Graham Walmsley (among else the author of Play Unsafe, a short but useful guide to improvising as a GM) has written a guide to Lovecraftian roleplaying called Stealing Cthulhu. As the title implies its about how you as a GM can steal, adapt and combine ideas from HPL in order to create new and exciting adventures. I’ve ordered the book but havent got it yet, so this is just me winging it from my first impressions. I like the concept and wanted to play around and see what kind of adventure locations I can come up with based on some Lovecraft stories. Fact is, if you take a story by HPL, switch the surroundings to a semi-historic primitive world and change the main character from an antiquarian prone to fainting to a sword wielding barbarian with mighty thews you’ve got yourself a first class sword & sorcery adventure!
The Shadow over Innsmouth
You know the story, theres this run-down fishing town where the locals have some pretty close relations with a race of fishpeople in order to secure their livelihood.
Ok, so lets transport this to a s&s setting. We could change the place into a big prosperous city, but if its a place that attracts a lot of strangers perhaps its not the entire population who looks fishy – rather its just the ruling priesthood of the Sea God.
But lets not stop there, we could change the central details. Instead of a fishing town with deep ones it could be a mining city whose population is close with the Mi-Go, or with an underground empire of intelligent giant ants.
At the Mountains of Madness
So these explorers (scientists, or more likely treasure hunters) travelling to a distant and uninhabited land come across this enormous ruined city left behind by an alien race. But the horror that wiped out the aliens is still there. We could substitute the Elder Things with Mindflayers or Beholders, or else we could make up original aliens of our own. Their rebellious slaves could of course be sentient Black puddings, but might as well be hordes of undead or vampiric metal golems.
And so on…
Dreams in the Witch House – While taking refuge in a ruined mansion the PC’s are visited upon by the mansions owner, an ancient witch, and transported in their sleep through the astral realms of hyperspace to the demonic master of the sorceress to be either disciples or meat for the sacrificial altar.
The Haunter of the Dark – When exploring an abandoned temple in the city the PC’s discover that it has been the abode of a cabal of sorcerers, or a chaotic cult, who have been summoning an eldritch entity from a distant otherworldly realm. The cabal or cult was destroyed many years ago, but the avatar of their infernal teacher is still present.
The Whisperer in Darkness – The PC’s are made aware that alien beings (Mi-Go, Deep Ones, Beholders, Artificiers of Yothri, or whatever you may prefer) are secretly conducting some kind of project (mining, cattle mutilation, abduction of peasants, creation of a hybrid species) in the realm. They are served by a secret order of human servants who have gained control of key positions in society to keep their business running smothly. And they are not the least amused to find out that the PC’s have gained access to their secrets.
There is a treasuretrove of ideas for weird adventures in HPL’s writings.