Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Awesomely Arcane

Want some nifty graphics for your mouldering scrolls and blasphemous tomes? Head over to Obsidian Dawn and check out Stephanie Shimerdla's free brush libraries, particularly the "Arcane Circles" and "Arcane Runes" sets. They're beautifully designed mystic symbols and diagrams that are perfect for jazzing up occult documents when you don't have enough time to do it yourself.

The artwork is set up to be imported as a brush set into Photoshop, but I didn't have any trouble using the images in the included sample table in Paint Shop Pro. Just select an individual graphic, cut and paste it as a new image, and then follow the normal procedure for saving it as a tube or texture file.

Tchocolate Bar

Inspired by this intriguingly named chocolate company, I present...the Tcho-Tchocolate Bar!

It's sized to fit a traditional Hershey's chocolate bar. Just click on the thumbnail above to get the full-size version, print it out, trim along the edges of the graphic with scissors, fold it around a standard Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar(top flap first, then bottom flap), and give it a swipe with a glue-stick along the back to seal it up.

Update: From my traffic logs it's obvious that some folks don't realize why "Tcho" chocolate is funny to "Call of Cthulhu" fans. This might help explain it.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Bang For the Buck

Want to get some great ideas on how to create awesome props without laying out a ton of money? Talk to a low-budget filmmaker. After all, they're trying to accomplish the same thing gamers are- maximizing the audience's ability to suspend disbelief using limited resources.

Head over to The Monkey Rodeo to find some great ideas and inspiration from a guy making a horror film on a shoestring. The particular post I'm linking to has details about some great makeup effects, but if you take a look at the archived posts you'll discover some incredible props, ranging from massive weapons to arcane tablets, made with the simplest of materials.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Innsmouth Papers

This is one of the documents I've created for COC game set immediately after the Innsmouth raid. It's based on a contemporary report (taken from the Al Capone files)from the Department of Justice's "Bureau of Investigation", the name of the FBI before it became..well..the FBI.

Realistically, players probably shouldn't get the document in it's current form. Original reports were closely tracked, hence the assigned document identification numbers, and it beggars belief that the Federales wouldn't notice that a few pages were missing from the Innsmouth file, either the BOI version or the classified one put together by the Department of the Navy.

So how could investigators get their grubby little paws on the document? Photocopies. You might be surprised to learn that at least two types of copying machines existed in the 20's and 30's, both relying on a variation of traditional photographic print-making. You can find more information about the technology in the "Copying Machines" exhibit at the amazing Early Office Museum, but for our purposes it's probably enough to use an image editor to dirty up the originals with the dust specks and noise of a poor photocopy. If you're really hell-bent on realism you can print out the resulting graphic on smooth photo paper to replicate the finish of a true photo based duplication system.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Telegram for Mr. Smith, Paging Mr. Smith

I just added a link to an online application for creating Western Union telegrams from the 1920's. Just the thing if you're playing Call of Cthulhu and want to add a little something extra to your game.

(Yes, I know "medicine man" isn't the correct term in modern usage, but in the 1920's it was probably the height of enlightenment.)

Update: If you're looking for a blank telegram form you'll find one over here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Power To Fog Men's Minds

Fog is good, chilled fog is better. Well, at least for most things.

Over the last few years the price of fog machines has plunged to the point where you can pick up a decent machine for just a couple of bills. The cost of heavy-duty, high-end models is still in the triple digits, but for seasonal use an off the shelf unit from your local mega-mart is more than adequate. They produce a fine mist that adds a lot of atmosphere and enhances lighting effects, but they're not very effective at producing the ground hugging fog that helps define the look of classic horror films. Normally that kind of fog requires the use of dry ice, but with a little tinkering you can get a similar effect using your existing fog machine and a fog chiller. T3Hprogrammer at Instructables just posted a great how-to article that shows how to build a basic fog chiller for around $10.

Fog machines are great for Halloween... but fog tends to rise up into the air, spread out, and disappear. If you do not have a very powerful fog machine, this can ruin the whole effect.

The solution to this is to build a fog chiller. The fog chiller cools the hot fog from the machine, causing it to stay low and billow along the ground.

This is a small fog chiller, which works well and is cheap. It takes an hour or two to build.

Get hoppin' and you can have it ready by Halloween.

Fangs For the Memories

Just in time for Halloween, Make has a great weekend project guide on making your own vampire fangs.

The great thing about this project is that you'll learn how to mold three different types of materials! We're going to make a negative mold of your teeth out of alginate, a positive mold out of your teeth out of plastic, and then the fangs are made out of a two part acrylic that you'd use to make fake fingernails!

One of the commenters in the original Make posting mentions making fangs out of Sculpey, which I would say is a very, very bad idea. Sculpey is a wonderful creative medium, but it's definitely not food safe.