Sorcerer

Main Topic

We’re back and we’re scratching pentagrams into the floor, muttering blasphemous incantations and making ill-advised pacts with demons. This episode is our discussion of Ron Edwards’ influential indie RPG, Sorcerer. Kicking off a self-publishing revolution in the late 1990s, Sorcerer was arguably a manifesto as much as a game. This is not to say that it’s not fun or interesting to play. It’s a challenging RPG, but a rewarding one.

 

In our discussion, we make reference to the indie games website, The Forge. While the discussion forum is no longer active, its archived content is still accessible. If you have any interest in playing Sorcerer (or other indie games of the period), there are plenty of insightful threads to be found there. Another useful resource we mention is Christopher Kubasik’s Play Sorcerer. While the book itself was never completed, you can find several chapters on the linked blog. This is essential reading for Sorcerer GMs. Kubasik also created the TV series, The Booth at the End, which explores many of the same themes as Sorcerer. Finally, we mention the range of Sorcerer mini-supplements, as well as the excellent Dictionary of Mu.

News

One of the perils of recording these segments in advance is that sometimes the news isn’t as fresh as we’d like. We’ve already mentioned that Scott has been running his Call of Cthulhu scenario Blackwater Creek for the How We Roll podcast crew, but seeing that it came up in the episode, we shall take the opportunity to plug it again. You can download the recordings, along with many other Call of Cthulhu actual plays, from the How We Roll website. It was a fun game with a great bunch of players. We hope to do more stuff with them again.

As we also mention in the news segment, we will be attending Dragonmeet in London, on Saturday the 2nd of December. While we are not giving any seminars, we still hope to see some of you there and maybe have a chat over a pint.

Other Stuff

As you can plainly hear, we all had nasty colds when recording. Whether or not this made our singing any worse is debatable. It definitely sounds like we’re trying to conjure up unholy spirits from the very bowels of Hell, but this is actually our way of saying thanks. When particularly generous backers pledge $5 per episode on Patreon, we sing their praises. As you may surmise from the results, whatever we received in exchange for our immortal souls, it wasn’t musical talent.

Mythos Deities: Shub-Niggurath

Main Topic: Shub-Niggurath

We’re back and we’re dancing around in the woods, bleating with ecstasy, smearing our mutating bodies with Mother’s milk. This episode is our discussion of the Lovecraftian deity, Shub-Niggurath. It is part of our ongoing look at the gods of the Mythos, continuing from our recent episode about Dagon.

Shub-Niggurath appealed to us greatly, as she is so loosely defined in the original fiction. Her evocative soubriquet of The Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young has inspired many writers since Lovecraft to find interesting uses for her. Her roles and identities in games and fiction are almost as numerous as her progeny.

In our discussion, we try to pin down where Shub-Niggurath came from and how she has grown and mutated in fiction and RPGs. We then build on this to offer some ideas about how you could use Shub-Niggurath in your own games. Her role as a corrupted and corrupting force of nature and her connection to witch cults make her suitably fecund inspiration, birthing many abominable ideas.

News

First of all, apologies for the delay to our normal fortnightly release schedule. As we mention in the episode, illness has made it difficult for us to meet recently. We’re back on track now, and we’ll continue releasing episodes every two weeks from this point. We hope you enjoyed the last of our special episodes from Necronomicon 2017, which we used to plug the gap.

Into the Darkness have released the first episode of their playthrough of the Intersections campaign from the World War Cthulhu: Cold War core book. Matt, who wrote the campaign, is the Keeper in a somewhat more American take on the game than we normally see.

As we announced recently, there is a new edition of The Blasphemous Tome in the works. This is the fanzine we produce for the wonderful people who back us on Patreon. We’re putting out an open call for submissions. If you have a short article (300-1,000 words) or some black-and-white artwork that you think would fit the Tome, we would love to see it. You can submit work using the contact form on this very website.

We also offer a fresh warning about the dangers of Attract Fish, especially if it involves kissing a Dover sole. Just don’t do it, kids.

Other Stuff

Be warned, there is singing in this episode, or at least something approximating it. As regular listeners will know, we rely on the generosity of our Patreon backers to fund the show. One of the ways we give thanks to them is to sing the praises of our $5 backers. This episode sees two such songs. Not having met for some weeks, we had a lot of pent-up creative energy. I think the sounds we produced this time number amongst our strangest emissions.

Necronomicon 2017 Favourite Call of Cthulhu Scenarios Panel

We’re back — well, sort of. For the first time since we moved to a regular fortnightly schedule, some 2 1/2 years ago, we are unable to put out a full episode. I’ve been a bit ill recently, which has made it difficult for us to meet and record. We normally have a stockpile of episodes for such eventualities, but we’ve used them all up. Barring catastrophe, we will meet this weekend to record two new episodes, one of which will go out next week. This means we should still manage two proper episodes this month. Apologies if you are one of the recent backers we haven’t managed to thank yet. There will be songs next week! To tide you over until then, here’s the last of the special episodes we recorded at Necronomicon 2017.

This is the panel discussion about favourite Call of Cthulhu scenarios. Paul is joined by Chad Bouchard (AKA Keeper Chad of the Miskatonic University Podcast), Christopher Smith Adair (regular Call of Cthulhu scenario writer) and Badger McInnes. Once again, Mike Mason moderates. Each panellist chooses their favourite published scenario and explains what makes it so good. I shan’t spoil the surprises for you, but let’s just say that the choices are pleasingly eclectic.

Well, there are a fair few to choose from.

 

Necronomicon 2017 Call of Cthulhu Campaigns Panel

We’re back with another special episode recorded at Necronomicon 2017. This time it’s the turn of the seminar about Call of Cthulhu campaigns. Once again, Mike Mason chairs the discussion, and Lynne Hardy joins Matt, Paul and Scott to nominate our favourite published campaigns and talk a little about what makes a campaign work.

Masks of Nyarlathotep - new cover

Mike also took this opportunity to announce the new version of Masks of Nyarlathotep. This was good timing, as everyone who had worked on the revision was on the panel. Obviously, we discuss the new edition a little, as well as some other new campaigns in the Chaosium pipeline.

Social Conflicts in RPGs

Episode 114: social conflicts in RPGs

Main Topic

We’re back and we’re intimidating goons, charming cult leaders and fast-talking the slow-witted. This is our look at the use of social conflicts in RPGs. By this, we don’t mean arguments over whose turn it was to bring the snacks or whether that roll of 00 was really cocked. Instead, we’re talking about the use of social skills in games to resolve conflicts. That said, we do mention a little bit about what to do when out-of-game conflicts bleed into play.

Fisticuffs, of course. Fisticuffs resolve everything.

We talk a little about the kinds of things we expect social mechanics to resolve in our games, how we implement them and how we’ve seen them go wrong. Especially in a game like Call of Cthulhu, social conflicts are a vital tool for the players, but not everyone can agree on what they do. Are they a form of subtle influence, a way of cutting through ambiguity or a means to control other characters?

“OK, I rolled 01 on my Persuade roll. Dance for me!”

News

Illness prevented us from meeting in person this week to record last-minute inserts. We have tried to use the wonders of modern technology to work around this, so we at least have a news segment. The first thing to report is that we are starting work on issue 3 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the fanzine we produce for those generous people who back us via Patreon. It only exists in a physical form (unlike its creators, who have transcended and exist on many planes). Our aim this year is to send it out with our Christmas cards. Of course, events may prevent this, but we hope to give you something blasphemous to put under your tree this year.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 1 cover

We even taught this issue to sing carols. Well, “sing” “carols”. It’s the thought that counts.

The other news item takes the form of some thanks and a mini-review. While we were in the US last month, we were delighted to meet Evan Dorkin at our signing at The Compleat Strategist in New York City. As I’ve mentioned before, Evan has been one of my favourite comic creators since I encountered Milk and Cheese in the early 1990s. He brought us copies of the first collection of Calla Cthulhu, the new Lovecraftian comic he is writing with his wife, Sarah Dyer. It is an action-packed, young-adult take on the Mythos, which still has plenty to appeal to old farts like me. This collection is published by Dark Horse Comics, and you can read Calla’s ongoing adventures via the Stela Comics app.

Calla Cthulhu cover

Other Stuff

Our inability to meet this week also means that we were unable to record our usual Patreon thanks. We have a couple of people to sing to, but you have been spared for this episode. On the other hand, this should only add to the sense of mounting dread. There is no escape.