Modiphius and Chaosium Profit from White Supremacists. There, we said it
WARNING: This article contains racist slurs, instances of racism and anti-Semitism.
Modiphius and Chaosium both publish games based upon H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu. Modiphius’ Achtung! Cthulhu and Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu, with Chaosium proudly displaying H.P. Lovecraft’s name on the front covers of theirs. Modiphius also publishes the Conan RPG series, based upon the Conan the Barbarian character and Hyboria universe he inhabits created by Robert E Howard. Like Chaosium with H.P. Lovecraft, Modiphius proudly displays Robert E. Howard’s name on the front of their Conan RPG books.
H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard were white supremacists.
The common argument here is that both authors were products of their time. That white supremacy was common. Even if that was a good argument (which it isn’t), Modiphius and Chaosium aren’t publishing and proudly displaying the names of these authors in the past when their attitudes were more commonplace. They are doing it right now, and should be held to modern standards.
Were H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard REALLY white supremacists, or do they just look that way through a modern lense? Let’s take a look at some of the things they wrote that without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, confirm their white supremacist views. This is most definitely not a list of everything racist either author ever wrote, but just a splattering of instances to present an overview of their views.
Let’s start with H.P. Lovecraft, the massive racist who’s literary legacy these two companies continue to ride. Looking at H.P. Lovecraft’s personal letters, we see ramblings of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of underground Jewish societies pitting the economic and social worlds of New York against “the Aryan race.” He furthers this view by stating “[the Jewish people] insidiously degrades [and] Orientalizes [the] robust Aryan civilization.”. H.P. Lovecraft’s anti-Semitic views continue, as he said of Adolf Hitler “god I like the boy!” and of Hitler’s politics “[his] vision … is romantic”.
H.P. Lovecraft’s white supremacy doesn’t stop at anti-Semitism (white supremacists views rarely do.), but was even more pronounced towards black people. Lovecraft’s poem “On the Creation of Niggers” describes how black people were created by the gods as a “semi-human” to “fill the gap” between humans and beasts.
The author seemed to have a strong dislike of anyone who doesn’t fit the “Aryan” mould. In “The Horror of Red Hook”, we see him describe “Syrians, Spanish, Italian and Negro” immigrants of New York as “contagions.” and “monsters”.
Now let’s move on to Robert E. Howard who’s name Modiphius use in their marketing and on the front of the books they sell. Rather fittingly, we will bridge these sections with extracts written by Robert E. Howard in a letter to none other than H.P. Lovecraft.
In the letter, Robert E. Howard is frustrated about an ongoing investigation into the murder of a Mexican man and states “just why so much trouble was taken about a Mexican I cannot understand.” later making mention of an ongoing trial where native Hawaiians were accused of rape, he writes “I know what would have happened to them in Texas. I don’t know whether an Oriental smells any different than a nigger when he’s roasting, but I’m willing to bet the aroma of scorching hide would have the same chastening effect on his surviving tribesman.” and suggests several times in the letter that he is personally familiar with the smell of a black person burning.
Howard demonstrates great discomfort at the idea of mixed heritage people. He once met a man of Chinese and African heritage in New Orleans who’s mixed heritage was so distressing for Howard that he wrote letters about the meeting, consistently describing the man as an “it” and went on to base a scene in the Conan story “Shadows in Zamboula” on the encounter. In the scene, the hero Conan is persuaded by the argument “[…] in this accursed city […] where white, brown, and black folk mingle together to produce hybrids of all unholy hues and breeds – who can tell who is a man, and who is a demon in disguise?”
This isn’t to say that Modiphius and Chaosium are the only tabletop publishers profiting from the work and legacy of these two men. It seems that every half bit publisher out of ideas, and complacent with white supremacy has dug into the public domain that is the Cthulhu mythos at least once. They are, however, the biggest two honouring the authors’ names so prevalently.
Every single publisher that uses the works and legacy of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard to get ahead are guilty of normalising the acceptance of the author’s views within the tabletop community.