Blood from Black Wattle

Blood from Black Wattle

Call of Cthulhu for Phenomenon 2022

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Watch the Blood from Black Wattle promo video.

Stories abound of Black Wattle Station, bunyip aristocracy grown fat on stolen blessings. The homestead with its strange high tower dominates an ancient valley set silent midst blue-grey mountains. The town of Buckenbowra squats below: less blessed, half-ruined, timid and resentful. The mountain blacks have gone now, the gold diggings lie abandoned, and a full generation of young men are lost to the Great War.

The mountain wind whispers of past atrocity; tales of outrage and harsh dealing. Life and death here are ever uncertain.

The letter says that something terrible walks the mountain. Something that took a girl. The letter says you can still hear her calls in the night.

An Australian tale of the 1920s, set in the High Clyde east of Braidwood, eternal and unceded country of the Yuin Nation.

Together, we conjure a tale of sorcery and dark secrets, of family and tribe and all that blood tears asunder. We scream in the face of monstrous reality. We suffer the cosmic loneliness of love. We partake of a dreadful communion.

A touch of Cthulhu Gothic. Terrible. Wanton. Holy. Please roll SAN.

An Australian story from John and Pip Hughes

For those who have completed the convention module, here is Pip and Jims’ recitation of the (fictional) Southern Cross myth.

What’s the Game?

How many players? Five

What’s the game again? A Call of Cthulhu mystery with more than a touch of Gothic.

Seriousness? Pretty serious, with moments of levity.

Genre/Setting Australian historical horror, with game mechanisms to encourage moments of gothic passion and wild romance.

System Simplified Call of Cthulhu, with a focus on character-led storytelling.

Movie Rating (MA). The story touches on historical racism and violence. Supernatural themes. Gothic passions. Slime.


Versions of these characters have previously appeared in the games ‘Turn of Midnight Waters’ (2016) and ‘PANic!’ (2019).

‘Blood on Black Wattle’ features versions of two historical characters, the poet Kenneth Slessor and the novelist/bohemian Dulcie Deamer. Please don’t let them die. 🙂

Dulcie, the Muse

Dulcie Deamer: novelist, investigative reporter, Sydney’s charismatic ‘Queen of Bohemia’.

(Listen to Dulcie)

Download Dulcie character sheet (3.3Meg PDF)

Kenneth, the Poet

Kenneth Slessor: dapper, somewhat impractical journalist and poet.

Download Kenneth character sheet (3.1Meg PDF)

Hope, the Shaper

Hope: Sydney street tough and sculptor. A survivor.

Download Hope character sheet (3.1Meg PDF)

Boyne, the Hard Man

William Boyne, Northern Irish Mythos crusader, dour and deadly with a sentimental streak.

Download Boyne character sheet (2.2Meg PDF)

Merrin, the Innocent

Merrin Brook, aspiring novelist on the cusp of adulthood.

Download Merrin character sheet (4.3M PDF)

The Letter

Download the letter (325K PDF)

Mr Terrance Brooke
Australian Society for Psychical Research
Wheel House, Macleay Street
Potts Point, Sydney

Dear Sir,
I see from your learned writings that you are a good man, dedicated to the truth.

I write in request of urgent assistance. My niece Thelma Dunn, of some fifteen summers, has gone missing in the most distressing circumstances from her home at Buckenbowra. Four nights now, from Sunday last. The local men assist but they fear the darkness in the mountains. We search in vain.

I am a poor woman of the most modest means, though I have learned my letters well enough and take refuge in the teachings of our Lord.

There are powers here beyond my understanding. They betray us, forget our true nature, seek to master us.

We hear Thelma’s cries of anguish in the night, from heights only the old ones tread.

Please help us. As the good king sang before the altar (Ps 91:4-6),

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his
wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

Yours in the love of God,

Mrs Florence Dunn
Buckenbowra Station
via Braidwood

Session Zero

This module explores themes from the life of Aboriginal people in New South Wales in the 1920s, as observed by white player characters. It is presented in a spirit of Reconciliation.

It raises issues of historical racism, violence, and forced adoption.

The origin story presented in this game is fiction, and is not intended to represent the actual ancestral beliefs and living traditions of the Yuin Nation. In all other historical matters, Pip and John have endeavoured to reflect historical reality to the best of their ability, with respect for those involved.

The character sheets invite players to dig deeper according to their style of play and team dynamic. They are multi-layered, and aspects relating to a character’s inner world can be downplayed or ignored with no effect on module outcomes. Players will decide which aspects of a character to bring into gamespace. A team might play with a focus on external action, focusing on the stats, or as a more internal character drama. Most teams will find a mixture of both, according to their enjoyment.

That said, character sheets may touch on issues of gender identity, abandonment, fanaticism, infidelity, and sexual awakening, if a player chooses to introduce them.

Our genre is gothic, and the game foregrounds possible passionate transformation during play. It might be a relationship, an inspiration, an obsession, a sundering, a personality change, an outpouring of emotion either positive or negative. The focus will be on the passion. Any romantic or sexual outcomes will be handled at a high level of abstraction and with the utmost discretion.

Players are also asked to choose one possible personality transformation during play (e.g. cowardly/brave, distrustful/trusting) which will either succeed or fail. Suggestions are presented for each character, but players are free to create their own.

Game conventions

See the sample sheet (45K PDF)

We are using a D6 stripped down and adapted Call of Cthulhu system for convention play. Die rolling will be for key challenges only. Stats are presented mainly as a character guide. Skill names will vary slightly between characters.
Roll under the stat to succeed.
Choose or create one key Flaw/Strength Struggle to guide your character through the game.
Health is your character’s hit points.
Sanity is your character’s overall mental stability.
Fearless is your character’s key stat. It measures your resistance to the shock of experiencing the real. Or the unreal. You will roll or choose this stat at the start of play. It can only go down.
Luck can be used to re-roll crucial die outcomes.
Queer measures your ability to perceive and act against the arbitrary nature of things; to glimpse underlying assumptions; to defy social expectation and convention. It is not necessarily sexual.
Sensual measures your character’s bodily awareness and enjoyment of sensation.
Mystic measures your character’s openness to non-physical experience.

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