We’re back and we’re playing favourites. Sure, we love you all, but you do understand, right? And we also have favourite films, books and RPGs too, some of which were created within the last 10 years. We know that a lot of other people have taken the end of the decade as an opportunity to create similar lists, but we”re different! For a start, we’re doing it over a month later than everyone else.

Main Topic: The Best of the 2010s

In many respects, the 2010s were a terrible decade. We’ve seen political upheavals that will affect the world for generations, an ecological crisis that will affect it for even longer, and, worst of all, David Bowie died. It’s all been a bit shit, really.

But there has been some good stuff too. The 2010s were a boom time for media in general, and horror in particular. We have been living through a golden age of genre books, films and television. In this episode, we pick our favourites from each of these categories, explaining why we think our choice deserves to be held up as the best.

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

Wounds cover

News

Concrete Cow 20

Concrete Cow 20 will take place on Saturday the 14th of March. This is Milton Keynes’ own one-day RPG convention, held in the Old Bath House in Wolverton. Tickets are £5 on the door. All three of us will be there and we would love to see you!

Concrete Cow logo

Masks of Nyarlathotep on How We Roll

Scott has been running the Peru chapter of Masks of Nyarlathotep for the How We Roll podcast, with an all-star cast of guests. Players include Seth Skorkowsky, Keeper Murph from the Miskatonic University Podcast, Veronica from Cthulhu and Friends, and Eoghan and Joe from How We Roll. The first few episodes are already available, with new horrors seeping out every few weeks thereafter.

Episode 174: Midsommar

We’re back and we’re on our Midsommar holiday. Happily, we don’t have anything as horrific as Cliff Richard to contend with. It’s only the usual festivals, drugs and human sacrifice. The locals seem nice enough, although Paul’s comments about their music might be getting to them. Oh well. What’s the worst that could happen?

According to Matt, being made to watch this film.

Main Topic: Midsommar

This episode is our look at the 2019 American/Swedish folk horror film, Midsommar. It is an unusually sun-drenched horror, long in running time and short on action. As you might imagine, this led to some disagreement amongst us as to whether it is the best film of the year or slightly less fun than root canal.

If you don’t like it, just put something else on…

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

On the back: “Having a wonderful time, wish you were here!”

News

Matt at ConTingency

Once again, Matt is heading off to the seaside. There is no finer time to visit the east coast of Great Britain than late January. The North Sea always has a warm welcome waiting for you. Matt, however, will be spending his time indoors, playing games. This is his annual pilgrimage to ConTingency, the extended residential convention that has now moved to Hunstanton in Norfolk. If you are attending the convention, be sure to sign up to his games and set fire to all the NPCs.

Smart Party Dragonmeet Seminar

When Paul visited Dragonmeet late last year, he joined Mike Mason and our good friends from the Smart Party for a seminar. They discussed ideas about how to be a better player, some extending beyond bringing snacks and not falling asleep at the table. You can find a recording of the seminar at the Smart Party’s website.

Rivers of London RPG

The other bit of excitement at Dragonmeet was the announcement of the forthcoming Rivers of London RPG from Chaosium. Based on the Peter Grant police procedural/urban fantasy novels by Ben Aaronovitch, the game will use a version of BRP customised by our very own Paul Fricker. More news as it becomes available.

The Whisperer in Darkness

We also briefly mention the audio adaptation of Lovecraft’s “The Whisperer in Darkness” that the BBC is releasing as a podcast. This follows on from their previous adaptation of “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”. In both cases, the events are presented as an investigative podcast, complete with hints of connections to the wider Mythos. You can also access these programmes through the BBC Sounds app.

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.

He even drew us pictures.

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.

Although few real rituals involve quite so many candles.

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.

Although in one of our games, these would be fire vampires manifesting.

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

“Please don’t sing… Please don’t sing…”

Other Stuff

Songs

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.

Reviews

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!

Episode 164: Occult Horror

We’re back and we’re trying to keep all this blood from staining our carpets. Worse still, we can’t get the smell out goat out of our best robes. Everything will be ruined at this rate. When we decided to do an episode about occult horror, we didn’t think the real horror was going to be the cleaning bills. The sacrifices we make!

Main Topic: Occult Horror

After spending a couple of episodes discussing how Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu relate to real occultism, we thought we’d get a little more lurid. This is our look at the genre of occult horror, which is something quite different than occultism. It is the blood-drenched, Satan-worshipping, virgin-sacrificing insanity that you would encounter in more disreputable sources, such as tabloids or Dennis Wheatley novels.

OK, still more believable than the Daily Mail.

We begin by trying to define the genre and mentioning some of its more famous proponents, at least in twentieth-century literature. Our terms established, we then break occult horror down into its main tropes and discuss how we might use these in our games. Call of Cthulhu may not precisely be an occult horror game, but it is suffused with the genre’s sulphurous influence.

Links

Some of the things we mention in this episode include:

News

Concrete Cow

Concrete Cow 19 1/2 is approaching faster than anything made out of concrete should be able to. This is the one-day RPG convention held twice per year in Milton Keynes. Full details can be found on the Concrete Cow website. At least some of us will be there, so please come along and say hi if you’re in the area.

Other Stuff

Songs

Writers of occult horror would have you believe that blood-fuelled, orgiastic rites take place behind innocuous doors in suburbia. Nothing about this episode’s songs would change their minds. Our frenzied celebrations of two new $5 Patreon backers must have summoned a demon or two.

160: Making Call of Cthulhu scary

We’re back and we’re hiding under the bed. Maybe this dark, twisted shape that’s creeping around the house won’t find us here. The anticipation is making us quake in terror. Not knowing what the hell it is definitely doesn’t help. How did we end up in this state? And, more importantly, how can we make other people feel like this?

Main topic: Making Call of Cthulhu Scary

This episode is our look at what makes a game of Call of Cthulhu scary. We focus on Call of Cthulhu because that’s what we do, but the elements we discuss could apply to any horror game. Fear is a pretty universal thing.

When we say that fear is universal, we mean that there are some main strands of fear that run through us all. The specifics and triggers may be different, but there are many commonalities. Inspired by this article in Psychology Today, we go through some of these basic fears, looking at how they might come into play.

Not every attempt to be scary works.

Additionally, we offer some tips about the techniques we use and some insights into if and how we’ve been scared by games. Is scaring players possible or even desirable? Are there right ways and wrong ways to make people feel uncomfortable at the gaming table? Where does that line lie?

Links

Other things we mention in this episode include:

News

Necronomicon 2019

The Good Friends are gearing up to go to Necronomicon 2019 in Providence next month. We will be pretty busy while we’re there, but we hope to meet as many of you as possible. Please say hi if you spot us in the wild. At least two of us don’t bite. Those are pretty good odds.

The Blasphemous Tome 4.5

We have finished the writing and editing of the special interim edition of The Blasphemous Tome. Matt is poised to lay the issue out as soon as we have the last two pieces of artwork. At present, we expect to get the Tome to backers by the middle of this month (July 2019).

The Blasphemous Tome is the fanzine we produce exclusively for Patreon backers of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias. It is normally a print publication, but this special extra is a PDF. Everyone backing us by the end of July will receive a copy. See our recent post for more details.

Burning Luck Reviews

Good friend of the Good Friends, Max Mahaffa, has started up a review page on Facebook, titled Burning Luck Reviews. Check out his review of the Call of Cthulhu Starter Set, with more to follow.

Other Stuff

Songs

Few fears are more universal than those evoked by our singing. We have such a bout of terror to share with you this episode, offered in praise of a new Patreon backer. Any exhortation not to have nightmares would be pointless. Tremble away!

Merchandise

We keep forgetting to mention that we have some Good Friends merchandise available. If you would like a T-shirt that tells the world that you are a good friend of Jackson Elias or a mug that warns of the danger of Attract Fish, check out our Redbubble store!

Reviews

We share another lovely new review of the podcast this episode. Such kind words sustain us and, more importantly, help others find the podcast. We are profoundly grateful for every review we receive. If you write a review of your own on Apple Podcasts or wherever you download our episodes, we would be delighted to hear about it.