What are some examples of lovecraftian style horror done right in tabletop?
When are the moments that left you confused, frightened, or otherwise concerned about the things from beyond time and space?
I don't know if I'd call it "done right" but I ripped off some Lovecraft dream stuff for my fantasy campaign.
Instead of D&D's astral plane, most teleportation and astral travel relies on the dream realm, a realm-between-realms where the dreams of conscious creatures take shape and form into bubbles. This means that astral travel is easier at night because more creatures are asleep -- it's like a navigator at sea having more stars in the sky.
What makes the dream realm unique is that there are a few "fixed" dreams that act as landmarks. Some of these have been identified as originating in the tombs of heroes or ancient slumbering dragons or old crypts, but most are unexplained. The greater the creature's intellect, the larger its dream bubble is, so these landmarks are reliable as navigation points.
The big one, though, is the Dreamer Below. This is an absolutely enormous and vast dream bubble with its source deep beneath the ground that looks the same no matter where your entry point is from the physical world. With certain magic, one can even enter dreams and see or influence the course of a dream. The Dreamer Below's dream is just as vast inside as outside, and travelers have become lost inside, never to return. Others report a bizarre landscape unlike anything they've ever seen, full of strange but benign creatures that defy explanation.
The important thing is to keep the characters in control. If what they do makes no difference it's not a game. That doesn't mean their guns have to have an effect, but if they run the situation changes, and where they run to has an effect on the outcome.
I don't think you can just replicate a successful game. A lot depends on the players and the right mood.
My favorite session was A Cold War. But be warned, this one is definitely KEEPERS ONLY! If you read it you can never play it. And that would be a real shame. The setting is modern cultists. It's a one-shot and a bit of a sandbox. I wouldn't call it classically structured, and you can't use it to make your own because it is very specific.
Been trying to post it for half an hour now. 4chan suxx. You can find it in TUO #11.
Honestly, Lovecraft in gaming is kind of.. not over-done, but it's pretty common these days for every setting to have a Lovecraft reference thrown in for good measure. You know, if your setting has good and evil gods, it probably still has the tentacular outer gods who are even worse, that kind of thing.
I quite like Cthulhu games - I'm in a Delta Green game at the moment and putting research material together for a CoC game as well - but it's kind of difficult to mesh Lovecraft's ideas with some of the fundamentals of gaming such as player agency.
Lovecraft's cosmic materialism is extremely bleak and based around the premise that ultimately human endeavour is futile. While we might score little victories in our border skirmishes against the other specks of dust, we are still specks of dust and those border skirmishes meant nothing, our actions meant nothing. In a game, players often need to feel the weight to their actions, like there's a purpose to playing or taking THIS action instead of THAT action. The most "pure" Lovecraft scenarios I've seen - especially Watchers In The Sky from Final Revelation - are great from a "literary" perspective in how they integrate Lovecraft's ideas into their storytelling.. but they also piss players off every time I've seen/heard them played.
I detest being told that I can't understand something. Your ookie spookie cosmic horror "god" is just some lame tentacle monster with psychic powers. There's nothing incomprehensible about that.
Am I the only one who can't take horror rpgs seriously?
When I tried to play Call of Cthulhu with my friends everyone was trying to have fun and nobody was scared at all even when I played Lustmord in the background. So it ended up turning into a comedy game where I killed the players in the most hilarious ways and even at one point when we were supposed to explore an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere (there was one of those lovecraftian entities hiding in the attic) two of the players bought a car and just fucking crashed it into the house while the co pilot was swinging a scythe hoping to kill the monster.
I take it Lovecraft's own works count as "done right?" Hyperbolic anti-rational pessimism is not compelling. A failure to explain or describe is just that, a failure, not an accomplishment. There is nothing that can drive you crazy for knowing, and nothing that is beyond the capacity of man to understand.
Except there are things we can't understand (look at home one of the main problems with quantum physics is that we literally can't see small enough or think weird enough to understand the universe's underpinnings), and human cognition is itself a fallible process which can "glitch" or otherwise fuck up - and even that is something we can only at best partially understand. Surely it would be more condescending to deny that.
Also, the problem isn't that it's "incomprehensible". Rather, it's the opposite. The monsters are comprehensible, it's just that once you understand them you begin to realise that a lot of other stuff you assumed to be true or important really just is not at all important or true. Like, once you understand what the Elder Things were all about the idea of humans being god's favourite children goes out the window.
a) Lovecraft wrote for a 1920s/30s audience. Today he would be a movie director, And you wouldn't like his films.
b) Nothing will ever be magic for you. And that's probably for the best. You are a man with a hammer, and all you see is nails. It isn't the only way to view the world, but I don't want to overtax your need for control.
It sounds like you've only had Lovecraft's work described to you, so I would recommend you go read some.
Horror gaming is something that works better on the narrative side of gaming rather than the tactical combat side because they require very different mindsets. A tactical player will not touch the book made of human skin because duh that's where the monster would eat him because he's played Tomb of Horrors and knows not to trust old objects because if you touch them they make your numbers go down. A narrative player might still be shifty about touching the weird book but is more motivated by seeing what happens when you touch the old book.
Black comedy is a common attitude for horror gaming to go towards and that's not a bad thing, to be honest. As someone who loves horror media, I find images are the most involving so text or RPG's don't really "engage" me as well as a movie and I don't feel as scared - but I still want to be part of the horror story. So detaching from the character a bit and becoming a mini-narrator making the character do the things that characters in horror stories do, then laughing as they die terribly, that's fun in and of itself and that's not wrong.
>Except there are things we can't understand (look at home one of the main problems with quantum physics is that we literally can't see small enough or think weird enough to understand the universe's underpinnings)
This meme needs to die. Quantum physics are not incomprehensible and the uncertainty principle is a theoretical limit on the capacity of observation, not understanding.
Your further suggestion that cognition can "glitch" is more pseudoscience. Cognition is supernal, belonging to the noumenological realm rather than the phenomenological. It is not capable of "failing". Individual people may have mechanical obstructions placed in their perception but thought itself is immune to neurological disturbances and understanding especially is not limited by anything physical.
>The monsters are comprehensible, it's just that once you understand them you begin to realise that a lot of other stuff you assumed to be true or important really just is not at all important or true.
That's not scary or bad. That's progress. Of course, there's nothing reasonably discernible about the nature of the universe from an encounter with a glorified sea slug, and certainly nothing that should be capable of shaking any foundation of contemporary rationality.
This guy also clearly doesn't get Lovecraft in describing him as "anti-rational". Dude was a major sceptic and like half of his stories were about providing scientific alternative explanations for mystical bullshit. The Yith were aliens and the scientific reason for possession stories. The Mi-go are space aliens and provide a purely materialistic explanation for monsters in the woods, for people hearing the voices of the dead etc. The Elder Things provide a purely materialistic explanation for the origin of man. And so on and so forth. Sure, he dabbled in mysticism through stuff like the dreamlands etc but even that was hinted at being "sufficiently advanced science" fairly often.
>The Yith were aliens and the scientific reason for possession stories. The Mi-go are space aliens and provide a purely materialistic explanation for monsters in the woods, for people hearing the voices of the dead etc. The Elder Things provide a purely materialistic explanation for the origin of man.
This is exactly the problem with cosmic horror. These things aren't scary or "mind-shattering". They're completely mundane. And yet Lovecraftian descriptions depict them as terrifying beyond reason.
>Cognition is not capable of failing
I'll take "What is psychopathology?" for 10, Robert.
Again, that's down to a decent group really being interested in telling a horror story. A good GM knows when to rein players in, when to let them just go wild with what they're doing, when to shift focus and "cut" to a new scene.
I actually find phrasing things in filmic language engrosses the players quite well because it's storytelling they recognise and they can "get behind it" really easily. ("We open on an establishing shot of Miskatonic University in fall. The camera moves through the gloomy winter dark to the light of a lecture theatre window. Ted, this is the first shot of your character, what does she look like?")
Because in the context of 1920's thought they were, yes. You're sitting here in the 21st century yelling back at the past for being stupid, like every teenager ever. You can yell as loud as you want but the past isn't going to change.
>You're sitting here in the 21st century yelling back at the past for being stupid
Because "the past" hasn't gone away. People still hold to these tropes and conventions despite their obvious obsolescence.
>Cognition is supernal, belonging to the noumenological realm rather than the phenomenological
I found the philosophy undergrad, guys.
Does the coffee shop you work at have free wifi?
>in the context of 1920's
This is hugely important to understanding the lasting appeal of Lovecraft. It's about the moment that classical physicists found their neatly ordered circles were actually built on a foundation of chaotic foam and bullshit. It's about having your feet swept out from under you and falling through the floor that was never really there. It's about the dark side of progress and discovery, finding things that make your day worse rather than better and learning things that make your world seem a little darker rather than brighter.
>When are the moments that left you confused, frightened, or otherwise concerned about the things from beyond time and space?
My players had one while playing BLAME!. They were involved in planetary terraforming, and flying polyps attacked. They used their bending beam particle guns and gravity beam emitters to great effect, but the nest was too close. So they got inside their crawler, took it to the polypous city, and set it to self destruct. They raced back to their lab and put themselves into stasis cocoons as the massive explosion detonated, obscuring the sky and irradiating much of the surface of the planet.
They woke to find several of their (NPC) team missing, and then weird bilateral beings with projectile weapons invaded their torn apart lab, aided by quadrupeds armed with useless sonic weaponry. They dealt with the first wave of invaders, and set up projectors to remove themselves from their locations, but not until they tracked the footprints to the organic and flimsy structures the aliens had created, where one of their number had been dissected.
They eradicated the rest of the humans and then projected themselves to join their brethren, abandoning their cone shaped bodies and merging with their fellow Great Race as part of a collective hive mind of intelligent blue beetles some-when on the moon.
The looks on their faces when they realized they WERE the horrible entities from beyond was priceless.
On the Yithian thing, I've always been tempted to pull a really meta twist of "YOU, the PLAYER are the horrible eldritch being, you're just deluding yourself constantly". The idea is that there are multiple one-shots where they deal with horror and then in the next session it turns out that like Character 1 doesn't remember doing any of their Character 1 shit and ended up spending the rest of their lives being like "what the fuck happened to me, do I have amnesia, I was possessed by the devil or something?" and as time goes on start being less like "some unknown force gripped them" and just out and out say "you made them do that, you did. they were happy and you destroyed them because you could, you asshole mind-hopping creature."
Read Shadow over Innsmouth.
>Good job, you manged to get away from the horrible fish monsters. Now that you know they are born as humans and turn into monsters as they get older, you can begin planning to strike back at them on your own terms.
>You just need to take a quick visit to the doctor to see why recently your eyes feel glassy and bulging, and your sweat has started having this fishy smell that doesn't go away...
Sorry, maybe I didn't communicate the concept well.
The idea is that the PLAYERS are Yithians projecting into their CHARACTERS for a series of one-shots that take place at different points on a timeline. When session 1 is over the players become the characters for session 2, but are able to find information about the characters in session 1, discovering that they all experienced lost time, amnesia etc. Anyway, Session 2 goes on, then the Players "leave" and go to Session 3 - and find the same thing, where their session 2 characters also reported not having any memory or control of themselves during the period the game covered.
Basically, it's a rebuttal to the "You are your character" idea of roleplaying because you're not. You're a foreign mind trying to act as if it belongs in a universe that it only sort of belongs to at best, taking up roles that it has only a passing familiarity to. That's you, the player. You inflict your will upon the character, who persists after you "stop playing them" in this campaign framework.
The final session of course has to deal with them coming across the Yithians who sent their minds careening through time - perhaps even a past version of themselves - and needing to set the whole loop in motion again.
Mm- yes. I think you have something there.
I mean breaking down the fourth wall isn't exactly ingenious, but it's a nice twist. Don't make it too meta though. I mean conceptually, sure, but not for the players. Either let them discover it slowly and don't make a big fuss, or keep it concealed until a big reveal near the end.
Then think very carefully about your conclusion. Maybe don't set it in stone but wait until the game is close to that point. Yes, cyclical causality is fine, but it should be almost incidental. And actually meeting your meta instances is always fishy. Most players can't into that. Sophie's World is for children.
Finding the right tone won't be easy. But I believe this could be a nice campaign structure.
My thinking is that maybe the final session deals with the Yithians and the Hounds of Tindalos, in the long-vacant city of Pnakotus or another like it, with the implication being that the players are some of the first Yithians to figure out mind-transference through time, meaning they weren't very good at it. The transfer is incomplete when they jump (which is why they "forgot" they were Yithians until they discover images of their former selves). Alternatively, they jumped and angered a Hound in doing so (as they had yet to figure out which periods were fully safe or not) and deliberately induced amnesia to "change their scent" and make it harder for the beast to track them down. When they realise who they are, the Hound strikes.
Sure, that could work. But it's complicated. You'd have to spend some time slowly conveying this to the players in small steps.
Another way to handle it would be to keep it vague. You just have to explain to the characters what The Great Race is and drop a few hints about symptoms that fit roleplaying perfectly. This could even be funny ("It's like they're just rolling dice at times"). But never actually explain the details. Never give the players a third role to play, they're already playing two: themselves, and their characters. Themselves yet again but as Yithians could be too much.
Okay, been talking it through with a friend and the framework we figured out goes like this:
The game takes place with successive generations of the same family as the player characters. This acts a red herring to Lovecraft savvy players, who will be more likely to suspect some Innsmouth twist in the family history. The family has a history of mental illness (which is actually the players possessing the characters) and sometimes members of the family just go missing at times and travel great distances, following strange obsessions that have suddenly gripped them.
The reason for this is that the family house is built over a vast underground cave network housing a Yithian ruin which the players (not the characters) once called home.
And this potentially sets up Generation 1 as Generation 2's villains, because Yithian possession fucks you up for a long time, even after your passenger moves on. The guy in Shadow Out of Time still has to spend months in treatment and recovery before he resumes working.
So when the Players leave the Generation 1 characters, that's not the end of the story. That's a large group who experienced lost time and have the evidence of where they want during that period and a pretty good reason to want to know what the fuck happened during that period. So say session 1/Gen 1 deals with rooting out a witch-cult in the nearby village. In between session 1 and session 2, Gen 1 might end up retracing their steps back to the witch-cult, learning what the players used them to do and maybe figuring out that there was something using them during that period. And maybe forming the next witch-cult as they research the occult.
See, this issue there is Spelljammer is D&D so the horror would be extremely hard to pull off in anything more than an "it's easy to die" sense because the game's focus is primarily tactical combat. In D&D, horror usually means "level drain" or maybe "rust monster eats you things" because death isn't very scary when the cleric can cast ressurection etc etc. Not saying D&D or Spelljammer is bad, so to speak, just that the genre isn't really supported by the mechanical realities or the setting.
You have to break DnD to make horror work. But it can work. And all you need the break is the implication that any encounter can be overcome with combat.
We noticed. A player commented that there shouldn't be character sheets at all. But there can still be horror with that.
The Dwarf named Dorf, a Half-Orc red-shirt, a Gnome called Gordon von Bleu and the constant jokes and fucking around
Well yes, that group won't play horror like that. Maybe with a group decision and some effort, a new game, dimmed lights, etc. But those are beer & pretzel gamers and at most they will tolerate a night of Dread but only with snickering.
Dang. I'll decline the anno-apocalyptic demon campaign, then.
A friend of mine is a master storyteller. He improvised a horror session for us on a busride to germany about... a busride to germany. It ended up as us becoming new Norse gods. That's how he always rolls. Everyone listened to him, it got pretty intense until That Guy wanted the ultimate power or something.
I want to know the secret of how he gets to be so good that no fudgenugget tries to interrupt him with a quirky line or comment.
This is a good suggestion. In a one-shot, players are less likely to want to develop their characters, so putting them in peril is a more likely solution, so horror is more likely to come about organically.
I don't mind being told that I can't really comprehend or stand up to a greater being, so long as it seems as though that would actually be the case.
I completely get why I wouldn't be able to understand or harm a vast, alien, ethereal creature like Yog-Sothoth.
The idea that an easy to grasp, flesh and blood monster like Cthulhu would be just as unbeatable and incomprehensible does just seem like complete and utter bullshit though.
As does the idea that even knowing these things exist would be enough to induce insanity.
Yeah, maybe contact with them could be seriously traumatising, but even then I don't really picture it as "Look at Cthulhu instantly lose d100 sanity".
I haven't encountered much Cosmic Horror though, so to be fair I don't know if that's actually how it's usually written, but it kind of puts me off the concept.
Along with a bunch of other nitpicks like the idea I'm supposed to give a shit about being cosmologically insignificant, magic based on abstract symbols somehow working in a world where humans are insignificant, and something else I've just forgotten.
>the idea I'm supposed to give a shit about being cosmologically insignificant
HFY is a common meme on this board right now; half of sci-fi and almost all of fantasy is dominated by human supremacy and at the time of writing the idea of mankind being the centre of existence wasn't that far off. This was also a time when people didn't travel nearly as far and didn't have nearly so great an understanding the vastness of the cosmos as we do now.
>magic based on abstract symbols working in a world where humans insignificant
Lovecraftian magic is more or less sufficiently advanced science, and the mad are the ones in the right frame of mind to grasp some of its underpinnings. We're the monkey that managed to take a selfie.
I don't think Cthulhu is actually made of flesh or blood. Also, his shtick is basically being an Alpha Plus level psyker or something. It's not his appearance that drives people mad, it's his consciousness beating on the paper-thin walls of their mind.
>The idea that an easy to grasp, flesh and blood monster like Cthulhu would be just as unbeatable and incomprehensible does just seem like complete and utter bullshit though.
>As does the idea that even knowing these things exist would be enough to induce insanity.
People get that impression from consuming extremely derivative media. It has no relation to the originals, or the proponents of the tradition worth mentioning.
Alien is very cosmic horror. Remember how Ripley kept it together all through losing her crewmates, the android thing, hunting the creature, encountering it, etc. She didn't tear her own hair out, scream uncontrollably, and wet her space cotton panties. She kept it together as best she could and survived. But she DID risk her life for a cat, tried to reason with a computer, and sang the xenomorph a lulaby. She also retained several psychological triggers for her post traumatic stress.
>I don't mind being told that I can't really comprehend or stand up to a greater being, so long as it seems as though that would actually be the case.
I reject the notion that anything is incomprehensible. It is the nature of things to be comprehensible, if they were not then we could not know of them.
>Alien is very cosmic horror.
What utter nonsense. This is the level you pathetic Lovecraft fanboys have to stoop to justify your childish, edgy tripe.
I would argue that Prometheus is closer to cosmic horror than Alien (just not GOOD cosmic horror, mind).
Alien is basically a monster film with rape imagery to make the visuals more unsettling. It doesn't really do much beyond a visceral level of horror.
Prometheus (in parts) is about the Babel story, about man seeking to meet and understand God, only to find that God is a terrible and uncaring monster who wants nothing to do with us and created us on a whim, or for some other inscrutable reason. When we climb to meet him, we discover that he does not love us, that he does not welcome us, but that he hates us. THAT is cosmic horror.
So your group wasn't at all ready for a horror experience but you had fun regardless? I fail to see the issue.
I mean, I've seen my IRL group get spooked while playing bloody Rogue Trader, so it's not like horror in gaming is impossible.
Yeah, you really need a group that's "down" for horror of any variety, and tongue-in-cheek is often the best way to introduce horror gaming to the table. I recommend something a little lighter at first, something like Slasher Flick, Cthulhu Dark or Dread where death is fairly frequent and you can pick up a new character pretty quick so you can train the players not to worry about dying, that it can be fun to have bad things happen in the story etc.
is this posted by or in response to the autist using "noumenological" in a thread he's shitting up by whining how the first principles of a fiction genre don't match those of certain subsets of contemporary philosophy?
I don't know about adaptation but I can definitely see that it was inspired by it. There was going to BE an adaptation of it but apparently the failure of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (financially) is what stopped that from happening.
For the sake of those who don't get Lovecraftian horror, I'm going to try to explain it.
Before you continue reading, watch the first 50 seconds of this short video:
Yeah. It's neat, right? Now... imagine that we're surrounded by metaphorical
Did you know that diamond rings for marriage/engagement are some shit propagated by diamond companies years upon years ago? Before this, an apple was a good enough gift.
That's a neat little factoid most people don't know.
What if the fact was finding that for the last 500 years you've been preserved by 50-meter-tall half-cuttlefish, half-mantis-shrimp entities of godlike intellect to star in their own twisted reality show with episodes lasting roughly 1.73 earth years (eldritch days are pretty long, yo)? Before each episode, they erase/modify your primitive, under-evolved memory, then cause what you think is your life in a new city (but is actually a simulacrum earth billions of light years away) to devolve into shit and seeing how much torture they can subject you to before you commit suicide. Then they resurrect you and do it all again.
Sometimes they just have you lose your job and get addicted to drugs until you overdose.
Sometimes they make everyone's faces melt and see how you react.
Sometimes they have a cute girl lead you to learn about astronomy so you can find out that you're not on Earth at all.
Sometimes... like this time, you get told this on an anonymous message board.
But it doesn't matter what happens or what you do. Each episode ends the same.
My roommate read this post. He's probably going to try to get me on suicide watch.
Now that's fuckin' Lovecraft.
Questions, comments, or campaign advice anyone?
I assume you've already read At the Mountains of Madness?
>half of sci-fi and almost all of fantasy is dominated by human supremacy
What else are we supposed to support? Anything less than that would be giving up our species' collective self determination to that of nature and the other.
Friend tried to run a lovecraftian game, with partial Bloodborne inspirations.
Ended poorly, but not really his fault. It was at an FLGS, people were talking, and inappropriate music was being played, so it was hard to get into the feel of it. Then a joke here or there ruined it.
>Dunkin D. Dunkinson of Dunkinshire
>Roger Rogerson of Rogertown
>Wulf, the mute Nordic berserker
>Arrive at a town where bodies are bieng brought out to be mass-burned
>Old man exposits to us and we get taken to a far-away town that was closed down after a new church was founded there
>Speak to the gatekeeper behind a door, introduce ourselves
>Go inside the door
>Only a mummified corpse behind the door
>D: "Egad....what a horrible case of rigor mortis. My fellow you'll be dead within the week."
>R: "I recommend lotion. Lots of skin lotion ol chap."
>Roger steals the corpse's fancy hat.
>Enter town, werewolf corpse the size of a small building being burnt and prodded by deformed villagers
>I shoot the corpse with an arrow, a direct hit.
>R: "Hah, nailed the beast."
>D: "Jolly good shot."
>Villagers flee, tougher members arm themselves and attack
>Kill them and another giant werewolf that showed up.
>Sane villager lets us in
>Dunkin starts describing him as the ugliest person you can imagine, in quite vivid detail, and calling him by a different name than what he introduced himself as.
>He leads us to a safe place to get to the church from
>We use explosives to blast open the gate
>Bar the door from the angry villagers
>Find more mummified corpses in the basement.
>The voice of the gatekeeper talks to us again, expositing a bit about the bodies, unsure which one is his.
>D: "My god....the rigor mortis epidemic is more widespread than I feared."
>R: "This town needs a major shipment of lotion, posthaste."
>We go further down in the basement for what feels like hours, end up on the second floor.
>A bit of wtf-ery from our characters.
>We drink some mysterious chemical that lets us find the real path down
>Find a large fountain in the basement spewing blood of a dead god.
>Cultists praying in front of it we obliterate before they get a chance to stand up.
>Ugly NPC exposits about the god's blood.
>Voice from before claps somehow, is a giant spider on the ceiling.
>Reveals the NPC is the founder of the church, using the god's blood to make monsters.
>I quietly fill a waterskin with the blood.
>Spider wants us to kill NPC, we decide to let NPC live because more monsters=more jobs for monster hunters such as ourselves
>DM pauses, not expecting that.
>Spider panics a bit, but doesn't attack us
>Enemy group of monster hunters burst in
>We debate them on the feasibility of a monster/monster hunter economy without a steady supply of new monsters
>Explosions and we beat them to death
>NPC drinks the blood and mutates into some shoggoth/hellspawn...thing.
>We beat him to death, but not before he infects Dunkin
>We berate spider for not helponing us since he clearly has some sort of powers
>reveals the clipping came from two severed hands he stole off a corpse, he's just a spider ghost thing who wants a new body, wanted to steal ours
>We take the spider and head off into the sunset to find him a body
>And murder that old man that sent us here in the first place.
>Dunkin can't see any of the villager's corpses anymore, or any of the village being on fire.
Was a fun game. Poor store atmosphere for it ruined it a bit though.
Off the top of my head, I can think of some Conan stories featuring labyrinthine ruins and unknown horrors lurking within. These have a more swords-and-sorcery flavor, but often take inspiration from Lovecraft's themes and ideas (the two of them were friends, after all).
The Slithering Shadow
The Devil in Iron
The Scarlet Citadel
Pool of the Black Ones
If you want other Lovecraft stories with ruin exploration, I'd recommend The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and The Statement of Randolph Carter if you haven't already read them.
One game I ran had some Lovecraftian inspirations. Basically, some people really wanted immortality. At first they tried to basically create a giant pseudo-reality for people's disembodied consciousnesses to inhabit. But it got taken over by the unfortunate victims of the experiments and then started to invade people's dreams.
So the assholes who caused this calamity then decided 'fuck it' and instead used what data they had to try instead look into biological immortality to avoid being devoured by the nightmare they made. It went about as well as expected, so humanity at the start of the game was dealing with the previously mentioned calamity and an army of unstable god monster experiments rampaging across the world.
I think the best part is that none of the players actually gave a shit. Or that it wasn't even a major theme of the story, even if it had a tremendous impact on the setting itself.
The closest it came to mattering was when a PC rescued their husbando from one of the labs.
Let's try posting this again, it used to work fine.
I feel a failing of a lot of Lovecraftian RPGs is that a lot of them rely on a bestiary. There's no fear of the unknown in fighting a Mi-go or even Cthulhu since everyone knows what they are these days.
I'm gonna be running a Sunless Sea/Fallen London campaign which is a setting with some Lovecraftian themes. I'll probably be going for weird stuff happening that doesn't exactly make sense along with terrifying creatures.