This is a game setting that could easily drag me down a rabbit hole, never to return. Damn Kenneth Hite and his alternate historical, mashed-up brilliance! Adventures Into Darkness is so frickin’ meta that I have to love the thing for its sheer audacity.
The concept in play here is that H.P. Lovecraft did not die a horrible, painful death due to stomach cancer at the age of 47, but lived to write comics in the 1950s. Superhero comics, at that, but with familiar Cthulhu Mythos elements firmly in place. Hite goes into great detail about this alternate history of Lovecraft and the comics industry, but has nothing to do with the setting of the game itself. The world you’re playing in is based on the comics universe that Lovecraft helped to create.
To help additional wonderment upon this, Adventures Into Darkness was an actual comics title in the early 1950s. It was a horror comic, now in public domain; you can download and read them online. It was the sort of book that Frederick Wetham blew on O-ring over. Then Hite pulls in actual superheroes from the period, from the same publisher, also in the public domain. As usual, he builds a credible, and gameable, setting from all of these bits and pieces.
I’ve had the opportunity to run Adventures Into Darkness exactly once, at a convention. It was a blast because I had people at the table who were familiar with both Golden Age comics and Lovecraft tropes, so they got it. At a convention, you can draw a Venn diagram where there’s a substantial overlap between fans of RPG’s, Lovecraft, and Golden Age comics. In your average gaming group, not so much. At least, that’s been my experience. That’s why I’ve never had the chance to run a full-blown campaign.
Let off of my leash, I’d flesh out Arkham as a full-blown city, a rival to Gotham or Metropolis. Miskatonic University would be a source of heroes and villains, all resulting frm mad science and mystic accidents. Every character Lovecraft ever mentioned, at least those that weren’t dead or unplayably insane, would get statted out in my own personal Who’s Who of the AID Universe. Then I’d mine those comics in the public domain, and pull out supporting characters and villains from actual stories.
This setting, in true Lovecraftian fashion, could drive me into an obsessive-compulsive disorder. There is so much potential there to be developed. The dramatic titles of other public domain books, Date With Danger and Out Of The Shadows, could be used as the titles for campaign books (Danger would be about Cold War spies, possibly a Delta Green-as-SHIELD riff; Shadows would deal with low-level superheroes on the mean streets of Arkham). It’s probably a good thing that I don’t have time to tug on those threads.