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Alternative Histories in the Mythos...


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#21 Paradroid

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 02:05 PM

Robert Chambers' "The King in Yellow" (collection of short stories) is full of alternate histories, though obviously not very fleshed-out ones.


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#22 WinstonP

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 02:42 PM

Jack London, strangely enough, wrote several alternate futures-

The Iron Heel (Plutocrats take over the world, form a dictatorship)
and
The Scarlet Plague (Plague sweeps the world in 2012)

Since they date from the early 20th century, they give an interesting POV on how people at the time (or at least Jack London) saw the future.

#23 vonfinkelstien

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 11:47 AM

I second PKD. The Man in the High Castle is a classic.

If you haven't already read them, I'd recommend The Man In The High Castle by Philip K Dick, and A Colder War by Charlie Stross. The former deals with one possible outcome of the Axis powers winning WW2, the latter deals with the Mythos and the Cold War.
:)



#24 cjbowser

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 12:04 PM

Back in the 90s I ran a CoC game set in the world of Moorcock's Oswald Bastable stories.

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#25 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 01:54 PM

Jack London, strangely enough, wrote several alternate futures-

The Iron Heel (Plutocrats take over the world, form a dictatorship)
and
The Scarlet Plague (Plague sweeps the world in 2012)

Since they date from the early 20th century, they give an interesting POV on how people at the time (or at least Jack London) saw the future.


In the same vein, H.G. Wells "The Land Ironclads" would be a great story to base a campaign on. It perfectly predicts the invention of the tank and the way the first world war would be fought, then creates social and political ramifications that turn out almost perfectl opposite reality. Reading it, one gets the sense that this is a future/past that actually occured, just not in this world.

#26 Mr_Lin

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 02:23 PM

It perfectly predicts the invention of the tank and the way the first world war would be fought, then creates social and political ramifications that turn out almost perfectl opposite reality.


Not quite. The ironclads were a lot larger than real life tanks. Probably the nearest equivalents would be the WW2 German Maus, Russian T35, or some of the superheavy designs the allies dabbled with. None were a success. Also the ironclads had much bigger crews than their real life counterparts. Large numbers of crewmen don't make for an efficient fighting vehicle as the Russians found to their cost with their "land battleship" T35. Wells was on the right track, he just got some of the details wrong. An occupational hazard for SF writers I suppose.
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#27 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 06:41 PM

Well, by the time tanks actually got produced, the petroleum engine and the submachine gun were more efficient than the rifle and steam engine-but the early tanks do resemble the Ironclads, and if the tank had been invented ten years earlier, it probably would have been even closer.

#28 Mr_Lin

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 06:56 PM

Early tanks armed with field guns and/or machine guns though, much more powerful armament than Wells suggests. Therefore the story doesn't perfectly predict armoured warfare as you maintain: Wells had the right idea but got the scale of the vehicles and their armament wrong. Similarly his predictions of aerial warfare are in the right general direction but fall down on the details. Not really a criticism. Predicting the future's a tricky business and he's got a better hit rate than most. A great writer without a doubt. Read a massive collection of his short stories last year. Amazing stuff.
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#29 ElijahWhateley

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 06:59 PM

I actually picked up a copy of his work printed in the 1920s...my local library was putting in a "Graphic Novels" section, so, in order to make room, it had to give away a lot of its books.

#30 zackspacks

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 08:11 PM

I second PKD. The Man in the High Castle is a classic.

If you haven't already read them, I'd recommend The Man In The High Castle by Philip K Dick, and A Colder War by Charlie Stross. The former deals with one possible outcome of the Axis powers winning WW2, the latter deals with the Mythos and the Cold War.
:)

I will third the PKD suggestion 8)

As to alternative settings/history, I have been writing CoC scenarios in a rage-infected ( as in 28 days/weeks later ) UK.

#31 DrummerDave

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 08:23 PM

Can't say enough good things about PKD and Man in High Castle, especially considering all the good things already said.

For me, one of the fundamental powers of my own Mythos gods is their ability to shift laterally between Earth realities, so when the PCs destroyed one power base of the beings, they were all shifted into their alternative versions.

The main feature of this alternate reality is that Prohibition had not taken place, which was fun to play and twist their minds with. That said, they didn't really ever leave the Miskatonic Valley, so we didn't get too much into the geo-political ramifications of there being no Prohibition.

Some day my glorious, reality-shifting Mythos will see the light of day....

#32 mr_mitts

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 08:44 PM

The main feature of this alternate reality is that Prohibition had not taken place, which was fun to play and twist their minds with. That said, they didn't really ever leave the Miskatonic Valley, so we didn't get too much into the geo-political ramifications of there being no Prohibition.

Lovecraft meets Crimson Skies, eh? :D
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#33 beelzebob

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Posted 04 March 2009 - 10:02 PM

Ah, Crimson Skies. That is exactly what my group encounter when they pop across the pond from Chumley Vale in Blighty aboard their trusty dirigible. Most of the action does take place elsewhere in the world, but the CS background is a rich source of pulpy inspiration.
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#34 MikeC

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 02:30 PM

I never really thought of mixing the Mythos in with alternative histories,
because the Mythos *IS* already an alternative history all its own.

I admit, when I was younger I was just as guilty of promiscuous genre
mixing ("Hey, wouldn't it be GREAT if my D&D characters ended up in the
STAR WARS universe?" I actually wrote TWO stories with that same theme
and submitted them to Lucasfilm. When I was 15. I still have the rejection
letter somewhere), and when it is done right it can be wonderful
(SHADOWRUN comes immediately to mind), but far too often you don't
get the mix just right, and it ends up like a pizza with toppings chosen
by committee: Nothing goes together and everyone who samples it ends
up with varying levels of heartburn. I try to be a lot more judicious, and
I much prefer to add just a dash of something unexpected rather than
make a full-out hybrid.

In my view, adding the Mythos to any base genre just makes it horror, but
that may be a tad simplistic.

MikeC

#35 Fu_Manchu

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 08:48 PM

Alternate History thread here, might be worth reading through if the subject is of interest.
1. those that belong to the Emperor,
2. embalmed ones,
9. those that tremble as if they were mad,
10. innumerable ones,
11. those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
14. those that from a long way off look like flies.

#36 rylehNC

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 06:49 PM

I never really thought of mixing the Mythos in with alternative histories, because the Mythos *IS* already an alternative history all its own.


I would call it secret history rather than alternate, since nothing in the "official" Lovecraftian universe differs from its real-life counterpart. In fact, many Keepers strive to get things as close to real life as possible.
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#37 Max Schreck

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 08:42 PM

I would call it secret history rather than alternate, since nothing in the "official" Lovecraftian universe differs from its real-life counterpart. In fact, many Keepers strive to get things as close to real life as possible.

Nothing? Let me summarize:

There is no Miskatonic River or Valley in our reality.

There is no Arkham, Massachusets in our reality, and no Miskatonic University.

There is no Innsmouth in our reality, and the U.S. government did not instigate a raid against an inbred fishing village on the Eastern Seaboard in 1928.

There is no Kingsport, Massachusets in our reality.

In our reality, there was no Antarctic expedition sponsored by an unequally non-existent Miskatonic University, where a mountain range of a height of 10,000 feet was discovered. In fact, in our reality, Antarctica has been mapped, and no such mountain has been found.

I would consider it an alternate reality, just one that is very close to our own, on the surface at least. I don't think we have non-Euclidean horrors in our reality either, but I may just be deluding myself, because the truth is too hard to bear.

Cheers,

Max
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#38 rylehNC

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 11:11 AM

Maybe I should have reversed it - nothing in our world is missing or deviates from Lovecraft's?

My point is that his creations do not impact the setting in the ways that affect virtually every alternate history. In fact, the reverse is true: they are meant to be integrated into our world as seamlessly as possible.
Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes.

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#39 Max Schreck

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 01:35 PM

Maybe I should have reversed it - nothing in our world is missing or deviates from Lovecraft's?

True, as far as I know; point taken. So you meant that HPL's shared universe does not differ from ours regarding major historical events, such as WWII or the American Civil War, and therefore was not "an alternate reality"? In that case, you're right.

Cheers,

Max
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#40 StephanieMcAlea

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 08:12 PM

In fact, in our reality, Antarctica has been mapped, and no such mountain has been found.


(ahem)

http://news.bbc.co.u...ech/7908824.stm