ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)
[personal profile] ecosophia
Herbert WestGot another favor to ask of my readers. I'm closing in on the completion of the first draft of Weird of Hali: The Roleplaying Game; I've finished the rules for character generation, combat, all three kinds of sorcery, greater and lesser tomes, moon paths and standing stones, sanity, the lack thereof, and what happens when you spend too much time hobnobbing with ghouls; the Creatures section at the back is crawling (not to mention oozing, leaping, flapping, swimming, and lurking) with a world-class collection of eldritch critters -- and yes, fans of Yag-Kotha from "The Tower of the Elephant" will find other members of his species present and accounted for; I've got a few other details to plug in, but there's one serious gap remaining...

Mad scientists. 

Lovecraft made ample use of them in his fiction, and I've examined the research programs of his fine contributions to the field -- Herbert West, Dr. Munoz, Crawford Tillinghast, Charles Dexter Ward, and the nameless orderly whose telepathy machine had such unexpected results in "Beyond the Walls of Sleep;" I've taken similar notice of Jean Averaud, whose intriguing sonic device features in Clark Ashton Smith's "The Devotee of Evil': I've pored over the journals of Dr. Raymond and Dr. Steven Black, who feature in Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan" and "The Inmost Light" respectively; and of course studied the grand old man of them all, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Any self-respecting game based on the weird-tale genre, even if it's turning that genre on its head, has to have ample scope for eccentric researchers in isolated country houses or concealed laboratories in urban basements, hard at work on some project that will shake the world if it doesn't blow them to smithereens first. 

to the laboratoryGetting the concept is easy enough; getting the details, a little less so. As with other items in the game, I need a good 1d100 table with plenty of options -- if at all possible, 100 of them -- to serve as a random mad scientist research projects generator, for those GMs who want to go that route, and a source of inspiration for those GMs who want to stock an adventure with a mad scientist or two and can simply glance down the chart to see what crazed scientific venture sounds like a good addition to the game. The examples cited above give the following projects:
  • reviving the recently dead
  • maintaining life in a corpse
  • perceiving the unseen realities that surround us all (via radiation)
  • reviving the long dead
  • making telepathic contact with another mind
  • tuning in to the vibrations of pure evil
  • perceiving the unseen realities that surround us all (via surgery)
  • extracting the human soul
  • manufacturing life from not quite raw materials
Commando CodyTo that I would certainly add:
  • traveling to other planets
(Space travel just hasn't been fun since it got co-opted by huge government programs, you know.) 

But there are plenty of other options, enshrined in old movies, pulp stories, and other suitable pop-culture sources. For copyright reasons, anything first published within the last couple of decades probably won't work unless it's riffing off something well established in the weird-tales genre. On the other hand, anything that dates from the days of black and white movies, pulp magazines, or the like will be particularly welcome. 

So, tentacle fans -- what do you want to see the mad scientists of WoH: the RPG busy cooking up in their laboratories to the discomfiture of player characters and the Radiance alike? Enquiring (if decidedly crazed) minds want to know...

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(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 03:07 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have a whole bunch of pulp-era stories (usually very cheap on Kindle). I will see what I can find.

Did we get a reply from Grumpy, Sneezy, and Bashful on the dwarf planets? (That one made me laugh all over my phone.)

(no subject)

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2019-03-13 01:20 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2019-03-14 10:33 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 03:46 am (UTC)
deansmith: (Default)
From: [personal profile] deansmith
If other planets are on the table, I would suggest something like the scientists in Antarctica who wake a shapeshifting-body snatching alien creature from John W Campbell's 1938 story,"Who Goes There?" If you haven't read the story, it's about a group of scientists who decide to thaw out an alien they find in the ice. It quickly shapeshifts, kills and imitates them. A claustrophobic paranoia quickly develops as they try to figure out who "It" is.

(no subject)

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2019-03-14 02:08 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 04:30 am (UTC)
espresso_addict: Two cups of espresso with star effect on coffee pot (coffee cups)
From: [personal profile] espresso_addict
Time travel; robots; cyborgs; (world-controlling) AIs; human–animal chimeras; human transformation ito animal (including insect); brain transplants/brain in a jar; immortality (in an aging body); super-strength; preventing/reversing aging; invisibility; human cloning; resurrecting extinct species; personality change (eg Jekyll & Hyde); shrinking to cellular/atomic size; irresistible aphrodisiacs; travel to the centre of the earth; teleportation (with potential for accidents); and no doubt fifty others I will recall when I press 'post'...

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 04:57 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Would “the island of doctor Moreau” make the cut?

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 02:56 pm (UTC)
neonvincent: For posts about cats and activities involving uniforms. (Krosp)
From: [personal profile] neonvincent
That question deserves an uplifted cat icon.

Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also comes to mind.

(no subject)

From: (Anonymous) - Date: 2019-03-13 07:54 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 05:26 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Brainstorming! Some old goodies from pulp era:

-uplifting animals into human form (but with animal mind)
-turning men into animals (but with human mind)
-building a ray weapon that causes tremendous agony while barely leaving any sign of its use (possibly also used by Radiance agents?)
-zombies (be human or dogs) created by unholy chemistry
-fear weave generators capable of causing mass hysteria in town/city
-serum that turn body (and only body) invisible
-mole machine (for tunnelling into caves and ancient buried ruins)
-storm generating tesla coil (for dramatic effect/to level a city like proper doomsday device)
-process that take hallucinations/fictional characters and bring them into real world- only twisted in subtle, yet horrible ways.


Mad Scientists

Date: 2019-03-13 05:35 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Reading this made me immediately think of the old Jack Arnold horror and science fiction films, as they feature such an abundance of Mad Scientists. I´m particularly thinking of The Incredible Shrinking Man and Tarantula where scientists tinker with the size of living things. greetings Frank

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 08:46 am (UTC)
aldabra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] aldabra
You are right next, on my feed, to Scott Alexander coming up with a points scoring system for Puritans:

I think you have some hits in there. Campaign to abolish gravity. Kite-powered naval ships. Automatic sculpture machine. Feminist Bible. Racial purity stuff.

But also some material for another table of concomitant oddities. I think there's more to being a mad scientist than just having a bizarre theory. As Scott says, "I have the opposite worry: what happened to these people? When was the last time you saw somebody called Hiram invent five different crazy machines, found a new religion, and have twelve children who he named after Greek nymphs?"

You haven't got any breeding-of-monsters on that list, or lead-into-gold alchemy, or astrology. Or demon-summoning. All of that would get appropriated by science if science worked when applied to it.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 12:14 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] isabelcooper
* Combining humans with nonhuman animals, eldritch creatures, etc--surgically, reproductively or through zappy/glowy machine weirdness.
* Likewise, forcibly "uplifting" animals.
* Controlling the weather.
* Controlling magnetic fields.
* "Improving the capacity" of humans: making them stronger, faster, smarter, more immune to bullets, etc. As with the human/animal combo, there are a bunch of creepy methods that can be separate entries or subtables here.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-17 02:50 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Stalin thought an army of “humanzees,” human-chimpanzee hybrids, might be better than human beings, and a scientist did try. I don’t know if you can call the guy “mad,” he might have just been trying to stay alive. His biggest problem was keeping his tropical apes alive through Russian winters. Finally he had both a male survivor and a human female volunteer, but nothing came of it and Stalin lost interest.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 12:40 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Teleportation, particularly with complications (e.g. "The Fly")...


(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] kayr
Well, Dr. Jekyle and Mr. Hyde comes to mind. A mad scientist who can bring out the most evil in someone. Perhaps a mad scientist who could create Dorian Grey portraits with an evil formula or turn them into circus freaks/zombies/petrified statues. How about a mad inventor that creates a machine that will switch one person's consciousness into the body of someone else or into an inanimate object. Perhaps a mad scientist that creates tasty seeds that sprout inside a person's body and turns them into a plant person or an insect person. Or a formula that will dissolve your bones and turn you into a human slug. I am pretty sure all these have been done in some kind of horror flick or pulp story, but I couldn't say which ones I am afraid.

Mad Scientists 2

Date: 2019-03-13 01:29 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Sorry I got The Incredible Shrinking Man wrong; that one is about an accident involving a radioactive cloud... greetings Frank

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 01:32 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

You may have these on your list already, but things that come to mind right away:

1) Elixir of Life
2) eternal youth (as we know from mythology, *not* the same thing as immortality!)
3) transmutation of metals (of course!)
4) teleportation
5) mind-reading/telepathy
6) limitless energy (the cornucopians have to find jobs somewhere)
7) doomsday weapon(s) of some variety or another
8) harnessing the power of a black hole
9) mind-control
10) robotic sex-slaves (extrapolating from reality, b/c that is where AI research is taking us apparently)

Looking forward to seeing the RPG :)

David BTL

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 01:42 pm (UTC)
filthywaffle: Freepik Creative Commons (Default)
From: [personal profile] filthywaffle
Animating dolls
Imbuing body parts with personalities distinct from their owner
Eliminating human emotion
Opening portals to other planets
Projects to enhance certain senses at the expense of others (a lot could be expanded out from here, eg. deaf but canine sense of smell, blind but fly-like sense of touch)

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-14 02:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
How about a mad scientist that animates filthy waffles? (That’s a cute name!)

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] filthywaffle - Date: 2019-03-16 10:13 am (UTC) - Expand

Mad Science

Date: 2019-03-13 01:42 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I don't know about pulp novels, but old black and white 'B' movies are generally well-supplied with living brains floating in jars of unknown liquids.

Need of spare neurons

Date: 2019-03-13 02:17 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"Whose brain did you get?"
"Abbey who???"

Basement Projects!

Date: 2019-03-13 02:31 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Here are just a few of the things that have been bubbling up in my basement recently...mwhah ha ha ha!:

-Using homebrewed ham radio equipment to talk to the praeternatural intelligences of distant galaxies.

-Using my homebrewed ham radio gear to talk to the dead.

-Using the radio to implant thoughts in an enemies mind and and make them go mad.

-Modifying a camera so that it CAN capture a soul.

-Modifying movie equipment so it can trap someone in time, reliving the same sequence ad eternum.

-Creating an elixir of wart juice to sprinkle on the silverware of enemies.

-Growing spores from a salvaged meteorite that had strange mushrooms growing on them. Or more generally experimental mycology.

-Building a psionic screwdriver (mental/behaviorial disorder mod): I know I've probably voided the warranty on my sonic screwdriver by modding it, but I needed something that would give people a mental disorder /psychological disorder/learning disability when I aim at it them. One setting produces ADHD, another produces dyslexia, preventing them from being able to read, tourette syndrome, etc.

-Working on DIY Cytoplasmic Transfer and various genetic / gestational surrogacy procedures for the uber rich in a black market eugenics/fertility clinic.

-Selectively breeding venus flytraps and other flesh eating plants to create a killer hybrid.

-Inventing a new language / re-discovering the primal ur-sprach in order to manipulate reality. (See Whorf-Sapir hypothesis.)

-Experimenting with sound-recording and backwards masking techniques, specifically in country music. Having learned to play country music records backwards with the help of a psionic device try to use that technique to re-start my truck, bring my dead dog back to life, and have plenty of beer, etc.

-As you can see I've been busy! Time to get back to work!

Justin Patrick Moore

Soundtrack: For some reason "Dead Puppies" kept playing in my head as I typed this.

Better Living Through Mad Science

Date: 2019-03-13 03:02 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] troyjonesiii
A few suggested mad science topics...

+ traveling in time physically
+ traveling in time mentally/astrally (as in HPL's "The Shadow Out of Time")
+ traveling to other planets mentally/astrally
+ life extension/immortality via radiation
+ life extension/immortality via surgical grafting of a younger/healthier person's stolen body parts/organs (there have been a number of stories, both old and new, with this plot)
+ mind control via electromagnetic "rays"
+ mind control via surgical brain implant
+ mind control via drugs or chemicals
+ physical improvement of the body via drugs or chemicals, with unanticipated side effects (a la Jekyll and Hyde)
+ curing an otherwise incurable disease, with side effects arguably worse than the original condition
+ creating an incurable disease, in order to lower the world's overall population or rid it of "undesirable" populations (in the mad scientist's mind, this is a noble aim)

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] walt_f
-Death rays (subtable for effect: electric, laser, solar, x-ray, gamma ray, heat, cold/freezing, momentum/impact, gravity, tractor, disintegrator, vibration, mutation, de-evolution, animal transformation, rapid aging, liquefaction, memory erase, dimensional displacement, transported to the cornfield...)
-Lesser variations of full-blown time travel: sending messages back in time; projecting consciousness back in time to possess people (or only ones own past self); rewinding all of time by a specific or limited amount; time gates to/from a specific past or future time and place (can be one-way-only); random views of the future; random artifacts retrieved from the future; slowing or freezing time.
-Tesla's (reputed) earthquake machine
-Practical applied science with (unexpectedly?) extreme results: take any area of mundane research (adhesives; insulation; batteries; camouflage; catchy tunes; social media apps;...) and add "the ultimate" to it. The ultimate adhesive might act transitively, permanently trapping anything that touches the already-adhered mass; the ultimate catchy tune would completely and permanently overwhelm all other thought except the desire to pass it on; and so forth.
-Mirror-reversing objects and people (not very frightening but still plenty of ways it could go horribly wrong)
-Passing through solid matter ("phasing" etc.) has lots of ways to go Horribly Wrong, as well as lots of ways to be misused, and is also a good way of getting in contact with creatures that exist in that state all the time.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 06:27 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I have a free monster you can have if you want her. (Special! Today only—FREE MONSTERS!). I have dreamed several times of a monster with a woman’s body and a horse’s head, wearing a long blue dress. She doesn’t attack me or even pay much attention to me, just stands in a field minding her own business, as you might expect of a critter with a horse’s brain.

If you don’t mind me asking on Wednesday, what does it mean if you dream of such a critter? I have no strong feelings about horses one way or the other. I’m not afraid of them but, unlike most girls, never wanted one of my own. My dad boarded horses for a while, and I remember Rebel, a lovely animal, a retired racehorse who was lucky enough to end up in a field instead of a can. Dad didn’t board long. In that time and place, horse people were not big on paying their bills, and even with selling the manure, he could not afford to maintain 5 horses. Long after the other 4 had been unclaimed and sold, we had dear sweet Rebel, as Dad wanted to make sure he went to good owners the next time. And mind you, Dad was Pennsylvania Dutch, born in 1927. To that generation of that group, an animal was like a drill or a vacuum cleaner. You acquired it to perform a specific task. It was not a pet. Rebel was everybody’s pet. Even Dad couldn’t resist Rebel.

So that’s my history with horses, do you have any ideas about my dream?

Dad did find Rebel a good home and we’d often drive by to visit him.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] avalterra
I will try not to hit anything already posted (good list so far!).

Reviving animals/microbes/humans/viruses from melting glaciers.

Attempting to speed up global warming so that one can get rich by owning soon to be water front property.

Various drugs in water supplies for various nefarious ends.

Blowing up the Eiffel Tower. I have no idea why, it just seems like the thing to do.

Creating "just add water" zombies by reducing humans to their essential salts.

Founding cults with the intent to use the money/manpower that the provide to support their bigger aims.

Founding an organization (school, cult, company) that seeks out magically gifted people to create a cabal of evil sorcerers.

Genetically manipulating mice to create super intelligent mice that try and take over the world (every week).

Using super science to create attack zeppelins.

Cloning Hitler.

Cloning Che Guevara (probably more effective with the younger crowd).

Creating a large number of super assassins that are in deep hypnotic state who do not realize they are super assassin until they are activated by a coded message.

Implanting secret messages in children's cartoons to nefarious ends.

Feeling that "the world's a mess, and I just need take it over so I can fix it".

Device that slows or briefly stops time (allowing the user to continue moving at the normal time rate).

Will keep thinking.



Date: 2019-03-13 09:11 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ooh! Fun stuff, John!
Lubricants that work too well. Asimov, I think, covered those.
Superalloys that turn out to have unusual properties. Well, that’s what happens when amateurs try to duplicate Atlantean steel…
Insect repellent or insecticide that backfires. Herbicide, too.
A new super pet food that is heavy on the super part.
Strange radios. “Wireless” by Kipling comes to mind.
Silent explosives like Hushaboom from Rocky and Bullwinkle.
Fabric that has its own ideas about fashion.
Jurassic Park scenarios… without the park.
A wetting agent for firefighting that turns out to be flammable… or explosive… or brings out the Weird…

Captain Nemo

Date: 2019-03-13 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Does Jules Verne's character, Captain Nemo, make the cut?

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-13 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Walking through solid walls. Either by some technical device you wear on your body or by some substance you need to swallow, which might provide you with wall transmission abilities for a few seconds or so. Definitely a nice takeaway from your visit at mad scientists home...


(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-14 12:12 am (UTC)
amritarosa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amritarosa

A device or one-way environmental adjustment that tunes the consciousnesses of storm and other weather systems and (some or all) humans so that the minute overlap where mutual regard and communication can happen is made much, much larger. Possibly even casual and unavoidable.

Or a similar device that would do the same between humans and certain kinds of microbes. Either within or without us.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-14 02:39 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Is The Invisible Man sufficiently old? What about Flowers for Algernon? (Now, that was a horror story.) I assume you've got Lovecraft's swap intelligence with an alien in there already.

A really ambitious mad scientist might be inclined to try to reproduce some bit of Dante's Inferno on earth as vengence on one who wronged her.

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ecosophia: JMG in lecture mode (Default)John Michael Greer

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