Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Cthulhu

To this day, I'm still not sure that I understand the OSR's fascination with pulp fiction. Hold on, let me rephrase that. I do kind of understand it: we're mostly talking about people who have read a great deal of this stuff, or grew up when it was the only game in town, and so it has shaped many an old-school gamer's perceptions of what fantasy (and fantasy gaming) should be like. What I meant to say was this: I do not share the OSR's fascination with pulp fiction, because it largely lies outside the realm of my experience.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s. My childhood exposure to sci-fi and fantasy consisted of He-Man, Thundercats, Transformers, GI Joe, Ninja Turtles, and -- my personal favorite -- The Real Ghostbusters. I watched these programs well before I ever picked up my first fantasy novel (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, at age 5) or saw Star Wars: A New Hope. When I did finally start reading "grownup" fantasy literature, having already decimated the "famous forty" Oz books, Narnia, and Wonderland, it was with The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and imitators of Tolkien who wrote in the epic, high fantasy mode.

I was brought to D&D by a friend who first exposed me to Final Fantasy (back when there were only seven of them) and then surmised that if I liked computer RPGs, I'd probably enjoy the real thing even better. (He was right.) These are the facts of my upbringing that color my understanding of fantasy, science fiction, and role-playing.

So... to the fans of Howard and Lovecraft and C.A.S., of Leiber and Moorcock and Anderson, I kind of get it. I'm just not coming from the same place as you. Does that invalidate my card-carrying OSR membership? If you think so, then you're probably also the sort who thinks that Cthulhu could never be defeated by a foursome of paranormal scientists with unlicensed nuclear accelerators strapped to their backs. (Care to place a wager on it?)

"Collect Call of Cthulhu" - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3


  1. I'm not sure whether I've got an OSR card or not, but I come to fantasy in general from a He-Man perspective. With D&D, specifically, my biggest He-Man influences are those Eternian landscapes from the Filmation show. Also, Molkrom.

    And, yes, Cthulhu was certainly driven off by four guys with proton packs. Documented fact.

  2. The Ghostbusters beat Cthulhu and Tiamat, though you have to give the assist to Marduk on the latter.

    I am also of the "80s cartoons shaped my views of fiction" camp. I was always trying to figure He-Man's stats in D&D and tried to recreate Optimus Prime using Marvel's FASERIP system.