I’ve been a fan of Snopes.com, the Urban Legends Reference Page, since they started in 1995. Thanks to them I’ve been able to allay many fears and rumors rolling around the internet. Occasionally I’ve been surprised to find out one of the stories cluttering my inbox happens to be true.
The last few days have turned up a couple new urban legends that caught the attention of my game master’s brain.
The first is something that reads like a player’s handout for Call of Cthulhu.
A team of archaeologists working for the Australian National University, who were proceeding to an excavation near the sandstone rock formation of Uluru, has unearthed the ruins of a large precolonial city dating back to more than 1500 years ago. The important number of tombs and artifacts already discovered on the site suggests that it could have been the capital of an ancient empire, completely unknown to historians until now.
Professor Walter Reese, in charge of the site, claims that the extent of the site and the superposition of various layers of constructions, suggests that it was occupied for 400 to 500 years, from approximately 470-80 AD, up until the 9th Century. He believes that the city could have held between 20000 and 30000 inhabitants, making it the most important center of civilization in the Southern Pacific at the time.
-Text from urban legend Ruin Nation
It turns out that this story comes from World News Daily Report, one in a long line of fake news sites trying to imitate The Onion. However any Lovecraft fan worth their salt recognizes this as a clue to the location of the lost library of the Great Race of Yith, as described in The Shadow out of Time. Sounds like it’s time to send in a Delta Green task force to deal with those pesky archaeologists before they release something truly unfortunate. Hopefully all the scientists are what they appear and that none of them are possessed by the Great Race, otherwise it could get complicated.
The second is related to my recent post on post-apocalyptic gaming. The urban legend claims:
SPIDERS HAVE BEEN RELEASED FROM A DNA LABORATORY LOCATED NEAR THE WOLF SANCTUARY ON ANTIRE RD !
Government testing on DNA has produced these spiders in a Laboratory in Missouri. Unfortunately they have been located off Lewis Rd just west of laboratory and seem to be breading in the wild much faster than when captive.
Government officials are doing all they can to try to eliminate these spiders but can offer no guarantees. They could be popping up in surrounding neighborhoods west of the siting (Eureka, Pacific, Union, and St. Clair) within weeks.
What we have in our favor is that winter is approaching and hope to slow down the migration no further than St. Clair before the cold hits.
If you see these stay indoors and call the local police. They have been informed on procedures of capture and contact of the local governing agency.
-Example text from urban legend Mutant Spiders in Missouri.
The story, with all it’s potential for adding to a Mutant Futures bestiary, is false. However the surprising thing is that the accompanying pictures are real.
We’re going to need a bigger shoe!
That’s not a photoshop job, it’s not a model, it’s not even forced perspective. Thankfully it’s also not an arachnid. These rather hefty bits of nightmare fuel are Coconut Crabs, the largest species of land-based arthropods in the world. They’re not aggressive, eat mostly fruits and nuts, and are closer relatives to the Horseshoe Crab than anything found in Tolkien’s Mirkwood Forest. Still, that shouldn’t hold you back from using this as a hook for your next Gamma World game.
It is comforting to know that these huge crabs aren’t really giant spiders. However they do remind me of something else, something not quite as non-threatening…