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New Mythos help

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#1 TheConvocation

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 03:05 PM

So lately, my group has hit a dead end. Literally. Well it was more me, the Keeper, who has hit a dead end. In the last campaign I ran, I drove my players through every single danger available. Dreamlands, Deep Ones, Cultists, Mi-Go, Dark Young, Suicidal Priests with tommy-guns, You name it! And I do solely believe, that we have exhausted the 1920's. Furthermore we have exhausted anything and everything from Victorian England to the Cold War and everything in-between. 

 

So I think it's time for a change. 

 

Out of the blue, my mind spewed forth the following idea: a Different Mythos

 

Now, I have long awaited the day where I could run a modern-horror campaign set in the style of True Detective or something of the like, however Delta Green never spoke to me (probably because I don't really like the notion of the players being "experienced" with the mythos, let alone working for a secret government conspiracy in which every agent knows his way around a Colt.45). 

 

Then it hit me! Fear MythosCreepypastas, and Internet Folklore!

 

Now, don't get me wrong, I am a strong advocate of the 20's and original Cthulhu Mythos, however I do also want to try out something new. I want something dark. Something horrible and gruesome which will reek of nightmare fuel and ruined dreams. Something which will send my players into the spiral of insanity and make them gibber every time the dice hit the table. 

 

Death is Inevitable. 

Insanity is Inevitable. 

If you live...you'll live knowing...that they will always be watching you. 

 

You know, that kind of stuff. 

 

Now, I have recently picked up The Things We Leave Behind by Stygian Fox Games, and I must say: that is exactly the kind of style I am looking for. However, back to the subject at hand, I need a break from the "normal" (that is if you can call raising R'lyeh from the depths of the pacific...."normal") mythos. So recently I have come across the fear mythos and have since engulfed myself in these tales of dread and horror. While definitely not written to the standard of Lovecraft and his followers, the fears to leave an awful sense of hopelessness within you which is appropriate for the kind of campaign I am planning to run. 

 

Now comes the problem: When it comes to most "fearblogs" and "creepypastas" the protagonist has very little he can actually do other than observe the situation at hand. There is no "mystery" and most specifically there is no "drive" for the PCs to get involved with. No damsel to save, no blasphemous ceremony to stop, no awakening a cosmic horror to thwart, that kind of thing. Sure, you might say that "survival" is the ultimate drive for any given person when confronted with the terrors of the unknown, but I really don't know how that would work out in a modern day setting without leaning on tropes used in modules such as "Dead Light" or "Robinson Gruesome" (both of which are amazing survival adventures but simply not in the style which I am attempting). 

 

So? What are your ideas? What would you use as a premise in a scenario for a world inhabited with creatures such as Wooden Girl and The Rake? Ideas? Thoughts? Comments? All are welcome... 

 

(An apology in advance for anything done incorrectly in the post, I only recently signed up and am still getting the hang of it.)

 

(Also you may see the same exact post on common eras of play...ignore it...noob mistake. Posted in the wrong place.)




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#2 Tony Williams

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 03:19 PM

Pelgrane Press' "Book of Unremitting Horror" is a bestiary of modern horror "things" similar to creepypasta/slenderman etc.

 

The stats are written to work with GUMSHOE rules but wouldn't take much thought to convert them to d100 systems (or you could buy their Fear Itself 2nd Edition book for a ruleset/adventure/more monsters set in the modern era).


Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#3 TheConvocation

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 04:08 PM

Thanks Tony! 

Pelgrane Press' "Book of Unremitting Horror" is a bestiary of modern horror "things" similar to creepypasta/slenderman etc.

 

This most definitely helps, and I can see why this would seem appropriate. I think that as of "monsters" the book is definitely amazing, as I already gave the sample a read-through. 

 

The real thing I am worried about is the whole "scenario" aspect of the setting. While monsters are unexplainably great, what I am attempting here is to get at the very core of my players emotions, the key one being: fear. 

 

Any advice on that?



#4 DadsAngry

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 04:54 PM

we have exhausted the 1920's. Furthermore we have exhausted anything and everything from Victorian England to the Cold War and everything in-between. 

 

You still have the 1990s, Cthulhu Dark Ages, and Invictus.  



#5 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 05:31 PM

A recent "Mythos Makeover" project in the YSDC forums did a little work on developing a Call of Cthulhu-friendly variation on the Slenderman, "Shadowman".  I encourage you to use the Shadowman in your universe however you like - feel free to ignore what doesn't work for you, and add whatever does work.

 

I think it might be interesting to see a 1950s "Mythos" loosely inspired from Richard Sharpe Shaver's stories about a technologically-advanced but insane race of ancient alien astronauts - the Deros - living in caverns under the Earth, from which they fire mind-control rays and rays that make you hear voices and rays that cause disasters and sudden deaths, and sometimes sneak up to the Earth's surface to abduct innocent people, drag them down into the caverns, and then conduct sadistic experiments on them.... The whole thing was obviously a forerunner to the modern UFO mythology, and could provide one cornerstone to a very different mythos from an interesting decade that doesn't seem to get much attention from Call of Cthulhu keepers very often:  the 1950s often get portrayed as a kind of age of innocence and relative peace before the turbulent 1960s, but those still waters run deep with terrifying hidden currents of paranoia, confusion, poorly-concealed social chaos, and disorder stemming from the scars of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War - thematically, the 1950s are similar to the 1920s, but has its own distinct flavor.  Some easy sources of additional material would be the classic science-fiction/horror movies of the era ("IT! The Terror from Beyond Space", "The Thing from Another World", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", "The Quatermass Xperiment", "X: The Unknown", "Quatermass II", etc.)

 

Depending on the interests of your group and yourself, you may or may not get some mileage from Stephen King's "Lovecraftian" work - it tends to center around Stephen King's Maine version of Lovecraft Country (Derry, Castle Rock, Bangor, Salem's Lot, Collinsport, etc.), feature magical god-like aliens ("It", "The Tommyknockers", "Desperation"/"The Regulators", "Dreamcatcher"), psychic powers ("Carrie", "Firestarter"), a vaguely Lovecraftian take on Vampires (no less than three stories based on "Salem's Lot"), parallel universes ("The Dark Tower", "The Talisman"), settings for the more well-known stories in the 1950s-1970s or 1980s, and not infrequently groups of misfit child protagonists.  With child investigators, a change of setting to 1950s-1980s Maine, and Stephen King's different take on "Lovecraftian", this might provide a familiar but refreshing change from standard Call of Cthulhu conventions.


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 18 May 2017 - 05:36 PM.

"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#6 TheConvocation

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 07:43 PM

First off...wow...that was helpful.

 

You still have the 1990s, Cthulhu Dark Ages, and Invictus.  

 

Yes, however my group (myself included) tend to reserve the horror for "real world"/modern-ish settings, and the swashbuckling, raiding, dungeoncrawling and fighting monsters (monsters which you can actually kill) to steel, bronze, and gold age settings. This crosses out both Invictus and Dark Ages, and the late 90's are exactly what I was looking for, so you're spot on! Any suggestions? 

 

A recent "Mythos Makeover" project in the YSDC forums did a little work on developing a Call of Cthulhu-friendly variation on the Slenderman, "Shadowman".  I encourage you to use the Shadowman in your universe however you like - feel free to ignore what doesn't work for you, and add whatever does work.

 

Thanks a lot! I just read over the wiki and will definitely have to dig a little deeper. It's quite funny but I never would have even considered Slendy to be attuned or connected to dreamlands lore! The whole "monastery" thing with the rakes is also quite interesting, although I've always preferred the original version of The Rake (the original stated that The Rake only posed as a primal and barbaric entity, and was actually extremely intelligent, often whispering into the mind of its victims forbidden knowledge and lore) but this one sure does sound horrifying! 

 

...Richard Sharpe Shaver's stories about a technologically-advanced but insane race of ancient alien astronauts - the Deros - living in caverns under the Earth, from which they fire mind-control rays and rays that make you hear voices...

 

That sounds just like the Choir: http://thefearmythos...wiki/The_Choir 

 

Hearing voices and everything?

 

I will most definitely look into Shaver's work to say the least. Only question: these Deros creatures, except for the prospect of them living beneath the earth (similar to the Serpent Men) they really just sound like a mix between the Mi-go and the Elder Things. Anything up with that? 

 

The whole thing was obviously a forerunner to the modern UFO mythology, and could provide one cornerstone to a very different mythos from an interesting decade that doesn't seem to get much attention from Call of Cthulhu keepers very often:  the 1950s often get portrayed as a kind of age of innocence and relative peace before the turbulent 1960s, but those still waters run deep with terrifying hidden currents of paranoia, confusion, poorly-concealed social chaos, and disorder stemming from the scars of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War - thematically, the 1950s are similar to the 1920s, but has its own distinct flavor.  

 

WOW! The 50's do sound like an "interesting" era to say the least, and I might have to check it out at the very least. The tropes would be great as well, with the impending Cold War set in the ashes of "the Great War" this really sounds like an awesome time frame! I honestly think that for a "pulpy" adventure or campaign it would be an amazing time, my only problem is that I think my players won't necessarily "buy" the setting as much, but we'll have to see....

 

Depending on the interests of your group and yourself, you may or may not get some mileage from Stephen King's "Lovecraftian" work - it tends to center around Stephen King's Maine version of Lovecraft Country (Derry, Castle Rock, Bangor, Salem's Lot, Collinsport, etc.), feature magical god-like aliens ("It", "The Tommyknockers", "Desperation"/"The Regulators", "Dreamcatcher"), psychic powers ("Carrie", "Firestarter"), a vaguely Lovecraftian take on Vampires (no less than three stories based on "Salem's Lot"), parallel universes ("The Dark Tower", "The Talisman"), settings for the more well-known stories in the 1950s-1970s or 1980s, and not infrequently groups of misfit child protagonists.  With child investigators, a change of setting to 1950s-1980s Maine, and Stephen King's different take on "Lovecraftian", this might provide a familiar but refreshing change from standard Call of Cthulhu conventions.

 

Again...wow....never though of that. I am a big fan of Stephen King myself, and especially the "Lovecraft" work of his as you call it. Now that you mention it, setting a campaign in late '80's Darry would indeed by terrifying (in it's own beautiful and superb way of coarse). The sewer system, the abandoned house, even the child disappearances would make for great backdrop. My only problem then becomes the following: while the setting is great, I've always loved how Lovecraft managed to tie the "alien" with the "supernatural". While Stephen King's works are great, running his monsters and creations in a campaign or scenario would for me (and for my players) get too "supernatural" and not enough "alien". And everybody knows, "YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH ALIEN". Another thing is that I am certain that at least 90% of all my players have read most of Stephen King (all of them read "It" and "The Dark Tower" certainly) so while using the setting would be amazing, the creatures would have to be reserved for another group and another game. 

 

Overall, thank you a ton for the feedback.

 

With these questions answered, more have been created...so if any of you care to help with any of the following, be free to do so:

 

If any of you have read "The Things We Leave Behind" by Stygian Fox Games, do you have any advice on running scenarios in similar style to "Roots" and "Butterfly, Butterfly, Fly Away Home" . 

 

What is your usual villain/what entities do you usually use for you CoC games. Why is that? What makes it horrifying? 

 

So while surfing the fear mythos, I came across the following: http://thefearmythos.../wiki/The_Quiet . How would you tie this in to the Lovecraft canon (I know the current mythos doesn't really have a set canon yet nonetheless)? 

 

What are some elements that you use to get under your players skin? Scare tactics? Descriptions? Paranoia? I want it all...

 

Well...that's it for today....



#7 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 09:20 PM

You're quite welcome.

 

Regarding the Ghouls and whether or not they are as primitive as they seem, I will refer to T.E.D. Klein, regarding the Tcho-Tchos:

 

"'...I thought they were primitive, at first, I mean, some of their rituals - you wouldn't believe it. But now ! think they weren't primitive at all. They just kept those rituals because they enjoyed them!''" - T. E. D. Klein, "Black Man with a Horn"

 

I see no reason why the Ghouls, too, might not have some aspect of acting primitive and savage, not because they have to, but because slumming it in graves and eating flesh in antique and primitive rituals is just something they enjoy....

 

Regarding the Deros, we have a YSDC Wiki article on them (Dero);  Shaver describes them in this way:

 

"Clothed in rags and dirt, hung all over with hand weapons, their hair long and matted, were the strangest, most disgusting creatures I had ever seen in my life. They were dwarfs, some of them white-haired, from the Gods know what hidden hole in Mu's endless warren of caverns." - Richard Sharpe Shaver, I Remember Lemuria!

 

They are basically a ruined, post-apocalyptic humanoid race living like savages among the decaying wrecks of their technology in a secret world just below our feet.

 

Perhaps some of the closer traditional "Cthulhu Mythos" equivalents would be Lovecraft's Ghouls, Robert E. Howard's Worms of the Earth, Arthur Machen's evil "Little People" or "faeries", and things like that:  they're like savage, feral, insane humanoids who live under the Earth, once highly advanced technologically, but fallen far into savagery and madness.  

 

I suggest that they bear a definite thematic similarity to the Men in Black and to Grey Aliens from UFO lore; I've never had an opportunity to use them in CoC, but would probably portray them as a vague mix of Men in Black, Grey Aliens, and Ghouls.

 

If you're a D&D player, you've possibly encountered them before in the form of Derros and Drow Elves.

 

A Japanese film "Marebito" portrayed them as being like creepy troglodytic vampires, with creepy results.

 

Strangely, counter-culture artist Jermain Rogers portrayed Deros on rock albums and t-shirts a few decades ago as 6' tall evil teddy-bear things, apparently with the idea that this was one of many masks they wore as shape-shifters of some sort - I'm not sure what to make of that, but the idea that they dress in bizarre, slightly silly, but nightmarish costumes while torturing and experimenting on human abductees could be a weird aspect to use in portraying them (see the bizarre baby mask worn by the torturer near the end of "Brazil", or the masks worn by any self-respecting slasher villain....)

 

I think a comparison to the Elder Things or Mi-Go wouldn't be outlandish, and now that you mention it, mixing-and-matching elements of either one with Deros would surely produce some interesting material (instead of a gigantic, alien, city of the Elder Things on the edges of the Mountains of Madness for a polar expedition to explore, why not instead have a gigantic, alien city of the Deros built in the Red-Litten Cavern of Yoth on the edge of the Gulf of N'Kai for an expedition into the Hollow Earth to explore?)

 

I can't answer all the other questions, but as for what my usual villains/entities are, I like to pull things out of my own dreams and nightmares, or from movies, or just take Lovecraftian or other fictional monsters, and rewrite them a bit or mix-and-match them with other things to get a result that's familiar, but different (see the Elder Things example above, or the reference to portraying Deros as a cross between Men in Black, Grey Aliens, and Ghouls).  I'd probably weird my players out by using a creature from Lovecraft's stories with no modifications, because it's something I almost never do - I might have to do that just to keep them off-balance some time.


"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time." - Blaise Pascal


#8 TheConvocation

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 06:44 AM

You're quite welcome.

 

Regarding the Ghouls and whether or not they are as primitive as they seem, I will refer to T.E.D. Klein, regarding the Tcho-Tchos:

 

"'...I thought they were primitive, at first, I mean, some of their rituals - you wouldn't believe it. But now ! think they weren't primitive at all. They just kept those rituals because they enjoyed them!''" - T. E. D. Klein, "Black Man with a Horn"

 

I see no reason why the Ghouls, too, might not have some aspect of acting primitive and savage, not because they have to, but because slumming it in graves and eating flesh in antique and primitive rituals is just something they enjoy....

 

Again, never really thought of it that way (but then again I never really read Klein either). Ghouls are, by most parts an extremely interesting race to me, as they appear all throughout history and seem to have connections/fit into any situation imaginable, be it their "domain" in the dreamlands or their underground network spanning across the globe. Another interesting aspect which I tend to borrow regarding ghouls, is their "caste" system if you will: in settings like WHF and in tomes such as Cultes Des Gules it is stated that the Ghouls form into some sort of "courts". A mockery of the medieval notion of the King's Court. An interesting aspect to note is that these "courts" are said to actually originate from 18th century France, where depraved and mad aristocrats practiced the Ghoul Culture until the eventually devolved into those creatures.  So yeah...the hidden "civilized" nature is really freaky. 

 

Regarding the Deros, we have a YSDC Wiki article on them (Dero);  Shaver describes them in this way:

 

"Clothed in rags and dirt, hung all over with hand weapons, their hair long and matted, were the strangest, most disgusting creatures I had ever seen in my life. They were dwarfs, some of them white-haired, from the Gods know what hidden hole in Mu's endless warren of caverns." - Richard Sharpe Shaver, I Remember Lemuria!

 

They are basically a ruined, post-apocalyptic humanoid race living like savages among the decaying wrecks of their technology in a secret world just below our feet.

 

Hmm...Deros are interesting...maybe I'll even throw some under Derry or Collinsport like you suggested. Apart from the "not being a lost civilization and being utterly depraved and hedonistic, they now begin to simply sound like a Mi-go/Serpentmen/Elder Thing hybrid. Taking the subteranian aspect from the Snakes, and the scientifically advanced aspects from the Mi-go/Elder things. I would also throw in the "Great Race", however Yithians aren't actually so much malevolent or "evil" as they are curious. All they want is information, so I guess they get a pass. 

 

I suggest that they bear a definite thematic similarity to the Men in Black and to Grey Aliens from UFO lore; I've never had an opportunity to use them in CoC, but would probably portray them as a vague mix of Men in Black, Grey Aliens, and Ghouls.

 

Noted! 

 

If you're a D&D player, you've possibly encountered them before in the form of Derros and Drow Elves.

 

Yes sir! Please don't bring back foul memories of the Underdark!

 

I think a comparison to the Elder Things or Mi-Go wouldn't be outlandish, and now that you mention it, mixing-and-matching elements of either one with Deros would surely produce some interesting material (instead of a gigantic, alien, city of the Elder Things on the edges of the Mountains of Madness for a polar expedition to explore, why not instead have a gigantic, alien city of the Deros built in the Red-Litten Cavern of Yoth on the edge of the Gulf of N'Kai for an expedition into the Hollow Earth to explore?)

 

Interesting Idea....

 

I can't answer all the other questions, but as for what my usual villains/entities are, I like to pull things out of my own dreams and nightmares, or from movies, or just take Lovecraftian or other fictional monsters, and rewrite them a bit or mix-and-match them with other things to get a result that's familiar, but different (see the Elder Things example above, or the reference to portraying Deros as a cross between Men in Black, Grey Aliens, and Ghouls).  I'd probably weird my players out by using a creature from Lovecraft's stories with no modifications, because it's something I almost never do - I might have to do that just to keep them off-balance some time.

 

Well I guess you're the opposite of me then! But the whole Deros idea does sound quite pleasing. Thanks a lot! Also...why Men in Black? Aren't they supposed to be the more mysterious, threatening, creepy version of Delta Green? The kind which deals with UFO lore and anything in between?

 

Once again,  thanks a lot to everyone.



#9 neorxnawang

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 10:48 AM

Hi, first thanks for the kind words about The Things We Leave Behind (I'm the editor)

 

As to your questions, I've always taken the view that the game is not about Lovecraftian horror per se, but about the occult detective subgenre of pulp fiction, and that's the way I approach game design. Lovecraftian horror strictly speaking doesn't make for good games. With a few exceptions where he delves into the occult detective subgenre (The Dunwich Horror), his stories are existential, his protagonists depressed loners, and they are doomed by their insignificance. My suggestion is that you look for ideas in the source material, a lot of which is now public domain, online, or available for pretty cheap on Ebay or Amazon. The sort of eschatological horror you seem to be interested in says "Manly Wade Wellman" to me. If you're not familiar with his work I'd encourage you to read some of his Silver John stories (very folklore oriented) or John Thunstone (his main occult detective) stories in particular. Some of these are in expensive but very nice collections but you can also get paperbacks on Ebay or Amazon pretty reasonably.


PS There aren't a lot of Wellman influenced pre-done scenarios that I'm aware of (at least right now). I tried one as an initial experiment in Five Lights at the Crossroads in Golden Goblin Press' Tales of the Crescent City to mixed reviews--I think some reviewers didn't get what I was about as I wasn't up front about it, and others just didn't care for its themes. We are in layout at Stygian Fox on Fear's Sharp Little Needles which has several Wellman-style one night scenarios in it, but it isn't scheduled for release until July.







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