Kicking Cthulhu

25 June, 2013

The aim of doing using Kickstarter for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition was always to produce the best quality of book production. Chaosium are understandably risk-averse, and would not seek to publish a deluxe hardcover book without the assurance that it would sell.

Thus, when the Kickstarter began the options were limited to softcover or hardcover books, each limited to black and white interior layout. As the project progressed and money was pledged, stretch goals were met. First the Arkham Country Map and floor plans, fairly modest proposals, but nice additions to the book. Then at 70K we saw the addition of colour plates to the Keeper’s Rulebook. This would provide something akin to the old Gaslight book.


Next came a slipcase, the promise of a comprehensive index (linking from the Keeper’s Rulebook and the Investigator’s Handbook) and a big art boost.

A few days in to the Kickstarter Chaosium posted the pledge level for the deluxe editions. These are superior quality hardcover books, not true leather, but leatherette. There were a lot of requests for stitched bindings from the backers. What this means is that the pages are printed and folded, then stitched rather than glued together, producing a much stronger book. Before long Chaosium announced that all the hardcovers would have stitched binding.

The next upgrade was from black and white to two-colour. The latter is black and white plus one other colour. It’s a halfway house between monochrome and colour.

There was little else that could be done to improve the quality of the books. Little else that is aside from one major thing; full colour. This step required careful consideration. If the full colour route was adopted this would require a longer development time to create more colour artwork and would then set the printing schedule back a couple of months. Would the backers accept this? The only solution was to poll the backers and get their thoughts.

Spanish art

Illustration from the Spanish edition

I thought the backers would be all for full colour. Over the last few years I’ve seen many posts about how wonderful the French edition is. Then there’s the equally beautiful Spanish edition. The poll came out approximately 50-50. The comments that accompanied the poll revealed that the backers priority was for clarity, and that many feared that colour would produce a pretty, but less usable rulebook. A very real concern and one that Chaosium shared.

Work is now in progress on samples of the colour layout and it would be great to get them to a stage to show the backers. A small sample was posted with the stretch goal, and that displayed the restrained use of colour that I expect to see in the final books.

Full colour!

It’s perhaps worth mentioning the Petersen’s Field Guides at this point. They will also be full colour, will use colour in a more extravagant style. I don’t think it’s been confirmed yet, but rumour has it that these books will be produced by the French licensee.

This would give us the best of both worlds – a rulebook that provides the rules in a clear manner that is pleasing to the eye, along with the ability to insert colour illustrations and colour plates wherever they are best suited. Alongside these there would be the more colourful field guides which look as if they have been used in the field, resplendent in full-colour art and handwritten notes for the reader to wonder over!

SPan MoN

Double page spread from the Spanish Masks of Nyarlathotep

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