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Graham

Non-Mythos Novels that could be used as the basis for a scenario

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Graham

The idea of this thread is to list non-mythos novels, that could be adapted by Keepers for scenarios. I am going to start the ball rolling, so to speak with something from my own collection, as with all threads of this kind anyone who wants to add something feel free....

 

 

Daniel Easterman, The Ninth Buddha, 1988

 

Plot summary: The year is 1920, the young son of a former British Intelligence agent who spent the whole of WWI in India is kidnapped by those who see him as fulfilling a prophecy. The quest to recover him goes from Britain to India, Tibet  and Mongolia.

 

The novel is very dark in tone, and the quest could be very easily recast in Lovecraftian terms.

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TMS

Really, just about anything could be adapted into a scenario, but here are some obvious options that I've read (limited to novels as per the topic name):

 

Pierre Benoit - Atlantida [Could be combined with elements from Lovecraft's "Last Test," since both concern the Tuaregs of Northern Africa and their connection to the Atlanteans.]

John Buchan - Witch-Wood [Could be mercifully condensed, with the the witch cult and elements like the "red dogs" played up.]

Edward Bulwer-Lytton - A Strange Story

Michael Crichton - Sphere

H. B. Drake - The Shadowy Thing

Herbert S. Gorman - The Place Called Dagon [Could make more of the name Dagon, and perhaps involve Shub-Niggurath and other entities.]

H. Rider Haggard - She

William Hope Hodgson - The Boats of the Glen Carrig [Easy enough to connect to Cthulhu.]

William Hope Hodgson - The Ghost Pirates [While the title sounds dumb, this is actually a pretty good horror novel that involves neither ghosts nor pirates.]

William Hope Hodgson - The House on the Borderland

William Hope Hodgson - The Night Land [Takes place in the distant future, though the Night Land could be repackaged as another world or a region of Earth's dreamland.]

Eleanor M. Ingram - The Thing from the Lake [Features a remarkably Lovecraftian entity considering the author had no connection to Lovecraft, though the book ends with one of the most ridiculous deus ex machina in literary history.]

Stephen King - It

Stephen King - Pet Sematary [Just connect the Wendigo to Ithaqua and call it a day.]

Fritz Leiber - The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich [Complications of a Mythos nature are pretty easy to imagine.]

Richard Marsh - The Beetle [A darker take on Isis and her followers than their usual Call of Cthulhu portrayal.]

A. Merritt - The Metal Monster

A. Merritt - The Moon Pool [The shorter, original version that Lovecraft preferred could be turned into a good one-shot, while the expanded novel might serve as the basis for a campaign.]

Barry Pain - The Shadow of the Unseen

Sax Rohmer - The Green Eyes of Bast

Sax Rohmer - The Yellow Claw [The figure of Mr. King could easily be turned into something unambiguously supernatural, and would make a good avatar for Hastur.]

Matthew Phipps Shiel - The Purple Cloud [Even leaving out the story's apocalyptic extremes, the description of the arctic regions, the mine, and the southern source of the Cloud could be interesting settings.

Francis Stevens - The Nightmare

Bram Stoker - The Lair of the White Worm

John Taine - The Greatest Adventure [Could easily be connected to the Mythos, as I pointed out here.]

John Taine - The Purple Sapphire

Jules Verne - 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas [The chapter about Atlantis might provide inspiration if nothing else.]

Donald Wandrei - The Web of Easter Island [The novel is already pretty much off-brand Lovecraft.].

Harper Williams - The Thing in the Woods

Francis Brett Young - Cold Harbour [Maybe make use of Cold Harbour's ancient background, which Lovecraft thought was both intriguing and underutilized by the novel.]

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AdamAlexander

Two other Fritz Leiber stories (well, novellas) you could look at are Our Lady of Darkness and Conjure Wife. Neither are Mythos per se, but do involve research, investigation, and have a supernatural element.

 

 

There is a creature in Conjure Wife that is reminiscent of a Mythos creature

 

 

Apologies for not italicizing titles. I'm not sure how to do that on my iPhone keyboard.

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Graham

Really, just about anything could be adapted into a scenario, but here are some obvious options that I've read (limited to novels as per the topic name):

 

William Hope Hodgson - The House on the Borderland

 

Interesting you should bring that one up, it was converted to a scenario by fantasy author Jane Lindskold back in the 1990s. The magazine it was printed in is available in pdf form from DrivethruRPG/RPGnow.

 

http://www.yog-sothoth.com/wiki/index.php/Horror_on_the_Borderland_(Scenario)

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Travern

Adding just a small dose of the Gothic or the fantastic to H. G. Wells's scientific romances would make some great quasi-Mythos entities: the Selinites from The First Men in the Moon, the Morlocks from The Time Machine, the bipedal deep-sea creatures from "In the Abyss", the malign body-snatching astral entities of "The Stolen Body", and, my personal favourite, the tentacled, almost intelligent Haploteuthis ferox, from "The Sea Raiders".  (The last one is a probably Wells's purest piece of hard science fiction - there's no Victorian mustiness in its storytelling, only a chilling, journalistic matter-factness.)

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SquibblyDibbly

Always trying to read books of this type for gaming inspiration as well as enjoyment. Here are some which spring to mind....

 

Dan Simmons - The Terror

Douglas Clegg - Goat Dance
Joe Donnelly - The Shee

Scott Smith - The Ruins
F G Cottam - The House of Lost Souls

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cjearkham

Pierre Benoit - Atlantida [Could be combined with elements from Lovecraft's "Last Test," since both concern the Tuaregs of Northern Africa and their connection to the Atlanteans.]

 

This seems to be the source for the reference in "Last Test" to Atlantean survivals in the Hoggar region.

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Graham

Just found a book by Algernon Blackwood dealing with a 'psychic doctor' that looks like it might contain material that could be re-worked:

 

John Silence, Physician Extraordinary by Algernon Blackwood

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/49222

 

A summary of the five stories in this book, plus a sixth that was added by S T Joshi can be read below, two of them have definite possibilities (Quoted below the link.)

 

https://johnirelandmusicpeopleplaces.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/irelands-books-john-silence-physician-extraordinaire/

 

 

‘Ancient Sorceries’: A quiet, shy gentleman is ensnared by the shape-shifting shadows of a past life, as he returns from a holiday in a mysterious French village. Doctor Silence diagnoses his condition but has doubts as to whether the man will have the strength to resist the lure of an old love.

 

...

 

‘Secret Worship’: A businessman pays a visit to his old school in a sleepy town in Germany’s Black Forest, only to find that things have changed horribly. He could be lost, body and soul, but John Silence is also in the neighbourhood.

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JeffErwin

Two other Fritz Leiber stories (well, novellas) you could look at are Our Lady of Darkness and Conjure Wife. Neither are Mythos per se, but do involve research, investigation, and have a supernatural element.

 

 

There is a creature in Conjure Wife that is reminiscent of a Mythos creature

 

 

Apologies for not italicizing titles. I'm not sure how to do that on my iPhone keyboard.

 

 

Our Lady of Darkness has ideas that were adapted into "To Awaken What Never Sleeps" by Dan Harms in Tales of the Sleepless City, and in "Whitechapel Black Letter" (Kenneth Hite) in Bookhounds of London and a reference to megapolisomancy in Dulce et Decorum Est. I believe there's a discussion of para-elementals in Secrets of San Francisco.

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JeffErwin

 

Francis Brett Young - Cold Harbour [Maybe make use of Cold Harbour's ancient background, which Lovecraft thought was both intriguing and underutilized by the novel.]

 

 

Ironically, while I am writing an Elizabethan adventure called Cold Harbour, it is set in the London mansion of that name, rather than in Young's house. However... this book could be handy for running an Exham Priory type of story. Which is actually another thing I've been working on...

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AdamAlexander

Our Lady of Darkness has ideas that were adapted into "To Awaken What Never Sleeps" by Dan Harms in Tales of the Sleepless City, and in "Whitechapel Black Letter" (Kenneth Hite) in Bookhounds of London and a reference to megapolisomancy in Dulce et Decorum Est. I believe there's a discussion of para-elementals in Secrets of San Francisco.

Thank you. I'll have to dig those up.

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WinstonP

Apologies for not italicizing titles. I'm not sure how to do that on my iPhone keyboard.

Bracketed instructions like '[ i ] Text [ / i ]' are used to format, just remove the quotes and spaces. i is italics, b for bold, etc.

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TMS

Just found a book by Algernon Blackwood dealing with a 'psychic doctor' that looks like it might contain material that could be re-worked:

 

John Silence, Physician Extraordinary by Algernon Blackwood

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/49222

 

Yeah, Lovecraft read those stories, and liked them for the most part. The third story, "The Nemesis of Fire" might have inspired as Lovecraft's Nemesis of Flame (also from "The Last Test," funny enough).

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AdamAlexander

Bracketed instructions like '[ i ] Text [ / i ]' are used to format, just remove the quotes and spaces. i is italics, b for bold, etc.

Thanks. I guess I should have thought of that.

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Hammer

I suspect this list will rapidly grow unwieldy even to those of us with the most liberal tastes in reading, but will gleefully contribute to that end regardless.

 

Asimov's Foundation stories about the Mule could form a core campaign for a somewhat sympathetic superhuman character, whose peculiar powers make him as much as victim of chance as a villain.

 

The OP mentioned Crichton's Sphere, but I think a case could be made for Eaters of the Dead as well, with its twisted yet pragmatic retelling of the Beowulf epic.

 

Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan does nothing but play with the idea of destiny and choice, themes prominently featured in a number of Lovecraft's stories.

 

A number of Harlan Ellison's short stories touch on weird horror, from Shattered Like a Glass Goblin to Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes. 

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Mysterioso

IIRC, Crichton's Eaters of the Dead has a reference to the Necronomicon in the bibliography.

 

I'd say his Congo would be pretty easy to spin into a Arthur Jermyn follow-up.

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Deodanth

Anything by William S. Burroughs comes to mind.  The books of his I find most evocative of adventure gaming:  Naked Lunch, Nova Express, and Cities of the Red Night.

 

In fact, someone told me once there was an RPG written in the style of Burroughs and his set, but I've forgotten its name.

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Graham

And a Project Gutenberg find... in the form of a collection of short stories dedicated to M. R. James

 

The Stoneground Ghost Tales by E. G. Swain

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/44581

 

If nothing else there could be enough details to create the village in East Anglia described...

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golfsale

Just found a book by Algernon Blackwood dealing with a 'psychic doctor' that looks like it might contain material that could be re-worked:

 

John Silence, Physician Extraordinary by Algernon Blackwood

Lovecraft devotes a paragraph to this book in chapter 10 of his Supernatural Horror in Literature.

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DAR

​The Black Wolf​ by Galad Elflandsson has always been a fave, also The Secrets of Doctor Tavener by Dion Fortune. Dennis Wheatley's  The Devil Rides Out and To The Devil - A Daughter​  are both worth a glance - along with Crowley's Moonchild.

 

D.

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Graham

I've just found a blog with a very impressive set of 18th/19th & early 20th C ghost fiction available including the only ghost stories by H. P. Blavatsky....

 

https://gothictexts.wordpress.com/

 

This quotation from Australian (Well at the time he was Victorian...) author Fergus Hume's novella "Professor Brankel's Secret" reveals the potential inherent in HPLs predecessors:

 

 

 

...I am in space, the center of the... great wheel of the universe...around throng nebulous masses of worlds...and the heaving mass of fire, is this the earth?...I stand before the portals of creation.. Open... God... Fire... Chaos...

 

And for anyone who needs more information this blog has capsule biographies of several ghost story writers...

 

http://www.grcollia.com/the_haunted_library/

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yronimoswhateley

Any collection of short stories by Robert Aickman or Thomas Ligotti are going to contain something that will be useful for scenarios; Ligotti is particularly easy, but Aickman has some amazingly suggestive ideas to work with. 

 

Also,

 

I Remember Lemuria, by Richard Sharpe Shaver (apparently based on the author's paranoid schizophrenic delusions and hallucinations, this novel helped lay the foundation of the modern UFO conspiracy mythos, with tales of hidden populations of insane ancient aliens living deep in the Earth, where they use mind-control rays and abductions to cause torment and woe for surface people.)

 

A Wrinkle in Time (and sequels, AKA "The Time Quintet"), Madelaine L'Engle (the series follows a family through decades as they fight various incarnations of evil from beyond our time and space, occasionally with the help of extremely weird allies - the books read a bit like C.S. Lewis fantasy filtered through a Lovecraft-light cosmic lens, with absolutely no overt Yog-Sothothry, and might be a great choice for those groups who don't like the bleak hopelessness of a traditionally Lovecraftian world view....)

 

John Carter of Mars (and sequels, the "Barsoom series"), Edgar Rice Burroughs (the novels - not necessarily the movie; in some ways, this series comes across as a prototype for Lovecraft's Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath without the overt Yog-Sothothry, mashed-up with a strange prototype for Star Wars uninformed by Dune, filtered through a haze of Dungeons & Dragons dungeon-delving and adventuring weirdness uninformed by Tolkien, with psychic powers and "fifth ray" pseudo-science replacing magic.  Can be deconstructed easily into a sort of pulp Dreamlands, for those groups that like a bit of hack-and-slash in their RPGs....)

 

Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham (the novel as well as the 1960s film and BBC serials; portrays a Cold War world blinded by strange radiation from space possibly originating with meteors or from space-based super-weapons, and haunted by hordes of walking, talking, quasi-intelligent carnivorous plants with mysterious origins; most of the conflict comes from the various dystopic societies that spring up from the post-apocalyptic ruins; comes across as a somewhat weirder variation on the old "zombie apocalypse" theme, while pre-dating Night of the Living Dead...)

 

The Midwich Cuckoos, John Wyndham (the novel, and the 1960s film version Village of the Damned; describes a small rural village whose population falls unconscious, and awakens to find every fertile woman pregnant with sinister children who are apparently part alien, or possibly an evolutionary aberration, and gifted with terrifying powers; parallels many of the usual Lovecraft tropes without using any of his "mythos", opting instead for a more modern and clinical tone, and comes across perhaps even more coldly nightmarish for it.)

 

Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift (thanks to many bowdlerized film adaptations and parodies and third-hand cultural references, almost everyone is familiar to the first part of the novel, about the tiny Lilliputians, and many people are familiar with the subsequent part about Gulliver's journey to a land of giants, but not many people are familiar with the rest of the novel, describing the increasingly disillusioned, bitter, and cynical Gulliver's journeys to a series of increasingly bizarre and surreal lands including a flying island powered by anti-gravity peopled with irrational scientist-warriors, an island peopled by immortal liches, and an island ruled by seemingly intelligent animals who keep debased and deformed vaguely-human monsters called "Yahoos" as contemptible beasts of burden; the novel is ultimately a collection of brilliant satires that apply just as well to cultures and counter-cultures anywhere today as they did in 1700s England, and delivers lots of weird content....)

 

 

 

I like and second the suggestion of H.G. Wells - a wealth of great stuff can be found in his work; Jules Verne should have a couple good options, too (in addition to the already-mentioned 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, see Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon/Around the Moon, Off on a Comet....)  One could imagine some sort of Gaslight "steam punk" "mythos-light" Call of Cthulhu setting being produced from this material, with Victorian gentlemen-adventurers inventing their way into exploration of strange and exotic locations....

 

The suggestion for Harlan Ellison is excellent, and I'll add Ray Bradbury as well (see The Martian Chronicles, The illustrated Man, Golden Apples of the Sun, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and others....) 

 

The suggestion for William Hope Hodgson is also excellent (the Carnacky "Ghost Finder" stories could make a fine template for non-Mythos CoC scenarios that could continue naturally from the classic CoC scenario "The Haunting"), and I'll also suggest Edgar Allan Poe (the ghoulish "Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", and the weird adventures "Descent Into the Maelstrom" and "MS. Found in a Bottle"), Lord Dunsany (Beyond the Fields We Know, a small collection of Dreamlands stories that were a very direct influence on Lovecraft's stories, though without "mythos" references), R.W. Chambers (The King in Yellow, which comes across today like a feverish alternate history fiction with elements of horror and fantasy), Arthur Machen (The Great God Pan, The White People, The Three Impostors, "The Red Hand", "The Shining Pyramid", and others detailing Machen's horrific "little people", who are sort of a non-Mythos template for Deep Ones and Ghouls), Algernon Blackwood ("The Willows", "Ancient Sorceries", "The Wendigo", "The Man Whom the Trees Loved", which feature strange explorations into remote wildernesses alive with oppressive nature spirits)....

 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had more than a couple good science fiction tales that could be adapted nicely into non-Mythos scenarios, too - "The Horror of the Heights" (a story which describes a doomed attempt by an early airplane pilot to explore the "jungles of the upper air" where monstrous horrors wait to spring upon terrified men and snatch them from their fragile aircraft), and the Professor Challenger adventure stories (a wide mix of journeys into primitive lost worlds, threats of planetary disaster, explorations into spiritualism, and tales of bizarre super-science), and perhaps some of Doyle's horror stories.

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Graham

Any collection of short stories by Robert Aickman or Thomas Ligotti are going to contain something that will be useful for scenarios; Ligotti is particularly easy, but Aickman has some amazingly suggestive ideas to work with. 

 

Also,

 

.....

 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had more than a couple good science fiction tales that could be adapted nicely into non-Mythos scenarios, too - "The Horror of the Heights" (a story which describes a doomed attempt by an early airplane pilot to explore the "jungles of the upper air" where monstrous horrors wait to spring upon terrified men and snatch them from their fragile aircraft), and the Professor Challenger adventure stories (a wide mix of journeys into primitive lost worlds, threats of planetary disaster, explorations into spiritualism, and tales of bizarre super-science), and perhaps some of Doyle's horror stories.

 

Thanks for all the suggestions, I'd forgotten about the Doyle stories.

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