What, you might ask, is that? Well, consider the tales of Silver John by Manly Wade Wellman, which had horrific elements as well, and the Alvin Maker stories by Orson Scott Card. A few other authors have dabbled with these elements as well, and I'm always up for suggestions as to what to read next (so, good readers, suggest away in the comments). These are stories of country folk against supernatural circumstances, with plenty of flavorful color about the characters and setting and language. What I like about them is the reminder that life was once harder in many ways yet simpler in comparison to our modern world.
I was introduced to Silver John in a Wellman novel, and I cannot remember the title at the moment, that I borrowed from Rodman Public Library in Alliance, OH when I was 15 or so. I loved it instantly. It had a creepy air about it, and the writing evoked wonderment and fear at the same time. Silver John is an amazing literary creation. I even worked up a class for OSR games based on him, called the Silver Minstrel. Perhaps one day I'll post it here, but it violates all kinds of copyright laws as it's written now and you can never be too careful! The way Silver John fights off evil supernatural forces and folkloric nasties in the stories is inspiring to say the least. He doesn't resort to awful levels of violence, and often thinks his way out of problems, knowing that if he takes the problem head-on, he is doomed to failure. In the stories, most of the beings he faces have an Achilles heel of some sort, and a few times it is music from John's silver-stringed guitar.
I have wanted to construct a fantasy America that incorporates Wellman's and Card's work for use as a setting for old-school games, but I have lacked the gumption lately to try it. I also feel that I would need to really become more familiar with American and European folklore from the early to post-colonial periods, as well as history. It feels like a big bridge to cross. Magic would also have to be altered. Outright attack spells would really have no place, and I would definitely re-title existing spell selections to enhance the flavor and feel of magic with a new skin. Priestly characters would also be a concern, and what real-world religions, if any, to include as an option for the class.
The idea has been nagging at me for at least five years, so perhaps I'll write a post or two to start, and see how they turn out. How's that sound?