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.

We’re back and we’re facing harsh realities. How do we make RPGs feel “real” when we play them? And what do we even mean by “real”? More importantly, how can we ask such questions without passing a bong around?

Main Topic: Realism in RPG Mechanics

Any accusations that we may be hippies are completely overstated, man.

Surely we play RPGs to get away from reality. But even if this is the case, we still need to suspend our disbelief during the game; otherwise, it devolves into even more farce and arguments than usual. But what may feel real to one player might not to another. How do we create consensus and what part do game mechanics play in this?

First point of consensus: we are not bloody rolling to see how wide our anuses are.

In our discussion, we mention the late, lamented podcast, The Sons of Kryos. Judd Karlman and Jeff Lower were pioneers in RPG podcasting, offering sound advice to players and GMs alike. This is the podcast that inspired both Paul and Scott to become RPG podcasters. While their website and RSS feed are long gone, you can still find the complete run on archive.org.

Rules are not the only factor here. Next episode, we’ll explore what makes a game setting real to us. Or at least as close to real as we’re capable of getting. Making stuff up for a living can do strange things to one’s mind.

News

Pad’thulhu Auction

Anyone who has seen the cover of issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome has already met Pad’thulhu. This most adorable of abominations was created by comics legend Evan Dorkin. Pad’thulhu has stolen our hearts. And then he ate them.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover

Good friend of the Good Friends, David Kirkby, was compelled to bring Pad’thulhu to life, rendering him in at least three dimensions. The resulting cuteness in clay perfectly captures every sanity-warping detail, drenching them in vivid colour.

You may be wishing that this eldritch moppet was perched upon your mantelpiece, filling your dreams with maddening visions of blood and marmalade. Well, this could happen!

We are auctioning David’s sculpture to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The auction will run until the 14th of March. We hope it will raise plenty of money for a cause that is important to so many of us. Look out for updates on social media. Thank you very much to David Kirkby for donating his sculpture and to Evan Dorkin for starting this whole thing off!

ConTingency

Matt takes a little time to tell us what he got up to on his winter holidays. Not many people would take a pleasure trip to England’s east coast in January. In this respect, as in so many others, Matt is not most people. He tells us all about the ConTingency convention, its new home in Hunstanton and all the wonderful games he played there.

Spotify

We are on Spotify! This means that you can now listen to The Good Friends of Jackson Elias pretty well everywhere podcasts are to be found. We might even be on Google Play, but as its podcast service is still unavailable in the UK, we’ll have to take that on faith. Take your time, Google. You can’t rush into these things.

Google+

Much like the British economy, Google+ has about a month to live. A number of members of our G+ Community have already moved over to our Discord server, Facebook page, Twitter stream and shiny new subreddit. If you haven’t done so yet, we would love to see you in as many of these places as you can face. You may also want to back up your data from G+ before it turns into so much digital chaff.

Other Stuff

Songs

The songs we assemble to thank our Patreon backers may undermine your sense of reality. And they certainly show no trace of real talent. They are, however, really heartfelt. There are two such displays of hideous gratitude in this episode. We are really sorry.

Reviews

Once again, we offer a new iTunes review from one of our wonderful listeners. We are ever so grateful to everyone who has taken the time to post a review, whether on iTunes or any other place you might find podcasts. These reviews improve our visibility, stoke our egos and help us draw more innocent minds into our world of depravity. All laudable goals, surely!

We’re back and we’re examining these strange bite marks, boarding up the windows and trying to work out where that damnable smell is coming from. This is the start of our look at Lovecraft’s classic weird tale, The Dunwich Horror. Make yourself comfortable — this mystery is going to take us a few episodes to investigate.

Main Topic: The Dunwich Horror

As well as being one of the foundational works of the Cthulhu Mythos, The Dunwich Horror set the template for a thousand Call of Cthulhu scenarios. More than any other Lovecraft story, it presents the kind of actions we might expect to see investigators perform. All right, maybe The Lurking Fear is a better model for the Tommy guns and dynamite school of play, but the point stands.

In this first episode, we look at the setting of Dunwich as described by Lovecraft, digging into some of the history, geography and folklore that inspired it. We also experiment with including our suggestions about what might be used for gaming alongside the synopsis. Please let us know whether this new format works better for you.

News

Filled with enthusiasm for the wonders of the year ahead, we mention a few things that we are looking forward to in 2019. The two that we can link to are Necronomicon 2019 and Contingency, two major conventions that will see at least some of the Good Friends in attendance. Only Matt will be at Contingency, but all three of us are planning the pilgrimage to Providence for Necronomicon. After our wonderful experiences in 2017, all the elder signs in the world couldn’t keep us away.

Speaking of live events, Scott will be appearing at the PodUK convention with the How We Roll crew. We will be conducting a live playthrough of a short Call of Cthulhu scenario before an undoubtedly bemused audience. Dirk the Dice from The Grognard Files podcast will be joining us as a special guest player. The event will take place in Birmingham on the 2nd of February and tickets are still available.

Other Stuff

We spend some time thanking new Patreon backers, although, mercifully, there are no songs in this episode. Before you relax too much, there are songs coming soon. So many songs.

As usual, we share some hand-picked social media feedback and comment on it. Since the inception of the podcast, our main online home has been Google+. Unfortunately, in April, G+ is due to vanish in a puff of poor management. We have been exploring alternatives such as MeWe and Reddit, but we are very open to suggestions. If you know of a suitable platform for searchable, threaded discussions, we would love to hear from you.

That is not dead which eternal can… No, hang on. It’s dead.

We also share a new iTunes review. If you fancy writing one of your own, you will earn our undying gratitude. And when we say undying, we mean it. Our essential saltes shall praise you from their cramped little urns until the idiot chaos blows Earth’s dust away. We would be delighted with a review on any platform from which you might download podcasts, no matter how cryptical and esoteric. If you do post one somewhere obscure, please let us know in case we miss it. Our omniscience is failing with age.

We’re back and we’re heading off to Potters Lake in search of the secrets of creation. We hear good things about the apples there too. This is our look at the weird, evocative and highly overlooked RPG, Heaven & Earth.

Main Topic: Heaven & Earth

Heaven & Earth is a strange game, inspired by Twin Peaks, Christian theology, and, we assume, ridiculous quantities of hallucinogens. It is filled with weird Americana, eccentric characters and rich lore. While print editions are hard to obtain, you can pick up the PDFs of the core book and Paradise Lost supplement on DriveThruRPG. As we mention in the episode, there are also some free downloads available from the Abstract Nova website.

Matt is our subject matter expert on Heaven & Earth (as well as more infernal regions) so we get him to do most of the talking. In a stroke of divine retribution, however, he was struggling with a chest infection at the time of recording. If Matt’s voice sounds like it is rumbling up from the depths of the abyss, this is why. There is no other possible reason. Nope. None at all.

News

We have now entered the last week in which you can secure your copy of The Blasphemous Tome issue 4. Just in case you haven’t heard the good word, The Blasphemous Tome is the print-only fanzine we produce to thank our Patreon backers. This issue features a cover by Evan Dorkin, a new Call of Cthulhu scenario by Matt Sanderson and many other goodies. Please see our recent post for more details.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover

If you’re in the UK and fancy playing with Matt, he shall be attending Contingency next month. This is a residential convention, newly relocated to Hunstanton in Norfolk, running between the 23rd and 27th of January. Wear something warm.

Other Stuff

As the angels sing praises to the almighty, so do we sing praises to our Patreon backers. The angels have better voices, however, and their lips are less stained with blasphemies. There are two of our paeans in this episode, so be prepared. Not even divine intervention could make us sing in tune.