Saturday, July 21, 2018

Inside the Athenaeum

One of my regrets with being in Providence last August for NecronomiCon, was not making it to see the inside of the Providence Athenaeum. We managed to see the outside of it, but I didn't make it in.

On our way back up to Canada from a holiday in Cape Cod this year, however, we did manage to stop off for lunch in Providence, and I finally got to see the inside of the library. It was worth the wait.

Of course the library is famous for it's connections to Lovecraft and Poe and Whitman, but I was happy to learn that it had also been frequented by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

There is also, of course, the Lovecraft bust.

The list of patrons was of interest, combining local Lovecraftians like Neils Hobbs, as well as international names like Guillermo del Toro. Made me smile.

The above images show off the well photographed main interior of the Library, and are pretty much as I expected it to be, however, there is a lot more to the building. Downstairs there is a large open space they use for events, with plenty of very comfortable chairs, where I would happily have spent the rest of the afternoon/weekend reading if able, in the selection of comfortable looking leather chairs.

There is a lot more to the library than the main square block though, with a lot of shelving going off into what seem, from the outside, to be the building next door, with plenty of comfortable nooks and crannies to hide in, most with an old desk and chair, eclectic in style, to sit at.

Downstairs there is also the Egyptian room. Not only do you need to make an appointment to get access to this room, but it was under refurbishment when we went, so I saw in through the glass door, but no further. The darkness in the room meant that I could see the famed Egyptian desk, with of course a stuffed raven on it, but I took no photos.

Of course, I had to look around for Lovecraft's books when there. In the Biography section, I found many biographies of the man. Indeed more than I knew existed. In the literary criticism section, again, a fair few books on his works. I looked around the fiction section, and found Poe's works, but mot lovecrafts, which was strange, as they were in the card catalogue (I also looked at their online catalogue, but that's less fun).

But on the shelves, nothing.

Eventually, one of the librarians asked if I wanted help, and I said, yes, and I'm sure they get asked this all the time, but I was looking for H. P. Lovecraft's books. She smiled and said, yes, that they were behind the kept beside the desk, as they were asked for them so often. I smiled, took one, and wandered off to flick through it, before sheepishly putting it back not long after as we left.

Unfortunately, when we were there, there was a torrential downpour, so I didn't get any new pictures of the outside of the building. Also, the rain, combined with lack of parking meant that we didn't manage to stop off at the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences store in town, which is probably just as well for my holiday budget.

I'm glad I finally made it in. Now, for the last place on the list, the Lovecraft papers in the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library. Here's to the 2019 visit!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

John Silence

I don't post about every Kickstarter I back, but I think this one needs a little signal boost.

"John Silence is a complete rpg plus a shared-universe story/poetry anthology about psychic people of color saving the Earth from invisible monsters."

The name comes from a set of stories by Algernon Blackwod, so those are something I'll have to look up and get my hands on.

Go check it out, there's plenty time left to back, and it hasn't yet made it's goal.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Photo of the Day

George Rinhart - Tourists on the top of the Great Pyramid, c. 1925.

Masks on my mind.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Scar of the Bloody Tongue Tutorial

A great little video and tutorial on how to use the Scar of the Bloody Tongue that came in the last Props of Nyarlathotep Kickstarter.

Friday, April 27, 2018

She Walks In Shadows

She walks in Shadows is an all female collection of short stories, poetry and artwork, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, and published by Innsmouth Free Press. I got a pre-order copy for my birthday back when it was released in October and finally got round to reading it over the xmas break, and have just finished reading it (2015, I take a long time to write and finish these posts sometimes).

As with all collections of short stories, there are some that resonate with you and draw you in, making you wish they were longer, and others that just don't catch your imagination. With this collection, I am glad to say there were more of the former than the latter.

Without going into an in depth analysis of each story, I'll just pick out a couple of the stories I really liked.

Violet is the Colour of your Energy by Nadia Bulkin, was a particularly creepy one. Essentially a modern retelling of the The Colour out of Space. What was unnerving about this was that it was written from the first person perspective, worse, that of the wife who ends in the attic. More on the reasoning behind the tale (as well as a playlist to go with it) can be found here.

Another of my favourite stories in this volume was Magna Mater, by  Arinn Dembo which delves into the mythos behind the Lovecraft tale, Facts concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family. This one really got my gaming juices flowing, leading to this post on some thoughts on a Pulp Cthulhu game/campaign. but more of that in a future post.

In all, I really enjoyed this book, and you should go check it out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Inspirational Gaming room

Now, this is what I call a Call of Cthulhu gaming room! I am extremely jealous. Looks more like a film set. I can imagine getting creeped out rather easily playing in this place. It's also a great way to put all your props on display too, as well as a great excuse to buy more.

Unfortunately, we do not have anywhere near the space to put aside for something like this. Maybe in the next life, but it would be one reason to move to the suburbs.

Great use of flickering tea-lights, as we all know we want  neither wax nor open flame beside all our lovely books and props, as I learned at a recent game, where a poster I had put on the wall beside the gaming table fell onto a tealight candle holder on the table. Fortunately, no props were harmed, and i managed to save the poster.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Props of Nyarlathotep: New York and Kenya, 'Unboxing'

As previously mentioned, I received the results of the Props of Nyarlathotep: New York and Kenya Kickstarter.

This is less an unboxing, and more a post showing off the shiny. I had the light-box out for another reason, so threw these beauties in, and took some shots.

The main reason I bought into this campaign was funnily enough for the basic reward, the transfers. This simple idea really resonated with me as an unusual prop, even though to use them in game for one NPC means I have to have the brand on me throughout the game night. If I put it in a less noticeable place than the forehead, this might work well as a reveal. Maybe on the bottom of me forearm, with the sleeve down, or just peaking out of the cuff of my shirt.

This led me to getting the latex version. As an introduction to the campaign, the carving of the symbol of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue into the forehead of Jackson Elias is iconic, and I thought this was a really imaginative way of showing this, and one that would stick with the players.

The stretch goals for the campaign included some luggage tags of the various places the campaign goes. These are some beautiful period pieces, really evoking the era. These are printed on non-sticky paper. I'm not sure how original luggage tags worked, but having to put your own gum on them seems more in time to me than to make these modern stickers, as was done with the HotOE campaign boxed set. Anyway, it's not like I'm ever going to stick them on anything, so I'm cool with them just being paper.

Finally, the larger pieces.Firstly, the Fly whisk. This is not as iconic a prop as the others in this set. In fact, I had to go back to the campaign book and search through the Kenya chapter to see what this is. It's actually one of the few props in this game that is helpful to the players. 

The simple use of the elder sign here is really rather effective to my mind

Last, but by no means least of the props from this kickstarter is the Mask of Hyama. This really will be the centrepiece to this campaign in many ways. This horrific mask prompted my better half to call me when she had opened the large box that had arrived in my name, to ask me what the fuck I had been buying now? It really is rather creepy in real life. 

This picture doesn't show the full extent of the mask, there are some feathers attached to the bottom of the mask, but if I were to make it all fit in the photograph, I would have to have set up the larger light-box, and I was being lazy.

Also not pictured here is the stench that comes off this artefact. Delphes wrote in the Kickstarter that there was an issue with the varnish she used for this piece, and really, there is. I've stuck this outside on a couple of evenings to try to get the mask air, but so far, the small has not diminished by much.
The Mask of Hayama will have a strong scent of varnish first - Nyarlathotep doesn’t smell good actually, neither Yog-Sothoth, and even worse does Shub-Niggurath) Also because I wrapped them a while ago just after they were painted, the varnish flavor will be kept inside the plastic bag.
Also included, but not pictured, is a poster with an image of the mask and the name of the campaign, this is the image that was used as the header for the Kickstarter. I'm sure that by putting this on the wall, the players will be more impressed once the mask is found.

I only wish I was able to afford the second mask that was made with this Kickstarter, the latex mask to be worn by the player who puts on the mask, showing how it melds with their face and cannot be removed. That was well outwith my budget, especially since it's essentially a one use item.

Finally, since I had the light-box out, and these props were all stored together, I took a couple snaps of the Eye of Light and Darkness which I have previously written about

Now, once the new version of the campaign is released later this year, I'll be using these to freak some players out!