Episode 156: The Yellow Sign

We’re back and we’re looking for the Yellow Sign. It’s probably fallen down the back of the sofa again. Have you found it? It’s tricky to describe, but you’ll know it if you see it. The whole impending doom thing is a bit of a giveaway. Just try not to read any strange plays for now.

Main Topic: The Yellow Sign

After two episodes about Robert W Chambers and The King in Yellow, we’re getting a little more specific. This is an in-depth look at one of the foundational stories of the Carcosa Mythos. Along with “The Repairer of Reputations”, “The Mask” and “In the Court of the Dragon”, “The Yellow Sign” defines the building blocks of Chambers’ most famous creation. It not only expands on the Yellow Sign itself but tells us more of the play and the effect it has on those who read it.

Don’t take our word about the effects. Have a good look at this. You’ll understand soon enough.

A few things came up during our conversation that warrant links, elaboration or correction.

  • Scott struggled to remember a comic having something to do with rarebit. This was, in fact, Winsor McCay’s Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, which first appeared almost 10 years after the publication of The King in Yellow.
  • We mulled over the use of glass-fronted coffins in the Victorian era. Well, they were definitely a thing.
  • This led us to discuss the display of Jeremy Bentham‘s remains at University College London.
“Sod the Yellow Sign. Have you found my head?”

And we promised to link to the short film of The Yellow Sign we found on YouTube. There are three parts to it, so let it play on.

News

Concrete Cow 19

Matt and Paul attended Concrete Cow 19 and ran some Call of Cthulhu and Kult: Divinity Lost. If you missed them, we’ll be at Concrete Cow 19 1/2 on the 14th of September. See you there!

Concrete Cow logo

Other Stuff

Songs

The Yellow Sign is an unwelcome intrusion into the lives of those who find it, bringing madness and destruction. We’re not saying that our songs have the same effect, but… Oh, hang on, that’s exactly what we’re saying. These two new bouts of thanks to Patreon backers are pregnant with premonitions. If they give you prophetic nightmares, please do let us know.

Reviews

We shared a fresh iTunes review from Soren H, which made us very happy. Reviews delight and sustain us. If you feel moved to write one of your own, you will earn our undying gratitude. And when we say “undying”, we mean it. You could chop its head off and bury it at a crossroads at midnight and it would still keep offering thanks from beyond the grave.

Other Feedback

Following our recent mention of Sons of Kryos, DrColossus1 got in contact via Reddit to let us know that Judd Karlman has a new podcast, Daydreaming About Dragons. It’s safe to say that The Good Friends of Jackson Elias wouldn’t exist without Sons of Kryos, so it’s marvellous to see Karlman return to podcasting.

We’re back and we’re punting across the Lake of Hali, taking in the sights. Well, we’re trying to… All these cloud waves spoil the view somewhat. Then again, from what we’ve seen of Carcosa, maybe it’s better that way.

Main Topic: The King in Yellow part 2

This is the continuation of last episode’s discussion of The King in Yellow. Now that we’ve looked at the book, its author and the inspirations behind it, we’re ready to dig in deeper. In particular, we’re picking out the elements that make up the so-called Carcosa Mythos. As we discover, there is very little substance behind these names, which may be part of why they have proved so attractive to gamers. We shall revisit these elements in episode 157, where we explore, in detail, how we might use them in our games.

First, we have to find our dice in all these cloud waves.

In passing, we mention the death mask that formed the basis for Resusci Anne. Scott wrote a short piece about this for the old Unknown Armies website.

The most kissed face in the world, almost entirely post-mortem.

News

Tear Them Apart

Evan Dorkin and Paul Yellovich have started a podcast. Tear Them Apart is all about horror films. It mixes enthusiastic fandom, an artist’s eye and a deep understanding of the mechanics of cinema into an eclectic and funny discussion of the genre. There are only two episodes so far. The first is an introduction, with some background about the hosts’ lifelong love of horror. The second kicks off a short series on giallo, as well as introducing a new segment in which Paul and Evan discuss films they’ve watched recently. Highly recommended!

James and Lloyd Read Indie RPG Blurbs So You Don’t Have To

And speaking of new podcasts… Good friend of the Good Friends James Mullen has teamed up Lloyd Gyan, the unstoppable force of the UK gaming community, to talk about indie RPGs. James and Lloyd Read Indie RPG Blurbs So You Don’t Have To does exactly what the name claims. With over 50 new indie RPGs released every month, it’s hard to know what’s worth your time. Lloyd and James sift through the blurbs, find some worth exploring in more depth, and offer you the benefit of their experience. Informative and fun.

Other Stuff

Songs

Cassilda’s song is enigmatic, hinting at horrors and wonders beyond human comprehension. Our songs, however, are simply incomprehensible. There are two new examples in this episode, offered to thank new Patreon backers. The songs of the Hyades they ain’t…

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.

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.