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Lovecraftian Horror in Gaming

In recent history, there has been a surge of Lovecraftian horror inspired games, and since I am a huge Lovecraft fan I figured I should explain what is Lovecraftian horror, and why it lends its self so easily to gaming. For those of you who don’t know what Lovecraftian horror is, it is horror that is inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, a 1920’s and 30’s horror writer. Some of the common themes of Lovecraftian horror includes other worldly beings coming and corrupting our world, as well as investigative horror. One of the best known works of Lovecraft is called The Call of Cthulhu, which is where Cthulhu the great elder god of madness first appeared. It is easy to see how the themes of Lovecraftian horror lends itself so easily to other media such as gaming.

In the world of board games there are tons of examples of Lovecraftian inspired board games. Everything from light fun family games such as Unspeakable Words, to dark, intense games like Eldritch Horror. Fantasy flight has several games that fit the bill. Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror, and Elder Sign are some of the best examples. In these games you and the other players are investigators traveling from location to location trying to stop the spread of some elder horror, while trying not to go mad or die in the process. There have also been some great remakes of games made to fit a Lovecraftian style game. Pandemic and Love Letter are a couple examples. In Pandemic Reign of Cthulhu, you are running around the world of Lovecraft as investigators fighting cultists and other eldritch monsters. You can see just from those few examples there are lots of opportunities to play Lovecraftian board games.

The Eldrazi from Magic: the Gathering are perfect examples of Lovecraft inspired creatures. The Eldrazi are creatures from another plane of existence, and they corrupt the planes they travel to. We can take it a step further with the set Shadows Over Innistrad, which contained a lot of horror themes, such as werewolves and vampires, there is also a famous Lovecraft story Shadows over Innsmouth. The next magic set in that Magic set was Eldritch Moon. This set contained the Eldrazi named Eldritch horror, which is a subtle way to refer to Lovecraftian horror.

When it comes to RPGs the genre of Lovecraftian horror is utilized in many games, from indie to mass market. Chaosium makes The Call of Cthulhu RPG. it is a great investigative horror system designed to tell Lovecraftian stories. The great thing about RPGs is that almost any system can be used to tell a Lovecraftian story, all it takes is some planning and the right monsters.

I love Lovecraftian horror, and I am thrilled that my love of gaming can now be intertwined with my love of the horror genre. Given the recent surge in popularity and frequency in which games with this theme come out, I don’t see it ending anytime soon.


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