Tag Archives: mythos

She Who Walks In Shadow

The other thing I started reading this weekend was She Who Walks In Shadow, I’m only a few stories into it but it seemed to take a couple of stories to build itself up and find its feet, and now really interesting weird stuff is starting to emerge.

It’s been a while since I’ve read some genuinely creepy weird fiction and not all of it quite hits the mark but some of it is substantially atmosphere and disturbing stuff :)  Will try and post more details later :)

Monsieur et Madame de Carcosa

So this weekend I was part of the epic horror LARP of Lords & Ladies (Shunned House) which was all kinds of interesting, and so as usual I’m actually going to write at least a short blog piece about it.  Now originally I wasn’t going to be involved with this and was going to have like the world’s quietest weekend with everyone away, most of them LARPing my plan was to basically nest in bed with a pile of books and music, it was going to be awesome.

However a few weeks back I got approached with the offer of would I like to come NPC as they wanted a housekeeper NPC to basically do some light maid duties to make sure those didn’t eat up valuable Ref time (and avoid the magically appearing food problem) and kick start like one major plot point (alerting the players to Genevieve’s suicide).  Initially I was a bit torn between a quiet weekend in a run of busy ones, or going along for the fun, and I have to say that when I had the game pitched to me by two of the Refs the pitch was strong enough that I was like “sign me up right now”, it was a game I really wanted to see how it played out.

And I think it pretty much delivered on the Ref’s vision.  I quite liked the starkness of it all, the bleak and almost inevitable slide, into what the maid Helene Defour eventually characterised as actually being in hell, caused by what she thought of as wicked children meddling decadently in things they didn’t understand (I had a whole fantastic break down screaming speech kinda planned, but in the end her going numb and more and more broken seemed appropriate and I didn’t want to shoe horn in something that needed to feel genuine and responsive to the situation).

In structure the game was a pretty simple, pretty classic Big House Mythos LARP – and I frankly love those done right, it had that sense of the right time, the right people, the right atmosphere that gave everything a sort of lovely view of one version of the past, tinged by the kind of human doom, that meddling, that then leads people into the sight of strange events, in this case the sight of the King and Carcosa.  We had various well crafted relationships, lots of time for interpersonal relations, scheming between players, and a gentle slow build before things started getting weird in a heavy and hard to deny fashion.  I agree a little with some of the criticism of timing (perhaps the Revellers should have come earlier and stayed less time, perhaps the Byakhee should have come a little later) but I liked how events flowed into each other – for example there was already jazz swing dancing going on when the Revellers arrived to add their desperate horror to it :)  There was also some wonderful moments between PCs I was witness too (and tried to get the fuck out of the way for mostly) – Laurence talking to Harriet who was trying to convince him to go upstairs to Genevieve and him pleading not too as it was too emotionally hard (despite being a resident of Carcosa and having seen the future of the atrocities of humanity, he still couldn’t quite face everything he had done to his family), the plotting to get Harriet and Arthur married, Bertie and Milli’s scheming, Marie-Clare just utterly breaking after Charlie’s descent into madness and death from her start point of romantic scheming, Peter getting increasingly staunchly British while Dephine got increasingly bitchy, Sylvester desperately seeking to thumb his nose at something as powerful as the King even at the risk of all kinds of horror, and of course Amos’s fixed rictus grin as he tried taking on all the family trauma (sisters death, betrayal by his brother, sham marriage being openly broken down, faced with an eternity of despair and his reaction to just say fuck it and just give it a shot and be the damn host).

So yeah, needless to say I had a good time, I was lightly directed for what to do and mostly left to my own devices with a few guiding principals (being a polite, reserved, character who keeps in the background and has a professional/class based distance from her employers and guests, but occasionally managing to sneak in a little comment or smile or something to connect with people) so I had fun just sort of making things up and rolling with how players wanted to interact with me, I removed myself from a couple of earlier situations where I could have confirmed that the play had already been performed (kinda – I mean I wasn’t there) so as to keep the plot shape going in what I thought was the right direction, and I knew I was going to kill myself Saturday night so I had to time my eventual breakdown for then, so started degrading heavily from Laurence and Genevieve’s return from the dead (the suicide was already a shocker, and the Watcher figure over dinner didn’t help), but before then I had such fun being almost involved in the Harriet romance plot, of being scandalised by Charlie and the ladies, of many interactions with Harriet and Genevieve and getting the household roleplaying going :)

There were also achievements that the game managed to get a number of jump scares on me as an NPC, the dinnertime Watcher, the noise and suddenness of the Byakhee, and also Peter walking about in his theatre mask all shocked me, although I generally prefer getting shocked as an NPC, I think a lot of my barriers to shock and horror have gotten taken away the past few years so I’m still building them back up and NPCing is a safer space to do that in as I’m prepared and the character is not mine to build attachment too, but merely me acting as an extension of the plot and asking “what good does this action do to further the game for the players?”.

Anyway, the criticisms I have for the event are few, and I should probably list them somewhere, they’re mostly little things as I think the game did so much more right than it did wrong.  As an NPC I was kinda okay rolling through things without some stats (I mean my sanity was plot-dependant and nominal) but I could have done with some strength, and mostly I needed a printed copy of the briefing/character sheet I’d been emailed as I ended up having to quickly note things down off my phone into my notepad.  Likewise above points to consider with timings, I’m not sure either way.  The walk outside seemed to need a bit better planning (suggesting that outside and weather are things to pack for, also if the Refs had mentioned it and we’d checked the weather forecast I could have brought like half a dozen umbrellas), the tides impacted it and that should have been checked, the post event tidy up also needed some better structure (more teams on washing up detail, more collection/organisation/packing of props and kit, more lists of what went where, etc.etc.) but these are things that the Ref team I think will get better at in time.

Special super win however needs to go to the kitchen situation, which is mostly what I was involved in.  I got to serve out well cooked food that was done on time without fuss, the Ref doing the food was in control of the kitchen, and while I helped keep on top of the cleaning and organising when there was a rush on other refs and crew got easily recruited to fill in and keep stuff going when it needed a quick wash between courses.  This all meant I could be out dealing with serving at the table and keeping the guests happy which kept dinner times smooth and generated a certain atmosphere of class, the only suggestion I’d give is for the kitchen Ref to occasionally come out and survey the great reactions their creations got from the table :)

So yeah, I think this has rejuvenated my love of classic Big House early 20th Century Classic Mythos LARPs :)

Meta Call For Papers: How to make friends and horrify people

Okay so I threatened to write this post in the aftermath of … I think Haunted Hotel?  (Was it Nam?) but now I’m finally going to get around to it, or at least start it, so I’m writing this blog post in the hope of spurring some discussion for the structure of a Call For Papers (note for others, this is mostly getting discussed back and forth over on Facebook)

I had an idea to collect various articles from those of us who have been involved in reffing, propping, crewing, writing for and indeed playing LARP events designed to create horror, wonder, strangeness and otherness based out of the community in Lancaster.  Then wrap up said articles into a bigger document and do the whole printing on demand thing to get it out there as a useful collection of opinions for anyone who wants to think about making events like these happen.  However first off I wanted to discuss the meta aspect – how to structure the categories of articles at least a little bit – I figure if we’ve got some rough ideas for structure then that gives us areas to aim to fill with writing.

My initial structure looks something like this:

  1. Concepts (so coming up with ideas for concepts and hooks to hang events off, atmosphere, goal states: flavour and reactions you want to inspire and how to weave those into the base of the event, mixing in various bits of different bits of background, etc.etc.etc.)
  2. Logistics (Project Management – how to make things you know actually happen before its too late, how to structure reffing teams, deal with conflict, project management, time scales that kind of thing, how to coordinate communication, insurance, handling money, all that stuff you need in place before you can do anything thats sort of overarching for the whole thing)
  3. Locations (where to look, what sort of criteria, ideas on pricing, how to divide up spaces, uses of spaces, reusing spaces and associations, flow of people)
  4. Characters (how many, archetypes, writing timelines, sections out early, structure of info, communicating goals, mental history, aligning them with the event and predisposing them to react well to horror, background research, interrelations, double acts, teams, etc.etc.etc)
  5. Props (small, large, monsters, set pieces, players bringing props, written, recorded, sound tricks, weapons, how to add creepyness, etc.etc.etc.)
  6. Systems (types of system, what systems should fulfil for criteria, what inspires certain ideas behind systems, experimenting with systems, how to write up systems, how to give examples to players, what to do if systems go wrong)
  7. At the Event (set up, dividing space, crisis management, reffing on the day, inspiring desired reactions in players by ref interactions, positioning props, timing events to help create those experiences, crewing on the day, monster handling, emergency propping, what happens when characters die, players are ill, monsters don’t feel scary enough, players do something batshit that you don’t expect, building tension, things you need to know to scare the shit out of players, dread vs. terror, dealing with player conflict, delicious foods to make with nothing but a kettle)
  8. Post Event (debriefing players, debriefing crew, best ways to organise tear down of the set up, writing constructive feed back, receiving feed back, planning for next time and reuse of characters, elements, props)

So I guess I must have missed a few things, or maybe the structures breaking things up in the wrong places, any more suggestions on how to break things up and move them around?  Do I even need this many categories of idea?  Should I make it more general of Pre-event/Event/Post-Event?

Mythos links

Well I was talking to someone about it, but it may help many people. If your involved in the Cthulhu Mythos, either in games or in using its flavour for other work then it helps to read the stories to get the atmosphere. Most of Lovecraft’s work is public domain now, as is some of Clark Ashton Smiths and Chambers.

Anyway heres a link to a post I made a while back with a suggested order for a reading list of stuff thats available in full, online.


Another giant MLP blob, including interesting psychological affects

Well heres my weekly round up of interesting links, most interesting at the bottom.

First off Professor Calamity, some sort of crazed anarchist steampunk, is being accused of directing the G20 protestors over Twitter. Cue massive house raid by armed police.

Secondly WikiDumper is still running, it selects the best bits of deleted articles from Wikipedia and posts them… some of which are surreal.

Amy Andre author of the Bi Health Guide asserts that biphobia causes Bisexuals to have the worst health of all LGBT people

“out a group of 100 stigmatized identity categories, bisexuals are second only to IV drug users in level of stigma. That means the average person would rather hang out with almost anyone except a bisexual person – unless they have to choose between a bisexual person and an IVDU. (This group of 100 categories includes gay and lesbian, by the way.) That biphobia, that stigma against bisexuals, has very real health consequences.”

Q & A with Bisexual Activist Amy Andre, on Glaadblog

But barring all that, the most interesting thing I’ve seen lately is the BPS (British Pyschological Society) asked 20 leading researchers what was the one nagging thing you still don’t understand about yourself. Some of the answers are fascinating.

“One nagging thing that I still don’t understand about myself is why I often succumb to well-documented psychological biases, even though I’m acutely aware of these biases”

David Buss

This is an affect I’ve noticed in myself, dispite knowing about psychological affects you can still be susceptable to them, as their a deep seated part of behaviour. I’ve found if you pay attention to yourself you can catch these reactions starting to form and do your best to disappate them as appropriate, or indeed not.

The strongest example of this is the recent Yellow Sign event which was almost a replica of the Prisoner/Guard study, whilst I knew that we’d start to bond as a group against The Other (the guards) and that once released there would be a great demand for venting and revenge, and I could see it building, it was fun to just let it happen, to let it run its course building up the pressure and letting it all get vented (mostly by shouting at Paul G to be honest) once we were freed.

Anyway, I now return you to your regularly scheduled internets.

MLP of the day, oh yeah and some nastiness

Yeah I know, at some point I’ll get around to writing big serious posts about whats going on with my life, but mostly I’ve just been engaging in bitter battles to the death with databases, solaris and my thesis. Anyway, MLP:

Senecal’s Lovecraftian Work
Charlie the Unicorn one, two

Also of interest to Cthuluoid types, Sergeant Francois Bertrand who from 1847 – 1849 was generally nasty with corpses. I first encountered information about in in a copy of a book about “Werwolves” (sic) that I flicked through in the Oxfam bookshop, the interesting part was him discussing how afterwards he would enter a dreamlike state of mental (and perhaps physical) metamorphosis. Sadly I can’t find this last point anywhere else, its interesting however and I’m wondering if its part of the source of Lovecraft’s Ghoul mythos.

For players of Arkham Horror

The origins behind Monterey Jack.

Monty found a copy of the Necronomicon and learned his first spell! “Resurrection” it was, and how useful that proved to be. When we got to the basement of the lodge, and found dozens of jars of “Essential Saltes” Monterey Jack was the only one who had the ability to pour them all out into a pile and cast the spell on the whole mess.

That was Monty’s first trip to the lunatic asylum. And I believe the last time he ever cast a spell.

Such a fine idea :)