Thursday, January 18, 2007

Surviving the Horror

I've been staying away from the computer recently because it's one of the places where I used to smoke the most. At the moment, I'm at the beginning of a third day of complete cold turkey. Before that (and since my last entry) I managed to cut down a huge amount, but not stop entirely. At the moment, I have high hopes.

Monday, January 8, 2007

The Horror!

I'm working on quitting smoking - from 3 packs a day, I'm down to just 1 (this is, however, a failed attempt at quitting completely). I'm going to take another attempt beginning about 15 minutes ago. Unfortunately, I can really believe that this addiction is worse than heroin. I had everything but the spiders under my skin. So far, I haven't made it more than 4 hours ... although I console myself with the fact that I'm in as much nicotine withdrawal as anyone who's gone cold turkey from a 2 pack a day habit.

I am not very functional at the moment.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Call of Cthulhu: the Scooby-Doo Dilemma

Delta Green is designed to solve a problem that crops up in Call of Cthulhu, namely, the feeling that one small group of people seems to be continually stumbling into supernatural situations when no one else is. I think of it as the Scooby-Doo dilemma. What Delta Green does is to create a campaign in which the participants are assumed to be law enforcement officers. In this way, they have a source of replacement investigators and also a source of new adventures without the "stumbling onto" problem.

On the other hand, it's my sense that Delta Green loses the "isolation" of a standard CoC campaign, the feeling of being alone against the forces of the "Outer Monstrosities" as Hodgson called them prior to Lovecraft.

I'm still considering how to meld certain of the dynamics and ideas in the two settings to get the best of both worlds ...

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Delta Green

Delta Green is a setting I never saw when it originally came out. Since my gaming group is playing Call of Cthulhu in the modern age, I'm looking into Delta Green as a resource. Apparently, the core book is out of print and fairly rare. However, if the scenarios are compatible with CoC, I'll use them.

From looking at Wikipedia - Delta Green, it's a setting working from the premise that a group was formed with elements of the US government after the raid on Innsmouth described in Lovecraft's short story, the "Shadow over Innsmouth."

I was on the phone yesterday with Jerry Mapes (see his Sturmegschutz & Sorcery blog link in the links sidebar), and he suggested that Delta Green can also be used as the framework for handling communications between small vigilante groups with little to no government involvement. He did point out that in a modern setting it is inconceivable that the government would have no knowledge or response at all to the Cthulhu mythos, although the government might certainly not have the ability to piece together very much at all.

Anyway, I'm off to the home page for Delta Green (Delta Green to get a better idea about the setting. Shame the books aren't available, but a d20 version is expected ... someday.

Monday, January 1, 2007


Not much time to blog, today, and I've been occupied with teaching my son to ride a bicycle (success!). That's sort of a peak moment.

I finished off the Carnacki The Ghost Finder stories today (a different edition than the one I link to here). These are really and truly seminal stories for the Lovecraft genre. They're in some ways a bit weak (in "the Hog," which is phenomenal, Hodgson creates an anticlimax with an explanation at the ending). But these should really be read by anyone who wants to see the historical sweep of the horror literature that led to Lovecraft's mythos.

I also read The Coffee Trader which isn't Gothic horror or relevant to this site. I give it an 8: it was absolutely awesome until the ending, where the author seems to have chosen to write "literature" by making people stay unhappy rather than "pop fiction," where the good guy wins and everyone is happy. I think the happier ending would have been better for this particuar book. But it's an awesome and exciting read until the ending falters.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Friday night's game

We had an excellent start for Call of Cthulhu on Friday night. At close to the last minute, I decided that my group would transition better with a shorter adventure that broke into action faster than Tatters of the King. Tatters looks like an AWESOME adventure, but the lack of action at the beginning would work better for a group that's more used to the feel of CoC as opposed to D&D.

So, I started them with the Haunting, the classic CoC adventure of all time. They wanted to play modern, and the Haunting is fairly non-specific timewise, so that worked. I won't include the spoilers in this post, but suffice to say that one of the characters left the house after ten game minutes and refused to go back in until it was daytime.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

List of Phantasmagorical writers - Part I

Who do you consider to be phantasmagorical writers? For me, "phantasmagorical" is in many ways a term that retreads the old meaning of the term "Romantic," before it came to mean Harlequin novels and their ilk. This sort of novel involves forces that are beyond human understanding, and into which it is dangerous to fall. Some of these might be horror stories (per Lovecraft) or not (per Dunsany)...

Here's an "official" definition:
adj : characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous
juxtapositions; "a great concourse of phantasmagoric
shadows"- J.C.Powys; "the incongruous imagery in
surreal art and literature"; " [syn: phantasmagoric,
surreal, surrealistic]

Into that list, I'd place (for starters)
H.P. Lovecraft
Robert Chambers
August Derleth
Mary Shelley
Bram Stoker

Lord, there must be a huge number. Any suggestions to add to the list?