Yesterday I wrote that I was in the process of starting a new Call of Cthulhu campaign. This past weekend characters were made and this coming weekend the insanity begins. However, today I figured I’d shoot the proverbial shit behind the inspiration for the campaign I'm calling Arkham Heat...
I’ve been wanting to write a hard boiled detective/mystery story for some time now. I wanted to create a noir setting involving a detective that I could come back to again and again in a series of short stories. One of the things that intrigues me lately are TV shows and comic books. By that I mean I find it fascinating how writers are able to craft an ongoing series based on a cast of reoccurring characters and scene locations. Used over and over again, we seen the cast pitted against all manner of events and watch them grow as a result. Both TV and comics, two similar yet different mediums of story telling allow the author to tell shorter stories in the context of a larger over arching plot line. But I’m digressing from my main point.
Right, so hard boiled detective fiction. I think everyone knows what the stereotype of hard boiled fiction is, and yet I'm sure few people actually know what the genre is all about. More over I feel like many people have their own personal definition of what they consider the genre to be. At least that's how I felt. So I decided to do a little bit of personal research into the subject and went to the local library here. There I checked out two collections of stories by the God-Fathers of the genre Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett.
I wasn’t able to actually finish the collections as my reading time as of late has been rather reduced, but I did manage to finish Hammet’s novel Red Harvest.
As I read this story all I could think was “This is Cyberpunk, with out the cyber!” It was bloody, and dark. Bullets, broads, and booze were everywhere. People were being killed, plots, within plots were being hatched, and I found myself completely blown away. What I thought was going to be a dry boring read made me think that this could easily be slightly modified as a modern action flick for today's big screen with no problem at all.
And it made me think of Cthulhu. Strangely, Lovecraft wrote in this same time period more or less and yet his stories did not sound like this at all. While Hammett was raw and rough, Lovecraft had some kind of old English gentility to his writing. Regardless, the streams were crossed and my mind began to wander pregnant with possibility.
I imagined an Arkham that resembled something more akin to Gotham City, than a peaceful university town. A place that was full of greedy, low life thugs looking out for only themselves, and that was just the cops. A place where the mob rubbed shoulders with the heads of banks, and government officials. A place that if you wanted justice done then you needed to pay off the right people. And of course at the very center of this web of corruption, awaited the biggest cancer of all. The Cthulhu Mythos.
I don’t want to say too much right now because my player’s may be reading this blog. But that’s the seed that started it all. Next time I will talk a little about the characters that are about to be burned alive in the Arkham Heat…