I finished writing a novel recently (I’ll talk about that process in a different post, keep your pants on), but as much as I would like to dive right back into the world of prose for my next project, something has seized my attention with incredible—one might even say brutal—force.
That thing is Horror on the Orient Express, a positively monolithic campaign scenario for the tabletop role-playing game Call of Cthulhu.
One of the things you will learn about me over time is that I am a HUGE fan of HP Lovecraft. He was a wordy sonofabitch, and a racist one too (a much worse crime, by any measure). But I’ll be damned if his contributions to the corpus of horror literature don’t shine brighter than just about anyone else’s.
Or it may be more accurate to say that the aforementioned contributions gleam dully, like the pale, bloated flesh of a freshly-dredged drowning victim. I expect that Lovecraft himself would prefer that description.
ANYWAY, the really exciting thing is that, with the Call of Cthulhu RPG, you can have all the wonderful weirdness of Lovecraft’s horror with a minimum of institutionalized racism and sexism. My players will, unfortunately, still have to deal with their storyteller being a wordy sonofabitch. Because by God, monsters will be rugose and they will ululate, and if they do not then I will have failed in my duty.
I’ve played Call of Cthulhu a few other times before, and I’ve loved it every time, whether I was running the game or role-playing a doomed investigator. So I am naturally incredibly excited to be at the tiller of another game, especially a campaign with such a long and storied history as Horror on the Orient Express. The version I’ll be running will actually be an updated version of the original Horror, which was released in 1991 to critical acclaim and awards for best RPG adventure and graphic presentation. This fresh Horror from 2014 is beefier, including additional adventures and even more handouts and feelies for the players.
HotOE, as I will now abbreviate it, is a CoC campaign that begins on January 1, 1923, and which spans the breadth of Europe before all 19 separate adventures contained therein have run their course. The information for the adventure scenarios spans multiple textbook-sized paperback volumes, and two entire books in the box set are dedicated specifically to the amenities and staff of the Simplon-Orient Express itself.
In short, the campaign is gonna be LEGENDARY.
Now, to the point of all this: I feel like it would be an abject injustice to not record this game for posterity.
I believe this mostly because I like hearing myself talk, but also because my players are incredible human beings and their characters’ struggles against the dark forces troubling Europe should be suitably cataloged.
Podcasts of HotOE have, of course, been done before. The best-known is the one produced by Yog-Sothoth.com, which is so well-regarded that player characters from it have been immortalized in this new Horror as NPCs. But I believe every group of players has something new to offer, including mine.
With this having been said, I shall upload an audio recording of each evening of frightful adventure as soon as I am able to do so, along with written (non-spoiler!) commentary. That way, should my players want to do so, they can read my thoughts on each adventure after the fact without running the risk of learning things they oughtn’t.
Speaking of players, I would love to introduce the actors in this grim drama. In no particular order, they are:
- Sarah (@sjhartsfield)
- Alexis (@LexSelzler)
- Marisa (marisamohi.com, @GentleMarisa)
- Amanda (amandastonebarger.com, @stonebarky)
- Matt (@bishop186)
And, of course, I will be both villain and storyteller as your humble Keeper of Arcane Lore (CoC‘s fanciful title for the GM).
Pack your bags, everybody. This is gonna be, as the Orient Express so gladly proclaims, un voyage inoubliable.
Which I’m pretty sure is Fraunch for one helluva ride.