The Call of Chicago: Bursting, Diffracting, Deepening

Right at this moment, I am developing three books to still the ominous caws of the Pelgrane: Double Tap, Mythos Expeditions, and the 13th Age Bestiary. I am in the process of building the unredacted edition of Dracula that will become the core of the Dracula Dossier. (I just got ahold of a copy of Bram Stoker’s original notes for the novel. Or rather, of the notes that Stoker forged on Special Branch orders to cover up his use of War Office Intelligence Division files.) But those books are a little bit down the road, or in the case of the Dracula Dossier, a lot down the road. That means you can’t read them yet. (Well, that’s not quite true. At least some of the Mythos Expeditions should be up for playtest as we speak, including mine.) What, Simon asked me in his bonhomous publishorial way, can we provide to those fans who demand more Kenneth Hite material sooner? Then he repeated the question with an air of indefinable menace. Kind of James Mason as Bertie Wooster, if you can imagine such a thing. He’s been reading Chesterton, I tell you.

The answer I babbled out resolved itself into: something short. A burst of Hite goodness that you can imbibe or not as you see fit, secure in the knowledge that there’s another one coming down the pike in a month at a reasonable price. I’ll be putting about 4,000 words worth of fun together every month — maybe an optional rules system (I’ve been noodling with some martial arts notions currently), maybe a longish DramaSystem Series Pitch (or expansion material for Moscow Station), maybe a “ripped from the headlines” mini-scenario (assuming I can figure out how to provide one in under half the length of a normal investigation), maybe a campaign frame or a mini-setting (which I know is possible, as I provide one in that same length bimonthly for the Swedish game magazine Fenix), maybe an extended riff on some worthy intelligence organization or serial killer or astrophysical anomaly. Leave requests in the comments, and I shall take them most indubitably under advisement.

Or maybe I’ll diffract a monster.

A very gratifying plurality of reviewers singled out my “Gods and Titans” section of Trail of Cthulhu for their especial praise. Since that was almost the only thing in the book that was all mine instead of a thinly veiled ripoff of Sandy Petersen or Robin Laws, I appreciated such praise more than normally. (Although I should mention that I got some of the “diffracted view” idea from Monte Cook and Wolfgang Baur’s Dark*Matter, and some from the Dying Earth RPG.) That section, you may recall, aimed to present contradictory, or at least multiple, views of the various Lovecraftian deities, to restore their mystery and to restore Lovecraft’s original aims of self-contradiction (to better model actual mythologies) and undefinition (to better allow his mythology to serve whatever dramatic purpose it needed to at the moment). Considerations of space prevented me from doing the same with the various tomes or metaphysics (although I got a little of the latter in in Rough Magicks), but I really regretted not being able to provide that kind of look at the monsters. After all, players are far less likely to see a Great Old One multiple times — but Investigators from Project Covenant, for example, could potentially run into Deep Ones on every single mission.

So within that series of burst transmissions, we plan to release a sub-series of Mythos creature writeups: alternate origins, views, powers, and schemes for all our rugose favorites. Think of it as adding the modular quality of Night’s Black Agents vampire designs into Trail of Cthulhu alien species writeups. Like the Gods and Titans material from Trail, I’ll base these diffracted monster mashups on Lovecraft, on his successors’ work, on things that have wandered into gameplay, and on my own perfervid imagination. Plus some scenario seeds, and guides to uncovering that creature’s trail through human myth: the “mi-go” after all, is one of the names of the Abominable Snowman. Another example: the Deep Ones are the obvious source of the mermaid legend, as well as the kappa of Japan and the euphoniously named kullulû of Babylonian lore. Each writeup will provide an expanded “Investigation” section, too, more than just the three clues each monster got in the corebook, I’m aiming to trigger (almost) all the abilities in  every creature feature.

We’re calling this series within a series Hideous Creatures, and the first release — Hideous Creatures: Deep Ones — should be up for purchase Real Soon Now. Maybe even Real Now Now, I’m not sure. Like the Deep Ones, it depends on when, and where, you look at it. Caution: monsters behind you are much closer than they appear.


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