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A supplement for 7th edition Call of Cthulhu, a collection of between five and seven adventure scenarios set in the 1920's
620 backers pledged $30,197 to help bring this project to life.

Update #3. When Writing A History Book....

Posted by Jeffrey Moeller (Collaborator)
42 likes

Jeff here. Hi everyone, it's me again. So, I had this idea for a collection....

I'd like to offer some thoughts on what this book is about. Feel free to quote me. I'll leave what this book is not about alone.

This book has generated a lot of discussion already. People see the campaign, read the descriptions of the scenarios, draw their own inferences, and it has certainly stirred up debates. Topics I've seen have ranged from presumption about the "political" bents of the authors, to questioning people's credentials to write about something in their setting, to worse stuff. Most of them have been typical consequence-free Internet bullshit. One or two have been disturbing, and one I read today was ugly.

This book is about history, viewed through a lens of the occult detective stories of the 20s and 30s, which this game we all so love is about. It's a game set in a period that was in social turmoil--often violent social turmoil, which has received little attention in its decades of publication.

I write on Sunday mornings. It's my hobby. And I had this idea for a scenario about an admittedly metaphorical monster (one that I came up with, and that I have used before). The idea was the same at its core through numerous variations: the monster was (being largely metaphorical) of indeterminate mortality. It represents inevitability. It could be buried somewhere, and pop up decades later when someone unsealed the wrong oubliette. It is both human and inhuman; tragic and intractable; struggling but hopelessly doomed to insignificance, absorbed into the cosmos. Classic cosmic horror stuff.

I was going to have it haunt an old prison, and had a number of fun set pieces around the basic situation jotted down. The scenario had moved settings several times in my mind. In various incarnations, it has involved cats investigating a Cuban prison barge during the Haitian Revolution; taking place at the Temple of Vesta in the reign of Commodus; and been at a children's "detention center" on the southern U.S. border in 2019. That version was really dark.

Oscar didn't want to do a modern book, and wanted to get back to the 20s and 30s. So we decided to have some scenarios set against some grimmer aspects of the 20s and 30s that really hadn't been touched on much before. It seems that I know a lot of history buffs in my circle of writing buddies because it was pretty easy to draw submissions, even with some really strict submission guidelines about historical accuracy 

I decided that my prison would be a real, historical one, unvarnished and straight out of the history books. I'm an immigration attorney, so I decided to write what I know this time around: an immigration prison. I've been practicing for 30 years, and have written and lectured for state and national specialty bars on a wide variety of immigration topics. My Juris Doctor (honors) is from the University of North Carolina (1989), and my bachelor's (high honors, first in my major) is in Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs from Miami U. (1986). When I write something potentially controversial, it has to be spot on accurate, so I leveraged my professional expertise.

To make sure that I got my prison (the Elysian Hills "tramp barracks" near the current site of Dodger Stadium) as right as possible within the bounds of sticking a monster underneath it, I bought four different scholarly history books on the history of immigration, the 1931 Mexican repatriation, and the history of imprisonment in Los Angeles. I'm interested in the facts, and don't like to presume that I know. Some of these books were better than others; others were mixed bags of good research, with good citations to historical records, and unadorned rhetoric. I read all four of them. If you want to read one--one, incidentally, which I found a bit rhetorical in places but which dug up a lot of original source material--read City of Inmates, by Kelly Hernandez. (You know where can hook you up).

I learned a long time ago--back in the 1990s when I started writing Call of Cthulhu scenarios--that screwing up your history is the quickest route to a public scourging from the fan base. So I wasn't going to do that. Once the prison was squared away historically (and one place where I indulged some creative license pointed out explicitly), then I worked in the monster and how there are both human and cosmic horrors afoot. Historical games should be set in historical places, and when the history is controversial, cite your sources. 

I am going to hold my authors to the same standard. Want to make an assertion in a book where I'm the editor about how things were in the 20s and 30s after, say, the Tulsa Race Riots, in veteran's halls, when you were a French-Canadian Catholic in Maine, working in a "radium girls" type of factory, struggling with an abortion decision, or getting removed from the U.S. by vigilantes? Cite your sources. That's what historians do, what I will do, and what my co-authors will do. I suppose my metaphorical monster could have been sitting on a mountaintop in Kenya, or lurking beneath some cabin in the woods, but this is a historical setting, right? 

That's what this book is about. We're exploring the opposite end from Pulp Cthulhu: let's put some occult detectives into some disturbing and controversial historical issues and see what happens. 

If you see parallels between some of the historical settings and things going on in the world today, I could have written mine that way. In fact, I've got an outline. I chose not to.

And just for the record: I am, in fact, staunchly against filthy, overcrowded, makeshift detention camps, and the deportation of U.S. citizens of Mexican ancestry from the U.S. in 1931 Los Angeles because they were easy targets. I own that.

Comments

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    1. Akule
      Superbacker
      on

      I support what you are doing. Golden Goblin Press has been doing some great stuff. Keep up the good work.

    2. Missing avatar

      Jeffrey Moeller Collaborator on

      I wandered into a cesspool :-(

    3. Dave Gross on

      An historical angle, especially one that gazes unflinchingly at the evils of history, was a big part of the appeal of this project for me. I'm grateful I haven't seen any of these ugly comments. Perhaps they came from some cesspool of the Internet that I've already learned to avoid.

    4. Missing avatar

      Michael Salazar on

      It’s truly a disturbing time (then AND now), but I think a very important one for creative people who understand that history is often a sanity-testing subject. Thank you for taking on this project, uniting gamers who adore and understand the hard, ugly truths of our history, and enduring the blowback from fragile egos.

    5. Missing avatar

      Noah Soudrette
      Superbacker
      on

      I'll be honest. I not only backed this because I enjoy GG's products, but because of the historical and social issues involved in these scenarios. You simply dont see these types of events being used or talked about in other books. The fact they resonate with the modern day is simply natural. They do it well on their own. If you dont believe/like that fact, dont back it and/or get educated.

    6. Kobold King on

      I would never have backed this project if i did not have the utmost confidence that it was well written and well researched. I get that it may not be everyones thing and if that is the case just walk away. For my two cents keep doing what your doing.

    7. Hobbs on

      As a History teacher I know of no decade that is free of sin. What we choose as historical significant and what is remembered as our national narrative is selective. I trust you will Write a good adventure.

    8. Missing avatar

      Rachael B. Randolph
      Superbacker
      on

      I must admit that I had some reservations about this project when I had only heard the title and subject. However, I knew all of the good things that the Golden Goblins had done and read the scenario seeds. I was impressed with the diversity of topics some of which truly surprised me - in a good way. I am really looking forward to this collection and what it sparks at the gaming table. Thank you!

    9. Senator Meow on

      Excited for this collection like few others! I've always trended away from the pulp style in my keeping, and Oscar and Jeff's adventures normally go over like gangbusters at my table.

    10. Troels Frostholm Søe-Larsen on

      Oh my goood... really...

      People are really fucked up when the get angry like this. If you don't like whats in the book don't support it and don't use it. But stop attacking authors for not doing there work.

      I support this book, why? I tell you why. I like Call of Cthulhu and wan't to use awesome adventures ad backgrounds for my own adventures.

      I like Cthulhu that does not mean i like that people get sick. Its a story, its fiction, its play.