Sometimes it’s the little things that make a game fun. Maybe thing is too general? The little places, then: the small towns and forgotten hamlets, the underpopulated plains and hinterlands that might be called flyover country, or (more affectionately by those who live there) the heartland. It is a place characterized in most popular culture by friendly — if insular– people, a simple slow-paced way of life, and the predominance of secret demon-worshiping cults.
On 23 August, a roughly cut concrete monument dedicated to a presumably fictional Lovecraftian god suddenly appeared in front of an Oklahoma City restaurant. The inscription simply states, “In the Year of Our Lord 2012 Creer Pipi claimed this land for Azathoth.”
The restaurant’s owner, Leslie Rawlinson, was apparently considering keeping the monument around permanently (unless, of course, its existence presages the end of time). Reviews of the plan have been mixed.
There are about 20 people who called me and said they want to buy it, but there are some who say it’s a bad demon and that we shouldn’t even touch it.
Bad demon or no, for good gaming’s sake we should assume for a moment that the sadly Euclidean monument isn’t just some kind of zany installation art. What does that inscription really mean?
An Uninvited Guest
The fact that the concrete slab appeared in mid-2013 may suggest that “Our Lord” (as referenced on the stele) is someone (or -thing) other than Jesus Christ. Maybe the Demon Sultan Azathoth himself? Not too far a stretch, but perhaps its a reference to a more temporal ruler — maybe our old buddy the King in Yellow? This last, indeed, may explain the oddly discordant times — perhaps in dim Carcosa the years count oddly. And maybe the stele isn’t from around here at all — it would certainly make it easy to explain its sudden appearance if it fell out of another reality into our own.
Imagine that! A blasted Oklahoma just next door, dedicated to the blind idiot god Azathoth. Can’t be good for tourism. Then again, maybe it didn’t really fall out of that other reality — maybe it was pushed…or pulled. As of this writing, we still know precious little about the mysterious Creer Pipi, the apparent supplicant (or avatar) of the Elder Gods, but it’s not like it’s that hard to sneak a little evil into the Heartland.
In a contemporary example, in Leith, North Dakota, fugitive white supremacist Paul Craig Cobb is (well, was) quietly buying up farmsteads and homes in an effort to take over the local government and create a legal safe-haven for “racialists” and their allies. Cobb’s command of North Dakotan municipal code seems suspect, but he’s certainly not thinking small. According to the New York Times, Cobb’s vision for the future of Leith is as…
an enclave where residents fly “racialist” banners, where they are able to import enough “responsible hard core” white nationalists to take control of the town government, where “leftist journalists or antis” who “come and try to make trouble” will face arrest.
Which, of course, nobody in town knew when he first moved in. Regardless, it’s not too far a stretch to hint that this same sort of thing may be happening (or may have already happened) 1000 miles south of Leith in Oklahoma City. Those new neighbors down the street? Cultists in the service of the Elder Gods ready to found a new shining city on the hill — a R’lyeh for the heartland — with a little help from real estate developer Creer Pipi or his minions. In this game model, the concrete monument is only the first of many symbols in the quiet war between chaos and order…or at least between your PCs and the sinister cult trying to break down the walls of reality.
At the Table
You could probably take it one step further toward absurdity and cast the whole thing as farce a game where the believers in that Old Time Religion are suing the city council to allow similar chthonic monuments all over city property. Maybe Fiasco? Or go full procedural, and have the stele serve as a compulsive clue from a mundane — if disturbed– criminal: find Creer Pipi before he makes his first (next?) sacrifice to the Dark Gods. Running a supers game? That slab of concrete is a clue (or a confession) planted by the villain of your choice to beguile your heroes.
There are dozens of angles to choose from, but don’t forget the simple symbols! Azathoth’s needle did, after all, appear on 8/23, “Qliphoth Catastrophe”, Satan in the Atmosphere”, and “Demonic Symbols” in the numerological Hebrew Gematria.
Probably a coincidence. Probably. But if I were you I might avoid Oklahoma City’s Paseo Grill for a while. You know, just in case.