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.

Hellraiser

We’re back and we have such sights to show you. Or tell you. Can you really tell a sight? You can tell of it, but does that really convey the same visceral impact? This is all getting rather tortuous, appropriately enough. Regardless of which orifices you use to receive us, we are here to tell you all about Clive Barker’s 1987 horror film, Hellraiser. We discussed two other Barker films — Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions — back in episode 68, but Hellraiser was where it all started. Sort of.

Or it might have started with a few drops of spilt blood.

Main Topic: Hellraiser

While Barker had made two short films — Salomé and The Forbidden — and written two largely forgettable features — Underworld and Rawhead RexHellraiser was his first major outing as a film director. On the back of Barker’s soaring reputation as a writer, Hellraiser was touted as the future of horror. While this is pretty standard hype, the film has remained an enduring favourite for 30 years. It also spawned an enduring franchise and established Pinhead as a horror icon.

Although if he agrees with Barker’s opinions on his name, calling him “Pinhead” will only make your torment worse.

Hellraiser has grown into an ever-expanding mythology, spanning 9 films, a comic series and several books. We focus on the first film, for now, pretending the rest of the canon doesn’t exist. That said, we make a few comparisons to the source novella, The Hellbound Heart, also written by Barker. There is a great deal to be said about the larger mythos of the Cenobites and their attendant horrors, but it is too much to fit in a single episode. If you would like us to do a follow-up, please let us know. You can use the Contact Us form or Social Media links on this site to do so.

Or if you solve the right puzzle box, we will come to you.

Of course, we also sink our analytical hooks into the film, tearing out great, bloody chunks of gaming meat. Hellraiser was one of the major inspirations for Kult, which we discussed way back in episode 31. Here, however, we focus more on what we can steal for our Call of Cthulhu games.

The Cenobites aren’t the only entities that wish to take you beyond the limits of human experience.

Necronomicon

We’re not long back from the Necronomicon convention, where we had a wonderful time. There is so much to say about it that we shall have to record a special episode. Keep an eye out in your feed for that as well as recordings of the seminars on which we appeared. You can already download our joint episode with our good friends at the Miskatonic University Podcast. We have also released some short videos of our visit to Providence, and Paul posted a whole bunch of photos to our Twitter feed.

We didn’t spend all our time in the pub, not that the photographic evidence supports this.

Speaking of Necronomicon, Paul asked a number of Lovecraftian luminaries to sign his convention programme. He has put it on eBay to raise funds for Cancer Research UK. Please take a look if you fancy snapping up something unique and giving money to a good cause! If you would like more information, Paul has posted further details of who the signatories are.

Other News

While we were in Providence, we heard the delightful news that Call of Cthulhu had done rather well at the ENnie Awards. A good number of projects we were involved with won gold awards, and we would like to thank everyone who voted for them! We just wish that Gen Con and Necronomicon hadn’t fallen on the same weekend so we could have been there in person. Congratulations to Chaosium and to Stygian Fox for their well-deserved success!

All three of us will be attending the Concrete Cow convention in Milton Keynes on Saturday the 16th of September. It’s walking distance for one of us, so it would be rude not to! Concrete Cow is a fun, friendly little one-day convention, and we would love to see you there. Doors open at 9 AM, with the first game starting at 10 AM. Admission is £5.

And speaking of upcoming events, we will also be taking part in the Milton Keynes Literary Festival later this month. All three of us, along with Mike Mason, will host a panel about the connection between roleplaying games and weird fiction. This will take place at 7 PM on Monday the 25th, at the Holiday Inn in Central Milton Keynes. Admission is free. We will offer some short demo games afterwards.

Scott will also be interviewing local fantasy author AFE Smith about the influence of real-world politics on her fiction. This will take place at the Holiday Inn at 7 PM on Saturday the 23rd. Admission is £5.

Other Stuff

In keeping with the theme of transcendental experiences that lie between torture and ecstasy, we sing again in this episode. Two new souls have called upon us by backing us at the $5 level on Patreon. We’ll tear their names apart.

There are a couple of recent backers we really should link to, as they produce interesting things that will appeal to our listeners. The Esoteric Order of Roleplayers is an actual-play podcast that covers a wide range of games and has a healthy back-catalogue. We were also backed recently by Daupo, who some of us met at Necronomicon. He creates wonderfully nightmarish artworks, many with Lovecraftian themes, which can be purchased from his website.

Daupo figurines

Some of Daupo’s eldritch creations.