I’ve been playing Arkham Horror a lot in the past couple of years. I generally have a solo campaign on the go, and I’ve been playing it fortnightly at the Dice Saloon, going through each of the campaigns.
At the moment we’re playing Return to the Path to Carcosa. I’ve played through the regular Path to Carcosa solo a little while ago and really enjoyed it. The ‘Return to’ format remixes some elements and isn’t always more difficult, sometimes it’ll provide new options or different encounter decks. Arkham Horror already does a good job with replayability, this makes it even more varied.
I kept promising a reading list for the people playing in my group, so I posted this and thought I’d share it here, too:
The Yellow King by Robert W. Chambers
This is where it all comes from. Before Lovecraft, Robert Chambers took a rare journey into horror and made some fascinating stories about feral art. Almost hypnotic in their telling, these stories all talk of people pulled into the gravity of a strange play. This is a regular reread for me, and I can see why writers like HPL were inspired by it.
The Yellow King Graphic novel by I N J Culbard
This one was a tricky item to find, but it has some lovely visuals and delivers on a kind of slow build of horror, tying the stories from Chambers’ work together deftly as it goes.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A tale of isolation and madness, far too often forgotten. It really gets under the skin and under the wallpaper. It’s rarely on lists of influences, but definitely feels like it belongs alongside Chambers’ work
True Detective Season One by HBO
Yes, this prestige cop drama references the King in Yellow and Carcosa a bunch. It didn’t go full supernatural iwth it, but if there’s a supernatural entity that doesn’t need to how itself fully to be a weird presence, its this. I’ve been meaning to go back to it after getting heavily into the Carcosan side of things.
Call of Cthulhu: Tatters of the King by Tim Wiseman
A classic campaign for Call of Cthulhu and while I’ve not had a chance to run it, the game feels like a good influence on Path to Carcosa. The opening for both start at a play which goes awry. I’ve had my copy for years and I might run it with CoC 7th if I ever get it, or more likely Squamous or Cthulhu Dark.
The Yellow King RPG by Robin D. Laws
The Gumshoe system’s really good for investigative games, and the light version of it works perfectly for four games all around the themes of the Yellow King and how the Yellow Sign affects our world. Paris is the game in its purest form, with American and English art students in Paris encountering feral art. The Wars combines both World Wars into one bizarre pulp mashup as fictional forces bleed into the world. Aftermath shows the overthrow of the Castaigne Empire from America and how we might rebuild. This is Normal Now brings us the most terrifying world… our own one. Well, it adds a few twists, but I won’t go into those.
Call of Cthulhu: Curse of the Yellow Sign by John Wick (not that one)
Three stories using Call of Cthulhu, Trial of Cthulhu and its own self-contained system. Wick promised a Call of Cthulhu scenario which would be terrifying but wouldn’t have tomes, cults or monsters. He delivers here. The first scenario has you as doomed Nazis running an African mine in WWII and someone’s found something deep in the Earth. The second has a director running through a haunted script reading with his friends and his ex-wife in a snowed-in hotel. The third has amnesiacs on a spaceship where the AI might just have read the King in Yellow. I’ve run the first one of these and it was good, although it’s a hard sell given who you play, and the final scenario feels like it’s got some of Wick’s manipulative GMing tactics in there. I’ll probably revisit these with Cthulhu Dark at some point.
If you’ve encountered the King in Yellow in your travels, mention in the comments, as it’s always interesting encountering this world.