Episode 178: A Warning to the Curious

We’re back and we’re heading off to the seaside. People might tell you that Suffolk can be bleak at this time of year, but what do they know? There’s plenty to enjoy here. The hotel is pleasant enough, although we’re not sure why they gave us a private sitting room. Our shoes have never looked so shiny thanks to the boots and all his elbow grease. That nice old man at the curiosity shop keeps showing us wonderful things that belonged to dead people. And while the sand is too fine for making sandcastles, it’s nice and soft for digging. Everything here is rather idyllic. If it weren’t for the hideous ghost following us and the sense of impending doom, this would be the best holiday ever. Four stars on TripAdvisor.

Main Topic: A Warning to the Curious

While we’ve wrapped up our discussion of ghosts, we haven’t quite left the spectral world behind yet. Or maybe it refuses to leave us alone. Once these spectres set their sights on you, they can prove vexingly dogged. We’re going to keep away from any Martello towers, just to be safe.

Almost as frightening to us as they were to Napoleon.

This episode explores M R James’ classic English ghost story, “A Warning to the Curious”. England has an enduring love for ghost stories, and James is the towering figure in the field. We spend some time talking about the man himself and how his work has retained its appeal. Then we go digging for treasure in one of his best-known tales, looking for inspiration for our Call of Cthulhu games. We’re sure everything will be fine.

See? The locals are even keeping a lookout for us.

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

The man himself

News

Ain’t Slayed Nobody

Paul recommends Ain’t Slayed Nobody, a relatively new Call of Cthulhu actual play podcast focusing on Down Darker Trails. They are up to three episodes now and may branch out into other Cthulhu settings in subsequent shows.

One Cut of the Dead on Tear Them Apart

Our good friends Evan Dorkin and Paul Yellovich at the Tear Them Apart podcast recently released an episode about the marvellous Japanese horror film, One Cut of the Dead. You should seek this out even if you have no interest in found-footage or zombie films (especially if you don’t). It is full of surprises and pure joy. You should also go into it with as foreknowledge as possible of what you are about to see. And then you should listen to the Tear Them Apart episode about it.

Voluminous: The Letters of H P Lovecraft

And we have yet another newish podcast to recommend: Voluminous. Our good friends at the H P Lovecraft Historical Society are discussing Lovecraft’s copious correspondence, with each episode focusing on a single letter. And, as Paul mentions, who could be a better choice to present such a podcast?

We’re back and we’re being haunted by all the material we couldn’t fit into the last episode. Happily, we have managed to lay it to rest by discussing it in this second instalment. At least we hope we have. Spectral podcasts are as difficult to exorcise as earworms. We know of only one way of getting such things out of our heads.

A good trepanning can sort out most of life’s problems, not to mention the problem of life itself.

Main Topic: Ghosts in Call of Cthulhu part 2

This is the second of two episodes looking at ghosts and how they tie into Call of Cthulhu. The first focused on ghost stories and folklore. This time, we discuss how (and if) ghosts might fit into Call of Cthulhu and the wider Cthulhu Mythos.

While Lovecraft wrote a handful of tales which might be considered ghost stories, these were usually unrelated to his Mythos fiction. We debate whether it is reasonable to draw all of Lovecraft’s work into our own interpretations of the Mythos, regardless of Lovecraft’s intent. Building on that, we discuss which canon elements of the Mythos might serve as substitutes for ghosts in a more purist game. Mostly, however, we just argue about stuff. You know the drill.

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

When is a ghost not a ghost?
Pepper’s ghost terrifying a theatre audience in Victorian London

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. We will be there and we would love to see you!

Concrete Cow logo

Scott on the RPG Heroes Podcast

Scott recently appeared as a guest on the relatively new podcast, RPG Heroes. As the name implies, the main subject is who the guest’s heroes are in the world of RPGs. Klaas also talked to Scott about building atmosphere in horror games and whether Call of Cthulhu scenarios need to be investigations.

Paul on The Grognard Files Podcast

Paul has also been guesting on other podcasts. The recent interview he recorded with Dirk the Dice at Grogmeet 2019 for The Grognard Files is now available for your ears to enjoy.

We’re back and we’re getting the willies. Has anyone ever used that phrase and not received a derisive response? But, as we’ve discussed before, laughter is often a way of protecting ourselves against fear. And what is scarier than a good ghost story?

Maybe a terrifying apparition like this.

Main Topic: Ghosts in Call of Cthulhu part 1

This is the first of two episodes looking at ghosts and how they tie into Call of Cthulhu. Our original plan was to do it all in a single episode, but we talked too much.

As a result, this first part is largely us exploring what we think ghosts might be, as well as discussing what we do and don’t like in a ghost story. If you think the answer is “ghosts”, you might be surprised.

Next episode, we shall dig more into how we’d use ghosts in our games, and whether ghosts even belong in Call of Cthulhu.

Getting rid of ghosts can prove a nuisance, so maybe best leave them there.

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

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

Deadlight and Other Dark Turns

The print edition of Dead Light and Other Dark Turns is due out shortly. This classic-era Call of Cthulhu anthology features Alan Bligh’s much-loved “Dead Light”, along with a new scenario, “Saturnine Chalice”, by our very own Matt Sanderson.

Cthulhu Idol Charity Auction

Good friend of the Good Friends, David Kirkby, is auctioning another blasphemous sculpture to raise money for charity. After the success of his earlier Pad’thulhu auction, he’s now selling a unique, hand-painted idol of Cthulhu. The money raised will be split between Cancer Research UK and the firefighting efforts in Australia.

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.

We’re back and we’re cracking open the books, trying to ignore the strange wails they issue as we do so. The words probably shouldn’t scurry across the page like that. Maybe we’re lucky and they’re just bookworms. Whatever they are, we wish they would stop whispering such horrible things.

In practice, most bookworms simply ask for directions to Matt’s house.

Main Topic: Mythos Tomes

It’s taken a long time but we’ve finally tackled one of the most important topics in Call of Cthulhu: Mythos tomes. Hell, our website takes its name from the most famous one of all.

Although maybe not quite this edition.

We spend a little time talking about how we might use Mythos tomes in our Call of Cthulhu games, how they work mechanically and what new and interesting tomes we might create. Matt’s shrieks of anguish as we discuss players who burn eldritch texts are worth the price of admission on their own.

Links

Some of the things we mention in this episode include:

And you thought the SAN loss from the Necronomicon was bad…

News

“Number 22” Playtest

Matt briefly discusses his recent playtest of his scenario, “Number 22”, as found in the new issue of The Blasphemous Tome. We offer places in playtests like this to our Patreon backers first of all. If you are a backer, do check your feed or email for announcements such as this one.

Flotsam & Jetsam Organised Play Campaign

The final part of the Flotsam & Jetsam organised play campaign for Call of Cthulhu is due out less than a week after this episode. If you want to give it a try, simply sign up for the Cult of Chaos programme. You can even earn some cool rewards for doing so!

The Blasphemous Tome issue 5

Issue 5 of The Blasphemous Tome is now in the post, but there is still time to secure your copy if you act quickly. All you need to do is back us on Patreon before the end of the year.

The Tome is the print-only fanzine we produce exclusively for our Patreon backers. This issue features a new scenario for Call of Cthulhu, called “Number 22”, written by very our own Matt Sanderson. You will also find plenty of other juicy articles, stories and artwork, including many contributions from our wonderful listeners!

Other Stuff

Songs

As part of this retooling, we are also discontinuing the songs we sing to new Patreon backers. This is probably an act of mercy. While they’ve been fun to do, the joke is wearing thin. Thank you to everyone we’ve sung to and we hope the mental scars fade with time!

You will find a couple of our final abominations in this episode. Be warned.