Main Topic

We’re back and we’re making offerings to twisted idols, praying in inhuman tongues and performing rites passed down through strange aeons. This is our look at the role religion plays in the Cthulhu Mythos. Specifically, we try to make sense of how worship of the Great Old Ones relates to more wholesome beliefs. To do so, we break down some of the common elements of world religions and see how they might map onto Mythos sects. We appreciate that this ventures into some sensitive areas and we try to remain respectful of the beliefs of others.

Mostly.

Our motivation is to try to make the cultists in our Call of Cthulhu games a little more three-dimensional. It’s easy to see a cultist as just a lunatic in a robe, waving a sacrificial dagger and trying to bring about the end of the world. Belief is a lot more complicated than that, however. Thinking about real religions can fill in some gaps in how we present these most common antagonists in our games. It’s very easy to dehumanise cultists, seeing them as little more than Call of Cthulhu‘s answer to orcs. By thinking about why they believe what they do and how they express these beliefs, we might be more inclined to interact with cultists in more interesting ways than just shooting them in the face.

Especially when there are so many other places you could shoot people.

This is the first of a two-part discussion. Next episode, we will build on what we have learned and think about how to make Mythos cults more interesting. We will also brainstorm a few original cults, armed with our new insights.

News

We are almost ready to go to press with issue 3 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the annual fanzine we produce for those lovely people who back us on Patreon. And there is still time for you share in the horror! We will send copies to everyone who is a backer by the end of this year, although if you’re quick, you’ll also get one of our special Christmas cards in the same envelope. If you need any more encouragement, take a look at the gorgeous cover image that Jonathan Wyke has created for us.

And a quick reminder that at least some of us will be at Dragonmeet this weekend. Please track us down and say hello. We’ll leave a scent trail to assist you.

Oh, and we mention the great Fricker Halloween party of 2017. Unfortunately for us, Scott’s ill-advised dalliances with greasepaint and Paul’s unrecognisable octopus costume were captured by Mike Mason. Those of a sensitive disposition may wish to look away now.

We’ll be waiting for you in your nightmares.

Other Stuff

There are new songs in this episode, neither of which are ever likely to feature on Songs of Praise. We have had several new Patreon backers recently, possibly because of the imminent Blasphemous Tome. Once again, this means that we have built up a small backlog of people to sing to. Time constraints and common human decency mean that we limit ourselves to two songs per episode. If you are still waiting for your aural assault, it shouldn’t be too long now.

We’re back and we’re getting some of that old-time religion. When we say old-time, we mean pre-Christian. Or maybe we mean dating back to 1917. It can be so hard to tell sometimes. Our subject for this episode is the god Dagon, who had a long history before Lovecraft got ahold of him, so means different things to different people.

Part man, part fish, part wifi repeater.

Our discussion takes us from Dagon’s origins, through his appearances in the Old Testament, on to his rebirth in fiction as the god of the Deep Ones, and finally to his place in popular culture and gaming. While Dagon may not be the only real-world deity Lovecraft used, this reinvention is bolder and more iconic than that of Nodens, Bast or Hypnos.

Also, none of their priests got to wear fish on their heads.

This episode is not just a history lesson. We also talk about how we might use Dagon in our games, finding more interesting angles than “big stompy Deep One”.  The fact that Dagon is so sketchily defined in Call of Cthulhu and Lovecraftian fiction gives our imaginations plenty to space to run free.

And there are few spaces wider than the ocean depths.

If our look at Dagon proves popular, we plan to return to this format and examine other Mythos deities in future episodes. Our recent discussion of The Seven Geases reminded us how much some of these gods have changed between their first appearances in fiction and their entries in the Call of Cthulhu rules. By digging into their histories, we hope we can find new and interesting ways of using them in our games.

Although even we would struggle to make them this different.

The Deep Ones of Innsmouth croak out warbling, blasphemous hymns to their benefactors, and who are we to defy tradition? We have a number of new Patreon backers to sing to, possibly because of the rapidly approaching cut-off for issue 2 of the Blasphemous Tome. Only two of the songs are in this episode, however. You can have too much of a good thing, or whatever it is we do. There will be more song in episode 99.

“Now flap your gill slits and get some vibrato going…”

In the news segment, we make mention of Chaosium’s recent release of our Pulp Cthulhu campaign, The Two-Headed Serpent. This is a huge event for us. We spent three years putting this beast together and we are thrilled to unleash it upon the world.

We also mention the current Kickstarter campaign for Stygian Fox’s new Call of Cthulhu scenario anthology, Fear’s Sharp Little Needles. Matt and Scott both have scenarios in this book, and we have been delighted with the progress we’ve seen on the project as a whole. The Kickstarter has funded and is busy racking up stretch goals. The campaign will wrap up at the end of February, so act soon if you want to back it!

There was a major omission in the show notes for episode 91. During the episode, we discussed the use of ambient music to build atmosphere in games. I recommended the music of Brian Lavelle and promised to link to his Bandcamp site. I then forgot to do so when writing the notes. Apologies for that! You can find his work here.

night-ocean

Being old and out of touch with such things, I am not sure which musical genre would best describe Lavelle’s work. He describes himself as a Scottish sound artist, which leaves the field pretty open. His music is electronic and ambient, often unsettling without being overpowering. Most of the tracks I’ve heard would make perfect background music for sessions of Call of Cthulhu or any other horror game. The Night Ocean and his most recent release, Rune-Filled Eyes, strike me as especially well suited for this.

rune-filled-eyes

All of Lavelle’s tracks can be streamed from his Bandcamp site, allowing you to try them before committing any money. If you do decide to buy, the downloads are priced extremely reasonably. Listeners from overseas will also doubtless benefit from the weak British Pound!

Episode070

We’re back, and we’re wrapping up our discussion of H P Lovecraft’s eerie mix of the Gothic and the cosmic, The Colour Out of Space. This time we’re looking at various adaptations, as well as deciding what we would steal for our games (the answer is almost everything — we’re shameless).

die farbe 1

Leaving little more than a spent husk behind…

In particular, we talk about the various film versions:

We also discuss a few related films and TV programmes:

And we mention the H P Lovecraft Historical Society‘s Dark Adventure Radio Theatre performance of The Colour Out of Space. Unfortunately none of us have listened to it yet, but if it’s up to the standards of their other adaptations, it should be something special!

We round things off with an interview with Huan Vu, director of Die Farbe. His is the most faithful adaptation of The Colour Out of Space so far, and certainly the one we all enjoyed most. Huan tells us a little about the making of the film, his background in gaming, the popularity of Call of Cthulhu in Germany, and his current project, a Lovecraftian feature film called The Dreamlands. This latest production is largely crowdfunded, and Huan is still looking for backers. If you are interested, or simply want to learn more about the film, take a look at the production website.

This is the final episode recorded on our trusty old Yeti microphone (although there are two older episodes in the can, waiting for the release of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition).  It has served us well, but we have new microphones now, thanks to our generous Patreon backers, and the sound improvement next week should be marked. We conducted the interview in this episode over Skype, however, and it sounds like I’m sitting in a wind tunnel. Apologies for that!

blue yeti

Fare ye well, old friend!

Oh, and we make passing mention of a short and bitter RPG that I wrote a few years ago, titled We Call the Police. I’ve been threatening to turn this into something more substantial for a while, possible using shouting, whining and pouting as resolution mechanics. Perhaps one day, when I hate the world enough…