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NIGHT AT HOWLING HOUSE - MEET THE CAST:

Before stepping foot into Howling House, get acquainted with the folks who've unwittingly signed up for this fools' errand. This preemptive presentation is a calm before the storm to learn more about this season's cast and the classic Call of Cthulhu scenario that they'll bring to life in new and unusual ways.

Showrunner Cat Blackard and Keeper Luke Stram are joined by artist Manda Bruno, Mystery Program alum Brandon Gerson, Chris LeBrane of Chris LeBrane's Campaign and The Universal Funk Orchestra, and our series' Sound Designer, Colin Peterson. For this very special adventure, they'll all get in touch with their inner child because they're playing Kevin Ross' The Dare - a storied scenario where players are youths venturing into a purportedly haunted house.

 

Learn about the unique stats governing these pint-sized protagonists, the characters our cast is portraying, and other behind-the-scenes insights before these fearsome festivities begin.

CallofCthulhu_HowlingHouse_AlbumArt.png

Full Transcript Below

Original score composed and performed by Ryan and Mike McQuinn of Neon Dolphin Music Design

Album Art by Sarah DeLaine and Ashley Lanni

EPISODES:

Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

TRANSCRIPT:

[Omniverse Audio Brand]

[SFX: Radio static, the dial tunes until…]

ANNOUNCER:
The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program is for mature audiences only.

Please listen at your own discretion.

If you find our stygian stories simply scintillating, head to CthulhuMystery.com to join our community of fans and unlock further secrets at Patreon.com/OmniverseMedia.  

[Calm music fades]

CAT BLACKARD:
Welcome to The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program. I’m Cat Blackard, the showrunner of this series, and it is such a pleasure to once again be haunting your radio waves as we delve into the horrifying world of HP Lovecraft and meld the improvised narrative of tabletop roleplaying with cinematic audio drama.

This is our “Meet the Cast” episode of our series, “Night at Howling House.” A little get-together we like to do as we gather ’round to collaborate in the creation of these terrifying tales, you know, before we find ourselves elbow-deep in gore and gibbering in an arcane language. We like to have a nice little chat to check in with our cast and provide a little context for who we are, what we’re doing, and how this unusual show of ours works.

Joining me, as always, is our Master of Games here at The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program, our Keeper of Arcane Lore and facilitator of fearsome follies: Luke Stram.

LUKE STRAM:
Hello, there! It’s me, Luke!

CAT BLACKARD:
Luke and I are joined around the table by an incredible cast, some who you haven’t met before, and some of whom you may be familiar with…in some shape or form. For instance, I’d like to introduce to you one of the most important people in making The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program. Someone who has communed with our listenership very intimately, though they may not have known it: our Sound Designer, Colin Peterson.

COLIN PETERSON:
Hey. How’s it goin’?

CAT BLACKARD:
You may also know Colin as the voice of Barthalemew Aelfgar Gleem’n on Dungeons and Doritos, the roleplaying fantasy series that started our journey into RPG audio drama podcasts back in…oooh…2009. Colin’s since taken this decade-plus of immersive tabletop roleplaying experience and used it as the foundation for his acclaimed RPG classes at the Nashville Children’s Theatre, where young thespians create their characters and bring them to life under Colin’s wise, game-masterly tutelage.

We here at Omniverse believe that tabletop roleplaying is a dynamic tool for collaborative storytelling that can be simple, open to everyone, and yield powerful immersion and performances. Which is why I am always thrilled to offer new blood to the RPG gods here on this program. We have some Call of Cthulhu neophytes in our midst.

MANDA BRUNO:
Hey, my  name is Amanda Bruno. I’m a local Orlando artist. I’m fairly new to tabletop roleplaying games—I’ve done a little. And I’m excited to play!

CAT BLACKARD:
And we have with us Chris LeBrane of the musical acts Chris LeBrane’s Campaign and The Universal Funk Orchestra.

CHRIS LEBRANE:
Hey, how’s it going? I don’t play any RPG games. I’m an RPG virgin. So, please, be gentle if you can.

CAT BLACKARD:
Oh, my friend, make no mistake: you are diving off the deep end into stygian depths. This is a swirling vortex of pain and woe. But! The Call of Cthulhu is merciful in its rule set. It’s a fun and easy game to pick up.
 
And last, but definitely not least, we are once again graced by the presence of Brandon Gerson who famously (or infamously) played the most notorious character on our show to date: Father Grandfather, in our debut series, “The Black Birth.”
 
BRANDON GERSON:
Oh, hey! Hello, there.
 
CAT BLACKARD:
Not playing Father Grandfather.
 
BRANDON GERSON:
No, I was—
 
CAT BLACKARD:
It’s something completely different!
 
BRANDON GERSON:
—I was forbidden. I was told I was not allowed to do that.
 
LUKE STRAM:
It’s for the best.
 
CAT BLACKARD:
And, as for me, well, I’m not just the showrunner but also a player. You may recognize me as Estelle Thorpe from “The Terrible Secret of Lot X,” and I’m excited to join everyone as a bunch of new characters in a very special scenario.
 
So, Luke! The cast is assembled. What are we about to get ourselves into?
 
LUKE STRAM:
An adventure called “The Dare,” written by Kevin Ross. It recently got a re-release as a Kickstarter and I backed it and then decided it would be interesting to run it through you jokers.
 
CAT BLACKARD:
Yeah, well—I mean, you described it as an opportunity to imbue The Call of Cthulhu with a kind of Stephen King vibe, or Stranger Things, or other “kids-in-peril” kind of situations—
 
LUKE STRAM:
Yeah.
 
CAT BLACKARD:
—which is one of the things that made the game itself so unique when it came out. It was actually apparently among the first roleplaying games in general, let alone Cthulhu, where that was designed as the focus.
 
LUKE STRAM:
Yeah, that’s one of the nice things about Cthulhu, is it’s pretty well-suited to that kind of thing where you can have, like, a deep concept as a one-off thing and just run with it. I think it’s gonna be fun.
 
CAT BLACKARD:
And that whole 1980s cinema influence is pretty darn authentic because “The Dare” was originally written as one of the rounds of the original GenCon Call of Cthulhu Masters Tournament back in the late 1980s or early 1990s—not even Kevin Ross seems really sure. Now, we should make it clear: this is The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program’s own adaptation of “The Dare.” We’ve made some significant changes. So even if you’re familiar with this scenario you’ll notice some big differences. AND, though “The Dare” leans into an 80s aesthetic, our story is still set in the 1920s like the rest of Mystery Program to date. In fact, this is actually the earliest story in our timeline: it takes place in August, 1920.
 
Now, Luke, you mentioned that “The Dare” got a re-release, so we should note that the version we’re playing is that new edition, revised and updated for play with The Call of Cthulhu 7th edition.
 
LUKE STRAM:
That’s correct, yeah.
 
CAT BLACKARD:
So if you’ve listened to our “Meet the Cast” episode for “The Terrible Secret of Lot X,” there’s nothing new to explain on that front. However, there is something special about “The Dare.”

LUKE STRAM:
Yeah. This one, since everybody’s playing kids, it’s a little more out of the ordinary and, you know, they’re not necessarily going to need to know Archaeology, or Drive Car, or Operate Heavy Machinery. So all of the skills are simplified. It’s kind of a unique skill list for this game for these kids.

CAT BLACKARD:
Yeah, why don’t we get a little flavor—a little taste of it, Colin.

COLIN PETERSON:
We have Be a Pal, Be Bossy, Be Sneaky, Dodge, Fix Stuff, Notice Stuff…
[Laughs]
Play with Matches.

BRANDON GERSON:
Gym Class is good.

COLIN PETERSON:
Gym Class.

BRANDON GERSON:
Gym Class.

COLIN PETERSON:
Spooky Stuff, Science Class, Taunt.

CAT BLACKARD:
The three ‘Rs’: reading, writing, and arithmetic.

COLIN PETERSON:
That’s right!

BRANDON GERSON:
I like that all these are kind of practical and then you have Playing with Matches.

[Cast laughs]

COLIN PETERSON:
Yes.

CAT BLACKARD:
Depends on what kind of kid you are.

COLIN PETERSON:
Yeah.

CAT BLACKARD:
Let’s go ahead and introduce the characters here—but, of course, you’ll get to know them in the context of the story. Colin, who are you playing?

COLIN PETERSON:
My character’s name is Thomas Northwood, or Tommy Northwood, and his nickname is “Woods” because he is a Boy Scout. He also has a little sister who is very annoying.

MANDA BRUNO:
My character is Chelsea Northwood. She carries around, like, a little toy horse named Charlie and a bag of candy. And her best talent is annoying the shit out of her brother.

COLIN PETERSON:
Mm-hmm. She’s got, like, a 75 in Annoyance.

CAT BLACKARD:
And how about you, Chris? Who are you playing?

CHRIS LEBRANE:
I am playing Joey D. I am age 13. The stuff I carry around is a pack of cigarettes, a lighter—

BRANDON GERSON:
Whoa!

[Appreciative laughter]

CHRIS LEBRANE:
—and a switchblade.

COLIN PETERSON:
You’re a bad boy! Damn!

CHRIS LEBRANE:
Because I like to cut down my cigarettes, so I use the switchblade.

[Cast Laughs]

CHRIS LEBRANE:
Sterilize things with my lighter.

COLIN PETERSON:
Do you cut the filter off?

CHRIS LEBRANE:
Yes.

[Cast Laughs]

COLIN PETERSON:
Yeaaaah!

CHRIS LEBRANE:
Absolutely. Then I just smoke the—I smoke the filter alone!

[Cast Laughs]

CHRIS LEBRANE:
Because I want to feel real pain!

BRANDON GERSON:
It’s the 20s! Cigarettes were very safe back then.

CAT BLACKARD:
Well, I’m pretty sure there were no filters…

COLIN PETERSON:
Yeah, there probably weren’t filters.

CHRIS LEBRANE:
Exactly.

COLIN PETERSON:
Hand-rolled cigarettes.

MANDA BRUNO:
He doesn’t actually smoke them; he just sticks them in his mouth.

CHRIS LEBRANE:
And the lighter is for other sorts of mischief.

CAT BLACKARD:
And…Brandon!

BRANDON GERSON:
This time I’m playing a little boy named Dirt. That’s not his real name, but nobody knows his real name. They just call him “Dirt.” He worked and has grown up on a chicken farm even though he’s deathly afraid of chickens. His dad is a piece of crap, but unfortunately my character has Pathological Kindness, so he kind of does whatever anyone wants him to do if it makes them happy. And that’s kind of his downfall. So he’s a quaint little boy. Little—

MANDA BRUNO:
“Quaint” is a funny word to describe it.

BRANDON GERSON:
—little eleven-and-a-half-year-old little man. He’s got—he may have an M-80 and a bunch of matches. We’ll see what happens.

[Cast Laughs]

CAT BLACKARD:
And I play the bully, Roger Simmons. Who’s, you know, standard-issue kid who gets slapped around by his older brother. And it’s a bad home life, right? But he’s got to get all these kids together and they’re gonna have one crazy night before school starts.
[Coughing, transitioning from the Roger voice]
Aaanyhow that’s the party, so next this rowdy crew is going to roleplay a little of how these characters all get roped into this situation. And you, dear listener, will hear the results in glorious cinematic RPG audio drama form.
 
But, to that point, there’s another aspect of this recording that I should mention: I’ve devised a simple tool for our game today called the “Take a Moment” card. And I made this because, with most Call of Cthulhu campaigns, the investigation takes precedence. Mystery-solving is, of course, what moves the game forward. But sometimes that can mean that players don’t take space for character moments: instances where they might have an aside with one another or themselves to reflect on what’s happening to them or to connect in a meaningful way.
 
One special aspect of how we do things on our show is that we combine our actual roleplaying with scripted scenes that we record after the fact to help expand the story and ensure that we’ve got, you know, things like episodic pacing, and full character arcs, and so forth. One of our most frequent questions about the show, actually, is how we make it because we put this series together in a way so that (if I’ve done my job right, anyway), it’s impossible to tell which is which, and it all feels like one big sweeping story.

But! All that said—what I love about making the show is that it’s so improvisational, that it’s collaborative storytelling. I can script all kinds of stuff and it can sound fun and organic, but it’s so much more interesting when it’s the individual players dictating how those relationships evolve—and not me meddling behind the scenes when I’m expanding the story.
 
If you want more on, like, the nuts and bolts of how things get made, then you should check out our Patreon-exclusive podcast, Cthulhu Cthomentary where Luke, and Colin, and I dissect everything and show you how our cephalopod-ian sausage is made. I’m rambling, but to the point of empowering our players here around the table today to take matters into their own hands and feel the agency to interrupt the mystery-solving with some kind of aside, or human moment, or something, that is where the “Take a Moment” cards come in. They’re a very simple thing: just a purple card that says, “take a moment.” But it’s a visual indicator that allows players to be aware that they have the power to halt the progress of the game and have a character moment that can help expand or devise character bonds that are integral to what we’re doing here in terms of creating a story that’s both a kinetic tabletop roleplaying session and also a compelling audio drama.
 
LUKE STRAM:
And I think you picked a great game to introduce it. Because this one’s such a small setting. It’s so much more intimate. It’s all going to be taking place in pretty much one location, you know. You can have a couple of characters dawdle behind and have their own moment together and then just quickly catch up with the group. I think it’s well-suited to that.
 
CAT BLACKARD:
Yeah. And of course, if this little experiment succeeds and is well-implemented, then you, the listeners, won’t know when this has happened. You’re not going to hear somebody butt in, interrupting the narrator to “take a moment.”
 
If you think that this sounds like something you’d like to implement in your own tabletop games, you can just write “Take a Moment” on some colorful paper. But because I take things too far, as evidenced by the way we make this show, I’ve put together a simple and pretty little card. And you can download it as a ready-to-print set at CthulhuMystery.com/TakeAMoment.
 
And you can also head to CthulhuMystery.com to check out all our character sheets and stats for this series. But before you go anywhere, there’s one last very important thing that I need to share with you.
 
As of this episode’s release we’re running a crowdfunding campaign for our NEXT series, an earth-shaking, all-new Cthulhu scenario by Luke, called “The Case of the Penumbral Gate.” It stars myself and Melody Perera, returning as occultist power couple, Estelle Thorpe and Anjana Ramakrishnan. As well as new voices here on Mystery Program: Liam Malone of RPG From Scratch and Sarah Rhea Werner of Girl in Space. They play two down on their luck Bureau of Investigation agents who get in over their heads. This campaign has already been recorded, but we need your help to bring this story to life and bring it to your own table. We’re turning Luke’s original Call of Cthulhu stories into illustrated and expanded roleplaying materials so you and your friends can not only hear the maddening call, but answer it as well. There’s plenty of other exciting perks, not the least of which is your very own collection of fish coins.
 
Head to CthulhuMystery.com/Crowdfund.
 
[SFX: “Achievement Unlocked” piano chords]
 
We’re going to keep this crowdfunding campaign running as long as we can so we can bring you the strange aeons of our next series sooner and and with even more slithering, gibbering madness than before.
 
So once again that is CthuluMystery.com/Crowdfunding. Go there and help us make ready for the next grim tiding. And then join us on our latest tale, as these young souls succumb to the peril of…“Night at Howling House!”
 
[The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program intro plays—sinister]
 
GRUFF VOICE:
Do you hear that?
 
[SFX: Eerie wailing]
 
GRUFF VOICE:
In the cruel blackness of night, an unknowable evil from beyond time cries out! What dark deeds unfold on the streets of Arkham? And which unwitting souls, innocent or impure, will succumb to the maddening call? The Call...of Cthulhu!
 
[Music swells and fades]
 
ANNOUNCER:
Thanks for listening to The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program!
 
This series is recorded and produced in Central Florida and Nashville, Tennessee on lands stolen from their Indigenous people: the Timucua and Seminole, and Yuchi, Chickasaw, Shawnee, and Cherokee, respectively.

Acknowledgement of the first peoples of these lands, and the lasting repercussions of colonization is just the beginning of the restorative work that is necessary. Through awareness, we can prompt allyship, action, and ultimately decolonization. For links to aid indiginous efforts and to learn more about the first nations of the land where you live: visit cthulhumystery.com/landback
 
If you enjoy this podcast broadcast, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser and be sure to subscribe to our series via your favorite podcast player to get all the latest episodes.
 
Editing and mastering is by executive producers Colin Peterson and Cat Blackard. It’s produced by John Sebastian La Valle, and Jessica Mudd is associate producer.
 
Our score is composed and performed by Ryan McQuinn and Mike McQuinn of Neon Dolphin—home for all your custom music needs and more. Neondolphinmusic.com.
 
For full episode credits, transcripts, as well as character sheets and other supplemental material,  visit CthulhuMystery.com.
 
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the support of listeners like YOU and our incredible team of Patreon Producers, both current and those kind souls who supported us in our off-season: Ben Hohnke, Joe “Tank” Ricciardelli, MjolnirMK86, Sean Hutchinson, Sean T. Redd, Josh King, Patrick Webster, and David Vanpelt. And our Executive Patreon producers: BigBadShadowMan, Jayson O’Keeffe, Marcus Larsson, Erin Ramsay, Jaimeson LaLone, Becky Scott Fairley, and Abyzz.
 
Join the team at Patreon.com/OmniverseMedia!
 
All characters appearing are fictitious and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
 
This has been The Call of Cthulhu Mystery Program… Goodnight!
 
[Omniverse Audio Brand]