It’s NecronomiCon…a place where outcasts rule, and everyone gets the nerdy reference on your t shirt. 2015 was the fourth NecronomiCon I have attended, and it was very different in two ways. First off, it was the first time that I brought my son. I had reservations about bringing a nine year old to a horror convention. He had a choice to spend a week with his grandmother at the beach, but decided that he did not want to be so far away from his parents. So he came along. He enjoys gaming, Cthulhu plushies, and has been known to beat adults at Warhammer 40k, so I thought that he would be okay here.
Second, this was the first time that I was more than a spectator at a con. I ran three sessions of the Call of Catthulhu RPG. I am generally a reserved person, so I had some trepidation about this. However, I was looking for a way to contribute to the convention, since I have been a fan of HPL for so long and wanted a way to give back. I also thought it would be a good way to have something to do with my son that I know he would enjoy.
We arrived at the Biltmore in Providence early Thursday afternoon. I was a little sad that they redecorated and it was a bit less creepy and haunted looking.
We were able to climb the steep hill to the John Hay library and see the Influence of Anxiety exhibit. I had chills run down my spine as I stood in the same room as some of HPL’s letters. I am still amazed at HPL’s small, cramped writing style. This exhibit made me glad that I can read his letters in book form, instead of trying to decipher his minuscule handwriting.
Next up, I ran a game of Call of Catthulhu, with my son as my co-cat herder. I had never run a game at a convention before and I was nervous. I signed up to run games on a whim and was full of fear and excitement about the outcome. The first game went well; I had some great players that were fun to break the ice with.
Once the game wrapped up, the guys went to play Reality A. I was able to meet up with some friends and head a few blocks over for an outdoor screening of Call of Cthulhu as well as some live bands. We were greeted with a site of roasted pig heads just as the EyeSores were finishing up. I tried out of Narragansett Innsmouth Olde Ale while watching a black and white silent film version of Call of Cthulhu.
After that, we watched The Big Nazo band, a local providence jazz band that dresses up like aliens and monsters. It was a like classier and slightly more family-friendly GWAR.
Friday morning I went to check out the Ars Necronomica. I mistook the Fleur De Lys house for the Providence Art Club and accidentally walked myself into someone’s private art studio. The artist was rather gracious at the fact some sweaty Lovecraft weirdos just walked into his home, and did let us look around. We then walked up to the Providence Art Club galleries. Then, we were able to go and check out the Athenaeum, a library that was frequented by Lovecraft as well as Poe and Sarah Helen Whitman. I picked up a used book, The Man Who Was Poe.
Friday afternoon we had another Call of Catthulhu game. It was a sold out game with 6 players.. It went well and everyone said that they enjoyed themselves.
That night as my husband and son went to play Reality A, I headed down to the Omni to the only panel I was able to attend in its entirety, Insanity as a Sane Reaction. This was an excellent panel that was informative and well-paced. The only thing I was hoping for that wasn’t addressed was a discussion of the appeal of HPL’s works to society’s outsiders. After the panel, I was able to meet and talk with Damien Angelica Walters, one of the best current weird fiction writers of today. She was kind, gracious, and pleasure to talk to.
Friday night I went to the library, which was inexplicably covered in unicorns, and checked out “The Ancestor” cut of the movie The Resurrected. It was a retelling of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. While I thought the movie was a little too long winded, overall it was a great adaptation of a Lovecratian tale. I enjoyed the ending as the characters explored the catacombs and came across undead monstrosities. I think that Lovecraft’s style does not translate well into movie form, but this was a decent attempt.
Saturday I had the pleasure of attend one of Oscar Rios Call of Cthulhu: Cthulhu Invictus games. Oscar, owner of Golden Goblin press, has in my opinion done much to breathe life into the Call of Cthulhu RPG system. We played a rag-tag bunch of Romans who needed to stop a Golem from causing riots in the streets of Antioch.
After this, S. and I ran to the Omni to catch the bus tour. While in line, I was approached by a cute older couple who were trying to get on the bus and were asking me how to buy tickets. The wife explained, “Sometimes he gets confused. Like last night we went to the guest reception…he said he didn’t realize that it was only for invited guests.” They were adorable, and I was sad that it did not appear that they were able to get seats on the bus.
I’ve been on three walking tours and read enough that I am quite familiar with the regular Lovecraftian haunts. We visited Swan point cemetery, drove by Butler hospital(where both of Lovecraft’s parents spent the last years of their life, and still an active mental health hospital), and visited the Ladd observatory. Lovecraft was given the keys to the Ladd observatory when he was 15 years old. Exploring this place was amazing, as the technology has not changed since Lovecraft’s time. A volunteer told us that she believed Lovecraft’ ghost visited the observatory, and I can believe that.
On the bus, we sat across from a nice father and son duo and chatted with then about the tour and Lovecraft. It seemed that there were more children in general at the convention, as I saw people with babies and young kids. Yes, people, the Lovecraft fans are creating spawn!! Part of the reason I wanted to run Call of Catthulhu is that I wanted to have something that was accessible to people of all ages as well as people who didn’t usually game.
Later we went to the dealer room and met a Lovecraftian magician, who was pretty awesome. He did some Lovecraftian magic tricks involving eye balls and tentacles, and told me about some horrible tarot card readings that he could do. I wish I could remember his name! Later I was able to stop by the Lovecraft Ezine table and meet Pete Rawlik as well as Douglass Wynne, author of Red Equinox.
We then checked out part of the Antarctica panel, and heard some funny stories about how bad penguins smell. Then the boys went to play another game of Reality A. I checked out Monstrous Invisible, a play about the relationship between Sonia Greene and HP Lovecraft. It was a cute play, and while it took some creative liberties, the story fairly represented this relationship. While I missed Curse of Yig, I was able to catch Radio Theater NYC’s presentations of “The Horror at Red Hook” and “From Beyond.”
I met up with some friends for Lovecraft Trivia Night and Innsmouth Sea Shanties. We were sequestered away in an overcrowded room at the overpriced restaurant at the Biltmore. I was woefully ignorant of the trivia questions. The sea shanties were fun, and I can only imagine what the non-convention goers thought of these strange going on’s as people sang, “What shall we do with an Innsmouth Sailor.”
Sunday morning, with some help from a venti-sized coffee from Starbucks, I rolled out of bed for a final round of Call of Catthulhu. Sunday morning games at any con are generally poorly-attended as people are checking out or sleeping off their hangovers. We were able to play with the father and son duo that we spend time with on the bus the day before. I decided to break out a “Whiskatonic University” scenario I was working on for some play testing, and it seemed to go pretty well.
We then checked out and headed out for a long, traffic filled drive home. I had really wanted to check out the Lovecraftian Ezine podcast, but time did not allow it. I was a bit sad at all of the things that I did not get to check out, but overall it was a great time!
2015 appeared to be the most well-attended con so far, and it makes me happy to see that Lovecraft gets the recognition that he did not receive in his lifetime. There were people from many different backgrounds there…academics, LARPers, artists, musicians… My son left with inspiration to write his own stories about the cats of Ulthar. I think that this is Lovecraft’s legacy…an inclusiveness and encouragement towards creativity in a shared universe of imagination. Too often we can just feel like consumers or watchers, but Lovecraft encouraged his fans to write and create and expand on the mythos that he created.