I'm about halfway into S. T. Joshi's analysis of Cthulhu Mythos literature, The Rise and Fall of the Cthulhu Mythos.
So far Joshi has divided Lovecraft's mythology into two discrete phases.
In the early phase [1926-1930], Lovecraft's alien gods, occult books and overall oeuvre is essentially magical/supernatural. It was only later on [1931-1936] that he "de-mythologized" his mythology and dethroned Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth and their eldritch ilk to the status of extraterrestrial entities inhabiting a materialistic universe.
Joshi points out that much of the work written by HPL's followers under the Cthulhu Mythos canopy is lodged in a "First Phase" Lovecraft paradigm and laments that few Mythos authors manage to grasp the cosmic perspective of HPL's later work (perhaps best exhibited in At the Mountains of Madness, "The Shadow Out of Time" and "The Colour Out of Space").
Before reading Joshi's book I had never really made a clear distinction between these two versions of Lovecraft's mythology. Over time I guess I've synthesized HPL's work into a kind of psychic occultism wherein the trappings (Gods, Books, Places, etc.) of the Mythos refer to a super-reality that resembles the collective unconscious described by Carl Jung. In other words, Azathoth and the Great Old Ones exist at a magnitude infinitely higher than that of the mundane, so-called real world. They are lurking just beyond a flimsy veil that shields us from realities that would destroy our minds (and bodies in some cases). [Thomas Ligotti has done something similar in his fiction, endorsing the Lovecraftian notion that behind the screen of mundane existence is a deep, roiling madness that can infect, transmogrify and destroy us.]
Based on Frank Miller's 1986 Batman graphic novel, "...it's been a decade since Bruce Wayne hung up his cape, following most of the other superheroes who had been forced into retirement. Facing the downside of middle age, a restless Bruce Wayne pacifies his frustration with race cars and liquor -- but the bat still beckons as he watches his city fall prey to gangs of barbaric criminals known as The Mutants."
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I am sitting on a mental pile of unfinished projects that are slowly being demoted into false starts and will eventually collapse into mental/computer data-oblivion.
Several of these things are shared and/or open community projects. I am a worrier by persuasion and you have no idea how much thought-space is devoted to
"When are you going to break out the pipe and get back to work on that [insert working title] project? You are waay letting the People of the Interwebs down, bro."
Yes. Yes I am.
It's complicated and I have d6 excuses:
- Work is draining my life-force.
- I am on a gf regimen that includes lots of dinners, sex, and Beastmaster-watching. (As in the movie with Mark Singer.* NOT AN OBSCURE ALLUSION TO BESTIALITY, ALBERT.*) Actually ferrets are present for most of this.
- I try to have my son over on weekends b/c he goes to school where his mom lives.
- I am reading at least 12 novels/anthologies/non-fiction/magazines/pdfs/cbrs right now at random intervals.
- I'm fucking around with Adobe Photoshop M7 and can't be bothered apparently. (What a douche.)
- I am researching some bizarre bit of ephemera for unknown and possibly occult reasons.
And -- for the record -- these are the projects we would like to devote time to *FOR NOW*
1) XOTHIQUE RPG I'm ashamed that I've allowed this Clark Ashton Smith inspired setting book(s?) to wither for so long. I owe it to the netizenry to at least produce a modest booklet replete with weird artwork fo' free.
2) ALIEN TYPES A menagerie of space beings for Carcosa campaigns with supplementary material devoted to New Classes and Alien Logic Tables.
3) GYGAXIAN STAR WARS RPG [See blog sidebar] It needs to finish gestating and get out of my bloated brain fart organ-sacs. I seem to be blocked up with my approach to combat. Maybe I should just omit that and focus on rules for technological weapons and gear?
4) VANCIAN MIII A memory cell chart approach to a magic-user's mental storage. There are problems with the system as-is that have not been resolved.
5) REPUBLISHING/revising my QUANTIQUE setting.
MOEBIUS design for HE-MAN/MOTU [1986?]
Jack's rendition of Spider-Man leaves a bit to be desired IMHO. (He can't be good at everything, I guess.)
What sort of qualities do you think an RPG requires to be termed "Gygaxian"? Short of being penned by EGG himself, of course.
To my mind -- and I may be off here, so feel free to clue me in -- a Gygaxian game must feature these basic facets:
- A class-and-level system
- Experience points
- An emphasis on accumulating wealth and power