The Atrocity Exhibition, a chilling quick play scenario, featured in Taroticum and Other Tales impressed me so much with its macabre story and nightmarish themes that I reached out to the writer Jason Fryer and asked if he would let himself be interviewed. Luckily he said yes. So here are my questions and his thoughts.
What would you answer to the rather basic and strange question: “So who are you?”
I’ve a freelance writer for over twenty year, and been playing and designing RPGs as far back as 1979—after discovering D&D. At a far-too-early age, I’ve loved horror and dark fantasy—books, magazines, movies, games, anime, etc. Clive Barker’s Books of Blood were an all-time favorite of mine, so when I discovered the original Kult RPG, I was pretty much destined to be hooked. I never actually thought I’d contribute to the Kult mythos, however.
In addition to my mundane job, I’ve been writing and designing for Pelgrane Press, Third Eye Games, and Wyrd Miniatures, well as editing/writing for Kult: Divinity Lost. Currently, I’m writing the PIP System conversion of the H.P. Lovecraft Preparatory Academy RPG—think cosmic horror for kids.
You wrote the book Purgatory in the 90s. How did that come about?
Pure chance, honestly. I’d been running Kult for friends in Canada, and decided to send a writing sample to Target Games AB—mostly as a personal dare. Much to my surprise, the editor responded pretty quickly and praised the submission. Although the concept didn’t fit their vision, we stayed in touch and eventually I was offered Purgatory. It was like a dream (nightmare) come true.
Ironically, they told me to tone down Purgatory—whereas my original submission had been ‘too soft.’ There were darker elements left on the cutting room floor, but I was happy with the end result. From there, I wrote part of Kult: Second Edition and an unpublished supplement on Limbo. Fortunately, I stumbled across Kult: Divinity Lost and decided to contact the new staff, which soon led to The Atrocity Exhibition.
What was your main inspiration for the Atrocity Exhibition?
In many ways, The Atrocity Exhibition is my love letter to Clive Barker’s Hellbound Heart and Hiroyuki Owaku’s Silent Hill. I’d jotted down original story seed years ago, but things truly fell into place after I discovered how Togarini—the Death Angel—was being developed for Kult: Divinity Lost. I researched Death in Renaissance art, drew from its various themes, and then wove them into the scenario. For me, purgatory has always been about imagery and symbolism, so setting everything inside an art gallery seemed the perfect choice. Everything else expanded from there, including the underlying stories between the various non-player characters. I really enjoyed the narrative freedom allowed by the new game-system, in this regard.
Are you working on new material for KULT: Divinity Lost?
We’re currently discussing future concepts to expand the Kult ‘universe,’ including some non-traditional locales. Unfortunately, I can’t get into them in detail just yet.
Which Archon or Death Angel is closest to you?
That’s a tough one. But, if I’m honest, I’d say I’m deeply connected to the Archon Tipareth. Art, literature, and music have always fascinated me—particularly, the profound influence they hold over our minds and cultures, overall. In my mind, our entire perception of reality (the Illusion) is heavily defined by the various forms of media—especially now with the Internet. Plus, as a writer, I’m not about to bite the hand that feeds me, as it were (LOL).
If you would recommend a movie that feels like good KULT inspiration?
Heh, I need to see more movies, frankly. But, each and every year, I watch Session 9 for inspiration. While a slow burn, few other movies have succeeded as well at instilling profound dread. Its huge, yet still claustrophobic, setting is a character onto itself—and the stuff of nightmares.
The first Silent Hill movie, for all its faults, has some amazing aesthetics to draw from, as well. Of course, the early Silent Hill games are fertile ground for inspiration—Silent Hill 2 is a must for any aspiring Kult gamemaster.
While not great, Marebito (by director of The Grudge) offers up some nice imagery of the Underworld and the fragmenting Illusion. The infinitely better The Wailing is a glorious tale of suspicion, demonic forces, and mystery—perfect for weaving deep narratives.
Finally, I’d also suggest The Autopsy of Jane Doe. It seamlessly reveals how the simplest premise—a mysterious dead girl—can transform into inescapable horror.
Thank you for then interview! And I am really excited to learn about what you are cooking up in the future for the KULT universe! You can find my review of the Atrocity Exhibition here: The Atrocity Exhibition