If the traditional D&D wilderness is made up of small bastions of law floating in a sea of chaos (the points of light trope), then maybe games like Call of Cthulhu and World of Darkness are points of darkness in an otherwise mundane reality. Since present reality is manifestly mundane, it makes sense that fantastic games that use the present as their setting often use some variation of this pattern. The super hero genre is the only exception I can think of, and that works primarily because the bar for suspension of disbelief is so low for supers.
Perhaps points of darkness, rather than points of light, are needed for a weird horror game. This would be another reason for LotFP to move away from fantasy settings and into the historical world and away from the D&D level system (with all the power inflation it entails). This is often how horror movies work: some aspect of expected reality is upset, and then (usually) restored by the end of the story, providing an experience of catharsis.
I was just getting ready to write a blog entry called Points of Darkness, when I decided to google it to see what others had written, and came across your post.
I’ve designed my campaign world to feel “mundane”, precisely so the weird can stand out. I’m of the opinion that in a setting where the monstrous is ordinary, it is much more difficult to evoke “horror”.
Also an excellent articulation of the sources of danger to stable polities in adventure games. Reminds me of War Hammer, which of course takes several hints from Cthulhu!
I really do have to get around to reading the old Games Workshop Warhammer and some of the Cthulhu stuff.