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RM308 and The Mysteries of Mesoamerica


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#1 NyarlathotepScribe

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 01:43 AM

Right and proper gentlemen, your attention, please. This is a public announcement: Room 308 Graphics & Publishing will no longer pursue games supplement production. Newly completed, the long-anticipated Call of Cthulhu adventure supplement The Mysteries of Mesoamerica, which was to be RM308’s premier publication, will instead be published by Pagan Publishing with an estimated release date as Summer 2008.
My apologies.
As the lone chief editor, operations manager, financial coordinator, sales representative, and sole artist, illustrator and designer for the entire company, I laboured for several years to get The Mysteries of Mesoamerica, a lavishly illustrated 150-page opus and RM308’s premier publication, into production, devoting many hundreds of hours, early mornings and late evenings, weekends and holidays -- every spare scrap of free time -- to its design and development, anticipating my return to the games publishing forum. But as 2007 came to a close and I began final preparations for MoM’s release -- at the same time preparing the foundation for the next supplement, The Mysteries of the Old West, Volume I (like ‘Mesoamerica, another monster supplement in excess of 175 pages!) -- I realized that it would be impossible for RM308 to continue as it had. It was simply too much for one artist: rendering cover art, interior illustrations, NPC portraits, maps, spot art and layout, and struggling to maintain the production schedule of a respectable, marketable games publisher. As the sole proprietor, I concluded that RM308 could never become what I’d originally intended it to be.
It must be said that I had meanwhile also grown increasingly disenchanted and frustrated (again) with the games industry’s orthodoxy, mediocrity, vapidity and apathy. Especially where Lovecraft and roleplaying are concerned, I feel strongly that too many bubbly, juvenile, tender-hearted milksops have infested the genre: Pollyannas promoting a kinder, gentler version of the Cthulhu Mythos by way of Cthulhu plush dolls, Elder Sign earrings, ‘Niggurath nursery rhymes, Miskatonic Christmas carols, and buttloads of other flippant silliness.
And it’s not just the gaming industry. The general population of devotees among “Lovecraftian circles” suffers from a fairy tale misconception of the Mythos, one that I believe would turn poor Howard in his grave if he could see the candy-ass travesty that his grand universe has become. The mainstream Mythos is a dumbed-down and diluted, popularized and trivialized, emasculated cartoon, wholly separate from the dark, unutterable, obscene and blood-soaked savagery that is the true essence of the Mythos, and my contempt for this fashionable, New Age, Hello Kitty Lovecraft is well known.
So no more games. RM308 hereby retires from its ambitions at roleplaying publication. Again, my apologies, especially to Brian Appleton and John Crowe, my trusted colleagues and brothers-in-arms.
Room 308 Graphics & Publishing will now concentrate its efforts on the development of my former personal works, Black Sands: Betrothed (the original), Black Sands: Catalogue of the Ten Thousand Churches, and Black Sands: Temple of the Compass. This “creative course correction” will be more manageable and feasible than full-time game supplement production, and will more faithfully reflect my personal (hardcore) concepts of the greater Mythos. More importantly, the rendering of these books will better serve and honour my lord and master, the Great Phæraoh Ahau Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, Father of Knives, Cæsar of the Ten Thousand Tongues and Architect of the Monument of the Great Rain -- blessings be upon His name! I’ve long considered my personal works to be secondary to CoC, but no longer.
Previews will soon be available for your inspection at my new website: www.RM308.com, and I hope to receive your continued support.

Cheers,

Blair Reynolds, Editor-in-Chief
Room 308 Graphics & Publishing


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#2 GofnnHupadgh

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 05:17 AM

Well, now the official word is out and I can unzip my lips. The project is back fully at Pagan Publishing and is still on course. The artwork and layout that Blair has done for this book is truly amazing and I am proud to be a part of it. I leave it to my other esteemed colleague at Pagan, A. Scott Glancy, to set forth an official statement as well as announce our upcoming books.
Brian Appleton
Editor and Proofreader
Pagan Publishing

#3 DarkDesigns

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 02:24 PM

I'm sad to see Blair move away from gaming again, but I can't say that a big part of me doesn't agree with him. At least this latest project will see publication.

I wish you the best Blair! Your take on the mythos has always inspired me.
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#4 PK

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 08:05 AM

sad news, but I hope this means I can get my hands on the black sands series quicker, which would be very sweet indeed. I will be picking up Mesoamerica the minute it becomes available.

#5 papalazarou

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 11:24 AM

Long time lurker first time poster. I am drawn to reply because I agree entirely (almost) with Mr Reynolds comments about the state of supplements and general stuff that goes under the Call of Cthulhu banner. Some is so bad I refuse to read it and as my gaming group can verify any stupid or vapid plot lines in games gets me highly annoyed. I had stopped playing CoC for several years because of this. I only returned because I stumbled on to Delta Green and I am busily purchasing previous material from pagan publishing. CoC should scare people not make them laugh, if my group laughs too much i know the scenario isn't going well. I remember playing a game involving a trip to the dreamlands and talking cats and I had to bite my tongue or would have said something very disagreeable to the keeper at the time.
The point of my disagreement comes in reference to Lovecraft and other contributors to the Cthulhu Mythos. In the same way as some scenarios I just can't make myself read some of the stories (especially anything with cats in) because they descend into stupidity and make me throw the book away in disgust. However it is sad to see game developers feeling this way too as the situation is just going to get worse if people such as Mr Reynolds is leaving as who is out there that take their place??

#6 lordof1

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 01:16 PM

I'm very sorry that Mr Reynolds is leaving the gaming world, but I wanted to post because I'm not sure I, for one, agree with what he said.

Personally, I don't find that Beyond the Mountains of Madness is anything other than an excellent game with an engaging story because of the existence of 'Cthulhu for President' car bumper stickers. Nor do I feel that the HPLHS's film of The Call of Cthulhu is any less than brilliant because they also produce Cthulhu-themed christmas carols.

I enjoy all aspects of the work - the original literature I still find chilling, and exciting, and almost poetic in it's use of language - 'we live on a placid island of ignorance admist vast seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far' (I could have a few words wrong as I'm quoting from memory but the fact that it has stuck in my memory goes some way to making my point about poetry), but I also very much enjoy singing along to 'It's beginning to look a lot like fish-men.' Just because a work is parodied, doesn't mean the parodiers (Is that a word?) don't respect or enjoy the source material.

Lovecraft himself called his main body of work 'Yog-sothothery', which to me implies a certain lightness of tone in his feelings towards it.

Yes there's dross, there's poorly-written stories as papalazarou points out, (some (not many) by Lovecraft himself!). I'm not terribly keen on the dreamlands, or the reverence for cats in the work, but I know htat some people love it. There's terrible supplements for the game that seem to miss the point, or are just plain dull or silly, but on the whole I think the Lovecraftian gamers get away better than D&D'ers as regards the percentage of rubbish out there.

I love the stories, they still send a chill up my spine when I feel the gaze of that cold, inhuman intelligence that glares out from the prose. I love the game. And yes, I will stand up proudly and admit it, I love my 'Cthulhu for President' bumper sticker too.

Just my thoughts.
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#7 Mike_N

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 03:12 PM

I'd echo Lordof1's comments. It's sad to see anyone give up on gaming because of such sentiments but with such a narrow attitude towards Lovecraft in gaming or pop culture it's best for his own sanity if he leaves it behind him.
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If it looks bad - don't look and save the last bullet....for yourself" AtMoM Audio Drama,HPLHS.

#8 Mograg

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 04:10 PM

I echo PK's motive: I'll be picking up Mysteries of Mesoamerica in a hot minute. Cover looks great. Pagan rocks. Too bad Mr. Reynolds feels that way about gaming, but if that's how he feels, no bad feelings - just sounds like he has to walk his own path. That's cool - but I'll miss his great work for the gaming community, which is how I have come by his work.

Roll on, Summer 2008; roll on, Mysteries of Mesoamerica, roll on, Pagan!

Now, if only Pulp Cthulhu would materialize...

Cheers,

Brian C.

#9 doccthulhu

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 04:55 PM

I'd echo Lordof1's comments. It's sad to see anyone give up on gaming because of such sentiments but with such a narrow attitude towards Lovecraft in gaming or pop culture it's best for his own sanity if he leaves it behind him.


Well, Blair's sentiments are his own, I guess. However, I'd have to ask why not stick around and make the supplements you think are best, and improve the game? I know that, given the chance, I would have produced more.

Getting a license from Chaosium is difficult (impossible, in my case). Too bad he's letting it go.

Doc

#10 doccthulhu

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 04:59 PM

Now, if only Pulp Cthulhu would materialize...


Is that still a possibility? It seems that Trail of Cthulhu kind of takes care of that, doesn't it?

Doc

#11 christian

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 05:01 PM

I echo lordof1's views.
Is it because I live in France, relatively far from the center of CoC-nerdness that Blair Reynold seems to despise?
Is it because, as a writer, I can sympathize with the amount of work he seems to have put in before realizing the task was ( nearly) too much for one man?
Is it because the return on investment in todays' market seems bleak?
I don't know.
But the fact is I don't "buy" the explanation ( no offense meant, Blair Reynold's artwork is pure, dark, magic. ).
I'll try to stick to the positive.

A truly great contemporary artist is going to grace us with two CoC supplements, and a series of graphic novels, when I had nearly lost hope he'd be back in the game.

Whatever your reasons, Mr Reynolds, I'm very very grateful you took the time and effort to make part of your vision come true.
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#12 Kadath

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 05:40 PM

It is a shame that Mr Reynolds has decided to retire from game production, but as I have never seen Black Sands and spent many years reading graphic novels I am extremely eager to see the reissue and the completion of the series.

I feel that sometimes the cheapening of the Mythos is a bit annoying (I mean, I can barely walk in my Cthulhu plush slippers!), but to say that Mythos related humour is somehow unapproriate is a bit short sighted, and I mean no disrespect to Blair or anyone else here.

Surely PG Wodehouse' work doesnt cheapen the historic period in which it is set? Humour can be found in all walks of life and all subject areas and to say it is without value makes the world a darker colder less human place.

Personally I love the HPLHS's joviality, it takes a deep understanding of the subject matter to do something so well informed and entertaining. Its not for everyone sure, but I like it.

I find the Dreamlands a refreshing High Fantasy change of pace to the mainstream Mythos tales even though it is rarely used it seems, an equally valid HPL setting based on a different set of literary sources like Lord Dunsany rather than M R James.

I find the Scarifyers take on mythos humour exceptionally entertaining, as well as a the more historically pure interpretation like the HPLHS At the Mountains of Madness radio play.

All i am trying to say is perhaps we need to accept that whilst we all enjoy the dark vicious visceral horror of the Mythos, sometimes we also need a humerous angle to throw it into a sharper perspective.

Kadath

#13 Robin

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 05:46 PM

I remember playing a game involving a trip to the dreamlands and talking cats and I had to bite my tongue or would have said something very disagreeable to the keeper at the time.


I'm just wondering if you've ever read The Cats of Ulthar? Or The Dreamquest of Unkown Kadath.

Regards

Robin

#14 Robin

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 05:50 PM

Just my thoughts.


And ones I also share. Although I'd never buy a Cthulhu bumper sticker, I don't have a problem with them. And the HPLHS solstice songs that I've heard are really rather good. I find it very difficult to get "It's beginning to look a lot like fishmen" out of my head sometimes. And that's scary.

Regards

Robin

#15 Mr_Lin

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 07:19 PM

It must be said that I had meanwhile also grown increasingly disenchanted and frustrated (again) with the games industry’s orthodoxy, mediocrity, vapidity and apathy. Especially where Lovecraft and roleplaying are concerned, I feel strongly that too many bubbly, juvenile, tender-hearted milksops have infested the genre: Pollyannas promoting a kinder, gentler version of the Cthulhu Mythos by way of Cthulhu plush dolls, Elder Sign earrings, ‘Niggurath nursery rhymes, Miskatonic Christmas carols, and buttloads of other flippant silliness.
And it’s not just the gaming industry. The general population of devotees among “Lovecraftian circles” suffers from a fairy tale misconception of the Mythos, one that I believe would turn poor Howard in his grave if he could see the candy-ass travesty that his grand universe has become. The mainstream Mythos is a dumbed-down and diluted, popularized and trivialized, emasculated cartoon, wholly separate from the dark, unutterable, obscene and blood-soaked savagery that is the true essence of the Mythos, and my contempt for this fashionable, New Age, Hello Kitty Lovecraft is well known.


Any reason why you can't just ignore the stuff you don't like? That's what I do. I've couldn't give a monkey's crutchpiece about Derleth or Lumley's stories with their "white hat" Gods. That stuff doesn't figure in my game at all, and never will. I also make a point of not reading it, beyond a few early attempts which established to my satisfaction that it was all tosh.
Vot is point?

#16 Propnomicon

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Posted 03 February 2008 - 11:53 PM

::Tom Hanks voice::

"Is that a plushie? IS THAT A PLUSHIE? There are no plushies! There are no plushies in the Mythos!"

The fact that the most successful products based on the Mythos, at least in terms of sales, are plush elder gods is, at least to me, hysterically funny. I'd never even considered the idea that their very existence taints the Mythos itself, but that's just me. I'm just not one of those sensitive, sentimental souls.

#17 Taavi

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 03:05 AM

H.P. Lovecraft spent his life being horrified at the encroachment of crass and tawdry commercialism on what he saw as the genteel, aesthetic and non-commercial culture of the New England gentry. This revulsion is a significant theme in a lot of his fiction, especially "the horror at Red Hook"

The fact that those same gentry funded their lifestyle and culture by having ancestors who were fanatical capitalists: who saw accumulating money as a duty to God, who would trade in human lives as labour for sugar plantations, who were prepared to declare independence rather than pay a tax on tea; conveniently escaped him.

That HPL's creations should be overcome by crass commercialism is therefore an entirely fitting horrible fate for them; and if he's spinning in his grave, it's a spin with an ironic twist at the end.

#18 Danharms

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 03:39 AM

Here's my response:

http://danharms.word...or-and-cthulhu/

#19 moonbeast

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 04:38 AM

H.P. Lovecraft spent his life being horrified at the encroachment of crass and tawdry commercialism on what he saw as the genteel, aesthetic and non-commercial culture of the New England gentry. This revulsion is a significant theme in a lot of his fiction, especially "the horror at Red Hook"

The fact that those same gentry funded their lifestyle and culture by having ancestors who were fanatical capitalists: who saw accumulating money as a duty to God, who would trade in human lives as labour for sugar plantations, who were prepared to declare independence rather than pay a tax on tea; conveniently escaped him.

That HPL's creations should be overcome by crass commercialism is therefore an entirely fitting horrible fate for them; and if he's spinning in his grave, it's a spin with an ironic twist at the end.



The very existence of this crassly-commercialized game "CALL OF CTHULHU" (originally by Chaosium, but now we have bazillions of variants and spin-offs, including the upcoming Trail of Cthulhu, D20 Cthulhu, Delta Green, and a cardgame, a boardgame, and then you have Munchkin Cthulhu, and you have those Glow in the dark Cthulhu Dice) is something that Lovecraft would never have approved of.

Everyone here is guilty.

#20 DrummerDave

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 06:04 AM

Everyone here is guilty.


I think Lovecraft would approve.