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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Radio Active #11: The Clock Strikes The 13th Hour

by Ken Newquist / July 21, 2005

Radio Active #11 is dedicated entirely to an audio review of Midnight Syndicate's The 13th Hour CD, an album designed to be used as a soundtrack for Call of Cthulhu role-playing games, but which should work well in any horror game.

Getting the Podcast

You can get the podcast in two ways:

Show Notes

  • Intro
  • To catch up the folks who may just be joining us because iTunes 4.9 or some other source:
    • My name's Ken Newquist and I've been publishing, editing and writing Nuketown since 1996
    • Do a fair amount of freelance writing, including a monthly column called "Summon Web Scryer" in Knights of the Dinner Table and occasional game and web reviews for SCIFI.com
    • My day job is being a web applications developer at a local college ... but more on that in the next podcast.
  • The 13th Hour by Midnight Snydicate
    • This podcast is dedicated entirely to the 13th Hour, a horror soundtrack officially endorsed for Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium. I
    • Created by midnight Snydicate has been doing horror soundtracks for years. Their most recent album -- The Official Dungeons & Dragons Soundtrack -- diverged from that history to produce a sound that was reminiscent of that found in the Conan movies, yet still tinged with horror. This album sees them return to their horror routes while retaining the RPG focus.
    • IMHO, music is an essential component of a well-run Call of Cthulhu game. It helps set the atmosphere as much darkening the room and lighting some candles, and its amazing how the pacing of the game seems to shape itself to the sounds coming out of the CD player.
      • First discovered Call of Cthulhu in college thanks to my friend Adam Fox, who ran the best Cthulhu events I've ever played in, hands down.
        • A key aspect of his game was the music, which he cribbed heavily from the soundtrack for the Dark Shadows vampire soap opera.
    • The 13th Hour is the best setting music I've listened to since that long ago Call of Cthulhu session. It tells the story of the investigation of a haunted house, and the final horror that arises in the 13th hour.
      • Midnight Syndicate has given me permission to play two tracks from the album, which I'll be getting to later.
        • Track #1: "Fallen Grandeur": standard haunted house fare, relying heavily on organs backed by choral singing. Very traditional, and what people would expect, but there are better tracks on this album.
        • Track #2: "Family Secrets": Starts out with a piano playing a tempo that's reminiscent of the Exorcist and all those spooky haunting movies, before picking up the pace near the end of the song.
    • My favorite tracks:
      • "The Forgotten Path" -- the low buzz of summer insects is punctuated by the occasional crow call. Easily loopable, and excellent for those initial investigations around the exterior of the house.
      • "Time Outside of Time", one of my favorite tracks on the album. It's moody, atmospheric and darkly transcendent. In short, a perfect opener -- I can easily see playing this as the prelude music for the game, while everyone's getting setup, the candles are being lit, the last of the jokes are being told. Good, good stuff. It's a piano track, with occasional choral risings.
      • "Hand in Hand Again" is great for one of those "The Shining" moments, you know, when things start to get thin, and voices from the past start crossing over into jacks mind? This one's got a base musical track, but punctuates it with distant, almost understandable voices.
      • "Grisly Reminder" -- a discordant song that'll set your teeth on edge. The primary song is played in tune, but there's this second track that echos the first at right angles.
      • "The Lost Room" -- faster paced, with a driving, relentless background beat that should help to inspire just the right amount of tension in your players. Great for that final fight ... or even better for the escape after the fight.
      • "The 13th Hour" is the culminating, apocolyptic track in which everything goes to pieces. Works great musically, because it suddenly cuts out. But that also makes it useless for looping, which is too bad, because I think most final fights probably take longer than the 2:35 alloted.
    • Overall Rating: 9/10, mostly because that last track pissed me off.
  • Outro
    • Contacting Radio Active
    • Next time on Radio Active:
      • A whole hodgepodge of site and show news, some sort of a book review (not sure which one yet) and a review of WotC's Monster Manual III. Talk to you later!