We have some very exciting news. The cover for the next issue of The Blasphemous Tome comes courtesy of many-time Eisner Award-winning comic artist and good friend of the Good Friends, Evan Dorkin!

Evan has also generously sent us a multitude of Lovecraftian spot art, which will be found dotted throughout the issue. Having seen the rough versions, I can tell you that they are ghoulishly delightful.

If you want more details about what to expect, check out our recent post announcing issue 4. And if you need more information about what The Blasphemous Tome is, we have you covered as well.

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!”


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.

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.