We’re back, and we’re celebrating our fiftieth episode! We’re as surprised as you are that we’ve made it this far; we really should have been eaten by a shoggoth or returned to our essential salts long ago. With this in mind, we decided to commemorate the occasion in the way we know best: by talking too much. This is a long episode — over two hours in length — but it’s also a big subject. You could almost call it Cyclopean.

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There’s a reason why Lovecraft is remembered as a writer and not an artist.

Over the years, we’ve met a lot of people who only know of the Cthulhu Mythos through gaming. Given how pervasively Cthulhu’s tentacles have worked their way into the gaming world, and into geek culture in general, almost everyone interested in such things has heard of Lovecraft, or at least his most famous creation. This episode is our attempt to explain where it all came from and how Lovecraft’s influence spread so widely. It is a superficial overview at best, and none of us are Lovecraft scholars. We hope this will at least serve as an introduction, and may illuminate a few dark corners you weren’t previously aware of.

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Or you may prefer to flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

Our investigations take in books, films, television, comics, music, games and other eldritch topics. All this follows on from the work of Lovecraft himself, however, and happily this is now in the public domain. If you haven’t read any of his stories, you can peruse them free online, or pick up a nicely formatted ebook of his complete works for less than the price of a sandwich.

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Especially one with tentacles.

With this being an overview, in many cases we’ve done little more than name-check various works, authors and artists. Our half-formed plan is to return to some of these topics in more depth later. Please let us know whether this sounds interesting or is the worst idea since August Derleth decided the Mythos should centre on a fight between good and evil. Weep.

Instead of finishing on that vexing note, here’s one of the highlights from Shoggoth on the Roof, a work we mention a number of times.

We’re back and we’re looking at Primetime Adventures, a roleplaying game that uses the techniques of serial television in imaginative ways. This may seem like an unusual topic for us to cover, given our focus on horror gaming, but that’s only because it is. In our defence, we talk about some horror-themed and Lovecraftian games we’ve played, so it’s not entirely off-topic.

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Anyway, television can be terrifying.

Unfortunately, we recorded this too late to catch the Kickstarter campaign for Primetime Adventures 3rd Edition (only by around nine months). Happily, the campaign is now delivering, and we’ve received the PDF of the new edition, along with word that the physical books will turn up in the near future. This means that it should be on sale soon at the Dog-eared Designs web store, making the game available again after a long absence. We’re not cruel enough to try to sell you on a game you can’t buy outside of hugely expensive second-hand copies.

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Well, apart from the time we did a whole episode like that…

As usual, there is some dissent in our ranks about how much we like Primetime Adventures. More than most games, how much fun you have with Primetime Adventures is shaped by the enthusiasm of the people you play with and the concepts you come up with between you. If you’ve had any experiences with the game and fancy talking about them, we’d love to hear from you on social media, comments on the site or simply by shouting through Paul’s letterbox.

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We’re back (after a bit of a delay) and we’re talking about the classic Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign. In an ideal world we would have had this episode out a couple of weeks ago. Of course, in such an ideal world, Matt wouldn’t have been patient zero in a virus outbreak that wove in aspects of The Stand, The Andromeda Strain and The Exorcist.

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The power of Lemsip compels you!

Taking turns in losing our voices and coughing up viscous green slime meant we were out of action as a group for a few weeks, which of course coincided with the first time in over a year that we didn’t have a spare episode in the can. We’ve started building up a buffer of episodes again to prepare for the next time this happens. We’re also thinking about wrapping Matt in plastic the next time he goes to a convention.

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Oh yes! Air holes! Whoops.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. Masks of Nyarlathotep is rightly revered as not only a classic Call of Cthulhu supplement but one of the best campaigns for any system. Despite having been published over 30 years ago, it remains fresh and popular today, with many groups who weren’t even born when it first came out coming afresh to the aid of Jackson Elias (Huh. That name sounds familiar). If you have never played Masks and plan to do so, be warned that our discussion is filled with spoilers.

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For a start, I hear Nyarlathotep may be behind it all…

As well as sharing our own reminiscences, we have brief chats with two guests: Adam Crossingham of Sixtystone Press and Steve Ellis, good friend of the Good Friends. Adam is the man behind the current and highly successful Kickstarter campaign for the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion, and Steve recently ran the campaign using the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start rules. Both have interesting insights into the campaign, as well as practical experience of using the Companion in play.

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A companion that’s three times larger than the main campaign? It’s the biggest sidekick since Jaws from the Bond films.

We also sneaked in a quick plug for the upcoming Concrete Cow convention. The Cow is only a few weeks away at the time of posting, so sort out your plans if you haven’t already! And if you’re reading this after the event, the next Cow is less than six months away, so there’s no escape.

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Its sinister moo will echo through your dreams.