Episode 157: The Carcosa Mythos in Media and Gaming

We’re back and we’re still blundering around in all this infernal mist. There is a sound of lapping water in the distance, but we’re more worried about the way these streets keep changing around us. You’d think someone would have compiled a street map of Carcosa, but no one even seems to be able to agree about what this place is. Let’s concentrate on getting our bearings and try to ignore that sound that’s not quite the laughter of children…

Main Topic: The Carcosa Mythos in Media and Gaming

We are continuing our in-depth look at The King in Yellow, the Carcosa Mythos and the horrors they have spawned. In previous episodes, we have discussed The King in Yellow and “The Yellow Sign”. This time, we’re focusing on how the Carcosa Mythos has been used by other writers, how it has been adapted for film and television, and what we can steal for our games.

Other Media

In the course of our discussion, we mention a number of books, stories, TV programmes and games:

As part of the discussion, we also pick a few favourite Carcosa Mythos stories.

  • Matt
    • “Broadalbin” by John Tynes, from Rehearsals for Oblivion
    • “Movie Night at Phil’s” by Don Webb, from A Season in Carcosa
    • “Beyond the Banks of the River Seine” by Simon Strantzas, from A Season in Carcosa
  • Scott
    • “River of Night’s Dreaming” by Karl Edward Wagner, from The Hastur Cycle
    • “More Light” by James Blish, from The Hastur Cycle
  • Paul
    • “Wishing Well” by Cody Goodfellow, from A Season in Carcosa
    • “Suicide Watch” by Arinn Dembo, from Delta Green: Dark Theaters

Games

We also discuss how we might use specific elements of the Carcosa Mythos in our games, as well as brainstorming a few scenario seeds.

The Yellow Sign badge from Sigh Co

News

UK Games Expo

If you are at UK Games Expo 2019 this weekend (31st of May to 2nd of June), do say hi to Matt and Paul. Both of them will be running games in the Cthulhu Masters tournament. Paul will also be joining our good friends from the Smart Party and Grognard Files podcasts for a seminar.

The Smart Party 100th episode

And speaking of the Smart Party… Paul recently joined Baz and Gaz for their 100th episode in which they offered a state-of-the-nation discussion about gaming.

Other Stuff

A Parcel of Goodies

A fantastically generous listener — Stephen Vandevander — sent us a parcel of goodies. You can hear us unwrap it in the backer segment, along with coos and expressions of heartfelt gratitude. The package included such goodies as The House of the Octopus by Jason Colavito and a spiffy Cthulhu idol from Pacific Giftware. This latter artefact is now watching over our recording studio, bringing fresh madness to every new episode. Thank you very much, Stephen!

As a bonus, you can see Paul’s new Carcosa-themed wallpaper and paint, as mentioned in the episode.

Songs

Those doomed souls lost forever in the mists of Carcosa cry piteously, their wails piercing the soul like daggers of ice. Our cries are more on the joyous side, but they still hurt the soul. We have captured them inside Paul’s computer and transformed them into praises of two new $5 Patreon backers. Soon, all shall despair as those damned souls do.

New iTunes Review

And finally, we were delighted to receive a new review from John Fiala, over on iTunes. These reviews sustain us emotionally and spiritually. If you feel moved to contribute to our wellbeing, or simply help others find our little corner of Carcosa, we would love it if you wrote a review wherever you download your podcasts.

Episode 148: The Dunwich Horror part 2

We’re back and we’re continuing our exploration of the hidden corners of Dunwich. The locals seem quite welcoming and some of them may even be described as undecayed. Those Whateleys are especially interesting, although we’re not quite sure why they’ve installed what sounds like a swimming pool in the top floor of their house. We’re sure there’s a perfectly innocent explanation.

Main Topic: The Dunwich Horror

This is the second installment in our ongoing look at Lovecraft’s foundational weird tale, The Dunwich Horror. Last episode, we looked at the opening of the story, exploring Dunwich itself. This time, we learn more of Wilbur Whateley’s ill-fated outing to Miskatonic University. Of course, this leads into discussions about how best to represent 4-dimensional geometry, why having eyes on your hips is only fairly weird, and whether an arrangement of tentacles could really be something unknown to our solar system.

News

Good friend of the Good Friends, Anthony Lee-Dudley, sent us a copy of Hypergraphia issue 1. This is a new Mythos gaming fanzine that explores the connection between eldritch horror and language. It is packed with strange and wonderful articles from familiar names. A most entertaining way to lower your SAN score.

We had a bit of good news that came in too late to make it into the episode. The members of EN World recently had a poll to determine their favourite RPG podcast. There were 99 podcasts nominated and over 9,000 votes. Somehow, we were voted the most popular in the talk category! This was entirely unexpected and utterly delightful! Thank you to everyone who voted for us! Congratulations also to our good friends at The Grognard Files, who came in second. “What Would the Smarty Party Do?” also made the top 5 and How We Roll was number 6 in the actual play category. This is a fantastic time for UK gaming podcasts! If you would like to hear the countdown of the top 20, check out the latest epsiode of Morrus’ Unofficial Tabletop RPG Talk.

We recently asked our Patreon backers whether there were any more rewards we might offer them. One suggestion was to share outtakes from our episodes. Well, we listened! If you are a backer, you should soon see a new RSS feed pop up in Patreon with rough cuts of new episodes as they come out. And when we say “rough”, we mean it — this is what it sounds like when we record, barring anything too slanderous to share. These recordings include flubbed takes, stuff we cut for length and, most terrifyingly, the unmixed sounds we emit for our songs. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Other Stuff

In Dunwich, the song of the whippoorwill portends doom. Our songs may not prove quite as fatal, but they will still devour your soul. We have two new $5 Patreon backers, and so we have gathered outside their windows at dusk to sing our thanks to them.

From the look on his face, souls cause fearsome heartburn.

As a result of the recent release of issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome, we have a lot of new backers to thank. Everyone who backed us at the $1 and $3 levels before the end of last year will receive their thanks in either this or the following episode. It will take us longer to get to everyone who backed us at the $5 level or higher, however. The dark forces we draw upon for our songs are not easily contained and we dast only summon them twice per episode. Please be patient with us as we work through our backlog.

Two of the backers we thank in this episode create things that our listeners would probably enjoy, so we promised to link to them. If you’ve received a copy of issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome, you’ve already seen some of John Sumrow‘s marvellous art. He has been kind enough to share a number of his drawings with us, much to our delight. If you like the picture below, you can find many more on his portfolio site.

We also mention another new backer known as Lord Mordiggian (Lord Mordi to his friends), who is the singer of the Lovecraftian metal band, Crafteon. We end the episode with their song “From Beyond”. If you would like to hear more of their work, they are on Bandcamp, YouTube and Spotify.

We’re back and we’re eyeing each other suspiciously, freezing our bollocks off and watching in dismay as our blood sample runs screaming out the door. This is our look at John Carpenter’s 1982 science fiction/horror masterpiece, The Thing.

Main Topic: The Thing

After years of independent features, The Thing was John Carpenter’s first studio film. It had a decent budget, strong cast and ground-breaking visual effects. After 35 years, it remains an enduring cult favourite. So why was The Thing a critical and commercial failure at the box office when first released?

Let’s poke around inside and find out.

We cut into the entrails of the film, examining its background along with our synopsis. Then, as you might expect, we let it infect us, transforming our games. We offer a few ideas about how The Thing could reshape itself as a Call of Cthulhu scenario. Given the apparent influence of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, this isn’t too tricky.

Although surprisingly few Lovecraft stories contain the line, “You gotta be fucking kidding.”

In our discussion, we mention a few related works:

News

We recently released a special episode, recorded live at the first Tabletop Gaming Live event in London. You can hear Mike Mason, Paul and Scott answer questions about all things Cthulhu. Alternatively, if you can stomach our faces, you could watch the video instead. We’d prefer that you didn’t stomach our faces, however. Stomachs are full of acid and that stuff stings.

Stomached face for reference.

Other Stuff

It would be remiss not to remind you that issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome is approaching fast. This is the print-only fanzine that we produce to thank our Patreon backers. Issue 4 features a new Call of Cthulhu scenario from Matt Sanderson and an amazing cover from the equally amazing Evan Dorkin. If you would like to learn more about what lurks within and how you can invite it into your home, please see our recent post.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover

In our social media section, we discuss some of the feedback we received on our recent episode about the joy of failure. In particular, we mention a post from Uncaring Cosmos which really must be read in its entirety. You can find it and the rest of the discussion in our Google+ Community. (Yes, we know that Google has announced the closure of G+. We are currently investigating alternatives.)

Artist’s impression of Google shutting down G+

And we make passing mention of good friend of the Good Friends Frank Delventhal’s terrifying ability to blow up hot water bottles like balloons. We promised a video, so here it is. 

https://www.facebook.com/StrongmanFrank/videos/298745394293869/

Please don’t try this at home. Try it in public so everyone can enjoy the sight of your lungs rupturing like two wet paper bags.

As we mentioned in our latest episode, we have started work on issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the old-school fanzine we put together for Patreon backers of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias. If you would like to know more, please check out our page about the Tome.

This issue will feature “The Hero Affirmed”, a brand new Call of Cthulhu scenario from our own Matt Sanderson!

Once again, we are aiming to release the Tome along with the Christmas cards we send to all our backers. If you are a backer between publication (late November) and the end of the year, we will send you at least one copy. Our page about the Tome has full details about who will receive what.

If you would like to submit a short article (up to 500 words) or some black-and-white artwork, we would love to hear from you! The Blasphemous Tome is licensed by Chaosium, so we are able to include stats and other game mechanics for Call of Cthulhu. The deadline for submissions is the end of October.

The current table of contents goes something like this:

  • The Ludomancers
    • Our favourite game sessions of the past year
  • Cocktail Corner
    • Matt shares another recipe that man was not meant to know
  • Mythos Fiction: The Sixties and Seventies
    • Scott’s series of story recommendations continues
  • The Hero Affirmed
    • A brand new, full-length Call of Cthulhu scenario from Matt Sanderson
  • Vinyl Corner
    • Paul discusses another musical artefact from the 1970s
  • The Sanderson Collection
    • Matt reveals another rarity from the dusty corners of his bookshelves
  • 2018: A Year in Horror Films
    • Scott talks about the films that impressed and disappointed him this year
  • Episodes of Insanity
    • Some background on our favourite episodes of 2018
  • Die, Die, Die!
    • Matt punishes another die that failed him
  • Plush of the Month
    • Matt makes Scott sad
  • Strange Eons
    • Scott offers an overview of Robert Bloch’s unjustly forgotten Mythos novel

We shall update this list as we receive more submissions.

In episode 137 we discussed Nathan Ballingrud‘s short story Wild Acre. A few days ago, Mr Ballingrud generously took some time to record an interview with us. We discuss Wild Acre and its themes of trauma, as well as the wider role of madness in horror, as well as where Nathan’s work is taking him these days. Given Nathan’s interest in RPGs, we also talk about Call of Cthulhu and how it relates to his work as a writer.

Nathan Ballingrud
Nathan Ballingrud

While we largely focus on North American Lake Monsters, Nathan shares some details about his upcoming book, The Atlas of Hell. He also mentions the film adaptation of his novella, The Visible Filth. This has been made by Babak Anvari, the director behind the wonderful Under the Shadow. The film, which is still awaiting a title, is due out in April of 2019.

The Visible Filth

The conversation also drifts into our mutual love of horror. Some of the answers Nathan offers could almost have come from our episode about the appeal of horror. He neatly sums up in a few minutes what it took us an entire episode to pin down!

We also make mention of Storium, which we then completely fail to explain. Storium is a website that bridges the gap between choose-your-own-adventure books and multiplayer RPGs. You can create your own games, writing content and walking players through your game world. Hell, maybe you can plot out the setting for your next novel there too!