Trail of Cthulhu: First Impressions & Campaign Journal

I had a chance to join an online game of Trail of Cthulhu (on the local Discord tabletop RPG server), and we had our first session last night. I though I’d record my thoughts here, and then follow up with a brief journal entry in-character.

If you’re not interested in RPGs, you may want to skip this.

If you are interested in RPGs, then your mileage with this post will vary depending on how experienced you are with Gumshoe, whether the spoilers in the campaign log will ruin anything for you. Beneath the cut, the post is marked up periodically to point out things that may or may not be of use to you. 

You done been warned. 

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Old Movie Promo Posters in Korea

In Korean cinemas, upcoming and currently-running films are advertised using handouts (available on a stand within the cinema) that are A4 printouts of the film’s poster on the front, with a writeup and some still frames from the film on the back. Maybe these exist in Canada now too, but I’d never seen such a thing before I arrived here, years ago. 

As long as I’ve been here, these flyers were always just a re-texted version of the film poster, with the title in Hangeul. (Sometimes, the title really is just “in Hangeul”—not translated, just written using English words in a Korean script. Years ago, some Taiwanese students of mine were puzzled by this and asked a classmate majoring in marketing, who explained that Koreans see English as “classy” and so therefore think “러브 액츄얼리” is a classier title than “실제로 사랑.” It’s worth noting that “러브 액츄얼리” sounds way less classy to an English-speaker’s ears than “실제로 사랑”… but, like Britons using French to sound classy in the old days, most Koreans don’t mind.) 

Anyway, while burbling about online I happened to stumble a webpage that contained the old Korean ads for Western films in the 80s. It’s pretty fascinating to see how different these things used to be back in the old days.  I also found it interesting how some of these films were (loosely speaking) SF movies (which is one reason I’m including this in the SF in South Korea series). 

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“The First Quest” AD&D Double LP

I mentioned the other day that it was interesting the Engel RPG got an official RPG album of music, and suggested this was an interesting idea whose time had not yet come. Afterward, I remembered seeing ads in Dragon for some bellydancing music that got repackaged as RPG music albums: 

Grabbed from the post “The Ads of Dragon: Music for Adventure Gaming” at Grognardia. Click for source.

I wonder how many people sent off for these LPs, and whether they were happy with what they got? I never did, but Internet to the rescue, you can hear it now:

Anyway, a sale post recently (back in September) on one of the game-related auction groups I follow on Facebook led me to the most unusual RPG/music album tie-in I’ve ever heard about, and this one goes all the way back to the mid-80s: “The First Quest”.

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Johnny Appleseed, Apple Genetics, and Burnt Orchards

One of the podcasts I listen to quite a bit is Stuff You Missed in History Class. They recently ran a “classic” episode demystifying the life of Johnny Appleseed, as John Chapman has become known. 

Now, all I really knew about him was from the Disney cartoon and one volume about the man in the Value Tales books. (Remember those? The one about him was titled The Value of Love.) Given that, I found it surprisingly interesting, though it turns out it’s pretty hard to demystify the life of someone about whom a lot of stuff has been made up… and who went to some lengths to mystify his own life in the first place.   

Anyway, besides the fact that the man was a Swedenborgian (!) vegetarian who was against grafting apple cuttings—he was opposed to cutting up living things, even though made apple cultivation much more of a crapshoot—I learned that in any case,  apples just a hundred and twenty years ago mostly sucked: they weren’t the nice, sweet, big fruit we’re used to, but instead were small, sour, and not that nice… and if you grew apple trees from seeds, it really was a crapshoot in terms of what kinds of apples you’d get: because of the bizarro nature of apple genetics, the old saying about apples not falling far from the tree? It’s totally wrong. I’d figured apples had been ‘roided up in the past century or so, but I’d underestimated just how much.)

So why were people growing them? Why did people appreciate Chapman’s apple seed-planting?

Because they just wanted to get drunk. See, apples (at least the kind he was planting) were pretty much used for nothing much else at that time, because most people hated the sour flavor and saw them as not much good for anything else. Chapman was a popular guy, in part, because he was bringing the gift of booze to the frontier, and presumably that outweighed what the other settlers presumably saw as all his “weird religious talk” and other “eccentricities.” 

Now, I was already aware that in the new world, barley cultivation didn’t take off in anything like the amounts needed for a decent brewing industry to exist in the late 1700s. There are accounts of colonials in New England complaining of persimmon beer, which seems to be more like a fermented mix of persimmon juice and barley beer (heavier on the former, apparently). But I hadn’t given much thought to the idea that apples might have been pressed (ahem!) to pick up the slack, becoming a crop that, at least on the frontier, was primarily cultivated for the production of alcohol. 

That also explains why, though probably some of the apple plants alive today are the descendants/clones (through grafted cuttings) from some of trees Chapman planted, many of the orchards established by Appleseed were destroyed long before the apple trees themselves would naturally have died: the first chance they got, Temperance adherents burnt them right to the ground. 

Engel Arkana Cards, in English

UPDATE (5 Nov. 2017):

Not that I’m any closer to running this game, but I did end up figuring out how to select a color range in Gimp, and updated the cards to look a little nicer. If you’re interested, pop down to the end of this post to see (and or download) the updated cards. 

Original Post:

I may be the only person still interested in this, but one never knows, so here goes: this post contains a set of cards from a defunct game that I adapted for use by English speakers. They’re not beautiful (the original scans I had to work with were very basic), but you could probably print and play with them, or use them in digital form.

Which cards? What game?  Continue reading