MUP 59 – Build a Better Rat Trap...

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Keeper Dan
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MUP 59 – Build a Better Rat Trap...

Post by Keeper Dan » Mon Jun 30, 2014 3:40 am

MU Podcast 059 – Build a Better Rat Trap, and the Mythos Will Beat Down Your Door

In episode 59, investigate the scurrying of tiny feet in a new Bestiary, and talk about what makes the Cthulhu Mythos appeal to us so much as a gaming backdrop. -- Plus a talking mongoose!

Campus Crier
Chaosium just gave its website a facelift, and it's looking pretty slick.

Alumni Dinner signups will continue until July 21st. Just go to this link for the signup.

Age of Cthulhu 8: Starfall Over the Plateau of Leng Kickstarter is complete!

Legends of Cthulhu Action Figure Line reveals their next 2 stretch goals... an HP Lovecraft figure, and 12 inch Cthulhu!

Badger McInnes, the Prince of Dark Layout Projects and mastermind of Squamous Studios, is in the midst of his Feed the Shoggoth! Card Game Kickstarter. Chad says it's a damned good game and you want to have it!

Our Indiegogo campaign update: The dice will be arriving this week, and some pieces of content are well in progress. If you haven’t seen an e-mail from, check your spam filter, and let Dan know. He also needs to know what name you want us to use on the "thank you" page, and shipping info for Senior level backers who will be getting dice.

Card Catalog
We visit yet another vast research resource this week: the Library of Congress Image Search.
Here are just a couple of examples to check out, including Ansel Adams' archive of WWII Japanese internment camps. And check out the historical stereographs for use as props or inspiration.

History Lecture
And we have another lecture from Dr. Gerard on the topic of: Gef the Talking Mongoose.
For more info, Gef got his own episode of Monster Talk.

Gef did very well in a "Miss Cryptid" monster pageant on Blurry Photos.
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

Even the Wall Street Journal has covered the story of Gef.

Will Murray makes a strong case in a 1982 article in Crypt of Cthulhu that Gef could have inspired HP Lovecraft's Brown Jenkin, since media frenzy on this story predates Dreams in the Witch House by only four months.

Cryptocurium Spot
This week, we're featuring the Cthulhu Cultist Medallion. It's hand cast in solid resin and is available in two paint finishes: “Arkham Alloy” and “R’lyean Stone.” Each medallion comes attached to a custom black suede cord and is ready to wear or hang.
A must have for the true cultist!
Medallions measure 4″ inches across
$30 each + shipping
$50 for set of 2 + shipping

Put out the traps and call the exterminator -- we've got a Rat-Thing infestation!

Aside from Gef the Talking Mongoose, another possible inspiration for the Brown Jenkin: testimony against accused Salem witch, Bridget Bishop.

Because of a random tangent, we interrupt these show notes to link a video of the Devil Went Down to Georgia, and also another version by Primus (with claymation!).

The conversation also brought up the MV Lyubov Orlova, or as known in the press as the Cannibal Rat Ship! And as he is wont to do, Ken Hite wrote an article about how to apply this wonderfully bizarre story to roleplaying.
Here is a comment about the ship from CNN.

Chad also mentions Rat Kings, an apparently real event where a group of rats get their tails stuck together so they act as a writhing mass of screeching yuck.

By the way, there's an unsettling Brown Jenkin sculpture available on Cryptocurium at the Silver Membership level of The Inner Sanctum.

Joe Broers also has a couple of Brown Jenkin pieces Here is the original one, andhis current one.

Main Topic
What is appealing about the Mythos

Not mentioned during this show, but we offer in interesting mystery: the term "Mythos" has been on the rise over the last couple of decades. But it also spikes for some reason between about 1830 and 1840. Why?

Feminist Yog-Sothoth image gallery.

The Hum, is mentioned in episode 40 of Blurry Photos about strange sounds.

Dan mentions that phenomenon about sounds you can't hear as you get older, here is a page on Science Blogs that explains it, and has samples to test your own hearing. Dan can hear from 8,000 Hz to 14,000 Hz.
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Dr. Gerard
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Re: MUP 59 – Build a Better Rat Trap...

Post by Dr. Gerard » Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:46 pm

I have to issue a correction on something I said during our Mythos discussion.

Near the very end of the show (1:36:45), Jon mentioned that the Dark Young was an invention of by Sandy Petersen. That's true.

Petersen's inspiration was The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, a synonym for Shub-niggurath. Before that point, the term "Dark Young" had not been used, and not described in the tree-like way that we've come to know.

I said Robert Bloch had used the term "Dark Young" in his 1951 story "Notebook Found in an Abandoned House," and I was wrong.

He referred to the 1000 Young, but described the example in the story as a "shoggoth." I misread the entry from Dan Harms' Encyclopedia Cthulhiana.

Separately, the Mi-go get a few mentions in At The Mountains of Madness, as one of the creatures depicted in pictorial histories. We had said Mi-go were not mentioned outside of The Whisperer in Darkness.
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Re: MUP 59 – Build a Better Rat Trap...

Post by Eibon » Tue Jul 08, 2014 12:51 pm

Rat Things can be dangerous if used with care. They are, after all, intelligent.

I remember running a campaign where the players had kidnapped a "modern-day" (1920s) witch. Her familiar was a Rat Thing, so the animal chewed through the brake cable of the player's car. They decided that they needed to take the witch to the coast where they could "interview" her in peace, so they threw her in the boot and piled into the car. When asked, the driver said he was going fast! When he tried the breaks I gave him a drive roll as the brakes failed. He failed the roll so the car ended upside down in a field killing or maiming most of the party! The survivors also had to explain why they had a dead woman tied up in the boot of their car... So Rat Things can be very dangerous indeed.

The Rat Ship myth seems to me to be related to the short story "Three Skeleton Key", by George G. Toudouze, a story made famous on American radio adaptions. It's the story of a remote lighthouse besieged by rats from an unmanned ship which has foundered on the rocks the lighthouse is there to warn of. Gradually the hungry rats gnaw their way to the only food -- the lighthouse crew.

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Re: MUP 59 – Build a Better Rat Trap...

Post by Shannon Mac » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:47 am

I especially liked the topic on why many of us are drawn to the Mythos/Call of Cthulhu RPG.
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Re: MUP 59 – Build a Better Rat Trap...

Post by Shimmin Beg » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:04 am

I'm still midway through this one, but wanted to give out early props for the first ever (as far as I can tell) mention of the Isle of Man in RPG circles. Mannin aboo! I have (very) distant daydreams of doing some RPG writeups of the Isle, as well as my native Merseyside area. It has this interesting folklore where Celtic mythology is sort of "domesticated", like a kind of insural dwarfism of myth: the sea-god turns into a benevolent wizard guardian, monsters are concerned about people not doing their housework, and the fairies are definitely grumpy little people.

In terms of the prevalence of Mythos, I'd need a much better collocation index than I can get my hands on right now, but I'm wondering whether it isn't related to the rise of orientalism and Egyptology in the 1820s? Before that it seems to often relate to classics, mostly Greek as you might expect, and quite a few results are German. By 1830ish there are a lot of references to Egyptian and Hindu mythos, which I barely noticed in earlier results. What I can't guess is what happened to end the surge - perhaps an influential writer adopted another term and that took favour, or perhaps the fads died suddenly (in literary terms at least) in favour of something else. A really good database would help answer that, maybe someone else has access?

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Re: MUP 59 – Build a Better Rat Trap...

Post by Dr. Gerard » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:50 am

I attended Bangor University in Gwynedd, Wales for a year, and often cast my eyes across the water toward the Isle of Man wondering what mysteries might be hiding there. I even planned a trip there once that was aborted due to a sudden flu.

Great thoughts about the use of Mythos. Seems worth looking into for potential hooks. Not that the Mythos calls itself Mythos. But it would make an interesting detail in a scenario surrounding the Egyptology fascination of that time.
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