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Cthulhu Crate review

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#1 jcfiala

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 07:02 PM

Well, here we go, I just brought in the box from Mythoard's Cthulhu Crate, and I thought I'd note some thoughts as I look through it.  To start with, everything is well-packaged, with lots of bubble wrap in different sizes.  (To follow along, there's a picture up on facebook here: https://www.facebook...?type=3 )
 
So, first off we've got a bunch of hexagon tiles with some sort of stone-looking hexagon holder.  Most of them are double-sided, basically one room each, with random wall sections on each side - so, one might have two wall sections together, where the other side has four walls and two blank.  I dunno what this is really useful for with Call of Cthulhu, but I play dungeon stuff and it could be useful?  I dunno, really.  I almost like the holder more than the hexes - reminds me of a hex-shaped coaster holder from when I was growing up.
 
Next I've got a small felt drawstring bag containing a random innsmouth gold coin and a wierd cult ring.  The ring is nice, but I'm not a ring person, so I didn't put down my ring size when I signed up.  I might see if my daughter wants it.  I picked up some of the innsmouth gold coins from Campaign Coins back when they had a discount code that donated to Yog-Sothoth.com, so this is useful for storing those.  Then there's a fake-leather dice bag with an evil-looking eye in it, containing your standard set of rpg dice, in a dark purple swirl plastic.  Probably Chessix.  Always nice to have more dice - might use it for my DCC dice.
 
Next up is a white box, containing a... green desk fountain.  There's lillipads and a tulip.  Um... it's nice enough, but it's about as Cthulhu as a tea cozy.  Huh.  Their facebook page says it's a "Loveti Cosplay serpentine ivy incense burner", but honestly, it looks like it's a desk fountain.
 
And now some paper.  There's a coupon for redeeming a game called Conarium on steam - contact me if you're interested in it, because I don't play computer games.  There's a page listing what we've got and how to get the PDF of Algon and the Sky girl, a campaign they're doing.  There's two pages of distressed "parchment" - one in english, one in code, with faux wax seals.  There's a four page (double-sided) letter which I think is another handout for the adventure too.  Nice-looking, but one of the pages didn't print well, which is a shame, you can't read some of it.
 
Some more small items - a bag of six "Cursed Obsidian Tokens" which seem to be black plastic.  Amusingly, it looks to be the same stone shape that they used for the transparent pick markers in my daughter's Unicorn Glitterluck game.  Then there's two... wood... things.  Dunno what they're for.  They're not in the box contents picture.
 
And finally, there's an "Occult UV Decoder" which I guess is this LED mini-flashlight that's in the box.  No batteries, but given that I have a 6 year old, I've got batteries in the back, let me grab some.  (3 AAA batteries, if you're waiting for your box.)  Hum.  Well, it's a blueish LED flashlight.  Let's see if there's any craziness on the included paperwork.  Nope!  Well, that's a shame.  I tried it on some money, but all it says is "CONSUME" in big letters, although the 20s say "WORSHIP ME".  Looks like there's some special pens you can get to write special messages in, but they're not included.  Shame.
 
Oh, and finally finally there's an Investigator's Handbook from Chaosium, which is really cool.  I mean, I've already got one, but it's fun to have a second one, and brings up the value of the whole box.  I'm curious to see what they come up with in box two.
 
So, I got everything in the picture on facebook, although they seem to show two sample coins, and I only got one, and I got some little wood things tht aren't in the picture.  (I've got enough coins, so that's not a huge thing.)
 
So, let's download this Adventure Pack - not too hard, although I wish it were on drivethru instead.  Weird.  There's digital copies of the code and the letter, but no adventure.  Is this a module or not?  I'm confused now.  And apparently I've got a 25% coupon for one item on the rpgStore site.
 
So, I liked getting the box, and I generally like what I've got, although I'm unsold on if it's really worth $70.  The big disappointments feel like the printout of the letter, which is unreadable in spots, the missing adventure, and the pile of hexes that really belong in some other crate.  The dice bag is cool, though, and I'm not sure how I feel about the "desk fountain/incense burner".

John Fiala

Check out Byakhee, the classic Call of Cthulhu character generator.


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#2 Dharma66

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 07:45 PM

I get the impression your assessment is pretty generous...

#3 synthboy

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 08:17 PM

Thanks for the review. I think this confirms my suspicions.


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#4 AdamAlexander

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 09:19 PM

Thanks. Guess I can go ahead and get a jump on canceling next month's.

#5 PoC

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Posted 29 July 2017 - 10:25 PM

Thanks for the breakdown.
 
There's also a thread here in the forum posted by the crate's creator about its contents:
 
Cthulhu Crate by Kenneth Hite - Inaugural Box
 
cthulhu-crate-number-01.jpg
Source: CthulhuCrate.com
 
Apparently the terrain pieces are for the "Algon" storyline that's being developed (by Ken Hite??) to go along with the crate releases. The LED flashlight is an ultraviolet light ("UV/black light" - usual caveats on using UV lights apply) often useful for detecting invisible ink.
 

The silver thing is a Cultist Membership Ring - one of the items that is necessary for the storyline of Crate #2.

 

Also of note, Cthulhu Crate shipping is not available outside the US and Canada.



#6 numtini

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 12:29 AM

I jumped on this then had second thoughts and canceled. For my interests, I think for the best.

#7 jcfiala

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Posted 30 July 2017 - 02:47 AM

I really think there is a spot for a luxury box of cthulhu items - lord knows I've spent enough on them.  But I'm questioning if this is it.


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Check out Byakhee, the classic Call of Cthulhu character generator.

#8 carpocratian

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Posted 04 August 2017 - 02:51 AM

I was really hoping that the box would be worth getting, but it's not, at least when it comes to my uses.  Markers/tokens, dice bags, tiles, etc. are in just about every rpg subscription box out there.  I'm not interested in video games, and already have the book.  The fountain and ring didn't look very interesting to me.  I like coins, but that's not enough on it's own.

 

For $70 a month I would expect a lot more in the way of props, particularly non-paper ones, with back stories on them and some tips on using them in adventures.  I could easily go on Etsy and pick up a couple of really interesting items for less than $70.  It looks like they are selling some of the individual items from the crates on their website, so if any interesting ones pop up I might buy them individually. 

 

I really like the idea, and have a lot of respect for Kenneth Hite, so I'll keep watching them and see where they go with it.



#9 Robin

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 07:51 AM

 Then there's two... wood... things.  Dunno what they're for.  They're not in the box contents picture.

 

These are the things you need to worry about. They're not meant to be there and you don't know what they are. They are surely cursed objects or possessed by evil entities of some sort.

 

Get them out of your house, now. Now! Before it's too late!

 

Regards,

 

Robin



#10 CthulhuCrate

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 03:57 PM

Hi guys, thanks for the review and the criticism.  It's listened-to and welcomed for certain.  The Cthulhu Crate is new and, similarly, so am I, so I am extremely grateful for the loyal subscribers and even more grateful to the past subscribers who agreed to try us out.  I'm sorry I didn't meet expectations but we are going to improve steadily over time.

 

If it helps, the two "wooden" things are incense reloads for the incense burner.  In the Algon and the Sky Girl storyline, this incense is used to enter a meditative state that in Crate #2, Evelyn and Jonathan use to enter an out-of-body state that leads them to their next destination.  The incense is unique because it has a hole drilled through it which causes the heavy vapors to drift "down" instead of up into the air, which creates the (I thought) neat effect of pooling into the reservoir.  Learning the difference between what I think is cool, and what other people think is cool is a challenge sometimes.

 

Anyway, thanks for trying out the service and we have adapted several things for our future crates based on the criticism and feedback we have received.  We are spending more time now to integrate the curated items into the story lines to give them a "reason" for being there.  If they don't belong, we aren't going to put them in.  We are diversifying our books to include more licensee products that are less common (meaning you might not already own them).  We are also increasing the production value of our in-house storyline items.  In this case each creature is getting a full typeset "page" as if it came out of a core book, the story line will have better layout, and we are now sourcing Cthulhu-specific carvings, statuettes, and artifacts (jewelry and the like) from the creative experts in the Cthulhu genre.

 

Our most exciting additions are a new line of miniatures that are Cthulhu-specific.  This will take us several months and a relatively large investment, but we will be bringing out more lines of miniatures and scenery that we hope will "emulate" the storyline in future crates.  

 

The next installment of Cthulhu Crate #3 for example will contain all of the tabletop scenery necessary to explore the Kiva, set in the American desert in 1917.  This will come with a fully laid out 16 page adventure module with art and a higher production value.  It will also come with a map with some well done cartography.

 

We have a small following, and we're grateful to have them, and we hope other folks will continue to invest in not only what the crate may be now, but also invest in what you hope we, as a creative team, may become.  We're happy to earn that trust over time and we're working hard to get there sooner rather than later.

 

Please keep the criticism coming as we know this is the place to get the real insight into what the real, hard-core Cthulhu fans think.

 

Thanks again,

 

Jared Nielsen

 

You can catch up on Cthulhu Crate #2 which just shipped out at https://www.FaceBook.com/CthulhuCrate



#11 jcfiala

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:23 PM

Unfortunately, having a copy of "Nameless Horrors" makes this a negative value for me.  I backed the CoC Kickstarter, and so although a second copy of the Investigator's guide has a possible value for the future (sharing with a new player), having another copy of Nameless horrors is pretty useless.  So, I'm not going to buy in on this crate... but that means the ongoing storyline is no longer something I'm going to be able to follow, so now that's mostly junk in future crates.

 

I think you need to consider dropping the rulebook portion of the crate, and making it generally cheaper overall.


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Check out Byakhee, the classic Call of Cthulhu character generator.

#12 AdamAlexander

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:48 PM

My preference is that each crate stand on its own. I get that your subscription model depends on buyers wanting to buy the complete story, but that doesn't interest me. I do like the nautical journal, though.

#13 CthulhuCrate

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:53 PM

It's something I'm learning.  In my other crates, folks are hungry for (and have a large diversity of) source books.  Every poll and survey I do they want books, books, and books.  I didn't plan for the fact that Chaosium had a high saturation point.  It's something I'm evaluating now.  What do you think of this idea?  An original sourcebook that nobody has yet... one every other month, where I gather up an entire storyline and publish it as a book in one standalone delivery.  Props that are fully integrated into that storyline.  Minis and terrain that can be used to play that sourcebook.  Maps and ephemera that is associated to that book as well.  Does that seem like a better model?  I certainly couldn't do that every month, but I could do that every 60 days.



#14 carpocratian

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 09:37 PM

It's something I'm learning.  In my other crates, folks are hungry for (and have a large diversity of) source books.  Every poll and survey I do they want books, books, and books.  I didn't plan for the fact that Chaosium had a high saturation point.  It's something I'm evaluating now.  What do you think of this idea?  An original sourcebook that nobody has yet... one every other month, where I gather up an entire storyline and publish it as a book in one standalone delivery.  Props that are fully integrated into that storyline.  Minis and terrain that can be used to play that sourcebook.  Maps and ephemera that is associated to that book as well.  Does that seem like a better model?  I certainly couldn't do that every month, but I could do that every 60 days.

 

That would be something that I would find more attractive.  Still, though, $80 is a rough price point.

 

I love books, but for a subscription to be worth it to me they need to be books I can't get elsewhere, or books that I'm getting at a big discount, when the price of all the parts of the crate are taken into account. 

 

The thing about rpg subscription crates is that I need to feel that I'm getting my money's worth, if not more, and most of the items need to be things I will be interested in using.  I have tried and dropped other crates because they were essentially made up of an adventure or two, a few hexagon tiles (not enough to really do anything with), limited samples of things other people sell (like what you get in convention bags), and a few items that I can buy elsewhere for (roughly) what the crate developer is valuing them at.  That's why I dropped Mythoard.   I could easily put together a package more suited to my needs for the same (or less) money.  I know that the crate community in general seems to be supported by people who like to get surprises in the mail, rather than people who are looking for original items, but there's a big difference between paying $30 for a crate and $80.

 

One of my big stopping points on the Cthulhu Crate is the relative value of what I would be getting versus what I could easily purchase for myself for much less money.  The curation and relevance to the adventure is there, but the items (so far) have mostly been things I could buy elsewhere for the same price, or less.  I can get used copies of the Chaosium books, for example, and already own most of them, anyway.  Mall stores are full of inexpensive spooky incense burners and goth-style necklaces.  I can get similar wood boxes for a few dollars at Kohl's (in the US) or other stores, or even at thrift shops (tons of them there).  The same goes for decorative keys and fake jewels.  Leather journals are all over the place and can be pretty inexpensive.  For the cost of the crate minus the cost of the Chaosium book (new) and the Cthulhu head necklace I could easily double the number of items within an hour or two of local shopping, or do even better by going to a big local flea market or hitting a bunch of garage sales.  In fact, that's how I get a lot of props for my Cthulhu games already. 

 

Alternatively, I could get a couple of really nice statues and non-paper props off Etsy for the same $80 and have things that work well as both game props and display items.  A few months of that and I could have a really nice collection.

 

Ultimately, for $80 I would expect to get really nice stuff that is original.  That's what would sell me on the crate.  I suspect that's the same for a lot of other people, too.  When you price a crate like that, you're setting a high bar for yourself.

 

I'm not trying to be mean - just realistic.  I really admire the fact that you're discussing the contents of the boxes and asking for feedback.  A lot of crate developers don't act in such a professional manner. 



#15 AdamAlexander

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 10:01 PM

Carpocratian pretty much sums up my position.

#16 numtini

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 01:28 PM

On book saturation, I think the pricepoint is probably high enough that you end up with mostly completists. If you have sufficient disposable income to 80 to drop on a box, you probably just see the release announcement for a book and click through to order without a lot of debate. That based on my own behavior.



#17 TheHistorian

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 06:38 PM

The non-books hold no interest for me. If you had an exclusive in one of these, I could be convinced to try it out, but I wouldn't be thrilled about paying for all the extra items either. I'm not trying to be negative about the concept, just pointing out there are some for whom this simply doesn't work.



#18 CthulhuCrate

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 07:37 PM

Good points.

 

Some crates deliver value in the "shopping service" category - sure you could buy these yourself, but it actually takes time to go do that, and we can do that on behalf of many people at once to attain an efficiency that's worth it to some people.  

 

Given the book saturation point (at least for this group) I suspect this crate needs to pivot to offer unique content you can't get anywhere else, and that content needs to be pretty valuable... where the value of the original content needs to be equal to the price of the monthly box.  Then anything else that comes in the box is just gravy.  I will discuss this with Kenneth and we'll see where we end up.

 

I wonder what most Cthulhu Roleplayers think about the Cthulhu Wars Miniature Gamer crowd?  There's clearly some demand proposition there that makes sense, but I don't know if this Cthulhu crowd is the same as that group preference wise.  What do you think?



#19 AdamAlexander

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 07:54 PM

The licensing might be tricky, but I would be up for good prop documents for CoC scenarios. For example, Crimson Letters in the 7th Ed rulebook has the Hobbhouse Papers that would make interesting props. Props are something I'd rather just buy.

Edited by AdamAlexander, 25 August 2017 - 07:54 PM.


#20 carpocratian

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 05:20 AM

I wonder what most Cthulhu Roleplayers think about the Cthulhu Wars Miniature Gamer crowd?  There's clearly some demand proposition there that makes sense, but I don't know if this Cthulhu crowd is the same as that group preference wise.  What do you think?

 

Just speaking for myself, I backed the recent Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter, but just for the miniatures.  My plan is to pull one of each miniature to keep, to use as display items and to use when playing Call of Cthulhu, and sell the duplicates (like the cultists) on eBay.  I don't have any interest in the game itself.  I'm more into RPGs than boardgames. 







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