Contributing to the Rookwood Curse

The year 2020 has already been full of both strife and success. (Would I have it any other way?) Stresses aside, I’ve had two excellent reasons for spending less time with my blog site. In addition to launching my first Kult: Divinity Lost campaign (more about that soon), I’ve also been writing and editing my first official paid-to-be-published writing gig for friend and fellow game designer, Michael Addison of Nerdy Pup Games.

Thanks to a successful Kickstarter for the new tabletop RPG, The Curse of the House of Rookwood is already available to backers as a pdf and scheduled for print late spring. In addition to the core rule book, Nerdy Pup Games is also publishing scenarios (written by a number of contributors, myself included) that explore alternate takes on Rookwood’s otherwise British Gothic setting.

I’m excited for the release of Rookwood—and to contribute to its publication! I remember when Addison first came up with the concept many years ago, and our group of friends created a dysfunctional family, struggling to overcome their worst impulses and bad blood to face a common enemy. In true Addison fashion (given his love for Lovecraftian horror), I remember feeling both terror and dread as an unfamiliar supernatural creature, disguised as a human, revealed itself upon a Victorian ballroom full of unsuspecting guests, during a waltz no less.

A fairly rules-light RPG, with unique story-driving mechanics, Rookwood offers a loose framework for players to tell whatever sort of horror story they fancy. The setting offers new spins on old favorites, while leaving plenty of room for interpretation. What sets Rookwood apart in the horror genre is its focus on family. Rather play a campaign with the same characters in a single time period, each story arc in a campaign explores a different generation of a shared family with an evolving history, so that stories build upon and explore decades if not centuries of history. Theoretically, players could play the same character for a couple generations (in the character’s youth, then as an elder member of the family), but Rookwood effectively reimagines the RPG campaign as an epic tale of a family, encouraging players to focus on story rather than character building.

The scenario I wrote, “The American Frontier”, takes the Rookwood family to North America, not only to explore the history of the United States, but more specifically concepts of ambition, migration, and instability. I also created a couple new curses, well-suited to the American frontier setting.

I’m terribly excited for Addison and Nerdy Pup Games. The three crowd-funded games you can find on his website are but the tip of an iceberg. Addison has been a prolific game designer for as long as I’ve known him, since we attended college together—and I’m hopeful that more of his games I’ve played over the years will eventually see publication. He’s talented and dedicated (far more focused than I—haha!), and I encourage people to support and check out his work!

An (un)believable apocalypse

Right, no fretting over the imperfections of last week’s post or missing my self-appointed Monday date with blogging. I may be a day (or two) late, but I’m here. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

For a very long time, I’ve had a vague idea about writing (or “telling”) a sort of apocalypse story. Not post-apocalyptic, but of an apocalypse, a story about the world directly before and during its end. But I also say “sort of” because—I suppose like many post-apocalyptic narratives—the world doesn’t actually end. The world as we know it ends; the world and its inhabitants undergo dramatic change, and the rules change (this is the important bit, to which I’ll return later). So to be more precise, I want to tell a story about the events leading up to the world-as-we-know-it falling apart, then paint the epic beauty that is that falling apart. I know, it’s been done, almost as often as all the stories about “the world after the fall”. What do I have new to offer, especially if my idea is only vague? Well, that’s a very important question that I’m going to set aside for a moment. Don’t worry, I don’t want to tell another zombie story. But I first want to dig into my current creative process here.

watchtower2My vague ideas have followed numerous paths, often stopping before they start, so that despite reoccurring themes and concepts, I’ve never followed any one idea to its conclusive apocalypse. In fact, I often find myself more caught up in what happens before the end. Perhaps my wanting to tell this story is a bit like the millenarian Christian prophesies of Armageddon with which I grew up as a child; although ever present in my mind, just ahead in the near future, it never actually comes to fruition. Or perhaps I’m caught up in a particular zeitgeist—that portion of human civilization that seems hellbent on (the idea of) its own destruction.

Continue reading “An (un)believable apocalypse”