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Darius West

Call of C'thulhu in Stalin's Russia

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On 3/9/2020 at 8:22 AM, Ali the Helering said:

The 'Garfield minus Garfield' approach is very interesting, indeed. It can be used within a great many different genres as an analytical tool to tell us a  great deal about the author, although perhaps little else. 

I can see what you mean vis literary criticism.  It is very existential.

Consider though, running a CoC game where the BBEGod is entirely imaginary, and the magic only seems to work due to confirmation bias, and the players never actually see any monsters, they just get creeped out by the implication that they are there... but there are actually C'thulhu worshippers, and they are insane.  It would be a very odd police procedural indeed.  I'm sure many regular CoC players would find it completely baffling.  Nevertheless it is really a bit more of an experiment than a campaign idea.

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2 hours ago, Darius West said:

I can see what you mean vis literary criticism.  It is very existential.

Consider though, running a CoC game where the BBEGod is entirely imaginary, and the magic only seems to work due to confirmation bias, and the players never actually see any monsters, they just get creeped out by the implication that they are there... but there are actually C'thulhu worshippers, and they are insane.  It would be a very odd police procedural indeed.  I'm sure many regular CoC players would find it completely baffling.  Nevertheless it is really a bit more of an experiment than a campaign idea.

A great deal of fun to play, though 

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On 2/24/2020 at 5:30 AM, Darius West said:

That is a very pulp take on the setting, and is a bit like making the Nazis all involved in the mythos.  Idk if it actually makes the story better.  One of the main adversaries in any CoC game is the fact that very few people in authority understand that the mythos is real, and consequently the players have to come up with plausible explanations for terrible things that happened that will satisfy the local police etc.  Scale this up in Soviet Russia, where your actions are scrutinized more harshly unless you are some sort of "party darling" who can do no wrong in the eyes of Stalin and Beria.  If you blew up a coal mine outside of Magentogorsk you had better get your stories straight:

(a) We blew it up to stop the Fungi from Yuggoth= State facility for the insane, and sleeping in your own feces.

(b) We blew it up to stop dangerous counter-revolutionary activities= Gulag or firing squad for you. You are counter-revolutionary saboteurs.

(c) It had nothing to do with us.  I had a smoke with a guy at the Dept of Energy, and he told me  that they are using the mine to store nuclear materials long term. = Just right.

There is a tendency, given the threat of the mythos, to think that it needs to be involved in human politics and can be used as an explanation for human evils.  In a way this is something of a cop-out.  Not only does it dehumanize human evils, but it also sort of lets these acts off the hook, because "the mythos dun it".  I think it adds something to a game when players are forced to come to terms with what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil.  Part of the real horror is when your players have to start making very uncomfortable moral choices to survive in a world where bad people are in charge.

I mean, it is great to have the potential for the mythos to be infiltrating the Party, but to have a top-down approach where it is all Stalin's fault is fine if you are aiming for a pulp plot, and the notion of getting involved in an aerial chase where Stalin is firing a KSVK 12.7 at the party from the door of an Antonov A-7 is amusing, but it isn't really horror.  The fact is that the Communist party was segmented into thousands of branches with millions of members, and many of them lived in out of the way places, barely on the rail line, where they lived in modernist buildings overlooking the endless taiga, and oversaw a ball-bearing factory or some such.  This is where the mythos would take hold imo.  If it isn't stopped on the small scale, it grows, and it's all the PC's fault.  Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to horror.

So, in essence, one of those plots would be great, but having all of them piled in on top of each other would be overkill I think.  I am not dismissing any of the ideas, just thinking that toning it down a bit might make for a better setting horror-wise, and suspension-of-disbelief-wise.

If you want some real pulpy Russians go no further than the Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 games. 

 

On 2/24/2020 at 5:30 AM, Darius West said:

One of the main adversaries in any CoC game is the fact that very few people in authority understand that the mythos is real, and consequently the players have to come up with plausible explanations for terrible things that happened that will satisfy the local police etc.  Scale this up in Soviet Russia, where your actions are scrutinized more harshly unless you are some sort of "party darling" who can do no wrong in the eyes of Stalin and Beria.  If you blew up a coal mine outside of Magentogorsk you had better get your stories straight:

(a) We blew it up to stop the Fungi from Yuggoth= State facility for the insane, and sleeping in your own feces.

(b) We blew it up to stop dangerous counter-revolutionary activities= Gulag or firing squad for you. You are counter-revolutionary saboteurs.

(c) It had nothing to do with us.  I had a smoke with a guy at the Dept of Energy, and he told me  that they are using the mine to store nuclear materials long term. = Just right.

However, while the PCs would be under heaver scrutany from the party, it would also be very hard to question them should they claim to be from the party. Boris the woodsman knows not to ask questions when people claiming to be with the KGB are doing strange things, even lesser party members would have to let it go if they don't want to get in hot water with the higher ups.

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For me, I never liked making the Mythos and world governments too heavily involved, if only because even the meanest leaders when confronted with it would go "Woah, hold on now." Big reason I don't like some pulpier stories having Nazis and/or Soviets all involved and working with Mythos entities.

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