We’re back and we’re casting protective circles around our microphones, burning incense that smells like Cthulhu’s armpits and waggling our wands for all they’re worth. No matter how fevered our incantations, however, the songs always seem to break free. Some magic is too foul to be contained.

Main Topic: Lovecraft and the Occult

This is the first of a pair of episodes looking into the relationship between HP Lovecraft and the occult. The focus this time is on how much (or little) Lovecraft drew upon real occult beliefs and practices. In particular, we’ll focus on the Western occult tradition and its manifestations in the 19th and 20th centuries. Next time, we’ll explore how the relationship has been reciprocated. Things are going to get weird.

Joining us in this exploration is Mike Mason. As well as being line editor for Call of Cthulhu, Mike has a keen interest in the occult and offers some personal insights. You don’t think that Call of Cthulhu has won all those ENnie awards without help from the unseen masters, do you?

Links

Things we mention in this episode include:

News

Necronomicon

The Good Friends will be flying out to Providence for Necronomicon 2019 in just two short weeks. We hope to see many of you there. Please say hi if you spot us in the wild. Mike and a number of other folks from Chaosium will also be attending the convention, operating a stall overflowing with wonders.

Scott on Fictoplasm

A little overdue, but we finally mention that Scott was a guest on Ralph Lovegrove’s excellent Fictoplasm podcast. Ralph and Scott discussed what our gaming lives might be like if Robert W Chambers had been the main figure of twentieth-century horror fiction rather than Lovecraft. This makes a perfect companion piece to our own recent discussions about The King in Yellow.

Other Stuff

Songs

Like the darkest rites of demonology, no episode of The Good Friends is complete without a good chant. We offer two such evocations in this episode, summoning all our gratitude and unleashing it upon new Patreon backers.

Review

We also share a lovely new Apple Podcasts review from listener Pad_in_Purgatory. If this inspires you to write a review of your own, whether on iTunes or anywhere else you might find podcasts, we would be delighted!

We’re back and we’re strapping some of our favourite RPGs to the dissection table and cutting deep into them to understand why they appeal so much. You always hurt the ones you love. And who knew that a gamebook could scream like that? Matt may be cruel to his dice sometimes but not even he goes this far.

Main Topic: Top 3 RPG Mechanics

It has been far too long since we last did a Top 3 episode. They were a mainstay of the podcast in our early days but the format slipped quietly out of use. It felt like time to dig it out of storage and check that it still fits.

Just like a favourite old coat…

We each choose three of our favourite individual game mechanics from some very different RPGs, explaining how they work and why they appeal to us so. There is a fair bit of variety, taking in games published between the early ’80s and the present day. Some may give you ideas for things you can borrow for your own games. RPG designers are always feeding on what has gone before like a pack of dice-wielding ghouls.

Our Choices

Look away now if you don’t want to know our choices before listening to the episode.

Paul

Scott

Matt

Other Links

Some other things we mention in the episode include:

News

The Blasphemous Tome 4 1/2

Issue 4 1/2 of The Blasphemous Tome is so close that we can taste it. Either that or the charnel booty we had for lunch is repeating. Once we get the final approval from our good friends at Chaosium, PDF copies will be winging their way across the electronic ghoul winds to all our backers.

In case you’ve missed our earlier announcements, The Blasphemous Tome is the fanzine we produce for our wonderful Patreon backers. Issue 4 1/2 is an experiment in producing an interim electronic issue between our normal print releases. It contains brand new gaming material for Call of Cthulhu, including a scenario from Paul, and a range of weird fiction, artwork and odd little articles to tickle your synapses. To ensure you receive your copy, simply back us by the end of July.

Other Stuff

Reviews

We share a lovely new review from Martin Gode on Apple Podcasts. If this awakens a desire to write a review of your own, we heartily encourage you to embrace this. Said review does not have to be on Apple Podcasts — in fact, we would love to see more reviews elsewhere. As long as your podcast source is accessible to human technology, it’s all good. And even then, we could do with some more mi-go listeners.

160: Making Call of Cthulhu scary

We’re back and we’re hiding under the bed. Maybe this dark, twisted shape that’s creeping around the house won’t find us here. The anticipation is making us quake in terror. Not knowing what the hell it is definitely doesn’t help. How did we end up in this state? And, more importantly, how can we make other people feel like this?

Main topic: Making Call of Cthulhu Scary

This episode is our look at what makes a game of Call of Cthulhu scary. We focus on Call of Cthulhu because that’s what we do, but the elements we discuss could apply to any horror game. Fear is a pretty universal thing.

When we say that fear is universal, we mean that there are some main strands of fear that run through us all. The specifics and triggers may be different, but there are many commonalities. Inspired by this article in Psychology Today, we go through some of these basic fears, looking at how they might come into play.

Not every attempt to be scary works.

Additionally, we offer some tips about the techniques we use and some insights into if and how we’ve been scared by games. Is scaring players possible or even desirable? Are there right ways and wrong ways to make people feel uncomfortable at the gaming table? Where does that line lie?

Links

Other things we mention in this episode include:

News

Necronomicon 2019

The Good Friends are gearing up to go to Necronomicon 2019 in Providence next month. We will be pretty busy while we’re there, but we hope to meet as many of you as possible. Please say hi if you spot us in the wild. At least two of us don’t bite. Those are pretty good odds.

The Blasphemous Tome 4.5

We have finished the writing and editing of the special interim edition of The Blasphemous Tome. Matt is poised to lay the issue out as soon as we have the last two pieces of artwork. At present, we expect to get the Tome to backers by the middle of this month (July 2019).

The Blasphemous Tome is the fanzine we produce exclusively for Patreon backers of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias. It is normally a print publication, but this special extra is a PDF. Everyone backing us by the end of July will receive a copy. See our recent post for more details.

Burning Luck Reviews

Good friend of the Good Friends, Max Mahaffa, has started up a review page on Facebook, titled Burning Luck Reviews. Check out his review of the Call of Cthulhu Starter Set, with more to follow.

Other Stuff

Songs

Few fears are more universal than those evoked by our singing. We have such a bout of terror to share with you this episode, offered in praise of a new Patreon backer. Any exhortation not to have nightmares would be pointless. Tremble away!

Merchandise

We keep forgetting to mention that we have some Good Friends merchandise available. If you would like a T-shirt that tells the world that you are a good friend of Jackson Elias or a mug that warns of the danger of Attract Fish, check out our Redbubble store!

Reviews

We share another lovely new review of the podcast this episode. Such kind words sustain us and, more importantly, help others find the podcast. We are profoundly grateful for every review we receive. If you write a review of your own on Apple Podcasts or wherever you download our episodes, we would be delighted to hear about it.

Issue 4.5 of The Blasphemous Tome is out!

The Blasphemous Tome is the regular fanzine that we create for Patreon backers of The Good Friends of Jackson Elias podcast. It contains plenty of sanity-blasting content for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game, along with original artwork, fiction, reviews and many other articles.

Unlike previous Tomes, issue 4.5 is a PDF, not a print publication. This is a special interim edition, packed with articles we couldn’t fit in issue 4 and lots of new content.

Issue 5, due later this year, will be print-only as usual.

Everyone backing us via Patreon by the end of July will receive a digital copy of issue 4.5.

Contents

Featured in this issue is a brand-new Call of Cthulhu scenario by our very own Paul Fricker, titled “Fall Out”.

Jonathan Weisner has taken hostages and is holed up at his country house in Massachusetts. Elements of the past are about to mix with the present, leaving the investigators to pick up the pieces.

The cover comes from John Sumrow, one of our favourite eldritch artists. There is plenty of interior artwork too, featuring pieces from Evan Dorkin, Emily Fricker and more from John Sumrow.

The articles in this issue include:

  • Sounds Alarming
    • Scott offers troubling insights into the noises we make for our backer songs
  • Cocktail Corner
    • Another of Matt’s favourite cocktail recipes, along with a little history about the drink in question
  • “Fall Out”
    • A brand-new modern-day Call of Cthulhu scenario from Paul
  • “Diary of an Unnamed Corpse”
    • An eerie tale of black magic set in 1920s Vienna, by Joerg Sterner
  • The Sanderson Collection
    • Matt reveals another rarity from the dusty corners of his library
  • Secrets of Milton Keynes
    • Scott presents the first in a series of Call of Cthulhu scenario hooks set in the home town of the Good Friends
  • Possible Worlds and Realism
    • Grant Dowell offers techniques for making our game worlds more realistic by using formal logic
  • The Forgotten
    • A macabre weird tale by Scott

How Do I Get a Copy?

If you would like to receive your copy of The Blasphemous Tome 4.5, all you have to do is back us on Patreon at any level before the end of July 2019.

Covers from bygone Tomes

Please note that we do not sell copies of The Blasphemous Tome. It is purely a reward for the wonderful people who back us via Patreon.

The Blasphemous Tome is licensed for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game by Chaosium, inc.

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!