Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pulp Cthulhu and my hopes for it

One of the pieces of vaporware I have been waiting for is Pulp Cthulhu, from Chaosium. I have been waiting a long time, it seems, as there is a post about "still hoping for" it in 2007 ! I love Chaosium, and while I think their Cthulhu line has grown far too large, at least they don't have the annoying "let's add rules every supplement" disease that seems to be so rampant these days. I keep checking back periodically, and the product page tells me it's "delayed due to health issues." 

What I'm specifically excited about is Traits, a new innovation in Cthulhu products. Quoting from the Chaosium blog post: Traits
provide game mechanic advantages or disadvantages, but they also drive the role-play. Traits are at their best when 'played' beyond their game effects. A Haunted character will suffer from night terrors, and when she has Weird Knowledge added to the mix, her fearsome dreams are all the more horrific...The Traits are both a part of the rules offering bonuses and alterations, but mainly they are elements that expand the personalities of the investigators. That is why they have pulp-style names such as 'Weird Knowledge' and 'Just Won't Die.' These titles focus more on the roleplaying aspects than the 'numbers.'

What I'm hoping they'll do is provide something similar to this:

Spell Level: Magic-user, 3rd Level
Range: 240 ft
Duration: 30 minutes

In an area of radius of 60 ft around the point where the spell is targeted, as many as 24 creatures become able to move and attack at double normal speed.

Taken from the Swords & Wizardry core rules

And not this:

Level: Brd 3, Sor/Wiz 3
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Targets: One creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

The transmuted creatures move and act more quickly than normal. This extra speed has several effects.

When making a full attack action, a hasted creature may make one extra attack with any weapon he is holding. The attack is made using the creature’s full base attack bonus, plus any modifiers appropriate to the situation. (This effect is not cumulative with similar effects, such as that provided by a weapon of speed, nor does it actually grant an extra action, so you can’t use it to cast a second spell or otherwise take an extra action in the round.)

A hasted creature gains a +1 bonus on attack rolls and a +1 dodge bonus to AC and Reflex saves. Any condition that makes you lose your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) also makes you lose dodge bonuses.

All of the hasted creature’s modes of movement (including land movement, burrow, climb, fly, and swim) increase by 30 feet, to a maximum of twice the subject’s normal speed using that form of movement. This increase counts as an enhancement bonus, and it affects the creature’s jumping distance as normal for increased speed.

Multiple haste effects don’t stack. Haste dispels and counters slow.

Material Component: A shaving of licorice root.

Taken from the d20 SRD

I'm also pumped about this line: "Tune the level of pulp to suit play, or simply add pulp to an existing [Call of Cthulhu] campaign." That's perfect, because not everyone thinks of the same thing when you say "Pulp." Some like it noir, and gritty. Others might prefer a four-color comic book campaign, or something in between, like Doc Savage.  It will be interesting to see what kind of options they come up with.

And to the author: I hope you get better soon! I feel for you, having dealt firsthand with chronic illness, but I would dearly love to see that sourcebook in my hot little fists sooner than later!

Monday, May 10, 2010

RIP Frank Frazetta (1928-2010) - Pieces of My Childhood

A master artist, Frank Frazetta, has passed away.  As another piece of my childhood wanders into the twilight, I have to reflect back on the joy and excitement his work has given me.  From the film "Fire and Ice" to those amazing paintings on the covers of Conan novels and others, the world owes Frank Frazetta some kind of honor.  From the well-muscled heroes to the impossibly curvy women who graced his paintings, this was truly a master of the genre.  

He will be missed.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Pieces of My Childhood -- John Eric Holmes (1930-2010)

I received a sad bit of news this weekend.  Dr. John Eric Holmes, author of the popular "blue book" basic set of Dungeons & Dragons (pre-Moldvay, pre-Mentzner), died from a stroke March 20 of this year.  While my induction into the game was the monster AD&D 1e hardbacks that Gary Gygax put together, my group and I adopted the Holmes and Moldvay versions after we discovered them shortly thereafter.  

Pieces of my childhood are fading away -- Gygax, Arneson, Moldvay, Heinlein, Asimov, Findley, Parkinson...too many brave souls have left their mark on me before they left this world.

RIP, all of you.  

A further, more comprehensive obit may be found here: