State of the Tentacle, 2013

Here’s another small teaser for something I will be publishing via the CthulhuReborn blog — in bite-sized chunks — over the next couple of months.


For a while, I have been sort of interested in thinking about some of the “big picture” questions around Lovecraftian roleplaying … you know, like “where is this hobby heading?” and “what types of new products *might* publishers unleash upon us in the next few years?” As most readers would know, there’s now over 3 decades of history to roleplaying games of some form or another based around Lovecraft’s writings and extrapolations therefrom. We’ve seen some periods of great innovation — certainly the first few years after Call of Cthulhu was initially published, then a decade or so later — but equally we’ve seen long stretches where pretty much the same sorts of products (sometimes slowly) emerge.

It’s my thinking that right now we are in a period which could potentially be one of those periods of rapid innovation. Why do I think that? Well, in the last couple of years, thanks to a combination of a much larger pool of licensees and the creation of a few entirely different systems for Lovecraftian gaming (Trail of Cthulhu, Laundry, Macabre Tales, Cthulhu Dark), the publishing world of Lovecraftian RPGs has changed pretty drastically. No longer it it just one principal company producting supplements for a single game, and as a consequence the direction of the hobby has gone from one governed largely by a single creative vision to one that includes lots of different people’s vision of what it should become.

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I am sort of curious about where this is all going … but (despite lots of searching) I haven’t really seen anywhere where there is good, informed discussion about these “big picture” questions. Various forums are filled with detail-oriented discussions about specific topics such as proposed changes to specific game mechanics, but nothing much about how different visions and publisher aspirations might re-write some of the very philosophical foundations of our favourite hobby.

So I decided to try to use the CthulhuReborn blog as a place to get something like that happening.

Now … my personal opinions about what’s great about the past, present and future of Lovecraftian gaming might be of interest to a scant handful of readers (actually, sometimes it’s not even enough to interest *me*), but those opinions don’t really mean much in the big scheme of things. Instead, I thought a much more interesting exercise would be to try to get in touch with the “heavy-hitters” of the hobby — some of the publishers themselves, some of the “old hands” who have been writing for the game for decades, and some of the newer stars of the hobby. The goal would be to interview some of these guys about what *they* thought was great about the past and present and where they saw the future of the hobby (perhaps) going over the next few years.

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To my surprise, not only did several folks from that illustrious circle express interest in such a project, several also agreed to participate as interviewees.

So, I am hoping over the next few months to start printing some of these (unedited) interview transcripts here on the blog. I have decided the call the overall project “State of the Tentacle, 2013” — since the goal is, by the end to have a capsule summary of what kind of shape several of the hobby’s leading lights thought it was in, and how it could change (for better or worse) as things unfold.

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