The Cthulhu Alphabet (2020)

Yesterday, I said the Monster Alphabet worked less for me than the Dungeon Alphabet, because I have a better understanding of monsters than I do dungeons. So the book about dungeons naturally feels more useful. But when I said that, I meant D&D-style monsters. Eldritch creatures from beyond time and space, whose very existence is corrosive to the human mind? I don’t understand them at all. And thus, I love The Cthulhu Alphabet.

This one comes a little bit out of left field for me. It seems like something I wouldn’t find useful at all, but then, there is a saying about books, covers and judging. Where the previous books deconstructs aspects of RPGs, the Cthulhu Alphabet deconstructs the entirety of the Cthulhu Mythos sub-genre of cosmic horror. Fans of the mythos will find nothing new here while simultaneously being constantly surprised.

Let me explain. In elementary school, I feel like my history lessons were mostly centered on North America, starting with material on Native Americans, then moving to Columbus, then the Revolution and so on. Because it was siloed like that, when I was in college and realized that Columbus sailed during the Renaissance, my mind was a little blown. The facts were the same, but the context of them changed in a way that brought new meaning and clarity. Cthulhu Alphabet functions the same, putting familiar pieces together in a new way. It feels distinct from the fiction, from Call of Cthulhu and from the D&D version of the mythos, but also helps you see all three in a new light. And you can use these tables to turn any kind of game into a horror show, which is pretty neat.

Fantasic art, again. The book was the brainchild of Bradley McDevitt and he really pulls out the stops. Mullen also serves up some faves — I love that sunken pillar illustration. Rad Erol Otus cover, too.

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