Friday, January 15, 2021


 So, my softcover hardcopy edition of the new Kickstarted rpg based on the Sargasso Sea stories of Wm Hope Hodgson has now arrived: GREY SEAS ARE DREAMING OF MY DEATH: A William Hope Hodgson rpg by Derek Sotak w. Kevin Ross & J. R. Hamantaschen.

With a boutique game such as this the first requirement for success is to avoid being generic. The more individualistic the better. A game based on a particular author's work shd strive to capture the flavour of that author's world, characters, and plots --in this case, Hodgson's Sargasso Sea stories as recorded in such works as "The Derelict", "The Voice in the Night", "The Stone Ship", THE BOATS OF THE GLEN CARRIG, &c. 

Since I'm hoping to play this game at some point down the road I'm going to hold off reading any of the three adventures (or 'Shanty') included in the rulebook, so lrt's skip over those for now.

The whole game is laid out in one modest booklet of about a hundred pages, of which the following hight points shd give a good idea of the game.

The DM who runs the game is here known as The Captain.

The rest of the PCs all take up positions as members of 'The 'Crew'. 

Players can choose characters from twelve pregenerated roles:

The Bosun, The Captain's Boy, The Carpenter, The Castaway, The Cook, The First Mate, The Fungal Human, The Jonah, The Second Mate, The Shore Dweller, The Surgeon, and The Whaler.

Each character has eight Stats. Instead of the familiar Strength, Intelligence, & Wisdom et al of D&D here we find

Brawn, Nimbleness, Perspicacity, Backbone, Physique, Seaworthyness, Salt, and Mettle.

The designer also provides an example of the combat system and of the overall resolution system.

Miscellaneous points include ships, weapons, available medicines, food and Monsters. 

This lengthy section covers not just the giant squid, octopuses, and giant crabs that populate Hodgson's sea-stories* but ranges further afield to include some creatures found in W.H.H.'s other work: 

Ab-humans (THE NIGHT LAND), Swine-Thing (HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND), The Watchers (THE NIGHT LAND; essentially Great Old Ones) . 

All in all, it looks like a quirky system. The designer's determination to re-name every stat and function in an effort to make the game more distinctive will annoy some and amuse others: to each his or her own.

I'll post again somewhere down the line with an update of what the game plays like.

Dibs on the fungal human.


--current reading: collection of Hodgson stories, the newspapers

*who cd resist the chance to fight a bathypelagic centipede?


Zenopus Archives said...

Your post about this reminded me that for years I've been meaning to read some Hodgson, and sent me scurrying off to check several vintage horror anthologies that I own but have mostly not read. I was in luck, because in one I found his "The Voice in the Night", which seemed to be the exactly right story to understand the above references to the "fungal human"! Great stuff & looking forward to tracking down more.


John D. Rateliff said...


Glad you liked the Hodgson piece. There's actually a short film of this one from an old black and white story anthology tv show (late 1950s I think).

If you decide to delve deeper, I think BOATS OF THE GLEN CARRIG, a short novel, is a good starting place. Most people think HOUSE ON THE BORDER LAND his best but I don't agree. The Masterpiece is THE NIGHT LAND. It's not an easy read (WHH basically invented his own dialect of English to write the story in) but well worth it.

If that sounds a bit much, I'd recommend THE DREAM OF X, a severely abridged version of THE NIGHT LAND where Hodgson cut the story by 90% but kept the best part

Anyway, enjoy!

--John R.