If you missed the news that tabletop RPG publisher Chaosium released nearly 2,000 NFTs styled after Call of Cthulhu, you’re far from alone. The company announced the collaboration with self-purported environmentally friendly NFT platform Veve.me last summer, and by all accounts seem to be gearing up for more.
Chaosium’s initial announcement was published to their website’s blog on July 22nd by Vice President Michael O’Brien and detailed a plan to mint and sell two different models from the Cthulhu Mythos on Veve.me’s platform. The New Zealand-based NFT company is somewhat unique in two ways - it boasts a digital showroom that supports 3D-modelled NFTs and insists on its relatively low environmental impact compared to the rest of the crypto landscape.
The models included the Necronomicon and a bust of the Deep One themselves, Cthulhu, hunched on a pedestal and available in bronze, silver and gold versions. The models were created by Simon Lissaman and Seth Laster, artists with Call of Cthulhu licence holder Type40. In a post to the BasicRoleplaying forums that same month, a Chaosium representative said, “There will be another drop with new Call of Cthulhu digital collectables later this year!”
That second drop never materialised, but recent comments from O’Brien and the Chaosium Twitter account show evidence that it may still be on the horizon. Players and fans resurfaced the original announcement in February of 2022, wondering why Chaosium announced this drop and then ostensibly pretended it never happened. Digging through replies on Twitter, they managed to find a couple instances of the company responding to other NFT advocates, saying things such as, “We have more – lots more – to drop... when the Stars are Right,” accompanied by squid emojis on January 11th and “More Call of Cthulhu stuff is coming; no plans for RuneQuest stuff on VeVe though,” on Jan. 30th.
Dark Forest Press, a designer who creates Call of Cthulhu material through Chaosium’s 3rd-party licence Miskatonic Repository, shared what appeared to be screenshots of a Facebook comment from O’Brien. In it, he doubles down on Veve.me’s commitment to carbon offsets as a way to negate the environmental impact of NFT trading (the efficacy of carbon offsets is roundly criticised as a deflectionary tool of large industries) and saying the company is “going to feed the curiosity” O’Brien claims the first NFT drop created for Call of Cthulhu.
The community has interpreted the original drop and the company’s insistence on moving forward with more as a disappointing self-promotional ploy. The NFTs do enhance gameplay at the table nor do they provide any benefit to fans beyond being a collectible “item” with a value and artificial scarcity attached to it. Several Reddit users even joked by comparing NFTs to Cthulhu. “What is the difference between NFTs and Cthulhu?” user Taliesin_Hoyle_ asked. “One is an abberant [sic] monstrosity that consumes and devours power and ablates the senses with the pitiless futility of it all, and the other is Cthulhu.”
This blog post from July 2021 has likely resurfaced in the wake of digital platforms such as Itch.io and DriveThruRPG releasing definitive statements against the use of NFTs or any blockchain-reliant technology. More broadly, the tide of public opinion regarding NFTs has only become more fractious as bald financial scheming and rampant scams crash against a weirdly pervasive adoption by celebrities and media personalities.
Chaosium isn’t the only publisher in the tabletop space embracing this newest iteration of crypto tech. Exploding Kittens announced a round of 10 Happy Salmon-themed NFTs awarded through a social media campaign (as if they hadn’t massacred Dicebreaker’s beloved party game enough with the redesign). And while CMON might not be turning Zombicide into a line of undead tokens (yet), the company partnered with Monsoon Digital to launch a digital platform dedicated to trading NFTs.
Dicebreaker has reached out to Chaosium for more information but did not hear back by time of publication.