Kickstart the Month: Cthulhiana
Each month, the mild-mannered first Monday ducks into a broom closet and emerges as the mighty Kickstarter Monday, protector of my backlog of movies to be reviewed, defender of my blog running dry! This month: let's just begin to talk about some Cthulhu.
Lovecrafty things are in a renaissance right now, I think. I found my way in through the board game Arkham Horror - I originally bought it because one of my internet friends told me he and his friends liked to break it out when they got together, so I hoped if I bought it then maybe I would have friends too! Or something. It has a horrible and confusing rule book, which is a shame because it also has a million picky little rules, which is something I would eventually love about the game. Also, it somehow came to pass that just after buying Arkham Horror was the year I had friends. We played dozens of games of Arkham, and I couldn't believe my luck that I found people who were also into this weird hobby. That was a few years ago now, and none of them speak to me anymore, but I'm fairly sure it's unrelated to the game. And more to the point, it opened my eyes to a world of mythos-related merch.
Littlest Lovecraft: The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow over Innsmouth, the Horror Collection, and the Dreamlands Collection - an important fact to know about the actual Lovecraft stories is that they can be an oblique and difficult read. Some of the references or, ahem, ideas can be woefully out of date, some of it (sorry sorry, imo, of course) just bores you off the page with its embroidered phrasing. So here comes Tro Rex and Eyo Bella with their illustrated, rhyming (faux-)children's books out of Lovecraft's best-known work! Each of these (as well as the Call of Cthulhu, which I picked up after the original campaign) is a delightful retelling in a well-made book, and has been jammed full of extras and bonuses ranging from prints and coins and dice (that aren't so much to my interest, but I like the enthusiasm behind them) to a series of glass tumblers and a t-shirt I quite like. The Littlest Lovecraft team is Kickstarter at its best - bringing creative projects to life for the people who want them by funding artists who know what they're doing and by all accounts love doing it.
Shadow of the Elder Gods - Arkham Horror isn't just a game of a million rules, it's also a game of a million pieces. There are dozens of characters, several times as many enemies, multiple huge boards, tokens for money, health, sanity, whether or not you have the favor of the cat god Bast, and much more. I brought it in my luggage once to play with a friend in another city and we were taken with the idea of magnetic travel Arkham Horror that you can play on a plane. I backed Shadows of the Elder Gods because it kind of looked like a miniature Arkham. Unfortunately, it's a very confusing game that seems to require more time spent on the rules and youtube demos than actually playing each time we broke it out, and the upshot is that even when you get the hang of it, it's not a lot of fun. But it is small!
Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition - There's going to be a lot of cthulhu-gaming-related entries in the future of these posts, but they all have to start with this. Chaosium's enormous project to crowdfund the new version of their tabletop role-playing game is somehow the best and the worst project. The most and the least successful. At the outset, the plan was to produce a new rulebook, and a new handbook for players. And then the stretch goals started. Improvements to the books, various editions of the books, additional books, tchotchkes, pencils, t-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, audio cds, decks of cards, boxed sets of previous projects, posters, just so much stuff. It was an exciting project to watch complete as more and more stuff got thrown in. I'm not sure the substantial amount of money I pledged covered shipping it all to me, let alone designing and producing it. In the end (I'm pretty sure it's all finally over) it would nearly break Chaosium, which would change owners before beginning to deliver the goods years after their original estimate. Many of the extra bonus items would be cancelled, but nearly a foot of my bookcase would be filled by about ten books plus the enormous box set of Horror on the Orient Express. It's amazing. I've only managed to get a half-dozen game sessions together so far, but they've been excellent and it's a fond dream to play through the rest. I might just have to take a chance on this having friends thing again some day.