Taking Submissions: Starspawn: A Miskatonic Mystery Anthology

Deadline: September 15th, 2024
Payment: 2 cents per word, lore from these stories will also be featured in the upcoming Starspawn videogame which is cool for bragging rights but you won’t be paid extra for it which is an honest sticking point for many
Theme: Stories set in a variation of the Lovecraft universe which is listed below
Note: Be sure to read the legal at the bottom, it is very straightforward as this is for a videogame, but might be news to some

Ancient horrors… secret countermeasures… a cosmic cold war, turning hot…

This is the world of Starspawn: A Miskatonic Mystery, an indie video game in development by our team of two. We will be doing a Kickstarter later this year, and we would like to offer an original short story anthology as a reward; portions of the stories will also be included in the game, with the full text available as bonus achievements. These stories will flesh out the lore of the game’s universe, and should be based on the prompts listed below. We are offering $0.02 per word (to a maximum of $100), and looking for stories in the 2,500 – 7,500 word range. Submissions are open now, and close on September 15, 2024. We will evaluate all submissions after the closing date.

Requirements & Instructions

  • Stories must be set in the game universe, which is a variation of the Lovecraft universe, and described below.

  • Horror, please. Action/horror, comedy/horror, etc. are all fine, but horror, please.

  • Cosmic horror, please; not just a creature feature. Tentacles dripping with eyeballs are great imagery, but there’s more to it.

  • Stories must be based on one of the provided prompts. (You may send us a message if you would like to pitch a new one before you write it; info-at-the name of this domain.)

  • Using existing Lovecraft-mythos monsters is encouraged. Existing characters may be referenced but should be used sparingly. (If you would like to use something that was not written by Lovecraft himself, please make sure it is not copyrighted.)

  • Note that these stories are meant to explore the lore of the game world, not drive the plot.

  • Stories should not change history as we know it; this is not an alternate history, but a secret one.

  • Stories should be between 2,500 and 7,500 words. We may make exceptions for the right stories.

  • We will pay $0.02 per word, up to a maximum of $100 for a story.

  • We may provide editorial feedback and ask for a resubmission, or go through multiple rounds of revisions with you.

  • Please submit your story using the form below. You can send questions to info-at-the name of this domain.

  • Multiple submissions are okay, but please mention this on subsequent submissions.

  • Please do not submit your stories anywhere else until we have gotten back to you. Any stories submitted will be subject to the legal guidelines below.

    • tldr: If you use the prompts, you should submit your story. If we do not accept your story, you are of course welcome to do whatever you’d like with it, assuming you have removed our intellectual property, i.e., the details of the setting and factions. (We couldn’t copyright the prompts even if we wanted to.)

Setting & prompts

Warning: minor spoilers for the game!


For thousands of years, assorted horrors have manipulated mankind through secretive cults. These horrors were happy to act alone. But humans banded together from the start to fight to keep their planet. A weavers’ guild, the veluderi, formed to join the threads of humanity and coordinate these resistance efforts.

Things changed in the 1920s, after the horrors witnessed the willingness of mankind to self-destruct, spectacularly, with modern weapons. They grew bolder. They had a hand in many of the phenomena and movements of the age. Civilizations were manipulated by the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods, in order to further their disparate goals.

Seeing this, the veluderi—now the Silk Road—escalated their own efforts. They were instrumental, treasonously so, in dragging the United States into World War II. They pushed hard, and not just in America, for the development of nuclear technology–for a weapon that would let them fight the gods themselves.

After the war ended, the horrors saw mankind’s new abilities, and retreated and regrouped. They formed their own uneasy alliance and sought to end the Silk Road. Neither faction could risk exposure; mostly, they fought over influence and played spy games. The Silk Road pushed for nuclear proliferation as the best way to equip mankind should the worst happen; they promoted high modernism in every power center in an attempt to ‘accelerate human development’. The horrors pushed back, promoting ‘destabilizing’ forces like civil rights movements, environmentalism, and anti-elitism…

It was a Cold War fought in the human heart.


The game takes place in modern-day Miskatonic University. There is a section where the player researches this secret Cold War history; fragments of these stories will be among the things they find. As such, you get bonus points for your story being the sort of thing that would be found at Miskatonic University.

All stories should be set in the date range at the start of the prompt. They should include Lovecraftian themes like decay, occultism, and human insignificance. The Silk Road should not feature too prominently; its existence, and hints about its unsavory methods, will probably suffice. It’s as secretive and compartmentalized as the cults. Hints about coordination between horrors is also good. Just keep in mind that detailed description can be the death of a cosmic horror story.

Stories should not change history as we know it; this is not an alternate history, but a secret one. And remember that they do not need to have any relevance to the modern day; this anthology is meant to enrich the background lore.

Any story form that can easily be reproduced in a game is acceptable. Basically, this means no formatting fancier than footnotes or a block quote. In addition to a straight story, possibilities include an epistolary story, an academic paper, and a government document.

Here are the prompts:

  • 1947-ish: A Japanese architect is helping rebuild Tokyo after the war. They were also involved in rebuilding Tokyo after the Great Kantō Earthquake in the 1920s. They notice a major difference between the two efforts and grow suspicious about what happened before the war. This leads them down a rabbit hole where they unearth the remnants of a cult that guided the earlier effort—and dark whispers about US military command being in league with an equally-shadowy organization, the Silk Road.

  • 1950s-70s: Main character idea: An MKULTRA researcher (and perhaps unwitting subject too). This program was so weird and messed up that it could have been run by either faction, so the details are really up to you, so long as both are involved.

  • 1960s-70s: A Soviet agent was meant to be infiltrating the Fourth International Posadist movement, but went native, bringing them stolen nuclear secrets. Our main character is the agent sent out to retrieve/stop the first agent. Inevitably, it turns out the Posadists are a lot more knowledgeable about flying saucers than they ought to be.

  • 1950ish: Concept idea: Some of the funding for the Marshall Plan went to the CIA. This was used for influence operations intended to counter anti-Americanism and Marxist/“anti-progress” sentiments. The Silk Road happily piggybacked on this initiative, though the traditionalists they targeted were up to things more sinister than thoughtcrime.

  • 1960s-80s: A western green/peace activist is sabotaging a nuclear facility. They learn that their partner in crime has darker goals in mind—and so does the military-industrial complex (this could be part of their pro-proliferation agenda, or something else).

  • 1968-ish: During the Cultural Revolution, a Chinese academic is sent to the countryside to work on a farm. They uncover a rural community of cultists, and begin to wonder if the Down to the Countryside movement and the campaign to eradicate the Four Olds might have a hidden purpose.

Legal guidelines

Nobody likes this part, but here it is. There will be the standard boilerplate you get from selling a story, but additional restrictions apply to your submission. This is standard CYA stuff for writing in somebody else’s setting; we promise we’re not jerks. The actual contract you sign will have different wording, but it will describe the same concepts.

By submitting a story, you agree to these terms:

The original materials (characters, factions, setting, lore, art, etc.) of Starspawn: A Miskatonic Mystery (“The Game”) are the sole intellectual property of the game’s creators (“The Studio”). If their story is purchased, the author will grant all rights to that story, including but not limited to copyright, characters, factions, setting, and lore, to the Studio, except the following:

  • The Studio will have exclusive worldwide distribution rights to a purchased story for one year after the date of purchase. After this, the Studio will retain a non-exclusive right to distribute the story without additional payment. At this time, the Submitter may resell or reprint the story as they see fit.

While we will not take inspiration from non-purchased material, we cannot guarantee that we have not already had the same ideas. In other words, if something in the game closely resembles something you submitted, even if we didn’t purchase the submission, this shall not be taken to indicate plagiarism.

If we do not purchase your story, you retain all rights to it, provided you have modified it to remove any intellectual property related to the Game, i.e., factions, lore, etc.

Finally, authors whose stories are purchased may not write sequels of, or otherwise extend, their stories, without advance written permission.

Via: Starspawn Game.

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