My influences, part the second

While I know I promised more musing on my rpg influcences, I had a looksee at my bookshelf and noticed a certian book that truly shaped the way I approach scenario writing:

Judging by the date of publication I must have purchased this book in 1982 or ’83 (my copy appears to be the 6th edition).

According to the back cover…

“Haunted Houses.

Phantom Ship.

Demon dogs.

Ghosts can appear any place, and in many forms.  This book will help you be ready – in case you come across one!

*See the kinds of places where ghosts gather!

* Learn how to hunt for ghosts in your neighborhood!

*Find out how to spot a fake!

You’ll amaze your friends – and terrify yourself – but you’ll know everything there is to know about demons and spirits from the world beyond.”

While it wasn’t my first foray into the spooky realm (which was probably either “In Search Of…” or Disney’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow), this book cemented two tendancies I have retained in my interest in Call of Cthulhu – skeptical investigation and what I call the “oooooooh” factor, that tingle-inducing moment where fear gives your rational mind a beating.  The former is easy (hey, this kid’s book claims to be the authorative treatment of “demons and spirits from the world beyond”) but the latter… now that is hard (but fun!).

Here is a partial list of occult or otherwise creepy phenomena I first remember reading of in this book:

Gibbets, poltergeists, lemures, Reverend Richard Dodge, the Great Eastern, UB-65, Black Shuck, Gef the talking mongoose, screaming skulls, the village of Pluckley, the eating ghosts of the Banks Islands, Yurei, scientific ghost hunting techniques (Ghost Hunters et al might learn something, sadly), the Brocken Spectres, spirit mediums (and their fakery), telepathy, the Raynam Hall ghost, Doppelgangers (not the AD&D kind), and Will-o-whisps.  (Was some of this stuff bogus?  Of course, but does that matter for a fictional game?)

Combine that with some rather nice color illustrations, and I was hooked.

Next time: more AD&D, I swear.

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3 comments on “My influences, part the second

  1. Good God, this is a nostalgia trip – I’m fairly certain I owned the same book around 5th or 6th grade – this would have been, oh, 1980 or so. Alas, the thing I remember most clearly about the book was my parents’ exchange of head shakes and eye-rolls when I brought it home from the school book fair. Hey, at least I didn’t bring home “A Child’s First Necronomicon” instead.

  2. winstonp says:

    I was amazed my (albeit tattered) copy survived my room as a kid. So much of what I had became literary carpeting that it is more than a bit of luck that this book survived at all. Do do recall studying it intently, hoping to use the ghost hunting techniques some day.

  3. Wow, I read that and completely forgot about it until now.

    Thanks for taking me down memory lane!

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