Episode 104 – The Good Friends puzzle out more of the appeal of investigative games

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Investigative Games part 2

We’re back and we’re wrapping up our investigation into, um, investigations. This is the second part of our look at investigative games. Once again, we are joined by Mike Mason, line editor for Call of Cthulhu. Following on from last episode‘s discussion of player techniques, this time we delve into tips and tricks for GMs.

Step 1: gather a good supply of breadcrumbs. Step 2: arrange the breadcrumbs in a trail.

We give over a large part of the episode to the different ways we can create and structure investigative scenarios. Our discussion leads us to analyse what makes a good clue, offer some tips about ensuring the PCs find these clues and flag up some of the possible pitfalls that may stop them doing so.

Although if you look up from your magnifying glass every now and then, you should be able to see the pit before you fall into it.

In our news segment, Matt mentions a few current Kickstarter campaigns. He has helpfully gathered them all together in a single post. We also discuss the upcoming session of Paul’s scenario Gatsby and the Great Race, organised by good friend of the Good Friends, Cory Welch. Cory and friends will be running this at the Nexus Game Fair in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the 27th of May.

In our social media catch-up, we offer a dramatic reading of what might be the strangest prose we’ve ever encountered. A spambot produced some cut-up text to offer a spurious download of The Two-Headed Serpent, and the result is the tastiest word salad imaginable.

Westminster is the arab. Thereby viscid settee was being authentically Pulp Cthulhu about the stockholder. Signwriter uncloaks through a joannie. Togs is the epichthyolite. Family is munificently The Two-Headed Serpent toward the bane. In posse aforethought license is the nicholle. Thrillingly afghani slowpoke is a intension. Arabick enoch extremly implacably gets around snarkily for the stagnantly unsophisticated furfur. Sootflakes were the modishly jurassic episcopes. Transrhenane frazzle was decadently boring. Personable jana can round up. Misleading arman can mingle. Serial methadone must plead from the splintered possessorship. Neoprenes can bloat. Pulp Cthulhu is the handsomely deplorable gaiety. Unspoilt reselection infixes. Bearably unvarnished jarrod has quipped from the gastronomic foraminifer. Superfluous aborts were the threnetic multivalves. Concussive spaniel can unfetter per the synthetically drony yardage.

We also mention two conflicting reports of the similarities between Lieutenant Columbo and Detective Kinderman from The Exorcist, following on from our passing mention of them on the previous episode. Evan Dorkin quite rightly points out that the first appearance of Columbo pre-dates the publication of The Exorcist. Then Tore Nielsen sent us a link to an interview with William Peter Blatty where he claims that the creators of Columbo had seen his unpublished manuscript and ripped it off. We shall probably never know the truth.

Especially as the one man who could get to the bottom of it is implicated himself…

When reading Evan Dorkin’s post, we make mention of his Lovecraftian comic, Calla Cthulhu. I’m a huge fan of Mr Dorkin’s work, such as Milk and Cheese and Dork, but embarrassingly, I haven’t read this yet. I shall have to rectify this soon and post a proper discussion.

And, finally, we should warn you that we sing again in this episode. We have two new $5 Patreon backers and we defile their names with our eldritch warblings. This should have cleared the backlog of lovely, generous and brave people to thank, so there may be a song-free episode next time. Unless, of course, a new backer offers themselves up for such unholy immortalisation before then.

Posted in Call of Cthulhu, Comics, Roleplaying Games, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias | 6 Comments

Pelgrane Press Limited Editions

Hello everyone,

If there’s anyone out there like myself that likes a good Limited Edition, you might be interested to know that Pelgrane Press have opened up a section on their web-store for their remaining Limited Editions (here’s a link for you – just click the “Limited Editions” drop down). As of the time of posting, they’ve sold out of Hillfolk and Dreamhounds of Paris.

This means I’ve finally been able to fill a couple of holes in my collection, so I’m a rather happy completist at the moment! The current collection (no doubt to expand as more titles come out) is below. Enjoy!

 

Posted in Gaming Materials, Unholy Artefacts | 2 Comments

Kickstarter Update: May 2017

Hello again everyone! I know it’s not quite May yet, but with only a few hours to go, it’s close enough 😉

Continuing my series of occasional updates (i.e. when I have enough projects to report on!), there’s another couple of Cthulhoid Kickstarters that are up at the moment that you might be interested in if you’ve found your way here.

First up, Sigil & Sign:

When this one launched, I had a flurry of emails from friends I follow on Kickstarter informing me that they’d backed it. Looks like it’s definitely a popular one.

Sigil & Sign is the Mythos RPG where you get to play the bad guys. It’s an interesting idea, being produced by Cubicle 7 and Make Believe Games, and created by C.A. Suleiman. The production values certainly look very nice and I know will fit in very well on my shelf.

I’m interested to see how scenario design will work for the game. While there’s definitely an allure to playing the bad guy (hell, most of my PCs end up going that way, as many of my GMs will attest to), it’s not a style of play I’ve seen much in scenario design, so that’s going to be a interesting feature for me. Also, it would be good to see how the mechanics for the game have changed. It’s using the same rules engine used for I am Zombie, which Mark Rein-Hagen ran a demo game of that I played in at the UK Games Expo a few years back. I remember it being pretty interesting – no need to write everything down as the cards spell everything out for you.

There’s a core rulebook, associated cards and materials, and four supplements that are being hoping to be funded through the project. With funding sat at 78% of target at the time of writing, with 21 days left to run, I think it’s likely that this one will get funded.

The project runs until May 22nd, with an expected delivery date of June 2018.

 

The next one will make Scott happy, I’m sure… Sweet Dreams Cthulhu!

Brought to you by the C is for Cthulhu team that have already brought us the delightful “C is for Cthulhu Alphabet Book”, the four colours of C is for Cthulhu plushes, the “C is for Cthulhu Colouring Book”, and not to mention the giant C is for Cthulhu plush that we tormented Scott with a while back (and is a constant companion in my office at home, where he sits and watches me work), this is another board book, similar to the Alphabet Book. This time though, its a bedtime story for our little cultists-in-the-making, about Lovecraft being visited by Cthulhu when he can’t sleep one night.

I know such things can be pretty divisive in the Cthulhu community, but the artwork in this one make it very kid-friendly, and I really like the material the group have put out so far, so I’m on the for the ride again. If they get enough funding (they’ve already met their initial goal), nice stretch goals include a kid’s blanket, a new colour of plush, and no doubt other horrors.

I wonder, when it arrives, if I read the story to Scott whether it will warm his heart a little towards this cute imagining of the Master of R’lyeh…? I live in hope 😉

The project runs until May 27th, with an expected delivery date of October 2017.

Posted in Call of Cthulhu | 1 Comment

Episode 103 – The Good Friends puzzle out the appeal of investigative games

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Investigative Games part 1

We’re back, and we’re polishing our magnifying glasses, scraping the gum off our shoes and hunting for clues. This is the first of two episodes delving into the appeal of investigative games. A big topic such as this demands extra resources, so we have brought in Mike Mason, line editor for Call of Cthulhu, to help us with our enquiries.

“Give us five minutes with him and we’ll make him sing.” “Uh oh. That never ends well.”

Our discussion this episode focuses on defining what we mean by an investigative game and providing some tips and techniques for approaching investigations as a player. Because of the amount of time these topics took, we have separated our discussion about running investigative games into a second episode, which will be along in two weeks or as soon as we can follow its trail to the end.

We’ll get back on the trail once naptime is over.

It was harder than you may think to pin down exactly what an investigative game is. Investigation has arguably been part of roleplaying for as long as RPGs have been around, an element, like horror, that you can add to pretty well any setting or genre. Call of Cthulhu was the first game to place investigation at the forefront, creating a style of play now seen in a great variety of RPGs. But are only games with such a focus investigative? Is investigation a matter for mechanics or roleplaying?

“I rolled 00 on my Spot Hidden. Is that a problem?” “No, don’t worry. There’s nothing to see here.”

Speaking of inexplicable occurrences that lead to madness and horror, we sing again in this episode. In my opinion, Paul has outdone himself with the mixes of these two audio nightmares. If you are puzzled by why we would do such a thing to your ears, this is our way of thanking those generous Patreon backers who pledge $5 an episode. This was supposed to be the episode where we finally caught up with all the outstanding thanks we owe to our wonderful patrons. Before we had a chance to do so, however, we had another $5 backer, so there will be at least one more song in the next episode as well. There is no escape for any of you.

Posted in Call of Cthulhu, Roleplaying Games, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias | 4 Comments

Episode 102 – The Good Friends are sucked into Event Horizon

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Event Horizon

We’re back and we’re heading out into uncharted space. Where better to talk about horror movies? This time it’s the turn of 1997’s Event Horizon, an ambitious film that blends science fiction, cosmic horror, religious imagery and extreme gore to create something that should have been exceptional. It is blessed with a terrific cast, imaginative production design and special effects that largely stand up 20 years on. So where did it all go wrong?

And why waste expensive special effects on people who are only going to gouge their eyes out?

Event Horizon is not a terrible film, but it is a flawed one. These flaws make it useful to discuss, as they provide some strong counter-examples of the things that make stories and games work. We spend much of the episode teasing out the lessons Event Horizon can teach us and learning how we can avoid making the same mistakes.

Avoiding hull breaches is a good start.

That is not to say that our discussion is entirely negative. We got most of that out of our system in the last episodeEvent Horizon has plenty of redeeming features. There are juicy ideas and images we can steal for our games, some of which are genuinely nightmarish. And any film that gives Sam Neil free rein to chew the scenery can’t be all bad.

Although some of the scenery looks like it could chew back.

Speaking of things that aren’t entirely awful, we sing again in this episode. Yes, I know I’m being generous here. We are gradually working our way through our backlog of $5 Patreon backers, thanking each with a custom soundscape dragged from a Hell dimension through perversions of technology. It is only safe to create two of these per episode, which means that it has taken a while to catch up. We still have two more brave souls to sing to, which means we should be current by episode 103.

In space, no one can hear you sing.

In our news segment, Matt mentions the Kickstarter campaign for the 7th Guest board game. It still has over three weeks to run at the time of posting, so there is plenty of time to back a game full of maddening puzzles with which to vex and alienate your friends. We also discuss some actual play recordings of scenarios we have written, promising to gather links on this very website. Well, here they are. And, of course, we should link to Bret Kramer’s series of articles on August Derleth’s posthumous collaborations with Lovecraft. Thank you for sparing us the task of rereading them ourselves, Bret!

Posted in Horror Films, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias | 2 Comments