We’re back and we’re digging into another Lovecraft story, looking for the horrors that lie beneath. The Shunned House is one of the more minor of Lovecraft’s major stories, if that makes any sense. It is a lengthy, substantial piece that certainly shares thematic elements with his Mythos tales, if not any explicit continuity. Whether or not this makes it an interesting or worthwhile tale is debatable, and debate this we do!
The shunned house of the story is a real place, located on the delightfully scenic Benefit Street in Providence. While attending Necronomicon this summer, we took the opportunity to make an unhallowed pilgrimage. It is someone’s home, however, so we did no more than lurk outside like a gaggle of creepy cultists. I imagine the owners are used to this by now. Despite the house’s evil reputation, we escaped with our flesh undissolved and no more than the usual thirst for human blood.
As ever, we also look at the influences that shaped The Shunned House, its handful of adaptations and some ideas about what we can steal for gaming. Most of these ideas seem to involve flamethrowers.
In the context of gaming, we also mention Marcus Rowland’s excellent Forgotten Futures RPG. Rowland has used this as a vehicle for adapting many Victorian and Edwardian fiction settings to gaming. Of specific relevance to this episode is The Carnacki Cylinders, which draws upon William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki the Ghost Finder. Listeners who like the scientific approach to monster hunting in The Shunned House will find much of interest here. The shadow of Carnacki (possibly cast by his electrical pentacle) lies large over The Shunned House.
We also make passing reference to the ongoing Lovecraft Reread column on Tor.com. Along with the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast, this is one of our favourite resources for gaining insights into Lovecraft’s work.
The first episode of How We Roll‘s recording of Blackwater Creek is now out. Scott, who wrote the scenario, takes on the role of Keeper and tries his damnedest to creep out the players. There should be another 7 episodes after this one, with the horror building steadily throughout.
We mention in the episode that we recorded the seminar that Paul, Scott and Mike Mason presented at the Milton Keynes Literary Festival. The topic was the relationship between RPGs and fiction, with a special emphasis on Call of Cthulhu. It went rather well, or so we believe, with a good turnout and some lively questions from the audience. Our plan was to release it by now, but it’s not quite ready yet. Keep an eye on your RSS feed and it should be there in the not-too-distant future.
Also, we have invited listeners to submit articles and artwork for issue 3 of The Blasphemous Tome. This is the annual fanzine we create and send to all our Patreon backers. If you have a short article (300-1,000 words) or some black-and-white artwork, please send it our way. The deadline is the 20th of November.
Once again, there is singing in this episode. As regular listeners know to their cost, we sing the praises of those who back us on Patreon at the $5 level. Both subjects of this episode’s songs presented unique challenges, but I think we had the ambition and hubris to tackle them. The refusal to acknowledge one’s limitations will take you further than talent and hard work. Well, that’s what we keep telling ourselves.
One of the recipients of our merciless song is the actual play podcast, The Esoteric Order of Roleplayers. We promised to link to them in the show, so here we go. Enjoy!
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I really enjoyed your insightful commentary on The Shunned House. I always thought it is was kind of strange that there was no mention of the disappearing uncle. And so, here’s a different line of thinking, what if we have a case of an unreliable narrator? What if the narrator’s account is not what actually happened? I look at it this way, as if someone in real life told this story. No one would believe that some kind of ghost-monster dissolved his uncle, and then he dug a hole and found the elbow of a giant monster and then poured acid on it. If anything dissolved his uncle it was the acid. He whacked his uncle over the head, pushed him in the hole, and poured acid on him. This whole story is just a mental cover-up to mask the horrific murder he has committed. And, the lovely denouement is all in his head as he sits in prison imagining that he has cleansed the entire area from some sinister evil as the trees bear sweet apples and the birds return to nest.