a Crowdfunding spree, sponsoring Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, Bulldogs!, Technoir RPG, and Stealing Cthulhu. Today, the last of the lot has arrived all the way from the British Isles – Stealing Cthulhu is here! This is more a recounting the pilgrimage of Stealing Cthulhu than a proper review.
From Graham Walmsley‘s Thieves of Time site:
The book is 175 pages and 30,000 words long (6 by 9 inches), with original art by Jennifer Rodgers and . It is annotated throughout by Kenneth Hite, Gareth Hanrahan and Jason Morningstar. It’s designed for use with any roleplaying system: Call of Cthulhu, Trail of Cthulhu, Nemesis, Cthulhu Dark or whatever you enjoy playing.
I've never played a game of the venerable Call of Cthulhu nor any of it's relatives (i.e. Trail of Cthulhu, Delta Green, Cthulhutech, d20 Cthulhu, or Cthulhu Dark), but have always been intrigued.
In fact, I've only read a few of H.P. Lovecraft's stories. But the Cthulhu Mythos permeates the modern geek culture. Something about slipping into madness and ancient beings from beyond time and space with inhuman motivations resonates with the zeitgeist of today.
Why Did I Buy It?
Earlier in the year, I purchased Graham Walmsley's “Play Unsafe", a book about improvising in role-playing games. It is exceptionally well written, with ample advice for sharing in a collaborative
I then traded to get a copy of Graham Walmsley's “A Taste for Murder.” It is a wonderfully well written game that melds the “Importance of Being Ernest” with a murder mystery. “A Taste For Murder” builds on Graham's “Play Unsafe” book. I even used the book when I demonstrated “how to protect your game books.”
So when I saw that Graham was running an IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign for running Cthulhu games, I pulled the trigger and sponsored the project.
First Came the PDF
After the project was funded and the book was edited, Graham provided the backers with the PDF version of the book.
Graham breaks down the components of a Lovecraftian story and translates them to their RPG counterpart - Stealing Scenarios, Locations, Patterns, and Descriptions. I read the book on my tablet and found the PDF version a bit more challenging to read.
In part, the pages have hand-written annotations that are a bit harder to read in electronic form. The bigger problem, by far, is that I personally have a hard time reading on my tablet. I get distracted and start checking Twitter or my RSS feed.
Then Came the Wait
The PDF was released to backers on June 17, 2011. The book was available for purchase at GenCon 2011 – This was a decision made by Graham that raised some ire.
While I certainly wanted my “shiny” right away, I also knew that Graham uses his trips to the US as a means of transporting small press books across the Atlantic. He was able to bring copies of Stealing Cthulhu to sell at GenCon at Pelgrane Press's booth. He was then able to return to Britain with small press books to sell in his webstore. This service has helped bring small press books to European fans by greatly reducing international shipping costs.
Knowing this, and honestly having lots of other books to read, I simply waited. I trusted Graham, having briefly talked with him at GenCon, would get the books to me as soon as was humanly feasible.
Then Came the Book
Today, December 1st, 2011, and I have received my physical copy. Given that I haven't yet finished reading the book, I can't do a proper review. However, since I accidentally published this article, I figured I'd better write something about Stealing Cthulhu.
The physical book is fantastic! And flipping through the book, the hand-written annotations evoke an ominous tone – Herein lies the madness of delving too deeply into the mythos.
Stealing Cthulhu argues that many Cthulhu scenarios are very cliched and original scenarios can be found in Lovecraft's writings. Stealing Cthulhu is intended as a guide for crafting these adventures. The book provides tools, insights, and prompts for the disassembly of the short-stories and reassembly into scenarios.
Though it may be a bit premature…“catacomb.”