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The Great Molasses Flood in Call of Cthulhu

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Today, January 15, 2019, marks the 100th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood in Boston. On that day, around noon, a massive tidal wave of molasses flooded the North End neighborhood. Supports for elevated trains were damaged, buildings toppled. Twenty one people died and around 150 were injured. I've written of this before in my review of Stephen Puleo's Dark Tide, the best (and one of the only) source of information for this disaster.

I find Boston of the 1910s to be a fascinating period in history and have been running a Call of Cthulhu campaign set in 1914 - it's about to reach 1915. They might eventually merge with a previous campaign, one that began in France at the end of World War One - but whose second adventure was about the Molasses Flood.

What makes the era so fascinating? It was a time of extreme tension. Immigrants were pouring into cities and traditional power bases were being disrupted as the immigrants found their voices. It was also a time of extreme …

Call of Cthulhu Actual Play - Still Waters

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Though based in Boston, the investigators do make occasional forays. When an opportunity to acquire a forbidden tome in Biloxi, Mississippi arises, the Watch and Ward Society sends one of their agents and her allies. Professor Victor Davies was willing to donate the Vishakhapatnam Fragment to Harvard University in return for access to some of Harvard's restricted texts. Not a perfect deal, but the chance to take the Fragment out of circulation could not be ignored.

Based on the adventure "Still Waters" by L.N. Isynwill and Doug Lyons from Chaosium's TheGreat Old Ones book.


Setting: Boston. Tuesday, October 13 - Wednesday, October 14, 1914, Davies Landing, Mississippi.

Cast of Characters:Investigators:
Colin O'Connor: Civil engineer from Dunmore, Ireland. Employed as a civil engineer by the city of Boston.Lola Diaz Azar: Archaeologist hailing from Puerto Rico, born of a Puerto Rican mother and Middle Eastern father. Agent of the New England Watch and Ward Society, s…

Film Review - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is easily my favorite Spider-Man film, one of my top superhero films, and one of my top animated films. 
It’s a rare film - one that takes a lot of chances and wins. My younger daughter, aged 13, is a superhero fan, though more in the DC camp, loved it. She chose to see it a second time over an Aquaman viewing. 
So what about it is so awesome? I’m going to go into some spoiler territory here, though I’ll try to keep it mild for those who haven’t seen it (go see it). 
I’ll start with the animation/style. Into the Spider-Verse feels like a comic book made into a film. It features text captions, comic books, multiple panels on the screen at once, etc. With multiple Spider-beings from different universes, it gives them all their own art styles - Spider-Man Noir, from an alternate 1930s, is in black and white. He literally cannot see color. And where he goes the wind follows. And it smells like rain. Peni Parker and her SP/dr suit are presented in a quasi-ani…

Call of Cthulhu Actual Play - A Mythos Love Story

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Not all tales of the Mythos involve a world-shattering threat. Some are mysteries as to why people become someone they weren't previously. Sometimes this answer is more than the questioner can handle.

Inspired by the adventure capsule "People Change" from Chaosium's Escape from Innsmouth adventure.


Setting: Boston. Friday, August 14, 1914. A drizzly cool day.

Cast of Characters:

Investigators:Colin O'Connor: Civil engineer from Dunmore, Ireland. Employed as a civil engineer by the city of Boston.Lola Diaz Azar: Archaeologist hailing from Puerto Rico, born of a Puerto Rican mother and Middle Eastern father. Agent of the New England Watch and Ward Society, specializing in occult tomes.Nathaniel Quincy, MD, Captain, US Army (Ret.) Former army doctor, served in Nicaragua and the Philippines. Now working as a medical examiner for Essex County.NPCs:Jonathan Longstreet: Civil engineer. Widower. Working on building the Dorchester Subway. About 50 years old. Fought in Spani…

Turtledove's Timeline-191

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In the American Civil War, Confederate General Lee's Special Order 191 fell into Union hands, providing Union General McClellan with the location of the Army of Northern Virginia. This allowed for Union victory at the Battle of Antietam which provided President Lincoln with the proper conditions to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, making the Civil War a war against slavery. This prevented France and the United Kingdom from recognizing the Confederacy.

This is a common point of divergence in alternate history fiction. On its own, the rebelling states did not have a chance of victory if the Union chose to fight until victory. Their only real chances was to either convince the Union that victory was not worth fighting for or to secure foreign assistance. Harry Turtledove posited in this series that if the orders did not fall into Union hands, France and the UK would recognize the Confederacy, forcing an end to the Civil War.

The first novel in this series, How Few Remain, featur…

Fiction Review: 14

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This July I started a new job. Beyond the cool work, free food, and awesome headquarters, there's a ton of interesting social groups that meet physically and/or on Slack. One group I'm in is a reading group which has introduced me to fiction that is of interest to me but that I might not have otherwise read.

Earlier this year we read Peter Clines' 14. It is a book about a group of people in a very strange Las Angeles apartment building. The rent is very cheap but it's never advertised - people always hear about it via word of mouth. The apartments are weird and unique. One is always very cool - the same constant temperature, no matter what. Another has a kitchen where any light bulb is always extremely dim. Another has a layout where nothing is directly connected to a wall - power outlets are on the floor, kitchen counters are a few inches away from the walls, etc. And is is two stories tall for some reason.

Our main protagonist is Nate, a data entry temp (who has bee…

Ripping from the Headlines - Raiding Old Newspapers for Call of Cthulhu

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One of the challenges I found in setting a Call of Cthulhu campaign in Boston was in understanding what the city was really like around a century ago. Sometimes I find it easier to do things in a fictional city or in one I've never been in than as opposed to one some 25 miles away from me - a city I go to regularly and which is the cultural center of my area.

I've found raiding Boston Globe archives to have been an awesome exercise. Check out the following weather forecast from August 14, 1914.

So what's interesting to me? First, as someone who is obsessed with details, it's nice to have. To be honest, if an adventure would work better with different weather, I'd happily use the different weather and get it "wrong". A heatwave instead of the modest temperatures in this forecast wouldn't cause a game to self-destruct.
But what really got my attention was "The Temperature Yesterday at Thompson's Spa. Going through the archives of 1914 it seems …