Harlem Unbound 2nd Edition Releases!

Chris Spivey's excellent horror roleplaying game set in Harlem in the early 20th century has a...

Chris Spivey's excellent horror roleplaying game set in Harlem in the early 20th century has a 2nd Edition, and has been released by Chaosium in hardback and in a limited edition leatherette version.

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 PRESS RELEASE



Harlem Unbound 2nd Edition, a sourcebook and scenario collection for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, releases this week in hardback. The 368-page book presents a New York where Prohibition is in full swing and bootleggers are living high. Blacks flee the oppressive South for greener pastures, creating a new culture in Harlem. There’s a feeling of possibility in the air like never before. But, even in this land of promise, Harlem is a powder keg, ready to explode. This updated edition expands the Cthulhu Mythos and contains seven scenarios, new occupations, Mythos entities, and a crash course on addressing race in gaming.

Roleplaying can educate, build understanding of history, and help foster community, all of which are essential to building a more equitable future. Chris Spivey, author of Harlem Unbound and founder of Darker Hue Studios, offers a vision of the Harlem Renaissance as seen through the lens of the Cthulhu Mythos. The book’s core centers around a conversation about racism and injustice in America—and, indeed, the world over—in an honest and clear way, inviting people from all walks of life to thoughtfully consider the Black experience in history and the present.

Harlem Unbound is like no other published roleplaying book. Created by an African American game designer, its approach to race and social injustice presents clear and actionable advice on race and oppression in a roleplaying context, and explores what is and what is not appropriate at a gaming table. Significantly, the first edition won multiple gaming industry awards, has been accepted into the collections of museums, and has been taught at universities as part of the curriculum.


The 368-page hardcover costs $49.9. Chris Spivey was on our podcast in February 2019 to talk about Harlem Unbound.

 

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Retreater

Legend
I'm definitely interested to listen to the podcast when I get a chance. And I believe Chaosium has a deal to buy the PDF and then get a discount off the hard copy.
However, my gut is telling me I don't think I would feel comfortable running the game. Reading it, yes. Supporting it, yes. But I don't think I could run it or play it. I'm afraid it would feel like RPG blackface. (Maybe the podcast addresses this?)
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'm definitely interested to listen to the podcast when I get a chance. And I believe Chaosium has a deal to buy the PDF and then get a discount off the hard copy.
However, my gut is telling me I don't think I would feel comfortable running the game. Reading it, yes. Supporting it, yes. But I don't think I could run it or play it. I'm afraid it would feel like RPG blackface. (Maybe the podcast addresses this?)
It's a year old podcast for the orginal Harlem Unbound 1st Edition, but that's definitely one of the questions I recall discussing with him and which Chris was happy to talk about.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm definitely interested to listen to the podcast when I get a chance. And I believe Chaosium has a deal to buy the PDF and then get a discount off the hard copy.
However, my gut is telling me I don't think I would feel comfortable running the game. Reading it, yes. Supporting it, yes. But I don't think I could run it or play it. I'm afraid it would feel like RPG blackface. (Maybe the podcast addresses this?)

After reading the press release, I can't imagine the designers would have any problems with you playing it. It even "explores what is and is not appropriate at a gaming table." I think you're safe. I'm considering purchasing it myself. Though I have a hard time rounding of Cthulhu players.
 

I picked this up in PDF and used it as information/setting supplement for running Dead Man's Stomp, and it went over hugely well. The players absolutely had a blast. It's a truly excellent setting book, fascinating as both a work of history and as an RPG supplement. I ordered the hardcover, as it's just so good. Will definitely be playing the scenarios.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I took an incredible class in college on the literature of the Harlem Renaissance. So much of the art in that time and space was about trying out new things, reconnecting with old traditions, and poking and prodding at every established "rule."

In other words, a lot of ancient horror, whether of the "my third eye is now open" or "gatekeepers of the apocalypse" kind fits right in!
 

Retreater

Legend
I listened to the podcast interview and have read several reviews. I definitely want to support this product and design team. I plan to pick up the PDF for my own reading at the very least.
I also brought the idea to my Call of Cthulhu group to see what they thought of the book. It was eye-opening to read what my "progressive, open-minded" friends had to say about it:
"Lmao I can't believe that's real."
"This might be a bad take, but that seems stupid to me."
"It would be better just not talk about it."
"There's is absolutely no need to re-litigate HP Lovecraft's underlying racism. Like just move on."
So I guess I'm not playing it, having run into the racism in my group I never knew was there. But I definitely want to read and support the project. I can clearly see why we need it now.
 

I took an incredible class in college on the literature of the Harlem Renaissance. So much of the art in that time and space was about trying out new things, reconnecting with old traditions, and poking and prodding at every established "rule."

In other words, a lot of ancient horror, whether of the "my third eye is now open" or "gatekeepers of the apocalypse" kind fits right in!
This book introduced me to the Harlem Renaissance, specifically the literature and art. I'm a lit nerd, but I had never heard of many of the others. It gives a really wonderful overview and introduced me to a lot of amazing artists.
Check out the play area collage for running Dead Man's Stomp in Harlem, setting up for further Harlem adventures.
 

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I listened to the podcast interview and have read several reviews. I definitely want to support this product and design team. I plan to pick up the PDF for my own reading at the very least.
I also brought the idea to my Call of Cthulhu group to see what they thought of the book. It was eye-opening to read what my "progressive, open-minded" friends had to say about it:
"Lmao I can't believe that's real."
"This might be a bad take, but that seems stupid to me."
"It would be better just not talk about it."
"There's is absolutely no need to re-litigate HP Lovecraft's underlying racism. Like just move on."
So I guess I'm not playing it, having run into the racism in my group I never knew was there. But I definitely want to read and support the project. I can clearly see why we need it now.
"This might be a bad take, but that seems stupid to me." Yep. That's a bad take.
It's really too bad, because the book is brilliant. You can take what you want from it. It does not focus on HP Lovecraft's racism, it focuses on cosmic horror set in the Harlem Renaissance, and uses real world horrors to enhance the supernatural threats.
My group was a little hesitant when I discussed it just because everyone is white, but I just threw them into the setting and they were really blown away by the end of Dead Man's Stomp with my additions using this book as background. They were really moved by it, and thought it really did a lot more than the typical Lovecraftianism they've read a million times before.
 

Definitely grabbing a copy of this. I was out of Call of Cthulhu for a long time, got back into it with 7th edition. I love the books for how much historical context they put into them. I was able to grab a couple of the Cthulhu Britannia books, sadly not the main source book.This one looks fantastic! Never saw the original version of it but like I said going to grab this one!
 

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