The Dragon of Wantley — A Miskatonic Repository Review [Call of Cthulhu]

The Dragon of Wantley

Author: SR Sellens
Publisher: The Miskatonic Repository
Page Count: 52
Available Format: PDF (DTRPG) – $5

Flora Jacobs, a young socialite, has mysteriously disappeared on her way to visit her aunt, Dowager Duchess, at her estate in Yorkshire three days ago. It’s rumored that she is in the company of a well-to-do American, possibly someone with whom she has a close relationship. The Duchess has declined to comment on such things but is offering a reward for her niece’s recovery. It is up to the investigators to locate Flora Jones and see her safe return.

The Dragon of Wantley is a missing-person investigation that leads to an English folk tale of the same name. The folk tale recounts a massive dragon, the size of the Trojan Horse, that would devour buildings, trees, or anything it wanted. It was defeated by Falstaffian knight Moore of Moore Hall by kicking it in its only vulnerable spot with his spiked Sheffield armor on Wharncliffe Crags in South Yorkshire. The folk tale is central to the investigation, and a full recounting of the tale is available in its appendices.

Note: The author has provided Rolling Boxcars with a review copy for this article. If you have an item you’d like Rolling Boxcars to review, please visit our Product Review Request page.

Players are hooked into the scenario by the classic trope of someone you know is in trouble or getting hired to retrieve Flora Jones. If they are not interested in finding Flora Jones, there is an alternative hook about discovering mummified bodies in the area where the main story takes place. There is a newspaper handout that alerts the investigators to this alternate hook. Following the trail, it intersects with the locations used with the main plot, but the threads don’t connect easily. The mummified bodies investigation goes cold very quickly with no path forward.

Setting the alternate hook aside, the missing person investigation of Floral Jacobs is weak. The bread crumb trail doesn’t branch far. Clues lead straight to the next without much effort. They are buried with paragraphs and not easily accessible in a pinch. Most of the clues come from questioning NPCs who are all too eager to provide the information the investigators need. The Keeper will need to guide players to the appropriate people to move the story forward if they lose their way.

The whole basis of the scenario is farfetched and sloppily constructed. The background story doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Its plot quickly falls apart once one puts the pieces together. It’s apparent the author began the writing process with the English folk tale in mind but cannot create an inventive investigation to lead investigators to it. The poorly surrounding story falls flat and is uninspiring.

The author uses British slang that non-native speakers need to google to understand. The text could use a pass by a professional editor. The scenario’s layout follows the standard look for Chaosium publications and only lacks in its execution; lacks the fine eye for detail. The many handouts are very nicely constructed, and a song is even included. There are five pre-generated characters on official Chaosium characters sheets and a handy guide to England’s 1920 transportation and firearm legislation.

The Dragon of Wantley has a great illustrated cover. I appreciate the recreation of a classic Chaosium publication look, but inside lies a scenario that unsuccessfully incorporates an English folk-tale with a convoluted plot. It suffers from a weak background story that falls apart when pressed. The motivation and reasoning of the antagonist are not very believable or well thought out. Numerous plot holes cannot be filled. I had hoped for an exhilarating investigation but got bamboozled by a pretty picture.

~Stephen Pennisi

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    How obscure is the slang? I’m curious simply because older Chaosium publications do use a lot of American cultural references lost on me! For a British scenario that might just be colour — and with most Cthulhu authors now in the UK I believe it is something to watch for in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. modoc31 says:

    Hi CJ,

    Stephen may have more to add, but the one that comes to mind for me was “turf,” as in “turf him out.”

    ~ Modoc

    Like

    1. DadsAngry says:

      I consume a lot of British media and the scenario had some phrases that were completely lost on me.

      Like

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