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Resources and Brainstorming for a Seventies Campaign


MattyHelms

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At my next biweekly game gathering, I was planning on pitching A Time to Harvest. However, I've been wanting to run a campaign in the seventies.

"Why the seventies?" you ask. "Aren't you usually all about the dinosaurs and rockin' the Hughes-style eighties?" Sure, but there are elements of the seventies that make for great campaign fodder. Now, don't go thinking of the terrible elements of the seventies like disco in popular culture. This was a time when the youth of the sixties came of age, disillusioned and their ideals shattered by Watergate and the protracted horrors of the Vietnam War. The solution when joining the world of your parents led to this world and the idealism of the sixties failed was to hit the road, exploring the country to discover yourself. No cell phones, no GPS, no Internet, no credit cards - just you, your car, an old gas station map, and a willingness to try to find the good in an unrelentingly oppressive time.

We have reasons to roam, isolation, metaphorical societal rot, and a willingness to shine a little light wherever you can - all the makings for a campaign. Through in some hero's with androgynous names (all the rage in seventies action entertainment). The tough characters are in cowboy shirts, sporting muscle cars and tire irons (cold iron of course). The brains are in leisure suits, donning wild hair, moustaches (if applicable) and mass market produced shreds of occultist hinting at The Truth. The soulful are glammed out, with trust funds, all-access passes, and charm enough for everyone.

What do I need system-wise to make this happen? I don't have my PDF copies of 7e yet, so I'm hoping everything I need is in there. I still need a campaign arc, but I can develop it as we see what resonates during the episodic adventures,

What about inspirational material? So far, I have really any early seventies horror movie (even Touch of Satan), Kolchak, and the flashback episodes of Supernatural. Anything crucial I'm missing?

 

Thanks!

Matt

 

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I think a lot of the movies were very depressing or at the very least had sad/bad endings for the characters in them.  Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno, the Hospital, Electric Glide in Blue, Love Story, etc...I could go on but it was definitely not a good time to be the protagonist  Don't forget Rod Serling's Night Gallery was also on in the early 70's.  It was the beginning of the black exploitation films too.  I found this while doing a quick look at some stuff.  http://www.welcometothe70s.com/70sculture.html  Now that you have brought it up, the 70's could be an interesting time for a CoC  adventure/campaign.

 

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I think people tend to overstate the '70s as the hangover from the 60s. The popular image of the 60s really doesn't get started until the very end of the 60s, and continues on for a long time into the 70s. The world-changing optimistic vibe didn't just disappear with Watergate. That's not to say there wasn't a lot of cynicism in the 70s, but it just co-existed alongside people who were deeply into finding themselves with crystal power or self-help books. You've also got the wave of patriotism around the bicentennial as well. Even Watergate, with Nixon resigning in disgrace is seen as a victory by a lot of people. 

Why do you want to dwell on positivity in a horror game? I think you can get the most mileage out of the 70s if you make sure to hit both the optimistic and cynical sides of the 70s to give it complexity. Portraying the 70s as an era already best by cynicism isn't as fun as having hope turn to cynicism over the course of your campaign.  New Age peaceniks seeking enlightenment from ancient wisdom and confronting the stark horror of the Lovecraftian universe, to give one obvious way. 

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The Seventies and Horror, hmmm ... Well, one rather horrific element of the Seventies was the beginning of a new wave of terrorism when "love" failed to improve the world and "force" seemed a more convincing method to change society and its politics. This way Europe had to face the RAF in Germany, the ETA in Spain, the IRA in the United Kingdom, the BR in Italy, and so on. I am not sure about comparable developments in the USA, but I seem to remember organizations like the Symbionese Liberation Army or the Weather Underground. The various terrorist groups I am aware of had no "occult" connections, but it would not be too difficult to combine their search for a way to force society to change with a search for "occult" power.

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For the US, it would be fair to say that the Militia Movement and other far-right manifestations that started to emerge in the late 1980s and have flared up ever since started to ferment in the 1970s as a reaction to both the liberal America of JFK and LBJ and far-left counterculture America of the late 1960s and early 1970s.   Inserting occult or Cthulhu Mythos elements into such things should not be all that difficult; indeed Delta Green may have already done some of the work for you. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

"We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the spell took hold."

As  a 'Child of the 70s'  I've had a similar idea.

For a mis-mash of Lovecraftian horror, political paranoia, and the excesses of drug culture  during that period there's The Damned Highway

Its not a great book, the energy of its maniac premise runs out long before the book ends, but it is entertaining.


 

 

 

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For a "lighter" take on 70's era horror, than mentioned above ... I'd watch some old "Kolchak-The Night Stalker" episodes ... very 70's, and you can't get much more CoC than a reporter (i.e: investigator) for a small news agency seeking "the Truth" and facing (sometimes cheesy) monstrous entities. I loves me some Carl Kolchak.

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There's a story by Cody Goodfellow in Delta Green's Extraordinary Renditions called 'Ganzfeld Gate'. Circa late 60s and into the 70s IIRC. Pharmalogical pioneering and exploration or maybe just drugs, communes and infiltration. Transcending to other dimensions and/or states of mind that leave one susceptible to enlightenment, contact or possession by the inhabitants of those other states of mind. Is it reality, are your tripping, or are you a narconaut?

I think this is excellent 70s feed for a scenario.

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