We’re back, and we’re in sounder health that the title of this episode may suggest! Although after hearing us sing again (yes, we have a new Patreon backer!) you may disagree. This time we’re looking at another short story, again with a view as to what it can add to our gaming. We’re taking a little break from Lovecraft, however. It’s nothing personal, Howie! You’ll always have a special place in our hearts.

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Aw, why the long face?

The story we’re discussing is The Hospice, by Robert Aickman. In case you are unfamiliar with him, Aickman was a twentieth-century English writer of what he referred to as “strange stories”. His work is characterised by maddeningly dreamlike events, the meanings of which slip through your brain like greased eels, all communicated through precise prose. It’s debatable whether Aickman’s work should be classified as horror, but it’s generally more unnerving than most stories that are. The Hospice is one of Aickman’s finest tales, and can be found in the recent Faber reissue of his collection, Cold Hand in Mine (also available as an eBook from a variety of sources).

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Probably the finest collection of Aickman’s work, and highly recommended.

We make mention of a television adaptation of The Hospice from the 1980s, but sadly none of us have been able to track it down. If you want a taste of Aickman, you can always enjoy this 2002 short film, adapted from his story The Cicerones by Jeremy Dyson, writer of The League of Gentlemen and long-time Aickman fan. As good as the adaptation is, it cannot hope to capture the full strangeness of the original story, but is still well worth watching.

The next episode will be our fiftieth, and we have big things planned! Well, we have a special episode topic at least. And fireworks! OK, maybe not fireworks. Paul’s office has too many flammable things in it, including us.

We’re back and we’re wrapping up our look at H P Lovecraft’s The Thing on the Doorstep. This is the episode containing all the bits you wanted to hear last time, but were bumped because we talked too much. Every time we record an episode about a Lovecraft story we promise we’ll keep the synopsis short, yet we never do. Maybe its time we acknowledged our rambling problem and dealt with it like mature adults, through heavy drinking and denial.

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Burying your head in the sand always seems like a good idea up to the moment it gets eaten by chthonians.

In particular we mention the few film adaptations to date (although it seems there’s a new one we missed, so I’ve embedded the trailer below by way of recompense) and, more pertinently, ideas about using elements of the story in your games. Definitely just in games. The Good Friends of Jackson Elias recommend against stealing the bodies of family members, as it can make Christmas dinner even more awkward than usual.

Be warned that there are some spoilers for an old Chaosium scenario that uses elements from The Thing on the Doorstep. It’s difficult to warn you which one, as the spoiler is that it uses these elements, so mentioning its name is a spoiler in itself. When we start talking about it, fast forward for a minute or so if you don’t want to know, or if you’re just getting bored of listening to us. I fast forward myself the whole time.

This week we take a look at what was arguably Lovecraft’s first major story, The Rats in the Walls. As we did with our discussion of The Haunter of the Dark, we try to find ways that it can inform your Call of Cthulhu game, but mostly we get embarrassed about the name of that bloody cat. Unlike our previous discussion, we managed to keep this to a single episode, possibly helped by the fact that we don’t go on about two other stories as well.

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There aren’t actually any rats in The Rats in the Walls, but this picture was too cute not to use

We also maintain our tradition of complaining about the temperature in the shed. Well, Paul and Matt do. Scott has the same contempt for cold as he does for heat. Paul has resorted to wearing a woolly hat when we record, and here’s a photograph to help you understand and share our mirth.

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At least this way we don’t have to edit the chattering of teeth out of the recording

This week’s episode is the conclusion of our discussion about Lovecraft’s The Haunter of the Dark. All that stuff we promised about looking at it from a gaming perspective — that’s in this episode. Sorry it took us so long to get here. We just don’t know when to shut up.

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Exposure to Shining Trapezohedron made us babble incoherently. Either that or caffeine.

Be warned that this episode contains many, many spoilers for the Call of Cthulhu scenario The Crystal of Chaos from The House of R’lyeh (or Different Worlds 34, if you’re old like me) and some pretty spoiler-free discussion of Unseen Masters. It also contains sinister hints and secrets that the human mind was never meant to contain, and thus the seeds of creeping madness and your ultimate destruction. You know, the usual.