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Confronting Challenging Content through Tabletop Role-Playing Games

In his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” H. P. Lovecraft famously declares that “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is the fear of the unknown.” It’s the experience of this sort of fear that he views as the test for true supernatural horror fiction. He crafted 100-odd stories around this concept, and countless later authors adapted it in their own horror fiction, cementing the concept as part of Lovecraft’s legacy. However, this fear is integral to not only Lovecraft's writing but also his racism. Lovecraft was born in the era following Civil War Reconstruction. He grew up when African-Americans were seeking civil rights and greater freedom, which was also the time when the white supremacist ideology proliferated. His fear of the unknown compelled him toward the latter. His works did not simply reflect the era in which he lived. They actively promoted fear of what he considered the racial “other.” His stories oozed bigotry, targeting African-Americans especially.

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