An illustration for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game setting. Meant as a character for the 1920’s era.
Robert Crawford is a restaurant owner in Arkham – in a long line of restaurant owners. He is the current owner of the Crawford’s Restaurant, situated at the corner of Garrison and Armitage. The place has been there since the Civil War and ownership of the establishment has been firmly in family ever since the 17th century. The place is by far the most expensive place to get one’s belly full, but the food is exceptionally good – albeit the menu is archaic by modern standards and in dire need of modernization. Nothing much has changed in the restaurant in 200 years.
Robert Crawford is one of the richest men in town and although his restaurant is gathering patrons, it’s really no longer a very good source of income. But the family fortunes are vast and includes shares of many companies in Arkham, gold and property. His demeanor is that of a spoiled brat whose upbringing has been supportive of his family’s view of their own supremacy over the common folk. But his presence is striking and captivating and his manners are impeccable. On occasion his restaurant is used to throw parties in which alcoholic beverages are flowing freely – in spite of the ongoing Prohibition. There is little risk for the Crawford’s due to the family’s influence on city affairs. Robert is rather handsome in a rugged way and he is surprisingly eloquent, educated and gives out an aura of importance. He is flirtatious and openly suggestive even though he is happily married to Susan Crawford. In reality he is devoted to his wife and the flirtatious side to him is merely a facade.
Robert Crawford by Kimmo Mäkinen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
An illustration for Call of Cthulhu role.playing game setting. Specifically to the 1920’s era, but easily goes for the Gaslight period as well.
Mr. Bertil Kruenhoofer migrated to the United States from Austria and settled in the city of Arkham twenty years ago. He has loads of old world money behind him and while in America aristocracy is held in lesser regard than in Europe, his wealth on the other hand makes him “everybody’s friend“. Mingling with the crème de la crème of Arkham, Bertil is a well known player in the city’s higher circles. Bertil has no interest in politics and neither wants nor needs power (more than what wealth gives), but he has developed a curious interest in artifacts and certain antiquities of Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Babylonian and Chinese origin.
As a regular traveler to the mysterious other dimension of Dreamlands, Bertil has picked up strange objects, languages and habits. He is not a man who would keenly announce his visits to a world beyond our realm of existence since he knows that being open about it will inevitably bring unwanted consequences. His favorite method to initiate his travel is to use a strange clock-like device that he bought in Boston from an insane antiquities dealer when his store’s contents was auctioned after he was committed to an asylum. Bertil is aware of other means as well – means involving Laudanum, means involving hypnotic suggestion and means involving blood sacrifice to strange and secret powers!
Mr. Bertil Kruenhoofer by Kimmo Mäkinen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
A black/white portrait for 1920’s Call of Cthulhu role-playing setting (but actually works for any Victorian or Gothic setting as well).
Lord Burlington is a reclusive aristocrat with a passion for mad science up and including studying and causing mutations and genetic anomalies in human subjects. He is refusing to accept the changing times and is living the life of a solitary hermit. His remote mansion is staffed by a bare-minimum crew of servants. The basement is off-limits to anyone except the lord himself and although the servants know of Lord Burlington’s insane work, they get paid enough to turn a blind eye. Lord Burlington is called from time to time by universities to lecture on genetic abnormalities, but his social manners and human interaction skills have deteriorated year by year and the lecture calls are on the decline. Lord Burlington does not need the money from the lectures anyway since he is living on a sizable heritage that also includes numerous residential blocks in many cities and a pretty hefty chunk of land of which he collects rent from local farmers.
A character illustration for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game setting. Stylistically this illustration fits better for modern gaming settings instead of the classic 1920’s era. Illustration is originally from 2006, but I made some changes to it in 2013.
Randolph has had mental difficulties since his early teens when he accidentally saw his father succumb to madness and hang himself after a particularly harrowing trip to the Dreamlands. Randolph only later learned about his father’s deep secrets through journals he kept. The journals (unfortunately) contained enough detailed information to get Randolph started on his father’s footsteps and at the age of 17 he made his first voyage to the Dreamlands -against his mother’s wishes and hopes. He loved the place! But the nightmares began after his fifth trip which ended abruptly and left him a mindlessly shaking vegetable for three days (he spent those days and a further week in a local mental asylum) after which he slowly recovered. The nightmares started to build up and Randolph found out at the age of 22 that he felt better if he would let his nightmares out through painting.
Now at the age of 32 Randolph is incapable of actual work and he lives with his ageing and ill mother who does her best to feed and cloth him. But he makes an infrequent income through his paintings which are often purchased by eccentric collectors of the macabre, students of occult and such. The paintings are sometimes incomprehensible and sometimes a collection of thematically linked nightmare visions. The artsy types may even hang some of his paintings on galleries and living room walls while praising their different contemporary looks, but those people are certainly blissfully oblivious to the origins of the subject matter.
A character illustration for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game setting.
Adolphe Remy is of Haitian origin and comes from a long line of voodoo practitioners dating all the way back to Benin in Africa. He and a group of his devout followers followed some supernatural lead to Arkham in the early 1920’s and they eventually bought a remote manor house some good 20 miles away from Arkham city proper. Rumors abound as to what exactly this group is doing there, but nothing concrete has even been proven. They generally maintain a low profile and visit Arkham twice a month purchasing living essentials and also sell their own products in the open market. Their spices, herbs, carrots, yellow tomatoes and other vegetables have become somewhat known for their exceptional quality in Arkham and on most market days they sell out their supply quite fast. Yet many city folks shun them due to their strange appearance, black skin and a unique Haitian accent of their speech.
The manor house is occupied by some twenty followers of Adolphe and another ten hired workers that maintain the premises, cultivate the manor grounds and farm the nearby fields. All of them are of Haitian origin, but some are of black/white mixed parentage. The house is well kept, but unaccessible to outsiders. The premises are guarded by armed henchmen who shoot first and ask questions later. They don’t have that many neighbors on the area but those that are, don’t generally have nothing bad to say against them. Although they might just be scared or intimidated to silence.
Illustration originally from 2007, but I did a little touching up here and there in 2013.
A character portrait for 1920’s Call of Cthulhu role-playing game setting. An illustration recently slightly retouched but originates from 2007.
Dean Mortimer Balmers is the dean of Department of Archaeology at Miskatonic University at Arkham. He runs the department with an iron skill set brought on by three decades as the head of the department. His health is still not yet betraying him despite his venerable age of 75 years, although his physical stamina and endurance is in no way matching that of younger men. He has the nickname of Old Ox that has lingered on him since the late 19th century. Mortimer has excellent pedagogic skills and he is well liked by his students as a man of dedication and integrity. Although he is less and less seen teaching, he still mentors in some way or other most of the post-graduate students. Mortimer has, however, some personal traits that are now outdated. He does not care much of non-caucasian races seeing the men of African or Asian descendance as inferior to white men. This racism is surely connected to his age and perhaps his considerable field experiences in Asian, Meso-American and African archaelogical sites. He also favors men over women. These traits are not apparent in his professional demeanor and he treats each and every exam paper equally, but when outside working hours, he does not make the effort to hide his racism and misogynism.
Mortimer is a walking library of arcane knowledge and a veritable fountain of valuable insight into the field of archaeology. He knows most of the important scientific research done in the field over the last half a century by heart and can quote intricately detailed and obscure notions to the letter. He also remembers each and every student of his department by name which raises constant amazement among the students since the department is by no means a tiny or obscure unit but instead houses several dozen students at any given time.
A character portrait for 1920’s Call of Cthulhu role-playing game setting.
Ariel Elfman is a senior acquisitionist at Miskatonic University at Arkham. She works at the Department of Archaeology and answers to the head of the department, dean Mortimer Balmers. Her duties include the day-to-day workings of what the university department buys and where and how the items are distributed and stored. She has a PhD in the field of general history and is an expert of medieval European artifacts and legends that surround those items. Most such items are of religious importance but some are much more sinister in origin.
Ariel is equally well an important university contact or an interesting base for a player character.
Ariel Elfman, Acquisitionist by Kimmo Mäkinen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.