Hellraiser

We’re back and we have such sights to show you. Or tell you. Can you really tell a sight? You can tell of it, but does that really convey the same visceral impact? This is all getting rather tortuous, appropriately enough. Regardless of which orifices you use to receive us, we are here to tell you all about Clive Barker’s 1987 horror film, Hellraiser. We discussed two other Barker films — Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions — back in episode 68, but Hellraiser was where it all started. Sort of.

Or it might have started with a few drops of spilt blood.

Main Topic: Hellraiser

While Barker had made two short films — Salomé and The Forbidden — and written two largely forgettable features — Underworld and Rawhead RexHellraiser was his first major outing as a film director. On the back of Barker’s soaring reputation as a writer, Hellraiser was touted as the future of horror. While this is pretty standard hype, the film has remained an enduring favourite for 30 years. It also spawned an enduring franchise and established Pinhead as a horror icon.

Although if he agrees with Barker’s opinions on his name, calling him “Pinhead” will only make your torment worse.

Hellraiser has grown into an ever-expanding mythology, spanning 9 films, a comic series and several books. We focus on the first film, for now, pretending the rest of the canon doesn’t exist. That said, we make a few comparisons to the source novella, The Hellbound Heart, also written by Barker. There is a great deal to be said about the larger mythos of the Cenobites and their attendant horrors, but it is too much to fit in a single episode. If you would like us to do a follow-up, please let us know. You can use the Contact Us form or Social Media links on this site to do so.

Or if you solve the right puzzle box, we will come to you.

Of course, we also sink our analytical hooks into the film, tearing out great, bloody chunks of gaming meat. Hellraiser was one of the major inspirations for Kult, which we discussed way back in episode 31. Here, however, we focus more on what we can steal for our Call of Cthulhu games.

The Cenobites aren’t the only entities that wish to take you beyond the limits of human experience.

Necronomicon

We’re not long back from the Necronomicon convention, where we had a wonderful time. There is so much to say about it that we shall have to record a special episode. Keep an eye out in your feed for that as well as recordings of the seminars on which we appeared. You can already download our joint episode with our good friends at the Miskatonic University Podcast. We have also released some short videos of our visit to Providence, and Paul posted a whole bunch of photos to our Twitter feed.

We didn’t spend all our time in the pub, not that the photographic evidence supports this.

Speaking of Necronomicon, Paul asked a number of Lovecraftian luminaries to sign his convention programme. He has put it on eBay to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. Please take a look if you fancy snapping up something unique and giving money to a good cause! If you would like more information, Paul has posted further details of who the signatories are.

Other News

While we were in Providence, we heard the delightful news that Call of Cthulhu had done rather well at the ENnie Awards. A good number of projects we were involved with won gold awards, and we would like to thank everyone who voted for them! We just wish that Gen Con and Necronomicon hadn’t fallen on the same weekend so we could have been there in person. Congratulations to Chaosium and to Stygian Fox for their well-deserved success!

All three of us will be attending the Concrete Cow convention in Milton Keynes on Saturday the 16th of September. It’s walking distance for one of us, so it would be rude not to! Concrete Cow is a fun, friendly little one-day convention, and we would love to see you there. Doors open at 9 AM, with the first game starting at 10 AM. Admission is £5.

And speaking of upcoming events, we will also be taking part in the Milton Keynes Literary Festival later this month. All three of us, along with Mike Mason, will host a panel about the connection between roleplaying games and weird fiction. This will take place at 7 PM on Monday the 25th, at the Holiday Inn in Central Milton Keynes. Admission is free. We will offer some short demo games afterwards.

Scott will also be interviewing local fantasy author AFE Smith about the influence of real-world politics on her fiction. This will take place at the Holiday Inn at 7 PM on Saturday the 23rd. Admission is £5.

Other Stuff

In keeping with the theme of transcendental experiences that lie between torture and ecstasy, we sing again in this episode. Two new souls have called upon us by backing us at the $5 level on Patreon. We’ll tear their names apart.

There are a couple of recent backers we really should link to, as they produce interesting things that will appeal to our listeners. The Esoteric Order of Roleplayers is an actual-play podcast that covers a wide range of games and has a healthy back-catalogue. We were also backed recently by Daupo, who some of us met at Necronomicon. He creates wonderfully nightmarish artworks, many with Lovecraftian themes, which can be purchased from his website.

Daupo figurines

Some of Daupo’s eldritch creations.

 

 

We had a request for an unedited version of the live podcast we did with the Miskatonic University Podcast, so here it is. The version we released previously has some inserts from Paul where he describes what precisely Chad is doing with all those puppets. It also uses the audience questions from the MUP’s recording, as theirs did a better job of capturing what people asked.

Necronomicon 2017 live with the Miskatonic University Podcast

Necronomicon 2017 live recording with the Miskatonic University Podcast

Our recent visit to the Necronomicon convention in Providence was a blur of wonders. One of the highlights was finally getting to meet our friends from the Miskatonic University Podcast in the suspiciously waxy flesh. While there, we merged our podcasts like two pulsating balls of protoplasm and created something unhallowed. This recording is the result.

The main topic we settled on was “How to make your game more Lovecraftian”. We split into teams of two and tackled various aspects of the discussion, including settings, themes and monsters. Of course, we digressed significantly, but I think we still got to the ripe meat of the main question.

All that almost felt anticlimactic after the puppet show, however. Yes, you will be listening to Keeper Chad performing with a variety of strange, semi-human simulacra. Supply your own punchline. His talk is lively and informative, and worth hearing even without the visual component.

And speaking of puppets, while Jon Hook was unable to join us in person, he still managed to manifest in a suitably disturbing manner. I have suggested that even if he is available next time, Chad should still be charged with operating Jon’s jaw.

Many thanks to Derek Robertson, Tim McGonagle and Adam Alexander for sharing their photographs of the event. Thank you also to Mike Mason for chairing the discussion. And, most of all, thank you very much to everyone who came to see us at the event! See you again in 2019!

We’re back, and we’re doing unspeakable things to innocent villagers. It’s all right, though. Master told us to. And who are we to question Master? Generous Master feeds us only the best table scraps, sometimes before they go mouldy. Kindly Master keeps a roof over our heads and it hardly leaks on sunny days. Gentle Master only beats us when we deserve it. We seem to deserve it a lot. Master is wise and benevolent, or so he keeps telling us. We would never dare to contradict Master. We love Master.

All of this is our snivelling way of introducing our look at Paul Czege’s 2003 RPG, My Life with Master, published by his own Half Meme Press imprint. My Life with Master describes itself as “a roleplaying game of villainy, self-loathing and unrequited love”. In it, players take on the roles of minions (no, not the wacky Tic Tac type) who, driven by self-loathing, carry out the increasingly horrific commands of an abusive Master until they hit breaking point.

Don’t worry! My Life with Master is not as bleak as all this makes it sound. It is shot through with black humour, with plenty of comic relief to take the edge off the horror. More importantly, it follows the attempts of the minions to connect with other human beings, overcoming the self-loathing that makes them such perfect instruments of cruelty. These attempts finally give the minions strength to rise up against their Master, but only after much suffering and degradation.

Oh, and then they kill Master. Ungrateful wretches!

Speaking of being compelled to do horrible things by outside forces, we sing to some new Patreon backers in this episode. We have had a recent influx of new backers, and we still have a few more to sing to, but we are limiting ourselves to two songs per episode. This is partly to give Paul time to twist and compress our voices into the aural bezoars that squat deep in the stomach of an episode, but mostly to avoid overwhelming our listeners. Hearing more than two of our cacophonous soundscapes at once risks incurring dancing teeth, brain palpitations and explosive tinnitus.

And, in extreme cases, spontaneous bowties.

A large part of this surge in patrons is due to the imminence of issue 2 of The Blasphemous Tome, our backer-only print fanzine. We now have a cut-off date: the 10th of March. If you are a backer on this date, you will receive at least one copy of the ‘zine. See this article for more details.

In our introductory chat, we mention that Paul recently visited the Bodleian Library in Oxford, finding plenty of gaming inspiration but no copies of the Necronomicon, and that Scott was a recent guest on the Miskatonic University Podcast. We also get rather excited by our upcoming 100th episode, due out in a fortnight. We’re as surprised as you are that we made it this far!