Unspeakable! Episode 7 — John Scott Tynes, Delta Green and Puppetland

Welcome to Unspeakable!, the podcast of The Unspeakable Oath.

Spoiler alert for “Die High,” a scenario appearing in The Unspeakable Oath 22! Seriously, for about a minute starting at 00:51:00 we give the whole thing away.

Unspeakable! episode 7 is hosted by Ross Payton of Role Playing Public Radio and Zombies of the World, Shane Ivey of Arc Dream Publishing and The Unspeakable Oath, and Adam Scott Glancy of Pagan Publishing.

Our guest today is John Scott Tynes, who produces games and helps run the Imagine Cup competition for Microsoft — and who founded The Unspeakable Oath and Pagan Publishing and created Delta Green. His book Delta Green: Strange Authorities is now available from Arc Dream Publishing and he is developing his seminal RPG Puppetland for a new edition.

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Show Notes

00:00:00 INTRO.

00:00:23 WELCOME. Here is the sound of our voices. About John H. Crowe III’s living conditions as Scott’s roommate at Pagan House. Ross’ announcer voice: time to commit? Jonathan Turner needs to step it up.


00:13:30 THE DOOM THAT CAME WITH SANDY. Good luck, eastern seaboard! We mourn a storied sailing ship. The Elder Sign works on shoggoths.

00:16:45 VOTE!


00:22:10 YOU SHOULD HAVE OATH 21. If you don’t, contact shane@arcdream.com. We love the cover art and if Todd doesn’t then he’s wrong. Also: “Sukakpak,” a cross-platform scenario by Jason Morningstar. Ross has played Cthulhu Dark and the players made it not dark enough. Player vs. player vs. an uncaring, haunted universe. Also, Unaussprechlichen Klutzen, a playset for Fiasco“Man With a Thousand Faces,” by Richard Becker, which like his past scenario “Dog Will Hunt” got expanded and polished mightily after a ton of playtesting and has gotten huge accolades. A new “Directive From A-Cell” by Scott Glancy, with a related one coming in Oath 22: Alphonse’s Axioms for Agents.

00:45:05 ALSO IN OATH 22.

  • “Die High,” a modern scenario by Greg Stolze. The value of playtesting except when (or especially when?) Blair Reynolds is involved. Spoilers for “Die High” from 00:51:00 to 00:52:10.
  • Adam Gauntlett’s Trail of Cthulhu scenario “Remember, Remember,” featuring Guy Fawkes Night in 1930s London, which ties nicely to Bookhounds of London.
  • Dan Harms explores building a long-term Call of Cthulhu campaign.
00:56:60 NEWS.
  • Oath submission policies updated. Why we pay so much for micro fiction.
  • The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedianow in ebook.
  • The status of The Sense of the Sleight-of-Hand Man, a Dreamlands campaign for Call of Cthulhu by Dennis Detwiller.
  • Disposable characters from Rasil Bathbone to Backwash Bejesus and beyond.
  • The Delta Green RPG. See Dennis’ paintings for the game at delta-green.com. See Shane’s discussion of the game in an RPG.net live chat.
  • Bumps In the Night. If you are Lawrence Krumsiek, get in touch! Your contact information from Kickstarter was all wrong and Pagan Publishing has a book for you. Now available at Arkham Bazaar. Scott is Skyping games all over the world.
  • Ross’ latest Kickstarter project, Base RaidersIt made it!
  • Cthulhu World Combat, Sandy Petersen’s new video game.
  • The Devil’s Rock, suspiciously similar to Dennis Detwiller’s “Night and Water.” Only with Satan instead of the Mythos.


  • Will there be a reprint of Realm of Shadows? 
  • Everybody loves John Scott Tynes’ “Convergence.” Listen to the original digital audio files John prepared as clues in his game. In fact, download here: The Message, before decoding and after decoding — but for maximum impact make the players use software to decode it themselves. (Spoiler alert from 01:37:30 to 01:38:20!)
  • John’s dream RPG project, his lost college Yellow Sign campaign.
  • Miscegenation and Lovecraftian horror.
  • The staying power of Delta Green: verisimilitude, campaign frameworks, tragic heroism, honor and violence, and the worldwide allure of the American Old West.
  • Rehabilitating Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. (Spoiler alert from 01:51:10 to 01:53:30 for The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.) 
  • Also, “The Hound” and the competitive indie RPG it ought to be.
  • Recovering horror in your game.
  • The design of the D20 edition of Call of Cthulhu that Pagan Publishing produced with Monte Cook for Wizards of the Coast: Burn it all and let every Keeper start over.
  • The mysterious Cowan in in Tynes Cowan Corp.
  • John’s favorite parts of Delta Green that he didn’t write. How Wackenhut made Shane miss the infamous London encounter at the beginning of Countdown. We love Graeme Price so hard.
02:22:38 INTERVIEW.
  • All about Delta Green: Strange Authorities. The relationship between Delta Green and its great rival. Tangled timelines. Legal procedurals.
  • Serendipitous research and collaboration.
  • Adoration of Delta Green’s Project Rainbow.
  • The challenges of writing for the Cthulhu Mythos. The new bacon. Starting with story.
  • The return of Puppetland. Its origins online and its Hogshead version. Teaching kids with Punch the Maker-Killer. Developing a new edition for ebook and hardcover.
  • Collecting John’s King in Yellow stories.
  • Further projects.
  • Let’s bring Puppetland to a Dreamworks film, Happy Meals and action figures near you.


03:03:05 MANY THINGS TO DO. (Spoiler alert! The sounds of “Convergence,” decoded.)

This episode’s music includes “Some Things Man Was Not Meant to Know” and “Nyarlathotep” by the Darkest of the Hillside Thickets, courtesy Divine Industries. Copyright 2012. Visit www.thickets.net.

ADDENDUM: We forgot to include a link.

4 comments for “Unspeakable! Episode 7 — John Scott Tynes, Delta Green and Puppetland

  1. weso
    November 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Would John be willing to share that Yellow sign outline with me. I promise not spread it around without prior permission. Also, does he recall the name of that article he referenced on agrarians vs. Herdsmen?

    Also thank you all for spreading the cat piss and speedloaders lifestyle.

  2. Graeme
    November 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    My giant pumpkin head just exploded!
    Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Doc_Gerard
    November 19, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Excellent show, Unspeakables. Great stuff on the D20 book that I overlooked, like so many other thoughtless snobs. Now hunting down a copy so I can put all that great campaign and craft advice in my brains.

    I immediately bought myself a copy of Oath 21 — and it’s just chockablock full of awesome sauce. Sukakpak — what a nicely written little piece. It’s like a haiku of a scenario. Must. Run. It.

    But now I must respectfully take you to task.

    I think you might’ve misrepresented Cthulhu Dark a bit, here. Sorry Ross — author of Zombies of the World and other fantastic game-related materials — but I disagree strongly that CD necessarily devolves into PvP and wrestling over narrative control. Also disagree that the only way for a player to die is for another player to call for their failure.

    The rule on failure: “If someone thinks it would be more interesting if you failed, they describe how you might fail and roll a die.”

    This distinction of “more interesting” is a really important one, I think. Yup, it’s open to abuse. One could say that “more hilarious” is a kind of interesting. Tom did. Caleb did. But with some judicious guidance, I do think a Keeper can set the tone for how the rule is used. To encourage a certain flavor, one could say “if someone thinks it would be more Lovecraftian” or “horrific” or “bleak” or “dramatic.”

    As written, I believe the rules indicate that the Keeper also has the option to roll against a player for the chance to narrate their failure. In this way, the Keeper can make the game every bit as dark and lethal as the best and worst of CoC.

    You can also play it like a comic fiasco, as RPPR did in Caleb’s biblical yarn and in Dead Island. That has got to have something to do with the mood at the table. Ross, I challenge you to run a CD game with a darker tone. I think the tools are there for one.

    I also think it’s important to remember that at least half of the die results should not just be a success, but success-with-consequences. Results in the lower half of the 1D6 range indicate that a player may do what they intended, but they could face complications or even some pretty ugly outcomes. Successfully jumping out of a window only to break an ankle and alert the fishmen in the alley — this is hardly a heroic result. So I think ASG’s complaint about this game removing the uncertainty of significant die rolls is misguided.

    In addition, Graham has proposed an optional rule to add a hit point-like Harm die that might help some players get over the strictly narrative approach to mortality.

    Okay, I’m done perseverating. I just wanted to offer a counterpoint. And I think after reading Sukakpak that it would be a hell of a good scenario to try as an — extra dark — Cthulhu Dark.

    To all y’all: please keep making cool stuff. And thanks for the great podcast.

  4. December 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Been listening to these podcasts for awhile, got hooked when it was mentioned back on the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast. This episode is just as good as the others. It also got me to buy Call of Cthulhu D20 (In the hopes of maybe luring my players to the dark side and away from safety of D&D. I have already got them partway there with Cthulhu Dark myself).

    I cant wait to see Puppet Land resurface so I can fund/buy it.

    As I have come to expect from you fine people, another great and informative episode, just please, know you folks are busy and have lives, but please make these more regular?


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