Finding Inspiration in Unique Places
As a Keeper, I always am looking for new information or new inspiration to help my games. Pandora and YouTube both are used for musical inspiration but sometimes you can find this in the most random of places. As we go around, when I find some unique inspirations I will write them here for your reading pleasure.
The New York Times
I found this little gem while checking out at the grocery store. I wasn't thinking about Cthulhu as I was putting my items on the conveyer belt and honestly I rarely look at the magazine racks that are at the end out the aisle but this cream colored little magazine came home with me as soon as I saw it. I am a minor history buff and when I looked through this magazine all I could think about was the investigators at my table that could use this information.
Why did I pick up this magazine?
I love seeing photographs from the 20's and getting inspiration of what some of my characters, what the npc's look like in my game and how to better describe scenes.
It gives the "current events" that my investigators would be living through during the scenarios. It is fascinating to think that Charles Lindbergh first took off on his trip in 1927, the fact that Model T cars zooming around the streets are fairly new. The "From the Archives" sections of the magazine featured true articles that The New York Times had actually published during the 1920's. In this particular magazine has a whole section with pictures and articles about speakeasy and the prohibition time. There is also good information on performers of that time that can be used for role-playing purposes during game play or even using these performers as back ground ambience. After this magazine I have a play list of Duke Ellington, some music from Tony Jackson and Jelly Roll Morton, along with some Louis Armstrong and other music I can see being popular during this time. Maybe your investigators go by a theatre showing a Charlie Chaplin movie, of if its 1928 perhaps Mortimer Mouse is on with "Steamboat Willie."
History can make fascinating homebrew scenarios. There is copy of an article from 1929 about 7 gangsters that were killed in Chicago that you can use to fuel a possible scenario. Maybe something goes wrong at a baseball game, perhaps there is chaos that ensues in a speak easy, or maybe your investigators are watching a government bust on a speakeasy. Perhaps your table goes after the KKK to find that it's a different type of cult dabbling with Mythos.
We fell down the rabbit hole and ended up in an amazing speak easy called The Velveteen. It was a surprising treat to realize how much inspiration can come from a location. Even though Velveteen has nothing to do with Cthulhu specifically, it has everything to deal with the feel of a 1920's speakeasy. It is an award winning speakeasy with cocktails, food and a fantastic atmosphere. There are Prohibition Era drinks along with some modern things as well. You feel like you are walking back in time as you enter, with music dancing up to delight your ears. The only advertisement of this establishment on the outside of the building is two rabbits painted on pallets that hang in a window. The Speakeasy is in the basement of an industrial building. You enter a door inside and take the stairs (or elevator) down into a dimly lit waiting area with velvet curtains and fantastic décor (see more below).
Candles are on all of the tables, there are old photos, aged art work and beautiful curtains hanging to give the proper atmosphere. If you sit over by the blue couch nook you may also get a glance at the secret passage underneath the side street.
You can bet that next time we get a chance I will be taking my investigators there for a little field trip to enjoy the feeling of a speakeasy.
This amazing piece they have in their entryway is hooked up as Bluetooth. This is what inspired me to have grainy 20's music playing for my investigators when they walk into my house.
The very muted speakeasy lighting and the other "prop" furniture pieces were to die for. Having to go down into the basement of the building where the windows were boarded up, the light kept low and the velvet chairs all helped make you feel like you walked into a true speak easy of the past. They have old barrels under the stairs you enter through and a steamer trunk.