Kingsport: The City in the Mists (1991)

With Kingsport: The City in the Mists, Keith Herber handed off writing duties for the Lovecraft Country series to Kevin Ross, but maintained his spot in the editor’s chair.

As with the other books in the series, this is a deep dive, into the city and its inhabitants, this time with a distinctly different vibe. A picturesque seaside town, Kingsport is the least famous of Lovecraft’s imaginary Massachusetts locales, probably because none of his most famous stories are set there. As it turns out, that lack of fictional detail is probably what makes Kingsport such a great Call of Cthulhu supplement.

Ross uses Lovecraft’s story “The High House in the Mist” as a jumping-off point. In that story, the titular house, high above the city on Kingsport Head, sits at a junction between worlds, namely this one and the Dreamlands. Ross uses that proximity to the sleeping world to infuse the entire city with a kind of dreaminess. It’s a lovely setting where cosmic horror takes a back seat to more Romantic and gothic mystery.

This culminates with Ross’ scenario “Dreams and Fancies,” one of my favorite Call of Cthulhu scenarios, in which the suicide of a young poet leads investigators into dreams based on his poems, culminating with them confronting their darkest selves. It is a nightmare, but is also beautiful in its construction. Jason Eckhardt’s illustrations here are delightfully creepy (reproduced here: the meeting in the cemetery and the crown of Poseidon).

There’s also a scenario involving undead pirates, a clear homage to John Carpenter’s The Fog, which is also a classic.

This book, with the same title and cover, was revised and reprinted in 2003. It is identical to the original aside of the inclusion of D20 rules.

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