Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Mythos in my mailbox!

Happiness, courtesy of my credit card, Amazon.com, and the U.S. Postal Service:

Stuart Boon's Cthulhu Britannica: Shadows Over Scotland and issue #19 of The Unspeakable Oath both were waiting for me after the end of a long work day. Woo hoo!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sweet Birthday Haul

This weekend commemorated my 41st year on the planet. It's been a great run, and I hope to be in the race for many more years to come. I'm blessed with overall good health, great family and friends, and every day I can swing my two feet out of the bed and get on with a full day is a gift. That is the true meaning of celebrating my birthday. I am simply glad to be on the planet and in a position to enjoy many of its gifts - most of all my family and friends.

That said, I did get a pretty sweet haul of gifts from family and friends who simply spoil me:

A wireless printer for the Ipad2.

A Waterman Precision fountain pen.

A leather-covered, 400 page journal.

A bottle of blue fountain pen ink.

A shirt and tie.

A subscription to "Celebrations" Walt Disney World magazine.

A gift card to Barnes & Noble.

A gift card to Amazon.com (already spent this one!).

Two bottles of premium coffee syrup for the specialty drink of which I am particularly fond.

A lottery card (I won $15!).

Plus we all feasted on a chocolate birthday cake and ice cream.

In all, a great birthday and I'm lucky to be the recipient of such fine gifts. I've already ordered four books with the Amazon.com card, so the birthday fun will "keep on going" when the books arrive.

I'm looking forward to the first issue of "Celebrations" to arrive as well (I'm rather a Walt Disney World fanatic).

I have a great family and wonderful friends, and for them I am very glad. They are the best ongoing birthday present anyone could ever wish for.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lovecraftian Podcasts

Presently I'm keeping up with my Call of Cthulhu scenario work, but my actual "sitting down to play Call of Cthulhu" has been on a bit of a hiatus this summer as my gamer friends' work and vacation schedules have made getting together to play a bit erratic. To get my Call of Cthulhu and gaming fix, I often turn to online podcasts to see who is doing what in the wide world of Lovecraftian and gaming interests. Here is a sampling of some can't miss Lovecraftian/Call of Cthulhu podcasts:

Yog Radio. Find them at:


Yog-Sothoth.com is THE site for Lovecraftian gaming (Call of Cthulhu, Trail of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Dark, Realms of Cthulhu, you name it) as well as general Lovecraftian interests and culture. The genial, cultured host is Paul Maclean ("Paul of Cthulhu") who - along with a motley crew of merry cultists - bring you the best in all things Cthulhu gaming. Along with podcasts, there is a plethora of forums, downloads, and features. If you are into Cthulhu Mythos gaming, you owe it to yourself to check out this site, if you have not already discovered it. Audio offerings include recordings of actual play; "Yog Radio" - a general Lovecraftian/gaming podcast; and "News from Pnakotus," a news briefing of the latest in Cthulhu gaming/media/literature. Great stuff. "News from Pnakotus" is co-hosted by Paul Maclean and Chris Lackey, which brings me to...

The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. Find them at:


Hosted by talents Chris Lackey (see "News from Pnakotus" above) and Chad Fifer, this dynamic duo present readings of Lovecraft's tales and literary analysis of said stories. Production values are high and it is very entertaining. Check it out!

The Lovecraftian Obsession Podcast. Find it at:


Hosted by author Rick Dakan (The Cthulhu Cult; After Lovecraft: the Horror at Red Hook). Mr. Dakan hosts approximately hour-long interviews with Lovecraftian luminaries such as Laird Barron, W.H. Pugmire, Ken Hite, Chris Lackey and Chad Fifer (see above), Dan Harms, Robert Price, and S.T. Joshi. Informal, informative, and quite entertaining.

The Gaming Grunts Podcast. Find them at:


Gamemaster Jeff Okamoto and his fellow gaming grunts audio record their actual play sessions and take you along for the ride. Classic Call of Cthulhu campaigns ("Masks of Nyarlathotep," "Day of the Beast") are presented, along with shorter Call of Cthulhu scenarios as well as adventures from...well, "Adventure!" the rpg themed after the classic 1930s pulp serials and novellas.

Unspeakable! The Podcast of the Unspeakable Oath magazine. Find them at:


Presented by Shane Ivey, Toren Atkinson, and assorted guests, this fine podcast is the audio arm of Arc Dream Publishing's reanimation of "The Unspeakable Oath" magazine for Lovecraftian gaming. The guys have put together two lengthy podcasts (to date) and some audio extras such as their most recent panel session at this summer's GenCon. So far these podcasts are excellent as well as lengthy (perfect for long commutes in the car or long walks with the dog). Shane, Toren, and their guests are insiders in the Cthulhu publishing biz as well as devoted gamers and all-around talented guys, so this is well worth a listen.

The above are only a brief sampling of the Lovecraftian and Call of Cthulhu themed podcasts you will find out on the web. They are good starting points and will themselves provide you with hundreds of hours of enjoyable listening, if this is your area of interest.

Have other suggestions? Send a comment and share!

Friday, August 12, 2011

No Mystery Men and a Call of Cthulhu update

I am disappointed. I was slated to run the "Mystery Men" rpg this upcoming August 19th for our local gaming group. However, I got word from the host where we play that he and one of the other guys at the table are just not that interested in the game system. And these are the two biggest "superhero nerds" at the table, so...

I replied "no use running the game, then." Damn.

"Mystery Men" has a lot to recommend it, and I'm frustrated that the group does not want to give it a try. Add "Mystery Men" to the heap of games I've acquired and would like to try, but I just can't get the crew interested. Sigh.

My favorite game is Call of Cthulhu, which I've enjoyed for many years. I've been fortunate to get a few things I've written for the game published in fairly recent offerings from Chaosium and Miskatonic River Press (Arkham Now; Terrors from Beyond; More Adventures in Arkham Country). I owe both publishers a sincere debt of gratitude for considering my work and allowing it to become a part of their publications.

I've just received a check from Chaosium for my work in the upcoming "Atomic Age Cthulhu." Getting a check from them is a strong indication that this publication will see print in the not-too-distant future, for which I'm glad. There's one fellow out there in Internet-land that has gotten word of the impending release of "Atomic Age Cthulhu" and has done an absolutely whiz-bang job of drafting up an "Atomic Age" Call of Cthulhu character record sheet. Check it out here:


Terrific stuff!

Writing for Call of Cthulhu is hard work but brings great enjoyment. Although some reviewers have been fairly critical of some of my efforts, I do respect them for their opinions and their own passion for the game that we all so enjoy. I've made the acquaintance of many wonderful, talented people the last few years (fellow writers, enthusiasts, publishers), from whom I continue to learn a great deal; my respect for them deepens with each correspondence and collaboration.

As far as playing Call of Cthulhu goes, our latest campaign effort broke-down mid-summer due to diverse work and vacation schedules. The little Call of Cthulhu gaming cabal we have going here in the heart of Lovecraft country hopes to resume its sanity-shaking activities as we approach the fiery-golden glow of autumn. Typically we play on Thursday nights, but I'm hoping we can change that to Saturday evenings. Weekends can be tough with family obligations, but gaming on weeknights has become increasingly difficult for me as my work schedule is varied and my commute to and from work is a long one. So for me, gaming on Saturday nights would be a more leisurely, relaxing experience. And typically there's no getting up early for work on Sundays, so that is a bonus as well.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Haunter of the Dark

It's well past midnight, the witching hour. And I'm wide awake, of course. I've always been a night owl, and likely always will be. Fortunately I have the day off from work tomorrow, so the consequences of staying up late will not be as dreadful as would typically be the case.

Since I'm up, what shall we talk about?

A quick update on all things gaming -

Our local Call of Cthulhu game is on a hiatus until autumn. Summertime has just been too busy for everyone to commit to the every other Thursday night. I'm hoping we can change the game to Saturday nights come the autumn, as I work an hour away from where I live, and it's hectic to get home from work through tough traffic and get the house ready for the crew for 7 p.m., then run the game. Even when I'm just a player, and we're gaming at someone else's house, doing so on a weeknight is tough when the after-work commuting is difficult. Plus I'm a bit worn-out having worked most of the week, and then there is the prospect of having to work on Friday after a late Thursday night of gaming. I'll be 41 in a few weeks and pulling late nights on weeknights...I just don't recover from that like I used to. It would be so much nicer to game on Saturday nights. Everyone can be rested, nobody is rushed. I'm going to propose as such and see what sort of response it generates. We had started Chaosium's "Day of the Beast" campaign and I'd really like to play it through.

I will be running a different game on August 19th for a few members of our large, extended tribe of gamers. The game on that evening shall be "Mystery Men," the superhero rpg by John Stater that uses a variant of old-school D&D mechanics to power the rules. Since I cut my teeth on Basic D&D and then Advanced D&D in the early 1980's, I grok these rules a lot better than other systems. I also tend to like my rules simple, so I can focus on narrative rather than stopping every 90 seconds to look up a rule. Also, being a busy guy with demands at home and at work, I don't have scads of time to read and digest a lot of rulebook material. From an initial read-through, "Mystery Men" should be just the thing.

If you would like to check out the "Mystery Men" rpg, the game is available as a free PDF download on Lulu.com. Just go to Lulu.com, type in "mystery men stater" and it should pop up. There's the free PDF and an option to purchase a print copy for around seven dollars and change plus shipping. I actually bought two print copies; they were inexpensive enough, so I will use one copy at the gaming table as my "beater" copy and the other will be a sort of museum piece/back-up in case my original gets too beat-up and cola-stained from use around the gaming table. I suspect a few of the players may print out their own copies of the game from the PDF, too.

Our first adventure should be a fairly straightforward escapade so that the players can get a feel for their characters and all of us can get a sense of the mechanics in play. For the first adventure, I've planned that a psychotic antihero (actually a memorable character from a long ago Marvel FASERIP system game, played by one of the players who will be around the table on August 19th) has escaped from prison and has teamed up with another super-villain to start a new wave of terror. Our heroes must track down the escaped anti-hero then shut down the lair where he and his evil crony are planning their wicked deeds. There should be lots of goons to knock around and maybe a few robotic terrors guarding the lair of the main villains...plenty of chances to try out the game's combat system and feat system for attempting heroic and super-heroic deeds (essentially a simple, modified saving throw roll...either an opposed roll or against a target number set by the game master).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A New Beginning

I am trying to get back into blogging. I had this Google Blogger account for a couple of years, but I let it languish. My old laptop PC was so slow and creaky that the prospect of logging on to the machine to do a quick and effortless blog entry was very discouraging. But I've had this Ipad 2 for some months now, and it activates with the flick of a finger, perfect for blogging.

I revisited my blog and took a look at the old entries. With such lengthy spans between old entries, the blog was pretty much irrelevant. So I'm starting over.

I had a false start earlier today by shutting down my Google Blogger account and opening up a Wordpress account. I did this because Wordpress has a free Ipad app that works with its blog platform. To fully utilize Google Blogger, I would need the Blogpress app, costing $2.99.

I'm cheap, so I went with the Wordpress option. However, after a day of being challenged by the Wordpress platform, I have decided to return to Google Blogger. I coughed up the $2.99 and purchased/downloaded Blogpress. This is my first "new" post using the Blogpress app. I will try to upload a sample image along with this first post, to see if I've got the hang of this thing, to see how intuitive it is to post both text and media to my Google Blogger account using Blogpress. To start, let's go with an image of my favorite attraction at my favorite place on earth:

Mission accomplished. I think this is going to work out fine.

Speaking of the Haunted Mansion, only a couple more months until I get down to Walt Disney World for some Halloween fun. Trick or treating in the Magic Kingdom should be a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to our stay at Bay Lake Tower.

I've got a good friend going to WDW in just a few short weeks (actually, I think he's down to days...). He and his family are staying at the Polynesian.

I hope he and his family have a great time. It's August and Central Florida, so I do hope he brings plenty of sunscreen and drinks lots of liquids.