Showing posts from December, 2014

Non-Fiction Review: Dark Tide: The Great Molasses Flood of 1919

Stephen Puleo's book Dark Tide covers a remarkably forgotten tragedy. On January 15, 1919, a 2.3 million gallon tank of molasses collapsed, spilling its contents in Boston's North End in a wave traveling some 35 miles per hour. Twenty-one people lost their lives and some 150 were injured. It almost sounds comical until you consider the horror such an event would no doubt present. Consider how horrible it would be to literally drown in molasses. Yes this is an event that is not in the popular history of the nation or even Boston.  Dark Tide is divided into three sections. The first, "A Monster in Our Midst" deals with the construction of the tank. Rather than being an exercise in engineering discussion it instead explains why it was built and what the nation and city were like at the time. Puleo explains how the United States Industrial Alcohol Corporation (USIA) distilled molasses in various plants, with one such plant being in Cambridge. A portion of the molasses wo…

Boston in the Cthulhu Mythos

With the Call of Cthulhu RPG most commonly being set in the fictional Miskatonic Valley of Massachusetts (with trips all over the world a possibility), it always surprised me how comparatively little Boston has featured in the Call of Cthulhu RPG. In the United States there are sourcebooks for San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, and New Orleans. Cubicle 7 has been doing a fantastic job showcasing the British Isles in their Call of Cthulhu supplements. Miskatonic River Press published a fantastic book of adventures for New York City and Golden Goblin Press followed in their footsteps with a New Orleans adventure book. That's not to say that Boston has been entirely absent from the RPG. For example, the adventure Shadows of Yog-Sothoth begins in Boston. The Unspeakable Oath magazine did have an article giving an overview of Boston. But those resources seem to be few and far between. In one sense it's not too surprising. It's tough to find much on Boston of that time …

Fiction Review: The Given Day

Boston in the late 1910s was a fascinating time. The North End was plagued by anarchists. A police station was destroyed by anarchists. Influenza struck the city hard in 1918. 1919 saw both a giant molasses tank spill over the North End with a horrible death toll and also bore witness to the underpaid (below the poverty line) police force go on strike. When one thinks of the Roaring Twenties (the period just after this book's) in the United States there are a number of places that come to mind. First and foremost there is the Chicago of Al Capone. There is the New York City that appears in countless novels, television, and movies - for me F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby immediately comes to mind. Over the past several years HBO's Boardwalk Empire has given us a view of Atlantic City of the 1920s, with trips to Chicago, New York, and many other places. Two places which do not tend to come to mind are Boston, Massachusetts and Tulsa, Oklahoma. Maybe Boston but to be …

First Thoughts on Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition

Even though I go through various other games, sometimes for a while, sometimes for a brief spin, I keep on finding myself working my way back to a Call of Cthulhu game. I've recently just finished my first session using the newest incarnation of the game, the 7th edition.

I've noted before in this blog that there's tons of shinier games out there. What I've found is Call of Cthulhu has the virtue of just being darn playable.

One thing Call of CtThulhu has been known for is how little changes from edition to edition. An edition war in Call of Cthulhu  is pretty much unheard of. I've used adventures from the 2nd edition of the game in a 6th edition campaign with conversion, even on the fly, being wholly unnecessary.

So though I've talked about Call of Cthulhu here before, let's do a little recap. The Call of Cthulhu RPG is based on the writings of early 20th century writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Lovecraft's central premise was that humanity is ignora…