Monday, April 02, 2018

The Lovecraftian Thing a Day (2018) No.92: Call of Cthulhu World Map

This early Call of Cthulhu rpg World Map displays key global locations, places of archaeological significance, as well as important sites from the Cthulhu Mythos (of which there are, in fact, very few). That the original game came with this map is somewhat telling in consideration of the more pulpy, globe-trotting and ‘non-purist’ direction the game took with early supplements and campaigns; the provision of maps both in rpgs and in so much fantasy and sci-fi literature also speaks to the expectations set, post-Tolkien, regarding the construction and presentation of speculative worlds - as well as a need within geekdom to somehow fix in place a starting point for the imaginal exploration of those worlds. In some respects, the map is the (virtual) territory - or at the very least a visual reference and mnemonic device for reminding us how far we have travelled in realms otherwise uncharted.

The pink version of the map I’ve had since I was thirteen years old: it came with the second edition Call of Cthulhu rpg boxed set - published under license by Games Workshop - which I recall purchasing one wintery Friday evening after school from the original Games Workshop store in Dalling Road, Hammersmith. After having my tea, I spent the rest of the evening closeted in my bedroom eagerly devouring the contents of the box. Whilst I had already read some of Lovecraft, there was very little by way of Lovecraftian fiction available in my local library or in regular bookshops, and the Call of Cthulhu rpg was to me less a game but another kind of map - part conceptual travelogue, sourcebook and bestiary - to the worlds of the Cthulhu mythos.

The map is all that remains from that original purchase, but it spent the next few years pinned to my bedroom wall, later following me to Leeds when I eventually went to university, and returning with me to London in the mid-1990s.

The blue version is, I think, from a later printing of the 2nd edition box set, and was acquired a couple of years ago when I picked up another copy of the 2nd ed rules (minus the box) from ebay - in part for the purposes of playing some of the early solitaire modules, but primarily for its nostalgic charm.

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