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CoC Soviet Union

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vincentVV

My dog.. looks like total ravings =)

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Beyond17

Ah, I want GURPS Infinite Worlds: Worlds of Horror now.

I am a penniless vagabond however so no buyee roleplaying bookee's.

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yronimoswhateley
...Sadly, in 1930s Russian literature turned to social realism - so most works were about industrialisation like "And quiet flows the Don"  by Sholokhov, they are idealistic and describe simple lifes of simple people....

 

I don't know - that socialist realism angle sounds like something that can lend a lot of strength to a Weird horror setting.

 

It's  probably worth noting that the default Call of Cthulhu RPG setting is sort of a "Theme Park" version of "Lovecraft Country", which in turn was Lovecraft's "Theme Park" version of New England, which in turn is only a narrow sliver of U.S. culture and history.  That's not necessarily a bad thing:  a comfortable, adventure-friendly setting full of stock characters and stock plot-hooks that will be familiar enough to the audience to give them some direction can make the difference between a setting that Keepers and players will find easily accessible, and one that will require days or weeks of homework and an instruction manual to even begin getting a group of busy players into on the same page, or perhaps one that reveals that the setting is not so different from the group's own home town that it makes more sense to just skip the "exotic" setting and just work with their home town instead (in which chase there's always at lest one guy who can't suspend disbelief because he/she can't really imagine extraordinary things happening in an ordinary town....)

 

In any case, for anyone familiar with Gothic horror traditions, "idealistic... describes simple lives of simple people" should surely suggest some great possibilities:  in Gothic literature, idealistic descriptions of simple people with simple lives are usually followed closely behind by more lurid descriptions of people who only appear to be simple, but actually conceal some very complicated and horrific secrets.  There, behind those vast rural corn-fields, worked by a seemingly upright and decent and hard-working people, lurk warped ideas, hidden cults, strange conspiracies, generations of maddened and deformed evidence of foul crimes boarded up behind the walls of attics and basements, and outlandish horrors all distilled in isolation.  Many of the elements of Socialist Realism would actually be quite familiar to American horror fans:  working-class heroes, everyday settings (like farms, factories, mines, etc.), elements of folklore, a vague idealism (which, in horror, tends to temporarily mask hidden anxieties)....

 

And, it's all just as true in the former Soviet Union and post-Soviet states as it is in the American Gothic United States, or in Folk-Horror and Gaslight British Isles.... (In other words, only a little bit true, but exaggerated to an outlandish degree and peppered with the cliches of their respective genres....)

 

So, at this point, it might be worth investigating whether a "Russian Gothic" genre already exists, and, if so, identify what the unique cliches and "tropes" of that genre are (and a traditional Russian Gothic genre does seem to exist!)  If a "Russian Gothic" genre doesn't already exist, this is, perhaps, a unique opportunity to invent it, the way that Lovecraft helped to invent the "American Gothic" genre....  Either way, the idealistic and practical aesthetics of Socialist Realism seem to me like a strong skeleton to begin hanging the ragged, shadowy trappings of Gothic Horror from....

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vincentVV

I don't know - that socialist realism angle sounds like something that can lend a lot of strength to a Weird horror setting...

 

A really great post, but still the idea of brutal Russian peasants, delving into occult, amuses me a lot.

 

But hey, why not? There even was a witch hunt in Russia, so there easily can be degenerative families, crazed priests (ah, sorry, no priests - after 1917 there were not much of them left, but priests of Elder Gods? Why not?), and apart from Mythos - lots of simple human-born Evil.

 

And the hoplessness which pierced the life of people back there - isn't it a fertile ground for new religions and beliefs in Mythos dieties?

 

Oh, one more idea. If you start watching Rusiian movies - start with Soviet-period ones. Try to avoid the present-day trash like Mikhalkov's and Bondarchuk's. They may seem well-made, but they are horrific in there pseudo-patriotic stupidity and lack of actor's work. =)

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wombat1
On 16/01/2017 at 17:32, vincentVV said:

A really great post, but still the idea of brutal Russian peasants, delving into occult, amuses me a lot.

 

But hey, why not? There even was a witch hunt in Russia, so there easily can be degenerative families, crazed priests (ah, sorry, no priests - after 1917 there were not much of them left, but priests of Elder Gods? Why not?), and apart from Mythos - lots of simple human-born Evil.

 

And the hoplessness which pierced the life of people back there - isn't it a fertile ground for new religions and beliefs in Mythos dieties?

 

Oh, one more idea. If you start watching Rusiian movies - start with Soviet-period ones. Try to avoid the present-day trash like Mikhalkov's and Bondarchuk's. They may seem well-made, but they are horrific in there pseudo-patriotic stupidity and lack of actor's work. 😃

 

Remember you don't need a large number of Russian peasants delving into the occult, or bent priests--you only need the one and he can do a great deal of damage messing about in places and with things that are best left un-bothered.

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carpocratian

I spent a pretty horrific 6 weeks in Bucharest, Romania right after they killed Ceaucescu.  Nobody knew what laws were still valid, the old communist system was falling apart but there wasn't a lot of evidence of a new one forming to take it's place (that came later), etc.  The apartment building I lived in was like something out of a nuclear holocaust movie, with the requisite dirt field with a single rust-covered swing in it.  The one working elevator in the building was, quite literally, maybe half again as large as a coffin, had no working lights (so you were in total darkness), had doors that sometimes didn't open, and didn't always get you quite to the right level to step off it without having to climb or jump out.  I'm going to need to build that into a CoC scenario of some sort.

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DuskRaven

Reading carpocratian's post, I had just been wondering what a post-Soviet setting would be like. I'm told you can sometimes see a bit of melancholy in post-Soviet Russia. Unfortunately I don't entirely know where I read that, but I imagine it'd not be unlike a Great Depression era American setting, perhaps.

Also, I actually recall reading about a Cthulhu Mythos story set during the Cold War, with both sides doing their best to research and use aspects of the mythos. It doesn't go well.

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vincentVV

I've glimpsed through the "Cold Harvest" recently and know what? It's not as stupid as I was afraid it could be. Quite adequate and consistent at least in the set of characters. really looks worthwhile  for those going for a 1930's USSR experience.

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Travern

Also, I actually recall reading about a Cthulhu Mythos story set during the Cold War, with both sides doing their best to research and use aspects of the mythos. It doesn't go well.

 

Was that Charles Stross's "A Colder War"? That novelette is set in the 1980s during a kind of Mythos-based arms race, though it's told from the American perspective.

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HJ

 

Or

 

Ian Tregillis' similarly named "The Coldest War"

 

 

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MrHandy

There's also Declare by Tim Powers, which I'm in the middle of reading now.

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wombat1

I spent a pretty horrific 6 weeks in Bucharest, Romania right after they killed Ceaucescu. .... The apartment building I lived in was like something out of a nuclear holocaust movie, with the requisite dirt field with a single rust-covered swing in it. The one working elevator in the building was, quite literally, maybe half again as large as a coffin, had no working lights (so you were in total darkness), had doors that sometimes didn't open, and didn't always get you quite to the right level to step off it without having to climb or jump out. I'm going to need to build that into a CoC scenario of some sort.

I think I rented that apartment when I was in Bucharest doing my Fulbright in 2001/2002. One of the things that one heard muttered but not much talked about amongst my Romanian friends who were of an age to have participated in the Revolution was that the Ceaucescus and many of their supporters were into some sort of vaguely described occult practices. Very un-bolshevik but possibly suitably Mythos-y. One also needs to add a story about a Turk digging a well sometime in the 1500's, who may or may not have been lifted back up when he was done and who may or may not have dug up something he shouldn't have.

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JeffErwin

I think I rented that apartment when I was in Bucharest doing my Fulbright in 2001/2002. One of the things that one heard muttered but not much talked about amongst my Romanian friends who were of an age to have participated in the Revolution was that the Ceaucescus and many of their supporters were into some sort of vaguely described occult practices. Very un-bolshevik but possibly suitably Mythos-y. One also needs to add a story about a Turk digging a well sometime in the 1500's, who may or may not have been lifted back up when he was done and who may or may not have dug up something he shouldn't have.

 

Perhaps they spent time at Drosovna?

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Travern

One of the things that one heard muttered but not much talked about amongst my Romanian friends who were of an age to have participated in the Revolution was that the Ceaucescus and many of their supporters were into some sort of vaguely described occult practices. Very un-bolshevik but possibly suitably Mythos-y.

 

In The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Ward travels to study with a certain Baron Ferenczy at his castle located somewhere in Transylvania.  (Transylvania had of course recently unified with Romania in the Great War's aftermath.)  Years later, when the Ceaucescu government was scouring the region for suitably gothic castles to promote for Dracula tourism, might state agents have uncovered the site of the now-destroyed Castle Ferenczy and alerted the Securitate to investigate beneath the ruins?  And what would happen if Ferenczy's research into Necronomicon, Yog-Sothoth, and "essential Saltes" fell into the hands of Nicolae and Elena (especially since she had pretensions to being a chemical researcher)?  Besides, if Joseph Curwen's horrific failed experiments were able to exist for a century and half trapped in the pits beneath Providence, how much more likely is it that similar creatures in the catacombs below Castle Ferenczy could wait a mere fifty years for Ceaucescu to adopt them?

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Ric

I ran Machine Tractor Station Kharkov 37, and it was a brilliant game. So dark, so paranoid, full of moral dilemmas and in the end all they could do was run away. Note that some of the characters are in the Special Section of the GRU, so there is a link to the Delta Green mythology which incorporates "Secrets of the Kremlin". I followed this up with "Terror", set it a few years later during the 1937 purge. I used the characters from MTSK 37. The hidden pasts of the Red Army characters and the General Staff connections of the GRU characters had caught up with them and they had all been arrested. This game came out even darker than the former (and yes there is a definite Tunguska connection too), with the characters becoming increasingly depressed and paranoid. I have two favourite memories - at one stage the party come across a group of militia pulling the dead body of a person they had interviewed our of the river. On seeing this one character remarked: "She is one of the lucky ones". Man did it capture the mood. Later after a failed SAN roll this character shot himself in the head. Beautiful.

 

I have been inspired by this experience to create a Soviet Union campaign for another group I run. Lots of rewriting will be required, but my plan is to integrate "White Winter", "Shadows of Leningrad" and "Horrors from Yuggoth" (both from the "Age of Cthulhu" line", the "Castle Dark" chapter from Brotherhood of the Beast"; "Sleigh Ride", bits of "Spawn of Azathoth"; "Secrets of the Kremlin";  "MTSK 37" and "Terror". This leads us to the threshold of WII and so to the horrors in Achtung Cthulhu's "Eastern Front". There are a few Trail of Cthulhu scenarios that could also be worked in: "Soldiers on Pen and Ink" set during the Spanish Civil War and there are some very interesting hints in "Dreamhounds of Paris" about Soviet interest in the Dreamlands.

 

On a side note: the series of detective thriller novels about Inspector Perkalla contain some very interesting ideas that can be mined for a 1930s Soviet campaign

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Jape

Two very different ideas for inspiration:

 

The Master & Margarita - novel about the Devil coming to Soviet high society. Despite the tone its a possible jumping off point for Nyarlahotep running amok in the upper echelons of the workers' paradise.

 

Easterns - as others have said the Soviet Union is gargantuan and so there's plenty of hidden spots for things to lurk. Beyond the deep woods, marshes and tundra of Russia proper there is also Central Asia. "Easterns" as the name suggests were a popular band of pulp fiction and film that have parallels to Westerns, usually revolving around Red troops during the Civil War dealing with the outlaw status of Khans, tribes, White bandits etc in the deserts and plains of the 'stans.

 

The established paranoia of Stalinism at the centre offers plenty for CoC gaming but the more traditional Lovecraftian trope of mankind uncovering and correlating the mysteries of the universe at the edges of civilisation fits right in with the USSR. The Kremlin spent so much time bringing fringe groups to task for not following the Marxist-Leninist way, as well as building dams/canals/entire cities in places practically unchanged for centuries. Simply transplanting established scenarios and stories to Soviet Russia offers interesting new takes.

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Madam30th

Here's a link to my blog post about some changes to the TERROR scenario that fix a few of the incosistencies and set it up as a starting point for a GRU-SV8 campaign which will ultimately concern itself with chasing after the Shkoptsi and their icons. I look forward to playing out more sessions as I do agree with the sentiment here that the Soviet union has huge potential as a CoC setting. After all, MTS-37 is perhaps the most interesting single-scenario CoC supplement, with its atmosphere of paranoia and the vast, dangerous and uncaring world out there.

 

http://www.yog-sothoth.com/blog/106/entry-3224-terror-adapted-as-a-start-to-a-gru-sv8-campaign/

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JeffErwin

Yian or Yian-ho is placed quite explicitly by RE Chambers in The Maker of Moons in "the dead plains of Black Cathay" - that is, Karakhitai/Qara-khitai, a region that includes Eastern Turkestan/Xianjiang and extends over and into the borders of Kazakhstan. The Soviets had major influence (and agents and expeditionary forces) among the puppet regimes and warlords of the area during the Chinese Civil War in the 1920s.

 

Now, Lovecraft states that Yian-ho is in Leng in "The Diary of Alonzo Typer"... so in the 1920s, Leng was apparently occupied by Red Army troops and their allies.

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ThisOldWoodenShip

<insert random cr*** here>

 

"In Soviet Russia, Sanity lose you!!"

 

In Soviet Russia, Cthulhu summon you!

 

I think Horror on the Orient Express could easily be retooled to the Trans-Siberian railway to introduce some Soviet Russian flair.

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vincentVV

In Soviet Russia, Cthulhu summon you!

 

I think Horror on the Orient Express could easily be retooled to the Trans-Siberian railway to introduce some Soviet Russian flair.

 

Except for the fact that T-Sr had about 90% of its way in a harsh wilderness with less than few towns along. :)

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Gaffer

I have long pondered using Horror Express as a starting point for a scenario. It stars Peter cushing, Christopher Lee, and Telly Savalas in a Spanish-British production that takes place entirely aboard an eastbound train in Siberia.

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WinstonP

I have long pondered using Horror Express as a starting point for a scenario. It stars Peter cushing, Christopher Lee, and Telly Savalas in a Spanish-British production that takes place entirely aboard an eastbound train in Siberia.

 

Its been done already by Pagan as, iirc, Blood on the Tracks:

 

http://www.yog-sothoth.com/wiki/index.php/The_Resurrected_Vol._3:_Out_of_the_Vault

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