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 period in general. New York City, Chicago, and New Orleans, for example, have a wealth of material about them, both in fiction and in non-fiction. With Boston you've got to dig a little deeper. There's material out there but not to the extent that you'll find for the other cities I've mentioned. I got excited once when I was doing a search on the yog-sothoth forums and discovered an old thread of someone asking about 1920s Boston. Then I discovered it was a thread I had started several years prior...
Without intending to over the past several years I've noticed my knowledge of Boston of that era has been increasing. An historical knowledge here, a documentary there, some non-fiction books, vintage guidebooks - over time I've been getting an informal education on late 1910s and 1920s Boston.
I add late 1910s as one thing I've learned is that there was a lot going on in Boston just before, during, and after the Great War. Boston was a hotbed of anarchy, with an entire police station blown up by anarchists! Over 6,000 Bostonians died from the Influenza Pandemic. People died in floods of molasses or in riots after nearly the entire police force went on strike. Moving to the 20s proper, Boston was home to one Charles Ponzi, originator of the Ponzi Scheme (who didn't see that one coming...) The police at one point blockaded all of Chinatown, not letting anyone in or out.
I just kicked off a Call of Cthulhu game which I hope will be a continuing campaign. Though we are starting off with the Chaosium adventure No Man's Land, set in the closing days of the Great War, shortly after that we will transition back to civilian life in the United States. Assuming the campaign gets some momentum, the plan is for the characters to form the core of an organization of investigators of the supernatural. The exact nature of this organization is still to be determined but the plan is to set the game in the Miskatonic Valley. I'm hoping to get some good action out of the city of Boston as well - by rail Arkham would only be a brief trip away from Boston.
I'll likely do some blogging about the types of things I have learned (and will learn) about Boston of the period and how I made use of it in Cthulhu adventures. I'll also share the resources I make use of and my opinion of them - for example, in the post immediately preceding this I discussed Dennis Lehane's The Given Day, a fantastic inspirational source for late 1910s Boston.


  1. Boston, Providence, Rhode Islnd ll deserve thi treatment - a whole book on new England. Maybe not s sexy s other cities in series.


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