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The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars is now available!

The original publication of Canal Priests Of Mars cut slightly over a third of author Marcus L. Rowland's manuscript to fit GDW's adventure format. The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars restores the cut material, features all new artwork by Paul Daly, and adds many useful player handouts. Enjoy the "author's cut" of a classic Space 1889 adventure, or experience it for the first time!

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Cthulhu 1889

by Matthew Ruane

Call of Cthulhu is the Registered Trademark of Chaosium Inc. and is used with their permission. Cthulhu by Gaslight is a Trademark of Chaosium Inc. and is used with their permission. Chaosium, Inc. is the Registered Trademark of Chaosium Inc.

Space: 1889 is the Registered Trademark of Frank Chadwick, and is used by permission.

. . . there is little chance of finding water in this god-forsaken desert. We had been exploring the temple sites near Tharsis for over a month and had made several interesting finds, but nothing as world-shattering at those found in complex 2-B. Consisting of a simple temple, and several subordinate buildings, the site first appeared to be quite ordinary. The discovery of the secret passageways under the temple courtyard led to the further discovery of those mind-blasting murals. Covering nearly 100 square feet of the tunnel walls, the murals seemed to depict the arrival of undescribable creatures to Mars more than 10,000 years ago, and the subsequent subjugation of the Martian people by these alien horrors. Over the next several days, more than a dozen attempts were made to trace or copy these drawings, yet all were ultimately unsuccessful. The Martian diggers refused to go near the temple, and those of us who attempted to uncover the mysteries have seen our lives ruined and our minds unravelling before our very eyes. I am laying on a cot in the main tent, conserving what water remains. Drs. Campbell and Johnson were the last to wander away from the camp-site, leaving me behind in the vain hope that help would arrive before too long. It is nearly dark, and the damnable buzzing begins again . . . if I concentrate, I think I can make out something under all that noise . . . AHH! CTHUGA farsh vill une CTHULHU nell vonish argus domaineiie!!!

Excerpts from the Journal of Dr. William Appebly Morris, FRGS, Dated 11 June 1892; Discovered in a Syrtis Major bookstore, 15 January 1926.

The horrors of Call of Cthulhu combined with the Victorian super science of Space:1889? Unspeakable, you exclaim! In this and subsequent articles, I hope to open your minds to the possibilities of combining the excellent horror RPG Call of Cthulhu with the vast background and nifty super science of Space:1889. First, however, there are a few things that need to be said about the system to be entitled Cthulhu 1889. The idea for this merger is not an original one, nor will I attempt to take any credit for it. The idea of a Cthulhu 1889 system was first detailed by Marcus L. Rowland's article Cthulhu:1889, in the magazine Challenge, number 43. He developed an system to translate Space:1889 characters into Call of Cthulhu statistics, and provided some adventure ideas. For those without access to the original article, the formulas will be reprinted below, along with several changes I have introduced to make the conversion easier. Second, despite numerous attempts to bring Call of Cthulhu monsters into Space:1889, I have been unable to create an adequate system that accurately represents the mind-bending horrors of Lovecraft's minions in Space:1889, so a system for converting statistics in the other direction is not included. Finally, a note about the authors personal preferences; I enjoy playing and running Space:1889, but my favorite game system is Call of Cthulhu. I will be the first to admit that there are problems with the system mechanics, but I believe that they are more than made up for by the extensive background material available, and the superb work done by Chaosium with their published modules and sourcebooks. Now on with Cthulhu 1889!

Cthulhu 1889 is based on the same Cthulhu mythos found in H.P. Lovecraft's stories, but modified by the fact that mankind has begun to explore the planets of this Solar System, and has indeed found intelligent life on other planets. Suppose the Space:1889 background was true, and that Thomas Edison has successfully traveled to Mars and back in 1870? How would Lovecraft have modified his stories to take into account the existence of a civilization thousands of years older than mankind's? Are there equivalents of the Cthulhu mythos among the legends of Martian pre-history, and why are the canals built in such perfect geometrical lines and angles? According to Marcus Rowland, the outer worlds are haunted by the mythos creatures, Ryleh is somewhere in the Asteroid Belt, the Plateau of Leng on Mars, and fire vampires roam the bright side of Mercury. Indeed, this may be the case, though I personally believe Ryleh is buried under the Gorklimsk swamps, and that the ruins at Bordobaar is built on top of one of the ancient cities inhabited by creatures who had enslaved the Martians for millennia. Are the Moon-Men the result of some freakish genetic experiments by the Yithians, or are they the remnants of a race of servants designed by the Great Old Ones? Such decisions can best be made by you in keeping with your campaign location.

Perhaps the most intriguing notion developed by Marcus Rowland, and one I whole-heartedly agree with, is that the canals of Mars form a gigantic warding spell, an Elder Sign on a galactic scale. As the canals fall into ruin, and the technology to rebuild them remains lost, the wards are losing their power, and the creatures of the mythos are straining to return. Martians have lost all knowledge of the significance of the canals, and only in a few tomes is truth actual hinted at. What of the cults and mysterious sites on Earth, now obviously part of a larger picture? Was Earth visited by ancient Martians, the so-called ancient astronauts, who brought with them the weapons and knowledge necessary to banish the Great Old Ones and their minions from this planet? Are there hidden ether vessels buried under the ice at either pole, or even under the sands of Egypt? The answers to these questions are pursued by only a few brave souls, while the remainder of mankind continues to struggle blindly along. Britannia rules both the waves and the ether, and now, more than ever, the empire is one on which the sun never sets. As mankind explores our Solar System, the unexplained events and the chance encounters with mythos-related creatures or artifacts are ignored or explained away by those in academia and the government. It is up to the players to discover the reality of the terror and unfolding horror which surrounds them, and to thwart the minions of Great Cthulhu from returning to our corner of the universe.

The Cthulhu 1889 system is fairly straightforward, though it is necessary to own the following items: the Space:1889 rulebook, the rules for Call of Cthulhu, and Cthulhu by Gaslight, the last two items published by Chaosium. Creating characters is a three step process, and begins by creating normal Space:1889 characters. Follow all the steps in the rulebook, but remember to consider the importance of social class in Space:1889, which also plays an important role in Cthulhu 1889. Next, translate the Space:1889 characters, their stats, and skills into Call of Cthulhu characters, using the following table devised by Marcus Rowland.

Cthulhu Space: 1889
STR (str x 2) +6
DEX (agl x 2) +6
INT (int x 2) +6
CON (end x 2) +6
APP (chr x 2) +6
POW chr + soc + 6
SIZ str + end + 6
EDU (soc x 2) + int
SAN calculate using newly figured POW characteristic

All Space:1889 skills are multiplied by 10 to get the equivalent skill percentages; do not forget to translate all of the cascade skills. You will notice that most skills have an equivalent in Call of Cthulhu, and for those that do not have an equivalent skill, you should assume that the base chance is considered to be 0%. Finally, I allow my players to personalize their characters by distributing skill points equal to their INT x 5 to any skill.

Combat should be handled according to the Call of Cthulhu rules, but new players should be reminded that combat has suddenly become much more dangerous. A shotgun blast will normally knock a player unconscious, if not kill them outright, while even a light pistol (a .22 or .32 caliber weapon in Call of Cthulhu) has a good chance of severely wounding the average player if hit. Airborne combat should use either the rules in Space:1889, or the more extensive rules in Sky Galleons of Mars. (See the Space:1889 and Sky Galleons of Mars article on page 20 of this issue for some interesting new ideas) All space travel should be conducted using Space:1889 rules. Artillery damage is fast and deadly in Call of Cthulhu. Space:1889 artillery damage should be translated as follows: divide the burst number in the Space:1889 tables by two, to get both the radius of the burst, and the number of 1d6 damage rolls for Cthulhu 1889. This is a quick and dirty conversion, but it does adequately represent the fact that if you are anywhere near an exploding shell, you are probably dead.

Now that you have the rules for playing Cthulhu 1889, I will present a beginning plot idea for you to spring on your players. It needs to be fleshed out and some details to be supplied, but it is a good example of the Cthulhu 1889 genre. Next issue, we will be presenting a full adventure for your enjoyment. Until then, never, never, ever, name he who shall remain unnameable!!!

Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:49:30 EDT

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