Jump to content

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

moonbeast

Severn Valley sourcebook for 1920s?

Recommended Posts

moonbeast

Hi all,

 

Does a Severn Valley (or Goatswood) sourcebook exist for the CoC "classic era", 1920s - 1930s ?

 

 

The only Goatswood material I've seen in print is made for Cthulhu Now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RdphCarter

There is no actual sourcebook for classic era that covers this area. It is not too difficult to extrapolate bacwards feom the Modern sourcebook. and there is much useful information available on the WWW about this area.

 

Doing searches for "Severn-Cotswold Tomb", "Severn River Valley", "Severn Bore" should lead to some interesting information and links off those sites can lead you to just about anywhere you wish to go for information.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MikeC

As it happens, I have the log and notes for a 20's campaign I ran

that was set partly in the Severn Valley in PDF form. This was

circa '93 and '94, before the GOASTWOOD SB came out, so you

might find those interesting.

 

PM' me and I can email them to you, and I am going to submit

them to PoC for inclusion in the dowloads section.

 

MikeC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Necrothesp
There's an adventure set there in "Tatters of the King".

Which doesn't agree at all with "Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood"! Personally I prefer the TotK version. The towns described in the latter book are far too large to be unvisited and unmarked on maps in my opinion.

 

Frankly, I've always found the idea of towns like Goatswood pretty ludicrous. According to Campbell it's a fairly large place, yet nobody seems to know about it. That's just not possible in Britain. For a start, unlike the USA we don't have very localised services. Most services are national or regional, so nowhere of any size would be cut off from them. For instance, police forces are organised on a county basis, so weird things happening in Goatswood wouldn't just be ignored - the town would be visited on a regular basis by officers from other stations. The same with the utility companies, railway, local government etc. In addition, thanks to the Ordnance Survey, Britain is the most mapped country on the planet. Nowhere would be unrecorded on a map.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MikeC

Well, its not that Goatswood isn't on any maps; it does have a

railway station after all (and that's as per Mr. Campbell's

original story from INHABITANT OF THE LAKE). It's just that

no one ever goes there if they can help it. Not to fault it as

derivative, but it is pretty well intended to be a British

equivalent to Innsmouth, and actually I think it works even

better given the geography of the Severn Valley than

Innsmouth does in Arkham Country.

 

But, I haven't read that section of TOTK or the Goatswood

section of the supplement of the same name, so I can

only judge from the original story.

 

MikeC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Necrothesp
Well, its not that Goatswood isn't on any maps; it does have a

railway station after all (and that's as per Mr. Campbell's

original story from INHABITANT OF THE LAKE). It's just that

no one ever goes there if they can help it. Not to fault it as

derivative, but it is pretty well intended to be a British

equivalent to Innsmouth, and actually I think it works even

better given the geography of the Severn Valley than

Innsmouth does in Arkham Country.

 

But, I haven't read that section of TOTK or the Goatswood

section of the supplement of the same name, so I can

only judge from the original story.

 

MikeC

I know it's got a railway station, but I still thought that Campbell says it doesn't appear on maps. But even if it does, a town as large as it's supposed to be (it's got a market square, an hotel, offices and department stores, so hardly a tiny country town) would not be unvisited in Britain, especially not in the modern day. It's just not credible. I also know it's meant to be an equivalent to Innsmouth, but that doesn't make it logical or believable (somehow a crumbling coastal town full of cultists in New England in the 1920s is far more believable than a crumbling inland town full of cultists in England in the 1960s - a small village possibly, but not a medium-sized town).

 

At least Lovecraft made Innsmouth only accessible by a rickety bus operated by a local, not by a railway station operated by a national railway system (with all the maintenance and outside visits that entails). He also wrote in the days before the USA had effective state police forces; such a place wouldn't really be credible in England even in the 1920s - the Gloucestershire Constabulary would be unlikely to let such things go on unrecorded on their patch. I'm sure some people love it, and if they do then that's fine, but it's not a part of the Mythos canon I personally like one bit. I think the setting has to make sense and be believable for the story to be atmospheric. The whole point of Lovecraftian horror is that it's set firmly in our world, which makes it all the more scary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr_Lin

I know it's got a railway station, but I still thought that Campbell says it doesn't appear on maps. But even if it does, a town as large as it's supposed to be (it's got a market square, an hotel, offices and department stores, so hardly a tiny country town) would not be unvisited in Britain, especially not in the modern day. It's just not credible. I also know it's meant to be an equivalent to Innsmouth, but that doesn't make it logical or believable (somehow a crumbling coastal town full of cultists in New England in the 1920s is far more believable than a crumbling inland town full of cultists in England in the 1960s - a small village possibly, but not a medium-sized town).

 

I think you have to bear in mind Mr Campbell’s relative youth when he wrote a lot of his Severn Valley fiction. He didn’t know much about the geography of the county and that does tend to show. I’m not sure why he chose Gloucestershire beyond being advised by August Derleth to set his stories in the UK.

 

Real life Glos towns like Stroud and Dursley can be pretty unpleasant but I agree Goatswood as depicted in The Moon Lens is too large to be credible. However, I think it works as an isolated village and as I recall it is referred to as such in DG: Countdown which seems to be about right.

 

He also wrote in the days before the USA had effective state police forces; such a place wouldn't really be credible in England even in the 1920s - the Gloucestershire Constabulary would be unlikely to let such things go on unrecorded on their patch.

 

Wouldn't they? They let Fred West get away with it for years. This despite him being known to the police and having form as a sex offender. There may be some truth in the rumour that Gloucester CID liked to avail themselves of Mrs West’s services from time to time. The police don’t always do their job: Coppers sometimes have their own reasons for not doing what they’re supposed to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
WinstonP

Real life Glos towns like Stroud and Dursley can be pretty unpleasant but I agree Goatswood as depicted in The Moon Lens is too large to be credible.

 

From what seen about the recent case of Sandford, no one caught on to what was going on in that little town for years... :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tigger_MK4

There may be some truth in the rumour that Gloucester CID liked to avail themselves of Mrs West’s services from time to time.

 

Having SEEN Rose West, I find that difficult to beleive

 

The police don’t always do their job: Coppers sometimes have their own reasons for not doing what they’re supposed to.

 

Here I agree with you.

 

However, it should be noted that Policemen are human beings (except for those who are eldrith beings, natch) with all the inherit good and bad that implies... lets not assume they're all bad..or all saints either

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr_Lin

 

Having SEEN Rose West, I find that difficult to beleive

Unlike Pretty Woman prostitutes in real life are rarely glamourous. There's the suggestion that number 25 at one time during the West's ownership functioned as a brothel in all but name. It might not actually have been Rose West the coppers were having carnal relations with but some of the numerous transients passing through the house.

 

However, it should be noted that Policemen are human beings (except for those who are eldrith beings, natch) with all the inherit good and bad that implies... lets not assume they're all bad..or all saints either

 

Of course not. I've met plenty of coppers who have come across as decent people doing a difficult job. I've also met a few who have been thuggish, venal, and/or bigoted in the worst way. Naturally given the nature of their work the potential for harm by what used to be called "bad apples" is immense. Just ask Stefan Kiszko or Daniel Morgan. Well, you can't because they're both dead, but I trust the point is made.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
moonbeast

I know it's got a railway station, but I still thought that Campbell says it doesn't appear on maps. But even if it does, a town as large as it's supposed to be (it's got a market square, an hotel, offices and department stores, so hardly a tiny country town) would not be unvisited in Britain, especially not in the modern day. It's just not credible. I also know it's meant to be an equivalent to Innsmouth, but that doesn't make it logical or believable (somehow a crumbling coastal town full of cultists in New England in the 1920s is far more believable than a crumbling inland town full of cultists in England in the 1960s - a small village possibly, but not a medium-sized town).

 

Thanks. you *just* re-instated the main reason why I have no interest in ever playing Goatswood/Severn for Cthulhu Now. And likewise, I would only find that region as a credible 'Lovecraftian Horror Region' only during earlier times: The 1920s. ;)

 

Now you understand why I started this thread, asking for source material for playing Goatswood/Severn Valley during the 1920s Era.

 

But alas, perhaps there is no source material for aptly playing that region during the 1920s. Any such material would have had to come from Ramsey Campbell himself. Hmmm... is the fellow still alive? Perhaps he might consider writing some 'prequel' material, describing how the Severn Valley was during the 1920s. Maybe wishful thinking....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MikeC

 

[snip]

 

But alas, perhaps there is no source material for aptly playing that region during the 1920s. Any such material would have had to come from Ramsey Campbell himself. Hmmm... is the fellow still alive? Perhaps he might consider writing some 'prequel' material, describing how the Severn Valley was during the 1920s. Maybe wishful thinking....

 

ISTR that the GOATSWOOD supplement says that the area hasn't

changed much (apart from Brichester's urbanization) since the 20's.

 

And, there is my campaign log which is set partially in the Severn,

but I think I've already sent you a copy, moonbeast.

 

MikeC, I still like it, even if it is a bit un-realistic as presented.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr_Lin

 

Thanks. you *just* re-instated the main reason why I have no interest in ever playing Goatswood/Severn for Cthulhu Now. And likewise, I would only find that region as a credible 'Lovecraftian Horror Region' only during earlier times: The 1920s. ;)

 

Have you ever actually been there? Campbell's grasp of geography is a bit suspect for the reasons mentioned above but in some ways he gets it just right. On the surface Gloucestershire is very genteel but there's often a rather nasty undercurrent in its towns and villages. Other writers have commented on this. I believe it was either Jilly Cooper or Joanna Trollope who said that in quite a few places you have rich hooray henrys in their ostentatious 4X4s co-existing with feral children scavenging for food in dustbins. Then of course there's the Forest of Dean which is very Goatswood like even if on the wrong side of the river.

 

I find the Severn Valley eminently credible as a Lovecraftian setting.

 

But alas, perhaps there is no source material for aptly playing that region during the 1920s. Any such material would have had to come from Ramsey Campbell himself. Hmmm... is the fellow still alive? Perhaps he might consider writing some 'prequel' material, describing how the Severn Valley was during the 1920s. Maybe wishful thinking....

 

Why would it have to come for Ramsey Campbell? There seems to be no shortage of people who've extrapolated his 1960/70s ideas into the modern era. Why couldn't the same be done for the 1920s? To answer your other question he is very much alive and still writing. Although not mythos related much of his later stuff still does carry the Lovecraft influence. I've not read The Darkest Part of the Woods, one of his more recent novels, but I gather its partly set in Brichester in...the modern era. I think it probably is wishful thinking hoping that he'll do some 1920s mythos fiction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Necrothesp
Wouldn't they? They let Fred West get away with it for years. This despite him being known to the police and having form as a sex offender. There may be some truth in the rumour that Gloucester CID liked to avail themselves of Mrs West’s services from time to time. The police don’t always do their job: Coppers sometimes have their own reasons for not doing what they’re supposed to.

Yes, but Fred West was one person, not a whole townful of cultists! A town of Goatswood's size would have a police station and police stations in the UK do not exist in isolation. They are not just staffed by officers who come from the town - officers are posted throughout the force area, not just to their hometown. They are visited every day and night by officers from neighbouring stations, who will stop there for a cup of tea or to use the toilet or to do their paperwork. They are inspected. They are part of a chain of command. Once again, the situation in Goatswood is just not credible. Some coppers may not do their job, but the whole force of over 1,000 officers? I think not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Necrothesp
Have you ever actually been there? Campbell's grasp of geography is a bit suspect for the reasons mentioned above but in some ways he gets it just right. On the surface Gloucestershire is very genteel but there's often a rather nasty undercurrent in its towns and villages. Other writers have commented on this. I believe it was either Jilly Cooper or Joanna Trollope who said that in quite a few places you have rich hooray henrys in their ostentatious 4X4s co-existing with feral children scavenging for food in dustbins. Then of course there's the Forest of Dean which is very Goatswood like even if on the wrong side of the river.

A town being a bit nasty in places is not really the same as a town being almost entirely populated by deformed cultists! In reality, Social Services would have swarmed the place years ago. What about the schools? They're run by the county and love OFSTED or hate it I think they might notice something a little odd going on. Once again, in an isolated village with a small local school it might be easier to cover up, but not in a largish town with presumably several schools including a secondary school (and it must have a secondary school with its department stores and office blocks - nowhere that size is without one).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Necrothesp
Thanks. you *just* re-instated the main reason why I have no interest in ever playing Goatswood/Severn for Cthulhu Now. And likewise, I would only find that region as a credible 'Lovecraftian Horror Region' only during earlier times: The 1920s. ;)

 

Now you understand why I started this thread, asking for source material for playing Goatswood/Severn Valley during the 1920s Era.

Frankly, if I used the Severn Valley at all in CoC I would transplant the Brichester stuff to Bristol and portray the other fictional towns as tiny isolated villages where such happenings might be just believable. I've never liked plonking fictional major towns down in the middle of real maps - they bugger up the geography of the area!

 

Tatters of the King has a brief description of Temphill (as a tiny, tumbledown isolated village) and implies that Goatswood is similar. It also portrays Mercy Hill as a similar village nearby, although I was always under the impression that was actually a suburb of Brichester. The map of the area shows the villages in quite different locations from those in the modern Severn Valley sourcebook (in which, I seem to recall, the "isolated backwoods" town of Goatswood is actually within half a mile of the M5!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tindalos

As a potential way of handling Goatswood... what if there were two of them?

 

One of them is a modern small town, it's not actually near the wood, it just got its name when the wood covered a much larger area.

 

The other is a small village, dating back to roman times. Run down even in the 20s, now the only ways to get there are by decaying unpaved roads, and the train station. (Which was officially closed down in the 40s, but given that the train driver comes from Goatswood, has been known to make a few "unsheduled" stops.)

 

Due to the name similarities, and superstitiousness about the smaller Goatswood, both towns have an unsavoury reputation. And a few unlucky people seeking "Greater Goatswood" have ended up in "The Other Goatswood" by accident rarely leaving... unchanged.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Necrothesp
As a potential way of handling Goatswood... what if there were two of them?

 

One of them is a modern small town, it's not actually near the wood, it just got its name when the wood covered a much larger area.

 

The other is a small village, dating back to roman times. Run down even in the 20s, now the only ways to get there are by decaying unpaved roads, and the train station. (Which was officially closed down in the 40s, but given that the train driver comes from Goatswood, has been known to make a few "unsheduled" stops.)

 

Due to the name similarities, and superstitiousness about the smaller Goatswood, both towns have an unsavoury reputation. And a few unlucky people seeking "Greater Goatswood" have ended up in "The Other Goatswood" by accident rarely leaving... unchanged.

I toyed with the idea of having two Goatswoods in the same place. The one that most people see is a run-down little village at which they don't look twice, but if the inhabitants want then what visitors see is what Campbell describes in The Moon Lens.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr_Lin
Yes, but Fred West was one person, not a whole townful of cultists!

 

He wasn’t just one man though. He had the assistance of his wife. I believe his brother also took part in abusing the children. West himself claimed to be part of an occult coven although that may well be a lie. The point is that there was a lot of extremely deviant criminal activity around Cromwell Street and the police did sod all about it for a very long time. I believe the woman police officer who finally did get a proper investigation going had to fight her colleagues every inch of the way because they wouldn’t take her seriously.

 

 

Some coppers may not do their job, but the whole force of over 1,000 officers? I think not.

 

Bent cops tend to be quite good at covering up their misdeeds, even from other coppers. A cursory read about Operation Countryman illustrates how difficult it is to root out police officers engaged in large scale corruption.

 

A town being a bit nasty in places is not really the same as a town being almost entirely populated by deformed cultists!

 

I've already conceded the point that Goatswood isn't convincing as a town. I do think it works as an isolated village though. My point about Gloucestershire is that there is a lot of nastiness under the surface. I think this fits in quite well with Ramsey Campbell’s signature theme of the horror lurking under everyday life

 

In reality, Social Services would have swarmed the place years ago. What about the schools? They're run by the county and love OFSTED or hate it I think they might notice something a little odd going on. Once again, in an isolated village with a small local school it might be easier to cover up, but not in a largish town with presumably several schools including a secondary school (and it must have a secondary school with its department stores and office blocks - nowhere that size is without one).

 

 

I suspect I've got rather less faith in the institutions of the state than your good self. My experience of social workers is that they're mostly well meaning but completely disorganised. I also suspect they’d be wary of starting off something that could turn out like the Orkney Satanic abuse scare from 1991. As to the schools, well they might be Foundation/Voluntary aided which would reduce LEA involvement. With regard to OFSTED, My brother’s a department head in a London comp and he tells me OFSTED inspectors are mostly the kind of no-marks who couldn’t cut it as real teachers. I wouldn't give much for their chances of finding out what's going on in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire. Incidentally my brother's school engages in a lot of window dressing whenever there’s an inspection due (e.g. packing all the disruptive kids off to somewhere where they can't be seen) . I dare say the local school in Goatswood would do the same.

 

Of course you could just go the Delta Green: Countdown route and say the town was wiped out in the 1960s and an aircraft factory built on the site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Necrothesp
He wasn’t just one man though. He had the assistance of his wife. I believe his brother also took part in abusing the children. West himself claimed to be part of an occult coven although that may well be a lie. The point is that there was a lot of extremely deviant criminal activity around Cromwell Street and the police did sod all about it for a very long time. I believe the woman police officer who finally did get a proper investigation going had to fight her colleagues every inch of the way because they wouldn’t take her seriously.

Still only two or three people though, not an entire community of deformed maniacs. My point about the police was that police officers will visit the town every day - somebody is going to notice something. And the police were just an example - in Britain all towns will be visited by district/county/national officials on a regular basis.

I suspect I've got rather less faith in the institutions of the state than your good self. My experience of social workers is that they're mostly well meaning but completely disorganised. I also suspect they’d be wary of starting off something that could turn out like the Orkney Satanic abuse scare from 1991. As to the schools, well they might be Foundation/Voluntary aided which would reduce LEA involvement. With regard to OFSTED, My brother’s a department head in a London comp and he tells me OFSTED inspectors are mostly the kind of no-marks who couldn’t cut it as real teachers. I wouldn't give much for their chances of finding out what's going on in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire. Incidentally my brother's school engages in a lot of window dressing whenever there’s an inspection due (e.g. packing all the disruptive kids off to somewhere where they can't be seen) . I dare say the local school in Goatswood would do the same.

On the contrary, I have very little faith in social workers or related professions per se. However, I certainly do have faith in them sticking their noses in where they're not wanted, particularly into communities they don't understand and even more especially where children might be at risk. And, neither being a conspiracy theorist nor believing that all (or even anywhere near a majority of) public officials are venal, corrupt or lazy, I think the institutions of the state would take a hand in such widespread social problems and disappearances.

 

I think your brother's opinion of OFSTED inspectors is the standard (and, let's face it, predictable) opinion amongst teachers. Not being in education, I have no particular opinion either way. Incidentally, at the time Campbell was writing the schools would all have answered directly to the LEA.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
justadame

What's not to like about Goatswood ?

The supplement reminds me of the Wickerman film (Christopher Lee) where a whole community are in on the wicked plot.

I could believe Luton could be like that, half the people involved the other half not caring and getting on with their lives..........................

 

In fact a lot of the big cities are so anonymous how would anyone know if they lived next to a cultist, or a whole estate full of cultists..........

 

I think the National missing persons helpline deal with approx 200 000 missing folks each year.

Some of them want to go missing of course, and the Police (who will only get involved after 48 hours have elapsed) don't really bother unless its a young person.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Black-Seal-Editor

I think some of the posters on this thread have got a little too hung up about how things are *supposed* to work. In reality things don't work that way. It's "Chinatown" really. These places have their own reality.

 

Sure a small town may have a police station, but it's only manned during the day, and then by a couple of officers at best. Perhaps those officers have learnt that if you don't look too closely you don't find unpleasant things out. And of course the residents have learnt that if you don't do things in public you're unlikely to be caught.

 

Sure the local children all go to school. They're taught by Miss Evans, a local girl, who came back from teacher training and took the job. Strangely nobody else was interviewed as nobody else applied apparently. Despite the extra money being offered - well that's what the school says. Older kids are bussed to senior schools in the next town. There are fights between the kids of the towns and every few years one of them is stabbed, sometimes fatally.

 

Newcomers wonder why they still feel like strangers sometimes even after 10 years or more. They feel like there's a whole different side to village life they just don't see.

 

The local council celebrates its latest initiative - low cost housing for local residents, not that house prices are particularly pushed in this particular area - rich outsiders are low in numbers and spread out on the outskirts. For some reason the population just isn't as mobile as elsewhere.

 

And remember the inhabitants of the Severn valley are extremely skilled at survival. They've made it through far harsher times to the relative safety of the 21st century, they can easily deal with the police, school authorities, nosy surveyors, utility engineers, the military, civil authorities etc.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if the fictional Gloucester civil authorities is riddled with Goatswood ex-pats, bribed or blackmailed by Goatswood ex-pats, or staffed by people with adverse experience of Goatswood or "Chinatown" as they call it, and are prepared to turn a blind eye to most things.

 

You just bend and flow whilst they're there, and stop when they've gone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr_Lin
I think some of the posters on this thread have got a little too hung up about how things are *supposed* to work. In reality things don't work that way. It's "Chinatown" really. These places have their own reality.

 

Very true, although I've sometimes thought of Campbell's Severn Valley as being a horror version of Hardy's Wessex. A landscape of the imagination in any event.

 

Newcomers wonder why they still feel like strangers sometimes even after 10 years or more. They feel like there's a whole different side to village life they just don't see.

 

This is a pretty accurate summary of what it's like in The Forest of Dean, probably the nearest equivalent to a real life Goatswood. The Forest is much maligned in the rest of Glos and neighbouring Herefordshire, with some justification. Insular doesn't even begin to describe it. There's a local saying "If you're driving at night in the Forest and you hit something, don't stop." It might be a sheep, then again it might not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Necrothesp
I think some of the posters on this thread have got a little too hung up about how things are *supposed* to work. In reality things don't work that way. It's "Chinatown" really. These places have their own reality.

No, we're simply giving our own opinions as to what works and what doesn't for us. If Goatswood works for you then that's fine. It simply doesn't for me. I prefer my CoC to be more grounded in reality - the Mythos elements are then far more frightening.

 

Sure a small town may have a police station, but it's only manned during the day, and then by a couple of officers at best.

Just because a station is only open to the public during the day doesn't mean officers don't operate out of it or use it as a base at all times of the day and night. This is a common misconception. Police stations have officers going in and out of them all the time.

 

Sure the local children all go to school. They're taught by Miss Evans, a local girl, who came back from teacher training and took the job. Strangely nobody else was interviewed as nobody else applied apparently. Despite the extra money being offered - well that's what the school says. Older kids are bussed to senior schools in the next town. There are fights between the kids of the towns and every few years one of them is stabbed, sometimes fatally.

Goatswood as portrayed by Campbell is far too big for this scenario.

 

But as I said before, these are simply my personal opinions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...