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We’ve just carried out our second video interview, this time with Dominic McDowell, Andrew Kenrick and Jon Hodgson of Cubicle 7. Most of the interview is about the ongoing Cthulhu Britannica London boxed set Kickstarter, but the team also gave us details and tantalising hints about a number of other upcoming Cthulhu-related projects.

There are a few audio hiccoughs in the recording, but it should all be intelligible. We’ll put out an audio-only version as soon as we can, as the Kickstarter only has a week to go! You’d better get in there quickly if you want some of the Kickstarter-specific goodies.

Yesterday, I arrived home to find a mysterious package awaiting for me… To be fair, this isn’t a rare occurrence for me, given I do a LOT of my shopping online. Part of me feels sorry for the poor postman that has to deliver these… but then I remember the goodness that’s contained within 😉

This one particular package got me thinking though. It was marked as having come from Sofia. “What the hell have I ordered from there!?” I thought. We’d recently played the Sofia chapter in “Horror on the Orient Express” but that’s about the only thing that my poor little memory could come up with. So, I opened it up, wondering what I might find, and I was confronted by the horror below!


A beer mug and a tiki mug in the guise of the Great Old One himself – items I’d pledged for on Kickstarter a loooooong time ago that had finally arrived. Part of my confusion was that I’d got it in my head that they were going to be shipped from Scotland. Who knows, maybe they did… they just ended up going a LONG way round.

This got me thinking about Cthulhu themed Kickstarters. Now, as many of my friends know, I back a lot of projects on Kickstarter (normally by getting a notification from the website to say “Hey, Matt’s backed another project!” or when I post links up on Facebook and G+ to projects that I think others further afield might be interested in). Admittedly, I’ve backed quite a few projects now (126 to date) and have had to build a spreadsheet to keep track of what I’ve pledged for, what rewards I have received, what I am still waiting for, etc. When I went back to have a look at them, I found that of the 126 I’ve backed, 31 of them have been related to Cthulhu or Lovecraft in general. I know, I can hear the gasps of shock and surprise now, dear reader 😉

There’s quite a lot of different projects up there that have been inspired by the Mythos, and I thought it would be a nice theme for an article to write up which one’s I’ve seen up there, showcasing some of the good stuff that crowdfunding has made possible.

For those unfamiliar with Kickstarter, the premise is pretty simple. Someone comes up with a nice idea for a product that they would like to create. They need money to make it happen. They go to Kickstarter and create a page that states if they received X amount of cash, the product will become a reality. The page remains open for about a month or so, in which time backers can pledge varying amounts to receive a variety of rewards. If it doesn’t hit it’s funding goal, no money is taken. If it reaches the goal, they take the cash, and then backers wait to receive the product once it’s ready. This can take a varying length of time, depending on the complexity of the product in question.

First off though, projects currently running.


Cthulhu Britannica: London Box Set

A huge box-set for the Cthulhu Britannica line by Cubicle 7.


Call of Cthulhu, the Writhing Dark Playing Cards and Tarot

A deck of playing cards, a tarot deck, and more extras being added as stretch goals are being hit.


Cthulhu Playing Cards

A deck of playing cards and a nice Cthulhu idol-container.


The following campaigns have already come to an end – some products being readily available, others are still in production.


A Study in Emerald

A Study in Emerald
A board game based on the Mythos short story of the same name by Neil Gaiman.


Achtung Cthulhu

Achtung Cthulhu
RPG set in WW2, pitting the Allies against the horrors of the Mythos.


Baby's First Mythos

Baby’s First Mythos
Third edition of the book every cultist’s child should be brought up reading 😉


Blasphemous Cocktails

Blasphemous Cocktails
Ahhh, if ever there was a perfect book for me 🙂 A cocktail guide with Mythos inspirations.


Bumps in the Night

Bumps in the Night
A collection of scenarios featuring non-Mythos content from Pagan Publishing for Call of Cthulhu.


Call of Cthulhu Playing Cards

Call of Cthulhu Playing Cards
A deck of playing cards (one of many!).


Call of Cthulhu

Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, a project very dear to us over at The Good Friends of Jackson Elias!


Cthulhu & Zombie Mugs

Cthulhu & Zombie Mugs
A project that originally started as just Zombie head mugs, but then partnered with Actung Cthulhu to offer Cthulhu-head mugs.


Cthulhu Christmas Cards

Cthulhu Christmas Cards
Just the kind of seasons greetings cards that every cultist wants to get 🙂


Cthulhu Great Old One 1

Cthulhu the Great Old One Card Game
Sadly, this one didn’t achieve enough funding, but it would have been a tarot-card sized card games based on Old Maid.


Cthulhu Great Old One 2

Cthulhu the Great Old One Playing Cards
The artwork for the project above was adapted and became a successfully funded playing card deck project!


Cthulhu Ski Mask

Cthulhu Ski Mask
Produced by Toy Vault, of plush Cthulhu fame, just what every cultist needs to keep warm on those long cold nights out in the wildness summoning eldritch horrors 🙂


Cthulhu vs Vikings

Cthulhu vs the Vikings
A graphic novel adaptation of a popular web comic, along with a viking board game, featuring Deep One pieces.


Cthulhu Wars

Cthulhu Wars
The massive board game (which Paul got to play at GenCon this year) of Mythos battles across the world. It was originally envisioned as a computer game, but the project didn’t successfully fund. When it relaunched as a board game, it was a massive success.


The Doom that Came to Fiddle Creak

The Doom that Came to Fiddle Creak
A puppet theater show of Mythos horror. Yeah, you heard me right – puppets!


The Horror in Clay

The Horror in Clay
A project predating the Cthulhu & Zombie mug campaign, solely producing Cthulhu-style tiki mugs.


Horror on the Orient Express

Horror on the Orient Express
The re-release of the classic campaign, expanded and updated for 7th Edition.


Island of Ignorance

Island of Ignorance
The Third Cthulhu Companion, following the previous Chaosium releases, this time from Golden Goblin Press.


Littlest Lovecraft

The Littlest Lovecraft
A cute little graphic adaptation of the Call of Cthulhu story as a children’s book. They also did some wonderful little gold coin mementos that you could add to your pledge.


The Littlest Shoggoth

The Littlest Shoggoth
A cartoon book for the festive period telling the story of the world’s smallest Shoggoth and how he rises to power as Christmas – definitely got a giggle out of me 🙂


Mask of the Other

Mask of the Other
Audio-book release of a Lovecraftian novel by Greg Stolze. I love his work!


Necronomicon Playing Cards

Necronomicon Playing Cards
Another Mythos inspired playing card deck.


Puffed Shoggoths

Puffed Shoggoths
An art book, featuring works inspired by the Mythos and various individual Lovecraft stories.


Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man

Sense of the Sleight of Hand Man
The Dreamlands campaign from Arc Dream Publishing for Call of Cthulhu.


Steampunk Cthulhu

Steampunk Cthulhu Playing Cards
Yet another Mythos inspired playing card deck.


Through a Glass Darkly

Through a Glass Darkly
The latest Delta Green novel (and the first project I backed on Kickstarter!)



A game of Lovecraftian horror using the Apocalypse World system.


Very Hungry Cthulhupillar

The Very Hungry Cthulhupillar
Another example of how to expose children to the Mythos! Get them whilst they’re young 😉


Cthulhu projects appear all the time on the site. I usually search for “Cthulhu” and “Lovecraft” every couple of days to keep on top of new projects. There’s a lot more up there admittedly that I haven’t linked to, but in most cases (like the ones above) the trend is that almost all of them are fully funded, and more.

For the moment, at least, it looks like there’s going to be plenty of Mythos goodness to get your tentacles into on Kickstarter!

The Dyatlov Pass Incident (USA/UK/Russia, 2013)


The Dyatlov Pass Incident (known as Devil’s Pass in the USA) would be an easy film to dislike. It takes its inspiration from a notorious real-world incident which has become one of the Internet’s favourite creepy stories, but glosses over the actual events in favour of creating its own narrative. With the exception of an unexpectedly dark and clever ending, it shows us little we have not seen before, and at times feels almost like The Blair Witch Project goes mountain climbing. Worst of all, it is another bloody found footage film, albeit one that uses the conceit of a documentary film shoot to give us better film quality and a reason for most of the scenes existing. Despite all of these factors, I found myself gripped throughout the film and was left thinking about it for some time afterwards.

dyatlov 1

Like The Bay, this is a found footage film which has an experienced director at the helm (Renny Harlin, who may not have the greatest track record in cinema, but at least knows what he’s doing), along with a professional cast and crew, and, most importantly, a budget. It’s not just 90 minutes of some drama school graduates running around an abandoned location, shaking a camcorder and screaming. Admittedly, a lot of the third act does take place in an abandoned location, and there is some running around and screaming, but it’s done sparingly and mitigated by some strong effects work and decent acting.

dyatlov 2

If you are unfamiliar with the actual Dyatlov Pass Incident, it involved the death of a group of experienced ski hikers in the Ural mountains in 1959. Some of their bodies were found unclothed, and all had died of hypothermia, although some had also sustained other injuries. The Soviet authorities closed the area for some years afterwards, leading to the birth of a range of conspiracy theories.

dyatlov 3

The set-up for The Dyatlov Pass Incident is that a group of American students (played almost entirely by British actors — it was strange to see the barman from Misfits sporting an American accent) have decided to make a film exploring the incident and to try to uncover the truth behind it. To this end, they travel to Russia, interview a few people who speak surprisingly good English, and then hike up to the pass itself. Inevitably, weird shit happens, bringing death and madness.

dyatlov 4 

The conspiracy theory at the heart of The Dyatlov Pass Incident involves military experimentation that falls well within the territory of mad science. The secret bunker that the film crew uncover would be at home in a game of Cold City or Hot War, with its subterranean laboratories containing things that used to be human, and the parallels drawn with the Philadelphia Experiment. The use of Cold War paranoia and weird science ground the horrors of The Dyatlov Pass Incident in the real world, but gives it licence to be imaginative and frightening.

 dyatlov 5

What makes The Dyatlov Pass Incident stand out, apart from being competently made, is the imagination with which it approaches its subject matter. It is never afraid to be strange, and it expects the audience to keep up with it. This pays off in a chilling and sad ending that will stay with the viewer for some time. It is always refreshing to see a horror film that has the courage of its convictions, and this forgives some of the predictability and looseness with historical fact that could otherwise have made The Dyatlov Pass Incident an also-ran.

dyatlov 6

While The Dyatlov Pass Incident has not changed my mind about found footage films, it has at least convinced me that The Bay wasn’t a fluke; they don’t have to be amateurish exercises, and can actually have compelling stories with a good pay-off. 

A little later than planned, but finally here! The first convention review I’ve compiled in one go (and on the last day of the event) rather than day-by-day, due to a combination of a poor internet connection (yep, the venue still has it’s “black hole” touch!) and having a lot more packed schedule than I thought!

[Day 0]

As many of you here that know me well will be able to testify, I don’t travel light. One day, maybe. That day is not today. After going back to the house once to collect things I’d forgotten, I turned the air in my car pretty blue when half-way down the M1 after realizing that I’d forgotten yet more stuff (and no, I didn’t turn around at that point). Hence a run to the supermarket upon arrival and now I’m the proud owner of yet more martini glasses and another cocktail shaker (pretty much essentials for the cocktail bar… typical damned short term memory being useless and forgetting them twice, despite putting them both specifically to one side whilst packing… DOH!).

Anyway, upon arrival and setting up “the bar” (the most important of the initial jobs!), the convention properly started for me. On the way over to the main building, I happened to bump into a bunch of good friends who’d played in games of mine at previous conventions, and promptly found my sign-up sheets pretty much completely filled out before they hit the board. Nice to see that my offerings are in demand (or so it seems, at least!) as they ended up with both reserve slots also getting requests, but ending up running with six PCs in both instances.

Slot 0, the pre-event evening, and a couple of rounds of Cards Against Humanity in the bar. It’s a game I always get a laugh playing, even though I rarely win any black cards in it. Oh well – need to get my mind more into the gutter when playing that, I think!

Following that (and the intervention of a very moody bartender who either needed a good kick in the nuts or a new job… or maybe even both), relocation to the lodge and round one of cocktails. A nice way to round off the day and meet new friends.

[Day 1]

Me and mornings don’t normally mix, and having been up moderately late the night before, I was pretty accurate in thinking I wouldn’t be up for Slot 1. Correct! I lurched out of bed and did my impression of a Zombie (not the kind I was mixing the night before) and headed to muster for Slot 2. Nothing really grabbed me in Slot 1, when seeing what was on offer on the boards anyway the night before, so not a big deal.

Slot 2 was a case of perfect timing. As my dearest Tiffany is coming over to visit over Christmas and New Year, I’ve been buying up a lot of DVDs of the original series of Dr Who to introduce her to them. One of them being “Image of the Fendahl”. I watched it a couple of days ago, so when I see a scenario called “Bride of the Fendahl“, it was a bit of a no-brainer for me – I signed up straight away! The scenario itself was pretty surreal in places, but used a lot of the mythology from the original Tom Baker era story, and it made the old-school Whovian in me very happy indeed. The only thing that would have made it better… Using a system other than Apocalypse World. It was a US hack of the system for “Companions”, but at heart, still AW – a system I don’t really like. I just find it pretty limiting, narrow, and promoting a flavour of game that just does not interest me. Plus, keeping “romance” moves in there for the various Companions really didn’t seem in keeping with the source material… I was content to ignore a large part of my sheet and be content that the options of customizing the character essentially meant that I ended up playing John Steed (from the Avengers – no, not the Marvel film, for those of you not aware of the 1960s TV series) as a former Companion of the Doctor. In the end though, very enjoyable!

An hour later, and frantically getting my notes together, time to run the first adventure of the convention for me (“Cerulean Aureole“) in Slot 3. I last ran this one at GenCon and it went down pretty well there, but I much preferred the session here! Much more inter-party panic, debate and arguing – exactly what a PC group should be doing when faced with the situation they found themselves in 😉

I had planned to run a new Fear Itself game at the convention, but ran out of prep time and rather than go with something half-baked, I decided to wait it out there and complete that scenario for a future convention. Instead, I went with two of the Trail of Cthulhu games I ran at GenCon this year instead. They’re two scenarios I’m rather proud of, so glad that with how the first one went at this point.

Round two of cocktails, another nice way to round off the day and then off to sleep.

[Day 2]

This time I decided to get up for Slot 4 (the dreaded morning slot). After a late night, and a much upset stomach after something I ate that evening firmly disagreed with me, it was a pretty damned hard effort to get out of bed, I can say! Nonetheless, I made it to muster and then off to play World War Cthulhu.

The scenario in this instance was set down in the Underground, and pitted the team against a cultist summoning up a Hound of Tindalos to try and kill a large part of the city elite. At it’s core, a nice idea, and whilst it was surrounded in a good depth of research and technical detail, a lot of it didn’t seem massively relevant, and the investigation was overly complex at times. Also, a pity that the system still uses a variation of 6th edition Call of Cthulhu when 7th edition is just around the corner, and would have made it a lot nicer game (mechanically) to play. Other than that, the only other thing that I found a bit of a let-down was the one line (literally, one line) background the characters had. It didn’t really promote much of a group dynamic, not much depth on that level, which seemed pretty counterpoint to the rest of the research and attention to detail that had been taken to craft the rest of the scenario.

Another quick break and on to Slot 5 – Greaves & Woodhouse. Using Hot War (I must be a glutton for punishment – this system never shows me any love!) it was a tongue in cheek Cthulhu parody/farce that was a good run for all concerned. I had a great time playing the Jeeves-esque manservant looking after the Berty Worcester-style lunatic socialite. A good change of tone to break up the day.

Yet another installment of realizing that an hour disappears far too quickly between slots and you can’t prep enough in said time, and on to Slot 6 – “Heaven in a Wild Flower“. As with my previous offering, also ran at GenCon, and where that session overran by a fair while, this one went on even longer – much due to player debate and theorizing what the hell to do in the situation they found themselves in. I felt a little bad rushing through the last act of the adventure, but we would have been there for a good few hours more without it! I love the scenario to bits, but never seem to get enough time at cons to run it the way I’d like it to go.

Then, gathering the stuff together after another round of drinks, and getting ready to go home! At the time of writing, I’ve been up for close to 24 hours after socializing, and packing after the game (including cooking a chilli-con-carne for a certain friend who, again at the time of writing this, has passed out on our sofa after consuming a hell of a lot of booze – you know who you are!). My net connection is back – albeit briefly! – and I’m off to a wedding bash in 4 hours, so will be missing the last day of the convention. Not to worry though, Conception is just around the corner, so will be back here on the “sunny” south coast soon… Hopefully with less wind and rain than we’ve had this time.

Until then, happy gaming!

After spending so much time thinking and writing about horror films over the last month, it was a pleasant surprise to stumble the great-grand-daddy of them all on YouTube yesterday.

Georges Méliès, as you almost certainly know, was a pioneering film-maker in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many images from his films have become iconic, and he often explored strange and macabre topics through his enthusiastic, theatrical style.


If nothing else, he will be remembered for this image from A Trip to the Moon

In 1896, Méliès made a film called Le Manoir du Diable which was almost certainly the first true horror film. Thomas Edison had shot a re-enactment of the execution of Mary Stuart the year before, but this was a single fifteen second scene, with no real narrative, and I would argue that it lacked the intent which makes for a horror film.

Le Manoir du Diable, known as The House of the Devil or The Haunted Castle in English, is a brief phantasmagory, with a chaotic stream of images showing us Mephistopheles (played by Méliès himself) performing various acts of sorcery. There is no story as such, but it is a showcase for the early special effects that Méliès developed.

If you love horror films as much as I do, Le Manoir du Diable is well worth three minutes of your time.