October-ganza Day 26: Lovecraft Country Before ‘Arkham Unveiled’, part 21
October 26, 2015 by Bret Kramer (aka WinstonP)
“Abduction in Arkham” (Dagon #6 – 1985): Dagon’s other entry set in Lovecraft Country, again written by editor Carl T. Ford. The scenario is inspired by Lovecraft’s “The Dreams in the Witch-house” but takes a number of liberties (i.e. makes some notable factual errors) – the Witch-house of the story was Mason’s home, not the jail from which she escaped (that as the gaol in Salem); the ‘Witch-house’ was demolished in December of 1931; the ‘Court of Oyer and Terminer’ was a type of legal preceding, not a building, etc.
The scenario involves the hunt for a missing child, whom it is revealed was kidnapped by a descendant of Keziah Mason who hopes to bring forth the ancient witch from another dimension (one wonders how closely the source story was read…) with the help of Nyarlathotep, who of course demands a blood sacrifice. There is a map of the with-house… which is also in a different place than described in the story… Perhaps I should move along to another scenario?
Alone Against the Dark (1985): Another solo scenario, this scenario is set in 1931 and begins its action in Arkham, which serves primarily for research and supply – all the dangers lie elsewhere for once. It was written by Matthew J. Costello, who wrote “The Thing in the Darkness” mentioned previously. This is yet another scenario I do not have a copy of nor have I been able to read the text anywhere, but according to the notes I’ve been very kindly sent, there’s not much in the way of Arkham or Lovecraft Country content, beyond a few comments about the Miskatonic University library and related spots.
“The Heart of the Dark” (White Dwarf #74 – 1986): Another rarity, at least for me, is this White Dwarf scenario from the time before White Dwarf solely became a sales catalog for Warhammer miniatures combat bric-a-brac. Another scenario that starts in Arkham and moves elsewhere, it too gives you the chance to meet Nyarlathotep. I wonder if he’s got a room at the hotel there? The bulk of the scenario takes place in Bavaria, London, and Romania, all traditional spots for Call of Cthulhu scenario. (Anyone know why Morticia Addams appears on the cover of this issue of White Dwarf?)
Spirits Over Arkham (1987): Privately published (without a license from Chaosium) by author Terry White, this was one of a trio of scenarios he released on his own initiative at shops around London. The scenario is nominally set in Arkham, but does not make much use of the place as a specific and unique location – the resolution is set in an improbable spot east of Arkham, where Kingsport Head should be. The plot is a standard affair of evil occultist wrongdoing and dark rites in basements. It is an interesting bit of ephemera and, happily, the curious can download a copy from Yog-sothoth.com should they want to take a look.
“The Pale God” (The Great Old Ones – 1989): Kevin Ross’ first Lovecraft Country contribution, and, of all the scenarios we’ve discussed, it actually makes use of Arkham as a location, albeit one that again is just where the scenario begins. Independence Square, a location not based on Lovecraft’s Arkham map but which appears in Arkham Unveiled, appears at the scenario start. This makes me wonder how far along in the process of that book’s development was by the point when this scenario was published.
Arkham Unveiled was published in 1990, considering the vagaries of the publication cycle these two scenarios below were likely produced without reference to that book. It is possible that scenarios written in 1991 or even later might be have written without reference to Arkham Unveiled, but I am going to assume that anything later at least could have been influenced by that work’s interpretations.
- “The Devourer” (Lurking Fears – 1990): A scenario set in Arkham involving a malign geode and owing more than a little to The Thing, this scenario is mostly set outside of Arkham, though there is a mostly research related phase set in town and especially at Miskatonic University. Curiously the scenario recommends the Keeper consult Chaosium’s “Miskatonic University Sourcebook“; as far as I know the earliest version of that book was published in 1995!
- “The Horror Out of Partridgeville” (Challenge #46 – 1990): Our last entry was inspired by (read as copies) Frank Belknap Long’s story “The Space Eaters”. Investigators look into the death of a friend who lives in the neighboring town of Partridgeville. As that town was likely a stand-in for Providence on Long’s part – and has never been made part of Lovecraft Country by other writers before or since, I think we can confidently assume that the author did not consult Arkham Unveiled.
A small correction to “The Heart of the Dark” description is in order, the scenario begins in London, Arkham is the second stop on the journey.