It came from the 90’s

Recently, my DF game intersected with a theme from a  GURPS Horror game I ran for a few years. We had played a lot of 1920’s, using CoC sourcebooks but GURPS rules, and we also played a contemporary game.  The characters included an albino taxi driver and roadie who became a were python, an FBI agent, an illegal Irish building contractor, a dilettante millionaire, a used car salesman, and an agent of the Shop,  (the Office of Scientific Investigation, from Firestarter).  They dealt with things like a giant silverfish in the NYC subway tunnels, punk werewolves on angel dust, vampires (the millionaire eventually became one, and carried on along with a ghoul from the 1920’s game when we played a Horror/Cyberpunk game later on), but the major plot, drawn from an assortment of Settings books, like GURPS Cabal, came from ‘Investigative Journalist’ Maury Terry’s book about a conspiracy of drug dealers posing as serial killers and the intersect between the hallucinogen and snuff industries in the 1970’s, called The Ultimate Evil.

Our mixed bag of heroes started hunting someone they called The Visine Thief, and eventually called Lidless, who they thought was a serial killer.  He was killing a lot of people, and robbing Duane Reade’s of cases of artificial tears. A low level villian with a fridged girlfriend (Yes, a horrible trope. Thirty years ago, I was a horribly unaware person) who he had had to watch killed with his eyelids sliced off, he was hunting members of his former organization.  Terry had gathered the threads of his grand conspiracy from random clippings and interviews with Son of Sam, who he was convinced was a murderer, even a multiple murderer, but also a member of a psuedo satanic cult of drug dealers who coerced the members into murders which they filmed, and held power over by threats to kill their families. The proposed modus operandi of this group was to kill drug dealers who were holding out, and then off a bunch of people that looked like them so that the well funded narcotics squad wasn’t assigned the case, but that the understaffed and minimally experienced serial killer division was handed the work.  Multiple killers using the same gun further confounded things.

This conspiracy theory was tangled up with the suggestion that the Tate killings were related to the LSD trade, and that later traffic in ecstasy was handled by the same batch of goons, who lured members into their covens with drugs, then revealed the “truth” of a triumvirate of Yahweh, Lucifer, and Satan, which was itself a front for the drug and snuff film business.  Just wacky enough to support a kitchen sink of supernatural enemies entangled in a web of vice and death. It made for a good game.

How does any of this drift into Dungeon Fantasy? I have been making the primary enemies in the city/upper works of the megadungeon cultists of the elder gods masquerading as a demonic pleasure cult, and also a fertility cult tangled up with succubi.  Their attempts at parleying had them quoting talking points about autonomy and free will from the Satanic Church.

The posse of demon hunters accompanied by Kalima the four armed Celestial demon slayer and Benny Morales, a Dungeon Saint of Hermes, started combing through the brazen alley, an area where religious articles are made for devotion, but often by non-believers. There they encountered Aloysius the Undamned, an infernal friar of the One Holy Triunist Church, who has been Forgiven. While the Slayer wanted him dead, and caused a smoking wound with the tip of her Demon Slaying Spear, the others put him to the question and realized that he was actually good.  They also got a whiff of the above cult, when he described some heretics who indulged heavily in sacramental intoxicants.

Why do I have so many demon cults creeping about? It might be that I need non-undead opponents who can be freely dispatched, since so many of the commonly monstrous races are player character options, and are mostly just living their lives and not planning human massacres.

In this I have been ahead of WoTC’s disclaimer about the content of some of the seventies-eighties era games, with gender based ability score caps, and inclusion of proposals for clearing land and intimidating humanoids that were taken straight out of King Leopold’s playbook, and quoting Chivington’s “nits make lice” justification for genocide. The founding fathers of our games, while appreciate their combined creation of our hobby, were nowhere near as nice a bunch of guys as they thought themselves to be, and if you have fun playing through B2, it is something you need to keep in mind, just as you need to be aware of the content of Lovecraft’s personal letters and the name of his cat if you going to read his fiction.  Racism is an insidious thing, and is interlaced throughout the tropes of our cultural history. This doesn’t mean you need to burn books, but it does mean that you need to be a conscious consumer, or you will risk integrating some of that quiet content into your worldview. Know that it is there, and you have more choices.

One thought on “It came from the 90’s

  1. The book burners are rising, though. I can watch old banned Loony Tunes — if I can find them — without making me think, for instance, that all African descended people are headhunters (a fine example of racism not even getting its stereotypes straight), I can read Lovecraft and think “Yes, this is how many, if not most white Americans thought of race in the 1920s” without becoming infected by those memes (I’m pretty sure). Apparently, however (after there are no more statues of racists to pull down — when will they pull George off the dollar bill and quarter for owning slaves? And will they remove Andy and Tom from the money, too?), these things will soon be destined for a ban that will go much deeper than the “offensive” cartoons being pulled from television airing.

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