Episode083

We’re back, and we’re looking at the dice clutched in our hands, asking “why?” Seriously, sitting around a table with people you like while everyone pretends to be someone else sounds pretty weird. And yet, for many, roleplaying games are a passion that borders on obsession. The three of us have spent, appropriately for this episode, a total of 83 years playing RPGs. This a realisation that has led to much reflection and a few existential crises since we added it all up. So, why do we do it, what do we get out of it and how can we explain RPGs to people who think that roleplaying involves Batman costumes, naughty nurses and flirty French maids?

maid rpg

OK, there may be some cause for confusion.

Our discussion takes us through a quick overview of the different forms roleplaying takes, how we got into RPGs, why we’ve continued roleplaying long into what we laughably call adult life, and how we might explain RPGs to normal people. We are not academics, so our analysis of the topic is purely subjective and woefully unscientific. We did toy with the idea of dissecting a gamer to gain deeper understanding, but we failed to find a suitable and consenting test subject. Maybe we should have pitched it as the ultimate unboxing video.

View_of_Viscera_Page_82

Not pictured: l, dice pouch.

The other irregular segment in this episode is our brief overview of the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition launch party. We’ve posted about the event already, but now you can hear us ramble on about it too. It’s just like being on a long car journey with us nattering away, only with less sleep deprivation and swerving into oncoming traffic.

dockside dogs

One quick amendment to these notes. Paul mentioned his Dockside Dogs scenario for Call of Cthulhu, which he has been selling through DriveThru RPG to raise money for cancer research. I completely forgot to post a link to it first time round.

Episode082

We’re back, and we’re tearing into the ripe meat of another Lovecraft story. This time we discuss the charnel pleasures and toothsome delights of Pickman’s Model. While there is nothing of the cosmic about this tale, it is one of Lovecraft’s best-known works, and perhaps the purest horror story he ever penned. It introduces us to Lovecraft’s version of ghouls, although they weren’t fully integrated into his wider Mythos until The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

pickman's model

Put down your lunch and wave to the nice listeners.

The above picture is probably the iconic rendition of Pickman’s Model, by beloved pulp artist Hannes Bok. In the episode, Paul mentions that this image also reminds him of one of the covers of the Grafton editions of Lovecraft’s work. While its subject may lack the distinctive snout and hooves of Lovecraftian ghouls, and is rather more corpulent, it still sort of fits the (grave) mould.

haunter of the dark cover

Not every model is a size zero.

As usual in our story episodes, we talk about the different elements we can steal for our games, as well as mentioning various film and television adaptations. Specifically, we discuss the Pickman’s Model episode of Night Gallery, as well as Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture and their adaptation of Cool Air; Volume 4 of Lurker Films’ H P Lovecraft Collection, which is devoted to Pickman’s Model and includes the feature film Chilean Gothic; and Pickman’s Muse, an independent feature which, unusually, sets Richard Upton Pickman at the heart of the events of The Haunter of the DarkI reviewed Pickman’s Muse as part of the 2013 October Horror Movie Challenge.

pickman 6

Don’t let the lack of ghouls put you off. There are many fine films that fail to depict the consumption of human flesh.

This episode also sees more singing. It obviously didn’t see the singing in time, otherwise it would have run off in the other direction. If you haven’t encountered our outre musical endeavours before, I had best explain that this is the way we give thanks to our bravest and most generous Patreon backers, whose praises we literally sing.  This time, inspired by our topic, we have tried to integrate some glibbering and meeping into one of our numbers. It was an interesting experiment, but it has left us with some unwholesome appetites.

skulls

Our backing choir will now join us in a bone-shaking rendition of I Ain’t Got No Body…

Speaking of music, we make mention of a far more melodious and less sanity-blasting number, in the form of a fun, catchy RPG-related song titled Party Killer, from our friends Kat and Sarah. Well, here it is!

We have a fresh and meaty segment of our new Q&A feature, Ask Jackson. As the earthly vessels of the ascended spirit of Jackson Elias, we are empowered to ask his advice about all matters eldritch on behalf of our listeners. If you have some hideous conundrum weighing on your mind, simply use the Contact Us page to let us know what it is, and Jackson will provide you with his shining wisdom before you know it. This episode sees the first question to involve a visual component, in the form of the brochure depicted below. Pay close attention, for your very life could depend on it.

manatee

If you think those are fronds in his maw, you are just the kind of naive fool that ends up devoured.

This episode also includes an unexpected and delightful piece of interaction with one of our listeners. Frank Delventhal sent us a couple of mysterious packages from Germany, packed with eldritch goodies. You can listen as we unwrap them on air and try to work out just how he managed to bend a bunch of six-inch nails into such unnatural configurations (having seen photographs of Frank’s workout regimen, I still maintain that he used his bare hands). You can see some photographs of the lovely presents below!

Frank Pressies 1 Frank Pressies 2 Frank Pressies 3 Frank Pressies 4

Blimey, this was a busy episode! I’ve written scenarios shorter than these show notes. Congratulations if you made it all the way through them!

Episode081

We’re back, and after a few episodes about Call of Cthulhu, we’re talking about Dead of Night, a horror RPG that is largely tentacle-free. That’s not to say that you that you can’t do Lovecraftian horror with Dead of Night, which is a set of mechanics for emulating horror films, but the tentacles are purely optional. If you can think of a monster, murderer or supernatural menace that would render the protagonists of a horror film into red, meaty paste, Dead of Night can bring it to life.

Dead of Night Cover

This little chap’s so hungry he’s chewed up the logo.

Described as “the roleplaying game of campfire tales, slasher movies and b-movie horror”, Dead of Night is a light, simple system designed for one-shots, and can easily be explained to new players on the fly. You can create a player character in a couple of minutes, which is a good thing, given that they’re known in the game text as “victims”. We’ve found that it works well for anything from manic comedy-horror to dark, serious games that drip with atmosphere and blood.

Dead of Night 1

And possibly some other, less identifiable fluids.

Dead of Night is the brainchild of good friend of the Good Friends Andrew Kenrick, and came out of the burst of British RPG self-publishing known as the Collective Endeavour, that gave us such games as Hot War3:16 Carnage Amongst the StarsContendersDuty & Honour and Umläut: Game of Metal. I was recently asked in an interview whether I thought self-publishing was a worthwhile pursuit for RPG designers, and these games were the reason I answered with an enthusiastic yes.

Dead of Night 2

Enthusiasm pictured for reference.

All the pictures in these notes come from the second edition of Dead of Night, which was laid-out and illustrated by the incredibly talented Paul Bourne. This edition features some of Paul’s best work, especially in the form of the many fake horror film posters he spread throughout the book like the viscera of so many victims. We’ve raved about Paul’s work before, back when we discussed Hot War, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so again. Paul now works full-time for Cubicle 7, and you will notice his distinctive handiwork in the layout of many of their books.

Dead of Night 3

I’m sure they’ll let him out to work on more film posters one day.

Episode080

We’re back, and we’re continuing our run of episodes inspired by the print release of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition by taking a look at Pulp Cthulhu. While it’s only available as a backer-only PDF at the moment, Pulp Cthulhu should be available for purchase within days and in shops later this year. This is the culmination of a long, winding journey that started all the way back in 2001!

2001 ape

I’m not saying that 2001 was a long time ago, but this is what we looked then.

Our discussion starts off with an overview of what we mean by pulp, how this compares to the more purist mode of play most people associate with Call of Cthulhu and a bit of debate about whether they are really totally different things. I honestly thought that we’d argue more about this last point, but we all seem to agree. We’ll have to find something else to get us bickering.

repulsion

Yup, that should do it.

The bulk of the episode is taken up by a brief overview of what you can expect to find in Pulp Cthulhu, an explanation of what sets it apart from standard Call of Cthulhu, and discussion of our experiences of playing and running the game. Although the PDF is only just on the cusp of release, we each spent much of last year running Pulp Cthulhu, to playtest both the rules and The Two-Headed Serpent, the campaign we have co-written for Pulp Cthulhu, which will be released by Chaosium in the not-too-distant future.

Pulp Cthulhu

And, once again, there is singing. As I mentioned in the show notes for our two recent episodes about the development of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, the fact that these episodes were recorded last year meant we had to delay our usual thanks to our Patreon backers until we returned to the present day. Well, here we are! There are three sets of sung thanks to tease your ears and horrify your sensibilities. We shall try not to let them build up again.

scanners1

We’ve seen what can happen.

This episode also sees the return of our new Ask Jackson segment. If you have a question that you would like us to pose to the spirit of Jackson Elias, please let us know via Google+, Facebook, Twitter or email.

Episode079

We’re back with the conclusion of our discussion about how Call of Cthulhu 7th edition came about. Once again, we’re joined by Mike Mason, line editor of Call of Cthulhu, who co-authored  7th edition along with our very own Paul Fricker. I’m saying “once again” like we met up again to continue the discussion, but this is really the continuation of the long chat that started in episode 78. We cut it in half because no one in their right mind wants to listen to us natter on for two and a half hours non-stop.

worm

We also wondered if each half would grow into a complete episode, like earthworms are meant to. Or maybe fill our gardens with rich humus. Something like that, anyway.

And again, we should warn you that we recorded these episodes in May of 2015, when our recording equipment was more primitive. At this time, we believed that the printing of 7th edition was imminent, so please try not to judge too harshly if you hear us getting that wrong. Our decision to hold off releasing these episodes until the books were with backers has meant that they have been languishing on Paul’s computer for a year, and we’re happy to finally get the chance to release them. We’re even happier that the books are now in backers’ hands, and will soon be available for retail.

Pulp Cthulhu

And now this beast has crawled up from the depths too! We plan to discuss it in the very near future.

We have a number of new Patreon backers to thank, but with these being old recordings, we shan’t be able to do so until next episode. On the bright side, we will be singing at least twice next time. There may even be percussion, if Paul can work out how to make use of our ill-advised experiments with dice-stuffed improvised maracas.