The Devil in the Details

Caution Sign. Oregon State Historic Cemeteries.

Caution Sign. Oregon State Historic Cemeteries.

It’s the little details that often capture our imaginations while we run and play games. These are some spooky-to-gruesome sights in the spirit of the season, to inspire your games, tabletop or larp, across a number of time periods.

The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has 18 free prop templates for documents you can use with your Mythos-inspired games. From an Arkham Library Card to a Death Certificate, they’ve got you covered from fictional childhood to fictional grave. For those who desire more horror ephemera in their life, they’ve got prop and font CDs. If you’re on a big budget, their online store has idols, summoning stones, Miskatonic props, and a whole lot more. If you’re looking for literary Lovecraft details, I’d suggest starting with Kenneth Hite’s books Cthulhu 101 and Tour de Lovecraft.

For a treasure trove of eerie locales, strange phenomena, odd items, and sometimes gruesome history, you can check out Atlas Obscura.  The Atlas is an online compendium that users are constantly adding to. There’s a search function, a random place button for a little inspiration, and a treasure trove of articles about the world’s strange and unusual places to journey to. They also have events, putting Atlas Obscura’s explorers into contact with one another to share tours of bizarre landmarks and city streets. It’s a great source of inspiration for game locations, missions, and historic cursed objects to pull into your game. Because the Atlas is global, it’s not terribly hard to find places and artifacts far from your own backyard (and sometimes in your backyard).

Should you be involved in live action roleplaying, or even just getting into it, Larp Couture is a sprawling resource that spans G+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Researched by Caroline E Willis, you’ll find images of costumes, links to historic essays, videos of making costume components, actual play experiences, cosplay photos and a glorious array of links and resources for larpers, both players and GMs alike. It’s an intensely visual Tumblr, and the content is fascinating.

When you want to pull in medical details from history, The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice. The gruesome-but-fabulous creation of medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris, she specializes in Restoration London (1660-1700) surgical history, but has an extensive knowledge of surgery in history outside her field focus. Her casebooks include information on childhood deaths in Victorian England, syphillis, a skeleton that turned to stone, and interviews with fellow professionals working with the dead, such as her interview with funeral director Jeff Jorgenson. Because Fitzharris’s specialty is focused on surgery, her site is not for those who would like to avoid gore, blood, depictions of dead people, or extensively detailed discussions of surgeon. Fitzharris and her work can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to her own site, she’s also blogged about medical history at The Huffington Post’s UK site.


If you have beloved online resources or books that have inspired your gaming, leave them in the comments for the inspiration of others.


About l

L is a freelancer currently working as a writer, editor, journalist and game designer. She hauls a suitcase decorated in stickers as she blogs, travels, and tours. She makes her home in Washington, California, and wherever the tour stopped last night. You can follow L on twitter (@lilyorit )

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