Elric of R’lyeh: An Introduction

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Ylrhc R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn

Elric of R’lyeh was originally a marriage of convenience between Chaosium’s Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu. Rather than inject Lovecraftian nihilistic horror into a fantasy world (plenty of that already), the intent is to marry Moorcockian cosmology with a 1920s alternate earth.

This isn’t so much a setting as a “meta setting”; the balance between Lovecraft and Moorcock in the cosmic outlook is not fixed. As such it’s closer to an academic discussion than a work of fan fiction. Over the next few posts I’m going to serialise my game notes, including discussions on daily life, religion, geopolitics, myth, magic and philosophy. Whether the end product is Stormbringer’s Young Kingdoms superimposed over the 1920s Earth, or Call of Cthulhu’s version of our earth with a subtle taint of chaos, is for the reader to decide.

About Sources

The roleplaying games Call of Cthulhu and Stormbringer are not about faithfully recreating the worlds of Lovecraft and Moorcock, but about running a workable version of those worlds where players can see their characters in context. Moorcock has been dissatisfied with the portrayals of his characters in at least some of the roleplaying products that bear the Eternal Champion monicker; this isn’t something I wish to explore here. Furthermore the goal of this project was never to faithfully interpret Moorcock’s entire cosmology, but rather analyse the elements that make the multiverse and discuss how those would apply in a re-imagined 1920s.

Therefore in the mention of sources, any reference to the roleplaying games are for purposes of referencing mechanics and colour that originate in those games. There are parts of the games that do not accurately portray the literature — the portrayal of magic in both Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu, for example — which, while not true to the original sources, are still useful mechanically. For the actual events of Moorcock and Lovecraft’s books, the content within the games will always be viewed through the lens of the games’ author, and returning to the original sources is the best practice.

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