Episode 35 – Pulp Cthulhu (with Paul Fricker) recorded at GROGMEET19

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What makes Pulp “pulp” we ask ourselves in this episode.

It features the interview with Paul Fricker that we recorded at GROGMEET19. He’s one of the hosts of The Good Friends of Jackson Ellias, who we joined in the E.N.World Hall of Fame, thanks to the generous votes from the GROGSQUAD.

There’s also a First, Last and Everything from Lee Williams and much more.

EXTRA – Call of Cthulhu Actual Play (with How We Roll and Scott Dorwood)

The auditorium was massive!
Call of Cthulhu Actual Play (with How We Roll and Scott Dorwood)

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I attended the first ever PodUk Convention in Birmingham and appeared in a live show. How We Roll podcast hosted a live, actual play, with Scott Dorwood (from The Good Friends of Jackson Ellias) as the keeper.

Hope that you enjoy listening to The Necropolis.

1D6 The Two Headed Serpent

…having an encounter with a three-thousand-year-old walking, talking corpse does tend to convert one. – Eyelyn Carnahan, The Mummy (1999)

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This week we came to the end of the first chapter of the heart-stoppin’, snake-charmin’, death-rayin’, globe-trottin’ Two Headed Serpent campaign!

It’s a campaign for the Pulp Cthulhu variant rules for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, written by Paul Fricker, Scott Dorwood and Matthew Sanderson, the hosts of the ever excellent Good Friends of Jackson Ellias podcast.

The Armchair Adventurers have two teams of heroes battling through the adventure simultaneously on the last Monday of the month. Keeper Doc Griff also reached the dramatic conclusion of the Bolivia episode.

To find out how you can join the campaign, see the foot of this post and the next thing you know, you’ll be donning a fedora and snapping a bull-whip.

Here are some of the highlights of playing so far (spoilerish free) and one downer.

Once more, with character

It’s odd that the characters that have been created for this campaign seem more real and immediate than the ones that we have recently created for our more ‘purist’ campaigns. There’s something about the ‘Pulp Talent’ features that really bring characters alive as they feel like competent heroes rather than a team of ‘occupations’. Perhaps it’s because it suits our style of play playing ‘a team heroes’ seems to inject them with life:

Max (Phil the Dice Mechanic): Max von…I mean Mark Weaver joined Caduceus out of an interest in taking his dendro-pharmacological research out of the lab and into the field. Did we mention the outrageous German accent?

Jock (Sam Vail): A resourceful, former man-servent of Lord Colin Bruce-Machintosh, who followed his master around the world until he was killed by an infected mosquito bite. Now Jock is seeking adventures of his own and has proved himself a useful chap in a fight (against giant snakes).

Jack (Judge Blythy): Bootlegger turned gun runner from the mean streets of New York. He’s been keeping his head down by working going on a mission of mercy with the medical aid charity Caduceus. He needs to lie low for a while, as back in NY, Martino Bresciani has a bullet with his name written on it.

Percy (Neil Benson):  Born into poverty, his family living in the slums of Scotland Road and working the docks in Liverpool where he got into gang-life following the war. Much of his ill gotten cash allowed him a modest living and a workshop at the end of the block where he spends most hours of the day working on engines and various other contraptions. He’s created some weird gadgets in the first episode.

Javier (@dailydwarf) DD is impressing us with his Spanish while playing this character from Northern Chilli. A talented and hard-working mining engineer he’s been toughened by harsh and unforgiving background. He’s also great with explosives and rendered a Formless Spawn even more formless.

Atmosphere

It’s an explosive start that gets the players engaged with the action right away. They are working for Caduceus, a medical aid charity, that is not quite as it seems. They learn quickly that its their job to deal with a ‘possible level 3’ threat in the area.

The adventure is marinaded in atmospheric detail, not too much, but enough to paint an evocative picture of the setting. The muggy heat of the Bolivian jungle and the intensity of a ticking clock, while trying to locate the lost temple of the dreamer is set up really well through a few choice scenes.

Wrought for LUCK

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This is the first time that we have applied 7ed Call of Cthulhu ‘as written’ as well as the variant rules for Pulp Cthulhu. I’ve been impressed with how the new innovations work. From the core rules, Bonus/ Penalty dice have worked really well. On paper, I was sceptical about them, but in play, they provide more options for the Keeper and players to negotiate a method of resolution.

The Pulp elements have been scaled as we have all become more confident with them. The luck resource has proven itself to be a fantastic method of bumping down fumbles, succeeding at key moments in the scene and defying death. Percy blew up a Formless Spawn after being swallowed by it, he succeeded in chucking a stick of dynamite while he was enveloped, temporarily destroying the hideous, protean entity, which sent him plummeting 1000 feet to his death. Fortunately, he was able to throw himself to the side of the shaft that he was falling through and, some how, grip, on to a crevice in the wall by his finger tips.

“You can’t use luck to alter a sanity roll,” Phil the Dice Mechanic reminded Judge Blythy at a crucial moment.

Rules lawyering the rules lawyer.

Insane Pulp Weirdness

One of the unexpected joys so far has been the use of weird science. Neil’s character Percy has been making some strange inventions along the way, including a Heath Robinson deathray-rifle made of wood, monkey bones and ancient alien technology.

It took a couple of sessions to for everyone to respond to the tone of The Two Headed Serpent campaign. There was a sense of caution and slow, steady investigation of scenes. This has now given way to a more confident gung-ho approach.

Great fun, but there is still a sense of danger. Percy’s interventions have driven him slightly insane, so much so that he’s now driving slightly insane with a new ‘insane driving talent’.

This is not the end, its the end of the beginning …

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This was the first chapter and one of the pleasures of being the Keeper of Arcane Secrets is the knowledge of what’s going on in the background, working out how it will unfold and revealing the adventure that stretches in front of the heroes.

The final scene was epic and I only hope the rest of the campaign can live up to it: “Are sure he said he wants to take the serpent queen mummy back ‘alive’? He did say ‘alive’ didn’t he?”

Please, can we have more …

The downside of such a huge campaign is fitting it in the schedule. One two-hour session a month doesn’t seem enough to give it justice. If only we could conquer time and space.

Want to be part of the action? There are a couple of guest-spots available to join either Keeper Dirk or Keeper Griff. The sessions are usually on the last Monday of the month (except when they’re not). If you are interested in playing the next episode (it’ll probably run until the end of the year) then please put your name in the comments on the Patreon page. Names will be drawn from the hat.

 

Episode 16 (Part 2) More Call of Cthulhu (with Mike Mason)

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INTRO: A dedication to Carl T. Ford, the publisher/ editor of Dagon Fanzine.

GAMESMASTER’S SCREEN 00:02:20 (With Mike Mason) Mike faces the Keeper’s Screen to talk about Traveller, D&D and the all new Masks of Nyarlathotep (coming soon).

DAILY DWARF 00:40:00 @dailydwarf does an incisive assessment of the scenarios that appeared in White Dwarf. CURSE OF THE BONE was the winner of his 2015 Scenario Slam

JUDGE BLYTHY RULES! 01:00:00 We take a look at some of the changes in the 7th Edition rules.

OUTRO: 01:40:00 More news about the Patreon Campaign.

Episode 16 (Part 1) More Call of Cthulhu (with Mike Mason)

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INTRO 00.00.16

We are returning to one of our favourite games, Call of Cthulhu, to consider what has changed for the game over the past 2 years, since the last episode.

OPEN BOX (with Mike Mason) 06.00

At the time of recording, Mike had just returned from his trip to NECRONOMICON and was fresh with the news of the great success for Call of Cthulhu at GENCON.

Mike shares his experiences from his formative years of role-playing and how his fascination with horror, drew him towards Call of Cthulhu.

ED’S BRAND NEW SHED 50.00

Ed is the first of us to hit 50 and his family have treated him to a brand-new metal shed. He talks us through his Fungi From Yuggoth scrapbook. You can get Mutable Deception from Drive Thru RPG.

GAMESMASTER’S SCREEN 01.08.00

We’re on a Jolly Boys outing – this is the player reflections on playing the Fungi … campaign.

OUTRO 01.33.00

We had many new Patreons joining us in September. Thanks to you all – sorry for mangling your names – we are very grateful for your contributions and look forward to making the ‘zine available in the next couple of months.

GROGZINE Annual 2018 – Update

The GROGNARD Files 2018 Annual ‘zine is taking shape ready for its launch at GROGMEET on 11th November. Here’s a taste of what it includes

Monsters! Monsters! Monsters! Contributions from Ken St Andre and Liz Danforth

Deva – setting Pendragon in Chester from Kehaar

A wonderfully out-of-joint Call of Cthulhu scenario by Roger Coe

Better Living through Chemistry – a Judge Dredd RPG scenario from @dailydwarf

A short story from Justin Hill

What happened to Nic Novice? A collaboration with Paul Cockburn and Wayne Peters

The GROGNARD character class from Phil ‘the Dice Mechanic’

Frozen. A further chapter from The Armchair Adventurer’s memoir

A special Open Box with submissions from GROGMEET GMs and GROGSQUAD listeners

The podcast is free, but the overheads and additional projects, such as the ‘zine, are funded through the generous support of Patreons. All Patreons will be sent a hard copy, wherever they are in the world, after the launch. The printing will be limited to the total number of Patreons at the cut-off of 30th September plus 35 for contributors, GROGMEET attendees and review copies. 

If you pledge at $3.50 level and above, you’ll also get a hard copies of The Complete Daily Dwarf  Volume 2 which includes essays about Fiends, Dagon, Langford, and RuneRites. 

PDFs will be available for Patreons joining after the cut off point.

Join the GROGSQUAD and become an honorary Armchair Adventurer to access the ‘zine

GROGZINE 2017 – on PDF 


The ‘zine produced last year is now available for download on drive thru RPG on a ‘pay what you want’ basis.

Please download and donate as all proceeds will go towards the YSDC church roof fund. 

Yog Sothoth dot com provide a vital fan-function and we want to play our small part in keeping it going: so please help us raise some money to sustain the forums, podcasts, stationery coverage, odd-things recorded on obsolete formats and innovative YSDC activity for years to come.

The GROGNARD files ‘zine and The Complete Daily Dwarf – available on drive thru RPG 

Episode 14 (Part 1) RPG Fanzines (with Ian Marsh)

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INTRO Welcome to the world of fanzines.

OPEN BOX (with Ian Marsh) The first part of an interview with Ian Marsh, who was the editor of DragonLords fanzine and went on to become the editor of White Dwarf.

DAILY DWARF For one episode only @dailydwarf becomes the Daily Dagon as he looks at Dagon and why he thinks is was such a special zine.

OPEN BOX Another one? This time it’s with Blythy as we look at our experience in the world of PBMs.

OUTRO: Thanks to Shop on the Borderlands for providing a copy of DragonLords issue 7 for discussion.

Let us know your favourite ‘zine and send us pictures for discussion in the next episode.

Why not show your love for the podcast, and join the activities of the GROGSQUAD by becoming a Patreon?

 

Episode 10 (Part 2) More RuneQuest RPG (with Rick Meints)

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INTRO Blimey Charlie! This is the twentieth podcast!

1:53 GAMESMASTER’S SCREEN Rick Meints, President of Chaosium, joins us once again. This time we roll on a special ‘plunder’ table to search his fabled collection as he recounts past adventures from back in the day.

42:08 OPEN BOX Borderlands is Chaosium’s classic campaign from 1982 – we’ve played it twice, once in ’83 and again in ’13 – find out why this is very much our ‘foundational document’.

1.25 POSTBAG We’ve revamped the Patreon campaign – join now and get access to the ‘zine PDF  – also, you can join the Valhalla agents at Convergence

A year on the GROG – 2017

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“You’re so rock n’ roll!” declared @oilpainting on Twitter. This was following my RPG Academy all-nighter, as I was on my way to work, bleary-eyed after the excitement of the night before.

“I’m only doing this because I can’t be Bruce Springsteen,” I replied, echoing President Obama.

I operate the Armchair Adventurers much The Boss operates the E-Street Band: old friends who enjoy playing together under the control of a benevolent dictator. At this point of the year, my messianic megalomania kicks into overdrive as I fill up everyone’s diaries with the plans for the next 6 months of gaming. There’s method in this madness, as when it comes to negotiation with the fun prevention officer (FPO) it’s essential that you declare your intentions on the family calendar because once it’s on there, it’s happening.

Last year was such a remarkable year. The number of games we played and the hours that we managed to commit was at levels not seen since the 80s; it’s going to be hard to sustain. I’m moving house for one thing. Dirk Towers has moved in its entirety to a half-way-house until the new site is ready. It was a difficult and exhausting exercise. We’ve already filled hundreds of boxes and have barely made a dent on the years and years of accumulated stuff.

Thankfully, the ridiculous home-made shrine to the actress Caroline Munro has been diligently bubble-wrapped.

STONKIN’ THUNDER

Judge ‘Little Steven’ Blythy has been on hand to step into the GamesMastering duties for the Wednesday Night Roll20 group. The old gang is together once again after the triumph of Old School The Traveller Adventure, this time joined by none other than the Daily Dwarf, to take on the revival of Against the Giants in the New School Old School D&D 5e STORM KING’S THUNDER.

The first session was hit by some technical glitches with video and audio, but the kit provided by Roll 20 for the campaign works really well. This is the first time that we’ve used ‘miniatures’ for years. Normally, we talk through locations and relative distances, but having the characters on the screen represented by tokens on a gridded map, brings a new dimension to the game. I was frantically trying to pick a spell that would have enough range to hit the goblin who was firing arrows at my Sorcerer.

A great start to what promises to be an exciting campaign.

The Armchair Adventurers – MONTHLY SESSIONS

The monthly sessions are sacred. There’s a change this year as we will be changing location. We’ll be moving from Eddy’s shed and heading for the FLGS in Bolton, Portcullis War Games Emporium. If you live in the area, get in touch, you’re welcome to join us. Sessions are on the first Tuesday of the month 6pm – 10pm, the first is on 7th Feb. Let us know if you’re coming, we’ll have a character ready for you.

When it comes to planning these, there’s always a tussle between on-going campaigns and one-shots. We alternate Games Master responsibilities, so we’ve found it difficult to have a really good run and develop a momentum. This year we intend to have a longer run to get to the end of  Fungi From Yoggoth, the campaign that we began in the Autumn of 2015. It has been a great campaign, shredding through characters, and illustrated by Ed’s sumptuous hand-outs. Ed is currently retro-fitting the final sections to fit with 7ed, so we can experience the differences.

Blythy has just concluded an episode of Numenera that left our adventurers fleeing the alternate planet of Star Swarm to find our way back to the Ninth World. It will be back later in the year, as will Nights Black Agents. We ran several sessions of excellent Zalozhniy Quartet last year, but I’ve decided to rest it for a while. Of all the games we played, it was the one that suffered due to the loss of momentum as we ‘GM-switched’. I’m keen to run the Dracula Dossier, but I think we’ll work out a way that we can do it over a sustained weekend of several sessions. It needs to be compact and have a certain dramatic intensity to work.

KING OF THE ONE-SHOTS

For my GM duties, I’m going to be the King of the One-Shots, starting with a couple of Mythras games in the Luther Arkwright setting. I’m going to have a play-test at the session mentioned above, to get me ‘match-fit’ for the session at Convergence – which is set to be a 7 hour epic, based on the magnificent ‘Fire Opal of Set’ which appeared in Imagine #14. Please sign up if you can come … so far it’s me and Blythy.

Also, I have a commitment to deliver a ‘one-shot’ for the Patreons. I’ll be polling them soon on a date and game. I’ll also be running Top Secret and GangBusters online soon too.

In our plans for the next 6 months is a trip to Southport with our Gnomes, to join the Steam Dwarves, with our friends The Old Scroates and believe it or not, we’ve been given a press pass for UK Games Expo.

This town rips the bones from you back. Baby, I was born to roll.

Sorry.

Episode 4 – RPG Games Cons Dragonmeet

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In a break with the usual format, The Armchair Adventurers are at risk of disappearing up their own fundament.

It’s too short to break in two, too long to listen in one go, so disappointing either way. Take your time, pause a little, as you listen to the blow by blow account of our big day out.

INTRODUCTION

It’s 30 years since we last went to a Games Convention. We went to Dragonmeet ’15 in December, this is a reflection on what we did when we were there and how things have changed in gaming in the meantime.

This introduction includes a A brief potted history of Dragonmeet, with extra bits of information provided by Modiphius.

OPEN BOX

The morning of the day before, Judge Blythy joins Dirk as we plan the trip and reminisce about Games Cons of the past.

WHITE DWARF

Everything comes back to White Dwarf and it’s coverage of Games Conventions back in the day were our way of enjoying them vicariously.

There’s a quote from Scott Dorwood who reviewed the podcast.

GAMESMASTER’S SCREEN

Some general reflections on our observations while we were there as well as a blow by blow account of some of the experiences we had.

Under discussion:

Call of Cthulhu Dreamlands using 7th Edition

Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rules distilled into 52 pages

How the market has changed, stuff we bought, and the apparent controversy around the benign Chaosium seminar.

We attend seminars featuring Ken and Robin Talk Quickly About Stuff and the “Is there too much Cthulhu” debate between The Good Friends … and The Smart Party.

While we were there, we interviewed Mike Cule, star of the stage and screen, and the author of RUMBLE AT THE TIN INN (amongst others) and one of the hosts of Improvised Radio Theatre with Dice.

ED’S BARGAIN SHED

Eddy, the resident bargain-hunter in chief, shares his Dragonmeet haul and takes on the 20 quid challenge.

POSTBAG

Listeners share their convention experiences.

Normal service will be resumed next time when we discuss STORMBRINGER.