Friday, February 12, 2010

Going "Beyond The Mountains Of Madness"

Propnomicon owes it's existence to "Beyond the Mountains of Madness", the classic mega-adventure for Chaosium's "Call of Cthulhu" role-playing game that serves as a sequel of sorts to Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness". Most of the early material posted here was done in support of that adventure, which rekindled both my fandom for Lovecraft and my love of propmaking. Click on the "At the Mountains of Madness" and "From the Mountains of Madness" labels over there on the right and you'll see just how much of an impact it had.

Beyond my own interests, BTMOM is arguably the best adventure ever created by the RPG industry. It's epic scale, historical detail, and numerous prop handouts combine to make it one of the most immersive scenarios ever published, and the final, chilling decision that confronts the party near the end of the story is the one time I've been genuinely emotionally involved by a tabletop game. Janyce Engan, the driving force behind the authors that created it, is now recounting the equally epic story of how it came to be over on Sadly, it's not a tale with a happy ending, but the look behind the scenes is fascinating.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Role-playing in a storyworld does lead to thinking and feeling about it more deeply than a more detached discussion.

For some time I've been marveling at the beautiful and heartfelt Tolkien-based music that's been coming out of Russia, partly due to the large annual LARP gatherings they hold there to enact storylines. They've *lived* the stories they sing about.

One of the characters who barely gets mentioned over here is Finrod Felagund, Galadriel's brother, King of Nargothrond, an Elf who died to save the mortal man Beren (who loved the Elven woman Lúthien Tinúviel).

Finrod's story got enacted and deeply felt at a gathering, and one result of this ROLE-PLAYING GAME was the writing and performance of a rock opera in 2002 based on that portion of the Silmarillion, with an added aria for Finrod to express the reason for his self-sacrifice, surrendering his immortal life for a mortal's.

The song is titled "Istina", which means "Truth" -- not "Pravda", *official* truth, but *holy* Truth, as when Jesus says "I am the Truth" (Ya Istina) -- and I class it among (to me) the most moving songs of the century.

-- Raven.

(my own imperfect translation, sorry)

The flying arrow shone its plumage...
Whose breast awaited it? Who knew its direction?
Whose hand could send it easily through the clouds to a goal?
When did the archer take sight and the bowstring begin to sing?

You above despair will take off, ringing,
By arrow you will drive away dusk, Truth.
I cross your threshold at the edge of shadows,
But you are stronger than Death and the fate of the strong!
Heedless of home and family, forgetful of rest,
I heard your voice over the rock range,

Here, abandoned in the snow,
For everyone - the servant, by that he was unknown,
I went to the one for you to learn about that.
What kind of fire burning eyes after coming!

The riddles of bird flocks are given me as a legacy.
But chief among the mysteries - the secret of the human heart.
It strikes blind Death, not to overcome it, and with it not to be reconciled,
But, only that it is understood in one glaring moment, by one who had been bowed before it!

In the dust shining gold is dredged,
Sunset burns the ships of heaven,
In the gloom shine cursed stones,
But there is a light that shines brighter and stronger.

Do not close the doors, take me,
Until you I know, Truth!
Fulfilling the vision, not knowing the price,
I give thanks for what you showed me!