Beyond “From Beyond” – an RPG Scenario Sketch

…In reply to my question Tillinghast mumbled that this permanent glow was not electrical in any sense that I could understand… – H. P. Lovecraft, “From Beyond,” 1920.

“Permanent”? Hmm…

“–she turned on the lights downstairs after I had warned her not to, and the wires picked up sympathetic vibrations.”

I would argue that the ‘permanent’ glow and the ‘sympathetic vibrations’ in the electrical wiring of the house are hooks upon which one could hang a sequel scenario: Let us suppose (for the purposes of fun) that Crawford’s machine isn’t just permanently ‘charged,’ but the entire house is in fact now a permanent tear in the fabric of reality:

  1. That once activated (perhaps in its improved, final state), the machine can somehow function without current, (though perhaps at a lower level of effect). Like using an electro-magnet to create a permanent magnet.
  2. That the wiring in the house, once accidentally tuned to the vibrations of the improved machine, could also create a ‘permanent’, low-level effect.

All this being said, and since these events take place in November of 1920 (early in the Golden Age), perhaps one could plot a return to “the ancient, lonely house set back from Benevolent Street.”

Crawford is dead, so the house could pass to his distant relation (perhaps a PC or NPC), or be taken by the city. Either could then experience strange goings-on and call for some investigation. I’d really like to give the PCs the red herring of a ‘traditional’ haunted house set-up, but then have them discover (perhaps through library use or interviewing neighbors) this is the old Tillinghast place, where the alleged hypnotism murders took place years ago, etc.

Maybe the ‘ghosts’ only appear when the lights are on? Perhaps the old wiring is being brought up to code, or the voltage has recently changed (or will change), increasing the effect?

“Parts of Boston, Massachusetts along Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue still used 110 volts DC in the 1960s…” –Wikipedia

Perhaps, with these electrical infrastructure changes, the ‘Tillinghast effect’ could bleed  out from the house, along the power grid, and affect the entire city?

At the Mountains of the Middle Kingdom: a Call of Cthulhu RPG Scenario Sketch

 “…and talked with undying leaders of the cult in the mountains of China…”


It occurred to me that this period and location might make an interesting sandbox for investigators. In retrospect, the Chinese Civil War is more complicated than one might suspect (no surprise), though I think the GM could almost make up anything they want to serve the story and likely have no player “Well, actually” them, OR be able to find some kind of supporting evidence via a web search. If it sounds fun, I say do it. Also, it gives you an excuse to relish archaic spellings like “Thibet” and “Peiping.”

Who: The factions:

  • Cthulhu cultists (naturally)
  • Nationalist / Republican Chinese
  • Communist Chinese
  • Imperial Japanese
  • Soviets

What: Investigators are called to a mysterious monastery in the mountains of China. Perhaps an approaching army threatens a priceless collection of Buddhist scriptures? Or maybe what appears to be a humble Buddhist monastery on first glance is in reality a cover for the insidious cult of Cthulhu, pulling strings behind the scenes to make mankind “free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy.” Or perhaps there is a Great Old One sleeping underneath the (actually legit) monastery, and the monks need help to keep it sleeping. This also allows a possible connection to various Hollow Earth tropes.

When: Since the ‘deathless Chinamen’ are apparently immortal, an adventure with this setting could be staged at any time you desire; however, the ‘golden age’ of COC and the forces involved might fit best within 1926-1941. This covers the start of the Chinese Civil War to America’s entry into WWII, after which one presumes it would be more difficult (though not impossible) to casually insert a group of Westerners. Just before and even early in WWII, American servicemen were inserted into China on their own civilian passports, via commercial flights (Pan Am) from the East coast of the US, down to South America, across to West Africa, then to Egypt, then India, and finally through Burma into China (if I recall correctly).

Where: Rural China?




The Haunter of the Dark: a Partial Chronology

Pieced together by me, based on the text of the story.

Here be Spoilers:

Continue reading “The Haunter of the Dark: a Partial Chronology”

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: Early Providence

The NYC Public Library has put online an enormous amount of digitalized images from their collections. Poking around and looking for pictures of Providence, I stumbled across the following two:

Destruction of His Majesty’s Schooner Gaspee, Near Providence, RI, in 1772.

If you recall, Captain Whipple, who led the raid on Curwen’s farm, later led the attack on the Gaspee. HPL also says that many of the men who took part in the raid on the farm would also fight in the Revolution. It’s worth mentioning that Captain Whipple was a real person.

Providence 1828?
View of the North Side of the City of Providence.

The above is from a book of engravings called “Scenic Route of the Hudson River and the Lateral Parts of North America,” published in Paris in 1828.

Weird Tales Logotype (Feb. 1928)

Chose this date because that’s the issue that The Call of Cthulhu ran in. I may do the version from the first Conan story later. The canonical background color is bright red.

All hand-drawn from a scan, by the way. No auto-traced garbage here. Very tedious, especially the tagline text at the bottom. Available from They Who Shall Not Be Named.

H. P. Lovecraft’s Miskatonic University: Appearances in the Primary Source

H. P. Lovecraft created the fictional Miskatonic University in his 1921-1922 story Herbert West – Reanimator.

All mentions of MU in the prose fiction of HPL are as follows:

  • 1921-22: Herbert West – Reanimator
  • 1923: The Festival
  • 1927: The Colour Out of Space
  • 1927: History of the Necronomicon
  • 1928: The Dunwich Horror
  • 1930: The Whisperer in Darkness
  • 1931: At the Mountains of Madness
  • 1932: The Dreams in the Witch House
  • 1933: The Thing on the Doorstep
  • 1935-35: The Shadow Out of Time

The Inspiration for The Nameless City in The Thousand and One (Arabian) Nights

Doing a little digging for my annotations: HPL’s “The Nameless City” was published in 1921, and Howard Carter had not yet found KIng Tut’s tomb, so we can’t blame Egyptomaina for the story (which I quite like, incidentally).

The most likely source of inspiration is The Thousand and One (Arabian) Nights. Checking the contents of the English translations, we find a short story about Irem, a long-deserted wealthy metropolis smote by God (shades of The Doom That Came to Sarnath?) and a more obscure story called “The City of Brass” which contains (among other elements) an ‘archaeological’ expedition across the Sahara to find an ancient lost city, a mummified queen and petrified inhabitants.

I present them here, for the interested reader:

The City of Irem

The City of Brass (summary)

The City of Brass (full)

“…and there came to the builders’ hands of all these things so great a quantity as may neither be told nor imagined.”

–Payne’s translation, The City of Irem

Earlier, the narrator counted one thousand trillion (people) (using 100K x 100K x 100K), so this number must have been pretty high indeed :)