MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

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fox01313
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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by fox01313 » Wed Jan 29, 2014 11:28 pm

Great show guys & never really realized how crazy things can get with the conventions especially with the wacky idea of the tournament style of play for Call of Cthulhu games. One thing I think that all people writing scenarios should take away from the episode this week is the importance of good design with the pre-generated characters. Not only how they are designed for the story but also by putting in a sentence or two talking about how the pre-generated characters know each other & what they think of each other based off that but also giving a little something for the keeper too where if there's multiple paths on how to get the player characters involved, a few short sentences on the characters can be there to make it easy if someone is new or stuck at where to go at the start. Example that comes to mind would be, after connecting one character to knowing another in some way, have one character friends with some of the police or town hall, another who works for the school, etc. Then if the keeper/players want to use this as a starting point, they can do that or just scrap it if the keeper has some other way of getting the group together. If it's all kept short it won't hurt the word count & give the game a little more depth.

Also putting in the link to my favorite RPPR audio play that's relevant to the topic for the show, doing a good job at being slightly naughty & quite creative with the scenario.
http://actualplay.roleplayingpublicradi ... -the-king/
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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by WinstonP » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:37 am

I enjoyed the episode but wish you'd have at least mentioned John Tynes' reinvention of Hastur for Delta Green. He took something kind of bleh and heavily based in some of Derleth's weaker work and wholly transformed it into one of the defining elements of the setting.

Additionally, there are at least four versions of The Kings in Yellow (see here)
James Blish includes portions of it in his story "More Light"
(Revised by Lin Carter in "Tatters of the King" in The Hastur Cycle
Thomas Ryng produced one
John Tynes wrote a short one, recently made available as a gift to Unspeakable Oath subscribers
and another one by Thomas Tafero called "The Tattered King"

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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by Eibon » Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:09 pm

Another great podcast, guys.

The history of the Hastur Myth Cycle got a little confused, although the major points where all there: Bierce invented the names, Carcosa ("An Inhabitant of Carcosa"), Hastur ("Hiati The Shepherd"), Hali (as a person) and a couple of others. Chambers took these names and formed them into a more consistant background for his book. Lovecraft mentions Hastur and the Lake of Hali in "The Whisperer In Darkness". Derleth then took the idea that Hastur was part of the Mythos, making him Cthulhu's "half-brother" and strongly implying that Hastur sides with the Elder Gods against the Cthulhu and Co and has him imprisoned on Aldebaran (from Chambers) and served by the Byakhee ("The Return of Hastur" through to The Trail of Cthulhu). Derleth's version then dominated until the RPG arrived, then Tynes makes his own version and the Chambers influence becomes much stronger. Which brings us up to date.

Marion Zimmer Bradley used Chambers as inspiration for her science fantasy Darkover novels, set on a planet near Aldebaran where aspects of the play repeat themselves in the ruling dynasty of the planet's colonists. Karl Edward Wagner also produced some excellent Hastur/King In Yellow fiction using Chambers more than Lovecraft as his model.

There is everything you might want to know about the cycle at: http://kinginyellow.wikia.com/wiki/Have ... ow_Sign%3F -- a really excellent resource covering non-mythos uses as well as the Mythos aspects.

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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by Dr. Gerard » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:03 pm

Nvision wrote:Just wanted to chime in with some different con experience... I've been lucky enough that at our local, semi-annual con I have had the pleasure of running some very dark and atmospheric games.

The venue is the conference hall of the city library, and they have a pair of separate board rooms that are reserved for games that either require quiet or larger than normal numbers. I travel with a portable speaker and mp3 player, so these rooms let me set the tone with great atmospheric sound. After my initial convention, I found that I was attracting either perfect horror gamers or new players who are willing to buy in to the tone or follow the lead of more experienced players. I have had games where the players want confrontation, or play things so hardcore they'll derail the scenario by burning down buildings rather than go inside and investigate, but I've also had players who really get into their roles and consider the potential consequences. I've even run a particularly bloody Delta Green scenario in which not one drop of blood was shed, the gruesome horrors were stemmed, and the agents faded into the background.

I wonder if other convention organizers could be approached to find out of space outside of the main hall is available? Call of Cthulhu in a broom closet? :p I think it can really enrich the con experience for both Keeper and players.

*edit* Yeah...I probably shouldn't comment before I've finished listening to the whole podcast :p Jon, if you were able to get that private room, I'm sure you would have rocked out that dark, intense scenario!
I would like to go even further and say I don't think people should be discouraged from running atmospheric, Lovecraftian scenarios at cons, even if you're in a loud room. I've played in plenty of very creepy games at cons, some without any combat at all. It's true that you have way less control over your environment and you often don't get to use all the tools and special effects you have available at home. But I do think you can create a very dark imagined space if you can get your players to buy in. As Jon mentioned, you can use your printed game blurb to set expectations early and hopefully recruit players that are somewhere near the same mindset. If you put tommyguns and TNT and spell casting language in your blurb, you're more likely to get the rowdy crowd. If you talk about cosmic horror and use atmospheric language, you'll set expectations in that direction.

Clearly, a smaller room is great if you can swing it. But I think even if you run a truly creepy game in a loud hall with distractions, you can create experiences at the table that people will revisit in memory afterwards for days or years to come. You can create moments (more to the point, allow the players to create moments) where the full horror doesn't take effect until you're back at the hotel room or telling the story to friends after the con. This has happened to me a lot as a player in atmospheric con games. At the table, the din of a noisy table nearby might diminish the mood, but later I will recall and savor something disturbing that happened in the game.

I like pulp games, too. When I put my game schedule together as a player, I tend to alternate flavors a bit. Night time games tend to be darker, so I will often schedule something more like Cluethulhu during the daytime slots. I do tend to focus on horror, but if I have choices I will think about the flow of the weekend and try to get some variety. I depend a lot on those written blurbs to let me know what kind of tone I'm signing up for.

Another way to help buy in -- at 1D4 Con in Virginia last year, GMs were able to contact the players that signed up for their games beforehand. I struck up correspondences with some of my players, discussed characters and background ahead of time, and helped to set the tone. I even recommended movies and short stories for interested players -- also a good trick for your blurb if you have room. So when we were at the table, I didn't have to work very hard to get those juices flowing. We were in the middle of a noisy hall on a Sunday morning, but I'd be hard pressed to remember running much creepier sessions in my home games, and I give full credit to the players. I feel like I just gave them permission and worked with what they brought to the table.

Anyway, obviously you have to go with the flow and adapt. Jon, it sounds like you had some bad luck for your ambitious 2-session game. A high-pulp action game is certainly easier to run.

But we do not run dark horror games because they are easy. We run them because they are hard.

The president of the United States once said that.
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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by EddyPo » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:47 pm

I just finished this episode and really loved it. I got a lot of great information out of it. I was especially interested in the talk about tournament games as that's been something I've been thinking about lately. I've never been in a tourney game (of any RPG) and I'd be interested to hear from anyone here who has written/run/played in one.

Also, not strictly a tournament game, I've been thinking about a multi-part Delta Green con game. I don't have much more than a concept. My idea is to have 3 separate cells. Each one gets run through their own unique scenario (perhaps a quick shotgun type scenario). The scenarios are linked and run in serial; the clues and experiences of an earlier cell's mission might inform and aid the subsequent cell's mission (lack of info or bad info would cause misery). Everything culminates in a final scenario in which the survivors from each cell get to participate in as a group to dispel the threat. I love the idea, especially because of it's emphasis on cell compartmentalization and possible distrust of information. "What did we learn Cell-V? Can we trust that?" from but it might be a bit too ambitious. I'll have to give it more thought.
Last edited by EddyPo on Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:31 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by Graham » Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:50 pm

Good episode.

You might be interested to know that an interactive fiction game based on the Justin Tynes scenario "The King of Shreds and Patches" exists see: The King of Shreds and Patches (Solo interactive fiction version)
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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by fox01313 » Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:27 pm

Quick question for the folks here, with convention games, if using a laptop, what software do most people go with to record games at the convention or for local games? Just starting to hunt for these as I might be running a game soon & just looking for something that is easy to use without a ton of editing to get it to a mp3 format.

I'm used to audio/video editing & would just prefer to avoid it but it's something I can do if necessary.
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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by EddyPo » Sat Feb 01, 2014 12:18 am

fox01313 wrote:Quick question for the folks here, with convention games, if using a laptop, what software do most people go with to record games at the convention or for local games? Just starting to hunt for these as I might be running a game soon & just looking for something that is easy to use without a ton of editing to get it to a mp3 format.

I'm used to audio/video editing & would just prefer to avoid it but it's something I can do if necessary.
I think I'd prefer to use an external device for my recording (Like a hand held Tascam). Barring that I'd look into Audacity or maybe Garage Band.
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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by Keeper Dan » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:55 pm

I agree with EddyPo. You're going to see better reliability with using a portable recorder.
Here are a few that would serve you pretty well for around the table type recording-

Tascam DR-05 Portable Handheld Digital Recorder Bundle
Nice, inexpensive stereo recorder.

TASCAM iM2 Channel Portable Digital Recorder
If you have an iOS device, this plugs in and makes your phone/tablet into a recorder. File size may be an issue here though.

Zoom H1 Handy Portable Digital Recorder
Here's a mono-channel recorder that's a little smaller than the Tascam.

If you'd really prefer going straight to a laptop or netbook, then this might suit your needs-
Samson Go Mic Compact USB Microphone

I hear good things about the Blue Yeti brand too.

Here's a quick definition so you know what you're looking at with mics.
Condenser mics are designed to pick up all the sound around it. This is more appropriate for setting one mic in the center of the table so everyone is heard by it.
Dynamic mics are designed to only pick up the sounds coming from the one focused end. This is what you want for studio recording like a podcast. A Condenser mic in a closed room will pick up every echo and bump in the room, while a dynamic mic will ignore most of that stuff.
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Re: MU Podcast 048 - The Con in Yellow

Post by Graham » Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:41 pm

An unusual Chambers (& Lovecraft) reference can be found in the first volume of the GURPS: Space Atlas line dating from 1988 in which can be found the following worlds:

Carcosa (Orbits a neutron star, apparently captured before being scorched, dotted with cyclopian stone ruins)
Hali (Barely habitable, but mineral rich, currently being terraformed)
Al-Azrad (Gas Giant, largest world in it's system)

One other system under colonization is home to 'Deepies' (Deep-Ones?) who are at war with the settlers.
"If you do good, you'll live forever, if you do bad, you'll die hearing a single note for I am the one true sound...", Fragment found in a cult hideout.

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