MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

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MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by Keeper Dan » Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:45 pm

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In this episode, we interrogate returning guest host Oscar Rios, president of Golden Goblin Press, about the status of his successful Kickstarter, The Island of Ignorance. We also have a new lecture from Dr. Gerard that takes us to the bottom of the Ionian sea. For our side topic this time, we respond to a glut of voice mails from listeners. Plus more!


Campus Crier
Guillermo Del Toro created an intro to The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror #19, and someonelabeled the majority of the horror references in it.


Some Danish dude has made a sculpture, filled it with human samples, and sent it to the bottom of the sea. Check out the The Hornsleth Deep Storage Project. And then tell us how much you think it is wrong.


Sandy Petersen has started an online marketplace for Lovecraftiana called CthulhuCurious.com.



The intent behind it is to have a central clearinghouse for people to be able to find all sorts of Lovecraftiana, or Cthulhu-related items. It's just getting started, but I have hopes it will grow larger. I have been asked to be a sort of moderator for it, to ensure that it stays true to its roots, and keeps everything horror/lovecraft/cthulhu oriented. Green Eye Games will certainly sell products there (as well as on our website), and other people are already starting to use it. - Sandy Petersen



Game designer Rafael Chandler said he’s planning to release a long-awaited action-horror game called Pandemonio soon. It’s a mashup of two previously released games, one where you fight demons, and another where you fight angels.


There's also a new Call of Cthulhu live play podcast called Cthulhu & Friends.


Finally, a big thank you goes out to new forum member Lexicon for sponsorship! We appreciate It! Your support keeps the show running!


Lecture Series


This week, we've got a new lecture from Dr. Gerard on the topic of: “The Ancient Greek Computer”
Here's a video from Michael Wright showing off his replica model of the device.


The podcast Blurry Photos also covers it, among other mysterious devices.
Side Topic


For our side topic this week, we responding to some of the voice mails we received since the last episode.


Main Topic


With Oscar Rios as our guest this week, we spend some time performing a postmortem of his successful Kickstarter for the third Cthulhu Companion, the Island of Ignorance, and talk about what he got right as well as some lessons learned.
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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by Keeper Dan » Sun Oct 20, 2013 11:29 pm

The edit has a problem with the first version of the file. If the Crier bumper starts sooner than it should, then delete the file you have and download it again. The fixed version is now in the feed and should replace the old one. At least that's the way it should work.
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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by fox01313 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:01 pm

Personally think that the idea of players coming up with a small cast of characters at start (or having on hand) is a great idea as it'd make sense for some player characters to have close friends or family that somehow get sucked into the missions. Not only having that connection for the player but also gives less work for the keeper as he/she can keep a list of the alternate player characters & use them in a variety of ways as either NPCs (that aren't in any immediate threat to keep them around for later) that can give some clues to the lost group of players listed below.

examples:
+a mysterious letter arrives from some victim to the family in trying to get in touch with the player
+something scared the alternate character or their close family, calling the player there (as they don't know if it's related to the mission but the investigators could help) giving the player access to other clues (or clue triggers*) from the alternate player character's home or place of work
+the alternate player characters is friends with someone in the area who might be able to help
+a source for the cults to use an alternate character's name or vague likeness as bait for the player characters, little melodramatic but if I'm in a museum & someone is shouting out my friend's name & see someone running away looking like my friend I'd be curious to see what's going on even if it turns out to be some cultist made to look like my friend
+or in some pulpy mission having the alternate character awkwardly crashing through a scene with a car to give the players a way to escape (just think of something similar to the librarian's brother from the pulpy Mummy films from the 1990s)

*clue triggers as something related to the mission they might see which they didn't think to check, so a mission ending up where a missed clue talking about a carnival (and the players lost on which carnival) with the mission going to Louisiana, the alternate player house could be decorated with Mardi Gras masks & someone who's from there but moved years ago leading to a further alternate character/npc source of people they knew living in Louisiana
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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by Shannon Mac » Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:19 pm

Another great show. I especially enjoyed Oscar's experience in dealing with the hurdles of his business.
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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by achiriaco » Mon Oct 21, 2013 8:41 pm

Thanks for answering the question of about the the BROCKFORD HOUSE. I appreciate you sharing your experience with this scenario. I am thinking now of running it at our next local Convention. I will tell you how it goes.

I do agree that the Transport Cube should be completely removed from the adventure. ALL BAD.
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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by Dr. Gerard » Tue Oct 22, 2013 2:28 am

Well, we didn't cover the use of music and sound as deeply as I had hoped because we were trying to get through a lot of voice mails, so I'm going to go rogue here and add some more thoughts about that. I'm an evangelist about this topic, so forgive the soap boxing. I just believe strongly in the power of sound to transport players into a setting, especially with horror gaming! And this is an open invitation to any Keepers out there who want to try but need some help – I'm more than happy to give more specific tech advice if you want to try some of these things. I hope other keepers who regularly use sound might also respond to this thread.

First, I really do think it's possible to run your games with lots of ambient sound and musical changes without breaking the flow of the game, and I don't agree that you should only ever do it if you have a second person to run your tech for you. It would be an awesome, welcome luxury to have a second Keeper to do things like that, and I'd jump at the chance to do it that way, but I've never been in that position and have still managed to pull off some fancy audio stuff during games. I've done it with linear one-shots and I've done it during a semi-sandbox campaign in which I had only ever had a vague idea of where players would go and when they would get there. It can work, I swear. More on that in a sec.

Second, it's not something I think is in any way required. Like with props, there's no expectation that you should spend all that extra time on special effects, but if you're inclined to do it I'm here to encourage you. The payoffs are worth it. There are many levels of audio trickery you can delve into, from the relatively simple scene-setting opener that Oscar mentioned, to full-on background sound effects or a fully thought out musical score with changes in tone and ambient immersion to fit the session – which Oscar also mentioned doing with a Robotech game of Dread.

Third, don't bother with a lot of sound unless you can prepare ahead of time and control the audio seamlessly. So many tiny things can go wrong with the simplest setup, and if you spend even two minutes troubleshooting in front of your players, you can kill the mood. People are there to role play, not to listen to a concert. It should never pull focus away from the storytelling.

Here are my tips on how to make it work.

1. I create playlists in iTunes on my PC, manage them in my iPod and play them on a cheap boom box that has an iPod dock. I like a boom box instead of a laptop because I can control the volume with a physical knob instead of menus and mouse controls. I also hacked my iPod so it doesn't make Apple sound effects when I pause and play, but that's not a huge issue.

2. Each key setting or scene in the story has its own playlist. Settings are assigned descriptive names, like “Country House at Night, Seashore, Drippy Cave, etc. Scenes are numbered and called things like “01 Act I Plot Thickens, 02 Act II Being Followed, 03 Act III Chase Scene, etc.” Some of the playlists might have one specific sound effect or cue that's needed in a scene. There is a scene in Bret Kramer's Ghosts of the Florentina that references a specific piece of music, for example. The numbers in front of the file names keep the playlists roughly in a predictable order.

In my sandbox-y Kingsport campaign, I had a playlist set up for each of the five key settings that the players visited often, including a newsroom, a country estate, a seashore restaurant, a Portuguese restaurant, a jazz club and the harbor. This is where brainstorming sessions would often take place, so I could play these sounds and let the players discuss evidence and whatnot. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive about this little trick. I had players talking in character about where they wanted to go based on whether they felt calm or uneasy there -- and this was based on how the sounds affected them. As a side note, I started increasing the amount of whippoorwill calls in one of those tracks as the campaign wore on. This really unnerved my players when they realized what was happening, because whippoorwills were a harbinger of certain dark entities in the game.

3. I set my iPod to “shuffle” and “repeat” so the playlist order is randomized, and so I can more easily reuse the same playlists from session to session. Usually for ambient sounds in a scene, like crickets or seashore waves, the playlist contains just one long track that repeats. For mood music, the playlist might contain 6-10 songs that I've picked ahead of time. Try to match the tempo and tone as much as possible. I'll often use multiple songs from a single artist in one scene, just to keep it consistent.

4. For ambient scene-setting background, I often mix my own long tracks in Audacity and import them into my iPod. For example, to make a New England Woods track for a game in Kingsport. I mixed crickets, frogs and night birds into a single 15-minute track. Check out freesound.org and archive.org for ideas. Mixing your own is easier than you think!

5. Figure out exactly how your whole sound system works long before you attempt using it in front of players. Do a dry run before players show up, even if it's not being hosted at your house. As mentioned in this episode, you'll have enough curve balls to deal with in the game, with unpredictable players, crazy PC logic and unexpected side plots. Managing those things is your highest priority. One of my players hosted a session at his house once, and when I showed up just a few minutes before start time only some of my audio would work on his system (thanks, Apple Police). Better to quickly abandon ship than to make your players wait around and get less invested in the game.

Dan and I both responded to a really great thread about ambient music and sound effects in a YSDC thread that you can check out here.

I also started a thread with some specific music recommendations here.

YSDC forum poster MechSpike made a thread about the same thing before I did, and it has scads of great musical recommendations.

Again, I hope this encourages some of you to try using sound to support your games. Please let me know if I can help!
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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by WinstonP » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:40 am

Enjoyed the episode, especially hearing about Oscar's experience in launching a Kickstater.

One point of correction; there have been several systems for creating a WWI veteran investigator before the one provided in Island of Ignorance-

Green and Pleasant Land - focused on British vets, obviously
The 1920s Investigator's Handbook - notes on making a veteran character in character gen rules
No Man's Land


AFAIK Oscar's notes are the most extensive, but I thought these may be of interest for comparison.

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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by fallingtower » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:15 am

fox01313 wrote:Personally think that the idea of players coming up with a small cast of characters at start (or having on hand) is a great idea as it'd make sense for some player characters to have close friends or family that somehow get sucked into the missions. Not only having that connection for the player but also gives less work for the keeper as he/she can keep a list of the alternate player characters & use them in a variety of ways as either NPCs (that aren't in any immediate threat to keep them around for later) that can give some clues to the lost group of players listed below.

examples:
+a mysterious letter arrives from some victim to the family in trying to get in touch with the player
+something scared the alternate character or their close family, calling the player there (as they don't know if it's related to the mission but the investigators could help) giving the player access to other clues (or clue triggers*) from the alternate player character's home or place of work
+the alternate player characters is friends with someone in the area who might be able to help
+a source for the cults to use an alternate character's name or vague likeness as bait for the player characters, little melodramatic but if I'm in a museum & someone is shouting out my friend's name & see someone running away looking like my friend I'd be curious to see what's going on even if it turns out to be some cultist made to look like my friend
+or in some pulpy mission having the alternate character awkwardly crashing through a scene with a car to give the players a way to escape (just think of something similar to the librarian's brother from the pulpy Mummy films from the 1990s)

*clue triggers as something related to the mission they might see which they didn't think to check, so a mission ending up where a missed clue talking about a carnival (and the players lost on which carnival) with the mission going to Louisiana, the alternate player house could be decorated with Mardi Gras masks & someone who's from there but moved years ago leading to a further alternate character/npc source of people they knew living in Louisiana


Cthanx for liking my idea Fox.

The original point of my comment was actually about keeping things fun between episodes, which in my example was to create 'phony' correspondences between the player and his/her character and the Keeper in the role as his/her friend or relative.

The added benefit, like you said, is to have pre-loaded, clued in and motivated characters. I can't wait to get my next serious/less pulpy Call of Cthulhu game up and running to implement my gimmick.
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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by fox01313 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:10 am

While listening to this again I completely missed one part talking about some of the scenarios in 4th ed. & recently finding a copy of this at a local used bookstore. Also for the Brockford house (which hasn't been reprinted since 4th ed. guessing due to rights going back to the author or not wanting to fill up the 6th ed. book with tons of scenarios), there is an ye olde sacrifice room upstairs from when the house was built but to keep the tension, the main stuff is down below along with the cube of player death.

Want to say that I'm surprised as hell at the number of scenarios in here & thanks to the YSDC wiki, found a few reprints. Glanced at these & scared to read the rest on the simple reason of wanting to be run through all of these, especially the solo adventure that looks great as a starting scenario for keepers and players.

Here's the scenario list (from 4th ed. with a few notes)
The Haunted House (in 6th ed.)
The Madman (in 6th ed.)
The Brockford House (in 1-4th ed.)
Paper Chase (solo adventure with one person & looks like fun and would love to run it after getting run through it first)*
Underground Menace**
The Rescue (well that explains the one monster image in 6th ed., not sure why it's taken out since the fiend in this is ...a werewolf :o. I know how tempting it is to put only mythos stuff in the core book but as others pointed out, seeing other things beyond the mythos makes the mythos encounters that much stronger.*
Mystery of Loch Feinn*

* moved to Cthulhu Companion ( http://catalog.chaosium.com/product_info.php?cPath=70&products_id=5116 )
** moved to Fragments of Fear ( http://catalog.chaosium.com/product_info.php?cPath=70&products_id=5115 )

Both of these are also on DrivethruRPG, link on the front MUP page for that site.



PS-also noticed while going back to this topic that from the non-forum page for episode 41 is that it's missing the obligatory text at the bottom of the notes going to the forums.
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Re: MU Podcast 041 - Ignorance Is Bliss

Post by Eibon » Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:01 pm

fox01313 wrote:Paper Chase*
Underground Menace**
Mystery of Loch Feinn*

* moved to Cthulhu Companion ( http://catalog.chaosium.com/product_info.php?cPath=70&products_id=5116 )
** moved to Fragments of Fear ( http://catalog.chaosium.com/product_info.php?cPath=70&products_id=5115 )

Strictly speaking it was the other way around: "The Mystery of Loch Feinn" first appeared in The Cthulhu Companion (1983) and was then moved to the main rule book; while "Underground Menace" started in Different Worlds magazine (no.19, 1982), and then was reprinted in Fragments of Fear (1985), then moved to the rule book.

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