158: Mythos Deities: Hastur

We’re back and we’re taking a last look around Carcosa, wondering where all these tentacles came from. Robert W Chambers was more concerned with masks, moons and mists. Now there seem to be monsters everywhere and people are calling Hastur a god. Who is responsible for all this? Like everything relating to Carcosa, the answer is elusive and ambiguous.

Main Topic: Hastur

For the past few episodes, we’ve explored the Carcosa Mythos of Robert W Chambers. Its most famous elements — The King in Yellow, the Yellow Sign and Hastur — are usually seen as part of the Cthulhu Mythos, but we worked hard to keep these elements separate. Well, this is the episode in which we mash it all up again. Hail Hastur!

See? Tentacles! Tentacles everywhere!

We go on a deep dive into the Lake of Hali, trying to understand just what Hastur is. Bierce created him as a benign god of shepherds. Chambers took the name and made him a star (or maybe a place, or a person…) Lovecraft mentioned the name in passing but never defined anything. Derleth turned Hastur back into a god, or at least a Great Old One. Lin Carter added the Chambers back into Derleth’s work. Call of Cthulhu added new layers of complexity and John Tynes tore it all down and wrote a new mythology. So where does that leave Hastur? And how did the King in Yellow become his avatar when there is no mention of this in Chambers, Lovecraft or Derleth?

Hastur is an unusual deity, even by the standards of the Mythos. The Malleus Monstorum lists a number of avatars with no real thematic connection. He is associated with a variety of creatures, some of which seem like odd choices. Beyond his connection to The King in Yellow, it can be difficult to know what to do with him. We spend the latter half of the episode coming up with ways we might use Hastur in our games.

Links

Some of the specific works we mention in this episode include:

News

Masks of Nyarlathotep Nominated for Origins Award

The Origins Awards will be announced on Saturday the 15th of June, shortly after this episode goes out. Masks of Nyarlathotep is on the shortlist for Best Roleplaying Supplement. We shall keep you posted about how it fares.

The Blasphemous Tome 4b

Issue 4b of The Blasphemous Tome is slithering towards completion. This is our first attempt at a supplemental Tome, using some of the material we were unable to fit in issue 4. There will also be a bumper crop of specially written material, including a brand new Call of Cthulhu scenario from our very own Paul Fricker. You can also look forward to the mix of articles, fiction and art that you’ve come to expect from earlier Tomes. Unlike the previous editions, however, The Blasphemous Tome 4b will be a PDF-only publication. Anyone backing us at the time of release (probably early July) will receive a copy via Patreon.

Fictoplasm

If you would like to listen to a different take on The King in Yellow, Scott recently joined Ralph Lovegrove on his excellent podcast, Fictoplasm. They speculated about what the foundations of horror roleplaying might have been if Chambers rather than Lovecraft had been its main influence. This was just part of a longer series in which Ralph has explored novels in which fantastical works of fiction have proved more real than anticipated.

Other Stuff

Songs

Wise souls fear to speak the name of Hastur the Unmentionable. They know that the right words have the power to tear the world apart, letting madness rush in. Our songs have the same effect. We present two of them in this episode, offered in thanks to new Patreon backers.

We’re back and we’re checking the dark corners of the corpse fridge of R’lyeh for tasty eldritch horrors, hoping that they’re not past their sell-by date. There’s something that looks like calamari in the dark, non-Euclidean recesses. We just hope he’s supposed to smell like that.

Main Topic: Keeping Cthulhu Fresh


On second thoughts, the stench of death is the mildest affront he presents to our senses.

This episode is almost the opposite of our recent look at Cthulhu For Beginners. Between us, we’ve been playing Call of Cthulhu for something like 90 years. Not quite strange aeons, but still a pretty damn long time. How do we keep our games fresh? Are we happy playing the same kinds of scenarios and characters or do we prefer to shake things up? What keeps us coming back to fight the forces of the Mythos over and over? We offer some personal insights and tips for Keepers and players alike.

Here’s a first: one of our tips is not to set everything on fire.

As if our tips weren’t enough, we also have some insights from Mike Mason, line editor for Call of Cthulhu. Paul had a short chat with him about the longevity of Call of Cthulhu, which you can find toward the end of the episode.

News

Masks of Nyarlathotep with How We Roll

A little while ago, Scott recorded an all-star Call of Cthulhu game with How We Roll. Joe and Eoghan were joined by Veronica from Cthulhu and Friends, Keeper Murph from the Miskatonic University Podcast and Seth Skorkowsky from the best damn gaming videos on the internet. Scott ran his introductory Peru scenario from the latest edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep. The game went out live on Chaosium’s Twitch channel, although technical problems stopped the video from being recorded. There is still an audio recording, however, which will appear in upcoming episodes of How We Roll. We shall alert you when Joe unleashes them upon the listening public.

Necronomicon and Gen Con

The Good Friends are heading off to Providence again! We have booked our flights and accommodation for Necronomicon in August and hope to see many of you there. Paul will also be attending Gen Con this year, offering you an additional opportunity to stalk him.

Other Stuff

Social Media

We’ve been mentioned on a couple of fine podcasts. Our good friend Lord Mordi asked the hosts of Pretending to be People to give us a shout out, and what a shout out it was! You can hear it in episode 12, although this shouldn’t be the only episode you listen to. Pretending to be People is an unusual mix of Delta Green and Pulp Cthulhu, with great production values, strong voice acting and lots of imagination.

And The Podcaster in Darkness listed us as one of his favourite horror podcasts in his inaugural episode. Thank you! You should check him out if you have any interest in horror (and if you don’t, we would love to know how you got here!)

Songs

More than merely fresh, our songs are timeless. That is, they exist outside the natural flow of time, waiting, ready to destroy the minds of those they encounter. There are two such horrors in this episode, bringing us nearer to clearing the backlog we owe to our Patreon backers. If you are still waiting for a song, please be patient — it will find you soon enough.

As terrifying as our songs are, there are worse out there. Some listeners have asked us about The Wurzels, who we riffed on in one of our Dunwich Horror episodes. Here are a few more of their songs, just to prove that we didn’t make them up. We may write horror, but even we have limits.

We’re back and we’re trying to maintain our grasp on reality. This is tenuous at the best of times, and all this conflation with imagination is doing it no favours. In this episode, when we say “reality”, we mean the reality of the game world we’re playing in. Is that even a reasonable term to use when talking about a setting filled with malevolent alien creatures from beyond space and time?

Main Topic: Realism in RPG Settings

You expect me to believe in a world populated by entities from forgotten times, willing to destroy entire nations for their own selfish ends? Pshaw!

This episode is our attempt to understand what makes a game setting feel real. We looked at the role of game mechanics last episode, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. In order for players to buy into a game, they generally have to find the setting plausible. How does this apply to RPGs set in worlds of fantasy, science fiction or weird horror? And what aspects of historical accuracy make or break a game?

News

Google+ Shutdown

In the news segment, we offer another reminder that our Google+ community is going away on the 2nd of April. To be fair, all of G+ is shutting down then, but we’re focusing on the important stuff. You can still find us on Discord, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Patreon and under your bed at night.


PodUK

Scott shares his experiences at PodUK, where he recorded a live episode with How We Roll and Dirk the Dice from The Grognard Files. We released the recording of our playthrough of Leigh Carr’s marvellous scenario “The Necropolis” as a special episode. There were a number of other fine podcasts there, including Orphans, Wooden Overcoats, Victoriocity, Death in Ice Valley and Flintlocks & Fireballs. Why not put some of them in your ears?

And we offer another reminder that we are working on issue 4 1/2 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the digital sibling to our print-only fanzine, destined to travel across the digital ghoul winds to our Patreon backers this summer.

Other Stuff

Raw Episodes

We are still releasing the raw versions of new episodes on our Patreon RSS feed. Episode 152’s unedited version is especially long as it also includes our first attempt at talking about this topic. The two takes are very different, and while we were happier with the second, the first has some good stuff in it. You can also find our Weird Whisperings on the Patreon RSS feed. These are the occasional recordings we make of some of the weird tales we’ve discussed.

Songs

There are two songs in this episode. Suspending your disbelief won’t save you. These are, as ever, our hideous method of thanking new $5 Patreon backers. We still have a few more of you to thank, but only dare to record two songs per episode. I’m sure you can understand why. If your song has yet to find you, it will soon. Some things are shudderingly inevitable.

We’re back with something a little different. For a start, when we say “we”, we mean Scott, who recently recorded this live game of Call of Cthulhu with the How We Roll podcast. Sadly, Matt and Paul were unable to join us. This is the first time we’ve put out an actual play recording as part of The Good Friends feed and we hope you like it! We are releasing this in conjunction with How We Roll and The Grognard Files.

The game took place at PodUK 2019, in Birmingham, back at the start of February. This was the first dedicated podcasting convention to take place in the UK and it was rather wonderful.

As well as Joe, Eoghan, Kuran and David from How We Roll, we were joined by Dirk the Dice from The Grognard Files podcast. None of us had ever gamed in front of a live audience before, so we didn’t quite know what to expect. This was all the more nerve-racking, as we were the only gaming-related podcast on the roster. Happily, our event went down well. A few non-gamers mentioned afterwards how much they’d enjoyed it, even if they weren’t entirely sure what we were doing.

We played Leigh Carr’s excellent demo scenario, The Necropolis. This is a perfect game to play in a tight time slot. It involves a doomed archaeological dig in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in 1924. The premise is simple enough that players can engage with it immediately. We recommend it highly to any Keepers looking to lure new Cthulhu players into our eerie little hobby. You can download it free of charge if you join The Cult of Chaos organised play programme.

Thank you very much to everyone who came along to the recording and to the meet-and-greet afterwards, including the crew of the Flintlocks and Fireballs podcast. It was lovely to get to talk to so many of you. Let’s hope this all happens again next year!

We’re back and we’re preparing for the apocalypse. To be fair, this seems to be a pretty understated apocalypse. It mostly involves an invisible monster prancing around a hilltop. Maybe the creature will do something world-ending up there. For now, we’re mostly worried about our cattle.

Main Topic: The Dunwich Horror

This is the final part of our unusually long look at Lovecraft’s weird tale, The Dunwich Horror. It’s taken us four episodes to cover it all, but we think this is warranted. Whether or not you think this is a good story (and there’s some dissent about this in the episode) it is an important one. Lovecraft laid out some key components of the Cthulhu Mythos here. The tale may arguably be less than the sum of its parts, but oh what parts it has.

As well as the story itself, we also look at its spread into other media.

As promised, here is Aleister Crowley doing “that thing with his hands”. The resemblance to Dean Stockwell is uncanny.
Also as promised, possibly the worst move trailer ever made.
And why stop with trailers? Here’s the entirety of H P Lovecraft’s Dunwich Horror and Other Stories.

News

150 Episodes

Somehow, we’ve hit 150 episodes! We’ll cheerfully ascribe this to hard work, dedication and passion, although most of it is simply due to the relentless passage of time. Every episode is another roadside marker on our steady path to the grave. Um. Hang on. This was supposed to be a celebration. 150 episodes, everyone!

Let’s set off some fireworks in celebration, trying not to think about how each explosion accelerates the heat death of the universe in its tiny way.

Pad’Thulhu Auction

As you may be aware, the latest issue of The Blasphemous Tome featured a cover by comics legend Evan Dorkin. In particular, Evan created an adorably terrifying eldritch horror named Pad’thulhu. Sculptor David Kirkby was so taken by Pad’thulhu that he created the cutest horror in clay that any of us have seen, bringing it to full-colour life. We shall auction this sculpture soon to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Our plan is to start the auction on the 5th of March and run it for 10 days. Watch our social media for more details closer to the time.

Place him by your bedside for maddeningly adorable visions of terror and abomination.

Google+ Closure

Google+ is going away on the 2nd of April. Despite its reputation as a failure, it was the online home for much of the tabletop RPG community, including us. In our search for a replacement, we have created a subreddit for the Good Friends. We believe that this will offer most of the functionality we have grown used to. As promised in the episode, here’s an article explaining Reddit for beginners. And, if Reddit doesn’t suit you, we can still be found all over the internet.

If you would like to preserve your posts before G+ disappears in a puff of mismanagement, Google have created a tool, named Google Takeout, to let you do so. You can find instructions for it here.

The Blasphemous Tome 4 1/2

As we mentioned, it’s not been long since we released issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome. With it being a small ‘zine, we struggled to put everything we wanted into it and had some leftover material. Happily, a solution has presented itself. Around the middle of this year (probably the end of June) we shall release the Blasphemous Tome 4 1/2. The main difference between this and its big brother is that issue 4 1/2 will be a PDF-only release. You can still print it out, of course! We shall provide regular updates over the next 4 months.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover
The last Blasphemous Tome, featuring the original Pad’thulhu as our cover model.

Other Stuff

In the first episode of our discussion, we pondered what limerick might start with “There was a young man from Dunwich”. This proved disturbingly inspirational to our listeners and our inboxes filled up with verse. We read out a few of our favourites in this episode, but do check our various social media feeds for the rest. In particular, CthulhuBob combined several limericks to create an epic verse in the comments to that episode’s show notes. Scroll down to the bottom to find it.

And let’s not even contemplate mixing limericks and Attract Fish!

As sanity-blasting as some of the adaptations of The Dunwich Horror might be, they’re nothing compared to our songs. This episode contains two such productions, offered in thanks to new Patreon backers. We still have many more to go, so don’t relax yet.

And speaking of strange rewards, we are still releasing rough cuts of episodes to Patreon backers. These are largely uncut recordings of what happens when the three of us get together to make an episode. As well as all the coughs, stumbles and retakes, they include material we simply couldn’t fit in the show. Oddly enough, not all of this is dick jokes. Check Patreon for details.