MUP 044 – What a Twist!

In episode 44,, Keepers Dan and Chad tuck into a cornucopia of topic ideas from excellent voicemails and email feedback, including a listener suggestion about the use of twist endings in scenarios and campaigns. We also talk about throwing your home turf into a game, memorable gaming stories, how to get kids involved in tabletop role play, and some solid writing about the use of tomes in Call of Cthulhu. Plus, like…tons more.

Campus Crier

  • Goodman Games is offering grab bags this holiday season, and some of them will include a hand-drawn sketch and new spell for the game from Keeper Jon. The bundles are filled randomly, so there is no guarantee that a buyer The prop comes with Keeper notes on how to use the spell in his scenario, Timeless Sands of India.
  • Announcing: The Crom Cast, a new literary podcast about the works of Robert E. Howard. They’re starting with the Conan stories.
  • An update on the Cthulhu Britanica London Box set Kickstarter from Cubicle 7: Ken Hite has been named as a contributor, along with Call of Cthulhu and Cthulhu Wars designer Sandy Petersen and a host of others including Robin Laws, Graeme Davis, Gav Thorpe and many more.  Check the Kickstarter page above for more updates and news to come.
  • Sponsor shout-outs: A big cephalopod thanks goes out to SamS and mrjohnmarchughes for their support!
A good part of this episode is our response to feedback, which includes:
  • Sam sent in a nice voicemail to express support and plant the seed for a possible meetup at a convention sometime down the road.
  • Jonathan, a South African living in Japan, sent an email about his use of South African history in a scenario, and speaking in a language his players don’t understand for dramatic effect.

Hey guys! I just wanted to comment about your main topic in episode 42 and where one finds inspiration for story ideas. I am a South African living in Japan, and I run some DnD and Call of Cthulhu games for my American and Canadian friends living in the area I work in. One of my more successful one-shot games I made was based off of South African history, set in the 1920s. I wanted to set a game in South Africa, but since I couldn’t any published scenarios or modules set in South Africa in the 1920s I had to make it myself, drawing on what I learnt in history class in high school and finding some way of incorperating that, the Cthulhu Mythos and my second language (Afrikaans) into the game to isolate the players on every front. The result was a feud between the British inhabitants in the town of the setting with some bitter Afrikaner cultists, with the PCs right in the middle not knowing who to trust. Having the NPCs talk in Afrikaans to the players really unnerved them, especially in the finale. Inspiration can hide anywhere be it in your daily life, the language you speak or what you learnt in class. I am currently working on another one short for next year, using the setting of a Japanese high school familiar to myself and many of my players work every day, and I can already see how I can twist the everyday into the surreal and the horrible thanks to your advice in this episode. Thanks again, and keep up the fantastic work! Go Pods! — Jonathan

  • Ian, the creator of our Fighting Cephalopod mascot, sent a voicemail asking for our most memorable moments in horror gaming. This is a great topic to throw back to listeners on the forum! What’s your most monumental story from past CoC game sessions? Oh, and in one of Chad’s memorable gaming stories, he mentioned a creepy piece of music called the Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima.
  • Clark sent an email outlining some interesting tweaks he made to The Haunting to extend it into a campaign — with one of the monsters we’ve covered before on the Bestiary segment.
Last night was my first time in the Keeper’s seat in 20 years. I have to say it would not have been nearly as successful without the MU podcast. I’m still catching up the current episodes, but the back-catalog is very helpful. Based on tips from episode 16, I ran The Haunting, making a few changes and leaving a few bread crumbs to start a multi-scenario campaign. Based on the Special Collections Vault in episode 17, I made Walter Corbitt (the undead antagonist from The Haunting) a semi-autonomous servant of Glaaki, attempting to spread the cult to the New World. I Replaced Corbitt’s relatively mundane magic dagger with the otherworldly broken spine that made Corbitt the “man” he is today. Additionally, the investigators were able to recover several volumes of the Revelations of Glaaki, written in an unknown language in order to meter out information whenever new, horrible, plot advancing information is needed. Also, Keeper Dan’s Skill Fraction Chart and the Character Creation Process sheet were huge helps. Thanks for the valuable and entertaining resources. Cheers – Clark
  • Nigel, who posts as Citysliker on the forums, sent a voicemail asking about advice for getting kids involved in role playing games, and making a jump across the chasm between board games and role playing games.

Card Catalog

Our online gem this week also comes to us via our feedback, from a listener who posts on the YSDC forums as Shimmin Beg. He responded to our discussion of tomes back in Episode 39:
Hi guys — firstly, I should say thanks for doing the podcast; it’s a great show and I really enjoy listening. Great for jogging on those dark winter evenings out in the middle of nowhere… I just finished episode 39, where you were talking for a while about handling tomes and tome-reading in games. I’ve actually spent quite a while thinking and writing about this stuff on a couple of different blog series, one specifically about reading in Call of Cthulhu on YSDC, and a more general one on my main blog. Unfortunately tags and things got lost in the YSDC renovation so it takes a little digging to find all the posts. Sorry for the self-promotion, it just seemed like they might be relevant. (Message shortened.) — Shimmin Beg
Check out Shimmin Beg’s blog posts on the subject here. And check out a great forum thread on the topic over at YSDC here. Then, we listen to a voicemail from Steve all the way in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a little Southeast Asian monster talk.

Lecture Series

This week Dr. Gerard gets Dickensian with a pretty dark lecture about the “Baby Farms” of Victorian England.
“Yeah. That’s really messed up.” — Keeper Dan


In honor of the winter season’s bittersweet arrival, Dan and Chad decided to plug the Esquimaux Cthulhu Fetish for this week’s sponsor spot. It’s cool. It is based on a description that comes right out of HPL’s pages.
But just now of prime significance was the fetish which this cult had cherished, and around which they danced when the aurora leaped high over the ice cliffs. It was, the professor stated, a very crude bas-relief of stone, comprising a hideous picture and some cryptic writing. And so far as he could tell, it was a rough parallel in all essential features of the bestial thing now lying before the meeting.”-The Call of Cthulhu , H.P. Lovecraft
And check out the Ideology of Madness podcast’s Ghosts of Reignsborough Horror Actual Play.

Main Topic

Since we were on a skeleton crew this week, our listener-suggested Side Topic was promoted to Main Topic. This one comes to us from Zombiemaster. He wanted to hear about “twists” in scenarios and campaigns. What ensued was a discussion with lots of twists and turns — and sometimes we accidentally wandered back onto the topic. Anyway, hopefully we covered enough to spark more discussion about it on the forums! Here’s a clip from Zombiemaster:
…how do you all feel about, create and handle the “twists” in scenarios? Example: I have written a scenario centered around Cthulhu Rising, so it’s SciFi. I have spent a lot of time creating docs and handouts all in the SciFi genre, even going as far as printing everything on projector cells, because as well all know, paper in the future is clear plastic sheets. But, the twist comes in when the players complete the intro and move into the next phase, which puts them into a fantasy setting. So there is a ton of build up in the scifi side, world background and all that, but then I shove them into a magic laden fantasy setting, like D&D (although in this case, it’s not). To me this a “twist” and I love twist and surprises. I am writing a zombie scenario where the Zompocolypse happens at an elementary school. Players take on the role of surviving children who have to escape their now zombie-kid infested school. But, the way I have set up the scenario for the players, they have no idea it’s a zombie game. Surprise! Thanks! — Zombiemaster
We’ll let Robot Chicken have the last word on the subject. The forum thread for this episode can be found here.  ]]>

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