After a Few Days of 'Wizards Unite' We're Ready to Quit the Ministry of Magic

We've got a long one today (partially to make up for Monday's short episode? Who could say!) Danielle starts us off with her impressions of The Sinking City, Frogwares' new detective game set in a Lovecraftian flooded town. She and Austin discuss the game's racial politics and how the developers shift the lens through which Lovecraft wrote his original works, while Rob draws a through line from this game to the works of Dashiell Hammet. Then Patrick stares at a wall and groans about the existence of Mario Maker 2, a game he claims is canceled because "Dan Ryckert still exists." He goes on to admit that he's become that which he hates and has actually made a level in the new game, and he liked it. We check back in on Rob's campaign in Steel Division 2 before Cado whisks us to the magical world of Wizards Unite, which turns out to look a lot like the world of Pokemon Go, which looks a lot like Brooklyn. Stick around to the end to hear our live reactions to what has to be one of the wildest commercials any of us have ever seen.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Dunking on the Harry Potter Expanded Universe? I’m there.


I cannot believe, but totally can believe, that the crew put out two podcasts this week that are both close to the three hour mark. Guess I’ll be taking the dog on some very long walks this weekend.


Thinking about how Capcom cancelled Megaman Universe back in 2010, a game which was basically a Megaman Maker.

Who’s betting that there are some people kicking themselves for not sticking with it now that they’ve seen how well received Mario Maker is? Sure, differerent gameplay styles, different audiences, different time, no guarantee it would have had the same success, but still, the thought must have crossed someone’s mind, right? It’s certainly crossed mine.


Isn’t the answer to Austin’s Jedi jurisdiction question basically at some point “Protect the Republic” got written into their mission statement in exchange for having the authority and backing of the Republic for when they go off Yojimbo-ing across the galaxy. Hence why instead of trying to mediate the Clone War, they all got ranks and clone troopers to command.


When listening to the podcast I dug through my pile of EU books and found the Dawn of the Jedi comic series, which is about the founding of the Jedi order. Using that as a guide, the Jedi Order and it’s precursor the Je’daii order are way older than the republic, by thousands of years. We know that the Republic was formed shortly after the collapse of the Rakatan Infinite empire, which is also around the time the Je’Daii order reorganized into the Jedi Order, and left the Jedi homeworld of Tython for Ossus. Some time after reaching Ossus, the republic comes into contact with the Jedi Order where they assign themselves as protectors of the republic. Regarding the precursor organization, the Je’Daii order, they had more lax rules, like Je’daii could have families, but non-force sensitive children couldn’t live on Tython because it was too dangerous. The non force sensitive descendents of Je’Daii lived on nearby planets and moons, where the Je’Daii would intervene and meddle in the other worlds. From what I’ve gathered it seems that the Jedi have been cops since before the republic existed, and when they were in contact with the republic they agreed to be cops for the republic.


Just wanna say it was great to hear Danielle’s voice (literally and figuratively) on the podcast again! :slight_smile:


Show notes! Yay!

I’m early in the podcast. I have some questions. I’ve never read a lovecraft story. I have no interest. If any story deals with existential dread of cosmic insignificance is it lovecraftian? Is it not possible to have similar themes and not have it be based on him? Or is every scary water beast lovecraftian?
Also, why are so many people so invested in . . .maybe not rehabilitating his works, but playing in his worlds?

This is my take on it but: “Lovecraftian” tends to not just refer to HP Lovecraft’s own works, but also related works written by friends / colleagues of his (August Derleth wrote a lot of “later” Mythos fiction, for example, which often gets rolled under the general “Lovecraftian” banner). I think there’s particular aspects to Lovecraftian horror which go beyond just “Cosmic Horror” in general - although, yes, a lot of the thematic elements are based on Lovecraft’s own prejudices, I’d argue that his writing style (and tendency to overuse words like “rugose”, “squamous” and spell words in archaic ways (like “lanthorne” for lantern) ) is as much an aspect of the tone of Lovecraftian fiction as the core “cosmic horror” component.

So, I think you can have “non-Lovecraftian cosmic horror” in the trivial sense that “cosmic horror” is drawn from the horror of realising the true insignificance of not just individual humans, but the entirety of humanity itself, compared to the vastness of the universe, and the immensely ancient, unknowable beings which predate humanity in it. You don’t need to write in a mannered way, or have Lovecraft prejudices and fear of miscegenation, to evoke that feeling - and it’s that feeling which people, I would hope, are drawn to (and also, a bit, the mannered writing).

The problem is that Lovecraft (and friends) is so overwhelmingly well known as “creating” this genre [although, it’s been argued that, in some sense, cosmic horror might be the oldest kind of horror, in that lots of early religions have terrifying unknowable Chaos at the borders of “civilisation”], that most people default to using “his” trappings, or even just referencing names.
(In positive senses, sometimes to subvert the negative aspects of his writing, of course: I always remember “Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear, as a great example of subverting one of Lovecraft’s horrors (and a horrifying ancient “slave race” who rebelled against their masters, in the original they appear in) by using them as part of a discussion and demolition of slavery itself - which Lovecraft certainly would have disagreed with fundamentally.)


This is factually what happened in the old cannon. Based on how new canon works we can make some vague assumptions that none of this has changed in any fundamental way.
Also, for Austin, in the recent “Master and Apprentice” book which is canonical, the Jedi place one of their shittier members more or less on the throne as a regent of a planet in a political crisis. So you kind of can still be king and a Jedi.

Thank you @aoanla for the explanation. I legitimately was unaware of how the terminology was used. The closest thing to a lovecraft thing I’ve read is Kraken by China Mievelle and I was whelmed by it. I agree with the idea that this specific sort of horror of creepies at the edges of society is totally an old thing. It’s the backbone of so much folklore. Hell, it’s the scary end of a number of religions.
My thing with dissecting the work of racists, is kind of my same hang up with the segment of fan fiction that seeks to fix the original works’ poor representation of various marginalized groups. It’s just, once something is bad enough why keep going there because ultimately you’re driving people to the source. I became immediately less interested in the ballad of black tom when I heard it was a lovecraft thing. I just have no interest in hanging out in his space. I’d much rather do new stuff. Not even necessarily new, but I’d rather not spend time unpacking exactly the ways in which he was racist. I guess it’s good for some people, but I just don’t see any value in it for myself. There’s a not insubstantial group of harry potter fans who live in a universe with an Indian Harry and Black Hermione as default. And I think that’s great. I really do. But I just am also certain that there’s some author doing a very similar thing that could totally use some support instead of funneling energy back to rowling? Or maybe I’m just a jerk and this is unimportant and people can just enjoy whatever. (spoiler: that’s totally the answer).

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I’d say that there’s certainly a lot of writers on the edge of the cosmic horror space who would completely reject any association with Lovecraft.
Jeff Vandermeer’s fiction - especially parts of the Southern Reach Trilogy - definitely dabbles in pools adjacent to cosmic horror, and he’s been very annoyed with people calling it Lovecraftian, for example. (Also because it reveals a certain limited critical language and palette from critics, who might more profitably compare it to works by, say, the Strugatsky brothers. Oh, and there’s another work to read which touches on the edges of cosmic horror whilst being somewhat different - Roadside Picnic. )


That’s my point. We all know that’s the case, but only in an abstract sense like the way you explained. What were the mechanisms by which that became Republic law? Were there efforts to spread jurisdiction to non-republic worlds? Etc. Give me the politicking.


I’ve gone down a deep wikihole chasing a Jedi conspiracy, but I now know that apparently eleven thousand years before the battle of Yavin, the Jedi overthrew the senate and installed their Grand Master as Supreme Chancellor. The wiki was unclear on what happened after that, and the Jedi were clearly space cops long before that too, but it does seem once they’d taken controls of all arms of government, their jurisdiction would be pretty much absolute.

smash brother servers run fine

May god have mercy on your email inbox.

re: the grand junction chubs
my home town of colorado springs used to have a team called the sky sox. they recently left, and the new team name is the Rocky Mountain Vibes, and their mascot is a cool ass s’more
love this guy!


Down with wizard kind.

“Oh look we have moving images in our newspapers and books! Much better than your non magic muggle newspapers!”

Yeah we muggles have the same thing: it’s called a gif and we look at them on our phones. Print media is unsustainable, you morons. I bet none of them know how to design a website.


I think there’s a couple things at work here. One is that it is appealing to work with a pre-established set of myths as a backdrop for a story. I think we can all agree the ancient Greek pantheon is a little problematic, but there are countless stories looking at those characters from new angles and trying to re-imagine them. I think “lovecraftian” work is similar because there is a pretty extensive mythology of gods and characters that feel distinctly a part of that world.
I’m saying this as a person who’s also never read any of Lovecraft’s work, but who has read The Ballad of Black Tom and played a lot of the Arkham Horror LCG.

The other thing is that I think it would be difficult to try and create your own mythology from a similar aesthetic and not just get lumped in with Lovecraft. Say I like the idea of Cthulhu, but I want to seperate myself from Lovecraft. So I design my own pantheon of all powerful, uncaring deities that all feel strange and alien. I’m probably gonna get lumped in with Lovecraft.
I’m curious how we could move away from that and keep some of the more evocative design elements. But I don’t know.
I was literally working on a character design for a cleric type character the other day and though “wouldn’t it be cool if they had some swirling tentacle-esque motifs so they come across as more of a cultist for a different take on the idea of a cleric?” And I’m only just now realizing how that is probably immediately going to get associated with the locecraft mythos.