I have previously discussed the great horror-themed supplements that Paizo is putting out for the Pathfinder RPG, but they aren’t alone in this. With the advent of digital publishing and crowdfunding sources like Kickstarter, there’s an array of new, independent publishers who are finding under-served niches in the gaming industry and creating projects to serve them.
One of these current Kickstarters, The Dread House by Hammerdog Games, is currently fully funded and building toward its initial stretch goals. It has some really unique features:
- A 128-page hardcover (or digital) adventure/setting book of a haunted house, containing adventures for the Dungeons & Dragons (5e), Pathfinder, and Call of Cthulhu roleplaying games, including multiple possible time periods within these games.
- Rules for powerful new creatures, including the Dread Ghost.
- Optional Fear, Sanity, and Soul Point rules.
- Fictional “ghost stories” written by Kevin Andrew Murphy and Richard Lee Byers.
- A set of haunted house tiles, matching the maps within the adventure book.
- Sets of room decoration miniatures, including furniture pieces such as beds, bookcases, bathtubs, and, yes, even a couple of privies!
- Additions of more adventures, miniatures, and tiles as stretch goals are reached.
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Directed by Andrew Leman; starring Matt Foyer, Chad Fifer, Noah Wagner, Ramon Allen Jr., and Ralph Lucas.
I cannot say I’ve ever been impressed with any film I’ve seen purporting to be based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, as they have all tended to stray pretty far from what makes Lovecraft’s stories interesting in the first place. And they generally show the limits of their budget as well as being both poorly shot and acted. But then I heard about this little gem, distributed by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, that adapts Lovecraft’s foundational short ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ in as loyal and accurate a way as possible. Not only that — and here’s the really interesting bit — the movie itself is a black and white silent film, as if it had been filmed at the time of the story’s publication in the 1920s.
The choice to make this a silent film was a smart one. Firstly, it does help evoke the period of Lovecraft in a way no film before it ever has (all of the ones I’ve ever seen where contemporary pieces, for a start), and also makes it feel like a world apart from our own. In leaving some things unseen and unsaid, and in creating an at times stylized environment, this film activates the viewer’s imagination to fill in the blanks — and speeches or effects which would seem silly or dreadful when laid bare in a modern film are instead left in the shadows. In surmounting the very limited budget for this project, the choice could not have been better.
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