20 August 2012

Happy 122 H. P. L.

A rather cool portrait of old H. P. L. by the artist Matt Buck:

Lots of other great Lovecraftian pictures here!

(Hat tip: M. Knapp)

15 August 2012

Cthulhu Canada: Mr. Corbitt

June 1923 Toronto

Still shaken by the terrible events of May (as recounted in ‘The Edge of Darkness’), Prof. Nigel Blackthorne visits his friend Dr. Pierre Rioux’s home on Palmerstone Avenue (Toronto) for some food and drinks.  After dinner, as dusk turns into night, they spy Pierre’s neighbour, Mr. Corbitt, returning home with two large sacks.  Out of one sack falls an object that Pierre believes to be a limp human arm!

Alarmed, but without sufficient grounds to involve the police, the two friends spend several days trying to learn more about the enigmatic Mr. Corbitt.  They learn that Corbitt’s father died while on a trip to India with him fourteen years ago.  Moreover, his wife had died in childbirth, along with his son, a dozen years ago.  They also learn that Corbitt is an importer of exotic goods from the far reaches of the globe, and in particular South and East Asia.

Eventually, Pierre meets with Corbitt at his house, pretending to be interested in employing Corbitt’s services in order to import certain exotic artifacts from the Orient.  While Pierre distracts Corbitt, Nigel investigates the greenhouse at the back of the property, wherein he discovers plants with vile toxins, and, quite shockingly, an entirely alien plant!  Nigel also absconds with a vial containing a strange compound, which later is identified as ‘soma,’ a substance used by Indian cultists.

Fortunately for the investigators, Corbitt leaves Toronto for several days on business.  Becoming increasingly frightened, the two friends purchase gas masks and handguns.  Pierre and Nigel then break into Corbitt’s greenhouse.  Protected against the spores from the alien plant by their gas masks, they collect various samples.

The investigators then enter the house itself.  Therein they discover Corbitt’s journal, which describes his terrible investigations into forbidden knowledge and black sorcery. It seems that the businessman had become a follower of an Indian demon named ‘Ramasekva,’ which forced Corbitt to allow it to impregnate his wife.  One of the demon’s ‘sons’ lives to this day!

They subsequently kill one of Corbitt’s horrible ‘experiments,’ as well as the terrifying ‘son’ of Ramasekva, referred to by Corbitt in his journal as the ‘Man-Bagari.’  To the creature’s spherical, pustular body had been appended the pale, quivering limbs of numerous slain children.  Disgusted, and with their sanity somewhat shaken, the two friends flee the house.

[The Man-Bagari]

Mr. Cobitt returns two days later.  Upon discovering his slain ‘child,’ he sets his house on fire and kills himself with a shotgun.  All evidence of his foul activities blessedly is destroyed by the subsequent conflagration.

Finally, Pierre and Nigel study the text of eldritch lore that they had acquired during their exploration of Corbitt’s house – the blasphemous grimoire True Magick by Theophilus Wenn – from which they learn certain terrible things…

14 August 2012

OSR Con II Report

I made it to OSR Con II last Saturday.  

In the morning I played in Lawrence Whitaker’s RuneQuest 6 game.  It was great to have Lawrence as a GM again, an experience I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy since the conclusion of our Young Kingdoms campaign almost a year ago.  (Also at the session was Ken St. Andre, creator of Tunnels & Trolls and co-author of the original Stormbringer RPG.)

[Lawrence holds up his beautiful new baby.] 

After the game and a quick lunch, there was a panel discussion with such RPG luminaries as Ed Greenwood, Ken St. Andre, Lawrence Whitaker, and James Maliszewski (who has posted his own report of OSR Con II).  The discussion was enjoyable and interesting, but went on a bit long, eating into the time that had been allocated for the afternoon’s sessions.   

[The panel (left to right): James M., Lawrence W., Ed G., and Ken St.A.]

During the afternoon (and into the early evening) I ran a Call of Cthulhu game.  There were five players (including Lawrence, and fellow Call of Cthulhu enthusiast Marcus, a.k.a. ‘Nigel Blackthorne’), which is about my limit for a CoC game.  I ran the scenario ‘Ghost Light’ from Chaosium’s fine Terrors from Beyond book.  While I had hoped to prep an original scenario, limited time prevented me from doing so.  In any case, I picked ‘Ghost Light’ because it was nicely suited to a convention (‘one-shot’) game, and it worked out quite well, I think (well, except for the character who was turned into a puddle of fetid black goo!).

[Marcus explains how his character responds to the eldritch horror.]

Kudos to the organizer of OSR Con II, Chris Cunnington, for doing such a great job!  There are some pictures of the con at Chris’s blog here. Kiltedyaksman also has a report at his Discourse and Dragons blog.

I very much hope to attend again next year!

(The above pictures shamelessly stolen from here.)

08 August 2012


Found at the Somerset House in London:

Yours truly in front of Poseidon: 

A cool grotto in the Parc des Buttes Chaumont (within the 19th arrondissement of Paris):

04 August 2012

RuneQuest 6 Now Available

RuneQuest 6 has been available for over a month now, actually, but I’ve only recently started posting again, so apologies for being late.

Until 2012 August 22, you can obtain the book and pdf together for 50 USD!  Just go here.  (After August 22, the price increases to 62 USD.)

Here is a video preview of the book.

The free Game Master’s Pack and Character Sheet are available for download here.

Plus some reviews and first impressions:

A batch of DriveThruRPG opinions

RPGnet review

Sorcerer Under Mountain

03 August 2012

The Whisperer in the Darkness film

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's production of The Whisperer in the Darkness is Salon's 'pick of the week'.

I purchased and watched The Whisperer in the Darkness a few months ago.  Overall, I quite liked it.  But it definitely was not in the same league, in my judgement, as the HPLHS's production of The Call of Cthulhu.  The final, 'action-filled' act of the 'Whisperer' film is entirely new, whereas 'Cthulhu' cleaves loyally to the original tale.

I can understand why the film-makers wanted more 'action' than was provided by Lovecraft's original story.  But if this is so, it seems that there are a number of other more appropriate Lovecraft tales, The Shadow Over Innsmouth to name just one.

Nonetheless, the film puts to shame 98% of Hollywood 'horror' films.  I would recommend it to any fan of the Cthulhu Mythos, albeit with a warning to expect some significant differences from the original story.

01 August 2012

More on The Hobbit Trilogy

Since we now know that Jackson is making The Hobbit into a trilogy of films, the obvious question to be asked is: what material from the appendices from The Lord of the Rings will be added to the original children's tale?  And (more worryingly) what, if any, non-Tolkien material will be added?

There is a pretty good summary of likely additions here.  For the most part, they sound just dandy to me -- especially the stuff on the White Council and the Battle of Dol Guldur.  And I am ecstatic to learn that Christopher Lee is back as Saruman!  (Thank you, Eru!) However,  I'm not keen -- at all --- on the 'New Characters'.

Overall, though, I'm excited...

OpenQuest 2nd Edition

Newt Newport of d101 Games is working on OpenQuest 2, and has set up an indiegogo site in order to fund the project.  More information on OQ2 can be found there.  The proposed changes strike me as all quite good, and I am looking forward to owning, at last, a hardcover version of the game.

I just donated at the 'Hero' level, and am delighted to report that my contribution pushed the project over the $1000 threshold!  So it looks like OQ2 will be happening.  Everything else is gravy.

Hobbit News and Tolkien Interview

Peter Jackson is extending his forthcoming two Hobbit films into a trilogy.  There seems to be some ambivalence about this move. 

Personally, I’m excited.  Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings films certainly weren’t perfect: many, but not all, of the deviations from Tolkien’s story grated on my nerves.  (I have no problem – at all – with the removal of Tom Bombadil.  And including the ‘Scouring of the Shire’ would have stretched things out too much for most viewers.  But the other changes were unfortunate.)  

The films were far, far better than I had expected (and feared) them to be.  Once I separated them firmly in my mind from the novels, I enjoyed them quite a bit, especially the ‘Director’s Cut’ versions.  The casting, for the most part, was inspired.  And they simply were beautiful to behold.

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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).