Tuesday, July 21, 2015

State of the Blog, an Update

Whew! It's been a while since I've posted here.  Much of my "reading time" lately has been eaten up by one of my other hobbies - I'm a game master of a couple different role-playing games, most prominently the pulp cult classic, "Call of Cthulhu," now entering it's 7th edition.

I'm pretty pleased to be able to announce that I'm officially registered with Chaosium, the company that produces Call of Cthulhu, as one of their "missionary" game masters - I'll be going to gaming conventions and hopefully at some point game stores and running newbie-friendly games of Call of Cthulhu to showcase the system and bring new players into the fold.

The first show I'll be working as a member of the missionary program will be Pulpfest in Columbus, OH next month.  This is the first year they're adding a gaming track to the show, and when I saw that announcement I immediately emailed them and asked if they could use another person running games.  I actually signed up for that before the revived missionary program was announced, so I've been in the process of updating the adventure I'd planned to run to the latest edition of the rules.  I'm most comfortable with 6th edition rules (which are barely different from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th editions) but as part of the missionary program I do need to be doing my part to promote the newest incarnation of Chaosium's flagship game.  7th edition makes some interesting updates to the rules, most of them geared towards further streamlining the system.

So I'm signed up to run one adventure at Pulpfest, and then in September I'll be making the trek back to my old stomping grounds in Buffalo, NY for this year's Queen City Conquest, where I'll be running two Call of Cthulhu sessions back to back, the second of which, "The Get of Belial," is based on an unproduced script from the show Kolchak: The Night Stalker.  The first adventure, "Nightmare on the Slopes," draws from a number of B-movies released over the course of about 20 years, from the 1950s through the 1970s.  And that's all I'll say about that, in case someone reading this winds up playing in one of those games.

All that having been said, I have been doing a fair amount of reading-reading.  I've finished off both Theodore Roscoe's BETTER THAN BULLETS and Jeffrey Shanker's anthology ZOMBIES FROM THE PULPS.  BETTER THAN BULLETS was the better collection on the whole, though a lot of the stories had a sense of sameness to them - Corday and Co. go someplace isolated, something unusual happens, we get an ironic or "twist" ending that turns the story light-hearted and comedic.  The most extreme example of this occurs in the final story in the collection, in which Corday's good friend, Yankee Bill, not only holds off a howling horde of fanatics single-handedly, but uses the sunlight flashing off the blade of his scimitar to send heliograph signals while he's at it to call for help!

ZOMBIES FROM THE PULPS had some real gems in it, most of which I have in other anthologies in my collection - "Herbert West - Reanimator" from H.P. Lovecraft, "Pigeons from Hell" from Robert E. Howard, "Empire of the Necromancers" from Clark Ashton Smith.  A lot of the stories in here that I'd previously been unfamiliar with were kind of duds, I thought, though I did really enjoy G.H. Hutter's "Salt Is Not For Slaves."  Manly Wade Wellman's tale in here was supremely creepy as well, and a far cry in terms of tone and style from the "Silver John" stories, which are what I primarily know Wellman from.

Last night I started jumping around in a "Cthulhu Mythos Megapack" anthology I downloaded onto my Kindle, reading Frank Belknap Long's classic "The Hounds of Tindalos" and T.E.D. Klein's "The Events at Poroth's Farm."  I'll try to get a post up about them in the next couple days.

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