So I am thinking of starting up a game again. Yeah, I know, an eternal struggle I have between gaming and real life. I have wanted to do something Cthulhu-ish and have looked at numerous games to do this, including the very interesting “Trail of Cthulhu” but I keep coming back to Risus. Perhaps it is my need to do something since I am a member of the International Order of Risus or my need to see it work well after my previous attempts have been less than satisfying…I don’t know. I have a different tactic this time though. I am thinking perhaps I will run this game, or at least the first few sessions with just one player, one particular guy I have in mind.
So being the net junkie that I am, I turned to the net for inspiration; I include the links at the bottom of the page. Last year I read a Hellboy novel called “Hellboy: Emerald Hell” and I seriously loved the southern swampy spookiness that flowed through that book. Combine this with my friend Brennen’s recent release of some Southern Gothic Blues music that I have been listening too (Poison in my Blood is my current favorite) and I have really been itching for a Southern Cthulhu mash using Risus. Now, I have been pining to do a Blackwood game for years now…wait, back up. A little history on Blackwood is probably in order.
Blackwood is my idea of a secret group of people that have joined forces to combat evil in all its many incarnations around the world. They are my Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (from Hellboy) though I have never thought there were people with any powers beyond something such as mild precognition or telepathy…these guys are all normal humans who have just decided, or have seen something, that pushed them to the point that they needed to respond. Blackwood is headquartered out of the Museum of Natural History (ha! get it?) in Chicago, also known as the Field Museum. Why Chicago? Well the city was burnt to the ground in the late-1800s and it just seems like it was a tad fishy and a perfect backdrop for something evil to be afoot. Plus, I am from Illinois, this is my story, so sue me. The museum had Marshall Field as a major, though reluctant, benefactor and I feel that could be fun to add into the backdrop as well. Blackwood serves the people and fights the forces of darkness where they may rise, be it supernatural, man-made, or even demon and they do this throughout the world. For years I have thought there is a game, and more importantly, a story somewhere in there, something just keeps me from making it a reality.
Back to now. So I have this idea for a game taking place down deep in the south, among the swamps, voodoo and hidden dark wilds and reading through these other sites has inspired me to look a little deeper at making it happen. And of course, I turn to the eternal question: What system? Brennen and I typically are pretty close in thought on things, but here we diverge a bit. I think Risus can be used to play anything so long as the group has agreed to the conditions of the game, if you want it to be realistic and gritty, you all need to agree that those are the rules the world is bound by. I would want to encourage some creative playing from the players and I have always entertained the idea that Risus by its very nature does that. My chance to put my money where my mouth is.
So I am really looking at a Risus Blackwood Cthulhu game using Risus and the first adventure would see the team heading down to the gothic swamps of the deep south. I should clarify that, when I say Cthulhu, I do not mean literally Cthulhu with the characters fighting insanity constantly or anything, I am thinking of Cthulhu in terms of inspiration and guidance but not literally being a massive part of the game. I want mystery, spookiness, and weirdness with a touch of horror and grittiness and of course a bit of action to keep things going well.
With those thoughts in mind, I am looking for run this Risus game a little different than what might be considered ‘the right way’* and being influenced by many of the indie games I have been playing lately, I am thinking that I want a lot of player input during the game to help steer it in interesting and unique directions. So over the course of some posts here on the old blog I am going to explore some rules for Risus that I want to use from the Risus Companion, and perhaps a rule or two that I want to use to help create the right atmosphere and hopefully add a bit of that indie game touch to Risus and foster some real creativity from the players as they try to solve the mysteries presented to them.
A few pages I used for inspiration: