28 March 2019
Due to a ‘sensitive issue with the content of the books’
An unreleased roleplaying sourcebook for Lovecraftian RPG Call of Cthulhu has been burned by the Chinese government, the creators of The Sassoon Files have said.
The Sassoon Files raised almost $25,000 on Kickstarter last year, offering a collection of scenarios and campaign tools set in 1920s Shanghai for Call of Cthulhu’s seventh edition and games powered by the GUMSHOE system, such as Trail of Cthulhu.
In a video update for backers of the crowdfunding campaign, Jesse Covner from indie RPG publisher Sons of the Singularity said that “immediately” after all of the books had been produced, the Chinese government ordered their China-based printer to destroy every last copy by the following morning.
Covner said that a Chinese government officer inspects all books printed in China, even those only meant for export such as The Sassoon Files, and in the case of the sourcebook found that there was a “sensitive issue with the content of the books” that resulted in their destruction.
Although the book is set in Shanghai, Covner insisted: “We don’t believe that The Sassoon Files contains content that is contrary to any narrative of the PRC, nor does it contain anything that is disrespectful to China’s history, culture or government.”
He added: “It [the Chinese government] will burn books meant for foreign markets if said books contain words that are sensitive or narratives that they don’t like or don’t understand.”
Although Covner understandably called the situation a “setback”, apologising to backers and confirming there would be a delay to the delivery of the physical books, there is a silver lining; the printer returned the publisher’s deposit, which Covner said Sons of the Singularity would use to reprint the books and complete fulfilment using a company outside of China.
“I’m really proud to have printed a book that got burnt,” Covner concluded in his admirably upbeat video. “That’s going to go on my webpage: ‘Buy the RPG banned by the Chinese government.’”