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Sandy Petersen Interview

Call of Cthulhu Designer

Carl Sanford Joslyn Petersen was born on September 16, 1955 in St. Louis, Missouri. His now famous interest in H.P. Lovecraft came through reading a World War II Armed Services edition of The Dunwich Horror and other Weird Tales found in his father's library. Sandy attended UC-Berkeley undertaking graduate work majoring in Zoology. His introduction to role-playing came in 1974 with Dungeons & Dragons and his first work for Chaosium (The Gateway Bestiary) appeared in 1980. Sandy Petersen is the author of Call of Cthulhu.

YSDC: What are your views on Delta Green? Have you played?

SP: I think it's fine. I've played a bit of it.

YSDC: Do you still receive correspondence over CoC?

SP: Yes.

YSDC: What are your feelings on the way CoC has developed since you left Chaosium?

SP: I think that Lynn Willis has a more optimistic view than myself about the way horror should be constructed. i.e., he presents his players as more powerful and his villains as weaker than I would do. I don't say I'd do a better job - just different.

YSDC: Do you have a copy of the 20th anniversary edition? What are your feelings about it compared to the Designer's Edition (1982)?

SP: Yes I do have a copy. I think it's real nice, but I get a smaller royalty off it.

YSDC: What would you like to see for CoC that has yet to be done?

SP: Movie tie-ins.

YSDC: While you're also famous for co-writing DOOM & QUAKE, do you still try & slip in Lovecraftian references in the computer games you create?

SP: Yep. Watch this space.

YSDC: What are your feelings about WotC's d20 Call of Cthulhu?

SP: I thought it was very amusing.

YSDC: What are your favourite films?

SP: Wow. I am a major movie buff, at least for horror films. Instead of listing my best I think I'll list a subset:

THE BEST VAMPIRE MOVIE: The Last Man on Earth (1964) 
There exists a fairly simple mathematical proof that there has never been any vampires. You see, if it took a week for one vampire to create another vampire, then by the end of the second week there would be four, then eight, and so forth until before the year was out, everybody in the world would be vampires. Hence, there couldn't ever have been one. Well, this film is based on such a nightmare universe - everyone in the world IS a vampire except for the hero (Vincent Price), whose hellish existence is shown day by day. It's very thoughtful, well-done, and quite creepy. I recommend it without reservations.

THE BEST ZOMBIE MOVIE: Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetery Man) 1994. Well, maybe it's not the best zombie movie, but wow it's in the running. The hero is a cemetery's caretaker. Unfortunately, the corpses in this cemetery periodically rise from the grave, so the cemetery man, as part of his job, has to shoot them in the head. He doesn't know why it happens. That's not his concern. Then he falls in love with a beautiful mourner who dies, and his obese imbecile assistant falls in love with a severed head, and he starts losing touch with reality, and wonders if maybe he should shoot living people in the head, and save himself a step and ... you get the picture. Possibly the funniest and most romantic zombie movie ever made.

BEST HORROR MOVIE: Suspiria (1977) 
If you haven't seen it, I envy you. A new world of horror is about to open for you. Go out and rent or buy it at once. The new DVD version is terrific.

YSDC: What advice would you give aspiring CoC authors?

SP: Don't wimp out. Work on great images and visuals and let the storyline take care of itself.

YSDC: What would a typical day be like for you?

SP: It's mostly full of meetings & typing at my computer.

YSDC: What would you like your epitaph to read?

SP: "He has Risen".

YSDC: Sandy Petersen, thank you.

To hear an audio interview with Sandy, check out Yog Radio #7 (available to YSDC Patrons).