I’ve known Oscar Rios, famous Call of Cthulhu author, for years so I was pleasantly surprised to discovered he had launched his own venture via Kickstarter, Golden Goblin Press. The Kickstarter is doing well, having just cleared its $9,000 goal with 18 days to go. I caught up with Oscar to learn about how he’s striking out into the RPG world with his new company.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your role-playing game experience. What was your first RPG?
Oscar Rios (OR): I got into RPGs in early September 1983. I know because I purchased the Basic D&D Red Box with money from a 13th Birthday card. My mom had refused to buy me the game because, according to the 700 Club, Dungeon & Dragons and heavy metal music were forms of devil worshipping.
The Red Box was an amazing introduction to role playing games. From there, I progressed to 1st and 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons, Star Frontiers, and Gamma World. In my early 20s, I was ready to move onto something a little more mature, a little darker and challenging. I’d gotten into H.P. Lovecraft, R.E. Howard, and other Cosmic Horror writers by then, so Call of Cthulhu was the obvious next step. I had a hard time finding people to play with or converting the D&D Adventurers I played with into CoC Investigators. But by the early 2000s I was playing a lot of Classic CoC and starting to experiment with writing my own scenarios.
MT: What was your first Call of Cthulhu published credit?
OR: I’d had a few scenarios published online through the Chaosium Missionary Program, which involved a group of fans writing adventures to be used as official convention rounds for the company. I am not sure if that counts. My first published work was a Chaosium monograph called “Ripples From Carcosa”, a strange trilogy of scenarios set in widely separate historical periods. The investigators in each scenario were reincarnation of similar investigators the players played in the earlier historic period. I’d just discovered existentialism after seeing The Adding Machine performed on stage. Ripples was great fun to write, loads of fun to run, and warmly received by first my players and then the fans. With luck, one day it might be re-released as something more than a monograph, but I can’t say more at this time… ~smirks~
MT: Besides Call of Cthulhu, what RPG do you enjoy playing?
OR: I really enjoy playing indie games like Dogs in the Vineyard and Monsterhearts. I love dramatic player-driving games with creative people. I also enjoy Dread, because who doesn’t like Jenga?
MT: What RPG are you currently playing?
OR: I play Pathfinder regularly, but mostly for the great people I play with. I play a lot of Call of Cthulhu, of course, mostly classic 20s and Invictus, but my home team and I have played in every single published setting except Delta Green and Gaslight.
MT: What’s your favorite scenario that you’ve written? And one by other authors?
OR: Wow, that’s like picking your favorite child! I’m going to have to say my favorite scenario that I wrote is “The Hopeful” from More Adventures in Arkham Country by Miskatonic River Press. When I first wrote it, before I was publishing, my players could hardly believe I’d written it. It gave me the confidence to start trying to publish my work. For years, I’d always planned on re-writing “The Hopeful” when I felt I’d grown enough as a writer. It took me ten years to reach that point. I went back and rewrote “The Hopeful”, presenting it in the way it deserved to be told. A favorite by another author would have to be “Tatterdemalion” by Richard Watts, which inspired me to write Ripples From Carcosa. It’s a creepy, spooky, trippy scenario; hauntingly beautiful. It’s funny, I never actually ran it… ~smiles~
MT: What made you decide to launch Golden Goblin Press?
OR: I’d been helping Tom Lynch with Miskatonic River Press for a few years and learned a lot about running a small publishing company. Tom is focused on finishing up graduate school and starting his new career as a teacher. MPR doesn’t have any solid plans for a project after the Punktown book. I wanted to continue publishing projects for CoC, and with MRP pausing to take a breath, I thought it would be the perfect time launch my own company. I’d made many contacts and built relationships with many of the most talented people in the industry. I was in a great position to gather together an amazing team, get a licensee agreement from Chaosium, and attempt to produce our first book.
MT: Where did the name come from?
OR: The name Golden Goblin Press comes from the fiction of R.E. Howard. It’s a New York based publishing house, named after a mysterious golden idol. It published versions of several mythos tomes. The company was first mentioned in Howard’s story, “The Black Stone”, which happens to be the mythos story which hooked me into loving Cosmic Horror. For me, it all started with that story, reading about cultists in Eastern Europe sacrificing a child before a black stone monolith. I can still remember the shock and horror I felt reading that story. When I started thinking about forming a company to produce Call of Cthulhu supplements, the name seemed an obvious choice.
MT: What is the goal of the company?
OR: We are dedicated to producing quality scenarios and articles for Call of Cthulhu. Our company will honor Howard’s legacy, but will not go overboard with it, nor ignore the contributions of other authors. Many of us at Golden Goblin Press are also fans of the work of Ramsey Campbell, with his visions of dark, horror infused sensuality and the twisted erotic side of the mythos. Golden Goblin Press will present scenarios with that adult sensibility.
Our scenarios will pull no punches—investigators will face deadly peril and moral dilemmas. They may die, or, if they are very careful and very lucky, they might complete an investigation successfully, without entering a single round of combat. But, they will not be left untouched by what they learn.
Most Golden Goblin scenarios will begin with actual history. These scenarios will focus on the complex social issues of the periods they are set in. To deny the dark side of history is to refuse to learn the lessons it tries to teach us—and one of those lessons is that the horror humanity perpetrates upon its own kind is more appalling than anything our minds can imagine.
MT: What is the Kickstarter all about?
OR: Our kickstarter is for Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion. The first and second companions were classic Call of Cthulhu titles from the early 1980s. These were collections of both scenarios and supplemental material. That’s what our book will be as well. We’ve added some backer levels for people who want to feel they are a part of the book, as well as to get a few items specifically created for the campaign by mythos sculptor Jim Broers.
MT: What can contributors expect?
OR: Contributors can expect a quality, well researched, and carefully edited book. The art, maps, and layout are being handled by some truly wonderful, talented people. The articles and scenarios are being written by some very experienced and talented people, as well one or two new faces we’re thrilled to be introducing fans to. Contributors can expect a book made by fans of the game for fans of the game. I’ve always felt as a writer and a Keeper that I was essentially an entertainer, and that is now truer than ever. I want contributors to feel they got a good book for their money, and that Golden Goblin Press kept them entertained.
MT: Any stretch goals?
OR: We actually have nine stretch goals planned. We hope to have extra art and maps, and four more articles by Tom Lynch, Tyler Hudak, Eckhard Hulshoff, and myself (Oscar Rios). One stretch goal is a stat conversion so that all the scenarios included in Islands of Ignorance can be played with the Trail of Cthulhu rules. Another goal will get the project custom handouts created by the master artists of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. There are also three additional scenario stretch goals. We have one by Jeffrey Moeller, set in Key West; one set in Arkham by Jon Hook… and the one we are most excited about… Scott David Aniolowski, one of the golden age masters of the Call of Cthulhu game, found an unpublished scenario he wrote about 25 years ago on his computer. We have enough stretch goals to double the size of the Third Cthulhu Companion… or to produce the fourth one.
MT: How do you think Kickstarters have changed the RPG business?
OR: I think Kickstarters have changed the RPG business for the better. The nature of crowd sourced funding for a project means that small publishers can take more chances and have more opportunity to reach out directly to the fans. There are more products out there for the fans, more opportunities for publishers to make a reputation—or to destroy one. If an idea isn’t popular, it won’t be funded or produced. If an idea is a hit with the fans, it will become a reality. Basically, the fans are now driving the industry, not the other way around. Also, fans are demanding more from RPG companies. They want more control over what gets produced, they want more value for their investment, and they want knickknacks and perks and special exclusive offers. Marketing is becoming more important in the RPG industry. The smart and flexible companies will flourish; the slow moving will die.
MT: Where can fans find out more about you, Golden Goblin Press, and the Kickstarter?
OR: To find out about me, they can go to my Facebook Author page and my blog. To find out more about Golden Goblin Press, fans can go to our company’s Facebook page, the company’s website, and the Arkham Market Square section of Yog-Sothoth.com. To find out more about our Kickstarter, they can go to our Kickstarter page.
MT: What conventions will you be at next?
OR: I’ll be attending ConnectiCon in July and Necronomicon in August.
MT: Anything else you’d like to add?
OR: I’m really excited to have the opportunity to bring Call of Cthulhu fans something a little different. I’m a player, and a Keeper and a writer who creates scenarios first and foremost to entertain my friends. The same is true for most of the production team. We don’t worry about offending our friends, and our scenarios explore dark and troubling topics, delving into some of the uglier parts of society and human nature. Now I can tell fans—This is what we are doing, this is where we’re going, and it’s going to be a dark, brutal, and possibly offensive ride. Get on and enjoy, but do so at your own risk. Or, if this isn’t what you’re looking for, that’s okay too. There are lots of great projects being produced out there; I am fans you can find one more suitable to their personal sensibilities. I’m proud to be moving forward with Golden Goblin Press, and I’m honored for the opportunity to share our vision of Cosmic Horror with the fans.
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Islands of Ignorance
Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion contains four articles, a collection of pre-generated investigators, and three scenarios for the Classic 1920’s era. Additional articles, scenarios, and art will be added as we achieve stretch goals.
The Golden Goblin by Geoff Gillan – Golden Goblin Press, the fictional creation of R.E. Howard, was named after a small Native American figurine. What is this strange object? What does it represent and what powers does it possess? At long last, these questions will be answered.
Meet the Walsh Family by Dan Harms – The Walsh Brothers have a reputation as being some of the best rum-runners in all of New England. They are heavily armed and widely feared. Meet the Walsh Family, a small, yet deadly, Cthulhu cult!
Requiem for Shaggai: A History of The Devil’s Opera by Scott David Aniolowski – In 1768, an opera about alien beings fleeing a dying world was written. Soon after it was banned by the Pope, all known copies were destroyed, and its composer put to death as a heretic. Learn the full history of the Massa di Requiem per Shuggay as told by the author who originally created it!
When Johnny Came Marching Home by Oscar Rios – This article provides a structured, well-balanced framework for creating investigators who are also veterans of the Great War. There are rules to reflect military training, combat experience, economic hardships, and the detrimental effects warfare had on both the bodies and the souls of Great War Veterans.
Heroes and Heroines of the Lovecraft Country – These eighteen pre-generated investigators have been portrayed by hundreds of players at conventions. Each is a well-rounded, combat-tested, ready-to-play investigator. Also included is a quick checklist of typical investigator equipment and a point system which uses the investigators Credit Rating score.
Consumption by Brian M. Sammons – The investigators are drawn into a nightmarish sequel to an H. P. Lovecraft story. In Arkham, there are horrors that have nothing to do with ghouls, ghosts, or witches; there are monsters are all the more frightening because of their humanity. It all begins one misty night, on a lonely stretch of road between Dunwich and Arkham, with a horrible discovery. Madness, murder, and mayhem are sure to follow.
Let the Children Come to Me by Mark Shireman – Poor children, workers at a textile mill, are disappearing under mysterious circumstances in Aylesbury, Massachusetts.The children reappear after a few days, each perfectly fine and claiming that nothing happened. Investigators will be challenged to the edge of sanity as they examine whether the horrors of the Mythos are worse than the evils which mankind can inflict upon itself.
The Lonely Point Lighthouse by Oscar Rios – The investigators are hired to debunk rumors of a haunting in New London, Connecticut. The last two keepers at the lighthouse on the tiny offshore island of Lonely Point both quit after hearing strange sounds inside the lighthouse. Before that, the reclusive, but well-respected, Fitch family lived there for twenty years without incident. The investigators are dropped off on Lonely Point with supplies for three days. Can they unravel the mystery as a violent nor’easter rages along the Connecticut coastline?
The Mystery Scenario – This will be an extra scenario PDF that will be provided to all backers at the Private Eye Level or higher. What will this scenario be about and who will write it? No one knows… yet! All backers who support at the Local Politician Level or higher will get a vote on each of the four key aspects of this scenario: Setting, Antagonist, Objective, and Author! Voting will occur after we fund. The chosen author will write a short scenario incorporating the chosen setting, antagonist, and objective.
- Pledge $1 or more: Eyewitness Level – Golden Goblin Press thanks you for your support! Every little bit gets us closer to our goals. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $5 or more: Local Police – Golden Goblin Press thanks you for your support. You will be listed on the Thank You page in the Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $12 or more: The Feds – You will receive a digital download of the Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion PDF. Includes All Earlier Backer Level Items. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $30 or more: Helpful Librarian – You will receive a physical copy of Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion. Includes All Earlier Backer Level Items. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $35 or more: Private Eye – You will receive a Bonus Exculsive “Mystery” Scenario,as a separate PDF available only to our Kickstarter backers at this and higher levels. Includes All Earlier Backer Level Items. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $50 or more: Foreign Correspondent – You will receive a Vote to determine the Location, Antagonist, Objective, and Author of the “Mystery” scenario. Includes All Earlier Backer Level Items. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $50 or more: Local Politician – You will receive a Vote to determine the Location, Antagonist, Objective, and Author of the “Mystery” scenario. Includes All Earlier Backer Level Items. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $100 or more: NPC Package – You supply a digital photo which will be altered and used to represent an NPC’s image within one of the Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion scenarios. Photo subject to approval. Includes Local Politician Level Rewards. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $150 or more: Female Investigator Package – You supply a digital photo which will be altered and use to represent one of the six female Pre-Generated investigators in the Heroes & Heroines of Lovecraft Country section of Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion. Photo subject to approval. Includes Local Politician Level Rewards. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $150 or more: Male Investigator Package – You supply a digital photo which will be altered and use to represent one of the 12 male Pre-Generated investigators in the Heroes & Heroines of Lovecraft Country section of Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion. Photo subject to approval. Includes Local Politician Level Rewards. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $250 or more: Gamer Package – You participate in a online (English Language) game of The Lonely Point Lighthouse, Keepered by author Oscar Rios. A key moment from this game will be illustrated and included in Island of Ignorance – The Third Cthulhu Companion. Game date and time to be determined, subject to availability of all participants. Includes Local Politician Level Rewards. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013
- Pledge $500 or more: The Golden Goblin Package – You recieve one of only twelve Golden Goblin Idols, to be crafted by Joe Broers, master sculptor of blasphemous artifacts. These are being produced ONLY for Golden Goblin Press and only a dozen will ever be made available to the public. Includes Local Politician Level Rewards. Add $10 for shipping outside of North America. Estimated delivery: Oct 2013.