We’re back, and we’re talking about Cubicle 7‘s Call of Cthulhu setting, World War Cthulhu. We’ve had a few people ask us at conventions what exactly World War Cthulhu is and what makes it different from other Cthulhuesque games, which made us think that this may be a good topic for an episode. The fact that one of us is the line developer for World War Cthulhu had no influence on this choice. None at all. Stop looking at us like that!

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Pay no attention to the blatant self-interest — look at this nifty logo instead!

As an extra Christmas treat, we break (or at least lurch) into song again, giving thanks to three new backers who chipped in at the top tier of our Patreon thingy. Paul has gone to town with the audio effects this time and the final result is, um, memorable. Maybe if we get more practice we can move up to tolerable. Hell, a couple more filters and we may end up sounding like Paul Williams.

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Obscure references? Us?

The other big news for this episode is that our friends at Cubicle 7 have generously provided us with a prize to give away! Appropriately enough, it’s a bundle of the PDFs of World War Cthulhu: The Darkest Hour (the World War II core book) and Europe Ablaze (the scenario anthology). One lucky winner will get to see first hand what they just heard us spend an entire episode enthusing about.

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Hint: it looks something like this.

In order to enter, all you have to do is share our Google+ post, Facebook status update or tweet announcing this episode. We will track the names of everyone who does so (remember — we can only do this if you share our post rather than create a new one of your own). On the 11th of January we’ll draw one lucky winner from a virtual hat. Now all we need is to find someone with a virtual head…

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We’re back and we’re bursting with song, but more on that later. We’re also talking about conventions, and definitely not singing about them. That would be silly. Specifically, we’re talking about the UK roleplaying conventions we attend, with a focus on encouraging those of you who don’t already attend them to do so. Conventions are great social occasions, a good way to try new games and not filled with anywhere near as many weird people as you may fear.

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Harmless convention-goers pictured for reference

We have limited ourselves to conventions that at least one of us has attended and that are still running, but this didn’t narrow things down much. This is a long episode. Apparently we spend a lot of our time sitting in hotels or holiday camps with dice in our hands.

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Or, more usually, a White Russian.

The conventions we cover, along with links to the relevant websites, are:

As we mention in the episode, Phil Masters publishes a calendar of upcoming RPG conventions, and this will fill in a lot of gaps in our rather incomplete list. We also mention that Neil Smith has published a how-to guide for running your own small Concrete Cow-style convention, so here it is.

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And here’s one we prepared earlier.

Before you start listening, it’s only fair that we give you warning: we sing in this episode. You may well have seen or heard us mention our Patreon page for people who would like to help with our hosting costs. One of the rewards we (well, Paul) offered was that we would sing our thanks in the style of a barbershop quartet to anyone donating $5 per episode. The full horror of what this meant only sank in when two insanely generous people sponsored us at this level, and we realised that only one of us could even remotely carry a tune. After an hour of recording and much editing and mixing, we have come up with a version that minimises SAN loss. It’s at the end of the episode, so brace yourself when you hear it coming. Please don’t let this put you off donating!

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“How bad can this be? Oh. Oh dear.”

We’re back and we’re stealing everything that’s not nailed down. This episode is all about clever things we’ve seen other GMs do and how we’ve incorporated them into our own games. No matter how many pieces of GM advice you read in books or forums, there is rarely any substitute for learning by example.

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Although eating the brains of the gifted works too.

Many of these techniques may seem obvious, but they were once new to us, and some may be new to you. We’ve stuck to positive examples and not complaints about bad techniques, no matter how much that goes against the very essence of being British. Anyway, if we got Paul started about game sessions he didn’t like, we’d have a ten-hour episode.

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“And this is what I do to GMs who tell their group how they played the scenario wrong.”

We recorded this episode before we went to Indiecon, otherwise half of it would be about techniques we plan to steal from Todd Furler. Todd is a legendary American convention GM who visited the UK for the first time this year. We all played in at least one of his Unknown Armies games and highly recommend them to anyone who spots his name on a sign-up sheet, can pre-book a session at Gen Con or learns the incantations to project their consciousness into Todd’s dreams. As well as being a lot of fun, his games are masterclasses in a variety of GM techniques, including structured scene framing, aggressive pacing, shared narration and coordinating a large group of players.

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Todd sits in front, cheerfully oblivious to our plan to eat his brain.

This episode also sees us launch our Patreon page. We have no plans to charge anything for the podcast. Our use of Patreon is a purely voluntary thing for listeners who would like to help us with our hosting costs. We make nothing out of the podcast or the website, and our costs, while small, add up over time. We have some minor rewards in the form of shout-outs on the show and the promise to follow a more professional release schedule, but our main inducement is to look at you with puppy-dog eyes. I would post a picture of us doing this, but we don’t want to frighten you. Maybe we shouldn’t have used real puppies.

Watching the above video here instead of on the Patreon page means you’ll see Paul gesticulating at buttons that aren’t there. I’m sure you’ll find this as funny as I do. If you want to see it in context, however, you can always visit our Patreon page. Did I mention that we now have a Patreon page? Because we have a Patreon page.