Milton Keynes LitFest 2017 Seminar

We’re back with another special recording to tide you over during that long, bleak fortnight between regular episodes. This time, we’re coming to you from MK LitFest 2017, the first ever Milton Keynes literary festival. We recorded this last September, but have been waiting for the ideal time to put it out.

Given the setting, we decided to discuss the connections between fiction and RPGs. The theme for the evening was “Made in Milton Keynes”, so we also wove in some background about the development of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. Paul may come from Buckingham, but he playtested the game at MK-RPG. Close enough!

Sadly, Matt was unable to take part. He had just returned from a business trip to Stuttgart, bringing a nasty chest infection back with him. Don’t worry — the rest of us didn’t miss out! He shared it prolifically, which is why we sound like Deep Ones on our recordings from late last year.

 

Mike Mason generously took some time out to join us. As line editor of Call of Cthulhu, he had plenty of insights to offer on both strands of the conversation. Also, as he reveals in this episode, he used to live in Milton Keynes, making this some kind of hideous homecoming for him. I’m sure Robert Olmstead would sympathise.

MK LitFest will return in 2018, between Friday the 21st and Monday the 24th of September.

System Matters

We’re back and we’re wondering just what it is we’ve been doing with all these dice. Inspired by our mention of Ron Edwards’ System Does Matter essay in our recent episode on Sorcerer, we give some thought to how mechanics shape play.

Having a mechanic lend you a spanner to strike another player can be most useful.

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As well as talking about theory, we also try to provide some concrete examples. Specifically, we take a simple scenario premise and discuss how running it with various game systems might create very different experiences.

Such as driving your players screaming from the table.

News

In the news segment, Matt and Paul briefly share their experiences of Dragonmeet 2017. They met a number of listeners there, so thank you to everyone who made themselves known and said hi. If you ever encounter us in the wild, we encourage you to do the same. We rarely bite.

Paul and Scott have been busy recording extra material for our Patreon backers. As we mention in the episode, we have just released the second of our series of Weird Whisperings. These are our recordings of some of the weird tales we’ve discussed on the podcast. The latest release is Paul’s reading of Lovecraft’s The Outsider. There is a short sample at the end of this episode. If you are a backer, please check your email or our Patreon page for details about how you can download your goodies.

Other Stuff

When we recorded our episode about Sorcerer a few months ago, we made a few mistakes. Specifically, we got some key details wrong about the origins of The Forge. Happily, Ron Edwards himself got in touch to correct us. He also provided a short history of the website. Anyone interested in the subject will find his comment illuminating. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the original post to read it.

Also on the subject of Sorcerer, the discussion thread for the episode on our Google+ Community was filled with great ideas. We pick out a few highlights in this episode, but it’s definitely worth reading the whole thing. If you are thinking of playing Sorcerer, you will find plenty of inspiration.

And, once again, we must warn you that there is singing in this episode. We have had a staggering number of $5 backers on Patreon recently and it is taking us a while to craft artisanal sonic nightmares for you all. Please bear with us if you haven’t been subjected to your song yet. Your time will come. Oh yes, it will come.

The Mythos as Religion (Part 2)

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We’re back and we’re starting a cult. No, worse than that — we’re starting three of them! Last episode, we looked at how real religions and their practices might inform our depiction of Mythos sects in Call of Cthulhu. Now we’re taking things one step further. Building on what we’ve learnt, we try to picture what life might look like from within these sects. Then we create three Mythos sects of our own, trying to use our understanding of religion to give them more complex agendas and practices than the usual sacrifices and summonings. We also offer some context by talking about our own religious backgrounds and how they might have shaped our beliefs and prejudices.

We’re traditionalists, on the whole.

News

As Matt mentioned recently, on this very site, he has been asked by Delphes Desvoivres to write a Call of Cthulhu scenario as part of the Idol of Cthulhu Kickstarter campaign. This scenario will be a follow-up to Lovecraft’s story, The Call of Cthulhu, running approximately 20,000 words. It may grow to a more cyclopean stature, depending on stretch goals. The campaign ends on the 27th of December, so act quickly if you want your New Year to be filled with unhallowed idolatry.

You may have seen posts in your social media feeds expressing dissatisfaction with Patreon’s new charging scheme. Patreon have shifted their fees from content creators to patrons, increasing them in the process. While there seem to be some understandable reasons for this, they have handled the entire situation poorly. More importantly, it disproportionately hurts backers who make smaller pledges. As a result, we are currently investigating alternatives to run alongside Patreon, allowing greater choice for backers. We will keep you posted as this develops.

There will be a slight delay in getting issue 3 of The Blasphemous Tome fanzine to our Patreon backers. We received the first batch of the print run late last week, only to discover that it was missing four pages. Getting this resolved shouldn’t take too long and we still hope to get the Tome to most of you before the end of the year. Some backers will receive their Christmas cards ahead of the Tome, as we didn’t want to miss last posting dates. If your envelope is suspiciously Tomeless, don’t worry — our unspeakable blasphemies shall take to the ghoul winds and find their way to you soon.

Other Stuff

There will be a lot of singing over the next few months. Thanks to the imminent release of the third Blasphemous Tome, we have had a surge of new Patreon backers. Many of these people have been generous and brave enough to pledge at the $5 level. This means that we currently have a backlog of around 10 people to praise through song. Putting more than two songs in an episode risks our vocal cords, your sanity and the very fabric of the universe. It is only prudent for us to work our way through these thanks cautiously. With great cacophony comes great responsibility. If you are still waiting, please bear with us — your song will come soon. Enjoy the sense of creeping dread until then.

The Mythos as Religion – part 1

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We’re back and we’re making offerings to twisted idols, praying in inhuman tongues and performing rites passed down through strange aeons. This is our look at the role religion plays in the Cthulhu Mythos. Specifically, we try to make sense of how worship of the Great Old Ones relates to more wholesome beliefs. To do so, we break down some of the common elements of world religions and see how they might map onto Mythos sects. We appreciate that this ventures into some sensitive areas and we try to remain respectful of the beliefs of others.

Mostly.

Our motivation is to try to make the cultists in our Call of Cthulhu games a little more three-dimensional. It’s easy to see a cultist as just a lunatic in a robe, waving a sacrificial dagger and trying to bring about the end of the world. Belief is a lot more complicated than that, however. Thinking about real religions can fill in some gaps in how we present these most common antagonists in our games. It’s very easy to dehumanise cultists, seeing them as little more than Call of Cthulhu‘s answer to orcs. By thinking about why they believe what they do and how they express these beliefs, we might be more inclined to interact with cultists in more interesting ways than just shooting them in the face.

Especially when there are so many other places you could shoot people.

This is the first of a two-part discussion. Next episode, we will build on what we have learned and think about how to make Mythos cults more interesting. We will also brainstorm a few original cults, armed with our new insights.

News

We are almost ready to go to press with issue 3 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the annual fanzine we produce for those lovely people who back us on Patreon. And there is still time for you share in the horror! We will send copies to everyone who is a backer by the end of this year, although if you’re quick, you’ll also get one of our special Christmas cards in the same envelope. If you need any more encouragement, take a look at the gorgeous cover image that Jonathan Wyke has created for us.

And a quick reminder that at least some of us will be at Dragonmeet this weekend. Please track us down and say hello. We’ll leave a scent trail to assist you.

Oh, and we mention the great Fricker Halloween party of 2017. Unfortunately for us, Scott’s ill-advised dalliances with greasepaint and Paul’s unrecognisable octopus costume were captured by Mike Mason. Those of a sensitive disposition may wish to look away now.

We’ll be waiting for you in your nightmares.

Other Stuff

There are new songs in this episode, neither of which are ever likely to feature on Songs of Praise. We have had several new Patreon backers recently, possibly because of the imminent Blasphemous Tome. Once again, this means that we have built up a small backlog of people to sing to. Time constraints and common human decency mean that we limit ourselves to two songs per episode. If you are still waiting for your aural assault, it shouldn’t be too long now.