Next Big Thing Blog Hop Tour

I was kindly asked by Robin Lea, author of the forthcoming novella As Always (one interesting project among many) and creator of the Peryton Fantasy Role-Playing Game, to participate in the passing of the torch with the Next Big Thing Blog Hop Tour of writers. (Her post is here.) The rules are to write up answers to the same series of ten questions and then pass the torch to 2-3 others. Most of the participants are authors of fiction. I am going to depart, twisting things a bit, and write about a setting for a forthcoming horror role-playing game.

1. What is the title of your book?

The working title is Horror from Beyond and it is the planned first setting book for the Lucid Dreams Role-Playing Engine , also in development. The setting is one of alien horror and madness set amidst the backdrop of the cold war, fear of nuclear annihilation, and fascination with aliens of the 50’s.

2. Where did the idea come from?

As an avid reader of HP Lovecraft and a producer of many sessions of immersive role-playing games based upon his works of cosmic horror, I have developed a fondness for the notions of a gritty, atheistic, unsentimental, maddening, and uncaring universe that he propagated, and I have applied these sensibilities to many settings. The beliefs that gained ground in the 50’s such as aliens having visited earth since time immemorial, the fear of horrible physical alterations, uncaring inimical forces after their own unfathomable ends, and shadowy cults engaged in horrific pursuits are all well rooted in Lovecraftian ideas and make excellent fodder for the group storytelling environment that is role-playing. The idea of a re-interpretation of some classic notions of ages-old alien visitors, strange non-corporeal presences, the cold war, agencies, secret operations, conspiracies, and madness were dredged up from the swamps of my subconscious in a slow churning process involving a lot of reading and film watching. (In all fairness it is an interpretation of a comfortably worn genre.) The 50’s with kludgey technology, sophisticated paranoia, secret operations, nihilism, and alien fear seem well suited for gritty investigative horror storytelling.

3. Which genre does your book fall under?

Cosmic horror, or if you prefer, Lovecraftian influenced horror with a dash of thriller, a fistful of terror, and a pinch of madness.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a tricky question as the primary characters are created by the participants who play the protagonists and are generally sitting around the table together. There are some key roles that appear in the setting that would be well-played by film or stage actors.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (President of the United States): Robert Duval would bring gravitas to the role of Ike as President who plays a vital part in the setting. Most of the protagonists work for a top secret unit of the Secret Service, originally organized to investigate the airship sightings of the late 19th Century, either directly or as consultants, and the unit chief is expected to brief the President on an as-needed basis. Ike is an ally who is highly suspicious of the high-handed approach being used by the well-heeled and entrenched Majestic-12, a council that oversees a large number of projects related to certain types of visitors and treats civilians with disdain making use of secret elements of the National Reconnaissance Office to engage in suppression of evidence and worse. Ike’s influence is felt by the protagonists in a number of ways and he is very likely to meet with them more than once as well.

Serena W. Chasse (North American Horus Society Inspector General): Mary McDonnell would bring a nice combination of wisdom, harsh common sense, compassion, and the sensibility to make tough unpalatable decisions to the role of Serena W. Chasse who is the Inspector General of the North American Horus Society, this being a group of scholars who provide consultants to the Secret Service and others having origins in an early 18th Century skeptics club. Most of the protagonists are members. She is frequently encountered at major debriefings and boards of inquiry and well known for her penetrating questions and acumen. In this new era of tensions and horror members of the society can be subject to extreme sanctions should they stray too far down the wrong path.

Terrance E. Moody (Secret Service Special Investigations Unit Chief): Mr. Moody would be well played by Dean Stockwell as a concerned and empathetic leader who is weighed down by the many tough calls he has made over the years. As the head of the Secret Service Special Investigations Unit, Terrance is a frequently encountered character who doles out assignments, works with the executive branch, and tries to run interference with the many arms of Majestic-12. As a key player in the shadowy power struggle in Washington, Mr. Moody in very important to the protagonists.

Darcy H. Powers (Mystery Agent): An agent of an unknown patron and a former Women’s Airforce Service Pilot, Darcy would be well-played by Anne Hathaway. As a mysterious informant, skilled operative, and seemingly aligned in purpose, Ms. Powers appears occasionally to aid the protagonists or jam up a few less savory actors for the price of information not “officially available” to her. She seems well-heeled and most believe her to work for a wealthy patron with an inside Washington track.

The Protagonists: Characters drawn from the Secret Service, the Horus Society, and a few independent consultants are the primary type of protagonist characters. There is no special casting here. These folks are best played by you and your friends at the table!

5. What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Horror from Beyond is a cosmic horror role-playing supplement detailing a setting of alien visitation, secret operations, horror, and madness for the Lucid Dream Role-Playing Engine.

6. What is the longer synopsis of your book?

A cosmic horror re-interpretation of some classic notions of ages-old alien visitors, strange non-corporeal presences, cold war, agencies, secret operations, conspiracies, and madness are all part of Horror from Beyond. The heroes of our tale must grapple with the corruption of humanity, struggle in the dark against terrifying tenebrous powers, and sacrifice to save an unknowing populace from horrors beyond ken. You can play an agent seeking to understand the motivations of these visitors beyond the veil and attempt to block attempts by less savory parties to cause untoward harm. You can stand between the darkness and the light!

7. Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

Horror from Beyond is a product in the works of my studio company Game Soapbox Productions.

 8. How long did it take you to draft your first manuscript?

This is tough question since it is a work in progress. Between testing rules and writing probably in the neighborhood of 800 or more hours based on past work.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The very short answer to this is heaps of science fiction reading and movie watching combined with an avid interest of the cosmic horror genre fostered by HP Lovecraft and his ever expanding circle of adherents. In some ways an original non-mythos role-playing campaign I ran in the 80’s had a major impact. Stories like HPL’s The Color Out of Space, Shadow Over Innsmouth, and Whisperer in the Darkness, anything by John Le Carre, and countless films and TV shows for the primary inspiration. The Charles Stross’s Afterward: The Golden Age of Spying from The Jennifer Morgue, a Laundry Files novel that is well placed in the horror/thriller genre and manages to maintain a staid grimness along with a dry humor, contains a fantastic overview of that was quite crystallizing for me.

10. What else about your book might pique reader’s interest?

The system has several mechanisms for resolving conflicts off stage well suited to a range of thriller, spycraft, and investigative works. The Horror from Beyond setting is heavily based in genre rich with inspiration.

Next on the Tour

A few creative folks are preparing to take up the torch in the next week or so. Please come back and have a look and I will add direct links to their posts as they are ready!

Mark Edwards is a major contributor to 7th Sea, a game of fantastic swashbuckling adventure, creator of the living campaign The Heroes of Altamira, and contributor to many RPG lines.

Brandon Osorio is an author and game designer from Dark Refuge Games and creator of the innovative role-playing game Dark Refuge.

Author Bradford Younie will be letting us know about his forthcoming novel.

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