A reunion with former role-player leads to memories of an incident 15 years ago
It was a hot summer evening in Bristol and David J Rodger was with a young Zaniah and another man. The windows of the apartment were open and when she screamed”God no please don’t kill my baby!” there almost followed a long discussion with the police.
Zaniah is one of those natural role-players who took to it from the first session and back in 1999 she was an integral part of a small group of five players who regularly took part in something I merely called Game. A loose collection of home-grown RPG systems I’d been cooking up since 1996. In 2007 they were overhauled and merged into a brand new universe called Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur; something post-apocalyptic, where the Cthulhu Mythos (H.P.Lovecraft) has delivered an almost killer blow against Earth.
Back in 1999 I was using Game to run Chaosium’s seminal piece of investigation-horror, the globe-spanning campaign Masks of Nyarlathotep. We were deep into the adventure and at one point I had to take Zaniah and another player into a separate room to discuss a situation that was evolving. The other player was Nice Guy Tony, who, to everyone’s surprise decided to drop to his knees, grovelling before the might of Nyarlathotep, and offer worship. No surprise to me (as GM); his character had long ago become infected by a seed of the Wamphyri (classic creation of Brian Lumley from his Necroscope series).
Nyarlathotep is the ultimate bad guy from the Cthulhu Mythos. NGT’s character knew which side his bread was buttered on, and, that survival in the face of a monstrous, shape-shifting Outer God from beyond the Quantisphere was very much reliant on compliance. Besides, NGT’s Wamphyri got to enjoy some particularly dark forms of reality warping magic (until of course, as with any deal involving Nyarlathotep, the rug was pulled from beneath NGT’s feet and the magic and knowledge and powers were used to figuratively hang himself).
The scene is set. Zaniah and NGT in the room with me. Late, on a hot summer evening. The windows are open. Nyarlathotep demands sacrifice. NGT grabs the small child that Zaniah’s character had given birth to…
You can imagine the rest.
It was intense and emotionally charged scene. The emotions were very real, as is the way with role-playing when you’re deep into a character and not merely sitting rolling dice to try and “win” something.
A few days later I met some of my neighbours outside and they told me they had heard the horrific voices coming from my apartment and thought that something truly diabolical was taking place, and nearly called the police.
Sitting with Zaniah in a cafe in 2014, recalling this story and talking about it, we found ourselves being scrutinised by a young couple sitting on the next table. How much had they overhead and how much did they realise was fabrication?
Beware the power of fictional worlds to invade and infect reality. Or just keep your voice down when you’re gobbing off about killing people and fleeing the wrath of powerful deities.
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