Moby Dick is Cthulhu
So reading Todd Alcott’s musings on Moby-Dick, I was struck for the first time by something that ought to have been obvious to me long ago:
The plot of Moby-Dick is that a crazy, obsessive leader goes “off the res” and gets the men in his care tangled up in a dangerous mission of revenge that can only end in death and ruin.
…this is the narrative structure of the ideal Call of Cthulhu campaign. Moby-Dick calls to people in their dreams. They pursue him through trackless voids, making their own, more or less haphazard, tracks toward him, and then when they meet the eye of revelation they are destroyed.
Also: Moby-Dick, the great white whale, is alive, natural, unplaceable and unknowable. Ahab is asking his crew to join him in a mission to know the unknowable.
…which strikes me as a very neat summation of the uncanny nature of many of Lovecraft’s monsters.
Finally, though, there’s the peculiar, ironbound gesellschaft of the Cthulhu party. Which threatens to undo the whole noir/heroic structure of the Cthulhu game. Except: Part of the drama of Moby-Dick is that Ahab isn’t just fulfilling a personal vendetta, it’s that he’s doing it with someone else’s ship and with men who don’t share his sense of outrage and vengeance. So Ahab, like Kurtz, is following his own agenda that isn’t strictly what everyone else came out here for. So the question is, which PC is Ahab? In one sense, since they’re stalking the unknowable, they all are. But which one is the craziest, the most tangential to the proper target? Which one is it that will lead the rest into ruin?