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- Robinson L on Kickstopper: Turning the Lights Out On Those Who Most Need Them at 22:02 on 19-01-2018 - link Okay. In the article you tossed that information out as if it was already established, but then the way you talked about it later made it clear this mandate to play up be endings was specific to the Cthulhu Dark module (though I'm aware the baseline for Lovecraftian storytelling is to have downbeat endings), so I was confused.
Arthur B on Kickstopper: Turning the Lights Out On Those Who Most Need Them
at 22:18 on 18-01-2018 - link
In terms of there being no way to be a good ending - it's basically Walmlsey playing up to a very specific vision of how cosmic horror works.
To be fair, in baseline Call or Trail it's often stated that whatever victories the player characters accomplish may only be a temporary respite for humanity, rather than permanently ensuring its safety, but the way Cthulhu Dark reads it genuinely seems like Walmsley is advocating that for true full-bore cosmic horror you need to confront the characters with something terrible which ultimately they can't do anything about.
Thing is, whilst that works in a prose story - Thomas Ligotti does that a lot, and Lovecraft would write plenty of stories like that himself - that both ignores the occasional story like The Dunwich Horror where a victory against encroaching forces of chaos and dissolution is won and also feels like a frustrating way to run a game, unless it were going to be a one-off thing where everyone was going into it buying into the "no win condition" thing.
It's also another thing which isn't in the original 4-page pamphlet version of Cthulhu Dark, which I remain convinced is the best version of this game.
Arthur B on Kickstopper: Turning the Lights Out On Those Who Most Need Them
at 21:59 on 18-01-2018 - link
Without wanting to kick off a long political digression, I’d argue the age of austerity constitutes constant interventions by those in power which either create or magnify much of said bad shit, which they insulate themselves from with their power and push onto those who lack it.
True that, though the upshot of this is that if you happen to hail from a privileged background you have the option of just not caring or paying attention to politics at all - and ultimately it's hard to tell the difference between conscious neglect and unthinking ignorance if it's your local infrastructure crumbling because of it.
Robinson L on Kickstopper: Turning the Lights Out On Those Who Most Need Them
at 20:36 on 18-01-2018 - link
It feels to me that in the age of austerity “Bad shit happens to those not in power because those in power don’t give a shit and aren’t paying attention” is an important and useful premise for this sort of social commentary horror
Hmm, I dunno, Arthur. Without wanting to kick off a long political digression, I’d argue the age of austerity constitutes constant interventions by those in power which either create or magnify much of said bad shit, which they insulate themselves from with their power and push onto those who lack it. In effect, they’re actively manufacturing the circumstances which allows the bad shit to arise and thrive.
From what I know, a better comparison might be the AIDS crisis in the 80s.
by mandating that there is no way to get a good ending
You toss this point out as if it’s a minor detail, but you keep coming back to it throughout the article, and from later remarks I gather that it’s not a standard feature of Lovecraftian tabletop games like Call of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu. Does Walmsley ever explain the rationale behind this particular mechanic?
By definition, in Cthulhu Dark Insight is not merely an understanding of the immediate mystery in front of you - you can learn all sorts of stuff about it without necessarily raising your Insight, after all - but your appreciation of the ultimate cosmic nihilism underpinning everything. In other words, it represents a change in your worldview, and it seems strange that your worldview would have snapped back to what it originally was between investigations.
This whole thing reminds me of the trope in videogames where the main characters’ levels, equipment, and spells or abilities are reset to their starting point in between games.
Ashimbabbar: say what you want about Masks of Nyarlathotep, but IMO joining a raid of Chinese anarchists against one of the bad guys' main bases just rocks
Now that sounds like my kind of campaign.
Robinson L on Cakes on a Train
at 20:00 on 18-01-2018 - link
Great to see you back in action, Sonia. I’d like to comment on the article, but I haven’t seen the movie, and while I wouldn’t be against it, I have no particular desire to see it.
Murder on the Orient Express is one of the stories that would be plausibly easy to have an all-white cast for, so it's good to see Leslie Odom Jr, a black man, playing one of the central characters. The opening scenes, too, feature a predominantly non-white Jerusalem which is by no means a given in these types of adaptations.
I’m sure I heard somewhere Brannagh has a history of hiring racially diverse casts. He was the director who gave us Idris Elba as Heimdall after all, and I think we can all agree the Thor films a stronger for it (despite some … questionable incidents towards the end of Ragnarok).
As long as we’re talking, Murder on the Orient Express, there’s an awesome in-joke in one of the later “Thursday Next” books by Jasper Fforde, where the main character is in the realm of fiction where all the characters from novels past and present live, and has to interrogate a yeti. Upon learning the main character’s a cop, the yeti exclaims, “I swear, I was nowhere near the Orient Express that night, and even if I was, I had nothing against Mr. Casetti (sp?)!” (paraphrased). Which if you’ve read the book is absolutely priceless.
Sonia Mitchell on Cakes on a Train
at 20:10 on 10-01-2018 - link
Thanks, Arthur. It’s been far too long.
The Johnny Depp think did occur to me. It’s a good performance but yeah.I think you’re right about the structure of the mystery, although I first read the book so long ago it’s hard to evaluate it objectively. Christie was very good at hiding pertinent facts in plain sight, which is wisely not something Brannagh attempts. It’s much easier to hide things in text.
There were a few rumbles of surprise in the cinema, memorably when Mrs Hubbard revealed herself to be the avenging mother, but overall I think most of us were there to see a story we already knew.
Your Chandler quote reminds me of the end of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (spoiler):
”In the end I asked a child. I told him the story of the trick and asked him how he thought it had been done, and he said, and I quote, ‘It’s bleedin’ obvious, innit, he must’ve ‘ad a bleedin’ time machine.’”
It’s a very hard frame of mind to get into.
- Robinson L on Funny, Complex, Imbalanced. at 15:30 on 09-01-2018 - link Sounds like more than good enough for me. I'll be sure to make a report once I've read it, though but that'll probably take a while.
Arthur B on Cakes on a Train
at 10:02 on 09-01-2018 - link
Woo, welcome back Sonia! It's good to see you (er, read you) again.
Johnny Depp makes a suitably crawly businessman that it's easy to wish bad things upon.
Which, given what Amber Heard has told us over the past couple years, I suppose makes it an inspired casting choice in a deeply unfortunate way. :(
On the spoilery bits - spoiler-tagged for the benefit of folk who get comments via RSS:I think part of the problem of contracting the first section of the story is that once it's become clear that there's an outright weird number of people with connections to the murder-kidnap on the train, the second mystery you identify stops being that mysterious. Maybe the actual process involved was obscured, but "group vigilante action" becomes the most plausible prospect at that point.
In the original book Christie had the advantage that readers had very specific expectations of this sort of detective story, which included the idea that there was one specific individual who did the deed. Raymond Chandler rages against the solution in The Simple Art of Murder precisely because he seems to feel that Christie has cheated in some respect; when he says "Only a halfwit could guess it" I think part of what he means is that the solution breaks the rules of the genre sufficiently seriously that it could only be guessed by someone who simply didn't grasp those rules in the first place.
Thing is, modern audiences are a bit more used to genre pieces which break major axioms of the genre in one way or another, so I suspect that these days if you give the audience time to think about it they'd arrive at the "collective effort" solution sooner or later. The only way to conserve the surprise at that point is to make sure the solution to part B comes hot on the heels of part A, so the audience either doesn't have time to arrive at the logical conclusion or the solution is provided soon enough after they've guess that they don't feel like the movie is taking them for fools.
So on that basis it's probably for the best that the movie is largely aimed at being a cozy piece for people who already have familiarity with the story, because structurally Brannagh's done the opposite of what he needed to do to make the whodunnit bits pop.