Archive for the ‘Lovecraftcraft’ Category

Lovecraftcraft, Part 1

23 Dec

If you’re in my Monday RPG, you’re not allowed to read this article. Stop it now. It does seem a bit wasteful to drop the bold text for the benefit of exactly six people, but there you go.

I’m not sure there’s any kind of media or storytelling that’s not improved by including evil, inscrutable godlike horrors. The internet meme brigade has long since discovered that Cthulhu is the universal seasoning for anything from children’s merchandising franchises to nerdy-ass card games to grilling sausages, and while they’ve managed to sort of ruin it the way they inevitably sort of ruin everything, the idea of twisted entities of great power beyond the comprehension of mortal beings is still pretty engaging.

I knew I wanted to include a few twisted dark pseudo-Lovecraftian godlike entities in my current roleplaying campaign, Santa Alma, with all the characteristics and tropes that entails: things with malign and uncaring personalities, forms that cause madness in those who behold them, armies of cult worshippers, designs that don’t exactly cheer the soul, etc. But as I sat down to write these, I was very conscious of a problem that comes up when you try to tap into that general mode: there’s a tendency to hew too close to the Lovecraftian clichés. There’s this image of the amorphous blob of tentacles, swirling vortices, lots of eyes, tendrils, slimy skin, elongated rubbery appendages, strange colors, rows of teeth, flagella, octopus arms, also tentacles, that pops into the mind as soon as you drop the words “cult” or “madness”. Those are all characteristics that immediately communicate cosmic horror to the audience, but they also make the influence, while worthy, a little too explicit. What I wanted was to get across the same dread and horrified wonderment Lovecraftian beasts provoke without bringing onboard any of the classic motifs. So I sat down with my campaign notebook and a pen and started writing.

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