So when I read scenarios, I am usually stripping them for ideas, hunting for the flashes of inspiration behind them. And because I have seen other GMs and Keepers treat scenarios similarly, I wondered if there was a market for a collection of short ideas that would be used rather than ignored or stripped down for spare parts.
And so Tales of Terror was born, a showcase of ideas, thoughts and flashes of inspiration - ready for use. Each Tale is a scenario idea stripped clean of dead meat, rotting statistics and wretched prose.
The original collection, a badly-edited mess of assorted ideas for Call of Cthulhu, was mostly the work of myself and Garrie Hall (and edited by his long-suffering wife, Angela). It was fun, it almost got us into trouble with Chaosium, it eventually sold out and I vowed never to do another.
Yet the monster will not die.
Tales of Terror lived on in the pages of the erratically-published The Unspeakable Oath, and two collections have appeared from Pagan Publishing.
And then there's this website. While the original Tales of Terror books were specifically written for Call of Cthulhu, I've decided to open up the website for any and all systems. (Although Call of Cthulhu submissions are, of course, very welcome - and I suspect they will outnumber the others.)
While I am not sure if Tales of Terror succeeds in its original brief (whatever that was) it produced an interesting effect. While many scenarios (and this is especially true of campaigns) are Earth-shattering romps of cosmic significance, most Tales tend to be quite the opposite, concentrating on the personal horror and quieter weirdness encountered by our poor heroes.
If scenarios can be compared to horror novels (and campaigns to trilogies), that makes the humble Tale of Terror a short story. And while I've enjoyed horror novels, it has always been short stories that send shivers down my spine. Hopefully, when you drop these Tales on your poor unsuspecting players, they will feel equally unsettled.
Above all, this collection is yours to do what you will. Adapt them, twist them, steal them. But most of all, please use them.