I wanted to take a moment to talk about The Dead Man Stomp scenario that Chaosium is releasing with their new Starter Set. It first appeared in Cthulhu 5th edition, I think, and that is the scenario that set me on the course for what would become Harlem Unbound. If you have not played it, it's a blast and talks slightly about race and acknowledges how it could impact things when so many other scenarios ignored it (or worse).
Being a black kid in Alabama was hard, a nightmare really, and doubly so for geeking when it was not cool. My early discovery of Lovecraft made me want to add it into all of my games...that unstoppable and oppressive weight of horror and the fruitlessness of struggle against those forces. Even if you somehow manage to win, it's for a day or two and you are still forever changed by the experience. There is power in that story. I can't and won't put aside Lovecraft's over the top racism, even considering his time, and numerous other hatreds which I see whenever reading or talking about the man.
But seeing Dead Man Stomp, someone writing something that spoke to me, as a black Lovecraft fan was monumental. Was it perfect? No. Was it offensive? A little. Was it a good start? Yes. That start is one of the reasons I am here today. I had the honor of being part of the team to update the new edition of Dead Man Stomp that drops in a couple of months!
I went full circle!
All of that to say, two Gen Con's ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Morrison (co-author of the scenario) and talked about Lynn Willis (co-author) who steeped it in that Harlem jazz. This year, I won multiple Gold ENnies and one for Best Writing for Harlem Unbound (49 minutes in). That ENnie for best writing was given to me by Mark (my hero). When people tell you that baby steps don't matter, ignore them, or even better, tell them they are wrong. Every step no matter how small is important. Do we want bigger steps? Yes. Should it already have been done? Yes. But it's not, so we keep fighting for change.
Those steps inspire, open doors, and give chances for larger steps to occur and maybe...just maybe...a stride or strut.