We first considered doing a gothic version of IHMN back in mid-2013. It was an immensely busy period for us as we had just launched IHMN, delivered the manuscript for HVF to Osprey and created the outline for SDRS. Gothic was one of several paths we had mapped out as possible next steps for the game.
At one of the shows that summer, I cannot remember which, I had a chance encounter with one of the writing team behind the Empire of the Dead. We had a most pleasant chat and we both agreed that our two games complemented each other, we doing Victorian Science Fiction and they Victorian Gothic Horror. We also thought it amusing that we had both been characterised as ‘Steampunk’.
This encounter had a significant effect on me and subsequently the IHMN production schedule. I discussed it briefly with Charles and we decided that it would not be helpful to either party if we published a Gothic supplement in direct competition with EotD, at least until both games were well-established.
Since then we have received a lot of feedback from IHMN players asking us to produce Gothic material for the game. When we did not, those creative players went and did their own anyway. They had noted our slight nod towards Gothic in HVF and some had decided that would be all we would do.
Well it is a year later and both IHMN and EotD are secure in the niches they have created. We are really pleased at the success of EotD and the direction it has taken, so we decided that it might be time to give our players what they had been asking for.
However, we weren’t comfortable with the idea of rounding up every Victorian Gothic monster we could find and just creating little more than a catalogue. As always for us it is all about the story, there had to be a reason for these creatures and their masters to exist and a milieu that is uniquely theirs.
This is when we began looking more closely at the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the sick man of Europe. Despite its wealth and power the Empire had not assimilated the dozens of ethnic groupings into the Imperial ideal very well at all. There was always unrest in one corner or another and the Imperial Court found it hard to handle this. They couldn’t follow the methods that other Imperial colonial powers used to quell dissent as these were not savages, but Christian Europeans. So compromises were made, too many compromises.
Some of the most iconic stories of the gothic milieu begin or have their roots in those difficult to govern parts of the eastern provinces of that Empire. It is also an Empire we had pretty much ignored up until now in IHMN so, after some thought, we decided to set IHMN Gothic firmly in Carpathia and Transylvania.
Most, but not all, of the companies in IHMN Gothic shall be from or involved in this region. This does not mean that they cannot be used elsewhere, just that their roots and raison d’etre are there. We shall also give you some ideas why other companies that have been already published might be involved in the region – Vlad Tepes, the Ottoman Counter-intelligence Service and the Society of Thule are obvious candidates.
The scenarios, complicators and landscapes shall most definitely be rooted here as shall the bestiary, which we are sure many players will be really keen to read. Obviously the equipment shall reflect the companies they serve. Expect plenty of kit created to deal with the particular terrors of the milieu. These shall help offset some of the terrifying enemies they will have to face.
New rules on horror, that will supplement those on terror will be found in the talents and powers sections. Expect words such as eldritch, horripilation, sinister, curse, frenzied, feast, enthral, miasma, desecration, dread, strangling and many more…
Of course every innovation has to be checked against the current range of equipment, creatures, talents and powers to ensure it is in harmony and balance with the rest of the books. This shall take time and quite a few discussions.
One particular company we are really enjoying writing at the moment are the Carpathian/Transylvanian Villagers. Many writers look on these benighted souls as victims to be played with by their monsters. We see them more as hardened survivors, people you must be careful not to oppress too much or you will suffer the attentions of the Village Mob. After all they have survived for centuries in conditions that would send the average Londoner into an asylum in a single day. Even Frankenstein and Dracula fear rousing such an assembly of rage and grief.
Not every company shall be a product of horror, there shall be heroes as well. Many of these shall bear the scars of what they must face and have been made a little darker by it.
So much to do, and so little time…