Thursday, May 19, 2016
Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.140: De Profundis
Michal Oracz's De Profundis is somewhat remarkable in being a game of Lovecraftian letter writing. Ostensibly a kind of rpg, players participate in a process of shared Lovecraftian world-building and storytelling via the epistolary medium. On which point, Oracz's is at pains to point out that the game should, ideally, involve the actual handwriting (or typing, preferably using a vintage typewriter) and physical sending of letters - and indeed other artefacts - through the post. Understandably, the rules governing this type of play-by-mail LARPing operate less as such and more as a set of guidelines - especially as it is anticipated that games will be resolved when one or more of the participants (or at least their literary alter-egos) come to some vaguely horrific end.
Interestingly, De Profundis is just one facet of a wider trend within the Lovecraftian milieu; here I am thinking of the kinds of narratively-backgrounded objets d'art produced by the likes of the HPLHS (as well as other Lovecraftian sculptors), along with more recent endeavours such as the Mysterious Package Company. And of course, much of this harps back not only to a kind of 'folk history' of the production of Lovecraftian material culture within the gaming community (in the form of unique and often beautifully-crafted player handouts), but also to Lovecaft's literary use of verisimilitude and textual cross-pollination as a means of producing a realistic context for his horrors to inhabit.