Appendix N Challenge: The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft.

I had no idea that Lovecraft had an impact on AD&D, but on reflection, it shouldn’t really have come as a surprise. How could his tales of men versus monsters, gods, and their own sanity not have played their part in its creation? Looking back, it makes perfect sense.

Now, I came across Call of Cthulu before I’d even heard of Howard Philips Lovecraft and his Mythos. One of my few friends was keen to run an investigation and as the alternative was Chivalry and Sorcery I decided to give it a go. C&S was a goodish game, but it ain’t no AD&D, know what I’m saying.

To cut a long story short I hated CoC.

You play a game where you always end up insane? Are you kidding me? My character, a former soldier lost the plot the very first time he encountered the mythos. Committed suicide. Bummer, amirite? Out of spite, I decided to start reading the stories, just to see if this was common. Turns out that it was. Who knew?

I liked those stories. I was a lonely, awkward nerd with very few friends so of course, I liked those stories. They spoke to me, in a language that was dense, sinuous and oblique. I got it though, and that made me feel special. Believe me, at the time I took anything I could get. The very first story I ever read was The Dunwich Horror, and so it was an obvious choice to have a second look at for the challenge. You know the drill guys: Spoilers ahead!

You know the drill guys: Spoilers ahead!

The story is a simple one that’s as old as time itself. Girl meets Outer God, Outer God gets her pregnant, she delivers twins. One is normal-ish, except for the rapid aging, increased intellect, and extreme body hair issues. Oh, and his desire to learn all he can of the Mythos’s forbidden lore. Well, you would wouldn’t you when your pops is an Outer God. The other is a foul abomination that puts all life on earth at risk.

The story luxuriates in its descriptions and Lovecraft never uses one word when three will do, and I like that. Not everything needs to be fast and to the point, not if you can carry it off and Lovecraft could. His imagery left images in my mind that have been there since I was a young man, etched indelibly it would seem. By rereading, I realized that the imagery in my mind from all those years ago, whether it was of the major or minor characters was still true after all this time, there was no disconnect at all.

The story is unusual for one of Lovecrafts’. The heroes defeat the abomination for a start, and only one of them goes insane. That’s right, it has a happy ending. And you thought Lovecraft was all doom and gloom! The good guys’ win and the bad guys die and it’s the intellectuals that pull it off. There’s magic aplenty, more mystic lore than you can shake a stick at and rereading has made me determined to read the stories that I’ve missed.

I might even give Call of Cthulhu another go, but only if I can give it an R.E.Howard twist. There’s only so many times you can go mad.

That’s it, for now, guys, thanks for reading

Take care



3 thoughts on “Appendix N Challenge: The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft.

  1. John E. Boyle

    I never knew there was a Classics Illustrated of the Dunwich Horror!

    This is going to sound weird, but this book is one of Lovecraft’s most enjoyable, which is not a term applied to his work all that often. “The good guys’ win and the bad guys die and it’s the intellectuals that pull it off.” Exactly. Something I could relate to when I was 14.

    I’ve been playing Call of Cthulhu since it came out, and there is more than one way to play it.

    a. Quick and Nasty, a new character every night.
    b. Two or Three scenarios that tour Miskatonic or have a HPL story as the theme.
    c. A more extensive campaign that puts the emphasis on investigation and deals mainly in the milder (so to speak) inhabitants of the Mythos. Or, if you prefer, not Mythos. I have found CoC to work just fine for any Pulp campaign, from Fu Manchu to Jimgrim to El Borak.

    Give it another try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The only Lovecraft I’ve ever really struggled with are his Dreamland stories, although looking back I can see Dunsanys influence there. There are definately rereads in my future!
      As for CoC, I’ve been talking to my buds and we’re planning a Delta Green scenario after we finish our current Paranoia campaign. It was going to be Judge Dredd, but I haven’t finished writing it yet, my bad! Thanks for the insights John, always appreciated.


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