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October-ganza 24: New England Disasters part 1 – the Land

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October 24, 2014 by Bret Kramer (aka WinstonP)

Disasters, human made an otherwise, are great fodder for Call of Cthulhu roleplaying.  Presented here are some events of possible interest for Keepers running a Lovecraft Country game, with a focus today upon events on land; tomorrow we will turn to nautical catastrophes.

  • One of the earliest natural disasters of note is the 1755 Cape Ann earthquake.  The most severe earthquake in New England history – though it caused no deaths – occurred east-northeast of Cape Ann, a location that any Lovecraftian gamer worth their essential saltes can raise up some solid ideas about the cause.
  • The September 1821 Tornado Outbreak.  Tornadoes are uncommon in New England, though not unknown.  Need some justification for a suddenly flattened building or a trail of death and destruction?
  • The Norwalk Rail Accident.  48 passengers were killed (and 8 went missing) when the Boston Express accidentally attempted to cross an open rail bridge in Connecticut, plunging into Long Island Sound.  Still the worst rail accident in New England.
  • The Great Blizzard of 1888.  Blanketing the east coast of the United States from Maryland to Maine in up to five feet of snow.  Is fighting the Mythos easier or harder while wading waist-deep in snow?
  • The Boston Molasses Disaster.  Too much sugar can be a very bad thing for your health, especially if it comes in the form of a 20 foot wall of molasses rolling towards you at 35 miles and hour.  21 people were killed.
  • Also in Boston, is the 1925 Pickwick Club Collapse.  Shoddy repairs, lax safety standards, and heavy rains combined to cause a speak-easy to topple, killing 44 patrons.  Boston’s response was to ban the Charleston.  It has been suggested that this incident inspired events in Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook”.  Here is a 1944 version of 12th Street Rag, the song that was playing in the early morning hours of July 4th, when the Pickwick fell.

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