Run, Fool, Run! – A Review of The Curse of Dudleytown [Miskatonic Repository]

The Curse of Dudleytown

Author: Andy Miller
Publisher: Chaosium [Miskatonic Repository]
Page Count: 70
Available Formats: PDF
PDF (DTRPG) – $6.99

The Curse of Dudleytown is a Call of Cthulhu 7th edition scenario written by Andy Miller and takes investigators to Connecticut, just a few decades following the nation’s birth. In 1811, a small group of travelers finds themselves traveling to the gloomy community of Dudleytown in Cornwall, Connecticut. Each has their own reasons for visiting this tiny little community, but soon enough, they will become embroiled in the curse that haunts the stone-walled fields of Dudleytown.

This scenario is based on a town that once existed in Cornwall, Connecticut; once a township, eventually, it was abandoned as its residents moved away. According to Andy Miler’s “Forward,” the historical location of Dudleytown first became known as a cursed location in the 1926 publication, History of Cornwall, and the legends may have been the catalyst for They Found a Way published in 1938. While the truths of the real Dudleytown are rooted in both fact and fiction, its legends and legacy into the twentieth century are the fuel for Miller’s imagination in The Curse of Dudleytown.

The scenario opens with the usual introduction; Keeper and player information. A brief discussion addresses the challenges of adapting the scenario to various time periods; subtle tips on how a Keeper might overcome the various time periods’ challenges.

Miller provides extensive historical background on early America, Connecticut, Litchfield County, Cornwall, surround locales, and Dudleytown. In the thirteen-page background and history, we not only learn about the factual history, but we’re also introduced to Dudleytown and the curse that followed the fictional Dudley Family, which is at the heart of this scenario. The most prominent of these is the “Little People.” First introduced into the Call of Cthulhu repertoire by Keith Herber in the 1992 scenario The Little People. The real Dudleytown, fictional people, and the Little People are expertly blended together so that it becomes difficult to tell historical facts from historical fiction. The fiction becomes more prominent as the descriptions of Dudleytown begin to unfold. Nonetheless, the quality of writing throughout is evocative, engaging, and conveys everything a Keeper needs to know to properly run the scenario.

The scenario is about a group of travelers, mostly unknown to each other, who are traveling to Dudleytown for one reason or another—all of which are plausible. A happenstance incident on the road just outside of Dudleytown hooks the players into the story’s plot, and players will likely not even realize it. Once in town, the travelers (investigators) must go about their separate business, and it’s here that things begin to get really weird. Going about their business, they will slowly experience odd happenings and may or may not comprehend the overall oddness of Dudleytown. During their first night in town, they will separately experience strange events that leave them feeling very uneasy. Over the course of their time in Dudleytown, likely to be several days, they will experience and witness other strange occurrences as a direct result of the curse they’re likely becoming aware of. What’s a traveler to do?

If the travelers want a chance to survive their visit to Dudleytown, the curse, and the “Little People,” they’re going to have to learn what’s going on and better do it fast—their time is limited, and the pressure is on!

This scenario is as much about the investigation as it is about dealing with the truth once they find it. The clock is ticking, and the travelers need to think and act swiftly if they want to survive Dudleytown because, as they will learn, they’re unable to leave. In a scenario rooted in the early nineteenth century, in an insular town, talking to the locals will give them their best chance for success. Getting the locals to speak frankly is a challenge but should be reasonable to overcome. Once that barrier is breached, they can begin to learn more about Dudleytown and its curse. Should the travelers require some assistance in their endeavors, Miller has devised a story element, by way of a calico cat, to help nudge them in the right direction, if needed.

The remainder of the books, 25 pages or so, is filled with additional resources for Keepers, most of which are essential for running the scenario. Miller provides a short bibliography that some will obviously find interesting and useful. I always appreciate well researched historical backgrounds. There is a short weapons armory that features period firearms; each is briefly described and contains all pertinent in-game details. Several key non-player characters have detailed backgrounds and stats, but let’s not forget about the scenario’s antagonists, the Little People. Their entry includes a thorough treatment of their background and all necessary stats. There are also two-dozen non-player character portraits, maps, and handouts. Lastly, six pre-generated investigators are included—pre-gens utilize a variant of the Down Dark Trails character sheet.

I would like to point out that I found Andy Miller’s Afterword and playtest notes fascinating. Although they’re concise, there is a great deal of developmental insight, including many lessons learned. Interested Keepers would do well to skim these notes as they may provide possible solutions should you encounter similar situations in your own game.

Currently, only available as a PDF from the Miskatonic Repository, The Curse of Dudleytown is nicely presented. I found reading the scenario to be effortless as the information was well written and logically presented. There are plenty of public domain period-appropriate artworks that help reinforce the time period and the overarching theme. The editing is solid, but my editor’s eye noticed a few things most readers are not likely to spot. The one thing I would like to have seen is a hyperlinked Table of Contents to aid in navigating to precise locations, especially in a PDF that is 70 pages in length.

The Curse of Dudleytown is one of the few scenarios I have read recently that has really excited me. Not only is it set in a fascinating historical time period, but the way in which Miller has seamlessly fused together historical facts and fiction is a real treat. The Mythos antagonist is not one used all that often, and it’s exciting to see it used to such good effect—adding a nice creep factor. If you enjoy scenarios with rich historical detail that are not your typical run-of-the-mill “classic” era scenarios, this is one you should add to your Miskatonic Repository wishlist.

~ Modoc

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