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Pulp Fantasy and Next Campaign

July 23, 2014

During the last couple of months, I’ve been seeking out and reading a lot of the old ‘pulp’ authors. While the works of Lovecraft and Howard have always been easy to find (at least since the 1970s), the works of authors like Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany have always been difficult or expensive to acquire. However, with the advent of EPUBS, the collected works of both these authors are now available for a couple of dollars. I’ve been enjoying a lot of these works. I’ve always been a fan of Clark Ashton Smith and believe him to be as talented as either Howard or Lovecraft. Dunsany is a bit more of an acquired taste; I read a couple of Dunsany’s story collections back in the 1980s but I found them to be dull at the time. This time around I got a better appreciation for his style.

These works have gotten me in the mood for something different as far as rpgs are concerned. I still want to run a fantasy campaign with a good bit of dungeon crawling, but I’m looking for less Tolkien, more Lovecraft and Smith. (Not that I have anything against Tolkien!) Unlike my prior campaigns which I ran in a world I created, I think my next campaign will take place in a version of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. While that might sound like a fantasy campaign of eldritch alien horror, that’s not the direction I’m interested in going. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands stories are much lighter in tone than his other works as he based their style and mood on the ‘dream like’ tales of Lord Dunsany.

So what am I looking for? I think I’d like to run a fantasy campaign with a Victorian or Edwardian vibe. Characters will still be searching ruins and tombs for treasure and artifacts but they might be sponsored by the Dreamlands’ equivalent of the National Geographic Society or the Royal Geographical Society.  Characters will have access to firearms but nothing more sophisticated than flintlocks. Instead of characters interacting and fighting with the more traditional monsters like Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, and Dragons, they may find themselves up against Lunabestia (Moon Beasts) and their Lengite servants. Or they might encounter Serpent Folk in ancient ruins or stumble upon Deep Ones kidnapping fisher-folk as sacrifices to their dark god, Dagon. I’ll be talking more about this over the next couple of days.

Here’s what I thought some of the character backgrounds might be like.


(All illustrations are from character art I found on the Internet and including: concept art from the game, Assassin’s Creed, concept art from Dr. Who(?), as well as art from Paizo.)



4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2014 7:25 am

    Wow! I would not have guessed that was the direction you were going to go. The Victorian/Edwardian vibe, yes, the Lovecraft vibe no. Well, actually, I didn’t think you were even going to go with fantasy!

    Cool! Sign me up.

    • July 24, 2014 2:54 pm

      Well, actually, I didn’t think you were even going to go with fantasy!

      Well, as you know, I’m a complete ferret so that may change. I’m still interested in running ‘Achtung Cthulhu!’ or something science fiction related.

  2. July 24, 2014 10:43 am

    Sounds good to me! So what system are you thinking about using?

    • July 24, 2014 3:01 pm

      We’ll talk about this at Gen Con. I want to get everyone’s input on a number of issues before the next campaign.

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