We’re back and we’re wondering why all these robed figures around us are chanting the name of Cthulhu? Don’t they know that Lovecraft made him up? What do they expect to get out of this? Can they really call upon his power? And, if so, how can we get in on this sweet racket?

Main Topic: The Occult and Lovecraft

This is the second part of our look into the relationship between Lovecraft’s work and real occult practices. Last episode, we looked into how Lovecraft drew upon his superficial knowledge of the occult to add verisimilitude to his stories. This time, we’re exploring something far weirder: occultists who have incorporated Lovecraft’s work into their own practices.

That’s one weird-looking D20.

Once again, Mike Mason joins us on our journey into mystery. His knowledge as line editor for Call of Cthulhu comes in especially handy when we delve into the gaming aspects of our topic. Which Call of Cthulhu scenarios draw upon occult traditions? What is the difference between the Occult and Cthulhu Mythos skills? How might we use the occult in our own games? And why is Mike chanting and pulling out that obsidian dagger?

Links

Things we discuss in this episode include:

Cthulhu Mythos Occultism

The Occult in Call of Cthulhu

Other Stuff

Songs

We sing to our old friend Amelia Faulkner in this episode, thanking her for joining our legion of Patreon backers. Amelia is a gifted and prolific author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance. You can find more about her work on her website or Amazon page.

Reviews

We also share a lovely new Apple Podcasts review from listener Test Subject 86b1. If this inspires you to write a review of your own, whether on iTunes or anywhere else you might find podcasts, we would be delighted!

We’re back and we’re casting protective circles around our microphones, burning incense that smells like Cthulhu’s armpits and waggling our wands for all they’re worth. No matter how fevered our incantations, however, the songs always seem to break free. Some magic is too foul to be contained.

Main Topic: Lovecraft and the Occult

This is the first of a pair of episodes looking into the relationship between HP Lovecraft and the occult. The focus this time is on how much (or little) Lovecraft drew upon real occult beliefs and practices. In particular, we’ll focus on the Western occult tradition and its manifestations in the 19th and 20th centuries. Next time, we’ll explore how the relationship has been reciprocated. Things are going to get weird.

Joining us in this exploration is Mike Mason. As well as being line editor for Call of Cthulhu, Mike has a keen interest in the occult and offers some personal insights. You don’t think that Call of Cthulhu has won all those ENnie awards without help from the unseen masters, do you?

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

News

Necronomicon

The Good Friends will be flying out to Providence for Necronomicon 2019 in just two short weeks. We hope to see many of you there. Please say hi if you spot us in the wild. Mike and a number of other folks from Chaosium will also be attending the convention, operating a stall overflowing with wonders.

Scott on Fictoplasm

A little overdue, but we finally mention that Scott was a guest on Ralph Lovegrove’s excellent Fictoplasm podcast. Ralph and Scott discussed what our gaming lives might be like if Robert W Chambers had been the main figure of twentieth-century horror fiction rather than Lovecraft. This makes a perfect companion piece to our own recent discussions about The King in Yellow.

Other Stuff

Songs

Like the darkest rites of demonology, no episode of The Good Friends is complete without a good chant. We offer two such evocations in this episode, summoning all our gratitude and unleashing it upon new Patreon backers.

Review

We also share a lovely new Apple Podcasts review from listener Pad_in_Purgatory. If this inspires you to write a review of your own, whether on iTunes or anywhere else you might find podcasts, we would be delighted!

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 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.

We’re back and we’re ready to start our investigation into the actual Dunwich Horror. Somehow, it’s taken two episodes and half the story to get here. Everything that’s happened so far is simply prologue. Admittedly, it was a long prologue filled with many events. Still, prologue.

Main Topic: The Dunwich Horror

In this latest journey through Dunwich, we touch on a few topics that demand links.

News

Our good friends at the HP Lovecraft Historical Society have released their Dark Adventure Radio Theatre adaptation of Masks of Nyarlathotep. This is an appropriately epic audio play, spanning 6 CDs in its physical manifestation. It is also available as a digital download.

The newly resurrected Dudley Bug Ball gaming convention is scheduled to take place on the 23rd of February at the Station House Hotel in Dudley. At the time of writing these show notes up, their website is down but the event is still going ahead. Please check social media for updates.

Some other good friends of ours — Matt Ryan and Noah Lloyd — have released the Reckoning of the Dead 2018 Annual. This ‘zine-style booklet contains two full Call of Cthulhu scenarios, expanded from one-page seeds from their website. This publication is exclusively for their Patreon backers. See the Reckoning of the Dead website for more details.

We received some goodies in the post from Lord Mordiggian of Crafteon! These included a copy of the band’s CD, Cosmic Awakening, some posters and an especially cool T-shirt. You can see the latter below, modelled (well, held up) by Scott. Thank you very much, Lord Mordi!

We’ll never again be able to picture Lovecraft looking any differently than this.

Matt contaminated our discussion about nice, wholesome black metal by mentioning his new Cthulhu plushes. We promised a photograph and, Azathoth help us, here it is.

Not pictured: Scott’s will to live.

Other Stuff

The hills (of Dunwich) are alive with the sound of music. This is probably a generous definition of “music”. And, arguably, “alive”. Semantics aside, we thank two new $5 Patreon backers with songs. We have had a lot of new backers recently and it will take us a while to work through the backlog. Please bear with us. Your song is as inevitable as death and only slightly less unpleasant.

At long last, we can announce the winners of our Pulp Heroes competition. In our recent episode about The Two-Headed Serpent, we asked listeners to send us brief write-ups of heroes for Pulp Cthulhu. The three of us each ranked the entries and totalled up our scores. We’ve put together a special page for the entries, which will go up later today, but the short version is as follows:

  • Joint 3rd place: Wilson MacGyver, David South and Cthulhu Bob
  • 2nd: Inkhorn
  • 1st: Frank Delventhal

Many thanks to everyone who entered! There were some wonderful ideas and it was hard work to choose between them. Congratulations to Frank who will receive a copy of The Two-Headed Serpent from Chaosium.

And once again, we have released the unedited version of this episode to Patreon backers. This is a warts, pseudopods and all version of what things actually sound like when we’re recording. It will also give you a maddening insight into the kinds of sounds we make when thanking our $5 backers. 1D3/1D10 SAN at least.