Main Topic: The Good Friends get real

We’re back and we’re facing harsh realities. How do we make RPGs feel “real” when we play them? And what do we even mean by “real”? More importantly, how can we ask such questions without passing a bong around?

Any accusations that we may be hippies are completely overstated, man.

Surely we play RPGs to get away from reality. But even if this is the case, we still need to suspend our disbelief during the game; otherwise, it devolves into even more farce and arguments than usual. But what may feel real to one player might not to another. How do we create consensus and what part do game mechanics play in this?

First point of consensus: we are not bloody rolling to see how wide our anuses are.

In our discussion, we mention the late, lamented podcast, The Sons of Kryos. Judd Karlman and Jeff Lower were pioneers in RPG podcasting, offering sound advice to players and GMs alike. This is the podcast that inspired both Paul and Scott to become RPG podcasters. While their website and RSS feed are long gone, you can still find the complete run on archive.org.

Rules are not the only factor here. Next episode, we’ll explore what makes a game setting real to us. Or at least as close to real as we’re capable of getting. Making stuff up for a living can do strange things to one’s mind.

News

Pad’thulhu Auction

Anyone who has seen the cover of issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome has already met Pad’thulhu. This most adorable of abominations was created by comics legend Evan Dorkin. Pad’thulhu has stolen our hearts. And then he ate them.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover

Good friend of the Good Friends, David Kirkby, was compelled to bring Pad’thulhu to life, rendering him in at least three dimensions. The resulting cuteness in clay perfectly captures every sanity-warping detail, drenching them in vivid colour.

You may be wishing that this eldritch moppet was perched upon your mantelpiece, filling your dreams with maddening visions of blood and marmalade. Well, this could happen!

We are auctioning David’s sculpture to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The auction will run until the 14th of March. We hope it will raise plenty of money for a cause that is important to so many of us. Look out for updates on social media. Thank you very much to David Kirkby for donating his sculpture and to Evan Dorkin for starting this whole thing off!

ConTingency

Matt takes a little time to tell us what he got up to on his winter holidays. Not many people would take a pleasure trip to England’s east coast in January. In this respect, as in so many others, Matt is not most people. He tells us all about the ConTingency convention, its new home in Hunstanton and all the wonderful games he played there.

Spotify

We are on Spotify! This means that you can now listen to The Good Friends of Jackson Elias pretty well everywhere podcasts are to be found. We might even be on Google Play, but as its podcast service is still unavailable in the UK, we’ll have to take that on faith. Take your time, Google. You can’t rush into these things.

Google+

Much like the British economy, Google+ has about a month to live. A number of members of our G+ Community have already moved over to our Discord server, Facebook page, Twitter stream and shiny new subreddit. If you haven’t done so yet, we would love to see you in as many of these places as you can face. You may also want to back up your data from G+ before it turns into so much digital chaff.

Other Stuff

Songs

The songs we assemble to thank our Patreon backers may undermine your sense of reality. And they certainly show no trace of real talent. They are, however, really heartfelt. There are two such displays of hideous gratitude in this episode. We are really sorry.

Reviews

Once again, we offer a new iTunes review from one of our wonderful listeners. We are ever so grateful to everyone who has taken the time to post a review, whether on iTunes or any other place you might find podcasts. These reviews improve our visibility, stoke our egos and help us draw more innocent minds into our world of depravity. All laudable goals, surely!

We have something very special to announce! Over on eBay, we are hosting a charity auction for a one-of-a-kind sculpture of interest to fans of H. P. Lovecraft, the Cthulhu Mythos and Paddington Bear. That should cover most of our listenership.

Anyone who has seen the cover of issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome has already met Pad’thulhu. This most adorable of abominations was created by comics legend Evan Dorkin. Pad’thulhu has stolen our hearts. We shudder to think what he’s doing with them.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover

Good friend of the Good Friends, David Kirkby, was compelled to bring Pad’thulhu to life, rendering him in at least three dimensions. The resulting cuteness in clay perfectly captures every sanity-warping detail, drenching them in vivid colour.

Pad’thulhu was sculpted in Super Sculpey firm with wooden spheres for eyes, dowel for toggles and lollypop sticks with plastic details for his suitcase. The sculpture is 10 cm tall (4 inches), including its wooden base. You can learn more about the creation process on David’s blog.

After hearing all this, you almost certainly wish that this eldritch moppet was yours, squatting atop your mantelpiece and filling your dreams with visions of blood and marmalade. Well, this is your chance!

We are auctioning David’s unique sculpture to raise money for Cancer Research UK. The auction will run until the 14th of March. We hope it will raise plenty of money for a cause that is important to so many of us. Look out for updates on social media. Thank you very much to David Kirkby for donating his sculpture and to Evan Dorkin for starting this whole thing off!

Please share this post with wild abandon!

Heaven & Earth

We’re back and we’re heading off to Potters Lake in search of the secrets of creation. We hear good things about the apples there too. This is our look at the weird, evocative and highly overlooked RPG, Heaven & Earth.

Main Topic

Heaven & Earth is a strange game, inspired by Twin Peaks, Christian theology, and, we assume, ridiculous quantities of hallucinogens. It is filled with weird Americana, eccentric characters and rich lore. While print editions are hard to obtain, you can pick up the PDFs of the core book and Paradise Lost supplement on DriveThruRPG. As we mention in the episode, there are also some free downloads available from the Abstract Nova website.

Matt is our subject matter expert on Heaven & Earth (as well as more infernal regions) so we get him to do most of the talking. In a stroke of divine retribution, however, he was struggling with a chest infection at the time of recording. If Matt’s voice sounds like it is rumbling up from the depths of the abyss, this is why. There is no other possible reason. Nope. None at all.

News

We have now entered the last week in which you can secure your copy of The Blasphemous Tome issue 4. Just in case you haven’t heard the good word, The Blasphemous Tome is the print-only fanzine we produce to thank our Patreon backers. This issue features a cover by Evan Dorkin, a new Call of Cthulhu scenario by Matt Sanderson and many other goodies. Please see our recent post for more details.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover

If you’re in the UK and fancy playing with Matt, he shall be attending Contingency next month. This is a residential convention, newly relocated to Hunstanton in Norfolk, running between the 23rd and 27th of January. Wear something warm.

Other Stuff

As the angels sing praises to the almighty, so do we sing praises to our Patreon backers. The angels have better voices, however, and their lips are less stained with blasphemies. There are two of our paeans in this episode, so be prepared. Not even divine intervention could make us sing in tune.

The Two-Headed Serpent

We’re back and we’re cocking our hats, lighting some torches and wondering where the hell all these snakes came from. Why did it have to be snakes? This is our look at how we developed The Two-Headed Serpent, the epic Pulp Cthulhu campaign published by Chaosium.

Main Topic

Appropriately enough, this episode serves two purposes. As well as offering insights into The Two-Headed Serpent, we also talk about how we put the whole thing together. A few listeners have asked us for advice on writing campaigns and we thought we’d use this episode to explain how we do so. We spell out our development process, from initial concept to editing. Obviously, not everyone who writes a campaign does so for publication, so we also offer some advice about less formal approaches.

Obviously, this discussion includes spoilers. We’ve tried to keep these to a minimum, however. You could potentially listen to this episode and still play The Two-Headed Serpent. We give away a few plot points, including one major reveal, but leave plenty of surprises that could bite unsuspecting pulp heroes.

If you need a refresher about what Pulp Cthulhu is and how it differs from Call of Cthulhu, you may find our episode on the subject useful. And if you’d like to hear what The Two-Headed Serpent is like in play, Scott is currently running it for the How We Roll podcast.

Rachael Tew’s rendering of our doomed brave heroes.

News

Our good friends at Torchlight Candles have sent us something unusual. Few things we receive in the post are quite so fragrant and most are decidedly less odd. The Insanity Candle is a uniquely pyrotechnic way to track Sanity in Call of Cthulhu. By planting a scented replica of your investigator’s brain in a wax head, you can track SAN loss by melting it. As a bonus, once your investigator has been reduced to a puddle of maddened goo, you will find a secret message hidden in their remains. This may be the strangest Call of Cthulhu product that Chaosium have licensed. 

As you may have heard us mention once or twice, issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome is now out. We’ve released our first batch into the winds like so many playful nightgaunts. Many have found their targets, bringing glorious nightmares with them. It’s not too late to get your copy, however. All you have to do is back us via Patreon by the end of the year. Full details can be found in our recent post.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 4 cover

Other Stuff

Our good friends at Chaosium have generously provided us with a copy of The Two-Headed Serpent to give away to one lucky listener. We’ve decided to hold a slightly different competition than our usual lucky dip based on social media shares. Of course, if you’d still like to share this episode, we shan’t complain! Full details of the competition can be found towards the end of the episode.

Call of Cthulhu for Beginners

We’re back at the beginning, where we started our grim journeys many years ago. Looking at our grey hair and wizened features, it’s difficult to imagine that we were ever young. Yet here were are, trying to remember what it was like to start playing Call of Cthulhu. This would be so much easier if we were able to literally cast our minds back through time. Does anyone have a number for the Yithians?

Main Topic 

Call of Cthulhu‘s position as one of the most popular tabletop RPGs means that it may be many people’s first game. Even if you have played something like Dungeons & Dragons before, Call of Cthulhu is different enough to warrant an introduction. So, after almost 150 episodes, we thought it was time to help people get into thiCall of Cthulhu thing.

Goal number 1: don’t let this chap eat you.

We offer some tips on Call of Cthulhu for beginners, both players and Keepers of Arcane Lore. Hell, we even explain that “Keeper of Arcane Lore” is Call of Cthulhu‘s eccentric way of describing a game master or GM. We also suggest some books and other resources to help set you on your path into darkness.

Between us, we’ve been playing Call of Cthulhu for around 90 years. This makes it tricky to remember what it was like to be a beginner. Luckily, we had some help for this episode. Lucy Fricker, Paul’s wife, recently ran her first game, so we asked her how she prepared her move to the other side of the GM’s screen. 

Although, sadly, that does mean not being able to see the artwork on the front of the screen.

And speaking of guests, we have a short interview with Mike Mason, line editor for Call of Cthulhu. Mike offers us some insight into the new Call of Cthulhu Starter Set. This is a new boxed set designed to ease fledgling Keepers into running the game.

News

All three of us plan to be at Dragonmeet in London this Saturday (the 1st of December). We shall spend most of the day in the podcast zone, talking to anyone who will let us. At 11 AM, we will take a break for a joint seminar with our good friends Baz and Gaz from the Smart Party. And at 2-3 PM, you can find Paul and Scott on the Chaosium stall, signing copies of Masks of Nyarlathotep alongside Mike Mason and Lynne Hardy. We can be talked into signing other things as well, within the bounds of decorum.

As you might have inferred from that last sentence, Masks of Nyarlathotep is now shipping worldwide. Our contributors’ copies turned up last week and they are massive! It’s going to be a toss-up whether this edition will be responsible for the deaths of more investigators or trees.

Paul also mentions his recent trip to Austria, where he met one of our listeners, Joerg Sterner. As Paul discovered, Joerg is the co-owner of Planet Harry, a games shop in Vienna. Paul completely failed to ask why it is called Planet Harry. We hope to rectify this when we see Joerg at Dragonmeet.

Other Stuff

Issue 4 of The Blasphemous Tome is now creeping across the globe, spreading madness and dismay. This is the print fanzine we create to thank all the lovely people who back us on Patreon. There is still time to snap up a copy for yourself. All you need to do is back us on Patreon by the end of the year.

350 little harbingers of madness safely tucked into envelopes.

The other thing we do for some of our Patreon backers is sing to them. This episode’s song is something rather special, however. A little while back, we had an iTunes review from Wilson MacGyver. He wrote about the small role listening to the podcast played in his wife’s cancer treatments. After reading this, we knew we’d need to set aside an entire segment to talk about their story. When Wilson backed us at the $5 level and made a special request for the song, we built the segment around that. Thank you again, Wilson, for sharing your and Priscilla Meredith’s experience with us all.