Call of Chicago: What Ken Might Write About When He Writes About Stuff

Kenneth Hite2With the dying of the year, it’s time to read “The Festival” and to think of 2014. In this space, specifically, about the next year’s Ken Writes About Stuff installments. To get the good, or rather the known, stuff out of the way:

  • January 2014: GUMSHOE Zoom: Mind Control. This is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful GUMSHOE Zoom I’ve ever known in my life. Presenting detailed rules for brainwashing, memetics, telecontrol, and brain hacking, and for gear from the Microwave Auditory Effect gun to subliminal flashers to tinfoil hats, it brings the fight inside your head.
  • February 2014: Hideous Creatures: Star Vampires. “The human blood on which it had fed revealed the hitherto invisible outlines of the feaster.” Invisible outlines that shall be expanded upon, extended even, into all sorts of dimensions. Are they summoned demons or feral predators? Are they kindred or competitors to Colin Wilson’s Space Vampires? Herein we trace the Shambler From the Stars, with bonus Night’s Black Agents statistics and a scenario seed.
  • March 2014: Lilith. “Satan here held his Babylonish court, and in the blood of stainless childhood the leprous limbs of phosphorescent Lilith were laved.” Lilith as Queen of the Vampires, Lady of the Night — or as First Rebel and First Heroine? We look at the many faces of Lilith, as a Trail of Cthulhu titan (Elder Goddess or Great Old One), Night’s Black Agents vampire queen, Mutant City Blues super-Typhoid Mary, and at her role in the center of the First Esoterror Operation.
  • April 2014: Hideous Creatures: Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath. “Worlds of sardonic actuality impinging on vortices of febrile dream – Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young!” Are they nameless horrors or numbered servitors, Druidic nightmares or ab-natural abominations? Where do they grow, and on what loathsome food do they thrive? Follow them to Hell and Hydra, or to Mormo and Monsanto.
  • Bonus Stuff: Hideous Creatures: The Un-Numbered Ones. For subscribers only, this free issue of Ken Writes About Stuff opens the books on Lovecraftian monsters that have never taken stat-block form before in any game!

For any Ken Writes About Stuff installments you may have missed, go back to the main KWAS page.

You may note that the last two regular Hideous Creatures — and indeed the whole series — followed the results of our Esteemed Reader Poll on the topic fairly closely. The monsters in the Bonus Stuff will likewise track our Esteemed Reader Poll on that subject. (Although rather than do a whole HC workup on one of these essentially unattested monsters, I’m more likely to include a few creatures in more like normal Trail of Cthulhu creature writeup style.) It’s as though we care about what you want!

And so we do! Should the Gods of the Copybook Headings smile upon us and KWAS return for another year, what would you like to see us cover? By now, I think I’ve mapped out most of the possible things I can do in the format, although I’m always open to new suggestions.

Hideous Creatures: This category will definitely continue, as I’m hardly out of the Lovecraftian woods yet. Headliner monsters left to do include the Colour Out of Space, the Great Race of Yith, the Hunting Horror, and the Serpent Folk — but I could easily be persuaded to change things up with a few flavorful B-listers like the Dimensional Shambler, the Lloigor, the Rat-Thing, and the good old bad old Tcho-Tcho. Or maybe you have some favorite I haven’t mentioned here. We’ve already got a request in for the Elder Things, for example, to accompany the shoggoths.

GUMSHOE Zoom: Are there specific rules thickets you’d like to see me dive into? With physical and mental combat out of the way, what strikes you as rich in story possibility, and thus worth zooming in on? I promise, no vehicle building systems.

Campaign Frames: I’m still possibly happiest (or perhaps slap-happiest) with Moon Dust Men of all the issues of KWAS so far, so I’d love to do another campaign frame. I’m still trying to crack the “sitting” mechanism for a Carnacki campaign frame, so we’ll probably get that in 2014/15. I’ve also had a couple of requests for an Elizabethan setting, which might just be adapting Night’s Black Agents to the age of Walsingham and Marlowe, or it might be a full-on “School of Night” occult adventure frame. But what else cries out for GUMSHOE besides wide-lapel UFOs and steampunk ghost-breaking?

Looking Glass: Our city-in-a-PDF framework format got off to a rousing start with Mumbai, don’t you think? In the next year, I’m most likely to try and tackle a 1930s city to show how it can be done, but I’m happy to change planes on your whim.

Nighted Tomes: With monsters under the microscope, how logical is an “expanded look” at one of the major Mythos tomes? Expect to see a Necronomicon piece next year — but should it replace a Hideous Creatures entry or not? How much Cthulhu is too much Cthulhu? Shriek your answer to the stars, below.

Special Subjects: This is the “everything else” sort of category, but it boils down to one subject, so far mythical or folkloric or eliptonic, that can be spun for multiple GUMSHOE games. Lilith will go here, as does Die Glocke — what other mysteries should we plumb with our Investigative pools a-quiver? We already have one request for the Axe Man of New Orleans, so famous crimes might make another topic to plunder.

In short, fill up the comments below with what Stuff you’d like to see Ken Write About. And then I shall fill up your in-boxes with that very Stuff, or Stuff very much like it.


10 Responses to “Call of Chicago: What Ken Might Write About When He Writes About Stuff”

  1. Jeromy French says:

    1) I very much hope that Pelgrane Press continues this series, because it has been fabulous. I love the concentrated focus on one item and have already used a couple of them in my current Trail of Cthulhu campaign.

    2)Monsters are really great and should continue, but could branch out and touch on Lovecraftian style monsters dreamed up by other writers, or even non-lovecraftian monsters like interesting ways to spice up F20 monsters or detail other iconic horror creatures. Would love to see a build your own GUMSHOE zombie like there was for Vampires in NBA.

    3) I would love to see some Tomes detailed, but I don’t think in lieu of the Hideous Creature line. A single issue could easily touch on more than one. If it shows to be popular, could do another one.

    4) Absolutely want more Looking Glass issues either for NBA or Trail of Cthulhu, but would definitely want to see a setting for the 1930s. Istanbul or Shanghai or New Orleans could all be made to be fun.

    5) GUMSHOE Zoom are fun and I enjoy them, but I don’t get as much inspiration for my games from them as I get from the other subjects. Regardless, I like the variety I am receiving, and it keeps the series from becoming stale.

  2. Just Here says:

    I’d like to see some material for Ashen Stars.

    • Craig says:

      Well, not Ashen Stars particularly, but I know Ken thinks Exoarchaeology is an underutilized tool in SF settings. Maybe that could support an issue?

  3. David Paul says:

    * Hideous Creatures: I’d love to see an article on the Tcho-Tchos, or on Machen’s Little People. (Or both — they’ve always seemed, to me, to fill the same niche, and could easily be related.)

    * Campaign Frames: Big yes on “School of Night” (the full version, please!) and Carnacki.

    * Looking Glass: I’d like to see your take on Weimar-era Berlin — or, if you want to go further back, on Rudolphine Prague.

    Whatever you pick, I’ll be looking forward to it!

  4. hüth says:

    • Campaign frames!
    • Cities! Cities for different eras!
    • Tomes + Special Topics! Die Glocke is cool. What about other things drawn from the twilight world of conspirato-fortean literature?

  5. Tom Pleasant says:

    I would love to see an Elizabethan NBA campaign frame and a closer look at tomes would be very useful.

    As for cities, there could be plenty of scope for fictional cities too: HPL’s Arkham, Leiber’s Lankhmar, Miéville’s New Crobuzon. Or even from computer games: The Citadel from Mass Effect, Silent Hill or BioShock’s Columbia.

  6. SunlessNick says:

    With monsters under the microscope, how logical is an “expanded look” at one of the major Mythos tomes? Expect to see a Necronomicon piece next year — but should it replace a Hideous Creatures entry or not?

    Reluctantly, I think yes, but as Jeromy French said, the space given to one Hideous Creatures installment could probably give a decent look to more than one tome. Some more so than others – the Pnakotic Fragments could probably take up a whole installment by themselves.

    Another subject that might work is Blasphemous Lands, covering Mythos locales: the Nameless City, Pnakotus, Carcosa, Zothique, Averoigne, Valusia. Again, some seem like they could take up a whole issue, others just part of one.

    But what else cries out for GUMSHOE besides wide-lapel UFOs and steampunk ghost-breaking?

    Cryptozoology? Indiana Jones/Sydney Fox style archaeology?

    Lilith will go here, as does Die Glocke — what other mysteries should we plumb with our Investigative pools a-quiver?

    Reptoids in all their various forms. (I know you have Serpent People planned for Hideous Creatures, but Reptoids can be even broader than that, and can be utilised for Night’s Black Agents and Fear Itself as well).

  7. Timothy Daly says:

    First, let me say that there has not been an issue of KWAS that has not been great. I like to see some B-list creatures, on the theory that Ken’s write up can turn them into A-list.

    My favorite issues so far was Moon Dust Men, because a great little campaign like that adds so much value to the GUMSHOE line.

    As for Zooms, can we tackle some more in depth “social combat?”

  8. Count me in as someone else who’d be up for another year. I love the idea of a series looking at Lovecraftian Tomes similar to the Hideous Creatures, but you’d probably want to alternate them to save room for other stuff – maybe replace one HC, and see what the feedback is like? (Not the Serpent Folk, please, that one sounds the best.)

    For the other categories, I think the Zooms are less useful than the others – these are best when they resemble Suppressed Transmission articles. I do like the sound of the School of Night campaign frame, though.

  9. Tony Williams says:

    I would want most of my KWAS skewed towards ToC but understand the need to cover other games.

    With that in mind, I’d want ( in order of precedence ):

    More Hideous Creatures ( including what are being called Un-numbered Ones ).
    Looking Glass “Blasphemous Places” – Carcosa, Yuggoth, etc.
    More Looking Glass cities ( but skewed to the 1930s ) – the mention of Weimar Berlin excites me.
    Campaign Frames – would really like an “official” Victorian Gaslight Trail rule subset just to fill the gap in CoC equivalence ( we have Esoterrorists for Delta Green/Now and Trail for Call, we will have Dreamhounds of Paris for Dreamlands, but no Gaslight equivalent ).
    A GUMSHOE Zoom on how Victorian social standing might affect Interpersonal spends might be a good thing.

    I’m not that keen on “Tomes” – so much has been written about the major Mythos books already and it’s not exactly hard for a Keeper to make up a new book themself.

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