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!

Our good friends at the Necronomicon Discord community (not related to the Necronomicon convention) are hosting a charity event later this month. This 24-hour live stream will feature lots of Call of Cthulhu goodness, all to raise money for Leukaemia Care.

The organisers are still looking for people to run or take part in sessions throughout the stream. If you are a contributor to Call of Cthulhu in any way (writer, artist, podcaster, YouTube host, etc) then they would love to hear from you. Just join the Necronomicon Discord Server and make yourself know in the Introductions channel.

The press release, below, explains all the details.

Who are we?

We’re the team behind the Necronomicon Discord community, run by Harry, Elliot, and Callum. We’re just three people who decided to try to create a Discord-based community after we indulged in the Call of Cthulhu RPG.

The atmospheric-driven horror of the unknown catered to our group perfectly, giving us the motivation and drive to form a wider group of people with the same interests. We wanted to create an easy way for players and Keepers to communicate, as well as allowing new people to get into Call of Cthulhu in a friendly and support-driven environment. We have a dedicated staff team who are just as passionate as we are, helping us throughout the building and shaping of our community. Newcomers to Call of Cthulhu have been able to find games easily through our custom bot.

With the community’s support, we decided we couldn’t miss the opportunity to help those less fortunate than ourselves by doing a live stream for Leukaemia Care. Together, we feel that as a community we can achieve this goal.

What is this event and what are we hoping to achieve with it?

We’re doing a 24-hour live stream on Twitch.tv/necronomicondiscord for the charity, Leukaemia Care. A variety of different activities have been planned for the stream such as: a live scenario hosted by a special guest from the community, interviews, Q&As, games, and a lot more, all for a good cause. Special guests will include but are not limited to, Scott Dorward and Lynne Hardy!

By planning and hosting this event for the community, we hope to raise a large amount of money for Leukaemia Care in order to help families and individuals who suffer from the various forms of the disease. As well as the fundraising, we also want to improve awareness of the condition, its symptoms and treatment, in the hope that we will be able to enhance people’s understanding of the illness and the lives of those dealing with it.

What is Leukaemia Care?

Leukaemia Care is a charity that helps patients that have been affected by blood cancer receive the information, advice, and support they need; it helps their friends and family cope with the diagnosis and treatment, too. On top of that, it also funds research into leukaemia to find ways to detect it earlier, and to make it easier to treat and cure once diagnosed. The charity helps provide information through booklets and support groups, as well as backing research through clinical trials and more. Information on what the charity does can be located on their website: https://www.leukaemiacare.org.uk/

Insanity in Call of Cthulhu

Episode 136: Insanity in Call of Cthulhu

We’re back and we’re building on last episode‘s discussion of the theme of mental illness in Lovecraft’s work. This time, we turn our attention to the role of insanity in Call of Cthulhu. Obviously, Call of Cthulhu is based upon Lovecraft’s writings, but how much does the sanity system actually reflect the source material? Moreover, does it in any way model real-world mental illness and trauma? And should it even try to?

Main Topic

We each come to this topic with different perspectives, which leads to some lively debate. While it never becomes heated, it is one of the more intense discussions we’ve had. There has been some criticism of Call of Cthulhu for trivialising mental health problems and we tackle this head-on. We hope the result is nuanced and doesn’t come across as dismissive of such concerns.

News

Cults are another huge part of Call of Cthulhu. Paul suggests some inspiration in the form of Wild Wild Country. This recent Netflix documentary tells the story of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian guru who created a religious community in Oregon in the 1980s.

Paul also mentions his recent visit to the Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth exhibition at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford. If you want to try to work out what was really in Tolkien’s pipe, the exhibition will run until the 28th of October 2018.

Other Stuff

There was some confusion in our last set of show notes. We warned you of singing when there was none. This may have caused unnecessary tension and puckering of orifices. We apologise. The confusion came about after some last-minute editing and reordering to synchronise our Masks of Nyarlathotep episodes with the release of the PDF. Let us reassure you that there is no singing in this episode. We do have some new $5 Patreon backers to thank, but the disruptions of summer prevented Paul from mixing our idiosyncratic vocal stylings. Next time, however…

Insanity in Lovecraft

We’re back and we’re tackling a potentially contentious subject. If you spend much time on gaming forums or social media, you may have stumbled across debates about whether mental illness is a fit subject for gaming. Many horror games have a sanity mechanic of some description, an idea that began with Call of Cthulhu. Of course, Call of Cthulhu, in turn, picked this theme up from Lovecraft’s fiction. But is the portrayal of insanity in Lovecraft what we assume it is? If not, how might this inform our games?

135: Insanity in Lovecraft

Main Topic

We start by discussing Lovecraft’s family history and his own experiences with mental illness. These undoubtedly shaped his work, and we offer some thoughts on the matter. Then, we move on to a few examples of insanity from Lovecraft’s work, trying to determine whether it’s as major a theme as conventional wisdom holds. Finally, we try to understand what madness really means in Lovecraft’s work. All this forms the foundations for our upcoming discussion of the portrayal of mental illness and trauma in Call of Cthulhu.

If you’ve noticed that Lovecraft looks dour in most photographs, we offer some theories about this too.

News

Paul mentions Torchlight Candles and their unusual combustible wares, designed for gamers. The melting brains sound especially gruesome, although sadly they’re not currently listed on their website.

The smoke that rises from this candle is laced with maddening dreams. Or is that patchouli?

Matt then leads us into a discussion about Kickstarters. He can’t help himself. We briefly discuss the recent release of The Fall of Delta Green, the new 1960s setting from Pelgrane Press. Then, we move our focus to something far more sanity-blasting: a new line of plushes from the nightmarish entities behind C is for Cthulhu. I really don’t know why we encourage them.

Not pictured: the twisted visage of Lovecraft, screaming wordlessly from beyond the grave.

One of our listeners, Dominic Allen, got in touch to say that he and Simon Maeder are performing at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Their play, Providence: The Shadow Over Lovecraft, will be on between the 2nd and 25th of August at the Assembly Rooms, starting at 5 PM. The trailer looks rather wonderful. Paul plans to go on the 15th, so please say hi if you spot him in the audience.

Other Stuff

We are legally compelled to warn you that this episode contains our first bout of singing for a while. In case you’ve forgotten, we offer thanks to $5 Patreon backers in the form of what we pretend is song. This one should cost you no more than 0/1D4 SAN. Honest.

We also spend a little time discussing the feedback we received about our episode on subterranean spaces in Call of Cthulhu. If you would like to descend deeper into the discussion, the bulk of it may be found on our Google+ Community, or in the hidden spaces beneath your home.