Episode 154: The King in Yellow part 1

We’re back and we’re taking a look at this odd play that’s appeared on our shelves. The King in Yellow? That’s not a volume we remember buying, but we do have so many books. The yellow snakeskin cover is rather appealing. Sure, we’ve heard dire warnings about its content, but we’re made of sterner stuff. The first act seems rather banal, after all. Nothing to worry about!

Main Topic: The King in Yellow part 1

This is the first of a number of linked episodes looking at different aspects of Robert W Chambers’ most enduring creation, The King in Yellow. Confusingly, this is the title of the book he wrote, the play within it and an entity described in the play. Given the maddeningly vague nature of the Carcosa Mythos, this seems entirely appropriate. (We’ve borrowed the term “Carcosa Mythos” from The Yellow Site — a comprehensive and useful site for anyone interested in The King in Yellow.)

In this first episode, we set the scene with some background on Chambers, an overview of The King in Yellow collection, and a look at some of the works that may have influenced it.

In particular, we discuss:

We also make passing mention of the Carcosa board game.

News

Larry DiTillio

Shortly before we recorded this episode, we received the sad news of Larry DiTillio’s death. While most of his writing career was spent in television, working on such programmes as Babylon 5, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and The Real Ghostbusters, it was his work as an RPG author that affected us directly. DiTillio’s most famous RPG creation, Masks of Nyarlathotep, still looms large over the field some 35 years later. And, given that he created Jackson Elias, we partly owe the existence of this podcast to him. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and everyone else who knew him.

Pad’thulhu Auction

We recently loosed a most adorable horror upon the world. The charity auction of Pad’thulhu raised £186 for Cancer Research UK. Thank you very much to everyone who bid on him, to Evan Dorkin for creating him, and to David Kirkby for rendering him in clay and donating him to such a wonderful cause!

Visceral and Emotional Damage

Back in episode 143, we discussed the role of violence in Call of Cthulhu. This inspired Jon Hook to create a mini-supplement called Visceral and Emotional Damage, which does an amazing job of turning trauma into more than a mere bookkeeping exercise. He has released it via the Miskatonic Repository for a very reasonable $2. Jon has also generously offered it free of charge to our Patreon backers. If you sponsor us, check our Patreon feed for details.

Other Stuff

Songs

As well as the usual horror of our songs of praise to new $5 Patreon backers, listeners to the unedited version of this episode can “enjoy” a fresh abomination. Good friend of the Good Friends, Symon Leech, suggested that we introduce the raw recording by singing The Japanese Sandman (YT: “The Japanese Sandman” (Nora Bayes, 1920))

. Mercifully, we only sang one verse of it, although we did have a couple of attempts. If you are a Patreon backer, check your special RSS feed. It waits for you there.

The Good Friends wrap up their investigation of The Dunwich Horror

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

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.

The Good Friends investigate yet more of The Dunwich Horror

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

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.

The Good Friends investigate The Dunwich Horror

We’re back and we’re examining these strange bite marks, boarding up the windows and trying to work out where that damnable smell is coming from. This is the start of our look at Lovecraft’s classic weird tale, The Dunwich Horror. Make yourself comfortable — this mystery is going to take us a few episodes to investigate.

Main Topic

As well as being one of the foundational works of the Cthulhu Mythos, The Dunwich Horror set the template for a thousand Call of Cthulhu scenarios. More than any other Lovecraft story, it presents the kind of actions we might expect to see investigators perform. All right, maybe The Lurking Fear is a better model for the Tommy guns and dynamite school of play, but the point stands.

In this first episode, we look at the setting of Dunwich as described by Lovecraft, digging into some of the history, geography and folklore that inspired it. We also experiment with including our suggestions about what might be used for gaming alongside the synopsis. Please let us know whether this new format works better for you.

News

Filled with enthusiasm for the wonders of the year ahead, we mention a few things that we are looking forward to in 2019. The two that we can link to are Necronomicon 2019 and Contingency, two major conventions that will see at least some of the Good Friends in attendance. Only Matt will be at Contingency, but all three of us are planning the pilgrimage to Providence for Necronomicon. After our wonderful experiences in 2017, all the elder signs in the world couldn’t keep us away.

Speaking of live events, Scott will be appearing at the PodUK convention with the How We Roll crew. We will be conducting a live playthrough of a short Call of Cthulhu scenario before an undoubtedly bemused audience. Dirk the Dice from The Grognard Files podcast will be joining us as a special guest player. The event will take place in Birmingham on the 2nd of February and tickets are still available.

Other Stuff

We spend some time thanking new Patreon backers, although, mercifully, there are no songs in this episode. Before you relax too much, there are songs coming soon. So many songs.

As usual, we share some hand-picked social media feedback and comment on it. Since the inception of the podcast, our main online home has been Google+. Unfortunately, in April, G+ is due to vanish in a puff of poor management. We have been exploring alternatives such as MeWe and Reddit, but we are very open to suggestions. If you know of a suitable platform for searchable, threaded discussions, we would love to hear from you.

That is not dead which eternal can… No, hang on. It’s dead.

We also share a new iTunes review. If you fancy writing one of your own, you will earn our undying gratitude. And when we say undying, we mean it. Our essential saltes shall praise you from their cramped little urns until the idiot chaos blows Earth’s dust away. We would be delighted with a review on any platform from which you might download podcasts, no matter how cryptical and esoteric. If you do post one somewhere obscure, please let us know in case we miss it. Our omniscience is failing with age.

The Thing

The Good Friends of Jackson Elias podcast takes a special look at John Carpenter’s horror/science fiction classic, The Thing. As well as discussing the film itself, we talk about how it might inspire our games of Call of Cthulhu and other tabletop RPGs.

If you are a horror film fan and this is your first visit to the Good Friends, you might be interested in some of the other similar episodes we’ve released:

We’re back and we’re eyeing each other suspiciously, freezing our bollocks off and watching in dismay as our blood sample runs screaming out the door. This is our look at John Carpenter’s 1982 science fiction/horror masterpiece, The Thing.

Main Topic

After years of independent features, The Thing was John Carpenter’s first studio film. It had a decent budget, strong cast and ground-breaking visual effects. After 35 years, it remains an enduring cult favourite. So why was The Thing a critical and commercial failure at the box office when first released?

Let’s poke around inside and find out.

We cut into the entrails of the film, examining its background along with our synopsis. Then, as you might expect, we let it infect us, transforming our games. We offer a few ideas about how The Thing could reshape itself as a Call of Cthulhu scenario. Given the apparent influence of Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness, this isn’t too tricky.

Although surprisingly few Lovecraft stories contain the line, “You gotta be fucking kidding.”

In our discussion, we mention a few related works:

News

We recently released a special episode, recorded live at the first Tabletop Gaming Live event in London. You can hear Mike Mason, Paul and Scott answer questions about all things Cthulhu. Alternatively, if you can stomach our faces, you could watch the video instead. We’d prefer that you didn’t stomach our faces, however. Stomachs are full of acid and that stuff stings.

Stomached face for reference.

Other Stuff

It would be remiss not to remind you that issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome is approaching fast. This is the print-only fanzine that we produce to thank our Patreon backers. Issue 4 features a new Call of Cthulhu scenario from Matt Sanderson and an amazing cover from the equally amazing Evan Dorkin. If you would like to learn more about what lurks within and how you can invite it into your home, please see our recent post.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover

In our social media section, we discuss some of the feedback we received on our recent episode about the joy of failure. In particular, we mention a post from Uncaring Cosmos which really must be read in its entirety. You can find it and the rest of the discussion in our Google+ Community. (Yes, we know that Google has announced the closure of G+. We are currently investigating alternatives.)

Artist’s impression of Google shutting down G+

And we make passing mention of good friend of the Good Friends Frank Delventhal’s terrifying ability to blow up hot water bottles like balloons. We promised a video, so here it is. 

#AOBS2018me on stage with the hot #waterbottle

Posted by Strongman Frank on Saturday, 20 October 2018

Please don’t try this at home. Try it in public so everyone can enjoy the sight of your lungs rupturing like two wet paper bags.