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thomasiota
Jun 06, 2020
In Elder Sign
Greetings, Fellows, I wanted to say I very much enjoined your podcast on weird fiction RPGs. Although I was familiar with most of them, it's clear I need to check out SLA Industries. Veins of the Earth sounds really interesting as well, although Lamentations of the Flame Princess is also very provocative in itself. Much as you hinted in the podcast, I too got into weird fiction due to RPGs. Specifically, I was shocked to learn my copy of "Deities and Demigods" was printed just late enough to be missing two sections, the Melnibonean and Cthulhu Mythoi. A friend gave me photocopies of the missing pages, which led me into years of reading Moorcock and Lovecraft (and, once I picked up on the pattern, Leiber too, whose pantheon had not yet been removed from the game). Those sections themselves were really wonderful and, I would argue, worth mentioning in a podcast such as your own. As to RPGs-proper, I enjoyed your excellent discussion of Call of Cthulhu, but I wish its distant cousin Stormbringer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stormbringer_(role-playing_game)) could have had a billing as well. Also, I wanted to accept your challenge and hip you guys to a few other games I think you might really enjoy (you probably already know most of them, but here's hoping there are a few surprises). Dungeon Crawl Classics: A very good, "old school" inspired, high-lethality game not so different from Lamentations... It has great Howard influence, as well as Lovecraftian menace and weirdness. Gamma World: Although existing in many, inconsistent editions, at its best, it's a rollicking, gonzo, post-apocalyptic adventure, almost as old as DnD itself. I'm sure you guys have seen this one, but the original broke a lot of new ground, and some of the Alternity editions really magnified the weird aspects. Talislanta: An oldie but goodie too. Fairly rules light (not a bad thing), yet serving up a gorgeous setting depicted in a huge and verbosely described world. Sechi (the author of the first four (yes four!) editions said that Jack Vance was a huge inspiration and, indeed, many of the creatures and situations in The Dying Earth show up as tasteful homage in Talislanta (e.g. Sechi's "Bane" monster is a dead ringer for Vance's "Deodand"). Amazing (and, often, very far-out) artwork by P. D. Breeding-Black make the setting irresistible. For a while, Sechi was serving the early editions under a Creative Commons license, although I think it may be harder to find now. He recently kickstarted a new edition that is set as a sort of prequel. Personally, my favorite is the second edition, although they are all chock-full of weirdness, lotus tinctures, magical hybrids, and buried necropolises. Great stuff! Over the Edge: I sadly haven't been able to play this one yet, but I read two editions. Get this... it is RP within a beautifully realized version of William S. Burroughs's Interzone. Conspiracies, hallucinations, unreliable extra-human capabilities... it seems like a wild ride well worth taking. Tales from the Loop: Nothing more or less than a mechanically simple, but structurally rich way to dive into the starkly beautiful, intriguing artwork of Simon Stålenhag (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tales_from_the_Loop_(role-playing_game)). The characters are all kids, age 10-15, and the vibe is almost as Lovecraftian as the Stranger Things series, with a tad less melodrama and a full serving more of austere cyber-esotericism, all delivered with esprit de corps. There is a streaming series from Amazon inspired by the same artist, although it is a bit more Twilight Zone than Stranger Things. The RPG can do a great job of putting players into these just-other-worldly-enough settings. A couple of cool ones I'm just now reading: Annalise: A very story-driven RPG set among the entourage of a vampire, with built in story-arching mechanics that set a tone of dread and drive a Stoker-like plot climax. https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/64198/Annalise-Final-Edition Odd Soot: An alternate-history 1920's with a heavy dose of Verne mixed with Lovecraft, full of space travel, alien species reminiscent of Elder Things and Mi-Go, and "The Soot," a disease that causes characters to crumble in a similar but slightly more physical way than sanity checks undo Call of Cthulhu investigators. The mechanics seem tried-and-true if not particularly inspiring, but the setting is extremely deep and rich, with very inhuman races trafficking and even allying with humans to fight or even just to flee from The Soot: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/252369/Odd-Soot Lastly, I wanted to appeal to your Star Trek sympathies by citing three extremely-short, CC-licensed-free, RPGs, one based on Trek, and the other two borrowing its mechanics for weird fiction settings. Lazers and Feelings: a work-of-art, one-page RPG beautifully designed to almost instantly engage players in some Trekky goodness: http://onesevendesign.com/lasers_and_feelings_rpg.pdf Teachers and Tentacles: The LnF rules applied to Lovecraft. This one is about two pages long, yet still full of great touches, including sanity checks: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/173524/Teachers-and-Tentacles--Ver-12?src=newest and maybe the weirdest for last... Sorcerers and Sellswords: Same LnF mechanics, but inspired by the 1977 animated movie "Wizards," and dripping with details that would do Leiber, Howard, and Moorcock proud: https://rayotus.itch.io/sorcerers-sellswords Thanks again to you both for the great podcast! It was inspiring and makes me want to dive back into even more weird RPGs. I hope some of the above end up returning at least a portion of that same discovery and inspiration.
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