Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Mountains of Madness Project

"In spite of all the prevailing horrors, we were left with enough sheer scientific zeal and adventurousness to wonder about the unknown realm beyond those mysterious mountains. As our guarded messages stated, we rested at midnight after our day of terror and bafflement - but not without a tentative plan for one or more range-crossing altitude flights in a lightened plane with aerial camera and geologist’s outfit, beginning the following morning. It was decided that Danforth and I try it first, and we awaked at 7 A.M. intending an early flight; however, heavy winds - mentioned in our brief, bulletin to the outside world - delayed our start till nearly nine o’clock."

- H.P. Lovecraft, "At the Mountains of Madness"

On January 26, 1931 Prof. William Dyer and graduate student Paul Danforth set out on the aerial journey that would culminate with the discovery of an ancient city high atop the Antarctic plateau.

What was found in that city is at the heart of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness", and one of the primary motivations for the creation of Propnomicon. For years I've been working on the my personal collection of items based on the story, a process documented in the "From the Mountains of Madness" posts. Now I'd like to build on that process.

In a few weeks I'm going to start another Kickstarter drive to fund the "At the Mountains of Madness" prop set. In many respects it will be similar to the earlier Arkham Sanitarium and Miskatonic University efforts, but kicked up a notch. As before, the emphasis will be on items that can't be easily reproduced at home. It doesn't make sense to do a run of prop documents that can be just as easily released as PDFs and printed at your convenience.

At this point I'm aiming to have a basic package that includes the period map of Antarctica I first posted back in 2009, a schematic of the modified Dornier Do-J Wals used by the expedition, an art deco travel-style poster for the departure ceremony in Boston, an expedition equipment sticker, and a postcard for the stop in Hobart, Tasmania. The target for that is around $12-$15 plus shipping.

The next tier will include new versions of the expedition patch, the small fieldbooks, and a cloisonne lapel pin. Since so many of you already have the old versions I wanted to avoid forcing you to buy the new ones just to get the other stuff. The target for that is roughly $20-$25 plus shipping.

I have a few ideas for items to include in a deluxe tier beyond that, but I want to firm up the details of the basic packages first.

One question that may have occurred to you is why I'm announcing the project before I actually launch it. You can credit that to my well documented paranoia. It's inevitable in any human endeavor that there will be delays and things will go wrong. To the greatest extent possible I try to avoid those issues by having all the design work done before I ask anyone for money. If everything is ready to go into production the instant the project gets funded there are far fewer chances for something to go wrong.

As always, your thoughts are appreciated. Particularly if you have any suggestions for cool stuff I haven't thought of. The only restriction on additional items is that they should be able to fit inside a 25" long, 3" diameter mailing tube.


The Bathyscaphist said...

Brilliant news!

I would definitely be interested in a deluxe tier - it could perhaps include something like anatomical sketches of the Elder Things (or even sketches of their distinctive footprints?), rubbings taken in the city, or a photo of a giant albino penguin! Maybe even small glass specimen bottles with barely-identifiable bits of Elder Thing, given your talent with model work in jars!

Whatever you come up with, chalk me up for a set!

Alex Kaeda said...

Im in!

And now to start the brain-gears to get some thinking going...

MSAINT said...

Great news!
Can't wait to order mine (a some extra patches for my wool vests)!

Propnomicon said...

@ The Bathyscaphist

The Elder Thing drawings made by Dyer are actually already available here on Propnomicon.

Sadly, photographs are incredibly difficult to do because there aren't any major processing houses that use unbranded paper. The vintage feel just falls apart when the back of every picture is covered by the FujiFilm logo.

@ Alex Kaeda

I look forward to your suggestions.


Thank you for the kind words.

Jason McKittrick said...

Something tells me the deluxe edition is going to be awesome! ;)

Ryan said...

Sounds great to me. I'd definitely be interested in something like that.

Maybe for the deluxe tier, include everything in the other tiers, but with additional props/items. Like, perhaps, a star-shaped soapstone specimens perhaps? Other similar things?

Whatever you come up with I'm sure will be awesome, and I hope that, by the time everything is set up, I'll be able to contribute.

Dre said...

I'd definitely be in for the second tier -- possibly deluxe tier depending on specifics. A model Wals is, I'm guessing, an impossibility....

Andre of Game Soapbox said...

I am certainly interested in this project. I have seen some pics of past work and I will be keeping any eye out for the kickstarter project. I am thinking about running Beyond the Mountains of Madness again and the props would be cool!

Thanks for the good work!

Raven said...

And photos (though not of giant penguins) were also done here by Propnomicon, including of an Elder Thing!

Marc said...

I second the notion of a albino penguin photograph.
Maybe also geological samples of the Elder City.

I'm definately in for one.

Petrograd said...

I also like the notion of rubbings from the murals in the city. Reproductions of photographs from the story would also be interesting.

If you have time for some more physical items, aside from the soapstone already recommended, I would love to see the items 'experimented' on by the awakened elder things; the papers scrawled with ink and the ration tins riddled with odd piercings.

Tóbal said...

I passed the other opportunities to get the patches and notebooks.I will want a pack of the new things...It would be cool to make one ATMOM box including these props.!

Alex Kaeda said...

Just a couple Ideas for pdf's to go along with the project

Labels for Pemmican

Labels for canned foods/tea/coffee

Whiskey bottle labels (inspired by the bottles found from Shacklefords expedition).

Knas said...

Looking forward for this!

CoastConFan said...

Happy Mountains of Madness Day to you too! 26 Jan 1931 – 26 Jan 2012

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you're up to no good ;P

Crazy ideas begin here:

I think one of the little stone 'thingies' would be cool. If it could be designed and built in 3D, you could have it 'mass produced' by a company like Shapeways, which can output in glass or ceramic... Should have a soapstone-like quality...

Spare vacuum tube for the wireless sets, with proper packaging (not sure what kind of design). Miskatonic U branded? Granted, that does trend dangerously close to a printable prop (the box, anyway).

Miskatonic keychain / watch fob? I'm thinking of something like the Phi Beta Kappa key.

A custom-labelled can of rations wouldn't be a bad idea. Would have to be a small one, though. Maybe limes, salt (ha ha), coffee, pemmican... ??? Unfortunately, this also treads close to paper prop territory.

Old sparkplug from the planes or sledges?

Core sample...?

Real fossil (something common & cheap, like a trilobite).



Tóbal said...

I LOVE journal fields , and I think a good one could be done for this project.
Not only a blank one to be filled , but a pdf file with text and drawings to be binded with the covers of the field notebooks Propnomicon designed.
I can´t offer writting skills because I am quite bad at that and I am not english native speaker. But I could make drawings in a quite good quality...check my blogs : and
If someone want to do this ( of course with time ) , it would be a nice addition to the ATMOM prop set.

Raven said...

Pemmican blocks/labels, box labels? Done by Cephalopod Productions, and linked here back in 2009:

"Frozen pemmican block" tutorial w/ label

Labels for a specimen shipping box

Other "Call of Cthulhu" propmaking

christian lehmann said...

I'm in, Professor Dyer. I'm in!
Whatever you do, I'm in on this. I can't wait to see what you decide to do for the deluxe set.

Raven said...

If you want to try acquiring some actual Whyte & Mackay whisky replicating Shackleton's century-old stash found under his hut, here's the maker's website.

At $100/bottle it's a high-budget item, but British Isles readers will also see "treasure hunt" specials there. *sigh* Maybe someday Americans will too....

Raven said...

Ah, here's a website offering the Shackleton whisky for $180 (down from a list price of $204).

Note the wood-box-and-straw packing; "bottle and packaging have also been recreated down to the last detail - bubbles in the glass make each bottle unique, while the labels incorporate hand-lettering and labeling techniques from the early 20th century."

So this truly is a "prop replica" and on-topic for the blog, as well as being a drinkable replicated whisky. Another article.

Alex Kaeda said...

Idea: miskatonic university expedition flag. The sort that would fly outside an encampment/base camp.

Mr. Primate said...

Sure. I'm in.

Anonymous said...

The flag's a good idea.

I'd also like to suggest a commemorative Duralumin token.


Skywatcher said...

I have some Moab inkjet photo paper from Legion that has no logo Not a chem photo, but at least has no obvious anachronistic look.
A box of late-'20's film would be a nice fit (even an empty box). Almost certainly would have to be a replica & of course might be too pricey to fit, but . . .

Phil said...

A bit late to the table, but you can sign me up for the Deluxe edition. I REALLY want one of your lapel pins for a costume accessory!

Though the other stuff sounds quite cool as well.