Well I’ve been pondering how to start up a good De Profundis (available from circle7 here), the letter-writing game of personal subtle psychodrama, and after a few attempts it hit me that I should just pitch it at LURPs, so heres a first draft, so looking for feedback on my pitch before I stick it on the LURPs forum.
De Profundis – Letters from the Abyss
Ghosts of the Lune
I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey towards the heart of mystery and mythology. There is a game that’s widely talked about and rarely played, that game is De Profundis – Letters from the Abyss, a freeform correspondence horror RPG. My aim is to start up a modern day game set in Lancaster (at least initially) in which the players will be playing characters associated with the town. These can be students (either fictional versions of themselves or entirely fictional characters) and staff from the University or those who live and work in town.
This review gives quite a good overview of the game, which is available from circle7 here both as paper and PDF.
The goal of the game is to establish a good mythos flavoured atmosphere. The setting will be Lancaster now so starting to enter the autumnal rainy season, the days drawing in, new students arriving, strange things slowly starting. So you may be a physicist plumbing the strange associations between maths and folklore or a musical student who understands the associations between music and the mythos, or an avid dreamer in search of strange cities or an artist with unusual links to your macabre subjects, someone investigating their family history, someone corresponding with a person involved in horrid alien threat or anything else you can dream up (even mysterious vagrants can get mail access at the library in town). What I’m aiming to establish is much like the original paper-letter based version, that you set aside a little time to get into character, open up your mail and interact with all the other strange people, trading myths and rumours and trying to make sense of what’s going on.
The theme that’s being aimed for in this game is broadly speaking “cthulhu mythos”, which means the body of horror work by H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert W. Chambers and all the way down to modern day works like Charlie Stross’s Laundry series. Large collections of this work is available online (see for example Wikisource: H.P. Lovecraft) the primary themes of which are (off the top of my head) cosmic horror, body horror, alienation, dreams, alien corruption of the self, magic and alien technology and the merger of history/mythology and the inhuman/alien. If you want to mix in more modern sources (e.g. the urban horror of Kult, Hellraiser, Slender Man, etc) feel free, but keep in mind the stark uncaring nature of the Universe.
The background will be that Dr. Jasper K. Penwortham (Religious Studies department, Lancaster University) has just published his substantial work: “Ghosts of the Lune: Some Observations On the Folklore of the Lower Lune Valley and Surroundings, 1847 – 2009” and will be giving a public reading.
Additionally its the autumn, the winds and rain are coming in more regularly over the bay and another batch of fresh students has just arrived to grace the halls and spine of that famous institution Lancaster University.
The mechanism of the game is to establish a circle of characters who will write to each other over email and discuss strange goings on in their lives and odd things they’ve noticed. There is no GM, although I aim to work as some kind of coordinator, helping people meet up and connect characters into the whole general mess.
Essentially its a freeform play by mail mythos RPG, so you will be sitting down in front of your email account in character and reading and writing email in character. The hope is that players will help each other with the goal of building something larger than the sum of its parts, of creating atmosphere and weaving together actual events and places on campus, in town and around the surrounding area to try and link the whole thing in, to discover the mythos in everyday life and give it that living vibrant horrible atmosphere :)
There is a ghosts-of-the-lune group to coordinate OOC and IC interaction (i.e. somewhere to post notices of in-game actions that will have an effect on town, like people putting up fliers or getting arrested) and for people to register as playing, to link them OOC with their characters, and also to say what their character is known for, and where their email address is published (i.e. plot hooks for how other people get in touch with them).
Also I ask that people please set up a fresh email account to send and receive mail from for their character to avoid confusion, and if people want to post the very occasional prop via physical mail then that would also be interesting. Please don’t just appear in game without letting everyone else know you’ll be participating, also please don’t mail people who aren’t playing from your IC account (unless maybe you’re trying to do some research and you’ve talked to them ahead of time) as I don’t want to be snarked at for causing people to get time wasted by a game their not in.
Please remember that while you may experience Azathoth descending to destroy the world and everything in it, since everyone else is likely to be alive then they may just think you’re a fruitloop whose hallucinating, however feel free to experience this if you want your character to burst, although I’m not sure how you’d send the email about it :) Please follow the normal rules of freeform gaming, you can’t enforce something on someone elses character, merely suggest what your own is doing, no bloody twinky powergaming.
In order to avoid people either going quiet or getting flooded I’m going to ask that the following minimums be respected:
Minimum: 1 email per week sent out
Maximum: 1 email sent to any character per day
Run time: During Michaelmas Term 2011 (at the end of which I guess it’ll naturally continue if the players are enjoying themselves)
Hows that sound? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
Should I try and start up some kind of overall theme or flavour? Or is that a good or bad idea?
(Edit Added a title (ta Jez :) to try and hook people in with some flavour of the local area, yes titling it after a supposed academic paper fits the theme
Edit 2: Posted! Ahoy!)