Forty-five years ago, I drove to Chicago for an Army entrance test. I scored high on the “fold this box in your head & choose the correct one below” questions. They wanted to enlist me as a mapmaker; I wanted to be a graphic designer, so I drove back home a civilian.
(If I’d known map making was my buddy Larry Elmore‘s Army MOS, I’d’ve been smarter & enlisted.)
Still, those box-folding-in-your-head skills have come in handy lately for print-&-play PDFs of cards & bookmarks. The format I’ve come up with lets you choose between printing one side only & folding down the middle for front & back, or printing on both sides with front & back matched up.
There’s a “Cosmic Horror” sale on at DriveThruRPG. I was curious to see whether Bookmark Cthulhu made it on the list and am happy to see that it did.
As a designer, I fall into the camp that Lovecraft’s protagonists seldom go insane. Instead, their dread grows toward a breaking point. His secondary characters may be insane. His protagonists face terror.
Don’t get me wrong, the groundbreaking sanity rules in the Call of Cthulhu RPG do a great job of portraying the growing fragility of the human mind as it gains more knowledge of the mythos. But it seems to me that most Lovecraftian RPGs since have mimicked CoC sanity rules only as a sort of mental Hit Points, losing the cosmic horror.
I went with a growing dread that increasingly risks your abilities with each new shock.
It also seems to me that a bestiary of Lovecraftian creatures robs some of the horror—and I couldn’t fit a bestiary on a bookmark anyway. 🙂 So there’s a random table of Lovecraft’s most-used adjectives, resulting in creatures like “an accursed, spectral, fungoid nightmare” or “a blasphemous, irridescent, gibbering thing.” What do those conjure up in your mind’s eye?
Given that its a Bookmark HP RPG sourcebookmark, the more Traits, the more powerful the being as a matter of course.
So, though Bookmark Cthulhu is “merely” a bookmark, I’d suggest that it better conveys Lovecraftian horror than many longer works.
Back in the early 1980’s, when I worked in a factory, had few children, and the future was far distant, I actually had time to paint miniatures for my characters. (I’m not saying they were very good, but at the time they seemed so.)
That guy in blue up front is the earliest I remember playing, a half-elf sorcerer thief, and the gal in purple just behind him, Mistress Goldleaf, was an elvish NPC, a full mage he developed a crush on. (The unpainted figure in black is a recent sculpt of him, a gift from my old friend and GDW colleague Steve Maggi.) Since that time, Raedel has shown up here and there as an example PC sheet in one of my own RPGs. Needless to say, I’m fond of him.
Originally the Pictish warrior just to the right of new Raedel, Twill went on to become a burglar, a second story man in various campaigns by various GMs, and sometimes in solo play since. He had a code of honor that basically cast himself as Robin Hood, though he was pretty much the only person on his “give to the poor” list. He once burned a merchant’s house down for having sent some bully boys to rough him up after one successful caper.
Petit Louis, Vampire
I no longer paint minis, so he isn’t in this lot, but per Dracula his image couldn’t be captured anyway. Let’s pretend he’s there but we just can’t see him.
Louis is a bastard son of Louis 14, and was a courtly sycophant by necessity. He’s a small guy (hence “Petit” Louis), vampirized at age 17. And despite the new supernatural powers, he’s amused that feigning obsequiousness to the posh provides a convenient source of both blood and high fashion. Having only recently left the “court” of Donald Trump, Louis has been hanging out in Hollywood, grooming a starlet by whispering a word in the ears of a few movers and shakers.
Currently he’s hiding out somewhere with his own little retinue*, recuperating from getting his ass kicked in a bathroom stall by a paparazzo dogging the starlet’s heels. (I had a series of really poor dice rolls, starting with failure to mesmerize.)
You can probably tell that this is my favorite character, originally statted out in the D6xD6 “Fear the Light” setting, now in the “Dracula’s Get!” setting for the Bookmark HP RPG. He’s shown up in a few TikTok videos a year ago, and will likely do so on YouTube Shorts soon.
As you can see in the photo, to adapt BNHP rules to the unique dice of the tabletop game, I had to use a large postcard size, effectively two bookmarks worth of content side-by-side.
The SFR folks say that they’ll have a special bundle deal at Gen Con, of the RPG with other Dragon Dice products. Further details to follow as I learn more.
And with the Gen Con purchase, I’m including a free code for the print-and-play PDF on DriveThruRPG.
You may be aware that the D6xD6 RPG rules (free here) included a Dragon Dicesetting chapter adapting the former to the latter. But this is the first standalone RPG for the world of Esfah, specifically using the full range of dice from that game.
The Dragon Dice battle game was the crowning achievement of my years at TSR, a project into which I poured heart and soul, and I’ve been gratified to see it live and grow over the decades since, in the hands of SFR. Obviously since retirement I’ve also poured heart and soul into my new RPGs; it’s a great feeling to see the original hand-in-hand with the latest of those.
Here’s a big thank you to SFR, Inc. for encouraging the project. It’s much appreciated.