Main Topic: The Good Friends keep it real

We’re back and we’re trying to maintain our grasp on reality. This is tenuous at the best of times, and all this conflation with imagination is doing it no favours. In this episode, when we say “reality”, we mean the reality of the game world we’re playing in. Is that even a reasonable term to use when talking about a setting filled with malevolent alien creatures from beyond space and time?

You expect me to believe in a world populated by entities from forgotten times, willing to destroy entire nations for their own selfish ends? Pshaw!

This episode is our attempt to understand what makes a game setting feel real. We looked at the role of game mechanics last episode, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. In order for players to buy into a game, they generally have to find the setting plausible. How does this apply to RPGs set in worlds of fantasy, science fiction or weird horror? And what aspects of historical accuracy make or break a game?

News

Google+ Shutdown

In the news segment, we offer another reminder that our Google+ community is going away on the 2nd of April. To be fair, all of G+ is shutting down then, but we’re focusing on the important stuff. You can still find us on Discord, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Patreon and under your bed at night.


PodUK

Scott shares his experiences at PodUK, where he recorded a live episode with How We Roll and Dirk the Dice from The Grognard Files. We released the recording of our playthrough of Leigh Carr’s marvellous scenario “The Necropolis” as a special episode. There were a number of other fine podcasts there, including Orphans, Wooden Overcoats, Victoriocity, Death in Ice Valley and Flintlocks & Fireballs. Why not put some of them in your ears?

And we offer another reminder that we are working on issue 4 1/2 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the digital sibling to our print-only fanzine, destined to travel across the digital ghoul winds to our Patreon backers this summer.

Other Stuff

Raw Episodes

We are still releasing the raw versions of new episodes on our Patreon RSS feed. Episode 152’s unedited version is especially long as it also includes our first attempt at talking about this topic. The two takes are very different, and while we were happier with the second, the first has some good stuff in it. You can also find our Weird Whisperings on the Patreon RSS feed. These are the occasional recordings we make of some of the weird tales we’ve discussed.

Songs

There are two songs in this episode. Suspending your disbelief won’t save you. These are, as ever, our hideous method of thanking new $5 Patreon backers. We still have a few more of you to thank, but only dare to record two songs per episode. I’m sure you can understand why. If your song has yet to find you, it will soon. Some things are shudderingly inevitable.

We’re back with something a little different. For a start, when we say “we”, we mean Scott, who recently recorded this live game of Call of Cthulhu with the How We Roll podcast. Sadly, Matt and Paul were unable to join us. This is the first time we’ve put out an actual play recording as part of The Good Friends feed and we hope you like it! We are releasing this in conjunction with How We Roll and The Grognard Files.

The game took place at PodUK 2019, in Birmingham, back at the start of February. This was the first dedicated podcasting convention to take place in the UK and it was rather wonderful.

As well as Joe, Eoghan, Kuran and David from How We Roll, we were joined by Dirk the Dice from The Grognard Files podcast. None of us had ever gamed in front of a live audience before, so we didn’t quite know what to expect. This was all the more nerve-racking, as we were the only gaming-related podcast on the roster. Happily, our event went down well. A few non-gamers mentioned afterwards how much they’d enjoyed it, even if they weren’t entirely sure what we were doing.

We played Leigh Carr’s excellent demo scenario, The Necropolis. This is a perfect game to play in a tight time slot. It involves a doomed archaeological dig in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings in 1924. The premise is simple enough that players can engage with it immediately. We recommend it highly to any Keepers looking to lure new Cthulhu players into our eerie little hobby. You can download it free of charge if you join The Cult of Chaos organised play programme.

Thank you very much to everyone who came along to the recording and to the meet-and-greet afterwards, including the crew of the Flintlocks and Fireballs podcast. It was lovely to get to talk to so many of you. Let’s hope this all happens again next year!

Dragonmeet 2018 Seminar

We’re back and we’re once again locked in battle with our good friends Baz and Gaz from The Smart Party. For the first time since 2015, we managed to arrange a joint seminar at Dragonmeet. Once again, we chose to make it a debate. This time the topic was “Are all RPGs simply customised versions of D&D?” Obviously, the answer is “no”, but we still found ourselves invited to prove this.

Unfortunately, Scott fell ill shortly before Dragonmeet and was unable to attend. We tagged Mike Mason in as a substitute Dorward, and he took on the role of moderator. This freed Paul up to be partisan. As for how that went… well, you’ll just have to listen to find out.

Thank you to everyone who attended and who asked some great questions. And many thanks to Joerg Sterner for sharing his photograph of the panel.

Call of Cthulhu for Beginners

We’re back at the beginning, where we started our grim journeys many years ago. Looking at our grey hair and wizened features, it’s difficult to imagine that we were ever young. Yet here were are, trying to remember what it was like to start playing Call of Cthulhu. This would be so much easier if we were able to literally cast our minds back through time. Does anyone have a number for the Yithians?

Main Topic 

Call of Cthulhu‘s position as one of the most popular tabletop RPGs means that it may be many people’s first game. Even if you have played something like Dungeons & Dragons before, Call of Cthulhu is different enough to warrant an introduction. So, after almost 150 episodes, we thought it was time to help people get into thiCall of Cthulhu thing.

Goal number 1: don’t let this chap eat you.

We offer some tips on Call of Cthulhu for beginners, both players and Keepers of Arcane Lore. Hell, we even explain that “Keeper of Arcane Lore” is Call of Cthulhu‘s eccentric way of describing a game master or GM. We also suggest some books and other resources to help set you on your path into darkness.

Between us, we’ve been playing Call of Cthulhu for around 90 years. This makes it tricky to remember what it was like to be a beginner. Luckily, we had some help for this episode. Lucy Fricker, Paul’s wife, recently ran her first game, so we asked her how she prepared her move to the other side of the GM’s screen. 

Although, sadly, that does mean not being able to see the artwork on the front of the screen.

And speaking of guests, we have a short interview with Mike Mason, line editor for Call of Cthulhu. Mike offers us some insight into the new Call of Cthulhu Starter Set. This is a new boxed set designed to ease fledgling Keepers into running the game.

News

All three of us plan to be at Dragonmeet in London this Saturday (the 1st of December). We shall spend most of the day in the podcast zone, talking to anyone who will let us. At 11 AM, we will take a break for a joint seminar with our good friends Baz and Gaz from the Smart Party. And at 2-3 PM, you can find Paul and Scott on the Chaosium stall, signing copies of Masks of Nyarlathotep alongside Mike Mason and Lynne Hardy. We can be talked into signing other things as well, within the bounds of decorum.

As you might have inferred from that last sentence, Masks of Nyarlathotep is now shipping worldwide. Our contributors’ copies turned up last week and they are massive! It’s going to be a toss-up whether this edition will be responsible for the deaths of more investigators or trees.

Paul also mentions his recent trip to Austria, where he met one of our listeners, Joerg Sterner. As Paul discovered, Joerg is the co-owner of Planet Harry, a games shop in Vienna. Paul completely failed to ask why it is called Planet Harry. We hope to rectify this when we see Joerg at Dragonmeet.

Other Stuff

Issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome is now creeping across the globe, spreading madness and dismay. This is the print fanzine we create to thank all the lovely people who back us on Patreon. There is still time to snap up a copy for yourself. All you need to do is back us on Patreon by the end of the year.

350 little harbingers of madness safely tucked into envelopes.

The other thing we do for some of our Patreon backers is sing to them. This episode’s song is something rather special, however. A little while back, we had an iTunes review from Wilson MacGyver. He wrote about the small role listening to the podcast played in his wife’s cancer treatments. After reading this, we knew we’d need to set aside an entire segment to talk about their story. When Wilson backed us at the $5 level and made a special request for the song, we built the segment around that. Thank you again, Wilson, for sharing your and Priscilla Meredith’s experience with us all.  

Masks of Nyarlathotep part 2

Masks of Nyarlathotep part 2

Would you like a peek behind the new Masks of Nyarlathotep? After last episode‘s spoiler-free discussion of the classic campaign, this time we’re revealing all. Mike Mason and Lynne Hardy from Chaosium join Paul Fricker and Scott Dorward for an extended chat. This means we have the full team responsible for the revision offering insights into what to expect from the new Masks of Nyarlathotep.

Main Topic

Unfortunately, Matt wasn’t able to join us for the main discussion. Sure, having a day job assures him a steady income and plenty of money to spend on plush abominations, but we freelancers get to talk about games during working hours. It seems like a fair trade-off. We managed to record some additional segments with him, however, in which he discusses his own experiences with the campaign.

Masks of Nyarlathotep cover

News

Appropriately enough, our good friends at the How We Roll Podcast are preparing to play the new Peru chapter of Masks of Nyarlathotep. They have asked Scott to run it for them, as he wrote it, and it would have been rude to say no. The recording should happen in August, with episodes appearing later in the year. Watch this space for more details.

How We Roll podcast

And speaking of How We Roll, they are currently releasing their recording of Scott’s scenario Bleak Prospect, from Nameless Horrors. This is a particularly gruesome game and the crew have done a great job of bringing it to skin-crawling life.

Since we recorded this episode, we have learnt that The Two-Headed Serpent has made the ENnie shortlist for Best Adventure. Paul has put together a short insert and slipped it into the news segment. ENnies voting opens on the 11th of July and closes at midnight EDT on the 21st of July. We would be delighted if you voted for our ophidian baby or any of the fine Call of Cthulhu products from our good friends at Chaosium.

Other Stuff

Wherever a cult of Nyarlathotep gathers, one expects to witness blasphemies. There will be blood sacrifices, orgiastic rites and, of course, chants in alien languages that make the air itself bleed. This episode is a little light on the first two, but we do sing some hellish praises. It’s been a while since we had a new $5 Patreon backer to thank, so maybe your nightmares have subsided. We only hope that the psychic wounds we inflict are suitable offerings to our dark master.

Patreon

And it’s not only cults who lurk in the dark places of the world, discussing secrets that would break saner minds. We have a lively Google+ community where listeners have offered thoughts on our episode about subterranean spaces in Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu. Please, come and join us down here in the dark. The echo isn’t too bad once you get used to it and, if you really try, you can ignore the nibbling on your ankle.