Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Cherry-Coloured Funk


Promo card for Brand New Cherry Flavor

I'd been thinking about an urban horror/fantasy campaign for some time. Maybe since she-who-is-known-as-Eldritch-Eternity has been describing her own burgeoning occult-modern campaign on various discord channels, maybe since I picked up a copy of Dark Streets and Darker Secrets with the "Old School Cool" from Bundle-of-Holding... maybe it was the build-up and excitement just before Garblag Games started their latest Vampire Campaign, set in the 90s... know, because if I was going to run an urban fantasy campaign with horror under/over tones it would HAVE to be set in the 90s...

...and then along came BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR

Brand New What Now?

It's a "limited series" (I think that means it has an actual ending) produced by and showing on Netflix starring Rosa Salazar as a talented director with a shady past hoping to the hit the big-time. I'm only halfway through and I'm not a binge-watcher so it'll take me a while to get there so please: no spoilers in the comments. 

I'm writing this now because I want to keep this feeling alive: in the final four episodes this show could take a sudden nose-dive and it'll sully everything I loved about it. It might not, we'll see, but just in case...

It's based on the novel of the same name by Todd Grimson. Written in 1995, presumably the same year in which the show is set. 

Catherine Keener as Boro in Brand New Cherry Flavor 

So What?

I'm not going to write any more about the show, other than:
  • I feel it forms a bridge between more conventional horror and surrealist/psychedelic cinema...
  • This paints a picture in my head of an occult NOT-Hollywood, a weird mash-up of Barton Fink, Mulholland Drive, Russian Doll, White of their Eye, Bojack Horseman, Jacob's Ladder, Performance, Blue Velvet, Cities of the Red Night, Myths of the Near Future, Naked Lunch, Brand New Cherry Flavor, Repo man, Maps to the Stars and Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Struggling artists in an occult version of NOT-Hollywood is a great campaign frame for an OSR urban horror-fantasy, and one that could be tied quite nicely to a lot of the implied setting of Esoteric Enterprises

Campaign Features

  • Living world comprising an occult-tinged Not Hollywood: a mecca for artists ruled by svengalis and moguls, most of whom are liches, vampires, witches or inter dimensional parasites 
  • Anti-lore: there's no grand narrative or explanation why these things are here, no epic struggle against the darkness... instead...
  • PCs are struggling actors, musicians, comedians, writers or visual artists desperate to get ahead in a high-stakes environment. They're either newcomers or has-beens, willing to do anything to get their career back on track, including doing dirty work for some of the big players (or their minions named above)
  • Esoteric Enterprises Under City: sandbox generation straight out of EE:
      • Sometimes the underworld isn't literally underground
      • Closer integration between the sandbox and the factions (a lich's lair would be home to a "questgiver" to use general RPG shorthand, who might also be a literary agent or a movie producer)
      • Some re-skinning of monsters and factions to cleave closer to the source material (such that it is): Men in Black could be shadowy figures from "the studio", for example;
  • Low-key Cops: the law is weak and corrupt, rather than powerful and corrupt. Criminal gangs run parallel to the machinations of major studios, with occasional overlap. The police are one such gang.
  • Episodic Sandbox: a west marches style campaign. 
      • Players discuss what they wish to do at the next session online between sessions. 
      • The world moves on between sessions ( a kind of "faction turn")
      • Sessions represent heists or delves etc.


This is a sketch only, an outline. Interested in your thoughts and take on the campaign. Please comment below.

The title of the post is named for a song by the Cocteau Twins, who form a nice bridge between the show itself (Cherry), the nineties, and surrealist lit/cinema (Jean Cocteau).

It's also one of my favourite songs: it reminds me of being 13, staring out of a window and smoking Bensons, dreaming of a Hollywood I'd never get to see.

Watch a fan-video of the song here:



    Esoteric Enterprises

    Eldritch Eternity's Blog (please put your occult-modern campaign up here soon!)

    Dark Streets and Darker Secrets by Diogo Nogueira:

    Garblag Games Twitch Channel:

    Garblag Games Vampire 2e Campaign:


    This post originally referred to a movie called "The Whites of their Eyes", which doesn't exist (maybe quoting Zulu?) I actually meant White of the Eye, directed by Donald Cammell. 

    I have corrected this mistake.


    1. I saw this show recently and really enjoyed it. I don't normally watch random stuff that shows up in my feed, unless I've heard buzz about it, which I hadn't, but something about it just called to me.

      Admittedly I am not a horror aficionado in the first place, but this show actually changed the way I see horror, and the relationship between horror, disgust, camp, and other forms of emotional manipulation in storytelling, in a way that has had me really inspired since.

      Without spoilers, I do think, the show starts out one way, and as things develop, I mostly kind of preferred what the show was to where it went, for several reasons that I don't want to comment on because spoilers, but anyway, I still really enjoyed it on the whole.

      It reminded me a bit of Doom Patrol, another show I was very inspired by. There was a certain kind of urban magical realism that was popularized by Vertigo (I think) and later watered down, but I've been excited to see, I think just within the last couple years or so, what I think is a new kind of urban magical realism, one that I have also been thinking quite a bit about.

      1. Oh in case my comment below isn't obvious, it is addressed to you, and in case the my gratitude isn't likewise obvious, I very much appreciate your commetn!

    2. I talked about magical realism in the first draft of this post I did last night, so it's good to hear you mention it here. For spoiler reasons I'll end the discussion about the show there but it's reassuring that you found the show so inspiring! I don't know anything about Doom Patrol, I shall take a look next!

    3. I've been wanting to throw my modern occult setting out there for a bit but my laptop is currently in for repairs.
      That's literally the only reason so far.
      Oh yeah if you couldn't tell I'm E.E.

      1. My setting Maximum Recursion Depth would fall in line with what I was saying before about a new kind of magical realism. May or may not count as "occult" per se, but this show felt to me like it was on that same wavelength.

        Look forward to seeing your setting posted EE :)

      2. EE:
        There's no pressure I am just excited to hear it... and yes, I knew it was you!

        Definite magical realism in Maximum Recursion Depth!