Revisiting Realms of Cthulhu

It may appear I am one of the slowest developers on the planet. Especially if you’re waiting on Realms of Cthulhu. That’s possibly true. I don’t know. I do know I’m here at the keyboard most any given day, putting in the hours, and cranking out all sorts of support products for our various lines and managing the other guys and all the other things in the pipeline. There’s a lot to being a writer, editor, publisher, art director, and layout guy. Over the first part of this year, now that we’ve crossed the halfway point, I wanted to ensure Iron Dynasty didn’t fall into the trap of some of our earlier work and had regular releases. Thanks to your support, patronage, and encouragement, we’ve gone on to get stuff out for RunePunk as well. Between that and fine tuning Agents of Oblivion and Ravaged Earth, there has not been a big chunk of time to devote to Echo of Dead Leaves. It’s the most intricate thing I’ve developed and I wanted to have a good chunk of time to work on it without any other major interruptions. I don’t know if that was the best plan or not, as what has happened is it has been sitting in its partially complete state for some time, and now I’m in the unenviable position of revisiting all that work and getting back into the proper mindset to wrap it up.

As you’ve seen me discuss in the past, I’m a big advocate of getting the first draft done and then coming back and making corrections and whatnot. I have copious notes and bits of research tucked away on the hard drive, but the project is by no means complete. Let me craft a parallel for you. Have you ever had one of those big messy rooms that you sort of knew where everything was, but then you began to clean it up and during the clean up the room became far more messy than it was to start with? Well, I’m about to step into something like that. There comes a point, however, when you reach critical mass and suddenly everything gets done more and more rapidly. This makes the exact amount of time left to wrap up Echo of Dead Leaves uncertain. I’m not promising anything, but I am going to start applying good chunks of each day to getting everything squared away on that front. Wish me luck. My biggest fear is instead of wrapping the draft is to give into the temptation of rebuilding everything using lessons learned since my last visit. Even as I write these words, I must confess the temptation is not as strong as it has been in the past.

That being said, if you want to start rapping about some Realms of Cthulhu, y’know, or whatever, now’s probably a good time as it’ll be forefront in my noggin for the near future. I’m excited to get back to the madness.

Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!



7 Notes on, Revisiting Realms of Cthulhu

  1. Excited to hear this. I really like your take on the Mythos and look forward to what you can come up with.

  2. Ditto. I just finished reading Unstill Waters and really enjoyed it (kudos to John Goff) but its left me hankering for something that has what I’m starting to recognise as that particular RoC flavour but with more depth of setting. Anxiously awaiting Dead Leaves…

  3. Out of curiosity, how would you describe the RoC flavour? Please note: this is not ego aggrandizement. I’m wondering what aspects/elements you find are particular to Realms of Cthulhu. (I have a few ideas and objectives, but like to find out what you see on the other side.) This input is useful as I push the line forward.



  4. Great to hear you are working on Echo once again. Personally, I would much rather you take your time on the book and produce something great than simply turning it out because it is what is expected of you. Very much looking forward to this book, but I am willing to wait. Plus, we will always have Agents of Oblivion and Iron Dynasty to tie us over.

  5. It’s not every day one of your favourite designers asks for your opinion. A little caught up in it all, I originally wrote a long-winded reply that opened with an extended rumination on the effect of gameplay style on the tone of the text, and then waffled on about subjective experience. But on rereading, it didn’t answer the question all that well. So here’s another try.

    To me, RoC has an definite immediacy to it. I find the style of the RoC core book and adventures is quite direct (especially in contrast to HPL’s own writing). There’s a promise of excitement and action in that directness, and a feeling of openness and flexibility. I often get the feeling when reading RoC pieces that something could come out of left field at any moment and shock me without destroying the tone of the scenario, whereas classic CoC feels like it operates within a more metered scope to me.

    A lot of the credit for this impression has to go to sentence structure – both Sean and John write with an admirable economy and restraint, and strike a delicate balance between being entertaining and evocative without sacrificing function. When the form of the text leads your eye so easily from idea to idea, some of that sense of flow must rub off onto the content.

    I wish I could be more specific about exactly why I get this feeling from Realms. Ken Hite and Graham Walmsley’s equally excellent writing for Trail of Cthulhu shares these same qualities, but achieves different results. Ultimately, I have to put it down to the voice of the author(s). I’ve tried to commit my own Cthulhiod scenarios to paper (pixels?) with that same Realms feel only to realise just how hard it is to achieve.

    So, there are my impressions: immediacy, directness, openness.

    PS – in thinking about this, I can now see why I this direct feel would be at least partly responsible for my instinctively gravitating towards the grittier RoC options.

  6. No comment? Sorry if my post seems a bit abstract, but to paraphrase Martin Mull, descrbing feel can be a bit like dancing about architecture.

  7. Hiya! I thought you’ve had some nice thoughts there, but I have been absolutely swamped. I get what you’re talking about, and hope to give it a proper response when I’m fresher. I’ve been busy juggling Agents of Oblivion edits/layout and working intensely on Echo of Dead Leaves. Good stuff is in the pipeline! Thanks! Great quote, by the way!

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