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Scott David Aniolowski Interview
SDA: I was introduced to the game by longtime friend Michael Szymanski. We'd been gaming together for a couple years when The Call of Cthulhu RPG came out. Those were the early days of gaming, way back then - the Dark Ages! We were into AD&D mostly back then. We soon learned that there was a whole wide world of games out there, and we introduced a couple other RPGs to our group. Ultimately, Call of Cthulhu became our main game. I think in all I ended up playing CoC for about ten years with the same group. We had a very detailed history and world. It was great fun - everyone loved it.
YSDC: Why do you think the game has been so successful?
SDA: Well, I think there are a number of reasons. First of all, I think it is a very well-written and produced game. It looks nice, and it reads well. I think the whole "Cthulhu Mythos" has a LOT to do with it. That's one of the things that drew me to it (and indeed, Lovecraft's work) in the first place - that whole artificial and colourful mythology. There is also a cohesiveness to the game - scenarios and campaigns play off each other and fit to form this whole secret history. I know during Keith Herber's time as line editor, especially, there was great effort to keep everything in perspective, as to what other writers/game designers had done and were doing. Many of us enjoyed taking vague little tidbits from other scenarios or stories and including and expanding upon them in our own scenarios.
YSDC: What is your favourite era (& why)?
SDA: That's a tough one. It would be between the 1920s and 1890s. Definitely not the modern/Delta Green era. I think the 20s just because it is the standard in the game, and the era that we've all worked the most in. There's almost a nostalgia to it, even though none of us has actually lived through that time period. But the whole gaslight era is just so atmospherically wonderful. That probably would be my favourite time-period for the game. Although cliched, you can't help but think of fog, damp cobblestone roads, gaslamps, and coaches when you think of the 1890s. Of course, there is so much more to it than that, but these are some of the staples of period horror films and stories that we can all associate with. Don't get me wrong - I do like the modern era and Delta Green, but I like the others better. And as far as Dreamlands goes, well I've never quite gotten my head round that one - not to the point where I'm really comfortable running extended campaigns.
YSDC: Do you have any memorable moments from play?
SDA: Probably hundreds. The line "there's NOTHING in the library" still haunts me (said by someone after being attacked by something invisible in the library). In a Dreamlands game I ran many years ago (the one and only, in fact!) one of the investigators ended up changing into a ghoul... so he killed and ATE the villain! A scenario I was running at some convention or other ended with Y'golonac in human form walking slowly down the cellar stairs to the waiting, unarmed investigator -- the last survivor of his group. We ended it right there, without going into the whole confrontation. I thought that was the best way to leave it. At another convention (at a Gen Con, in fact) I ran an Ithaqua scenario in my hotel room. To set the mood I'd put the room's air conditioner on HIGH the night before and left it blowing all night and morning during the game. We all played bundled in blankets and coats. All for the mood, man, all for the mood.
Every Halloween for years I ran a special Call of Cthulhu game. One year I ran the inspiration for what would later become my I Dream of Wires story about all sorts of strangeness and man-machines (see Made in Goatswood - Ed.). Anyway, here we are in someone's cobwebbed basement, lit only by candles and jack o'lanterns, and with appropriate mood music playing. At one point I say something like "and suddenly all of the power goes off" and right at that EXACT second the tape player just stopped! I couldn't have planned it any better. But I honestly had nothing to do with it. That put a scare into everyone, and creeped me out a little bit, too. Great fun!
At the very first NecronomiCon I was supposed to run a game for Gahan Wilson and Robert Bloch, and a couple of other guys. That one would have been AMAZING, but scheduling kept us from all getting together at the same time. Too bad. At the last NecronomiCon I attended Kevin Ross, Fred Behrendt, and I ran four or five players through a scenario by Gary Sumpter! Sort of an all-star thingy - we three taking turns as Keeper, whispering ideas back and forth!