Episode 156: The Yellow Sign

We’re back and we’re looking for the Yellow Sign. It’s probably fallen down the back of the sofa again. Have you found it? It’s tricky to describe, but you’ll know it if you see it. The whole impending doom thing is a bit of a giveaway. Just try not to read any strange plays for now.

Main Topic: The Yellow Sign

After two episodes about Robert W Chambers and The King in Yellow, we’re getting a little more specific. This is an in-depth look at one of the foundational stories of the Carcosa Mythos. Along with “The Repairer of Reputations”, “The Mask” and “In the Court of the Dragon”, “The Yellow Sign” defines the building blocks of Chambers’ most famous creation. It not only expands on the Yellow Sign itself but tells us more of the play and the effect it has on those who read it.

Don’t take our word about the effects. Have a good look at this. You’ll understand soon enough.

A few things came up during our conversation that warrant links, elaboration or correction.

  • Scott struggled to remember a comic having something to do with rarebit. This was, in fact, Winsor McCay’s Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, which first appeared almost 10 years after the publication of The King in Yellow.
  • We mulled over the use of glass-fronted coffins in the Victorian era. Well, they were definitely a thing.
  • This led us to discuss the display of Jeremy Bentham‘s remains at University College London.
“Sod the Yellow Sign. Have you found my head?”

And we promised to link to the short film of The Yellow Sign we found on YouTube. There are three parts to it, so let it play on.

News

Concrete Cow 19

Matt and Paul attended Concrete Cow 19 and ran some Call of Cthulhu and Kult: Divinity Lost. If you missed them, we’ll be at Concrete Cow 19 1/2 on the 14th of September. See you there!

Concrete Cow logo

Other Stuff

Songs

The Yellow Sign is an unwelcome intrusion into the lives of those who find it, bringing madness and destruction. We’re not saying that our songs have the same effect, but… Oh, hang on, that’s exactly what we’re saying. These two new bouts of thanks to Patreon backers are pregnant with premonitions. If they give you prophetic nightmares, please do let us know.

Reviews

We shared a fresh iTunes review from Soren H, which made us very happy. Reviews delight and sustain us. If you feel moved to write one of your own, you will earn our undying gratitude. And when we say “undying”, we mean it. You could chop its head off and bury it at a crossroads at midnight and it would still keep offering thanks from beyond the grave.

Other Feedback

Following our recent mention of Sons of Kryos, DrColossus1 got in contact via Reddit to let us know that Judd Karlman has a new podcast, Daydreaming About Dragons. It’s safe to say that The Good Friends of Jackson Elias wouldn’t exist without Sons of Kryos, so it’s marvellous to see Karlman return to podcasting.

We’re back and we’re punting across the Lake of Hali, taking in the sights. Well, we’re trying to… All these cloud waves spoil the view somewhat. Then again, from what we’ve seen of Carcosa, maybe it’s better that way.

Main Topic: The King in Yellow part 2

This is the continuation of last episode’s discussion of The King in Yellow. Now that we’ve looked at the book, its author and the inspirations behind it, we’re ready to dig in deeper. In particular, we’re picking out the elements that make up the so-called Carcosa Mythos. As we discover, there is very little substance behind these names, which may be part of why they have proved so attractive to gamers. We shall revisit these elements in episode 157, where we explore, in detail, how we might use them in our games.

First, we have to find our dice in all these cloud waves.

In passing, we mention the death mask that formed the basis for Resusci Anne. Scott wrote a short piece about this for the old Unknown Armies website.

The most kissed face in the world, almost entirely post-mortem.

News

Tear Them Apart

Evan Dorkin and Paul Yellovich have started a podcast. Tear Them Apart is all about horror films. It mixes enthusiastic fandom, an artist’s eye and a deep understanding of the mechanics of cinema into an eclectic and funny discussion of the genre. There are only two episodes so far. The first is an introduction, with some background about the hosts’ lifelong love of horror. The second kicks off a short series on giallo, as well as introducing a new segment in which Paul and Evan discuss films they’ve watched recently. Highly recommended!

James and Lloyd Read Indie RPG Blurbs So You Don’t Have To

And speaking of new podcasts… Good friend of the Good Friends James Mullen has teamed up Lloyd Gyan, the unstoppable force of the UK gaming community, to talk about indie RPGs. James and Lloyd Read Indie RPG Blurbs So You Don’t Have To does exactly what the name claims. With over 50 new indie RPGs released every month, it’s hard to know what’s worth your time. Lloyd and James sift through the blurbs, find some worth exploring in more depth, and offer you the benefit of their experience. Informative and fun.

Other Stuff

Songs

Cassilda’s song is enigmatic, hinting at horrors and wonders beyond human comprehension. Our songs, however, are simply incomprehensible. There are two new examples in this episode, offered to thank new Patreon backers. The songs of the Hyades they ain’t…

Episode 154: The King in Yellow part 1

We’re back and we’re taking a look at this odd play that’s appeared on our shelves. The King in Yellow? That’s not a volume we remember buying, but we do have so many books. The yellow snakeskin cover is rather appealing. Sure, we’ve heard dire warnings about its content, but we’re made of sterner stuff. The first act seems rather banal, after all. Nothing to worry about!

Main Topic: The King in Yellow part 1

This is the first of a number of linked episodes looking at different aspects of Robert W Chambers’ most enduring creation, The King in Yellow. Confusingly, this is the title of the book he wrote, the play within it and an entity described in the play. Given the maddeningly vague nature of the Carcosa Mythos, this seems entirely appropriate. (We’ve borrowed the term “Carcosa Mythos” from The Yellow Site — a comprehensive and useful site for anyone interested in The King in Yellow.)

In this first episode, we set the scene with some background on Chambers, an overview of The King in Yellow collection, and a look at some of the works that may have influenced it.

In particular, we discuss:

We also make passing mention of the Carcosa board game.

News

Larry DiTillio

Shortly before we recorded this episode, we received the sad news of Larry DiTillio’s death. While most of his writing career was spent in television, working on such programmes as Babylon 5, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and The Real Ghostbusters, it was his work as an RPG author that affected us directly. DiTillio’s most famous RPG creation, Masks of Nyarlathotep, still looms large over the field some 35 years later. And, given that he created Jackson Elias, we partly owe the existence of this podcast to him. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and everyone else who knew him.

Pad’thulhu Auction

We recently loosed a most adorable horror upon the world. The charity auction of Pad’thulhu raised £186 for Cancer Research UK. Thank you very much to everyone who bid on him, to Evan Dorkin for creating him, and to David Kirkby for rendering him in clay and donating him to such a wonderful cause!

Visceral and Emotional Damage

Back in episode 143, we discussed the role of violence in Call of Cthulhu. This inspired Jon Hook to create a mini-supplement called Visceral and Emotional Damage, which does an amazing job of turning trauma into more than a mere bookkeeping exercise. He has released it via the Miskatonic Repository for a very reasonable $2. Jon has also generously offered it free of charge to our Patreon backers. If you sponsor us, check our Patreon feed for details.

Other Stuff

Songs

As well as the usual horror of our songs of praise to new $5 Patreon backers, listeners to the unedited version of this episode can “enjoy” a fresh abomination. Good friend of the Good Friends, Symon Leech, suggested that we introduce the raw recording by singing The Japanese Sandman (YT: “The Japanese Sandman” (Nora Bayes, 1920))

. Mercifully, we only sang one verse of it, although we did have a couple of attempts. If you are a Patreon backer, check your special RSS feed. It waits for you there.

We’re back and we’re checking the dark corners of the corpse fridge of R’lyeh for tasty eldritch horrors, hoping that they’re not past their sell-by date. There’s something that looks like calamari in the dark, non-Euclidean recesses. We just hope he’s supposed to smell like that.

Main Topic: Keeping Cthulhu Fresh


On second thoughts, the stench of death is the mildest affront he presents to our senses.

This episode is almost the opposite of our recent look at Cthulhu For Beginners. Between us, we’ve been playing Call of Cthulhu for something like 90 years. Not quite strange aeons, but still a pretty damn long time. How do we keep our games fresh? Are we happy playing the same kinds of scenarios and characters or do we prefer to shake things up? What keeps us coming back to fight the forces of the Mythos over and over? We offer some personal insights and tips for Keepers and players alike.

Here’s a first: one of our tips is not to set everything on fire.

As if our tips weren’t enough, we also have some insights from Mike Mason, line editor for Call of Cthulhu. Paul had a short chat with him about the longevity of Call of Cthulhu, which you can find toward the end of the episode.

News

Masks of Nyarlathotep with How We Roll

A little while ago, Scott recorded an all-star Call of Cthulhu game with How We Roll. Joe and Eoghan were joined by Veronica from Cthulhu and Friends, Keeper Murph from the Miskatonic University Podcast and Seth Skorkowsky from the best damn gaming videos on the internet. Scott ran his introductory Peru scenario from the latest edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep. The game went out live on Chaosium’s Twitch channel, although technical problems stopped the video from being recorded. There is still an audio recording, however, which will appear in upcoming episodes of How We Roll. We shall alert you when Joe unleashes them upon the listening public.

Necronomicon and Gen Con

The Good Friends are heading off to Providence again! We have booked our flights and accommodation for Necronomicon in August and hope to see many of you there. Paul will also be attending Gen Con this year, offering you an additional opportunity to stalk him.

Other Stuff

Social Media

We’ve been mentioned on a couple of fine podcasts. Our good friend Lord Mordi asked the hosts of Pretending to be People to give us a shout out, and what a shout out it was! You can hear it in episode 12, although this shouldn’t be the only episode you listen to. Pretending to be People is an unusual mix of Delta Green and Pulp Cthulhu, with great production values, strong voice acting and lots of imagination.

And The Podcaster in Darkness listed us as one of his favourite horror podcasts in his inaugural episode. Thank you! You should check him out if you have any interest in horror (and if you don’t, we would love to know how you got here!)

Songs

More than merely fresh, our songs are timeless. That is, they exist outside the natural flow of time, waiting, ready to destroy the minds of those they encounter. There are two such horrors in this episode, bringing us nearer to clearing the backlog we owe to our Patreon backers. If you are still waiting for a song, please be patient — it will find you soon enough.

As terrifying as our songs are, there are worse out there. Some listeners have asked us about The Wurzels, who we riffed on in one of our Dunwich Horror episodes. Here are a few more of their songs, just to prove that we didn’t make them up. We may write horror, but even we have limits.

We’re back and we’re trying to maintain our grasp on reality. This is tenuous at the best of times, and all this conflation with imagination is doing it no favours. In this episode, when we say “reality”, we mean the reality of the game world we’re playing in. Is that even a reasonable term to use when talking about a setting filled with malevolent alien creatures from beyond space and time?

Main Topic: Realism in RPG Settings

You expect me to believe in a world populated by entities from forgotten times, willing to destroy entire nations for their own selfish ends? Pshaw!

This episode is our attempt to understand what makes a game setting feel real. We looked at the role of game mechanics last episode, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. In order for players to buy into a game, they generally have to find the setting plausible. How does this apply to RPGs set in worlds of fantasy, science fiction or weird horror? And what aspects of historical accuracy make or break a game?

News

Google+ Shutdown

In the news segment, we offer another reminder that our Google+ community is going away on the 2nd of April. To be fair, all of G+ is shutting down then, but we’re focusing on the important stuff. You can still find us on Discord, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Patreon and under your bed at night.


PodUK

Scott shares his experiences at PodUK, where he recorded a live episode with How We Roll and Dirk the Dice from The Grognard Files. We released the recording of our playthrough of Leigh Carr’s marvellous scenario “The Necropolis” as a special episode. There were a number of other fine podcasts there, including Orphans, Wooden Overcoats, Victoriocity, Death in Ice Valley and Flintlocks & Fireballs. Why not put some of them in your ears?

And we offer another reminder that we are working on issue 4 1/2 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the digital sibling to our print-only fanzine, destined to travel across the digital ghoul winds to our Patreon backers this summer.

Other Stuff

Raw Episodes

We are still releasing the raw versions of new episodes on our Patreon RSS feed. Episode 152’s unedited version is especially long as it also includes our first attempt at talking about this topic. The two takes are very different, and while we were happier with the second, the first has some good stuff in it. You can also find our Weird Whisperings on the Patreon RSS feed. These are the occasional recordings we make of some of the weird tales we’ve discussed.

Songs

There are two songs in this episode. Suspending your disbelief won’t save you. These are, as ever, our hideous method of thanking new $5 Patreon backers. We still have a few more of you to thank, but only dare to record two songs per episode. I’m sure you can understand why. If your song has yet to find you, it will soon. Some things are shudderingly inevitable.