Warpo is thrilled to launch today our new blog series, featuring guest blogs from experts, tastemakers, artists, and other creatives who make the toys, games, and retro experiences we all love so much. In celebration, Warpo is giving away a 4-figure set of Signature Series Legends of Cthulhu action figures, autographed by Team Warpo, as well as legendary artist Ken Kelly, and sculptor Eddy Mosqueda. To be eligible to win, share this blog on your social media outlets with the hashtag #CthulhuIsComing. One winner will be drawn on August 24, 2015.
To kick things off, we are honored to have Sandy Petersen as our first guest blogger.
The Loneliest Cultist
When I was growing up, I had an experience which is rare today. I read the story Call of Cthulhu without knowing who or what “Cthulhu” was. That mysterious word intrigued me. As I pored through the tale, all about a secret cult and mysterious dreams, I was fascinated. As I read other Lovecraft stories from my pitifully small supply, occasionally Cthulhu’s name cropped up – the stories seemed tied together in a way I had never encountered before. A whole group of authors referenced Lovecraft’s creations, giving Arkham, Yog-Sothoth, and the Necronomicon a clever patina of reality.
This was in the 1960s and early 1970s. I tried to get my friends interested in Lovecraft too, and did so with limited success. They were never as crazed about the topic as was I, but at least they enjoyed his stories. A few movies appeared here and there loosely connected with one or more tales I’d read – the Dunwich Horror, the Shuttered Room, Die Monster Die, the Haunted Palace, but they were pretty lame, and lacked the punch I expected from Lovecraft. At least it gave me hope that someone else, somewhere, knew about my favorite author.
But in the end, everyone I knew who’d read Lovecraft had been introduced to him by me. I was the only cultist, trying to spread the word.
When D&D came out I started playing it. In a few years our gaming group came up with the idea of creating an RPG for the modern times, as a horror game. We called it American Gothic. During this period I got in touch with Greg Stafford at Chaosium, publishers of RuneQuest (our current main RPG, which had displaced D&D), and he offered to let me design a roleplaying game based on the tales of none other than my hero, Lovecraft. I didn’t even have to make it a “generic” RPG. I was of course thrilled. They named it “Call of Cthulhu”.
Two years ago, I was the guest of honor at the Necronomicon festival in Portland Oregon, and they were nice enough to ascribe that the modern popularity and near-ubiquity of Lovecraft’s tales (particularly Cthulhu) to Stuart Gordon’s films and to my games. They felt that these two sources crept into the national consciousness and promulgated Lovecraft in a way that had not occurred before. I will say that thousands have told me that it was my games that introduced them to Lovecraft.
So in the end, I have successfully spread the word – once the loneliest cultist, now I am one of many who revel in Lovecraft’s concepts and creations. And I am a happier man for it.
– Sandy Petersen
Sandy Petersen’s connection to Cthulhu is fairly well known. He designed the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, the recent Cthulhu Wars board game, and was an executive director of the film The Whisperer in the Darkness. Sandy has been reading H.P. Lovecraft since he was 8 years old.
Join Sandy Petersen, along with Team Warpo, and a panel of Cth-experts including game designer Kenneth Hite, Paizo creative director James Jacobs, and occult expert Brandon Hodge, at Gen Con Indy on August 1, 2015, for the Cthulhu All-Stars Summit. They will discuss the impact of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories and characters on popular culture and their work, and will culminate with a live séance conducted by Brandon Hodge to entice Lovecraft himself to join the festivities.