Samples and Free Downloads for Gamers and Collectors

Prop Documents

Games are more fun when you play with good toys, and we here at the HPLHS really like detailed props. We offer a complete prop collection in our online store: here we are happy to provide a sampling of 1920s/30s era gaming prop documents that you can download for free, customize and print. Whether you play live-action or around the table, these props will intensify your role-playing games.

The prop software in the HPLHS Collection is protected by copyright and remains the exclusive property of HPLHS Inc. The HPLHS Prop Documents are for entertainment purposes only. They are intended for personal use in role-playing games, and users are free to customize and print copies for such purposes. Any commercial or illegal use of the digital files or the props you can make with them is entirely prohibited.

cclogoThe PDFs are copyrighted by HPLHS Inc. and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, click this link, or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, CA 94105, USA.

Free Prop Downloads

Western UnionThis is a replica of an authentic Western Union telegram from the late 1920s through early 1960s. It needs a separate envelope, which we regret we cannot provide. Click the image at left to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The PDF includes form fields for typing your message.)

telegramThis is a generic style prop telegram created exclusively for this website. It folds up to become its own envelope. Click the image at left to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The message shown at left is just an example: the prop itself is customizable.)

postcardsDetailed replicas of real vintage postcards from Providence, with views of the city at the time when Lovecraft lived there. He might have sent notes on postcards just like these! Choose from the list below to download the corresponding PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (Vintage postage stamps included!) PDFs range from 6 to 8 megabytes.

Van Wickle Gates of Brown University

Providence River

Providence City Hall

Providence Biltmore Hotel

Various Providence Sites

St. John's Church

College Hill

postage stamps H.P.Lovecraft is as famous in some circles for his prodigious correspondence as he is for his horror fiction. He was a man who knew the value of a postage stamp. In honor of HPL's spirit of epistolarianism, we've created a series of HPLHS "postage stamps" for you to download, print, and use on your own correspondence. NOTE: THESE ARE NOT VALID FOR U.S. POSTAGE. They are novelty items. Use them as postage on prop letters in your own live-action Cthulhu games, or decorate a letter to a Lovecraft fan. Clicking on the image will open up a 2-page PDF which you can download and print. Some stamps are color, some are black and white. We hope you enjoy them. Send us a postcard with one of the stamps!

Miskatonic LetterheadMiskatonic University is the jumping-off point for many of HPL's stories and Cthulhu adventures. We're pleased to offer Miskatonic letterheads from various departments, including the Antarctic Expedition, with built-in vintage typewriter font for composing your letter. Click the image at right to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The page shown here is just one of several in the PDF.)

Miskatonic DiplomaCharacters who have paid with their sanity for the knowledge they've gained should have something to hang on the wall. Click the image at right to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The character info shown here is just an example: the prop itself is customizable.)

We offer other Miskatonic diplomas in our complete prop collection in the online store, including advanced degrees, and we also offer the Miskatonic University combo, which comes with a printed diploma and library card, student ID, course book, t-shirt, mug, and decals.

Miskatonic Library CardTo fill out your investigator's wallet, this card might come in handy. It is created especially for this site. Click the image at left to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The character info shown here is just an example: the prop itself is customizable.)

A customized, printed version of this library card is included with the Miskatonic University Combo available in our online store.

Miskatonic Library BookTurn any book into a book from the stacks of Miskatonic University Library! The PDF is complete with a library pocket, three types of due date cards (both blank and pre-stamped) and various labels for the spine of your book. Just add a call number! Click the image at right to download the 4-page PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (2.5 MB) (The book info shown here is just an example: the prop itself is customizable, and includes a guide to the Dewey Decimal system.)

arkham libraryNot an M.U. student? Never fear: they've got interlibrary loan. Click the image at right to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The character info shown here is just an example: the prop itself is customizable.)

arkham toe tagHandy for when the bodies start piling up, this prop is inspired by several original authentic documents, and created just for the site. It features a convenient tear-off mortician receipt to speed your way to the graveyard. Click the image at right to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions.

mass autoThis prop is based on an actual 1930s automobile registration card. Click the image at right to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The details shown here are just for example: the prop itself is customizable.)

mass driverSometimes the only way to identify a dead body is to go through its pockets and find a drivers license... Click the image at right to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The character info shown here is just an example: the prop itself is customizable.)

private eyeThis card is offered in two varieties: one from Massachusetts and one from New York. Click the image at right to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions.

Prohibition Agent IDThis prop is a replica of the Treasury Department ID card of Eliot Ness. (Thanks to Greg Barrett for the suggestion and the research.) Click the image to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The character info and photo shown here are just for example: users must provide their own photo.)

Insanity CertificatesIf you've paid for your knowledge of the Cthulhu Mythos with your sanity, you might as well get a receipt. In response to requests from website visitors, we are pleased to provide these handsome documents you can use to certify yourself or your loved ones insane. One is from Sefton Asylum, which appears in Lovecraft's Herbert West tales. The other, more ornate certificate is from Arkham Asylum for the Insane. Both are fully customizable if you are using the most recent version of the Adobe Acrobat reader. Choose from the links below to download the corresponding PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The character info shown is just an example: the prop itself is customizable.)

Arkham Asylum

Sefton Asylum

We also offer pre-printed and customized Insanity Certificates in our online store.

Death CertificateThis prop is based on actual vintage death certificates. It is completely customizable and comes in a fancy version as shown here and a plain version that you can print on certificate paper. Click the image at left to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions. (The character info shown here is just an example: the prop itself is customizable.)

Prop & Font License Agreements

creative commons logoOur free prop and font downloads are provided under the terms of non-exclusive, non-transferable license agreements. By downloading and/or using the props/fonts, you indicate that you understand and agree to honor the terms and conditions of the relevant license. If you don't understand or agree with the terms, please don't downlaod or use the props/fonts. The prop PDFs are offered under the terms of the Creative Commons by-nc-sa license. The fonts have a different license, and you can view the complete terms here, but here's the gist of it.

As a person with a license, you have the right:

  1. to install and use the prop/font software on one computer and as many printers or image production devices as are required to output your work;
  2. to make one copy of the prop/font software for backup purposes;
  3. to print copies of the prop files for your personal use only;
  4. to use the font software as part of an overall graphic design, for personal projects.

You do NOT have the right:

  1. to share, loan, rent, resell, or distribute the prop/font software itself;
  2. to make copies of the prop/font software other than for backup purposes;
  3. to copy by electronic means, reproduce, embed, modify, or create derivative works from the prop/font software for the purpose of resale or distribution;
  4. to print copies of the prop files for sale, or for use in professional or commercial theatrical or cinematic productions.

Ephemera logoEXCEPTIONS: You can provide the prop/font software to a service bureau as needed for the output of your work, provided that the service bureau does not retain a copy of the software once the work is completed. You can embed the font software in works as needed, provided that the embedding is subset and encrypted to prevent extraction of the font software itself. No exception not specifically listed here is permitted, but feel free to write us with questions or requests.

NOTE TO PROFESSIONAL THEATRE / FILM PROPMASTERS: Professional licenses for the font/prop software are available. Please write us for more information.

Font Downloads

On the endless and insane quest for authenticity, we have created more than 50 custom fonts to use in props. Typographical fashions change, and since the digital age overtook typesetting and graphic design, many of the fonts common in the time of Lovecraft have fallen into disuse. We've revived many of them from vintage sources, including the 1923 American Type Founder's specimen book and the Mergenthaler Linotype catalog from the mid-1930s. Many of these fonts have slightly rough edges or irregular shapes, to capture the feel of old lead type and bygone printing technologies. You might have seen some of our fonts on billboards, games, comic books, or packages at Trader Joe's!

We've chosen a few of the most useful and made special HPLHS versions which you can download here for free for personal use: just click on the panels below to see them. Please read the license terms before you download anything. You can also license the entire font collection in our online store. We are always updating and improving the fonts, and you can find some of the improved versions available individually at MyFonts.com and/or Font Bros.

oldstyle sampleHPLHS Oldstyle is a font revived and digitized from the Linotype catalog of the mid 1930s. There are three faces: regular, Italic and small caps. Click the image above to download the OpenType fonts. The free-download version is pretty basic, but there is a more detailed version called Coldstyle available from MyFonts.com.

telegramHPLHS Telegram is a detailed replica of the type used on real Western Union telegrams in the 1920s and '30s. For a more complete set of telegram fonts including this font and others, check out Font Bros.

headline oneHPLHS-Headline One is a replica of real newspaper headline type. It has softly rounded corners like old lead type. You will find a more complete version called Toronto Gothic available here.

headline twoHPLHS-Headline Two is a roughened adaptation of the Linotype font Erbar, as used in newspapers in the 1920s and '30s.

slabserifHPLHS-SlabSerif is a condensed wood type alphabet. It's appropriate for subheads in newspapers, wanted posters, and the like.

ww2blackletterHPLHS-WW2Blackletter is based on actual German documents from the late 1930s. It is good for official documents, letterheads, and the like.

blackletterHPLHS-Blackletter is an irregular hand-drawn textura font based on the lettering of French heraldic engraver Charles Demengeot. It is appropriate for old occult tomes where you want a written-by-insane-monks kind of feeling.

Propmaking Tips & Supplies

You won't need a lot of stuff apart from a computer and color printer to finish the props in the HPLHS prop document collection: a ruler, something to cut with, and a glue stick will be enough for many of them.
Pictured in the slideshow below are supplies that we use here at the HPLHS for making prop documents. You might already have some of these things around the house, but if not you might want to consider investing in them. These items can be purchased at a good art supply store, office supply store, and/or fabric or craft store. We often scout eBay for vintage office supplies and equipment to add to our kit.


If you are interested in props, be sure to check out Propnomicon for more fascinating images and ideas!

Prop Newspapers and Clippings

GLENDALE, Calif. - One of the most useful and most common prop documents is the newspaper clipping, but getting them to look right can be surprisingly difficult. Newspapers have changed a lot since the time of Lovecraft, when Providence, for example, had several published every day. Clippings are great to provide investigators with some vital clue, but when you hand a prop newspaper clipping with just one article to a player it's a dead giveaway that the information in the article is somehow important. It can be much more fun to provide a clipping which contains multiple articles, and leave it to the players to determine for themselves what might be relevant. It gives them a more realistic experience, and allows them the (often amusing) option of failure.

An important extra touch of verisimilitude can be added to prop newspaper clippings by having news on the back. Having a prop with printing on both sides, as though it had been clipped from an actual newspaper, intensifies the gaming experience.

To help you prepare richer, more realistic prop newspaper clippings, we've assembled a kit of photos, vintage ads and articles, and some prefabricated generic back sides that you can download. The articles have been transcribed directly from vintage newspapers, with spelling, capitalization and punctuation left just as it was published, to serve as a model for writing vintage-sounding news stories of your own. Some details in some articles have been added or altered slightly in order to give them a whiff of Lovecraftian mystery, which might lead to interesting gaming all by itself.

Click on the image below to download the 20MB zip archive. We have matching newspaper headline fonts available above, and you can find a font meant just for vintage newspaper text here.

hplhs news

We print newspaper clippings on actual newsprint, which is available in the form of sketch or doodle pads, usually for children, at many office and art supply stores. Those pads are usually 9 x 12, so you have to trim them down to letter size to fit them through most home printers. Some printers don't like newsprint and it can cause jamming, so use it with some caution.

You can usually find copies of old newspapers on microfilm at your local library, and it can be fascinating to read them. But if you don't want to leave the house you can see examples of what real vintage newspapers look like online. Check out the Library of Congress' Chronicling America site, or Google's News Archive.

Although Adobe's PDF is excellent for making customizable prop documents of many kinds, it's not usually ideal for newspaper clippings. Because headlines and articles are of infinitely differing lengths, a one-size-fits all PDF solution is very challenging. Nevertheless, our fearless and intrepid friend (and HPLHS member) Dean Engelhardt at Cthulhu Reborn has created a suite of PDFs called "Mutable Deceptions" just for doing vintage newspapers, and you should check it out at rpgnow.

The Cthulhu Reborn site has a lot of really amazing prop documents and scenarios available, and if you haven't looked at it you should go there. They offer a lot of great free downloads of prop documents, game scenarios, character sheets, articles and more, all presented in enviable style.