Tag Archives: Cthulhu

Lovecraft in the Public Domain

Good news everyone.

On a whim I just checked on H. P. Lovecraft’s year of death – it was 1937. This means that his works are now in the Public Domain here in Europe and, as Wikipedia states, likely in the United States and other countries, as well.

This is excellent news for everybody who loves the Cthulhu Mythos and would like to incorporate it in their own works, or expand upon it. I certainly have a few ideas myself. Of course care must be taken not to base your works off of something else that is derivative of Lovecraft’s work, such as the Call of Cthulhu role playing game, which obviously were created later and are therefore still protected.

Disclaimer: This is not legal advice, consult your lawyer before messing with anything legal đŸ™‚

Plot-a-Day: Hiding a Stillborn Baby

People in the real world do a lot of messed-up things. When a British woman discovered she was pregnant after an affair with a co-worker, she hid her pregnancy and eventually hid her stillborn baby in the trunk of her car, the Daily Mail reports.

Marketing executive Claire Jones, 32, found she was expecting after a fling with a man she met through work.

To explain her expanding stomach, she told her family, friends and partner of five years David Stoneman that a wheat allergy was making her put on weight.

After giving birth alone in her mother’s bathroom on December 27 last year, she wrapped the stillborn baby in a carrier bag and binbags.

She then drove to the semidetached house she shared with Mr Stoneman, 33.

Jones then acted as if nothing had happened with her partner and colleagues.

But South Wales Police were tipped off by a health worker who noticed that her pregnancy had been registered but there was no record of a birth.

There’s a ton of plot possibilities in this tragic story. It lends itself mostly to a horror type scenario; a criminal investigation close to the real events is probably not interesting enough. But once you add evil cultists, the entire thing becomes much more sinister: Maybe the woman had designs for the dead baby’s body – why else keep it in the car? And was it really stillborn in the first place? Maybe it got switched for a changeling, a demon, or even the Antichrist (see Rosemary’s Baby).

In a dark but maybe more realistic setting, the baby could have been sold to unscrupulous corporations, who use small children for medical experiments or to raise them into rough, tough, emotionless killers or cybernetically controlled slaves.

For a happier ending, the child could still be alive. This works especially well if the child is somehow important – for example, because he is the son of a king. The protagonists must race against time to find the baby before it dies.

Plot-a-Day: Black Magic Serial Killer

One of the things a lot of people seem have problems with is where and how to get ideas. Personally, I never found this to be a problem – and one of the best sources for plot ideas is still the real world. This is one reason among several why I read the news almost daily.

Here’s a very good example, posted on the BBC News Site. In Indonesia, a man was executed for the murder of over 40 women ten years ago:

An Indonesian man who murdered 42 women and girls in black magic rituals has been executed by firing squad.

Self-confessed “shaman” Ahmad Suraji, 57, told police he killed the women to improve his magical powers.

He had been sentenced to death in 1998 after police found the women’s bodies buried in a field in North Sumatra.

Suraji’s victims had come to him for supernatural help with their finances and love life.

Police said he persuaded them to be buried naked up to the neck before strangling them.

This is a pretty obvious plot idea, and it can be transplanted to pretty much any setting and genre. In a horror setting or a fantasy world, the man may actually possess magic powers, but even in a hyper-modern science fiction setting there will always be people who believe in the supernatural and there will always be con artists (and the honest insane) who take advantage of this.

The protagonists could be involved in tracking down this serial killer, or they or a friend could be persons who ask the “magician” for help. The killer might actually be using the victims to prepare a grand ritual to summon a supernatural being straight out of a Lovecraft novella. They could be explorers or tourists in the Caribbean, and stumble across a witch doctor who buries his victims in an attempt to turn them into zombies.

For extra color, change the method of killing – Instead of strangling them, he could use a ritual dagger and slowly bleed them to death. Or he could leave them, helplessly buried to their necks, when a nasty monster approaches out of the darkness and eats the victims alive.

Of course, it is just as possible in your story that the “magician” is an innocent man, himself the victim of a witch-hunt, and the players must rescue him before he is executed by the firing squad – maybe because it’s “the right thing to do”, or because they were hired (or blackmailed) to do so, or he may actually possess some vital knowledge the characters need in your campaign: A rare spell, knowledge of the whereabouts of the sunken treasure, plans to the secret underground bunker the terrorists hide their improvised nukes in… You get the idea.