Episode 283: The Ocean in Call of Cthulhu

We’re back and we’re enjoying a nice seaside holiday. Of course, when most people talk about the seaside, they mean the bit that’s on land. Somehow, we’ve ended up in the wetter part. Maybe that’s more technically landside. Human languages are messy things. Regardless, it’s everything we could have asked for: cold, murky, and filled with terrifying creatures. If Lovecraft taught us anything, however, it’s that this nice section of seabed could be forced to the surface at any moment. We’ll just have to enjoy its benthic charms while we can.

Main Topic: The Ocean in Call of Cthulhu

The ocean and its horrors play a huge role in Lovecraft’s fiction and, by extension, in Call of Cthulhu. With entities such as Cthulhu, Dagon and the Deep Ones, and locations like R’lyeh and Y’ha-nthlei, Lovecraft placed many of his most memorable creations deep below the waves. So how can we make use of the ocean in Call of Cthulhu? What inspiration can we take from nature and folklore? And what memorable scenarios are there that use the ocean as their setting?

Things we mention in this episode include:

The Ocean in Lovecraft

Inspirations from Nature and Folklore

A mermaid’s purse

The Ocean in Call of Cthulhu

News

Paul at Chaosium Con 2024

Paul will be attending Chaosium Con 2024 in Michigan between 18-24 April. Do stop by the Chaosium stand and say hi. There will also be a large contingent from Ain’t Slayed Nobody attending, so please say howdy to them too.

We’re back and we’re abluting with trepidation. It used to be that taking a shower was relaxing. We could just pull that curtain closed and enjoy the jets of warm, cleansing water. Since watching Psycho, however, we can’t help but keep one eye open while showering. That wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t keep getting shampoo in it. Still, it probably beats the alternative.

psycho film poster

Main Topic: Psycho

We’re following our recent discussion of psychological horror by exploring one of the defining works of the genre. It’s no exaggeration to say that Psycho transformed horror, in both cinema and fiction, pretty much creating a new subgenre. It is one of the most imitated films of all time, spawning countless pastiches, parodies, and blatant rip-offs. But what is it that makes Psycho such an enduring favourite, even 65 years on? Why does it still make us afraid to draw the shower curtain? And which aspects of it have not aged so well?

Be warned that we spoil the hell out of the film. If you are one of those vanishingly rare people who have managed to avoid spoilers until now, we beseech you to watch Psycho before listening to this episode. Even so, its twists and turns have become so much a part of popular culture that they may still be familiar.

As well as digging into Hitchcock’s film, we also touch upon Robert Bloch’s original novel, and the many sequels each birthed. And, as ever, we look for aspects that might influence our games.

psycho book cover

Things we mention in this episode include:

News

A Weekend With Good Friends

A Weekend With Good Friends is about to begin!

This is the online gaming convention organised by our lovely listeners, taking place on the Good Friends Discord server between 1-3 March 2024.

Don’t worry if you missed the game signups. There will be pickup games running throughout the weekend. You can also sign up to be notified if anyone drops out of a prebooked game, leaving their space free.

There will be a number of panels throughout the weekend. discussing different aspects of horror gaming. Check our Discord server for the latest news.

We hope to see you there!

A Weekend With Good Friends logo

Arkham Book Released

The new edition of the Arkham sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu is now available in PDF, with the print edition following shortly. This is a heavily revised version, featuring new material by Arkham Gazette mastermind, Bret Kramer.

We’re back and we’re rolling to disbelieve. Honestly, the world around us just becomes weirder and weirder with every passing year. A lot of this is probably down to age, but we can’t discount some kind of breakdown of objective reality, right? Well, that’s assuming there was ever such a thing as objective reality. In order to determine this, we’d need to refer to objective sources, and then we’ll only get lost in recursion again. Compared such sophistry, all those sanity-blasting delusions in Call of Cthulhu feel like light relief.

Main Topic: Delusions in Call of Cthulhu

We thought we’d follow up last episode’s exploration of psychological horror by looking at the role of delusions in Call of Cthulhu. Psychological horror is filled with characters trapped in states of delusion, unable to tell what is real anymore. The game reflects this genre trope in its mechanics, and we delve into how it all works. We also discuss how such fictional delusions relate to real mental illness, what inspiration we might take from media, and just how much roleplaying we really want to see in our roleplaying games.

Fight Club (1999) film poster

Things we mention in this episode include:

Mr Robot poster

News

A Weekend With Good Friends

Player signups are about to open for A Weekend With Good Friends and will remain so until the end of day on the 22nd of February.

A Weekend With Good Friends is the online gaming convention organised by our lovely listeners, taking place on the Good Friends Discord server between 1-3 March 2024.

If you are unable to commit to running or playing a game in advance, there will be pickup games running throughout the weekend.

There will also be a number of panels about different aspects of horror gaming. Details of these will be finalised within the next few days, so do check our Discord server for the latest news.

Key dates are:

  • Thursday 15th February – Thursday 22nd February – Player signups
  • Monday 26th February – Lottery results announced
  • Friday 1st March – Sunday 3rd March – A Weekend With Good Friends

We hope to see you there!

A Weekend With Good Friends logo

We’re back and we’re doubting ourselves. Well, that’s assuming we have any selves to doubt. Once you start plumbing the dark recesses of psychological horror, you soon realise that you can’t take anything for granted. Objective reality is a joke and identity is just a lie we tell ourselves. If we’re not careful, we’ll narrate ourselves out of existence.

Main Topic: Psychological Horror in Call of Cthulhu

Once again, we’re examining a subgenre of horror, trying to pick out the main tropes and work out how they might influence our games of Call of Cthulhu. In previous episodes, we’ve turned our attention to ghost stories, body horror, survival horror, cosmic horror and Gothic horror. Now it’s the turn of psychological horror to lie on the analyst’s couch and tell us its darkest secrets.

Things we mention in this episode include:

News

A Weekend With Good Friends

GM signups are now open for A Weekend With Good Friends and will remain so until the end of day on the 8th of February. There is always plenty of demand, so you should be guaranteed players if you submit any games.

A Weekend With Good Friends is the online gaming convention organised by our lovely listeners, taking place on the Good Friends Discord server between 1-3 March 2024.

Key dates are:

We hope to see you there!

A Weekend With Good Friends logo

Scott on Unconventional GMs

Scott recently ran a game of Dead of Night for the Unconventional GMs YouTube channel. As well as channel regulars Guy Milner and Gaz Bowerbank, the players were Tasha from the Idearoll Channel, and Andrew Kenrick, author of Dead of Night. They played a cut-down version of Scott’s convention scenario “Grave Danger”, following the misadventures of a tribe of mild-mannered ghouls whose peaceful graveyard faces redevelopment into a retail park.

Gaz has also just released “Burning Desire”, a brand new scenario for Call of Cthulhu.

We’re back and we’re going through our mailbag again. It becomes a lot more manageable once we sift out the missives written in Aklo and other inhuman tongues. We’re not saying that what’s left is any less sanity-blasting, but at least we can read it aloud without imperilling the space-time continuum.

Main Topic: The Ghost of Listener Suggestions

Back in late 2022, we used Discord and Twitter to ask our listeners what kinds of things they’d like to hear us discuss. The response was overwhelming and we ended up with a massive list of possible topics. Although these suggestions were exceptional, there are a good number we’d struggle to turn into complete episodes. Rather than ignore these, we’ve decided to go through the replies and see what we can address succinctly.

We started going through these suggestions in a few earlier episodes, but we barely scratched the surface. Here, we delve into several more topics, including Nope, UFO abductions in horror, recommendations of Mythos fiction, different modes of horror GMing, and what constitutes a cheap scare.

Thank you to James Mullen, Abe Hughes, Victor and Ryan Finn for the topics we discuss in this episode.

Please do let us know if you have any suggestions of your own.

Things we mention in this episode include:

New Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos

News

The Lengian Job with Pretending to be People on Ain’t Slayed Nobody

Ain’t Slayed Nobody have released the first episode of The Lengian Job, a crossover with Pretending To Be People. This is a zany Pulp Cthulhu adventure, written and run by our own Scott Dorward. It will run to six episodes, each more chaotic than the last.

Plague of Fools on Grizzly Peaks Radio

Scott also ran a very different type of game for Grizzly Peaks Radio, which will creep its way onto your podcast feed on the 26th of January. “Plague of Fools” is an improvised Gothic horror game run using Cthulhu Dark, featuring the Old Farts line-up of Andy, Jen, Spencer and Barney. This one goes fairly dark, but not without moments of cheerful absurdity.

Paul Interviewed on Tabletop and Beyond

Paul was recently interviewed by Justin and Dan on Tabletop and Beyond. They talked about about Adding Fear into RPGs.

A Weekend With Good Friends

We are delighted to announce that the next Weekend With Good Friends is scheduled to start on the 1st of March 2024. This is of course the online gaming convention organised by our lovely listeners, taking place on the Good Friends Discord server.

Key dates are:

  • Thursday 25th January – Thursday 8th February – GM signups
  • Thursday 15th February – Thursday 22nd February – Player signups
  • Monday 26th February – Lottery results announced
  • Friday 1st March – Sunday 3rd March – A Weekend With Good Friends

We hope to see you there!

A Weekend With Good Friends logo