Monday, May 23, 2011

What is the Weird?

The other day I mused about taking all of the Call of Cthulhu "Lovecraft Country" supplements and making a D&D sandbox out of them - man, the Gamer ADD is hitting me bad on this one - I may need to start a notebook on it.  It's one of those ideas I wish I thought of years ago.  More on that in another post.

Trey wondered in the comments if Weird is becoming too commonplace.  I've come across a few recent adventures that I would classify as "Weird" - we just played Hammers of the God, and a recent review was Spire of Iron and Glass.  For me, a Weird adventure needs to put horror, fantasy and science fiction into the blender, and keep the nature of reality and the cosmology very ambiguous.

But what really is the definition of Weird?  Is it one of those, "I can't define it, but I'll know when I see it?"

Does the Weird need Normal to create contrast and context?  If the whole campaign world is a gonzo mix of sci-fi and magic and horror, is it still Weird or is it just Gonzo?  I've been reading through/enjoying my LotFP grind-box and Mr Jim is clearly in the camp that the world should be as normal as possible - low magic and gritty, so that there's a clear demarcation between the Normal and the Weird.  It's a very compelling idea, but where does that leave Xothique, or Hyperborea?  In the realm of Gonzo?

I don't know that I have an answer, but would love to hear from *you*.  The Black City project I've been plugging away on has a blend of sci fi, horror and fantasy that nudges it towards my definition of Weird, but I'm undecided about the nature of the larger campaign world and rules set.  Does context matter?

Here's a good question, like a thought exercise - is an alien ruin in a historical Viking game different, in terms of Weird vs Gonzo, than placing it in a high-magic fantasy campaign loaded with magic items and high level wizards?