Episode 283: The Ocean in Call of Cthulhu

We’re back and we’re enjoying a nice seaside holiday. Of course, when most people talk about the seaside, they mean the bit that’s on land. Somehow, we’ve ended up in the wetter part. Maybe that’s more technically landside. Human languages are messy things. Regardless, it’s everything we could have asked for: cold, murky, and filled with terrifying creatures. If Lovecraft taught us anything, however, it’s that this nice section of seabed could be forced to the surface at any moment. We’ll just have to enjoy its benthic charms while we can.

Main Topic: The Ocean in Call of Cthulhu

The ocean and its horrors play a huge role in Lovecraft’s fiction and, by extension, in Call of Cthulhu. With entities such as Cthulhu, Dagon and the Deep Ones, and locations like R’lyeh and Y’ha-nthlei, Lovecraft placed many of his most memorable creations deep below the waves. So how can we make use of the ocean in Call of Cthulhu? What inspiration can we take from nature and folklore? And what memorable scenarios are there that use the ocean as their setting?

Things we mention in this episode include:

The Ocean in Lovecraft

Inspirations from Nature and Folklore

A mermaid’s purse

The Ocean in Call of Cthulhu

News

Paul at Chaosium Con 2024

Paul will be attending Chaosium Con 2024 in Michigan between 18-24 April. Do stop by the Chaosium stand and say hi. There will also be a large contingent from Ain’t Slayed Nobody attending, so please say howdy to them too.

Episode 269: Mythos Deities - Yig & Ghatanothoa

We’re back and we’re petrified. It’s bad enough that you can become mummified by standing near Ghatanothoa, but being imperilled just by looking at his image is simply too much. And then we learn that you could be at risk even from examining the eyes of someone who saw him? Yikes! We’ll stick to Yig, thanks. At least the worst he’s going to do is bite you. Oh, hang on… He might turn you into a snake? It’s beginning to sound like these Mythos deities may not be the friends we’re looking for.

Main Topic: Mythos Deities – Yig & Ghatanothoa

This episode is our latest exploration of the deities of the Cthulhu Mythos. We have devoted previous episodes to DagonShub-NiggurathYog-SothothNyarlathotepHasturAzathothNodensUbbo-Sathla and MordiggianIthaquaCthulhuDaoloth and EihortGla’akiY’golonacTsathoggua, Atlach-Nacha and Abhoth, and Cyäegha and Byatis.

We’re turning back to Lovecraft himself in this episode, but Lovecraft as a collaborator. Well, it’s probably more accurate to call him a ghost writer with these stories, but we’ll be generous to his co-authors. The two deities we’re discussing — Yig and Ghatanothoa — both come from Lovecraft’s revisions. It wasn’t until the stories were collected that Lovecraft was even credited, however. Despite this, at least one of the deities has spawned many scenarios and stories, while the other has to be satisfied with hanging out behind a rest stop glory hole. But more about that next episode…

Things we mention in this episode include:

News

Paul at Gen Con

Paul gives us a quick summary of his visit to Gen Con 2023, where he ran “Full Fathom Five” with You Too Can Cthulhu. He also mentions that Chaosium had the new Pendragon Starter Set on the stall, alongside Rivers of London.

Matt and Paul at the Innsmouth Literary Festival

Matt and Paul will be attending the Innsmouth Literary Festival at the end of this month, running some games. The festival takes place on Saturday 30th September, between 10am – 5pm, at Kings House Conference Centre in Bedford.

We’re back and we’re puzzling over titles. If you were making a Gothic horror film about a haunted village, you might wisely consider a name like Curse of the Dead. Hell, if you wanted to cash in on the popularity of a more famous film, you could even rerelease it as Curse of the Living Dead. On the other hand, you might go for Operation Fear as something more unusual, although that is a bit too close to “Project Fear” for this post-Brexit age. If you were German, you may even consider The Dead Eyes of Dr Dracula, although you might struggle to explain why. On balance, maybe Kill, Baby… Kill! isn’t the worst title you could come up with, although it is close. Maybe another bump of cocaine will shake some inspiration loose.

Main Topic: Kill, Baby… Kill!

Building on last episode’s exploration of Gothic horror, we thought we’d follow up with a look at a film that typifies the genre. There are a great many films ostensibly linked to the Gothic, but far fewer that really embody both the tropes and the aesthetic. And, when you narrow things down in those terms, one director stands out: Mario Bava.

Kill, Baby… Kill! may not be particularly well known, but it turns up regularly on critics’ lists of the best horror films. It’s a strange affair, made on a ludicrously tight budget and largely improvised. As our hosts’ reactions demonstrate, it is not a film for everyone, Still, if you are a fan of classic Italian horror or just dreamlike atmosphere with flashes of weirdness, you’re in for a treat.

Kill, Baby... Kill! 1

Things we mention in this episode include:

Kill, Baby... Kill! 2
Kill, Baby... Kill! 3

News

Matt at Con-Tingency

Matt will be attending the Con-Tingency convention in Hunstanton later this month. The convention officially runs between the 18th and 22nd of January, but unofficial games start whenever people arrive. Matt is probably there right now. While he is excited to be going, he has promised to take things easier than usual, given his ongoing convalescence. If you are there, please do say hi to him! And tell him to get some sleep.

Matt Nixon

While we were recording, we received a message telling us our old friend Matt Nixon had just died in hospital. This makes the last five minutes of the episode unusually sombre.

If you have attended more than a few British conventions over the past 25 years, you almost certainly knew Matt. “Larger than life” may be an overused phrase, but it’s hard to think of a better description. He was a compelling presence at every gathering — boisterous, gregarious and, sometimes, abrasive. Everyone who knew Matt could tell you a tale of him getting on their nerves or saying something ill-advised, but the chances are that they would then follow it up with a memory of Matt being kind, charming, or, at least, comically mischievous. Like everyone, he was a complicated individual.

Matt’s games were the stuff of legend. All three of us played with him whenever we could. He was a creative GM, never short of an idea, and his enthusiasm and love of shocking people made him a natural at running horror. This led to Matt becoming a member of the Kult of Keepers, the Call of Cthulhu GM collective that, indirectly, spawned 7th edition.

But, most of all, Matt was a character. Drunken conversations with him were a highpoint of any convention, as well as an endless source of anecdotes. Even when he was at his most provocative, the stories we told about him afterwards were usually accompanied by wry smiles.

All three of us shall miss Matt immensely. He has left a hole in the UK gaming world that only he could have filled.

We’re back and we’re skulking around the old ruined abbey. Sure, the place is lousy with ghosts, but they’re not really that important. We’re far more concerned with the weather. If reading Gothic horror has taught us anything, it’s that storms are caused by our own inner turmoil. Or is that the other way around? Maybe we could figure it out if all these bloody ghosts would just shut up. Why won’t the past just stay dead?

Main Topic: Gothic Horror

This episode is our attempt to understand what exactly Gothic horror is. We’ve often mentioned how Lovecraft’s early work was rooted in the Gothic, but we’ve never really explained what that means. Gothic horror is one of those genres that you know when you see it, but actually defining it can be tricky.

Happily, Matt has a degree in English, and part of his studies involved the history of Gothic literature. We imposed upon him to dig out some of his dusty old texts and explain what elements go into Gothic horror and how the genre stands apart from other forms of horror literature.

Things we mention in this episode include:

mill of the stone women poster

News

Illusion Horror Con Seminars

Matt and Scott recently attended the Illusion Horror Con, taking part in seminars discussing horror GMing techniques, how to take inspiration from horror media, and the cosmology of the Kult RPG. All of these are now available for your streaming pleasure.

Paul’s Substack

Paul has started his own substack over at paulfricker.com, talking about the various projects he has on the go.

Rivers of London Launch at Dragonmeet

Paul attended Dragonmeet last month to promote the new Rivers of London RPG. He took part in a seminar on the topic, alongside Lynne Hardy and Ben Aaronovitch. While this was apparently recorded, it has yet to appear on YouTube. We shall update the show notes should this change.

The PDF of Rivers of London is out now, with printed copies due in the spring.

We’re back and we’re getting on a bit. Turning 250 is a sobering milestone. Worse, we seem to be getting a bit peculiar in our dotage. Or maybe it’s just the world around us that’s getting stranger. Either way, this gives us an excuse to ramble on about weird things. So we have.

Main Topic: Making Call of Cthulhu Weird

Given that this is our 250th episode, we thought we’d tackle a big topic. While Call of Cthulhu is primarily known as a horror RPG, the Mythos is so much more than simple scares. Its mixture of science fiction, fantasy and horror reflects its origins in weird fiction. But what does that actually mean? And, more importantly, how can we make our games weirder?

Things we mention in this episode include:

News

Season’s Greetings!

December is a time for celebration around the world, and we are well into the Christmas season here in the UK. But that’s not the only thing we’re celebrating. As we’ve mentioned, this is our 250th episode! Well, 250th standard episode. By the time you include all the specials and backer-only releases, it’s more like 300. Blimey!

Scott in Trebuchet Magazine

Scott has written another article for Trebuchet Magazine. This is a short piece about his experiences with aphantasia and how it has shaped his imagination. It appears in issue 12, subtitled “Realities”. As ever, the article (and the whole magazine, of course!) is beautifully laid-out and accompanied by evocative art.

If you fancy picking up a copy, our good friends at Trebuchet have provided a 20% discount for our listeners. Just enter the code “dorwardagainstmine” when checking out.

Getting Creative With Cthulhu

Paul appeared on a panel with Mike Mason and Heinrich Moore at the recent Miskatonic Repository Convention. The topic was “Getting Creative With Cthulhu” and you can find a recording of it below.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 10

This is your last chance to get a signed copy of issue 10 of The Blasphemous Tome. While the PDF of this issue will continue to be available for download from Patreon, this is your only opportunity to get a physical copy signed by all three of the Good Friends.

Anyone backing us at the $5 level before the end of December 2022 will receive a signed, printed copy, delivered into your hands through eldritch means. Or the post. See either our Patreon page or the post about The Blasphemous Tome on this very website for further details.

The Blasphemous Tome is a Call of Cthulhu fanzine licensed by Chaosium, and issue 10 includes a full-length scenario from our very own Matt Sanderson.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 10