5 Lovecraftian Game Ideas that aren’t Tentacles

I’m not a smart man, Jenny, but I do know what “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” means. It means it’s time for me to write something that doesn’t require loads of research because I am still full of opiates. Opiates, for when you will still be in pain, but you don’t care because you are riding a cloud that is shaped like a dog-headed crow, and now you are pretty sure that you are fighting ninjas. I should have pursued that advertising career, after all. Isn’t that right, opiates? Anyway, things are still tough for me, but enough of that. Let’s talk Lovecraft.

Iron & Blood: Warriors of Ravenloft

The 90’s were a lawless time. Hypercolor tee shirts, peace frogs, and Home Improvement walked the land, and our only hope was to hide behind our friends in No Fear apparel or the closest giant hair-do. During this bleak era, a game was release for the PC and Playstation 1. This game, like many before it, was a D&D game. However, rather than be set in Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance – remember, Planescape: Torment was still four years away from saving us all – it was set in Ravenloft. This was around the first peak of Ravenloft popularity. Sure, the setting was released six years earlier, but a few things happened to raise its profile over time. Knight of the Black Rose, the inclusion of Lord Soth in Ravenloft, was released in 1991, and I, Strahd, the first novel solely about that totally-not-Dracula Count Strahd von Zarovich, was released in 1993. More importantly, the film Interview with the Vampire was released in 1994. This coincided nicely with the rise of Hot Topic, which had an IPO in 1996. So, even though Ravenloft was released in 1990, it wasn’t until the mid-90’s that the 90’s new-goth scene was really taking off. So, it was a perfect time for a Ravenloft game to be released.

Gobble-ins, Centaurkeys,and Thanksgiving One-Shots

Happy American Thanksgiving, everybody! I expect most people are reading this on Thursday, because they are drinking as often as possible on Wednesday. This is going to be a hard holiday for a lot of people, and I bet bars and liquor stores are looking forward to Black Wednesday. Let’s assume for a minute that you are woefully hungover and are reading this from your smart device while praying to the porcelain gods. First, I feel your pain, and suggest you pop some alka seltzer and make yourself an egg cream. Second, double up on the mashed potatoes, heavy on the butter. Third, let’s talk about a Thanksgiving themed one-shot you can run while everyone is barely keeping it together.

e-D&D and Parallel Experiences

In a lot of ways, I’m a curmudgeon of a luddite who is afeared of technology. I mean, sure, I’ve literally worked on space telecommunications, but for some reason podcasts seem new and terrifying. Video streams, and even YouTube channels, don’t seem weird or foreign, but podcasts? It’s strange magic performed in the woods by the Sheldon gang summoning the Black Goat of a Thousand Young. Shubby N. is a good dude, I’m sure, but we have a hard time relating to each other. We just have very different backgrounds, ya know?

Depression and Dungeons and Dragons

As I sit writing this, I am waiting out the clock until I undergo my third major surgery of the year. Years ago, I was in a bad accident and my arm, to quote the Chief of Surgery at the prestigious hospital I went to, “exploded like a watermelon dropped from a tremendous height.” The injury was serious, to put it lightly. Since then, I have been very lucky and have been treated by some truly incredible doctors, including the chief orthopedic authority for the NFL. My arm grew back incredibly deformed, though, being young, I didn’t really do any follow-up on it until a few years ago, when my arm was unable to moved after a yoga class. Turns out, I had massive tearing and my arm was hanging on by a thread. Thus began my first emergency surgery. That recovery went well, but then I noticed numbness and pain in the rest of my arm. The shoulder trauma was masking nerve death in my arm. Let me tell you, even after everything I will describe, nerve death is the most pain I have ever felt in my life. This took two surgeries to correct. Things were going ok for a while, though I had to have rotator cuff surgery on my OTHER arm, this was not an emergency, just damage from years and years of baseball and tearing. During PT, the therapist noted my arm that had all the injuries and surgeries was much worse than my newly surgered arm. I went to the doctor, had an x-ray and was told I needed surgery to correct all the deformities in the bone. That brings me to now. I had my first major surgery in April, a second in August, and my third in just a few days. That’s been seven months so far with a broken arm.

Get to Know the Merfolk

It might seem like just a few days ago, I was talking about spooky creatures and practices in honor of Halloween. Well, now Halloween is behind us, and our next holidays in the US are Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. To that end, I will be covering the wide variety of militaristic and martial turkeys that dot the Dungeons & Dragons landscape. We’ll first cover the turku, a kenku variant, and then move into the gonzo stuff, like the turketaur and the turkesaur. Just kidding, let’s talk about merfolk.

Get to Know the Death Knight

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a good slasher film or show. The slasher genre is one of my favorites, as it deals with a single threat (usually), a well-defined location (ideally), and the mythos is surface-level enough to give you the deets without getting bogged down (until the sequels). It also lends itself to genre deconstruction in a way that can nail the deconstruction while staying firmly within the genre, something not exactly easy to do (Scream is a goddamn masterpiece in this regard, and the TV series of the same name is actually pretty phenomenal. Yeah, both seasons).

Get to Know the Crossroads

After a diversion into some discussion of Nemesis, I return this week to encourage people to get to know things. In the name of this spooky season, I am continuing with demons, devils, ghoulies, ghosties, goblins, and so forth. Ok, so I covered a type of devil and scarecrows thus far for the month and that’s it. Whatever, let’s not make a big deal about it. Rather than discuss a particular creature, I wanted to instead talk about the folklore of the crossroads, and the supernatural beings that are said to patronize them. Don’t worry, there will be some discussion of D&D critters, though maybe not the ones you think. If you’ve missed the rest of the series so far, you can catch up with it here.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Success and Magic Items

Instead of helping people get to know D&D creatures and their lore, this week we will discuss something completely different: magic items and player success. So very often, these two things go hand in hand. The players accomplish a task (saving a village, killing a monster, etc.), and not only enjoy the victory, they are compensated materially. Sometimes, the goal itself is the attainment of a magic item. The discussions in which I have participated tend to agree that groups questing for items for each other is a good way to provide story for everyone, while linking it to an item. The warlock wants a spellblade that once belonged to a fallen paladin in order to forge a stronger link with her patron and power her magic with the broken oaths. Sounds like a good, terrible quest for everyone.

Get to Know the Erinyes

We’re official into October. For many people I know, October means one thing: Halloween. While I am certainly not opposed to a fancy dress party, not to be confused with the Fancy Dress Party, I’m not exactly someone who goes crazy for the holiday. I like making stuff, but going to a party means I have to socially interact with people, all of whom might realize at any moment that I am the worst. Rather than have it be proven, I prefer to stay at home to cultivate my mystique. I might have veered from the point. Regardless, this time of year sees a whole host of devil and fallen angel costumes, of the classical, re-imagined, scary, or sexy variety. A kind reader (you can tweet to @tribality or @standsinthefire if you want me to cover something, or just complain about/to me) asked if I would cover demons or devils in the new future, and this time of year is perfect for it. Without further ado, let’s talk about one of my favorite devils: the erinyes.

Azer | Kenku | Giants | Scarecrow | Erinyes