I’ve written on this blog already about the “Horror on the Orient Express” Call of Cthulhu campaign, and about the excellent campaign podcast GMed by Paul MacLean and available to subscribers at yog-sothoth.com. I also mentioned that I ran the game myself in college (although not as well as Paul did), and when one of my ex-roommates and players asked me to do a drawing from the campaign, of course I said yes.
My friend requested a drawing of a scene from the campaign, in which one of the other players — an Italian Futurist poet who had joined the party at an art gallery in London where he performed a rousing in-character slam-poem on the theme of ‘trains’ — was making his way through customs using a mind-control amulet he had picked up from the Lloigor earlier in the story. By this point, his character was almost totally insane as a result of his experiences. The tentacled shape in the back doorway is not literal, rather symbolic of pursuing evils. He’s crazy anyways, so maybe he’s hallucinating.
I try to get reference material for these sketches, so I emailed Aaron, the actual player of the character, who described him: “The character was a Futurist, loosely modeled in attitude after Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, though occupying a less prominent role in the movement. I don’t recall the characters name, but it was something “Italian-sounding” (the character was definitely Italian), I believe starting with an “M”. Prior to becoming a Futurist, I believe he was a train conductor (fitting the futurist obsession with trains, mechanism, and fast movement). He also must have been a soldier during WWI, thus making him probably in his late 20s. Over the course of the adventure, he had (as is the wont of CoC characters) grown progressively more insane–I think I recall half of the party capturing a cultist, trying to force him to talk, and having the skin of his face ripped off and being sucked into his mouth to silence him.” For what it’s worth, I always envisioned the character as being clean-shaven with long hair, like Aaron himself, but when the pen hit the paper I ended up giving him only slightly longish hair and a mustache like the original Marinetti. Over-reliance on reference material? Or just period realism? Either way, let no one say that our games didn’t have lots of research, darnit!
Speaking of the Orient Express, Nick Marsh, one the players in the excellent Yog-Sothoth.com campaign, is actually writing a novelization of the original campaign. Since most of my own story ideas came from roleplaying games (including my currently-on-hold 2003-2007 webcomic The Stiff), I heartily endorse the idea, and I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out!