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Ferretz

MoN: Fictive Nairobi?

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So I'm running Masks of Nyarlathotep these days, and I noticed that the information on Nairobi is presented as a fictional version of the city (page 400): "The fictive Nairobi presented in this scenario bears no resemblance to the modern Nairobi of more than 500,000 residents."
 

I'm a bit confused by this. Why is Nairobi presented as fictional in the first place? One of the things really like about Call of Cthulhu is how the game uses real places and history. In the campaign, Nairobi is a "new colonial town of about 8000 people". In real history, this number was 24,000 (in 1921). The modern Nairobi has over 3 million residents. 

I love this campaign, but I'm curious about the decision to use a fictive version of Nairobi in the campaign. It feels a bit strange, especially when compared to the attention to historical detail in the other parts of the campaign. 

-E. 

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Fictive doesn't mean fictional.

All the cities and towns described in MoN depart from the real world - sometimes in small ways, sometimes in larger ways - and so are fictive. Fictive here really just means the Nairobi as imagined by the authors.

As the original edition of MoN was written around 1983 the real population for 'modern day' would have been around 950,000, so the figure is still wrong but not quite as bad. Why it wasn't updated for the latest version I don't know. Probably just overlooked as part of the revisions.

As to why Nairobi was originally depicted as a smaller town I don't know, but I think in updating MoN there would have been a choice to keep it broadly as described in the previous editions, or go for a more historical Nairobi.

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I see. Well, the story isn't really affected by the description in the book, but I was curious if there were any specific reasons why the writers had changed it. Other cities in the campaign isn't described as fictive, as far as I can remember.

I'll go for a more historically accurate Nairobi. :)  

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33 minutes ago, andyl said:

Fictive doesn't mean fictional.

Sorry to be pedantic, but does (more or less) according to the Oxford English Dictionary:

Quote

Created by the imagination.

‘the novel's fictive universe’
 
  1. 1.1 Relating to the writing of fiction.
    ‘the obviously fictive genres, poetry, drama and the novel’

 

Edited by Steve

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2 hours ago, Ferretz said:

I see. Well, the story isn't really affected by the description in the book, but I was curious if there were any specific reasons why the writers had changed it. Other cities in the campaign isn't described as fictive, as far as I can remember.

I'll go for a more historically accurate Nairobi. :)  

A more historical Nairobi is extensively described in the MoN Companion, as well as the details on how the game city differs. However, I suspect the original reason was that the authors of that section had only sparse information on the city as it was in the 1920s and 'winged it'. It's hard to describe how much more difficult such research was without the internet.

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6 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

A more historical Nairobi is extensively described in the MoN Companion, as well as the details on how the game city differs. However, I suspect the original reason was that the authors of that section had only sparse information on the city as it was in the 1920s and 'winged it'. It's hard to describe how much more difficult such research was without the internet.

We had the most trouble getting info on 1920s Nairobi for the Companion, and that's with the Internet. I would describe the Companion version of Nairobi as fictive as well. Its based on the truth but some of it is based on guesswork and reasoned argument based on research.

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If you type Nairobi population 1920, you come up with:

"The population of Nairobi grew rapidly and reached a total of 5,000 people in 1902, expanding further to 16,000 in 1910 and 23,000 in 1920."

Source: World bank group

I would agree with Jeffjerwin: prior to the internet it was difficult to dig up precise information and since Nairobi was growing so rapidly they probably extrapolated  data from 1900.

 

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My grandfather was the town clerk of Nairobi and a QC in the1930's onwards. He had a lot to do with the city's growth in that time, so much so that when he turned down some (building) bribes, the offended party cut his car's brake cables on Christmas eve and on the family's holiday drive to Mombasa my grandmother died in the resulting crash and my mum still can't use her right arm properly. He eventually left due to members of the Mau Mau leaving prison and setting out to get their revenge for their sentencing. Obviously different times and the whole Colonial administration is not something I condone myself. Just thought I'd share.

I can remember mentioning a certain district in the city that I found quite ugly and my mother said "Your grandfather was responsible for that." Doh.

I've always enjoyed playing CoC games set there, though my knowledge of it is based on family recollections and my own travels. It was seemingly a crazy time and my mum would often talk about the larger than life characters that were about then.  

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