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Nightbreed24

Dunwich "Now"

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Nightbreed24

I have bought the Cthulhu Now supplement for my 1980s DG campaign and I've been wondering how Dunwich would've been then, or would be in our time. The same degenerate and decrepit farming community? Abandoned? The HQ of a right-wing militia? Any ideas?

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Mysterioso

TBH strip malls and housing communities would be most likely for what was a farming area in 1920s Massachusetts.  You could have a sinister Starbucks or a perilous Pier One; IIRC an author ran with such an idea with Innsmouth.

 

For the ideas you listed, you'd be better moving them much further west where isolation is still possible.

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JeffErwin

There are a number of state forests in the area in modern MA, if you go by the Chaosium location. Perhaps the site is a historic park.

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Oroborus

TBH strip malls and housing communities would be most likely for what was a farming area in 1920s Massachusetts.  You could have a sinister Starbucks or a perilous Pier One; IIRC an author ran with such an idea with Innsmouth.

 

For the ideas you listed, you'd be better moving them much further west where isolation is still possible.

Yup, don't forget the row upon row of identical town houses with a Yog Sothoth frozen yogurt shop accross from Nyaralathotep High School - home of the fighting Elder Things. Of course, the cultists are not quite as sinister standing around texting each other but their emogies are scary as hell!

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skaye

Maybe Dunwich now is more like Campbell's Lower Brichester, a seedy shabby sort of town. Take any western Massachusetts scare story about teenage gangs, fentanyl epidemics, bikers and it's all true.

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yronimoswhateley

Perhaps some examples of abandoned and remote cities and ghost towns in the U.S. can give some good ideas - after all, if Dunwich was isolated enough and seems to have been hit badly enough by hard times, that it's entirely possible it would be abandoned and forgotten aside from a handful of backwards and stubborn hold-overs by the 1980s and beyond.

 

Some of my favorite possibilities:

  • Perhaps Dunwich was deliberately flooded as a water reservoir for larger Massachusetts towns, and in the hot seasons and droughts when the water level is low, you can still see the old town buildings submerged and preserved in the cold mountain water... where did all the people go?  What kinds of dark, Lovecraftian local legends can you invent about the ruins of the waterlogged town, and what might still inhabit it?
  • Dunwich is still alive, and considered the "Appalachia of Massachusetts", with a small, inbred, wary, isolated population of hillfolk that time forgot, with almost no indoor plumbing, little electrical power, and only a few telephones after the old party line system dissolved and telephone companies changed hands.  The Dunwich folks are quiet, keep to themselves, refuse outside intervention and assistance, and police themselves, but people in neighboring towns will share all sorts of dark gossip about "them ones" up in the hills, the Dunwich folk nobody ever sees....  What secrets does modern Dunwich still hide, and what worse things are there to be found living even further back in the wilderness beyond Dunwich?
  • Dunwich was quietly wiped out sometime during the world wars, destroyed by what sullen and grim survivors described as a "tornado" that mysteriously flattened much of the town.  The survivors fled and blended into the general Massachusetts population, and don't seem to have been particularly bad sorts, but some will share family stories that something far worse than an ordinary "tornado" destroyed the town, taking the most repulsive and hated elements of Dunwich society with it.  The ruins of the town, to this day, are shunned by everyone, and occasional attempts to explore the remains of the town have met with suspiciously bad fortune....  What really happened to Dunwich, and what still remains back in the hills and valleys of its shunned ruins?
  • Dunwich met with increasingly bad fortune since the Depression, and has slowly been abandoned, leaving only a handful of intractable survivors to wander its deserted streets and decaying buildings as the wilderness slowly reclaims the empty town.  What evil consequences might there have been to allowing the Dunwich folk to mingle with the outside world, bringing their dark secrets with them?  What horrible secrets do those who remained in the town still hold?
  • Dunwich fell on hard times and was virtually abandoned through much of the 20th Century.  But, in the 1980s, speculators began to see the possibilities of rebuilding "Historic Dunwich" as a "bedroom community" for much larger cities, and have developed the town into a "charming" collection of apartments, bed-and-breakfasts, cafes, and souvenir shops centered around a historic main street... folks in neighboring cities shake their heads in disgust, wondering what those city folk are thinking of, moving into a town that anyone with a lick of sense would avoid!  Think of a renewed and renovated Dunwich as being equivalent to a small horde of clueless and naive city people moving into a whole town full of haunted houses - what's the worst thing that might happen?

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ElijahWhateley

There are plenty of dying small towns in Massachusetts today. They'll generally have a main street with some older brick buildings holding a working restaurant or two, a hardware store, and some other establishments, and a couple freestanding fast food places. There's probably a small historical society somewhere, run by volunteers and only open a couple hours a week. There are a number of really nice houses owned by people who are either retired or have jobs in distant cities and commutes, plus some more run down places owned by locals.

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ReydeAmarillo

Having been a huge fan of the Chaosium Dunwich supplement I am loving this thread. The idea of taking that as a basis and then abandoning the township and letting nature reclaim most of it over 60 -70 years is quite inspiring. Just a question from some one who has never been to the States - what would happen to the myriad farms surrounding the central village? Would some of them expand and swallow the others in modern mechanised agriculture, or are the hills and valleys too steepsided for that and it all would rot?

 

I suppose though, if it all has gone then how do you introduce the Investigators?? Maybe a nice commuter community in the hills near the Aylesbury Pike to the south? Investigators could hail from there and be hikers, investigating where family originated from, amateur film makers (Blair Witch anyone ??), chasing up rumours of US secret weapons base (Area 51 and a half), or spelunkers who stumbled across a copy of the US Geological Survey and are fascinated by cave system????

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yronimoswhateley

Great questions, Rey, and I wish I could answer them authoritatively - sadly, I've never been to Massachusetts, so I can only speak to the part of the U.S. I know, which is certainly a sort of an apples-oranges thing in terms of details like geography and such.

 

With rural Kentucky (my own model for Dunwich), abandoned or disused farms tend to go feral, getting swallowed up by the countryside.... trees (especially fast-growing sumac) and briar patches (tall thorn bushes) begin growing up in fields, kudzu (an invasive species of vines) will engulf and choke out trees and cover buildings, farm buildings will decay into haunted-looking ruins covered in kudzu and the nests of insects (especially wasps, spiders, and termites) and wild animals (rats, mice, bats, feral cats, raccoons, etc.)  This isn't too unusual in Kentucky - much of the local farm economy was built on tobacco, and use of tobacco has steadily declined over the decades while younger people have left the farms for cities.

 

 

You might see "city folks" visiting remote, isolated places in e.g. Kentucky for a variety of reasons, though.

 

For example, tourism might attract them, such as unusual festivals and such (see Lovecraft's "The Festival" or some of Thomas Ligotti's short stories), sight-seeing expeditions to unusual places, spelunking (the vast Mammoth Cave system is in rural Kentucky), and hiking/camping/fishing are popular activities for people from cities wanting to "get away from it all".  (Picture hunting expeditions to backwoods Dunwich... fishing trips over that hypothetical drowned village under the Dunwich Reservoir... a camping trip to the abandoned shacks in that hypothetical Dunwich ghost town....)

 

A couple months ago, a total eclipse that was best viewed in an isolated corner of rural Kentucky currently best known for its family-run traditional (and now licensed) moonshine (corn whiskey) still and proximity to a town whose only major claims to fame are the birthplace of occult prophet Edgar Cayce and a bizarre report of an alien invasion in the 1950s, suddenly turned the town into a major tourist attraction drawing about a hundred-thousand visitors from the outside world.  A fictional event of that sort occurring in Dunwich might make for an interesting story ("Total Eclipse in Witch-Haunted Small Massachusetts Town Expected to Draw 100,000 Strangers....")

 

Just visiting strange, out-of-the-way places, staying at historic bed-and-breakfasts and such, seems to be a popular enough way to spend a short holiday or even a vacation.  ("Visit the Haunted Whateley House in charming rural Dunwich!  A fully restored Georgian mansion, converted to a lovely bed-and-breakfast, at the site of the Dunwich Witch panic!")

 

There's the "Bedroom Community" phenomenon, described earlier, in which people who work and eat meals and shop in cities might have homes in rural areas outside the city where they basically just sleep at night; this has helped to revive more than one dying rural community abandoned after the decline of railroads and changes in the economy over the decades.

 

Visits might be made to see obscure and perhaps eccentric family members, and there's that old Gothic stand-by of traveling to weird, creepy places to see a dying family member, attend the reading of a will, or collect the inheritance of a free but impractically isolated old house and family fortune.  (To their mutual surprise, the investigators find that they are all the only living descendants of a reclusive, rich relative in Dunwich; they will inherit a share of the fortune, if they stay the night in the creepy old mansion overlooking the ruins of the mostly-abandoned town....)

 

Some disused rural areas closer to towns might be bought up by speculators for conversion to suburbs to support growing city populations, or "technology parks" where clusters of buildings dedicated to small factories, phone banks for telemarketing and tech/customer support, etc. might be built to provide jobs for a growing city population.  (Your investigators might be surveyors, real estate agents, inspectors, developers, landscapers, laborers, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, etc. paving the way for such development, for example....)

 

 

 

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I grew up hanging around in places like this (without the smoke in the chimney) with my friends and family members, exploring the houses, and just sitting around, telling creepy stories or just "goofing off" doing and talking about the usual kid stuff, while listening to rats gnaw the walls and hornet buzzing around the rafters....  Rural kentucky is dotted with abandoned versions of such buildings, and sometimes you'd come across one or two that had people still living in them!

 

 

 

Of course, that's what I'm familiar with in rural Kentucky or Maryland, and projecting onto rural Massachusetts - there is no Mammoth Cave in Massachusetts, but I might imagine a big cave system in the area anyway; tobacco might not be a common crop there as in Kentucky but I can imagine changing times leading to abandoned farms there with or without tobacco, etc.

 

Perhaps there are some strange, remote, isolated, rural, shunned parts of your country that carry a bad reputation... if so, what do you know about such areas, or, better yet, what sinister rumors have you heard about them?  What happens to abandoned property there?  There are probably some cool stories about such places that you can project onto your own, unique version of Dunwich....

 

 

Edited to add:  Thank you, ElijahWhateley!  I have a feeling much of the northeast U.S. is probably very similar (your description sounds similar to what I've seen of rural Maryland), and most of the rest of the U.S. would likely only differ in the age and quality of the buildings (younger, cheaper constructions in the west and south), and the degree of isolation and desolation (a lonely, desolate community out west and in the south is VERY isolated and desolate!)

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numtini
yronimoswhateley is the closest I think.

 

I would say Dunwich continues pretty much as it did. Dying small towns in Mass are of two basic varieties: the decaying mill town and the never grew town. Dunwich strikes me as the latter and reading The Dunwich Horror for the first time in the 1980s, it was not at all a type of town that was foreign to me. I'd driven through it's like plenty of times. There are no cities in that region for Dunwich to become a suburb of. It probably only sees a few tourists a year during "leaf peeping" season and even those are ones that strayed off of route 2. There's really no reason for Dunwich to have changed at all.

 

Any center of town probably has some kind of convenience store with a liquor license. There is probably an evangelical church in a cheap storefront. Add in a tattoo/piercing parlor. A pizza joint you don't want to eat at. Maybe the convenience store has gas pumps and there's a separate crappy looking storefront car repair place. None of these will be chains, but will have local owners. There will be a bar. Maybe two. And a bunch of closed businesses. There's probably an old church, Congregational or something, but it may be next to dead. There will be lots of motorcycles and decaying American muscle cars. There will be no public transportation whatsoever. 

 

The farm areas probably aren't at all active. New England soil is best suited to growing rocks, not crops, and farming died here early when transportation changes made it easier to truck in food. Most active farms are dairy farms, which could still persist in Dunwich or "local food" direct to consumer farms which seem an unlikely match for Dunwich. In my experience, most farms that go feral let the barns and outbuildings go feral much like the above pictures, but people are still living in the farmhouse. Roads are probably decaying paved with occasional dirt roads.

 

I've always questioned whether Dunwich was a town or a village of a different town. In Mass, an incorporated town may have two or more town centers which are called "villages." A village has no legal existence. But if you want a Dunwich without local police or the need to maintain it's own schools and infrastructure, it could very well be a village of Dean's Corners.

 

Other ideas. We in New England were not immune to hippie cults finding a little town in the middle of nowhere in the 70s and settling in. Turner's Falls, about an hour further west down Route 2, had a pretty major one. So Starshine Flowerchild + the Whately's legacy plus 50 years and a second generation. These days, there's going to be a serious opioid thing going on--it's epidemic all over small town New England, but particularly in that region. Cults + heroin = fun? 

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ElijahWhateley

 I've never been to Massachusetts, so I can only speak to the part of the U.S. I know, which is certainly a sort of an apples-oranges thing in terms of details like geography and such.\

 

Thinking about this a bit more, Lovecraft only put Dunwich in Massachusetts because that was the part of the world he knew. Assuming you're from a region with some dying small towns (which is most regions, I would imagine), there's nothing wrong in moving Dunwich to where you live.

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Gaffer

Great stuff, everyone (especially yronimos).

 

My take on Dunwich is that it is far lower than the typical small commercial agrarian center. It never had a viable downtown to collapse due to the new Walmart at the interchange on I-87. It will have just disappeared over time. I especially like this:

 

Dunwich was quietly wiped out sometime during the world wars, destroyed by what sullen and grim survivors described as a "tornado" that mysteriously flattened much of the town.  The survivors fled and blended into the general Massachusetts population, and don't seem to have been particularly bad sorts, but some will share family stories that something far worse than an ordinary "tornado" destroyed the town, taking the most repulsive and hated elements of Dunwich society with it.  The ruins of the town, to this day, are shunned by everyone, and occasional attempts to explore the remains of the town have met with suspiciously bad fortune....  What really happened to Dunwich, and what still remains back in the hills and valleys of its shunned ruins?

 

But that was in the '40s, just before the War. Now fourth cousin Elyzabetty (Aunt Sarai's greatgranddaughter) has connected a lot of the kinfolk up on Ancestry.com and she wants "to get folks to gather for some RV-camping family reunion. Maybe there'll just be a few of us this year, but it'll grow! It's all about heritage, isn't it?"

 

That sounds like possibilities.

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ReydeAmarillo

Sounds like Yronimos and Gaffer are brainstorming up a brilliant campaign idea here !!

 

Going back to the supplement maybe in the 40's Abotheth finally summoned up the town and lured them into its cavern for a township picnic. And only those out of town at the time escaped. It would be a fascinating exercise to take the supplement settings and bring it 90 odd years forward to today, and use that as a basis for a "family RV trip" campaign that Gaffer has suggested?

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Nightbreed24

OUTSTANDING replies so far, thank you all! Especially since Dunwich is my favorite location in Lovecraft Country. I'll write down the ideas I came up with:

 

In my search on ghosttowns.com, I've stumbled upon the supposedly haunted Spider Gates Cemetery as well, which could be a great way to exploit the Satanic panic of the '80s, with edgy, black-clad teens from the nearby towns visiting the Dunwich graveyard on a weekly basis to hold black masses. Concerned relatives, men of the cloth, teachers and law enforcement can get anyone involved.

 

A reservoir full of Abhoth's spawn? Time to buy some scuba gear. I would only explore this angle as an alternate version of Dunwich Now though, for a one-shot. I don't want to flood a place so close to my Keeper heart.

 

The 1977 sighting of the Dover Demon is also inspirational, since something similar could've easily been spawned by Abhoth to escape and find its way to the surface.
 

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GBSteve

Athol MA was apparently one of the inspirations for Dunwich. It has those abandoned mills but as much of New England is often bright, sunny and well kept.

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numtini

I've stumbled upon the supposedly haunted Spider Gates Cemetery as well, which could be a great way to exploit the Satanic panic of the '80s

 

I grew up in Worcester County and heard the rumors of Satanists meeting at the cemetery near the airport. Unlike a lot of urban legends, these were bandied about as being real. FWIW.

 

Athol MA was apparently one of the inspirations for Dunwich. It has those abandoned mills but as much of New England is often bright, sunny and well kept.

 

The mill in Dunwich is curious to me because decaying mills and decaying mill towns are everywhere in New England, but I'm of the impression that most of these went bust after the 20s often with very long declines and very few long enough back to be decaying by the time of the Horror. So I'm guessing the in 1920s, the notion that a mill didn't take root is part setting scene for it being decayed because at the time, that would have been a vivid contrast where today it's pretty much ubiquitous.

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Travern

While Lovecraft took more than a bit of artistic license in converting Athol to Dunwich in the 1920s, in today's Masschusetts the community is suffering from "zombie homes", abandoned by owners after foreclosure, but not taken possession of by the bank.  Left in real estate limbo as home values stagnate, they could attract weirdness or mythos activity, à la "The Shunned House".

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Gaffer

Athol is a typical New England mill town, a large town (>10,000 population) through late 19th/20th centuries) that grew around large water-powered textile mills that produced large quantities of fabric for export.

 

Dunwich had only three small mills, a grist mill, a full in mill, and (very briefly) a sawmill all of which were just for local production. It cannot be considered a mill town in the usual sense.

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yronimoswhateley

Thank you, everyone! :)

 

...I would say Dunwich continues pretty much as it did.... There's really no reason for Dunwich to have changed at all....

 
...I've always questioned whether Dunwich was a town or a village of a different town. In Mass, an incorporated town may have two or more town centers which are called "villages." A village has no legal existence. But if you want a Dunwich without local police or the need to maintain it's own schools and infrastructure, it could very well be a village of Dean's Corners....

 

Other ideas. We in New England were not immune to hippie cults finding a little town in the middle of nowhere in the 70s and settling in. Turner's Falls, about an hour further west down Route 2, had a pretty major one. So Starshine Flowerchild + the Whately's legacy plus 50 years and a second generation. These days, there's going to be a serious opioid thing going on--it's epidemic all over small town New England, but particularly in that region. Cults + heroin = fun? 

 

Now that you mention it, in another recent Dunwich-related thread, I realized a couple months ago that I'd pretty much instantly connected with Dunwich from the first time I read "The Picture in the House" and "The Dunwich Horror" in one night as a youngster, but pretty much every image I had of Dunwich was flavored by projections of rural Kentucky over everything - re-reading "The Dunwich Horror" more carefully while posting in that other thread revealed that Lovecraft's Dunwich was as colourful as I remembered, but a very different flavor of small town than I'd always pictured.

 

I think that your descriptions are right on the money:  as someone pointed out to me in that other thread, farms in New England are a lot smaller in scale than what I was used to seeing in Kentucky, and, after re-reading Lovecraft's description of the road to Dunwich, I can very easily see Dunwich as a small sub-set of Dean's Corners - Dunwich is sort of the "wrong side of the creek" of greater (and generally less poor and rowdy) Dean's Corners, if you will....

 

My take on Dunwich is that it is far lower than the typical small commercial agrarian center. It never had a viable downtown to collapse due to the new Walmart at the interchange on I-87. It will have just disappeared over time. I especially like this:

But that was in the '40s, just before the War. Now fourth cousin Elyzabetty (Aunt Sarai's greatgranddaughter) has connected a lot of the kinfolk up on Ancestry.com and she wants "to get folks to gather for some RV-camping family reunion. Maybe there'll just be a few of us this year, but it'll grow! It's all about heritage, isn't it?"

 

That sounds like possibilities.

 

Oh, I like that - in fact, that's a bit like how my folks decided to move to rural Kentucky back in the 1980s (dull background follows): 

 

 

 

My father's family was one of many families from a close-knit and isolated community that had fled out of the hills of Kentucky during and after the Depression and World Wars; nobody ever really talked about where they came from very much, family histories were a complete mystery, we didn't really fit in to the cities we moved to very well, and after a generation or two, as American city life started getting less attractive in the 1970s and 1980s, my parents started digging back into the family history, and, after getting in touch with other family members and such, decided to move back into the hills my grandparents and great-grandparents had left, joined by aunts, uncles, cousins, and such... the online genealogy websites came along later, and gave us a chance to discover even more about the mysterious history of everyone and how the whole community was related to each other in one way or another.  (Often, the folks who stayed behind, forgotten by time back in the hills, end up seeming strange and peculiar even by the standards of families that had never adapted well to life in cities....)

 

 

 

Based on that perspective, I could definitely see your scenario working out in a number of different ways, and ringing quite true to me. 

 

For example, you might get a whole lot of eccentric misfits in the 1990s, tired of city life, curious about the pasts that a couple generations of family had never talked about and had virtually forgotten, and worried about the Y2K bug and the Millennium, reaching out over the internet, discovering their roots, and fleeing the apparently doomed cities back to the peace, quiet, safety, and privacy of Dunwich....

 

Or, a generation or two later, the same scenario might play out almost identically with the prepper movement....

 

And then....

 

Sounds like Yronimos and Gaffer are brainstorming up a brilliant campaign idea here !!

Going back to the supplement maybe in the 40's Abotheth finally summoned up the town and lured them into its cavern for a township picnic. And only those out of town at the time escaped. It would be a fascinating exercise to take the supplement settings and bring it 90 odd years forward to today, and use that as a basis for a "family RV trip" campaign that Gaffer has suggested?

 

Oh, I'm definitely excited by the intriguing possibilities of what a modern-day Dunwich might be like!  I might have to find a way to run a Dunwich campaign of some sort, now that you mention it....

 

I like that idea about the whole town of Dunwich gathering together when the town's demise seemed inevitable, and then together "going into the hills", to vanish mysteriously until a pool of hapless victims or unwitting conspirators return to the town. 

 

The disappearance of the whole town is a popular urban legend in Dean's Corners and other surrounding communities, and it's been mentioned in a number of "Time/Life Unexplained Mysteries" books, the "In Search of..." and "Unsolved Mysteries" televisions shows, and even featured once or twice on the "Ghost Finders International" television show when the Bangor Regional Paranormal Society (BRPS) held an infamous live Halloween ghost hunt in the 2000s....

 

What nobody realizes is that the town's inhabitants aren't gone, Them Ones are still "in the hills" of Dunwich, sleeping, dreaming... one day, when the stars are right, the people - or whatever frightful things they are now - will stir in the shadows and the hollows where they have been lying, and rise up out of the Hills to reclaim what is theirs when their families return to Dunwich, to dream for Them Ones who are now awake, and serve as voices for Them Ones who no longer speak, eyes for Them Ones who no longer see, and hands for Them Ones who no longer have hands, and faces for Them Ones whose faces must not be seen....

 

OUTSTANDING replies so far, thank you all! Especially since Dunwich is my favorite location in Lovecraft Country. I'll write down the ideas I came up with:

 

In my search on ghosttowns.com, I've stumbled upon the supposedly haunted Spider Gates Cemetery as well, which could be a great way to exploit the Satanic panic of the '80s, with edgy, black-clad teens from the nearby towns visiting the Dunwich graveyard on a weekly basis to hold black masses. Concerned relatives, men of the cloth, teachers and law enforcement can get anyone involved.

 

A reservoir full of Abhoth's spawn? Time to buy some scuba gear. I would only explore this angle as an alternate version of Dunwich Now though, for a one-shot. I don't want to flood a place so close to my Keeper heart.

 

The 1977 sighting of the Dover Demon is also inspirational, since something similar could've easily been spawned by Abhoth to escape and find its way to the surface.

 

Absolutely - I love Dunwich!  :)  That town is great fuel for the imagination.

 

The Dover Demon (linked for those unfamiliar with the cryptid) is a great idea - it's begging to find its way into the Cthulhu Mythos, as is some variation on West Virginia's similar Flatwoods Monster (a bit far away from Massachusetts, but I wouldn't let that stop me!  And, while I'm thinking of it, there's also the similar Hopkinsville, KY Goblin incident I alluded to earlier in the reference to the recent eclipse... I bet lots of isolated small towns have similar legends - Connecticut next door to Dunwich has its Melonheads, and maybe Dunwich has its own version of those strange, dangerous, freakish-looking demon/goblin/aliens living in its forests....)

 

The scuba gear and the reservoir remind me of one of the other reasons I mentioned the reservoir idea, a local urban legend from my home town....

 

 

The lake there was born during or after the Great Depression as part of the public works program that was supposed to put the country back on its feet again through the 1930s and 1940s... it's not a natural lake, but the result of a river being dammed up, flooding out the old town.

 

You can see houses under the water out in the middle of the lake in hot summers when the water level is low, and there's rumors that sometimes, when the weather is rough, you can hear the town's church bell ringing under the water.

 

Everyone knows someone who knows someone who knew a guy who was part of a team of two divers who had to maintain the dam, putting on Scuba gear and diving into the water to patch a hole, or fetch a left-handed hammer or a bucket of steam from the water deep behind the dam, or whatever it is that these Scuba-workers are supposed to be doing. 

 

Well, those two guys always go down together just once, and only one comes swimming back up in a blind, raving panic, shivering and shaking and crying and screaming hysterically, and saying he's never going back down there again, not for all the money in the world, because when they got to the bottom of the reservoir, they thought there were waterlogged cars laying in the mud down there at the lake bottom, but then the buses stir up and swim around and overhead, revealing themselves to be colossal catfish, and to the survivor's horror, one of these catfish swoops down, opens its mouth up and gobbles the missing diver up in one bite....

 

Supposedly, the catfish were always big back when they just lived in the river, but they swam down into the reservoir, and grew ancient, and big and fat by eating up the corpses buried in the submerged town cemetery, and the bodies of people who refused to leave their homes and got flooded out when the river dammed up, and drowned fishermen, and of course a steady supply those poor Scuba-diving dam-workers....

 

 

 

 

It's a pretty popular urban legend in the U.S. - every town has its own version, other variations can be found here:  (link)

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Necrothesp

I've always questioned whether Dunwich was a town or a village of a different town. In Mass, an incorporated town may have two or more town centers which are called "villages." A village has no legal existence. But if you want a Dunwich without local police or the need to maintain it's own schools and infrastructure, it could very well be a village of Dean's Corners.

 

It is tempting to look on it as a village, probably actually of Aylesbury, but given it does have its own town government, with selectmen, a justice of the peace and a constable, I think we must assume it is probably meant to be a town in its own right. Just a forgotten and decaying one.

 

I think these sorts of places (Innsmouth too) always cause problems in the modern (and even the early 20th century) world. Do such isolated, decaying places still exist in civilised areas? The Severn Valley is even sillier, in fact. It's just not really possible for such places to exist in modern England. Too much infrastructure (e.g. policing, which is on a county basis in Britain, not a local basis).

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Mysterioso

It is tempting to look on it as a village, probably actually of Aylesbury, but given it does have its own town government, with selectmen, a justice of the peace and a constable, I think we must assume it is probably meant to be a town in its own right. Just a forgotten and decaying one.

 

I think these sorts of places (Innsmouth too) always cause problems in the modern (and even the early 20th century) world. Do such isolated, decaying places still exist in civilised areas? The Severn Valley is even sillier, in fact. It's just not really possible for such places to exist in modern England. Too much infrastructure (e.g. policing, which is on a county basis in Britain, not a local basis).

 

Bolding of your quote is mine. 

 

This is why I suggested upthread a migration further west in the United States if the keeper wants to maintain the isolation. Central and Western Massachusetts might be rural suburbia as opposed to urban suburbia of eastern Massachusetts but it is still much more suburban than rural. For something like Dunwich in the story in today's US, the location needs to be moved further west. Kentucky (as seen above) or Tennessee might work but for really small towns even further west is probably better. For instance, when in Wyoming and Montana, I saw towns of 200 people and the distance between them was so significant there were signs on the highways reminding people that there were not gas stations for say, the next 100 miles.

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numtini

It is tempting to look on it as a village, probably actually of Aylesbury, but given it does have its own town government, with selectmen, a justice of the peace and a constable, I think we must assume it is probably meant to be a town in its own right. Just a forgotten and decaying one.

 

I think these sorts of places (Innsmouth too) always cause problems in the modern (and even the early 20th century) world. Do such isolated, decaying places still exist in civilised areas? The Severn Valley is even sillier, in fact. It's just not really possible for such places to exist in modern England. Too much infrastructure (e.g. policing, which is on a county basis in Britain, not a local basis).

 

There's a town government in the Chaosium publication, but there's nothing about selectmen, a JP, or a Constable in the original text.

 

I always figured Aylesbury was Greenfield as its the only truly large town along Route 2, which was previously a state turnpike. The old road goes past to Shelburne, but Greenfield is far larger and the county seat for Franklin county. Even today, if you're local in that area, "Route 2" is what you call Route 2 east from Greenfield and the part of Route 2 that heads further west is "The Mohawk Trail." And Greenfield is definitely too far west for Dunwich to be a village of it.

 

It depends what you mean about isolated decaying places. If you mean somewhere you need to drive hours to get to, then no. If you mean a place where they're sacrificing people in the town square. No. But if you mean a place where very few outsiders ever go because it's geographically isolated and where people are squirrely as heck and hostile to outsiders and everything's falling apart. Where the town center is a town hall, congo church, and a convenience store and those Whately's live out at the end of whatever road? Oh absolutely yes. 

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ReydeAmarillo

I too have often wondered how places like Innsmouth amd Goatswood can logically exist in the 20th century, with all the surrounding law enforcement, government and media. And here the UK being so small and crowded is worse than the USA. Even if Goatswoods PTB are cultists, there is still the nearby village/town just a few miles away with police, squires, vicars etc who are going to wonder and maybe investigate?? Yes a small investigating party might never be seen again but that just prompts an even larger and better armed party, the Army even? Eventually the awful truth will out and the cultist-town will be taken down, like Innsmouth was. I guess I prefer my Mythos as small outbreaks widely scattered and somewhere that can be hidden. The buried rivers and 40ft deep ruins under the modern City of London, large cave complexes like Cheddar, large forests like the New Forest. But even here, small cults, singular entities and subtlety are the watchword for me.

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WinstonP

I've driven the roads of north-central Massachusetts, MA-119 from Groton to the New Hampshire boarder is a pretty empty stretch of road.  There are several state forests and damn little else besides the occasional couple of houses.  While Dunwich isn't real, the isolation it has isn't impossible, even in Massachusetts.  It's an exaggeration, surely, but not a wholesale fantasy.

 

I have an unfinished one-shot set in the early 1980s in and around a semi-revivified Dunwich.  The  town rebounded after WW2, due to the low property prices and availability of historical homes (and the creation of Bishop State Forest, taking up much of the northern half of what was Dunwich, which is a nature reserve, with limited hiking access, hunting restrictions, and curiously little development by the state; all this keeps places like the Devil's Hopyard isolated and mostly avoided). 

 

(I also wrote this piece, which doesn't specify what Dunwich is like in the present - http://theunspeakableoath.com/home/2015/09/mysterious-manuscript-saucer-attack-1928-the-dunwich-horror/)

 

Conversely I wrote something for another publication wherein Dunwich was dissolved in the 1940s, the land split between several neighboring towns, and mostly converted to state parkland.  I think either is possible.  With any Lovecraftian place, I think that a general consensus to how it would appear in the present day is impossibly contentious - not that you can't do what you want with Innsmouth or Arkham in your own game - but I think you should be prepared to butt up against everyone else's imagined future for these places.

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ElijahWhateley

I too have often wondered how places like Innsmouth amd Goatswood can logically exist in the 20th century, with all the surrounding law enforcement, government and media. And here the UK being so small and crowded is worse than the USA. Even if Goatswoods PTB are cultists, there is still the nearby village/town just a few miles away with police, squires, vicars etc who are going to wonder and maybe investigate?? Yes a small investigating party might never be seen again but that just prompts an even larger and better armed party, the Army even? Eventually the awful truth will out and the cultist-town will be taken down, like Innsmouth was. I guess I prefer my Mythos as small outbreaks widely scattered and somewhere that can be hidden. The buried rivers and 40ft deep ruins under the modern City of London, large cave complexes like Cheddar, large forests like the New Forest. But even here, small cults, singular entities and subtlety are the watchword for me.

 

At least in the USA, it still seems perfectly plausible. Local law enforcement, government, and media are staffed by locals. Without a Mythos way to cover it up, a modern small-town cult might refrain from murdering an entire investigator party out of fear of an investigation, but if they do have access to sorcery, all bets are off.

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