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.
PLEASE NOTE: The PDFs are meant to be opened in Adobe Acrobat, because when anyone tries to open them in Photoshop, Illustrator or other applications all kinds of font substitution and other things occur that tend to destroy the designs. Since there are many different computer platforms, operating systems and versions of applications, the only way to try to make sure the props look the way they’re supposed to for the largest number of people is to make them openable only in Acrobat, which can be downloaded for free. Many of the props can be customized from within Acrobat using form fields.
The 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.
This 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.)
Detailed 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.
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 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.)
Characters 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.
To 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.
Turn 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.)
Handy 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.
This 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.)
This prop is a replica of the credentials issued to Special Agents of the U.S. Department of State. We don't know if that's a polite way of saying "spy", but they are authorized to make investigations for the federal government and that might come in handy! (Thanks to N.R. Jenzen-Jones for the suggestion and the research.) Click the image to download the PDF with printing and finishing instructions.
If 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.)
We also offer pre-printed and customized Insanity Certificates in our online store.
This 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.)
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.
HPLHS 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.
HPLHS 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.
HPLHS-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.
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!