158: Mythos Deities: Hastur

We’re back and we’re taking a last look around Carcosa, wondering where all these tentacles came from. Robert W Chambers was more concerned with masks, moons and mists. Now there seem to be monsters everywhere and people are calling Hastur a god. Who is responsible for all this? Like everything relating to Carcosa, the answer is elusive and ambiguous.

Main Topic: Hastur

For the past few episodes, we’ve explored the Carcosa Mythos of Robert W Chambers. Its most famous elements — The King in Yellow, the Yellow Sign and Hastur — are usually seen as part of the Cthulhu Mythos, but we worked hard to keep these elements separate. Well, this is the episode in which we mash it all up again. Hail Hastur!

See? Tentacles! Tentacles everywhere!

We go on a deep dive into the Lake of Hali, trying to understand just what Hastur is. Bierce created him as a benign god of shepherds. Chambers took the name and made him a star (or maybe a place, or a person…) Lovecraft mentioned the name in passing but never defined anything. Derleth turned Hastur back into a god, or at least a Great Old One. Lin Carter added the Chambers back into Derleth’s work. Call of Cthulhu added new layers of complexity and John Tynes tore it all down and wrote a new mythology. So where does that leave Hastur? And how did the King in Yellow become his avatar when there is no mention of this in Chambers, Lovecraft or Derleth?

Hastur is an unusual deity, even by the standards of the Mythos. The Malleus Monstorum lists a number of avatars with no real thematic connection. He is associated with a variety of creatures, some of which seem like odd choices. Beyond his connection to The King in Yellow, it can be difficult to know what to do with him. We spend the latter half of the episode coming up with ways we might use Hastur in our games.

Links

Some of the specific works we mention in this episode include:

News

Masks of Nyarlathotep Nominated for Origins Award

The Origins Awards will be announced on Saturday the 15th of June, shortly after this episode goes out. Masks of Nyarlathotep is on the shortlist for Best Roleplaying Supplement. We shall keep you posted about how it fares.

The Blasphemous Tome 4b

Issue 4b of The Blasphemous Tome is slithering towards completion. This is our first attempt at a supplemental Tome, using some of the material we were unable to fit in issue 4. There will also be a bumper crop of specially written material, including a brand new Call of Cthulhu scenario from our very own Paul Fricker. You can also look forward to the mix of articles, fiction and art that you’ve come to expect from earlier Tomes. Unlike the previous editions, however, The Blasphemous Tome 4b will be a PDF-only publication. Anyone backing us at the time of release (probably early July) will receive a copy via Patreon.

Fictoplasm

If you would like to listen to a different take on The King in Yellow, Scott recently joined Ralph Lovegrove on his excellent podcast, Fictoplasm. They speculated about what the foundations of horror roleplaying might have been if Chambers rather than Lovecraft had been its main influence. This was just part of a longer series in which Ralph has explored novels in which fantastical works of fiction have proved more real than anticipated.

Other Stuff

Songs

Wise souls fear to speak the name of Hastur the Unmentionable. They know that the right words have the power to tear the world apart, letting madness rush in. Our songs have the same effect. We present two of them in this episode, offered in thanks to new Patreon backers.

We’re back with another live recording, this time coming to you from UK Games Expo in Birmingham. To be clear, the “we” in this case means “Paul”. Identity is a mutable concept amongst the Good Friends.

Paul joined our good friends Baz and Gaz from the Smart Party and Dirk the Dice from The Grognard Files for a chat about how to run games at conventions. At least one other attendee of this year’s Expo could have benefited from their wisdom. We’ve all had games go wrong at conventions, but none go so badly wrong that they made the national news!

And as a reminder, Paul and Dirk also recently joined Baz and Gaz for their 100th episode. If you haven’t listened to it yet, strap on your ears and do so at once!

Episode 157: The Carcosa Mythos in Media and Gaming

We’re back and we’re still blundering around in all this infernal mist. There is a sound of lapping water in the distance, but we’re more worried about the way these streets keep changing around us. You’d think someone would have compiled a street map of Carcosa, but no one even seems to be able to agree about what this place is. Let’s concentrate on getting our bearings and try to ignore that sound that’s not quite the laughter of children…

Main Topic: The Carcosa Mythos in Media and Gaming

We are continuing our in-depth look at The King in Yellow, the Carcosa Mythos and the horrors they have spawned. In previous episodes, we have discussed The King in Yellow and “The Yellow Sign”. This time, we’re focusing on how the Carcosa Mythos has been used by other writers, how it has been adapted for film and television, and what we can steal for our games.

Other Media

In the course of our discussion, we mention a number of books, stories, TV programmes and games:

As part of the discussion, we also pick a few favourite Carcosa Mythos stories.

  • Matt
    • “Broadalbin” by John Tynes, from Rehearsals for Oblivion
    • “Movie Night at Phil’s” by Don Webb, from A Season in Carcosa
    • “Beyond the Banks of the River Seine” by Simon Strantzas, from A Season in Carcosa
  • Scott
    • “River of Night’s Dreaming” by Karl Edward Wagner, from The Hastur Cycle
    • “More Light” by James Blish, from The Hastur Cycle
  • Paul
    • “Wishing Well” by Cody Goodfellow, from A Season in Carcosa
    • “Suicide Watch” by Arinn Dembo, from Delta Green: Dark Theaters

Games

We also discuss how we might use specific elements of the Carcosa Mythos in our games, as well as brainstorming a few scenario seeds.

The Yellow Sign badge from Sigh Co

News

UK Games Expo

If you are at UK Games Expo 2019 this weekend (31st of May to 2nd of June), do say hi to Matt and Paul. Both of them will be running games in the Cthulhu Masters tournament. Paul will also be joining our good friends from the Smart Party and Grognard Files podcasts for a seminar.

The Smart Party 100th episode

And speaking of the Smart Party… Paul recently joined Baz and Gaz for their 100th episode in which they offered a state-of-the-nation discussion about gaming.

Other Stuff

A Parcel of Goodies

A fantastically generous listener — Stephen Vandevander — sent us a parcel of goodies. You can hear us unwrap it in the backer segment, along with coos and expressions of heartfelt gratitude. The package included such goodies as The House of the Octopus by Jason Colavito and a spiffy Cthulhu idol from Pacific Giftware. This latter artefact is now watching over our recording studio, bringing fresh madness to every new episode. Thank you very much, Stephen!

As a bonus, you can see Paul’s new Carcosa-themed wallpaper and paint, as mentioned in the episode.

Songs

Those doomed souls lost forever in the mists of Carcosa cry piteously, their wails piercing the soul like daggers of ice. Our cries are more on the joyous side, but they still hurt the soul. We have captured them inside Paul’s computer and transformed them into praises of two new $5 Patreon backers. Soon, all shall despair as those damned souls do.

New iTunes Review

And finally, we were delighted to receive a new review from John Fiala, over on iTunes. These reviews sustain us emotionally and spiritually. If you feel moved to contribute to our wellbeing, or simply help others find our little corner of Carcosa, we would love it if you wrote a review wherever you download your podcasts.

Episode 156: The Yellow Sign

We’re back and we’re looking for the Yellow Sign. It’s probably fallen down the back of the sofa again. Have you found it? It’s tricky to describe, but you’ll know it if you see it. The whole impending doom thing is a bit of a giveaway. Just try not to read any strange plays for now.

Main Topic: The Yellow Sign

After two episodes about Robert W Chambers and The King in Yellow, we’re getting a little more specific. This is an in-depth look at one of the foundational stories of the Carcosa Mythos. Along with “The Repairer of Reputations”, “The Mask” and “In the Court of the Dragon”, “The Yellow Sign” defines the building blocks of Chambers’ most famous creation. It not only expands on the Yellow Sign itself but tells us more of the play and the effect it has on those who read it.

Don’t take our word about the effects. Have a good look at this. You’ll understand soon enough.

A few things came up during our conversation that warrant links, elaboration or correction.

  • Scott struggled to remember a comic having something to do with rarebit. This was, in fact, Winsor McCay’s Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, which first appeared almost 10 years after the publication of The King in Yellow.
  • We mulled over the use of glass-fronted coffins in the Victorian era. Well, they were definitely a thing.
  • This led us to discuss the display of Jeremy Bentham‘s remains at University College London.
“Sod the Yellow Sign. Have you found my head?”

And we promised to link to the short film of The Yellow Sign we found on YouTube. There are three parts to it, so let it play on.

News

Concrete Cow 19

Matt and Paul attended Concrete Cow 19 and ran some Call of Cthulhu and Kult: Divinity Lost. If you missed them, we’ll be at Concrete Cow 19 1/2 on the 14th of September. See you there!

Concrete Cow logo

Other Stuff

Songs

The Yellow Sign is an unwelcome intrusion into the lives of those who find it, bringing madness and destruction. We’re not saying that our songs have the same effect, but… Oh, hang on, that’s exactly what we’re saying. These two new bouts of thanks to Patreon backers are pregnant with premonitions. If they give you prophetic nightmares, please do let us know.

Reviews

We shared a fresh iTunes review from Soren H, which made us very happy. Reviews delight and sustain us. If you feel moved to write one of your own, you will earn our undying gratitude. And when we say “undying”, we mean it. You could chop its head off and bury it at a crossroads at midnight and it would still keep offering thanks from beyond the grave.

Other Feedback

Following our recent mention of Sons of Kryos, DrColossus1 got in contact via Reddit to let us know that Judd Karlman has a new podcast, Daydreaming About Dragons. It’s safe to say that The Good Friends of Jackson Elias wouldn’t exist without Sons of Kryos, so it’s marvellous to see Karlman return to podcasting.

We’re back and we’re punting across the Lake of Hali, taking in the sights. Well, we’re trying to… All these cloud waves spoil the view somewhat. Then again, from what we’ve seen of Carcosa, maybe it’s better that way.

Main Topic: The King in Yellow part 2

This is the continuation of last episode’s discussion of The King in Yellow. Now that we’ve looked at the book, its author and the inspirations behind it, we’re ready to dig in deeper. In particular, we’re picking out the elements that make up the so-called Carcosa Mythos. As we discover, there is very little substance behind these names, which may be part of why they have proved so attractive to gamers. We shall revisit these elements in episode 157, where we explore, in detail, how we might use them in our games.

First, we have to find our dice in all these cloud waves.

In passing, we mention the death mask that formed the basis for Resusci Anne. Scott wrote a short piece about this for the old Unknown Armies website.

The most kissed face in the world, almost entirely post-mortem.

News

Tear Them Apart

Evan Dorkin and Paul Yellovich have started a podcast. Tear Them Apart is all about horror films. It mixes enthusiastic fandom, an artist’s eye and a deep understanding of the mechanics of cinema into an eclectic and funny discussion of the genre. There are only two episodes so far. The first is an introduction, with some background about the hosts’ lifelong love of horror. The second kicks off a short series on giallo, as well as introducing a new segment in which Paul and Evan discuss films they’ve watched recently. Highly recommended!

James and Lloyd Read Indie RPG Blurbs So You Don’t Have To

And speaking of new podcasts… Good friend of the Good Friends James Mullen has teamed up Lloyd Gyan, the unstoppable force of the UK gaming community, to talk about indie RPGs. James and Lloyd Read Indie RPG Blurbs So You Don’t Have To does exactly what the name claims. With over 50 new indie RPGs released every month, it’s hard to know what’s worth your time. Lloyd and James sift through the blurbs, find some worth exploring in more depth, and offer you the benefit of their experience. Informative and fun.

Other Stuff

Songs

Cassilda’s song is enigmatic, hinting at horrors and wonders beyond human comprehension. Our songs, however, are simply incomprehensible. There are two new examples in this episode, offered to thank new Patreon backers. The songs of the Hyades they ain’t…