We are delighted to offer you another ghost story for Christmas. Good friend of the Good Friends, Mike Perceval-Maxwell (host of Mr Spike’s Bedtime Stories), has once again organised a suitably eerie performance on our Discord server. He is joined by guest readers Dom Allen, John Casey, Scott Dorward, Sarah Dovey, Rina Haenze and Sue Savage.

This time, it’s the turn of Nikolai Gogol’s “The Viy”. While this tale of witchcraft, the unquiet dead, and the king of the gnomes may not seem like a classic Christmas ghost story, it has more than enough chills and evil spirits to fit the bill. It’s also very funny in places.

We have broken the story up into four parts. Our plan is to release them all as bonus episodes in the run-up to Christmas. If you would like to listen to the remaining parts live, you can hear them on our Discord server. We will be reading at 22:30 GMT on the following evenings:

  • Part 2 – 16th December
  • Part 3 – 20th December
  • Part 4 – 23rd December

So grab a nice, greasy sausage, say your prayers, and prepare for the ride of a lifetime!

The Viy by Nikolai Gogol

Shchedryk” (Carol of the Bells), performed by the choir “Solomiya”, is used here under a Creative Commons Attribution Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International Licence.

If you would like to read along at home, you can find “The Viy” on The Literature Network.

There is also a fantastic film adaptation of “The Viy” available on YouTube.

You can also read Scott’s review of the film, from his 2013 October Horror Movie Challenge, on this very server.

And if all this has put you in the mood for Christmas ghost stories, please check out our previous readings:

Episode 249: Tsathoggua, Atlach-Nacha and Abhoth

We’re back and we’re heading deep beneath the earth. We’ve heard that there’s nothing but good things down there in the endless dark. Admittedly, we’ve mainly heard that from the sinister voices that whisper to us from said darkness, but we’re sure they’re fine. After all, what harm could befall us down there? It’s nit like we might stumble into the web of a monstrous spider or stray into a pool of vile fecundity, right? At least if we bump into Tsathoggua, we can just give him a little tickle under the chin and hope he’s too lazy to eat us. He is such a cutie pie!

Main Topic: Mythos Deities – Tsathoggua, Atlach-Nacha and Abhoth

This episode is our latest exploration of the deities of the Cthulhu Mythos. We have devoted previous episodes to Dagon, Shub-Niggurath, Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep, Hastur, Azathoth, Nodens, Ubbo-Sathla and Mordiggian, Ithaqua, Cthulhu, Daoloth and Eihort, Gla’aki and Y’golonac. Once again, we are returning to the creations of Clark Ashton Smith, digging deep into the origins and development of three of his deities: Tsathoggua, Atlach-Nacha and Abhoth.

All three of these gods made their first appearances in Smith’s tale, “The Seven Geases”, which we discussed way back in episode 90. We thought it was long past time we delved into the entities themselves.

Things we mention in this episode include:

Trail of Tsathoggua cover


Concrete Cow 22.5

Matt and Paul recently attended the Concrete Cow RPG convention in Milton Keynes. They spend a little time discussing the game of Vaesen that Matt ran there. And thank you to all the listeners who said hello on the day!

Interview with Juan Diego Escobar Alzate

A little while ago, Scott interviewed Juan Diego Escobar Alzate, the writer and director behind the Colombian folk horror film, Luz: The Flower of Evil. This took place on the Good Friends Discord server, and included topics such as the influence of Alejandro Jodorowsky, how an ayahuasca trip reshaped the script at the last minute, and which other Latin American horror filmmakers we should be looking out for.

You can find Scott’s full review of Luz on this very site, as part of his 2022 October Horror Movie Challenge.

luz the flower of evil poster

My Little Sister Wants You to Suffer

Paul has recently released his Call of Cthulhu scenario “My Little Sister Wants You to Suffer” on the Miskatonic Repository. The cover and internal artwork are by our good friend John Sumrow. Anyone backing us on Patreon before the end of December 2022 will receive a voucher for 30% off their purchase.

Christmas ghost story on the Good Friends Discord

This Christmas will see another live ghost story reading on the Good Friends Discord server. Once again, this is being organised by our good friend Mike Perceval-Maxwell, the golden voice behind Mr Spike’s Bedtime Stories.

Following the success of “A Christmas Carol” in 2020 and “The Canterville Ghost” in 2021, Mike is directing a full-cast performance of Nikolai Gogol’s weird folkloric tale, “The Viy”. Expect witchcraft, the unquiet dead and, if you’re lucky, a special guest appearance from the king of the gnomes himself!

As well as Mike, the cast includes Dom Allen, John Casey, Sarah Dovey Rina Haenze, Sue Savage, and our own Scott Dorward. The performance will take place over four nights, at 22:30 GMT on the 15th, 16th, 20th and 23rd of December.

Do come along to our Discord server and listen live if you can. If you are unable to do so, however, we plan to record the performances and release them as special episodes on the podcast feed later this month.

the viy

The Blasphemous Tome issue 10

The first consignment of issue 10 of The Blasphemous Tome will be shipping to our Patreon backers within days! There is still just enough time to secure a printed copy, however. Anyone backing us at the $5 level before the end of December 2022 will receive a signed, printed copy. See either our Patreon page or the post about The Blasphemous Tome on this very website.

While the PDF of this issue will be available download from Patreon until the heat death of the universe (give or take), this is your only opportunity to get a printed copy signed by all three of the Good Friends. The Blasphemous Tome is a Call of Cthulhu fanzine licensed by Chaosium and includes a full-length scenario from our own Matt Sanderson.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 10

We’re back and we’re getting ready to snip. Our scissors are sharp, our tape is sticky and our minds are made up. This poor film doesn’t stand a chance. Sure, we could censor it carefully, preserving as much of the original narrative as possible, but would that really be safe? Far better to hack away in a frenzy of righteousness! And then, maybe, we can move on to cutting up the real source of corruption.

Main Topic: Censor

Following on from last episode’s discussion of moral panics over horror, we thought we’d look at a film that explores similar ideas. Censor is a 2021 British horror film, written and directed by Prano Bailey-Bond. It is set against the backdrop of the video nasties furore of the 1980s, following film censor Enid as she struggles to differentiate between imaginary horrors and real ones.

We use the film as a launching pad to discuss the more general topics of censorship, video nasties, and the not-so-good old days following the crackdown on horror films in the UK.

Things we mention in this episode include:


The Blasphemous Tome issue 10

Issue 10 of The Blasphemous Tome will be shipping to our Patreon backers soon! There is still just enough time to secure your copy, however. See either our Patreon page or the page about The Blasphemous Tome on this very website.

As well as getting hold of this issue, backing us on Patreon grants immediate access to PDFs of previous issues. We are still in the process of converting a few earlier ones to PDF, but there are currently 7 available for download. Most of these contain full Call of Cthulhu scenarios, written by one of the Good Friends.

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The Blasphemous Tome issue 10

Paul at Dragonmeet 2022

Paul will be attending Dragonmeet 2022 on Saturday the 3rd of December, promoting the Rivers of London RPG with author Ben Aaronovitch. Stop by the Chaosium stand and say hi!

Matt and Scott at Illusion Horror Con

Matt and Scott will be (virtually) attending The Illusion Horror Con in December. Scott is running his scenario “Night Bus” for Call of Cthulhu. He is also appearing on two panels: Gamemastering Horror and Horror Inspiration From Other Media. Matt will be running his Kult scenario “Agglutination” and appearing on the Kult Setting panel.

We’re back and we’re starting a moral panic. It’s good to have a hobby. While riling up frightened mobs isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, it certainly helps us unwind after a hard day’s podcasting. In order to start up a good moral panic, however, one really needs something to blame. And if cultural history has taught us anything, it’s that horror makes a terrific scapegoat. So let’s grab the pitchforks and storm the very concept of that spooky old castle on the hill!

Main Topic: Is Horror Dangerous?

This episode, we’re trying to work out why so many people are afraid of horror. No, hang on, let’s clarify that. Horror is supposed to scare you, but does that mean you should be afraid of it as a genre? Is there something dangerous about horror? Can it cause psychological or even physical harm? Does it lead to moral corruption or erode the fabric of society? And won’t someone please think of the children?!

Our discussion takes in such thorny topics as moral panics, censorship, religion, politics, suicide, PTSD, animal cruelty and Mary Whitehouse. You have been warned.

Things we mention in this episode include:


A Weekend With Good Friends

With the latest Weekend With Good Friends having just wrapped up, we take a few minutes to thank everyone who made it happen. Thanks especially to Chris, Martin, Bence and Jack for their sterling work in organising everything on the logistical and technical fronts, and thank you to Rina, Dave, Sue and Max for keeping things running smoothly throughout the convention itself. And thank you, of course, to everyone who attended and who ran games! It was a delightful weekend.

a weekend with good friends logo small

Root on How We Roll

How We Roll has just started a new mini-campaign of the Root RPG. Joe and Scott join GM Adrian Tchaikovsky, running a scenario of his own devising, with guest players Paul Cornell and Lizbeth Myles (of Big Finish). This was spectacular fun, with cute but larcenous woodland critters caught in the middle of a war. It turned into all the best kinds of chaos!

root rpg

Paul on Frankenstein RPG Podcast

Paul made another guest appearance on the Frankenstein RPG podcast. Season 2 sees the panel stitching together the best possible science fiction RPG from pieces of other games. This episode tears strips of GM advice and scenarios from its screaming victims.

The Blasphemous Tome issue 10

Issue 10 of The Blasphemous Tome is about to enter layout! This means we’re on course to ship the first copies to our Patreon backers at the start of December. See either our Patreon page or the page about The Blasphemous Tome on this very website.

With this being another year-end issue, we see the return of a number of regular features. In The Ludomancers, we each share our favourite gaming experiences of 2022. Episodes of Insanity sees us discussing the episodes that most stood out to us this year. And, once again, Matt offers a recipe and a short history lesson in Cocktail Corner. The centrepiece, of course, is a brand new modern-day Call of Cthulhu scenario inspired by Matt’s hair-raising near-death experience early this year.

Covers of Tomes of yore
Episode 246: Dealing With Downtime

We’re back and we’re taking things easy. Sometimes, after a particularly hectic battle against the forces of eldritch darkness, a bit of downtime is just what the doctor ordered. Literally. What could be better than kicking back, washing off the ichor, and checking yourself into nice, peaceful facility until you stop screaming? The only thing that might improve it would be fitting in a bit of shotgun practice between therapy sessions.

Main Topic: Dealing With Downtime

This episode, we discuss how we handle downtime in Call of Cthulhu and other RPGs. In any campaign, there will always be those quiet moments between the main adventures when time moves differently. Maybe the heroes are on a long voyage or convalescing to restore their bodies and minds. They might simply be getting on with everyday life while awaiting the next call to action.

So how do you handle this downtime? Is it purely a mechanical phase for recovery and advancement? Does it present some unique roleplaying opportunities? Or is it best simply handwaved away?

Things we mention in this episode include:


Scott on So, I’m Writing a Novel

Scott recently joined Oliver Brackenbury on his most recent podcast venture, So I’m Writing a Novel. In particular, Oliver is writing a sword and sorcery novel, and has been discussing the genre with a wide range of people. The discussion with Scott, released as episode 54, focuses on the shared roots of sword and sorcery and the Cthulhu Mythos.

As we mention, Oliver has also started a related magazine, called New Edge Sword & Sorcery. There is a preview issue available now for subscribers to the magazine’s mailing list.

Regular listeners might remember that Scott appeared on Oliver’s other podcast, Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection, earlier in the year to discuss how the Cthulhu Mythos has developed beyond Lovecraft.

A Weekend With Good Friends

Player sign-ups for A Weekend With Good Friends are currently open, although you’ll need to act fast. This is the online RPG convention organised by our lovely listeners and hosted on our Discord server. We have a web page with important details and links, which we will update as things progress.

The important dates are:

  • 21st October–27th October – Player signups
  • 28th October – Allocations are announced
  • 4th–6th November – A Weekend With Good Friends
a weekend with good friends logo small

The Blasphemous Tome issue 10

Issue 10 of The Blasphemous Tome is taking shape! There is just time for submissions before the cut-off at the end of October 2022. If you have any articles of up to 500 words or artwork you think would fit, we would love to see them. Just drop us a line at submissions@blasphemoustomes.com.

In the news segment, Matt talks a little more about the state of delirium that inspired his scenario for this latest issue.

Covers of Tomes of yore

October Horror Movie Challenge

Scott is coming to the end of his 2022 October Horror Movie Challenge. He is currently posting a horror film review every day on this very blog. These are all films he has not seen before and, largely, ones available on streaming services. If you want to check out his selections, or even play along at home, you can find full details here.

October Horror Movie Challenge 2022

Improvised Games on ASN

Over the past couple of years, Scott has run special Halloween games of Call of Cthulhu for our good friends at Ain’t Slayed Nobody — namely, “The Green Pumpkin” and “Totally Not a Cult Gathering”. These games were entirely improvised, based on suggestions from listeners. This year, we gathered again for a new improv Halloween game, titled “Dead Man’s Tooth”. Part 1 should turn up on the ASN feed in the not-too-distant future.

Paul’s at Grogmeet

Paul is heading up to Manchester again for this year’s Grogmeet. This is the convention organised by our good friends at The Grognard Files podcast. You may remember Dirk the Dice joining us for a couple of episodes (Gangsters and Gozu) earlier this year, when Matt was in hospital.

Grogmeet takes place at Fanboy Three, Manchester, between Friday 11th and Sunday 13th November. You can find more details on the Grognard Files website.