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Cthulhu Star Wars mash up help


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#1 MartyJopson

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 08:51 AM

Hey Yoggies, 

 

On the last Breakfast Club I mentioned that I had tried and failed to work out how to run a Call of Cthulhu / Star Wars mash up. Can you lot help me rationalise the two antithetical world views?

 

Here is some background on this, starting with why do it in the first place:

- I really enjoy playing the new Star Wars roleplaying game system from Fantasy Flight

- I wanted to create a wacky one-shot scenario for a YSDC Games Day

- Cthulhu in space works really well (cf. John Ossoway's excellent Cthulhu Rising)

- Its Star Wars!

 

The problems I encountered are this:

- CoC is set in a dark world where nothing is clear cut and hope is ultimately foolish

- Star Wars is a world of black and white where there is always hope of redemption against the odds

- What is the Force? How does this work with occult weirdness?

 

I could just ignore all these implications and plop a CoC scenario into the Star Wars universe. But how do I make it feel Lovecraftian and Star Warsian at the same time. 

 

Can it be done?

 

Discuss...


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#2 HJ

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 11:57 AM

For bleakness in the universe you clearly have a window of opportunity between the destruction of Alderaan and Luke blowing up the Death Star - the Empire was able to obliterate an whole planet and there is apparently no chance to fight back against the Death Star.

 

The Star Wars Force has always been a bit naff. Magical rituals in the Jedi temples to grant the jedi knights powers beyond normal. Perhaps Nodens?

Sith powers would seem logically to come from Nyarlothotep.

Or Azathoth is emitting a radiation, which is mutating some beings in the universe. Luke inherited the mutation from Darth?

 

Star Wars is more of a Derleth universe than Lovecraft.



#3 BenJoss

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 02:03 PM

I'm going to be honest Marty and say that I find this idea disturbing.  The idea of these two things I love being mashed together fills me with dread (objective achieved you might say 8) ).

 

One thing to consider is that the FFG Star Wars system is built off their now out of print WFRP 3rd Edition.  Wouldn't Warhammer be a better fit?  But if we're talking sci-fi / Lovecraft mash-ups surely Doctor Who is the way to go.

 

That said if you have to go down this path (and forever will it rule your destiny) then some sort of Sith Cult would be my take on it.  The cave on Dagobah as a representation of the dark side would be a good tool, perhaps where a Mythos entity is attempting to break through and this Sith Cult wants to bring the avatar into the galaxy.



#4 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 12:22 AM

My first reaction is "Ah, no way - it ain't gonna work!"

 

My second reaction, though, is to think about Star Wars as basically being a sword-and-sorcery tale with a couple blasters and star-ships tossed in. 

 

The question from there becomes one of whether there's any room in Call of Cthulhu for some sort of sword-and-sorcery angle.

 

Robert E. Howard actually managed to weld the two genres together successfully, so, at least on paper, this can be done, perhaps as a Lovecraftian Conan pastiche with a few familiar cosmetic Star Wars sword-and-sorcery-in-space upgrades for flavor:

 

Spoiler

 

 

The more I think of it, the more certain I am that this can be done rather gracefully, as characteristic elements of Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, and Star Wars are not as incompatible as they seemed to me at first.


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 29 April 2017 - 12:23 AM.

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#5 MrHandy

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 02:32 AM

I'm actually running a Doctor Who/Call of Cthulhu campaign online as a play-by-post (currently finishing up the fourth adventure and getting ready to start the fifth), but I also enjoy mixing Star Wars with Call of Cthulhu. I played in a few Cthulhu Live LARPs of that sort at conventions in Morristown, New Jersey. More than one of them featured an ancient Sith holochron with terrible forbidden knowledge (dubbed the Necronomichron out-of-character). They were all set in the Old Republic era.


Edited by MrHandy, 29 April 2017 - 02:33 AM.

Zombie Apocalypse: A Blood Brothers style play-by-post forum-based RPG using CoC rules
Space Oddity: Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes/Call of Cthulhu in 1969 Philadelphia
The Terror Out of Time: Classic Doctor Who meets Call of Cthulhu in 1930 London

#6 HJ

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 11:09 AM

in line with every other retailer, Amazon's kindle daily deal to day is "Rogue 1", "The Force Awakens" and the original Star Wars book all for 99p each.



#7 MartyJopson

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 01:35 PM

As much as I love the Star Wars franchise, I can't bring myself to read the books.


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#8 HJ

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 11:24 AM

I remembered last night that back in the early 90s our Rebel team occasionally flew around in a stock light freighter with a truly horrifying tartan colour scheme, which was called "The Cuddly Cthulhu", the Imperials soon spotted it though as it was a little bit conspicuous.



#9 MartyJopson

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 03:28 PM

Was it the name though that sent up the red flags?


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#10 HJ

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 11:27 AM

i think that the stormtroopers spent most of their time laughing at us.



#11 MartyJopson

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 01:16 PM

Great was the disturbance in the Force


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#12 SavageBob

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 12:42 AM

Hi, folks! I wanted to chime in on this, as I love the FFG Star Wars mechanics, and I'd love to run a Lovecraftian adventure in the Star Wars universe.  it's something I've been planning to do myself.

 

One thought is that I'd love to run Masks of Nyarlathotep, but set it in the Star Wars universe. The various destinations in the campaign would be different planets, thematically similar to their use in the adventure. So, London could be Coruscant, Kenya could be a frontier world, like Tatooine, etc.

 

The other campaign idea would be to have the players be the crew of an Imperial ship sent into the Unknown Regions to scout out something or another (or to track down a lost expedition). The Unknown Regions is a great setting for horror, since it's so far off the beaten path and away from the civilized galaxy as everyone knows it. There are also lots of creepy critters out there that are great stand-ins for Mythos monsters. The Mythos was a big influence on the authors of The Unknown Regions supplement for the D20 Star Wars RPG, and it's a great book worth picking up for anyone interested in this kind of mashup.

 

I'm still not sure how to handle the Force. It will work as normal, of course. But I'm not sure whether to somehow make it linked to the Mythos in some way, or to make it just another irrelevant bit of mortal nonsense the the Mythos entities care nothing about. My inkling on this that to truly get the Lovecraftian nihilism, you'd need to treat Jedi and Sith as basically more ants out there doing ant things. In other words, the Jedi and Sith think what they do matters, but it's no more important than the fact that human beings on our earth have the bomb or have landed on the Moon. However, maybe their power does link to the Mythos in some way. I could see the Daughter, the Son, and the Father from the Mortis trilogy of Clone Wars episodes being somehow Mythos entities (or avatars of them). In this scenario, the Jedi and Sith are mere pawns of the Old Ones. Or maybe there are factions of each that are trying to suppress certain gods and/or make deals with other gods.

 

I've also been toying with a Sanity mechanic that works something like Morality. If folks are interested, I can post up my notes on it. In this style game, Morality, Duty, and Obligation would all be available, but ALL characters would have to take Sanity, as well.

 

I think this could be great fun with the right group. Or maybe I'm insane already?



#13 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 03:33 AM

Isn't there a Star Wars adventure with Lovecrafty aliens? Otherspace or something like that? 


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#14 Procopius

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 04:45 AM

Isn't there a Star Wars adventure with Lovecrafty aliens? Otherspace or something like that? 

 

And Otherspace II! The Charon. They were only very vaguely Lovecraftian. IMO, the Darkstryder campaign has more light Lovecraftian elements, especially near the end.



#15 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 04:57 AM

And Otherspace II! The Charon. They were only very vaguely Lovecraftian. IMO, the Darkstryder campaign has more light Lovecraftian elements, especially near the end.

 

Ahh, you're right. I think I conflated them in my head. 

 

So there you go, OP. Someone already did it for you... 


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#16 SavageBob

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 02:30 PM

Both Otherspace and the DarkStryder campaign would need to be tuned up quite a bit to truly match the ethos of Lovecraft and co.'s fiction, IMO. They might be places to mine for ideas, of course.

 

In my mind, the question for this sort of amalgam has to be which of the two settings wins out thematically? Does the game privilege Lovecraft's pitting of petty human concerns versus insanity-shattering amorality, or does it privilege the fight between good and evil? Does it privilege pulpy derring-do, or is it more "purist," with characters dying and going mad as they uncover necronomi-holocrons?

 

My thinking is that the pulpy route would be the way to go. The FFG rules are just set up to be pulpy and cinematic, so avoiding this element would be very difficulty, unless characters were built on very few XP.

 

But I'm not so sold on the moralism of Lucas versus the nihilism of Lovecraft. For a dualistic take, I've heard that August Derleth's fiction has a moralistic tinge to it, so maybe his work would be a place to take inspiration? I'm unfamiliar with his dualist version of the Mythos, but, again, the oppositions between Mythos gods that Derleth sets up could be paired with Lucas's own pairings of the Daughter vs. the Son (overseen by the Father) in his Clone Wars stuff.

 

Then, for a more Lovecraftian purism, you could dispense with Derleth and Lucas completely. Keep the mad cultists, but add in a lot of Sith sorcery that draws on the Mythos. The Jedi have all along not been simply trying to defeat the Sith, they've been trying to keep them from summoning Cthulhu and friends from their prisons at the center of the galaxy to wreak havoc on sentient life everywhere. Maybe the Empire has factions that are also trying to study the Mythos. But this is all secret, hush-hush stuff -- only the highest-ranking Jedi and/or Imperial forces even know this stuff is going on. Or maybe only a few isolated Jedi and/or Imperials are even interested in or aware of the Mythos, and they aren't taken seriously by everyone else.


Edited by SavageBob, 17 June 2017 - 02:35 PM.


#17 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 06:06 PM

...Then, for a more Lovecraftian purism, you could dispense with Derleth and Lucas completely. Keep the mad cultists, but add in a lot of Sith sorcery that draws on the Mythos. The Jedi have all along not been simply trying to defeat the Sith, they've been trying to keep them from summoning Cthulhu and friends from their prisons at the center of the galaxy to wreak havoc on sentient life everywhere. Maybe the Empire has factions that are also trying to study the Mythos. But this is all secret, hush-hush stuff -- only the highest-ranking Jedi and/or Imperial forces even know this stuff is going on. Or maybe only a few isolated Jedi and/or Imperials are even interested in or aware of the Mythos, and they aren't taken seriously by everyone else.

 

Come to think of it, there's a lot of pulp Nazi super-science in the Empire already, with space ship dogfights copied from war movies, Le Resistance appearing in the form of the Rebel Alliance (Allies), the villains' suspiciously familiar-looking jack-booted uniforms (their soldiers are even referred to as Storm Troopers), secret doomsday weapons to be sabotaged, a black magic-wielding evil Fuhrer Emperor to defeat, etc...  Really, in many ways, Star Wars even plays the theme a little less "pulpy" and than the Indiana Jones movies did, now that I think of it.  Removing any references to the Light Side of the Force would perhaps be the only big change needed to set the right tone.

 

So, it might not be too difficult to translate a lot of "Weird World War" style themes over to the Star Wars universe, and make them fit in a natural way with minimal editing, and the Cthulhu Mythos is only a short step away from that brand of dark fantasy (often just a matter of exchanging The Spear of Destiny for The Necronomicon, and a random Mythos Nasty for the devil or any random Judeo-Christian demon, if anything needs to be changed at all....)

 

We can try running through the plot synopses of a few "Weird World War" type movies and see what happens:

 

Spoiler

 

All in all, it looks to me like the genres cross over nicely, once you remove the Light Side of the Force and the Jedi swashbuckling....


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 17 June 2017 - 06:07 PM.

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#18 SavageBob

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 07:23 PM

All in all, it looks to me like the genres cross over nicely, once you remove the Light Side of the Force and the Jedi swashbuckling....


Love the suggestion of adopting Weird War tropes to make this work during the Imperial era.

As for the Jedi, I'd say keep them, since they're so central to the Star Wars setting. But I'd make them like any other religious order is in a purist Lovecraftian setting, i.e., deluded and ineffectual. Perhaps the rank-and-file Jedi know nothing of the Mythos and the horrors of the galaxy, but their highest-ranking members do, and they keep it a secret. Perhaps Yoda et al are allied with Derleth's benevolent Great Old Ones, the ones he identified as being at least tolerant of mankind, and maybe the Light Side of the Force even emanates from such beings. But in reality, these entities are just as inimical to mortal life as the so-called "Dark Side" mythos creatures are, and they are merely using the Jedi as pawns for some inscrutable scheme of their own. That way, you can incorporate Jedi characters, but then roleplay their slow descent into insanity as they realize that the Light Side, the Dark Side, it doesn't matter: It's all THEIR side.

#19 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 08:17 PM

And now that you've put the subject of the Light side Jedi that way, the Polish immigrant population and their priest weren't totally ineffective in "The Haunter in the Dark", while Dr. Armitage's role in disrupting the Wizard Whateley's plot in "The Dunwich Horror" might make a rather nice prototype for good Jedi in such a setting:  they've studied the potentially mind-shattering nature of "The Force", and have learned to respect and fear its unnatural power and the damage that it can do, and so avoid the use of The Force (essentially, Mythos magic) except where needed to tip the scales against the Dark Side who are far more willing to use - and inevitably abuse - the Force.  And, as you suggest, using it even for good is a slippery slope down the abyss into the Dark Side....


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 17 June 2017 - 08:18 PM.

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#20 SavageBob

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 12:23 AM

And now that you've put the subject of the Light side Jedi that way, the Polish immigrant population and their priest weren't totally ineffective in "The Haunter in the Dark", while Dr. Armitage's role in disrupting the Wizard Whateley's plot in "The Dunwich Horror" might make a rather nice prototype for good Jedi in such a setting:  they've studied the potentially mind-shattering nature of "The Force", and have learned to respect and fear its unnatural power and the damage that it can do, and so avoid the use of The Force (essentially, Mythos magic) except where needed to tip the scales against the Dark Side who are far more willing to use - and inevitably abuse - the Force.  And, as you suggest, using it even for good is a slippery slope down the abyss into the Dark Side....

 

 

Ah, I love that idea. How would you handle sanity and Force use, though? I can see dark-side Force use being a route to madness, but the light-side Force users don't tend to be mentally unstable. But if all Force use is tapping into chaotic Mythos energies (an idea I love), how is it that light-siders avoid going insane? Would it be that light-side Force use is OK, but the real danger is the temptation of the dark side? Like, the light side is a gateway "drug" to the dark side, where the Force user is more apt to really get sucked in?

 

In game terms, would you impose a sanity penalty on light-side Force use? Or would you reserve it for tapping into the dark side?