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Date: Sat, 1 May 1999 20:46:22 -0400
From: Steven Kaye
Janusz, or Alex, or somebody, asked:
I'd say go ahead and leave the Lovecraft books as is. Think about it:
a) Lovecraft's stories contain numerous contradictions
b) Later authors expanded on material in his stories, or even flat-out contradicted it
c) His 'fictional' stories are over fifty years old at this point - plenty of time for cultists to change their m.o.
d) There are lots of topics barely explored in Lovecraft - what was the thing Danforth saw that made him go mad, for example?
As far as Mark's question about how to get in with the Silicon Valley crowd - having a venture capitalist willing to put up funds in return for some equity does wonders. With any luck, the computer company does well, DG has a contact in the Valley, and makes some money to boot.
From: "Steven V. Keck"
Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 02:04:11 -0700
On the last session of our simulation a patricipant asked me if Lovecraft
books do exist in the universe of DG. I answered that they do exist but
there's slightly different content of them. But the question puzzles me.
What are your suggestions ?
This raises an interesting question. If you include Lovecraft and his writings in your DG simulation, then what was the reaction of ONI and J. Edgar's FBI to HPL's publication of The Shadow Over Innsmouth? In which he reveals top secret details about Project COVENANT.
I figure that Hoover would start investigating HPL to see if he was:
A. A Communist spy, passing secret information by hiding in plain sight
B. Part of Robert Marsh's little group, or a Deep One sympathizer, trying to warn other such groups about the govt's actions, or recruit others, or embarass the govt
C. A patsy who had been leaked secret info by a subversive element within the FBI, ONI or USMC, and didn't have enough sense to keep it to himself
Of course, they would look into all his published works, and find that he seems to have alot of inside info about the DO's and the Ponape Scripture (which the Black Chamber hadn't yet translated.) What conclusions would they draw from his other pieces? They've just faced down the first supernatural threat the US govt has ever faced, they're feeling really proud of themselves, then they suddenly find out that there may be other threats out there that make the DO's look like small time punks. Considering the level of the threat posed, I think they would be compelled to investigate this to the fullest extent possible, preferably by getting hold of Lovecraft's source material for his stories.
Where this leads will depend on your campaign. I envision a story in which some DG agents begin investigating Lovecraft's work as a source for info on the Mythos, only to find in some dank sub-basement of the FBI HQ a long buried file indicating that J. Edgar did the same thing back in the 30's. He followed up on all of HPL's research (sent some agents down to Miskatonic U. to look at the Necronomicon, etc) found out it was all true, and… did nothing about it. Or at least, that's the way it appears on the surface.
Maybe Hoover owed his politcal longevity to more than just his ability to blackmail America's elite. In the recent thread about getting access to old manuscripts at certain libraries, there was a suggestion that DG might launch an operation to steal certain Mythos tomes from such collections and replace them with impotent forgeries. Imagine the frustration of agents assigned to such an operation when they find out that the copy of the Necronomicon they've just liberated from MU's special collection is itself a forgery no more than 70 years old. They have a forensics expert examine the manuscript, and he finds the name "Alvin Stauffel, 1933" written on one of the pages in invisible ink. They find similar notations in other supposedly authentic Mythos tomes they've stolen, with dates as late as 1940. Investigation reveals that Alvin Stauffel was a master forger/counterfeiter of US currency who was reportedly killed while attempting to resist arrest by two FBI agents in 1931. The agents find more evidence that leads them to believe that for at least a decade J. Edgar Hoover used the full power of the US govt to amass for himself the most complete library of Mythos tomes ever assembled. But, where are they now?
Date: Sun, 02 May 1999 16:42:04 +0200
From: Davide Mana
This raises an interesting question. If you include Lovecraft and his
Check Dick Lupoff's "Lovecraft's Book" (Arkham House) for a fun take on the whole Lovecraft/Innsmouth story.
HPL was not writing about Deep Ones.
He was writing about… Karotechia (sort of).
From: "David Farnell"
Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 00:06:26 +0900
I came across this whole problem years ago when I asked the same question to my Keeperhe never gave me a definitive answer, but it got me thinking. I've generally believed in having HPL's stories available, even in 20s campaigns (and players could even visit the old man!). I just assumed that HPL had uncovered something hideousperhaps he just read the real Necronomicon and all his stories followed from that. He very likely may not have believed what he read. Or perhaps he'd received dream-sendings, intercepting telepathic waves from the communications of Deep Ones and Cthulhu and the rest. Maybe that was why he was such an outsider, even from childhoodhe was tuned into the frequency. But he was far from having the whole picture, and it had all gotten distortedwhich allowed me to modify the critters as I wanted. Which was necessary, as all my players at the time had read the CoC book (we took turns GMing), and just about all the stories. The only way to surprise each other was to be heretics in the HPL canon.
As far as SAN loss, keep in mind the recent recommendations on the list that players only lose SAN after they discover that what they read is true after all. I mean, we've all read HPL's work, and most of us didn't lose any SAN—not much, anyway. However, if I saw an Elder Thing tomorrow, I'd probably suffer a pretty big shock as it would imply that all the other stuff was real, too.
For Mythos skill gain, hmmm, well, it all depends on how close your world conforms to HPL's view. So it's hard to say.
From: Steven V. Keck, some very interesting pints, er points. In a way, this was dealt with in The Illuminatus Trilogy, which assumes much of what Lovecraft wrote is at least partially true. IIRC, Wilson and Shea suggest that HPL channeled a lot of it—just sort of picked it up. Of course it got distorted, and he was an artist, so of course he couldn't resist reshaping it to his vision. It's quite possible J. Edgar did investigate HPL, but found so much conflicting info that he wrote Lovecraft off for a nutcase. On the other hand, there's always the chance HPL was poisoned…but I think it's a lot more likely the Tcho-tchos did it.
C. A patsy who had been leaked secret info by a subversive element
within the FBI, ONI or USMC, and didn't have enough sense to keep it to
I think that's JEH's most likely conclusion. You could even drop hints that that's why HPL's career never got off the ground—Hoover could've been threatening the editors of Weird Tales and such to keep them from publishing many stories, in an attempt to suppress further leaks and wreck HPL.
level of the threat posed, I think they would be compelled to investigate
this to the fullest extent possible, preferably by getting hold of
Lovecraft's source material for his stories.
Or it could have been so scary that most of them went into denial over it. "No way this is real! I mean, if it were, that'd mean everything, all of us…NO WAY!!" Hey, J. Edgar did get pretty funny in the head there as time went on, didn't he? SAN loss from terrible knowledge?
frustration of agents assigned to such an operation when they find out that
the copy of the Necronomicon they've just liberated from MU's special
collection is itself a forgery no more than 70 years old. They have a
forensics expert examine the manuscript, and he finds the name "Alvin
Stauffel, 1933" written on one of the pages in invisible ink.
LOL! I love it!
Back to Illuminatus!—Shea and Wilson's "lloigor" theory is worth looking at. They posited that ALL the GOO are lloigors. A lloigor, to them, is an immortal energy-matrix being that has transcended its body, generally through the mass sacrifice of lots of sentient beings. Post-transcendence, one becomes very powerful. The most powerful are worshipped as gods, and are fed additional souls. Humans can become lloigors, too. The reason the GOO-lloigors are so sanity-blasting is that when they take a form we can sense, it triggers major fright-response centers in our brains. This is because the lloigor have been preying on us ever since we were barely sentient, so our terror of them is genetic.
Under this theory, it is very likely that Alzis is a lloigor, albeit a young and relatively weak one. [In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he's Malaclypse the Elderwho I suspect of being behind a lot of the manifestations of "Nyarlathotep."] Also, this theory neatly explains the confusion between the lloigors (the relatively minor evils) and Lloigor (the GOO)it was just a confusion of terms.
So, while I'm thinking of more ideas for the Saucerwatch thread, here's another one: What other theories can we come up with that explain the GOO in completely non-Lovecraftian ways? These ideas can be used to provide GMs with heretical universes in which HPL was a crackpot, or they can be red herrings to screw up the players—or both! We've already had quite a few on the list, but let's focus on this and turn it into a resource thread for the Ice Cave.
Date: Sun, 2 May 1999 14:59:52 -0400
From: Graeme Price
Well, I would suggest that the Lovecraft books do in fact exist,
I have always taken a different line in my games and ruled that fiction describing the mythos doesn't exist in the game world. Now I know that others have different opinions, but there is a rationale behind it. I can sum it up in one word:
Nothing makes a player quite as happy/freaked out/scared shitless as when a keeper says "Does the library use roll succed. How much by? OK, you can tick it. You are rummaging around in the dusty stacks of the Miskatonic library when you pull down a copy of a book on witchcraft, and accidentally dislodge an envelope tucked into the shelf next to it. Inside the envelope is a yellowed manuscript… it is typewritten on a single side of good quality, but ageing paper. The text, however, looks a lot like [reaches into bag, pulls out copy of the Shadow Over Innsmouth, slams it on the desk with a resounding THUNK!] this."
I've done it. It's fun. Of course, you need to be familiar with the stories themselves, and be prepared for investigators going off on complete wild goose chases, but given sufficient motivation, hints, clues, and deranged cultist hit men to push them back on track it makes for fun gaming. It also helps to have players who haven't read all the stories…. but even the most hardened HPL fanatic can be dealt with using a little cunning. I like to put in blatent red herrings that could cause embarrasment/general non-serious grief if HPL fans try to use non-game information inappropriately (example : Party goes into local resturant, waiter comes over and announces "Hi, I'm Dave Whately and I'll be serving you this evening. Our specials today are…" - of course, one day I'll use that steakhouse-run-by-ghouls scenario I've been working on… and Then They'll Be Sorry! Mwahahahaha!!).
Sorry. The old Megalomania is playing up again.
Date: Sun, 02 May 1999 21:41:46 +0200
From: Davide Mana
Graeme demonstrated that there are more uses to HPL than the ones outlined in the back of the gentleman's books when he wrote
I did it only once with some success.
Normally the reaction is "You wanna me to read that?! What then, write a paper on it?"
[standard answer: "A lot of good it would make you"]
But that time…
Using HPL's "The Temple".
Placed a copy of the story - printed on old paper with a handwriting font - inside an old bottle crusted with sand.
Spot hidden roll.
Player makes it.
"You just found this".
Then they started discussing the best way to break the bottle…
Then they actually fought (verbally) to decide who was supposed to take the thing home and read it.
One of those little moments that make a keeper proud, I guess.