137: Wild Acre

Episode 137: Wild Acre

We’re back and we’re checking the undergrowth for sinister shapes, getting ready to run for our lives and preparing to deal with the consequences. This episode is our discussion of Nathan Ballingrud’s short story, Wild Acre. While Wild Acre isn’t Lovecraftian horror, we thought it would make a good follow-up to our recent episode about insanity in Call of Cthulhu. It is an unusual story, raising questions about the portrayal of trauma in horror.

Main Topic

While the emotional impact of encounters with the impossible is a common theme in horror fiction, Wild Acre takes an unconventional approach. Most of the story explores the protagonist’s inability to cope with a traumatic event he experiences in its opening. The realistic and uncomfortable portrayal of PTSD provides a strong contrast to how the topic is usually handled in games. We use this to further explore some of the themes we have discussed over our past couple of episodes.

North American Lake Monsters

As well as writing some of the emotionally complex horror fiction of recent years, Ballingrud is also a long-time Call of Cthulhu Keeper. We had hoped to include an interview with him in this episode but scheduling problems got in the way. All being well, we shall record one soon and put it out as a bonus.

The Best of the Best Horror of the Year cover

Wild Acre can be found in Ballingrud’s excellent collection North American Lake Monsters, as well as The Best of the Best Horror of the Year.

News

Scott mentions his recent visit to The Haunted City: Modern Monsters and Urban Myths, a day of talks organised by the London Fortean Society. In particular, he discusses the presentation about Lovecraft and the occult given by good friend of The Good Friends, Justin Woodman.

Other Stuff

We have started putting together issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the 1980s-style fanzine we create for those wonderful people who back us via Patreon. We plan to send the ‘zine out in early December, along with our Christmas cards. If you have a short (500-word maximum) piece of writing or some black-and-white artwork you’d like to submit, we would love to hear from you! The Blasphemous Tome is licensed by Chaosium, so we are able to include content developed for Call of Cthulhu.

Another way we “thank” some of our Patreon backers is to sing to them. It’s been a while since we had two new $5 backers to thank in this way, but we give you both barrels of song in this episode.

We also share a new iTunes review and some choice comments on our recent episode about player engagement. If you enjoy the podcast, we would love to hear from you on our Google+ Community and would be delighted if you posted a review on iTunes or wherever you find your podcasts.

Our good friends at the Necronomicon Discord community (not related to the Necronomicon convention) are hosting a charity event later this month. This 24-hour live stream will feature lots of Call of Cthulhu goodness, all to raise money for Leukaemia Care.

The organisers are still looking for people to run or take part in sessions throughout the stream. If you are a contributor to Call of Cthulhu in any way (writer, artist, podcaster, YouTube host, etc) then they would love to hear from you. Just join the Necronomicon Discord Server and make yourself know in the Introductions channel.

The press release, below, explains all the details.

Who are we?

We’re the team behind the Necronomicon Discord community, run by Harry, Elliot, and Callum. We’re just three people who decided to try to create a Discord-based community after we indulged in the Call of Cthulhu RPG.

The atmospheric-driven horror of the unknown catered to our group perfectly, giving us the motivation and drive to form a wider group of people with the same interests. We wanted to create an easy way for players and Keepers to communicate, as well as allowing new people to get into Call of Cthulhu in a friendly and support-driven environment. We have a dedicated staff team who are just as passionate as we are, helping us throughout the building and shaping of our community. Newcomers to Call of Cthulhu have been able to find games easily through our custom bot.

With the community’s support, we decided we couldn’t miss the opportunity to help those less fortunate than ourselves by doing a live stream for Leukaemia Care. Together, we feel that as a community we can achieve this goal.

What is this event and what are we hoping to achieve with it?

We’re doing a 24-hour live stream on Twitch.tv/necronomicondiscord for the charity, Leukaemia Care. A variety of different activities have been planned for the stream such as: a live scenario hosted by a special guest from the community, interviews, Q&As, games, and a lot more, all for a good cause. Special guests will include but are not limited to, Scott Dorward and Lynne Hardy!

By planning and hosting this event for the community, we hope to raise a large amount of money for Leukaemia Care in order to help families and individuals who suffer from the various forms of the disease. As well as the fundraising, we also want to improve awareness of the condition, its symptoms and treatment, in the hope that we will be able to enhance people’s understanding of the illness and the lives of those dealing with it.

What is Leukaemia Care?

Leukaemia Care is a charity that helps patients that have been affected by blood cancer receive the information, advice, and support they need; it helps their friends and family cope with the diagnosis and treatment, too. On top of that, it also funds research into leukaemia to find ways to detect it earlier, and to make it easier to treat and cure once diagnosed. The charity helps provide information through booklets and support groups, as well as backing research through clinical trials and more. Information on what the charity does can be located on their website: https://www.leukaemiacare.org.uk/

Good friend of the Good Friends Cory Welch has been in touch with some exciting news:

The Midwest cabal of the Chaosium Cult of Chaos is back. We will be running our highly regarded performance of the incredible multi-table Call of Cthulhu scenario, Gatsby and the Great Race, penned by 7th Edition co-author Paul Fricker, at Gamehole Con VI! This classic and must-play blowout scenario will commence at the Alliant Energy Exhibition Hall in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, November 10th, 2018 at 2 PM!

We’re going straight for the cat’s pyjamas and opening it up to 5 tables — yes, 30 investigators — for this very special and unique RPG event. We’ve updated the scenario with the maddening excitement of the 7th Edition rules… RSVP your invite for Julian Gatsby’s decadent 1930 blowout!

Chaosium will be generously providing prizes for the event, so come out and trade your best insane roleplay for some POSH swag… In addition to a very special souvenir of the event for a few lucky few players! For more information on reserving your spot and for other awesome games, check out Gamehole Con’s home page.

We’ll see you there!

Insanity in Call of Cthulhu

Episode 136: Insanity in Call of Cthulhu

We’re back and we’re building on last episode‘s discussion of the theme of mental illness in Lovecraft’s work. This time, we turn our attention to the role of insanity in Call of Cthulhu. Obviously, Call of Cthulhu is based upon Lovecraft’s writings, but how much does the sanity system actually reflect the source material? Moreover, does it in any way model real-world mental illness and trauma? And should it even try to?

Main Topic

We each come to this topic with different perspectives, which leads to some lively debate. While it never becomes heated, it is one of the more intense discussions we’ve had. There has been some criticism of Call of Cthulhu for trivialising mental health problems and we tackle this head-on. We hope the result is nuanced and doesn’t come across as dismissive of such concerns.

News

Cults are another huge part of Call of Cthulhu. Paul suggests some inspiration in the form of Wild Wild Country. This recent Netflix documentary tells the story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian guru who created a religious community in Oregon in the 1980s.

Paul also mentions his recent visit to the Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth exhibition at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford. If you want to try to work out what was really in Tolkien’s pipe, the exhibition will run until the 28th of October 2018.

Other Stuff

There was some confusion in our last set of show notes. We warned you of singing when there was none. This may have caused unnecessary tension and puckering of orifices. We apologise. The confusion came about after some last-minute editing and reordering to synchronise our Masks of Nyarlathotep episodes with the release of the PDF. Let us reassure you that there is no singing in this episode. We do have some new $5 Patreon backers to thank, but the disruptions of summer prevented Paul from mixing our idiosyncratic vocal stylings. Next time, however…