We’re back and we’re having a chinwag with our Holy Guardian Angel. It’s good to catch up with all the divine gossip. Arranging this chat proved a bit of an arseache, however. In these days of mobile communications, who has time to sit around in isolation for six months just to make a call? Old Abramelin did try to warn us.
Main Topic: A Dark Song
This episode wraps up our recent look at the occult by discussing a recent occult horror film, seeing what angelic inspiration it can offer. A Dark Song is a British/Irish co-production from 2016 that has developed something of a cult following. While it does exaggerate aspects for dramatic effect, it may be the most realistic and sympathetic portrayal of the western magical tradition put on film.
The film centres on the Abramelin Operation, a notoriously long and involved magical ritual with a reputation for driving occultists mad. As such, it is terrific inspiration for Call of Cthulhu. We pick the film apart, looking for elements we can borrow for our games.
Things we mention in this episode include:
The Abramellin operation calls for daily prayer, offered in praise of the most awesome entity who watches over you. Our prayers take the form of songs, and we offer them to our Patreon backers. We only have one such song for you this time, but we hope that it strikes the right note of trembling awe.
We also share a lovely new Apple Podcasts review from listener TheGreatStoneFace. If this inspires you to write a review of your own, whether on Apple Podcasts or anywhere else you might find podcasts, we would be delighted!
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That was a great episode. Detail and research excellent.
Thinking about gaming this, and Scott’s use of the word “fallout” at the end of the ep makes me think of Dogs in the Vineyard — which surely has this exact premise, that of manifestation of demons in communities owing to “impurity”, albeit viewed through the Dogs’ subjective lens.
You could play out a succession of conflicts with internal demons, and mechanize it with (for example) the use of purification via diet, abstinence and purgatives granting additional dice as “weapons” for managing the conflicts with various demons. As the character becomes corrupted (e.g. caving in to their need for sexual gratification) they lose these dice. Perhaps such caving in is a result of fallout from earlier conflicts.
Of course you’d have to decide on what escalation actually means — there’s perhaps less violent escalation on the part of the protagonists, though the fallout could be physical harm (especially towards the endgame).
I think this could be an interesting though intense 1-on-1 game, maybe with the player as Sophia and the Referee as Solomon, and it’s played out as a sequence of conflicts between the two. But I could also see this being a power struggle between two characters and the referee having no part in some of the escalation, just facilitating and making weird noises in the background.
I think Dogs has a lot to offer via reskinning — a friend of mine ran “Dogs in Human Resources” about a bunch of internal troubleshooters investigating a corporate office in Slough — and since it’s now being developed as a more generic version there’s an opportunity here.