Jason Morningstar’s ‘The Ixiptla’

Jason Morningstar is most famous for Fiasco, an amazingly fun and darkly funny game. But my favorite of his works was an earlier game called Grey RanksGrey Ranks is about teenage resistance fighters in the doomed Warsaw Uprising of 1944. It’s astonishingly bleak, but its very hopelessness encourages players to explore the best and worst in humanity.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that I found Grey Ranks so moving. I mean, I love Call of Cthulhu.

A couple of years after Grey Ranks, Jason contributed to the terrific liner notes in Graham Walmsley’s Stealing Cthulhu, along with Kenneth Hite and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan.

Naturally I was thrilled to run Jason’s scenario “Sukakpak” in TUO 21. It’s one of my favorites things that we’ve published, and since relaunching the Oath we have published some terrific things.

So naturally I approached Jason about contributing a bonus download for the 2013Unspeakable Oath subscription drive.

With “The Ixiptla” (no relation to the Whispering Vault scenario), he didn’t disappoint.

From “Alchemist” by Richard Ashrowan: www.ashrowan.com/works/alchemist

From “Alchemist” by Richard Ashrowan: www.ashrowan.com/works/alchemist

Jason described “The Ixiptla” to me as “one of the bleakest, ugliest, most hopeless things I’ve ever written. Inspirations: Queen of Versailles, A Simple Plan, District 9, Cocoon, The Fly, The Dunwich Horror, La Historia Universal de las Cosas de Nueva España.”  

“The Ixiptla” is not an investigation. It’s not about deliberately confronting danger. It has no sturdy professors bravely facing the mind-blasting revelations of forbidden books to thwart a vast evil. It is instead about seeing what happens when appalling horror comes to ordinary people — people who don’t deserve it, and aren’t equipped to face it, any more or less than anybody else.

As Jason says in the text, “‘The Ixiptla’ is a tightly constrained atmospheric one-shot. There are some notes on using it for campaign play at the end, but it probably plays better as a claustrophobic exploration of pride, degeneration, and weird fortune.”

It’s a strange adventure, shivering with slow-burn terror. When we reach 600Unspeakable Oath subscribers, we’ll share “The Ixiptla” with all of them. I can’t wait.

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