Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Another Fantasy Feast

Wats6831 is back with more tabletop RPG inspired eats. This time around he treated his players to a speculative meal from the west coast of the Forgotten Realms

Waterdhavian oat loaf (handmade irish soda bread), fresh smoked ham shank, "dessert" pear, Corm Orp "mountain" bleu cheese served on butternut squash, imported Saerloon broccoflower (Romanesco), mixed garden vegetables (carrots and radishes), Misty Forest chestnuts.

The ham was amazing, as was the Irish soda bread. Cheese was disgusting moldy bleu cheese so much for fancy "cave aged" in the Caves of Faribault......smelled like something crawled in those caves and died on the cheese wheel this came from. Broccoflower thing was about how it sounded crisp and tasted like broccoli and cauliflower. Carrot is a carrot.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Crass Commercialism

I have some Miskatonic University swag up on Ebay.  That includes one of the black enamel MU keychains.

The Mask of Cthulhu

Artist Christophe Pizetta of Pizetta FX brings us this decaying Cthulhu..er.."DaOctopus" mask.  His gallery includes some in-progress shots of the project.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Severa Edition.

This nicely done pair of Cthulhu idols come to us from artist Adam Severa.  The fact that it looks equally good in both finishes demonstrates the strength of the sculpt.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

They Grow Up So Fast...

Artist Joe Dunaway brings us a trio of Audrey II's from the "Little Shop of Horrors".  There's some beautifully done detail work in each stage of development.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Orc Trail Ration

Wats6831 returns with his latest take on fantasy trail rations. This time around he serves up an orcish repast.

Orcs aren't known for their great cuisine. Orcs prefer foods that are readily available (whatever can be had by raiding), and portable with little preparation, though they have a few racial delicacies. Toughs strips of lean meat, bones scavenged from recent kills, and dark coarse bread make up the bulk of common orc rations.

Fire roasted rothe femur (marrow is a rare treat) [beef femur], Strips of dried meat (of unknown origin) [homemade goose jerky], foraged nuts, only edible by orcs....nut cracker tusks [brazil nuts], coarse black bread, made with whatever grains can be pillaged [black sesame bread], Pungent peppers [Habanero peppers stuffed with smoked fish and olives].

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Brown Jenkin

Witnesses said it had long hair and the shape of a rat, but that its sharp-toothed, bearded face was evilly human while its paws were like tiny human hands. It took messages betwixt old Keziah and the devil, and was nursed on the witch’s blood—which it sucked like a vampire. Its voice was a kind of loathsome titter, and it could speak all languages.
-H.P. Lovecraft, The Dreams in the Witch House

Filmmaker Nick Hilligoss brings us this recreation of Brown Jenkin, one of Lovecraft's most disturbing creations.   The stop motion puppet is built up from latex over an aluminum armature.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Grimoire of the Snakes

Artist Mille Cuirs returns with the Grimoire of the Snakes, hand bound in leather and brass.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fetal Specimens

These disturbingly realistic fetal specimens come to us from artist Tayler B. The translucent coloration of the silicone is very impressive.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Cthulhu Rises

This massive Cthulhu sculpt comes to us from the Shifflet brothers, two of the most talented artists working today.  It's based on the artwork of Allen Williams.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Ragosta Edition.

Artist Jason Ragosta brings us this unusual take on the traditional Cthulhu idol.  It's a bit too "Deep One"-ish for my tastes, but the quality of the sculpt is beyond reproach.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Giant, Flame Spewing Animatronic Dragon

Given their demonstrable rarity, what do you do when you need a dragon?  You build one.

German company Zollner Electronics was contracted to provide a massive animatronic dragon for a seasonal folk play.  The came up with a gigantic radio-controlled robot that can walk, interact with the audience, and shoot flames from it's mouth and nostrils.

Sweet fancy Moses, can you imagine what they'll be capable of in a few years?  

Friday, February 17, 2017

Lovecraftian Maps

We wrap up the week with a pair of handy Mythos maps.  The first is this very well done take on Arkham from cartographer Tullamareena
To compile this map, I worked with the original sketch of Arkham drawn by Lovecraft himself: www.cthulhufiles.com/arkham.ht…, and with another illustration that is an adaptation by a later author, Gahan Wilson: lovecraftzine.files.wordpress.…

I decided to go with a colored, basic, modern style illustration, as opposed to any thematic style. The hardest aspect of drawing this map was trying combine the two different scale styles used in the maps. I stuck with the scale of Lovecraft's original sketch, but I tried evaluating what would be an accurate value for the bar scale. The arrow indicating '1 and a half miles' on the bottom of the sketch seems ambiguous as to what length it refers to. It can't be the length of a single block; that is much too long. I ended up looking at some generic block dimensions of towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to determine the best scale distance. Minor things that I have added or changed myself, are adding a Town Hall in between Main Street and Church Street, shifting the Arkham station closer to the railway line, and adding a Christchurch Street by Christchurch Cemetery, as well as having two branching rail lines (left side of the map), where in many adaptations either one or the other route direction is depicted..

He was kind enough to link to this open source map of Lovecraft Country from artist Hoodinski. It's available through Wikimedia Commons as both a high resolution PNG (copied below) and the original SVG vector file.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

LARP Armor

Sander Propworx returns to our pages with this beautiful set of LARP armor crafted from leather, fabric, and fiberglass.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Clutch of Cthulhus

Artist Colin Christian brings us this swarm of Cthulhu castings.  I absolutely love the sculpt.  The metallic paint finishes?  Not so much.  I think a natural stone or aged, patinated metal would show it off to better effect.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Orc Teeth

It's probably best not to ask Dragonstorm Studios how they obtained this well worn set of orc teeth

Monday, February 13, 2017

The LeMonte Object

The curious case of Don LeMonte has baffled scientists for decades. Brogan Paul Johnson was lucky enough to gain access to the case archives, including the mysterious LeMonte Object itself.
After a minor surgery to remove the inclusion they discovered a small object that was just under three inches in length and that appeared to contain some sort of mercury type liquid. The liquid seemed to "bubble" when in close proximity to Mr. LeMonte. Immediately after the surgery LeMonte thanked the doctors and told them he could no more hear the voice of Simon from behind his eyes. Within a few weeks LeMonte was deemed Cured and released to the public to live a normal life. The LeMonte object is still unexplained and sits in the institutes possession for medical and scientific study. Although it remains within an incorruptible sealed container the LeMonte object is continually deteriorating at a rapid rate, more quickly than they can try and understand it. The case of Don LeMonte is still unsolved today.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Gnome Trail Ration

Wats6831 returns with another collection of edible props for his tabletop fantasy game. This time he tackles gnomes, serving up a variety of trail foods:
This ration was really fun to make but seriously disgusting. The blood sausage tasted like bloody spicy guts. The smelt were surprisingly good, but kinda underwhelming in flavor. Bread was awesome, like a shortbread cookie but soft and savory. Quail eggs were...questionable...we found them on the floor at a sketchy asian market. Not my thing seriously. This was by far the most fun ration but the least edible. I think we'll just remake the elven one again. There really aren't any words for how foul that blood sausage was. Even the cheese was gross, hot spicy and a nasty aftertaste.

I'm not as enamored of this iteration as I was of his earlier efforts.  Part of the problem is the lack of a readily identifiable gnomish cultural identity.  To good or bad effect, Tolkien provided the template for races like dwarves, elves, and orcs.  When I hear "gnome" I think of lawn ornaments.

You'll find the Reddit discussion of this trail meal over here.  It includes links to all the previous racial rations.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tibetan Dragon Tooth

This tooth from a Tibetan Mountain Drake comes to us from artist Dayne Hodson.  The presentation is very well done.

Update:  Read the comment from Markus for some interesting information about actual reptile teeth.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Shelter from the Storm

I had hoped that the politicization of everything would end last November, but, sadly, such is not the case.  For reasons I frankly don't understand a large percentage of the population feels a deep and abiding need to not only share their political opinions, but endlesssly, mercilessly, beat you over the head with them.  That's why I've pretty much given up on any kind of social media.

On the bright side, that's not an issue here.  I don't waste your time with my goofy political beliefs, and never will.  It's a violation of basic politeness.  This post from 2011 lays out the reasons why. 

I was recently approached by a reader to donate a few items to one of those "Art for Insert Cause Here" type events.* When I politely declined, since it was for a political cause I don't happen to support, I found myself being subjected to one of the most hateful, vituperative emails I've ever had the displeasure to read. What made it even more painful is that it was from someone I've corresponded with on a pretty regular basis in connection with propmaking and Lovecraft scholarship.

Things like that are why I never, ever bring up the subject of politics here.

I understand people are passionate about issues they care about. I'm very politically active and regularly contribute to causes and candidates I support. If you're so inclined you could probably dig up my history of donations, although I try to keep them all below the $200 Federal reporting threshold for privacy reasons. I love discussing politics, and there are a few regular readers with diametrically opposing views to mine that I've exchanged polite emails with on various subjects.

That said, I also think those kind of discussions don't have to be interjected into every single facet of life. There are a few websites I used to frequent on a daily basis that are now unreadable because they've become infested with true-believers. There is no shortage of sites devoted entirely to political discussion, but for reasons that escape me the most die-hard tribalists feel the need to not only slurp up the kool aid themselves, but relentlessly press anyone passing by to take a deep drink from the punchbowl.

There's an old tradition that gentlefolk refrain from discussing politics and religion in polite company. I think that's a pretty good rule to live by.**

*As an aside, what self-respecting political cause would want to have anything to do with my work? As entertaining as I, and by extension you, might find these things they're not exactly mainstream. Half rotted parasitic worms? Mummified body parts? Murderous cult fetishes? Sweet fancy Moses, I'm an attack ad just waiting to happen.

** At least until the end times. That's when I'll merrily try to convert you all to my cultish minions. If I'm lucky I'll be able to enjoy some some truly epic drunken debauchery featuring gallons of absinthe and dozens of scantily-clad goth chicks before the Dark Lord devours my soul. Oh, and I want to work an opium den in there somewhere. Come to think of it, I really just want to live like a pulp-era villain when the end of days rolls around. A sentimental traditionalist, that's me.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Tome of Gondor

Alex Libris returns to our pages with this beautiful tome bearing the White Tree of Gondor from "The Lord of the Rings". It features 700 pages and a hand-bound leather cover.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Achtung! Cthulhu" Cosplay

I've featured a few Lovecraftian cosplays over the years, but I think this is the first one directly based on a tabletop RPG.  Bolvasmidr was inspired to recreate the female investigator featured on the cover of the "Achtung! Cthulhu" investigators guide for a Mythos escape room event. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ebony Daggers

These beautiful recreations of Skyrim's ebony dagger come to us from Arsynal Props.  The master was carved from wood and then detailed with modeling paste. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Relics of R'lyeh

The talented Jason McKittrick returns to our pages with this very nice prop set- The R'Lyeh Collection. It features a selection of ephemera from the Miskatonic University archives and one of his excellent takes on the traditional Cthulhu idol. The set is available in a limited run of 25.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Cheap LARP Knife

If you're looking for a decent knife for a fantasy LARP there aren't many inexpensive options. I'm not talking about a foam weapon, but an actual knife for use in an encampment. Blades for reenactors based on period trade knives start at around $30, and you can quickly climb up into the triple digits for any kind of hand-forged work. If you just want a good knife and don't care about how it looks you can't go wrong dropping a tenner on the classic Swedish Mora. But the rougher, more primitive look appropriate for a fantasy LARP is, ironically, going to cost a lot more.

Unless you're willing to make some compromises.

That's what lead me to ordering this"Medieval Kitchen Knife" from Szco Supplies on Amazon.

For $12 I was under no illusions that I would be getting a shining example of the knifemaker's art. Szco specializes in selling low cost, imported knives of, at best, middling quality. It's the kind of stuff you would find at a flea market. That said, they're one of the only companies offering forged, high carbon steel knives at a ridiculously low price. When the knife arrived I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

The overall length is 10 1/4 inches, with the blade taking up 5 1/2 inches. It has that wonderfully rough, hand hammered look I wanted. I suspect it actually was worked by hand, or at least forged using a drop hammer, since most of the low cost knives here in the US are manufactured in India and Pakistan using recycled steel scrap. 

Take a close look at the shape of the knife.  Straighten the curve of the handle and you're left with a negative space that almost exactly matches the mirrored profile of the knife itself.  I'd bet these knives are made using a single pass with a torch to cut two blanks from a length of automobile leaf spring.  Based on some quick tests with a file that's consistent with the steel the blade is made of.

If you do order one of these blades be aware that they're going to require some cleanup before use.  They arrive in a plastic wrapper and are coated with a stinky, dark brown goo that I assume is used motor oil.  Or, as my stepdad called it, redneck cosmoline.  Not exactly the kind of stuff you want on something you'll be using for food preparation.

The easiest way to get rid of it is to burn it off.  Remove as much as possible by wiping down the knife with paper towels and then chuck it into a fire or hit it with a propane torch.  That will also get rid of the black coating on the steel, which I would guess is the residue from using the same motor oil to quench the blade after it's forged.

After that you're left with a decent utility knife that doesn't look too modern for a LARP environment.  The blade will take and hold a good edge, but the narrow handle does get uncomfortable after extended use because it bites into the flesh of the hand.  You can fix that with a leather wrap, or epoxy a real handle carved from some scrap wood over the steel.  Oh, and the steel will strike sparks from a flint, so you can impress your camp mates by going all mountain man when it's time to light the fire.

Saturday, February 4, 2017


I'm tweaking the layout of the blog a bit.  It's a much overdue change given that the original template dates back nearly ten years.  You know, back when widescreen HD monitors were around $1200?  Now that even my phone can handle high resolution images it's probably time to update things.

I've tested the wider layout on multiple monitors and two smartphones without any problems, but if you encounter any issues please leave a comment.   Blogger's automatic resizing seems to be up to the task, but you never know.

Update:  Now that I've had some time to actually use it I'm not sure opening up the width is what I want.  While it allows for larger pictures it also makes reading text more difficult on widescreen monitors.  

Update, Part Deux:  I think this is the sweet spot.  I'm much happier with how much room I have for pictures, while the line length is short enough that the eye doesn't drift too much.

Drink Up!

Ulfhednar Workshop brings us this excellent dwarven tankard hand forged from copper and adorned with a dwarven figure carved from elk horn. 

As gorgeous as this piece is I'm not sure if it's actually safe to use.  I was under the impression that copper wasn't food safe unless the vessel was lined with a non-reactive material like tin, stainless steel, or pitch.  Back in the olden days when metal shop classes were a thing we had to line anything intended for food with a layer of melted brewers pitch.  Then again, given how many bongs kids tried to fabricate that might have been an anti-stoner measure.  One draw off of burning pitch and you would have sworn off the devils weed forever.  Heh.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Small Gods

This wonderfully detailed miniature Cthulhu bust comes to us from Czech artist Oleksandr Bilibov.  The 30mm piece was sculpted from Fimo and greenstuff.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Zimmerman Edition.

The talented Brandon Zimmerman returns to our pages with this nicely done Cthulhu idol in faux turquoise.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Making a Gauss Rifle

Nuclear Snail's YouTube channel is filled with detailed tutorials on creating post-apocalyptic props and costumes.  One of the best is this in-depth look at converting an off-the-shelf airsoft M-4 into a kickin' gauss rifle using a selection of doodads from the hardware store.