We’re back and we’re still under lockdown. Like the rest of you, we’re turning to books, films, podcasts and other media to take us beyond these four walls, if only mentally. We thought it might be fun to share some recommendations with you, hence this series of special episodes.

These lockdown episodes are also a way of thanking our Patreon backers for sticking with us in these difficult times. We’re releasing them on the off-weeks between normal episodes. We hope they can provide some distraction from, well, everything.

If you would like to gain access to these special episodes, simply back us on Patreon at any level. We will continue to release our standard episodes every fortnight as usual.

If you are already a backer, you will find a post in your Patreon feed with a download link, and the episode will appear in our special Patreon RSS feed.

In this episode, we discuss a few horror or weird fiction books we’ve read recently. As ever, we also offer our thoughts about how they might inspire games.

Things we mention in this episode include:

Shoggoth in a jar.

We’re back and we’re having another look through our history books. They’re so much safer than those other books we consult. You know, the ones with unwholesome bindings that whisper dark secrets with voices that sound like the rustling of parchment. History books are usually much better behaved. Sure, sometimes they tell us things we’d really rather not know, but they’re more helpful in avoiding the destruction of all humanity has wrought…

Main Topic: More Great NPCs of History

In this episode, we once again seek out historical personages who might make interesting Call of Cthulhu NPCs. We have restricted ourselves to the classic 1920s and Gaslight time periods to best fit your games.

This is a follow-up to our first Great NPCs of History discussion in episode 173. That time, Paul and Scott got so carried away (mainly with monkey glands) that Matt never got to present his selection. In an uncharacteristic display of fairness, we let him go first this time and still managed to squeeze in three NPCs.

This episode was recorded a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic caused us all to self-isolate, so we were all gathered together in Paul’s studio. That all seems like such a long time ago now. We have one more such episode to release before those recorded remotely. You may notice a change in sound quality once this happens.

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

Nellie Bly
Ellen Wilkinson
Edgar Laplante

News

The Old Ways Podcast

We recently attended the funeral of Jackson Elias, again. This is getting to be a habit. Our good friend Michael Diamond included us as mourners in a recent episode of The Old Ways podcast playthrough of Masks of Nyarlathotep. You can find our appearance by proxy in chapter 5 of the New York season.

Type 40

Paul recently met up with Alan and Nicky from Type 40 and learned all about their “artefacts from imaginary universes”. As well as Call of Cthulhu props, they also make all sorts of strange items likely to appeal to fans of SF, comics and other such things.

We’re back with the second part of our discussion with parapsychologist, RPG author and raconteur, Christian Jensen Romer.

In the first part, CJ told us how he became involved with ghost hunting. In this episode, he delves more into the various studies of ghost phenomena and some possible explanations for ghost sightings.

In the process, CJ clarifies and corrects a number of points we made in our recent episodes about ghosts. We really should have talked to him before recording those!

Episode 178: A Warning to the Curious

We’re back and we’re heading off to the seaside. People might tell you that Suffolk can be bleak at this time of year, but what do they know? There’s plenty to enjoy here. The hotel is pleasant enough, although we’re not sure why they gave us a private sitting room. Our shoes have never looked so shiny thanks to the boots and all his elbow grease. That nice old man at the curiosity shop keeps showing us wonderful things that belonged to dead people. And while the sand is too fine for making sandcastles, it’s nice and soft for digging. Everything here is rather idyllic. If it weren’t for the hideous ghost following us and the sense of impending doom, this would be the best holiday ever. Four stars on TripAdvisor.

Main Topic: A Warning to the Curious

While we’ve wrapped up our discussion of ghosts, we haven’t quite left the spectral world behind yet. Or maybe it refuses to leave us alone. Once these spectres set their sights on you, they can prove vexingly dogged. We’re going to keep away from any Martello towers, just to be safe.

Almost as frightening to us as they were to Napoleon.

This episode explores M R James’ classic English ghost story, “A Warning to the Curious”. England has an enduring love for ghost stories, and James is the towering figure in the field. We spend some time talking about the man himself and how his work has retained its appeal. Then we go digging for treasure in one of his best-known tales, looking for inspiration for our Call of Cthulhu games. We’re sure everything will be fine.

See? The locals are even keeping a lookout for us.

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

The man himself

News

Ain’t Slayed Nobody

Paul recommends Ain’t Slayed Nobody, a relatively new Call of Cthulhu actual play podcast focusing on Down Darker Trails. They are up to three episodes now and may branch out into other Cthulhu settings in subsequent shows.

One Cut of the Dead on Tear Them Apart

Our good friends Evan Dorkin and Paul Yellovich at the Tear Them Apart podcast recently released an episode about the marvellous Japanese horror film, One Cut of the Dead. You should seek this out even if you have no interest in found-footage or zombie films (especially if you don’t). It is full of surprises and pure joy. You should also go into it with as foreknowledge as possible of what you are about to see. And then you should listen to the Tear Them Apart episode about it.

Voluminous: The Letters of H P Lovecraft

And we have yet another newish podcast to recommend: Voluminous. Our good friends at the H P Lovecraft Historical Society are discussing Lovecraft’s copious correspondence, with each episode focusing on a single letter. And, as Paul mentions, who could be a better choice to present such a podcast?

Following our recent discussion of ghosts in Call of Cthulhu, we thought it might be useful to get an expert opinion. Luckily, our good friend Christian Jensen Romer (CJ to his friends) is a qualified parapsychologist. He is also a member of the Society for Psychical Research and a familiar face to viewers of TV shows like Most Haunted.

As if that weren’t enough, CJ has also written for Call of Cthulhu and other RPGs. In particular, listeners may know him as the author of The Parapsychologist’s Handbook. This was one of the first monographs that Chaosium published, back in 2008. Basically, he’s much better qualified to talk about this stuff than any of us.

Scott spent some time talking to CJ about his experiences and how parapsychology treats the subject of ghosts. In fact, we spent so long talking that we are going to have to split the discussion in two. This first part largely covers CJ’s personal experiences with ghosts. Part 2, scheduled for release on the 24th of March 2020, focuses more on general parapsychology.