The Shunned House

Episode 116: The Shunned House

Main Topic

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.

Paul shuns the Shunned House by the simple economy of turning his back on it.

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.

To be fair, many of our Call of Cthulhu sessions end up this way.

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.

News

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.

Other Stuff

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!

Mythos Deities: Shub-Niggurath

Main Topic: Shub-Niggurath

We’re back and we’re dancing around in the woods, bleating with ecstasy, smearing our mutating bodies with Mother’s milk. This episode is our discussion of the Lovecraftian deity, Shub-Niggurath. It is part of our ongoing look at the gods of the Mythos, continuing from our recent episode about Dagon.

Shub-Niggurath appealed to us greatly, as she is so loosely defined in the original fiction. Her evocative soubriquet of The Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young has inspired many writers since Lovecraft to find interesting uses for her. Her roles and identities in games and fiction are almost as numerous as her progeny.

In our discussion, we try to pin down where Shub-Niggurath came from and how she has grown and mutated in fiction and RPGs. We then build on this to offer some ideas about how you could use Shub-Niggurath in your own games. Her role as a corrupted and corrupting force of nature and her connection to witch cults make her suitably fecund inspiration, birthing many abominable ideas.

News

First of all, apologies for the delay to our normal fortnightly release schedule. As we mention in the episode, illness has made it difficult for us to meet recently. We’re back on track now, and we’ll continue releasing episodes every two weeks from this point. We hope you enjoyed the last of our special episodes from Necronomicon 2017, which we used to plug the gap.

Into the Darkness have released the first episode of their playthrough of the Intersections campaign from the World War Cthulhu: Cold War core book. Matt, who wrote the campaign, is the Keeper in a somewhat more American take on the game than we normally see.

As we announced recently, there is a new edition of The Blasphemous Tome in the works. This is the fanzine we produce for the wonderful people who back us on Patreon. We’re putting out an open call for submissions. If you have a short article (300-1,000 words) or some black-and-white artwork that you think would fit the Tome, we would love to see it. You can submit work using the contact form on this very website.

We also offer a fresh warning about the dangers of Attract Fish, especially if it involves kissing a Dover sole. Just don’t do it, kids.

Other Stuff

Be warned, there is singing in this episode, or at least something approximating it. As regular listeners will know, we rely on the generosity of our Patreon backers to fund the show. One of the ways we give thanks to them is to sing the praises of our $5 backers. This episode sees two such songs. Not having met for some weeks, we had a lot of pent-up creative energy. I think the sounds we produced this time number amongst our strangest emissions.

We had a request for an unedited version of the live podcast we did with the Miskatonic University Podcast, so here it is. The version we released previously has some inserts from Paul where he describes what precisely Chad is doing with all those puppets. It also uses the audience questions from the MUP’s recording, as theirs did a better job of capturing what people asked.

Necronomicon 2017 live with the Miskatonic University Podcast

Necronomicon 2017 live recording with the Miskatonic University Podcast

Our recent visit to the Necronomicon convention in Providence was a blur of wonders. One of the highlights was finally getting to meet our friends from the Miskatonic University Podcast in the suspiciously waxy flesh. While there, we merged our podcasts like two pulsating balls of protoplasm and created something unhallowed. This recording is the result.

The main topic we settled on was “How to make your game more Lovecraftian”. We split into teams of two and tackled various aspects of the discussion, including settings, themes and monsters. Of course, we digressed significantly, but I think we still got to the ripe meat of the main question.

All that almost felt anticlimactic after the puppet show, however. Yes, you will be listening to Keeper Chad performing with a variety of strange, semi-human simulacra. Supply your own punchline. His talk is lively and informative, and worth hearing even without the visual component.

And speaking of puppets, while Jon Hook was unable to join us in person, he still managed to manifest in a suitably disturbing manner. I have suggested that even if he is available next time, Chad should still be charged with operating Jon’s jaw.

Many thanks to Derek Robertson, Tim McGonagle and Adam Alexander for sharing their photographs of the event. Thank you also to Mike Mason for chairing the discussion. And, most of all, thank you very much to everyone who came to see us at the event! See you again in 2019!