Monday, April 3, 2017

He thrusts his fists against the (blog) posts...

...and still insists he sees the ghosts...

Pennywise illustration by Mark J Hiblen
(Illustrations of M J Hiblen)
Had weird dreams last night again. Clowns this time. I guess I shouldn't have watched the trailer for the remake of "IT" in the evening beforehand.

IT has long been an important book to me as it was the one that got me into reading for pleasure. Before IT I wasn't a reader at all. Sure, I bought a lot of books, mostly adaptations of movies that I'd seen at the cinema so I could replay the best bits long before we had a VHS player. But I recounted my experiences with IT before - how the cover used to stare at me at the tiny bookstore in my small hometown, how I became haunted by it and finally had to read it - in an earlier blogpost that also related my meeting the legendary Stephen King himself.

IT was one of those books that really resonated with me, mostly because I always felt like our D&D group was our version of the Losers Club. Not that I'm saying the rest of our group were losers, but (probably much like a lot of kids in school) I never felt like I fit in with the rest of the school. The D&D group was the one place I really felt at home and comfortable. School was always trying to avoid being bullied, struggling to get through the lessons, and failing to get the attention of that girl in your class who made your heart quicken but didn't even know you existed.

Our D&D group met two or three evenings a week, during the week, with games usually filling day and evening at the weekends. When most of the group disappeared off to Universities, leaving only two or three of us behind, the games dwindled, and real life kicked in - having to find work, etc. While I tried to get into game writing, I spent my time discovering reading for pleasure, with IT being the gateway drug of choice. Even though I was only 18-19, I was already nostalgic for the earlier days of gaming with the group, and the routine of school. What a messed up teen I must have been.

IT, and its Losers Club, really struck a chord with me - though the time period was a little off in the book to really hit home. Of course, that's something that has been rectified with the new movies, with the Losers Club taking place in the 1980s, rather than the 50s.

Of course, with the 80s being when I was a chubby, weird-looking, unliked teenager, the Netflix series "Stranger Things" really appealed to me too. I've just started watching it again, and its IT influence is obvious. Damn, that's just about a perfect series.

Illustration of The Demogorgon from Stranger Things
by Mark J Hiblen
(Illustrations of M J Hiblen)
Stranger Things was a brilliantly executed series that fed people of a certain age's nostalgia. The group of teens (again, united by their "outsider" status and playing D&D) were familiar to us, not only because of movies like ET, The Goonies and the like. But also because we were those teens. 

Of course, none of our RPG group were abducted by creatures from the Upside-down. At least, not to my knowledge.

But the IT trailer drew me back to a rewatch of Stranger Things, and I started wondering again about RPGs. Maybe Stranger Things is the perfect source for an RPG? I know there have been a few "fan created" RPGs or D&D supplements inspired by Stranger Things. And you could easily play Stranger Things using the rather awesome Little Fears, or the new Tales from the Loop RPGs. (Both highly recommended and inspired in their execution).

That train of thought, and April Fool's Day, reminded me of a couple of April Fools products I touted on here a few years ago (No, I didn't do an April Fools this year, as I know a lot of people who get pissed off by them). 

Cover for fake RPG I posted a few years ago
I posted about Ka-Tet, the RPG of Stephen King's The Dark Tower - I really did approach Stephen King's lawyers about that, but I think it must have been just as the movie rights were being finalised and it all came to a grinding halt. Of course, a Dark Tower RPG would have incorporated elements from most of his books, including IT, The Stand, Eyes of the Dragon, etc... That would have been amazing...

I also posted about Full of Secrets, the RPG of Twin Peaks. Though I never tried to get the license for that, it still would be cool. I do love Lynch, and Twin Peaks' return is only a couple of months away. Cannot wait!

But both of these are slightly nostalgic, and small town exploration. Sure, The Dark Tower has the potential to be epic fantasy with gunslingers, but a lot of King's work is set in small places like Derry, Castle Rock, etc. - King Country as I always call that area of Maine. Twin Peaks too is small town, supernatural elements... Much like Stranger Things' town of Hawkins. 

Maybe it's that urge to write about small town mysteries that's getting to me. I always liked the idea of having a setting (rather like Chaosium's awesome sourcebooks like Dunwich) which is filled with characters, secrets and plot-hooks. With a simple system, supernatural overtones, and a sense of the weird, you could easily do Stranger Things, IT or Twin Peaks. That's probably something that's really appealing about Tales from the Loop on top of its 80s setting.

Of course, this may just be my nostalgia kicking in again. Growing up in a small town, but living in a city for the last 20 years... Maybe I just feel the draw of a small town again. Get away from the cities, back to my roots. Small towns, full of mystery and secrets.


Sorry this post was a bit rambly and stream of consciousness. Normal service will be resumed soon. In the meantime, go read IT. Go watch Stranger Things if you haven't already (and if you have, why not rewatch it before season two in October?). Maybe rewatch Twin Peaks, ready for the long awaited third season in May?

Remember, the owls are not what they seem. 

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