Cats in Call of Cthulhu and Lovecraft

We’re back and we’re chasing our tails, trying to lick our nether regions and hissing at anyone who looks at us funny. Meow. This is our look into the role of cats in Call of Cthulhu. Lovecraft was famously fond of cats. He kept them as pets throughout his life, and wrote about their exploits in his letters and stories. Inevitably, this means that cats have found their way into Call of Cthulhu. As any cat owner will tell you, cats can turn up in the most unexpected places. I regularly had to rescue one of mine from up the living room chimney.

Although most of them have had the decency to stay out of my skull.

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We kick off by looking at cats in Lovecraft’s work. Along with his fiction, we find inky pawprints in his poetry, essays and correspondence. The main works we discuss are:

When researching this episode, we were surprised to realise that the goddess Bast does not actually appear in Lovecraft’s fiction. He mentions the city of Bubastis in passing, but its patron deity is merely name-checked in Cats and Dogs. Her presence in the Call of Cthulhu rulebook seems to owe more to Robert Bloch than Lovecraft. Even then, Bloch’s version of Bast is a very different creature, especially in The Brood of Bubastis. We discuss these variations and how they might influence our games.

Chaos tries to influence my games, usually by lying on my arms as I’m trying to write them.

Of course, we also look at Cats in Call of Cthulhu and some other Lovecraftian RPGs. There are a surprising number of games in which you can play a cat and fight eldritch horrors. We mention a few of them.

We also offer a few ideas about how you might use cats in your games. Personally, we let our feline friends bat our dice around the table whenever we need to roll. Paul’s cat, Ginnie, takes payment for this by drinking our tea, which seems a fair exchange.

News

All three of us managed to make it to Concrete Cow this time around and we even ran some games. In case you haven’t heard us mention it before, Concrete Cow is Milton Keynes’ own gaming convention, held twice a year in March and September. If you fancy coming along and joining one of our games there, the next one is scheduled for the 15th of September.

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Most of us have suffered cats yowling outside our windows at night. Their screeches can pierce the very soul, driving sleep far away, leaving only frustration and pain. Taking inspiration from these midnight serenades, we offer two new songs in this episode. These are our caterwauling way of saying thank you to those generous people who back us at the $5 level on Patreon. We have almost caught up with our backlog of people to sing to, so if you are still waiting, your torment is closer than you think.

Comedy in RPGs

Episode 127: Comedy in RPGs

We’re back and we’re splitting our sides, busting a gut and otherwise rupturing ourselves in the pursuit of comedy. It’s rare to find a gaming table where no one is laughing, even if the subject of the game is grim or horrible. Whether we like it or not, humour is a big part of RPGs. We may play Call of Cthulhu to scare ourselves, but more often than not, we dispel that fear with laughter. Sadly, the converse is rarely true, otherwise, games of Toon would end in glorious, screaming terror.

Toon cover

Or even more so, in Matt’s case.

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It may seem odd for a horror podcast to discuss comedy in RPGs, but as we’ve mentioned in other episodes, humour and horror often go hand-in-hand. Both rely on build-ups of tension, released by an unexpected, absurd or extreme revelation. And, obviously, both involve clowns.

Unsettling clown

Mr Tickles wants to play a game with you.

We talk about the role humour plays in our games, what it is that makes a game funny and how this can all go wrong. Sometimes we really don’t want a game to be comedic, and while we can never cut out those moments of release, we offer some ideas about how to encourage a more serious tone. There are also types of humour we might not want in our games, and we talk a little about how to address this when it comes up.

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Matt recently received his long-awaited copy of the Temple Edition of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. This might be the most expensive RPG book ever produced, and Matt talks a little about what makes it so special. He has also written a detailed article about his new precious, accompanied by plenty of photographs.

Covers of the Temple Edition

Possibly the most expensive RPG book in the world.

As we mentioned recently, The Lovecraft Tapes podcast has been running through Scott’s scenario Hell in Texas, from The Things We Leave Behind. Gabe from The Lovecraft Tapes interviewed Scott about the scenario, Call of Cthulhu and some other, rather strange things. Be warned that this interview contains mild spoilers for Hell in Texas.

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Laughter can be musical, like the chimes of delicate bells cascading in delight. Sometimes, however, it is nasal, braying or discordant, grating upon the nerves, leading the listener to imagine smothering the person laughing, or ripping out their vocal cords. The same is true of singing. We leave it to you to determine which applies to our latest efforts. Once again, we have two new $5 Patreon backers to thank in our own exuberant manner. We certainly laughed during the recording session, although maybe not in an entirely wholesome manner.

Mythos Deities: Yog-Sothoth

We’re back, standing atop Sentinel Hill, chill wind whipping under our robes, shrieking until our lungs hurt. Damn, that wind’s cold! This is our discussion of Yog-Sothoth, the All-in-One, the Gate, the Key, the Lurker at the Threshold and any number of other names. You can tell Yog-Sothoth is an important deity: he has almost as many monikers as Nyarlathotep has avatars. And while his personal appearances are mercifully few, his presence in Lovecraftian fiction and gaming is strong enough to warp space and time themselves.

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This is our latest dissection of a Lovecraftian deity. We examined Dagon in episode 98 and Shub-Niggurath in 115. Our overview of Lovecraftian gods in episode 67 and of religion in the Mythos in episodes 118 and 119 also relate. Following our usual format, we look at the origins of Yog-Sothoth, how he developed through fiction, how he appears in Call of Cthulhu, and what we might do with him in our games. Well, other than run screaming.

Or adding some tasty meatballs.

News

All three of us will be at the Concrete Cow convention in Milton Keynes on Saturday the 17th of March. We’re running a few Call of Cthulhu games between us, and it would be lovely to find some of you at our tables. Otherwise, please look for us between games –we’d be delighted to have a chat. It’s a small con and we’re slow-moving targets.

The Lovecraft Tapes actual play podcast is currently making their way through Scott’s scenario Hell in Texas, from The Things We Leave Behind. They take a more comedic approach than most Call of Cthulhu actual plays, with quick-fire quips and running gags aplenty. Despite this, they still take the investigation itself seriously, embracing the horror. Add some great characterisation and the result is compelling. Hell in Texas starts at episode 32, although it is well worth starting from the beginning to understand the larger continuity (and also because it’s damn good fun).

Time is running out for the competition we announced in episode 124 to win a copy of Nameless Horrors. It’s not too late to enter, however. If you’d like to do so, simply share any of our social media announcements about the last episode and let us know. We shall perform the draw on the 24th of March and announce the 5 lucky winners shortly afterwards.

Also on the 24th of March, we shall be holding a voice chat with our Patreon backers using our shiny new Discord server. If you are a patron, you should already have access to the backer-only channel there. Please let us know ahead of time if this doesn’t seem to be the case. We shall start the talk at 6 PM GMT (1 PM EST, 10 AM PST, 7 PM CET) and run for about an hour. We shall send out email reminders via Patreon beforehand, along with a link to the server.

And we have been nominated for a Golden Geek Award in the category of Best RPG Podcast. If you would like more details, including how to vote, please see our recent post. We would be ever so grateful if you voted for us!

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As Wilbur Whateley cries his blasphemous praises to the leering stars above, so do we. While his chants are designed to tear reality asunder, bringing about the end of humanity, ours merely praise our new $5 Patreon backers. Any destruction of humanity is purely coincidental. There are two such minor apocalypses in this episode. We still have a few more people to sing to, but those waiting should not grow complacent. Your time shall come soon.