Episode078

We’re back… In fact, we’re all the way back to May of 2015. Around a year ago, when we believed the print release of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition was imminent, we spent a day chatting with Mike Mason about how 7th edition had come about, on the assumption we would release the discussion within a month or two. The events that followed now make this seem a little ill-informed.

Mike and Paul at Gencon

Paul and Mike demonstrate how to resolve grapples without using the resistance table

Obviously a lot has changed in the last year, including the shipping dates of the books, the management of Chaosium and all our recording equipment. Our decision to hold off the release of this discussion until the books were in backers’ hands means that some of the references are dated.  Still, the discussion is relevant, and it only seemed right to wait.

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Hey, if Cthulhu can wait for strange aeons, we can manage a year or so.

But the stars are right at last. Backers all over the world have reported strange things turning up on their doorsteps, and so far no one has been shot in the head. In fact, it seemed like everyone was getting their books except for Paul, Matt and Me. We’ve spent the past couple of months following ships via satellite, reading Kickstarter updates and using the DPD website to watch a nice man from named Peter drive around Buckinghamshire. Happily, they turned up yesterday, as if summoned by the imminent release of this episode.

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Now there’s the small matter of finding shelf space for them all.

Being old recordings, these are missing some features like the new Ask Jackson segment and shout-outs to our Patreon backers. These will resume as of episode 80, when we make our way back to 2016. Until then, thank you to everyone who has backed us or raised their pledge level recently! We have some singing to do.

 

Episode077

We’re back, and we’re staring death straight in its empty, pitiless eyes. This episode is our discussion of death in games. Well, specifically it’s a look at the different ways we can handle the deaths of player characters, the approaches to death taken by various RPGs, character deaths we’ve found particularly memorable and suggestions for ways you can make death meaningful and interesting. So, a real bundle of laughs.

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At least the after-show party was rollicking.

All this morbid introspection was prompted by listener Tim Vert, who sent us a message via Patreon to ask us our thoughts on death in RPGs. We are always open to suggestions from listeners, as long as they are entertaining, anatomically feasible and legal in the United Kingdom (or at least carry little risk of us getting caught).

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At least the long arm of the law tends to have a bit more meat on it.

In fact, this episode also sees us trying out a new segment inspired by another listener. Back in March, Tom McGrenery used Google+ to ask for our advice on an eldritch problem. The discussion thread this spawned amused us so much that we thought we’d try a variant of it on the podcast. You’ll find our first attempt, titled Ask Jackson, at the end of this episode. Obviously we have no wisdom of our own to share, but we are able to channel the spirit of Jackson Elias, and he is only too willing to offer advice from beyond the grave (between you and me, it can get a bit irritating, especially when he starts criticising my driving). If you have any questions you’d like us to pass on, please ask them via Google+, Facebook, Twitter or email.

L0014318 The dance of death: the antiquary's last will & testament. C Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org The dance of death: the antiquary's last will & testament. Coloured aquatint by T. Rowlandson, 1816. 1816 By: Thomas RowlandsonPublished: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Or simply manifest in our homes at night. We’re used to it.

If all goes according to plan, our next few episodes will be somewhat unusual. We shall drop shuddering and abhorrent hints on social media soon.

Episode076

We’re back and we’re looking at all the different ways in which people use Call of Cthulhu at the gaming table. Conveniently enough, we have Call of Cthulhu line developer Mike Mason on hand to help us with this. Between the four of us, we probably have over 100 years of Call of Cthulhu experience, so we’ve seen a fair few styles of play first-hand.

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Not to mention the rise and fall of civilisations, the fading of ancient days, and the passing into folly of all human endeavour.

For a game about such a niche sub-genre as Lovecraftian horror, Call of Cthulhu has proved uncannily flexible, much like a shoggoth in a gimp suit. We’ve seen it used for mysteries, survival horror, dark comedies, emotional dramas and many games that bear no relation at all to Lovecraft. In our discussion, we spend a bit of time trying to work out whether this anything inherent to the game, or simply because it was the first major horror RPG.

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Admittedly, I’m now more interested in working out how to get a shoggoth into a gimp suit.

The latter part of the discussion includes a potted history of the Kult of Keepers, who pretty much defined Call of Cthulhu convention gaming in the UK for the early part of this century. It’s fair to say that without the Kult of Keepers, there would be no Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, Cthulhu Britannica or even the Good Friends of Jackson Elias. With that in mind, we hope you’ll excuse our little diversion.

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Don’t they all look young? Well, maybe not if this is the first time you’ve seen them, but I certainly did a couple of double-takes.

We’re a little light on shout-outs this episode, not for a lack of backers, but simply because Paul’s Internet connection has failed him. This stopped us doing our usual trick of recording a bunch of segments the week before release and editing them in at the last minute. We promise to thank everyone outstanding in the next episode! In the meantime, we hope the copy of the first issue of The Blasphemous Tome that should be appearing on backers’ doorsteps around now will go some way toward making up for this.

Episode075

We’re back, and we’re talking about everyone’s favourite eldritch curtain-twitcher, Erich Zann. Lovecraft’s short story, The Music of Erich Zann, is a highpoint of his early career. More importantly, it is a rare example of a work that all three of us agree about. The sanity-blasting revelations at the end of the story are nothing compared to such weirdness!

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And almost as uncanny as finding a picture of Erich Zann in which he plays a viol, and not a violin!

This is the shortest Lovecraft story we’ve discussed so far, barely a tenth of the length of The Shadow Out of Time. This has allowed us to fit the entire discussion into a single episode, including the usual mentions of adaptations and ideas for stealing elements for our games.  Admittedly, the discussion on adaptations is brief; while The Music of Erich Zann has been adapted a number of times, it has largely birthed short films or somewhat freer musical interpretations, both of which are tricky to discuss for different reasons.

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Every time we tried to play an example, Paul’s study window revealed an endless vista of cosmic awfulness. Or Buckingham. I get confused.

And speaking of musical adaptations of Lovecraft, we make mention of the ongoing IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign by The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, raising money to record their fifth album, The Dukes of Alhazred. Hell, it’s worth giving them money for that title alone!

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Also, those shoggoths won’t feed themselves. Or they will. That may be worse.

 

There is also some discussion of sloths, evisceration and tea, which needs to be illustrated with a photograph. We’re not sure if this makes things any clearer, but it certainly makes them weirder. This is usually the best we can hope for.

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If people are willing to pay a premium for coffee beans that have passed through a civet cat, tea made from sloth urine must be a sure thing!