Down New England Town – A Miskatonic Repository Review [Call of Cthulhu]

Down New England Town

Author: Dr. Michael C. LaBossiere
Publisher: Chaosium [Miskatonic Repository]
Page Count: 10
Available Formats: PDF
PDF (DTRPG) – Pay What You Want
[Suggested Price: $0.99]

Down New England Town is a short modern-era scenario initially published in 1992, then revised in 1997 for Call of Cthulhu’s 6th edition and again in 2018 for 7th. This 10-page scenario may be used as a campaign starter or an interlude when investigators travel between two points in New England. Its short nature all but ensures that it can be easily played out in one session or less, perhaps.

Regardless of how the scenario is used, investigators find themselves stopping at a police checkpoint on the outskirts of a small New England town of the Keepers choosing. Recently, movie mogul Roger Colwin died and was to be buried in this little New England town. With his funeral date come and gone, his daughter remains in town, shocked at the turn of events. Unfortunately for everyone involved in his funeral, Roger Colwin’s body was stolen from the church the night before the funeral service and interment. The local police are investigating the incident, which includes stopping every car driving through this small town and checking it thoroughly. With their vehicle now stopped at the checkpoint, they are met by Officer Jennifer Hansen, whose demeanor quickly changes once she recognizes one of the investigators. Hansen and this investigator attended school together. Officer Hansen, happy to see a familiar face from her high school days, is a pleasure to chat with. Having heard over the years, through several mutual friends, this particular investigator was into “weird shit,” she goes on to comment that movie mogul Roger Colwin’s body was stolen from the church the night before his funeral.

With the bait set, investigators must decide to either be pulled into the mystery or continue on their way. If they opt for the latter, the scenario ends with them driving off down the road. Assuming they take the bait, what investigator worth their salt, wouldn’t? At this point, the investigators catch up with the local Police Chief, who provides a little insight into the situation. While the Chief usually doesn’t like civilians meddling in police business, he’s happy to have the help. The Chief has a plan, and the investigator will be a part of its execution. What no one knows is that a pack of ghouls has been snatching bodies. Once investigators are on the trail, a few plausible dangling carrots should help keep them moving forward to the scenario’s conclusion.

With its small cast of non-player characters and straight-to-the-point plot, Down New England Town has a refreshing feel about it. Scenarios need not be long and drawn-out affairs to be fun and engaging—Down New England Town proves that. Unfortunately, I do not have access to the earlier iterations of the scenario to see how it has developed and changed over time. Though in its current form, I can surmise, it has either stood the test of time or has been refined slightly because it is well designed and written, save for a few niggling editing errors.

One could argue the scenario’s hook is flimsy or perhaps a little contrived, and that may be the case, but it all comes down to how the Keeper introduces the hook to the investigators. If it’s just dropped on them without blending it into an existing campaign (interlude) or doing a little scene-setting (campaign starter) before they arrive at the checkpoint, then yes, it will feel flimsy and contrived. However, with only a minimal amount of additional work on the Keeper’s part, they can bring a simple story concept to life in a fun and more meaningful way.

If you’re looking for a short scenario to kick off a modern-era campaign or just an interlude to drop into your existing game, you can’t go wrong with Down New England Town!

~ Modoc

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