We Are All Monsters
As a big fan of Lovecraft’s work, I have found myself perturbed and saddened, at times, to discover the racist and xenophobic views he held while living. I have questioned whether to separate the person from the art. I have done this on occasion. I loved Ender’s Game but refused to continue reading the series once I found out that Orson Scott Card is openly homophobic and advocates against equal rights for the LGBTQ community. However, I do still find myself revisiting and reading Lovecraft and have told myself he is an unfortunate product of his time but, it can still be uncomfortable to read some of his stories and their xenophobic undercurrents.
I was therefore overjoyed to discover Emrys’ novel as it contained within it characters once believed to be monsters. Lovecraftian “creatures” that were actually people, that were human. I could read this book and pore over its canonical detail and its references to Cthulhu and the Yith without wondering if there was any backhanded and racist allegory at play. This novel is a gift to anyone who loves the mythological sandbox that Lovecraft has created but is at odds with the man himself.
This is where I shall put a call out to board game designers! There are more than just a few board games out there playing within the aforementioned Lovecraftian sandbox. I ask you to reconsider characters and their motives. I ask you to empathize with “the other.” I ask you to make something new with what has been provided to you. Create a game where a character like Aphra can lead the narrative and protect herself and her family from those that would do them harm. How fun it would be to pray to the cosmic gods rather than cower in fear of them.
There’s a great scenario in Fantasy Flight’s Mansions of Madness (2nd ed.) board game based on The Shadow Over Innsmouth. *SPOILER ALERT* Players find themselves trapped in a hotel room in Innsmouth with locals banging on the door to get in and threatening to harm or kill them. In a simple reversal, what if you were playing as the character that was banging on the door? Doesn’t it make sense that the locals would not want outsiders escaping with knowledge of their cultural practices and ways? That, if word were to get to the government, their community and way of life would be completely in jeopardy? It makes sense then, that there is a mob trying to round up the human investigators and that Deep Ones are lunging out of the water to impede their escape. They know who the real monsters are.