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Once a month, I put together a newpaper handout for our Call of Cthulhu 1940 game, and I enjoy the process far more than you might think. There's always a world news story, a ridiculous local-angle story, and a related-to-the-adventure story, plus whatever catches my fancy from the history of the period. Circuses, radio programs, civic clubs — and that bothersome European war.

Writing it is always a bit of a balancing act, because while I'm aping the journalistic style and conventions, I don't want it to be too dry. The two newspapers I've produced so far are the Astoria Courier and The Oregonian, circa 1940. Typical headlines include "Missing Girl Found", "The Springers Are Running" and "German Counterattack in Norway". They set the stage and get people thinking in period terms, and hey, Cthulhu has a long history of fancy player handouts.

The world history of the period is not one that reflects the US in the best light. The game is set during that long 2 year+ period after the invasion of Poland but before the US learned (violently) that events overseas might affect its isolationist splendor. In doing the research, it's clear the US was a different country back then. A typical quote from a big city mayor is "Portland can absorb only a minimum of Negroes without upsetting the city's regular life." Jim Crow wasn't just for the South.

I run the game because I enjoy mixing pulp flavor with Lovecraftian squishiness and evil cultists, but honestly I'm starting to think the historical side of the game is even more entertaining.


( 4 sutras — Your wisdom )
Oct. 16th, 2005 11:21 am (UTC)
I'm starting to think the historical side of the game is even more entertaining.

I'm shocked—shocked—by this news.


This sounds like hella fun. Would love to see one of these things one day.
Oct. 16th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC)
It's a single-paper newspaper created in about 2 or 3 hours (total to research, write, "edit", and lay out), so they have no right to look as nice as they do.

My overuse of headline screamers is probably part of the appeal.
Oct. 16th, 2005 03:38 pm (UTC)
How do your players react to the newspaper? Oh, and how much of it do you supply physically? A mockup front page with the tail end of any continued articles? A four-pager? Something else?
Oct. 16th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC)
The players tend to pass it around at the start of the session, or read it during slow periods or when their character is not involved.

I supply a half-page or full page of 8.5" x 11" paper as a front page mockup. I attempt to make sure that most articles have jump pages ("Continued on page...") at exactly the point where I no longer have enough historical information to do a good job.

A four-pager would be great, but even as it is, it's a 3 hour effort or so to do a creditable job. I tend to think a longer version would overwhelm the actual gameplay value.
( 4 sutras — Your wisdom )

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