The Dark Edinburgh Project – Edinburgh’s Dark Side
Dark Edinburgh was originally an idea I had many years ago. At the time I was seriously considering writing a werewolf novel and compiled a huge dossier on things like the Beast of Exmoor and other crypto-zoological entities. I started drafting my vision of Edinburgh in the future (this was the mid-1990s incidentally), and wrote a few chapters before thinking that it was just getting too corny. I sometimes wonder that if I had persevered Fenris Caine might be up there with the gag Twilight or Sookie Stackhouse series (True Blood is half as clever as it thinks it is). My first (execrable) piece of fiction set in Dark Edinburgh can be still be downloaded, but it I only keep it here for posterity – it’s safe to say I’m no Jim Butcher or George RR Martin.
Although the “novel” never came to pass, the concept was used in a standalone game of Vampire: the Masquerade, as part of an all-nighter session. The PCs were mortals, actually playing as their own selves 20 years on, using Caine as an incentive and the group hunting down a vampire culminating in a showdown in a deserted tower block in Gilmerton! I’m not the only one to have had this world view: Edinburgh has two Vampire LARPs (Live Action Role Playing). Embraced.org.uk are one of them (don’t be put of by the website – might not be safe for work). The other is Isles of Darkness (part of Camarilla UK).
At this time it was still a germ of an idea, until I picked up Cthulhutech after hearing how it was so cool. Whether you think Cthulhutech is a good game or not, it lead to me creating the Edinburgh in the Aeon War of 2085. This is what became the Through the Looking Glass series of games (at ORC Edinburgh), a somewhat Dystopian view of life in Auld Reekie, and really marks the realisation of what the Dark Edinburgh concept is: a twisted view of Edinburgh. I let my imagination run a little wild, but I’m a little more proud of the fiction I wrote for the Cthulhutech adventure, When the Ocean Wept: Under a Heavy Rain, Corporate Ties, and Vanguard Vengeance. It is not Cthulhutech (CT) canon – that has Scotland under the control of the Migou (Fungi from Yuggoth) and everyone is holed up in Manchester. I took umbrage at this, to the extent of posting publicly on the CT forums on why it didn’t work.
For me, the scariest part of Dark Edinburgh really comes from a dream – actually, a very vivid nightmare – and essentially boiled down to my idea for Arunstoun, a Call of Cthulhu setting. I’ll likely run it at ORC Edinburgh at Halloween or thereabouts. It’s inspired by the A70 road to Lanark, known as the “Lang Whang” (see the wikipedia entry… stop sniggering!). It’s pretty desolate and occasionally there are small communities or isolated farmhouses, the fictitious Arunstoun being one of these. The fact that the road was also used by the grave-robbers, Burke and Hare, to transport cadavers adds a whole new sinister light to it as well.
So that’s Dark Edinburgh in a nutshell – as I said, they’re very loosely connected!