Written by Graham Walmsley
Cthulhu and Lovecraft are so prevalent in the world of tabletop it is often hardly worth noticing when someone comes along with these names slapped on their product. Every noteworthy game like Munchkin, Gloom, or Smash Up will inevitably have the Cthulhu expansion. The tabletop RPG world has Call of Cthulhu at the top of a virtual mountain of madness of games (Trail of Cthulhu, Age of Cthulhu. Delta Green, etc.). There are some great games amongst all of this, but for me personally, I am very picky about how horror and games meet, especially the weird fiction genre of Lovecraft. My preference is always for a role-playing system that is light and allows for a lot of creative freedom at the table. I know this is not everyone’s style of game, but after writing lesson plans for weeks and weeks and weeks, if I run something I want to have to do very little prep-work and be surprised by my players and where they take the story. Cthulhu Dark seems to do just that.
Origins 2017 has come and gone. My time at the convention is spent mainly in the Games on Demand space, a venue where around eight GMs offer a menu of tabletop RPGs. For the cost of two generic con tokens, you get a space at a table and a one-shot game of approximately four hours. This was my third year to attend Origins and it felt very different from the previous years. I’ll get into more of that in my wrap up post on Saturday.
One great addition to Games on Demand was a Boarding Pass system. In years past, the line for GoD at Origins has been an unwieldy beast, requiring players to stake out a spot an hour or more in advance or risk losing their chance at a game they wanted. There was some discontent between GoD and con-goers who thought their pre-purchased tickets applied in this venue the same as their spot at a Shadowrun or Pathfinder table. The compromise of the Boarding Pass was beautiful in my opinion. Onto my first game of the con:
Written by Mark Frost & David Lynch
Directed by David Lynch
We begin with Jerry Horne standing in the middle of the woods distraught and confused. He calls his brother Ben who picks up and Jerry slowly, but panicked explains his car has been stolen. Throughout the conversation, Jerry doesn’t seem to know exactly when and where he is, finally shouting “I think I’m high!”. The incident is never resolved later, but I assume Ben sent someone to look for Jerry or Jerry came to his senses. While positively dripping with that dry humor of Lynch, I was reminded of the Secret History book and how it cataloged many incidents of Twin Peaks residents wandering into the woods only to encounter entities from the Lodge. I wonder if Jerry met something while he was out there.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Written by Dale Launer and Stanley Shapiro & Paul Henning
Directed by Frank Oz
Lawrence Jamieson (Michael Caine) has a good thing going. He lives in a beautiful mansion in Beaumont Sur Mer, on the French Riviera. He makes his money bilking foolish wealthy American women by convincing them he is exiled royalty from a fictional Eastern European country. Everything starts to fall apart when Freddy Benson (Steve Martin) comes to town. Freddy is a rude, loud, obnoxious con man who thinks he’s impressive getting a woman to buy him a dinner. Lawrence and Freddy face off to determine who is the better criminal and end up crossing paths with Janet Colgate, an unassuming American beauty (Glenne Headly).
Written by David Lynch & Mark Frost
Directed by David Lynch
We find Cooper in the same spot from the last episode, spending the night standing next to the statue of the lawman. A security guard approaches him and seems to sense something is off. Cooper is trying to get the green blazer off during this conversation and eventually divulges enough info to be taken back to Dougie’s house. Janey meets them at the door and brings Cooper inside. One of the guards points out a larger envelope on the floor. Janey decides to take Coop to the doctor the next day because of his behavior.
It Comes At Night (2017)
Written & Directed by Trey Edward Shults
Something terrible is happening. A virus is killing people, and no one seems to know quite where it comes from how exactly how you contract it. Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) is living under the strict rules of his father, Paul (Joel Edgerton) and mother, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo). Doors are kept locked up and tight and venturing outside is planned for only short bursts. Into their life comes another group of survivors and out of this develops the central conflict of the film. Told from the perspective of Travis we get overhear conversations muffled by floorboards and see the horrific nightmares that keep the young man awake at night.
The Red Turtle (2017)
Written Michaël Dudok de Wit & Pascale Ferran
Directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit
An unnamed man is struggling to stay afloat during a violent storm on the ocean. He wakes up on the shores of a deserted island. After finding a source of fresh water and fruit, the man decides to use the bamboo that grows on the island to build a raft. His first attempt fails when an unseen force from beneath breaks the raft apart. After two more attempts, he finally spots the culprit, a giant red sea turtle. From there the relationship between the man and this turtle takes some unexpected turns and becomes a film about the stages of human life.