During some of our more recent house re-shufflings I unearthed several boxes of my old role-playing materials. Most of it is a box full of games, supplements and magazines.
Most interestingly (to me at any rate) is all my game preparation materials. I used to take part in several campaigns and ran my own Call of Cthulhu campaign for several years — firstly with a gaming group at university and then, after we’d scattered to the four winds, as a play-by-mail.
It was the latter material that was the most interesting as I did literally reams of research. I had the luxury of time at that point because I was rapidly discovering that a degree in Biology, with a specialisation in Ethology (animal behaviour) wasn’t exactly marketable. Deeply interesting but definitely not marketable.
When writing scenarios I was really in to having lots of hand-outs so, for example, I used to write extracts from various “forbidden texts” for CoC campaigns. I also liked tying the campaign into real events or research. I can remember that I once managed to dig up an anthropology text book concerning some tribes living on a remote island, that the group were actually visiting during the campaign. The text book was written in the 1930s (the period during which the events took place) so added some nice authenticity and realism. There were even some cool photos.
Digging around in my treasure trove further, I also found the board game I wrote based on Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series. I’d also had aspirations to turning it into either a play-by-mail, a computer game, or perhaps even an actual product. Lumley’s setting is nothing if not colourful.
I think I got as far as writing a Commodore 64 application in BASIC to handle the turn mechanics but not much further. I think we actually managed to play the game just the once, so I’ve still no idea if it’s really playable.
My next discovery was an issue of Valkyrie magazine containing my first ever published article. Actually, I seem to remember them accepting 2-3 articles, but I think that they only published one in the end. The magazines life-span seems to have been particularly troubled so publication schedules were a bit infrequent to say the least. The published article was called “The Twilight People” (the title is mentioned
here). The description they give it “Generic Dark Fantasy” isn’t particularly illuminating so, briefly: it was an adaptation of an idea from the P.D.James book, The Children of Men for a fantasy setting. In the book (the only P. D. James novel I’ve read), the human race has become sterile and the last generation of children term themselves the Twilight People. I just made the not hugely innovative leap to altering the sterility idea to apply to elves instead: they’re often cast as a dying race in fantasy settings and I thought this was an interesting twist.
Update: I’ve since scanned and uploaded the article. you can download it here.
I also found some copies of Interactive Fantasy which was an excellent magazine and one that I’d aspired to write for. Judging from the website its been equally troubled. I’ve got issues 2-4 in case anyone wants more information on the articles they contain.
So…I’ve got a box full of material in limbo until I decide what to do with it. Perhaps I’ll stick it all online, who knows, perhaps someone might be interested in it?
Update: Myself and some friends also once put together a fanzine, some of which is online here. Our big coup at the time was getting an “interview” (actually more an exchange of letters) with Robert Rankin. Amazingly people actually bought copies. It still makes me chuckle anyway. Which was good enough for us!