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mr_mitts

Alternative Histories in the Mythos...

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Mr_Lin
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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ElijahWhateley

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.

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Mr_Lin

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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ElijahWhateley

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.

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zackspacks
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.

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DrummerDave

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....

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mr_mitts
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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beelzebob

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.

Tourists may visit Chumley Vale and its inhabitants at http://www.pseudopod.co.uk

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MikeC

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

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rylehNC
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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Max Schreck
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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rylehNC

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.

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Max Schreck
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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Max Schreck

Not the same thing, and you know it. You're just winding me up. :D

 

The Mountains of Madness were visible above the ice.

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rylehNC
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.

 

Even minor things. Alternate histories show the differences resulting from the creator's change point; Lovecraft seemed to stress that our universe could already include the Mythos and we wouldn't notice.

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beelzebob

In fact, any game using a basically historical setting will be 'alternative' as the events won't have happened exactly as they do in the game. It's just a matter of degree.

 

One of the great advantages of using a slightly alternative history setting is that the players will be able to visualise the background, but won't be able to predict events.

 

My players are currently in 1938, and often come up against Nazis. However they don't know when WW2 will start, or even who will be on which side. They might even be able to delay it, prevent it altogether, or (more likely} start it early...

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cjearkham
Not the same thing, and you know it. You're just winding me up. :D

 

The Mountains of Madness were visible above the ice.

 

Not after Brian Lumley got through with them. In "In the Vaults Beneath", he gave the Elder Things limited teleportation technology and suggested (if I remember correctly) that the resurrected ones which killed Prof. Lake activated it, causing the mountain range to drop (because stuff underneath it was no longer there) so that the Starkweather-Moore Expedition found no new mountain range.

 

When I first heard of these "4 miles under the ice" mountains, that's what I thought of.

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cjearkham

I would consider it an alternate reality, just one that is very close to our own, on the surface at least.

 

I agree. For example, Mythos prehistory states the Moon was formed by being thrown off from what is now the Pacific Basin -- a valid theory of HPL's time but one we now know to be false. There is no evidence of a "Great Cataclysm" which reshaped the outline of Europe from the Hyborian Age's to today's, and geological upthrust of portions of the seabed, in the way HPL uses it, is pretty impossible. "Alternate reality" is a nice, hand-waving way of covering such things.

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Eryx_UK

I have thought about a post-Apocalypse setting after the Great Old Ones arise in the near future. Never put any ideas to paper but thought it might make for an interesting short one off campaign.

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Doctor_TOC

In the much-referenced (deservedly so) A Colder War, there's a lovely bit about people existing in "simulation spaces" in the mind of Yog-Sothoth, exploring all the possible ways they might die. Perhaps the reason the Blind idiot God is the way He is is that His mind is running simulations of the universe, over and over, each slightly different to the last, until He has mapped out every possible iteration of the way events can play out across the entirety of history.

 

You could build a "Sliders meets Cthulhu" campaign out of a group of people who realise that they are dead, souls eaten by Yog-Sothoth and now existing as shadows in the virtual universes of His mind, struggling to maintain their sense of self as they travel from simulation to simulation in the vain hope that they may find either a way out or a way to finally die...

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liebkraft
Not after Brian Lumley got through with them. In "In the Vaults Beneath", he gave the Elder Things limited teleportation technology and suggested (if I remember correctly) that the resurrected ones which killed Prof. Lake activated it, causing the mountain range to drop (because stuff underneath it was no longer there) so that the Starkweather-Moore Expedition found no new mountain range.

 

When I first heard of these "4 miles under the ice" mountains, that's what I thought of.

 

 

Where can I find this Story from B.L.? Sounds really cool

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Graham

I've recently come across something that might be perfect for use in an AH context. The final report on the XIIth (Summer) & Vth (Winter) Olympics which would have been held in Japan in 1940 had events turned out otherwise.

 

Everything to make use of it is included, most importantly details on events and buildings:

 

http://www.la84foundation.org/6oic/OfficialReports/1940/OR1940.pdf

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cjearkham
Where can I find this Story["In the Vaults Beneath"] from B.L.? Sounds really cool

The only place it seems to have been published is in one of his early Arkham House collections, The Caller of the Black. I don't see it in any recent Lumley re-collections.

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