We’re back and we’re ready to start at the beginning. No, this doesn’t mean that we’re recycling episode 1. Instead, we are trying something a bit new. This episode is the first of three linked discussions in which we talk about structuring roleplaying games. Like stories, RPG one-shots and campaigns have beginnings, middles and ends. Each part requires different tools and techniques to make them come alive.


Although you can never go wrong with electricity.

Appropriately enough, we are starting with beginnings. The next two episodes will cover middles and ends, respectively. We thought about being all avant-garde and jumbling them up, but we figured we’re difficult enough to follow already. This episode delves into the techniques we use to prepare for a game, how we work with the players to set everything up and some different ways we actually start the game itself.


Paul blows the ancient horn of K’ah R’bord to mark the start of the game.

In the intro, we mention a couple of current Kickstarter campaigns. There is a new edition of Monsterhearts, the game of teenage monsters and their messy lives. We discussed it back in episode 32. The Kickstarter campaign has three weeks to go at the time of posting and is already funded.


Much closer to completion is the Kickstarter campaign for Operation Unfathomable. We mentioned on our recent episode about The Seven Geases how much fun it would be to play a game where we wander about having chats with all these ancient and inhuman gods. Well, apparently this game exists! Operation Unfathomable is a campaign setting for Swords & Wizardry (which means it will work with most OSR games) that mixes the weirdness of Clark Ashton Smith’s Hyperborea with old-school gonzo approach of Gygax. It looks like a hell of a lot of fun. You only have two days left to back it at the time of posting, so be quick!


As Paul also mentions in the intro, I was pounced upon at his recent Halloween party. Our friend Vicky, in particular, did things to my beard and hair. Paul promised evidence of this. He really is far, far too kind. Here is a photograph taken by our good friend Oli Palmer.


Not pictured: Scott’s dignity.

And, finally, we should warn you that there is singing in this episode. We have a new Patreon backer at the $5 level, which means we have sung his praises. This particular song is a strange one even for us. We used tubes to make it. They did nothing to mask the horror.

Edit: I mentioned Brian Lavelle’s superb ambient music in the episode but forgot to include any information about it in these show notes. You can listen to and buy Brian’s work via his Bandcamp site. I have posted a bit more in an addendum to these notes.


We’re back… In fact, we’re all the way back to May of 2015. Around a year ago, when we believed the print release of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition was imminent, we spent a day chatting with Mike Mason about how 7th edition had come about, on the assumption we would release the discussion within a month or two. The events that followed now make this seem a little ill-informed.

Mike and Paul at Gencon

Paul and Mike demonstrate how to resolve grapples without using the resistance table

Obviously a lot has changed in the last year, including the shipping dates of the books, the management of Chaosium and all our recording equipment. Our decision to hold off the release of this discussion until the books were in backers’ hands means that some of the references are dated.  Still, the discussion is relevant, and it only seemed right to wait.

Call of Cthulhu

Hey, if Cthulhu can wait for strange aeons, we can manage a year or so.

But the stars are right at last. Backers all over the world have reported strange things turning up on their doorsteps, and so far no one has been shot in the head. In fact, it seemed like everyone was getting their books except for Paul, Matt and Me. We’ve spent the past couple of months following ships via satellite, reading Kickstarter updates and using the DPD website to watch a nice man from named Peter drive around Buckinghamshire. Happily, they turned up yesterday, as if summoned by the imminent release of this episode.

7th ed books

Now there’s the small matter of finding shelf space for them all.

Being old recordings, these are missing some features like the new Ask Jackson segment and shout-outs to our Patreon backers. These will resume as of episode 80, when we make our way back to 2016. Until then, thank you to everyone who has backed us or raised their pledge level recently! We have some singing to do.