["A Typical Dunwish Farm" and its companion piece "Earth, Sky, Soul" are meant to add on to Chaosium's RETURN TO DUNWICH book. The second piece is the only thing resembling a scenario in TUO4. — John Scott Tynes, 1994]
A Visit to Dunwich
In which lost material is brought to light and a horrific scene awaits inspection
(Chaosium’s Return To Dunwich book [see review in TUO3] saw publication minus a couple of bits deleted for space reasons. The piece below is one such selection, printed here thanks to the author. To round this out, a new scenario/encounter follows in “Earth, Sky, Soul.”)
A Typical Dunwich Farm
©1991 Keith Herber
Dunwich farms are typically small, based on the amount of land that can be worked by a man, his wife, and their children. Typical crops include wheat, corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and peas. Other fields are given over to pasture land, hay fields, and timber lots. The soil is generally thin, not too productive, and filled with an inordinate amount of rocks. Indeed, most farmers enclose their fields not with wooden fences but with low stone walls built of the rocks turned up year after year by their plows. These stone walls can be seen running along most roads in the valley, or separating crops from pasture land, or even in dense woods where once open fields have gone back to the wilds.
Additionally, most farms keep an apple orchard and possibly a small arbor of Concord grapes. Livestock consists of small herds of dairy cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens. Some farms have rabbit hutches or a small collection of bee hives. There is always a dog or two around as well as any number of cats found living in both the house and the barn. Dunwich farms are nearly self-supporting, only a few store-bought goods such as milled flour or cloth find their way into most homes. Many families still make their own soap and candles. Surplus crops and livestock are sold at the farmer’s market in Aylesbury.
Farmhouses throughout the valley were almost universally constructed between the years 1700 and 1806, all but the rudest cabins evidencing some form of the Georgian style. Original houses were usually built small, sometimes only a single story of two rooms. Later additions would expand the house to four rooms and a second or even a third story would be added. Lean-to additions were usually built off the back of the house, but sometimes on the end, further increasing the original living space. Most are equipped with stone-wall cellars with outside entrances. Lacking gas and electric service the homes in the valley are heated by huge central fireplaces sometimes augmented by small iron stoves installed in distant parts of the house. Water is drawn from a well or spring, and outhouses are often located only a short distance from the back door. Houses usually have at least a front and a back door, as well as an outside entrance to the cellar.
Many Dunwich residents (60%) have telephone service, one of the few earmarks of the 20th century investigators might find. Almost all have a mailbox mounted near the road, usually with the name of the family painted on it.
Almost every farm has a barn where livestock is sheltered and feed and equipment stored. Other outbuildings may include small tool sheds, a woodshed, a smokehouse, possibly an icehouse, maybe a spring house built to keep a source of water from freezing over during winter, and an underground root cellar. A small vegetable garden kept near the house provides the farmer’s wife with a source of table vegetables, tomatoes, rhubarb, asparagus, and others. Some farms even have a small duck pond near the house. It would, however, be an exceptional Dunwich farm if it were to have all these things. Most farms have somewhere on the property a family burial plot. Township regulations now forbid the burying of bodies on private property, although unreported infractions occur frequently. All farms maintain a trash dump somewhere near the house. The nearest place where trash can be dumped down a slope to disappear from sight is preferred, but the more-decayed of Dunwich residents often do little more than toss it out the back door.
Most of the farms are powered by animal labor — horse- or ox-drawn plows, harrows, cultivators, and reapers. A small handful of farmers own tractors but these are ancient, rusted vehicles sometimes jointly purchased by a father and son or by closely cooperating neighbors. A Dunwich farmer prosperous enough to purchase a new tractor is unimaginable.
A farm family consists of a husband, wife, and any number of children. Farm families tend to be large but many youngsters end up eventually moving out of the valley. Only those in a position to inherit an established farm or occupation stay. Others, those not inclined to continue living at home with parents, move on to Aylesbury where the farming is better, or further on, even out of Massachusetts altogether.
Space did not allow us to give full statistics for every single resident in Dunwich country. The Keeper can use the following guidelines to fill in these characters as needed. Typical skills are described as well as some notes on the types of weapons most commonly encountered.
Typical Dunwich Farmer:
Average Characteristics and Exceptions
STR 3D6+2 (10% will be congenitally weak, 2D6+1)
CON 3D6+1 (20% will be chronically unhealthy, 2D6)
SIZ 2D6+6 (5% will be below average, 2D6)
POW 2D6 (20% will be closer to normal, 3D6)
EDU 1D6+3 (10% will be carefully educated, 3D6)
Typical Skills: Accounting 15%, Agriculture 85%, Animal Husbandry 90%, Bargain 75%, Botany 50%, Climb 65%, Credit Rating 15%, Debate 35%, Diagnose Disease 15%, Drive Automobile 35%, Electrical Repair 10%, First Aid 30%, Jump 40%, Listen 65%, Mechanical Repair 70%, Occult 15%, Operate Heavy Machinery 20%, Predict Weather 75%, Psychology 40%, R/W English 35%, Ride 60%, Spot Hidden 25%, Swim 35%, Throw 30%, Track 55%, Treat Disease 35%, Treat Poison 15%, Zoology 50%
Besides the tools, axes, and knives found around any farm, almost every resident of the valley owns at least one firearm. These are used for self-defense, to drive off varmints, or to destroy a sick or injured animal.
The most commonly-found modern weapon is the shotgun, usually 12-gauge in a single or double-barrel configuration. Modern-style pump-action weapons are rare, much too expensive for most residents. 40% of the residents own shotguns.
Revolvers are next in popularity, most often the .38 caliber. This was the weapon carried by Wilbur Whateley the night he was killed. 25% of the farmers own some type of pistol. Automatics are extremely rare.
Rifles are less common although a fair number of houses have a .22 lying around. These are usually single-shot or bolt-action models. A few farmers own a .30-.06, used primarily for hunting deer. 30% of the houses will have a .22 and 20% a .30-06.
In almost every house, whether or not there are any other firearms, will be found a vintage musket, handed down through the family, usually kept clean and handy in case of an emergency. These weapons must be hand-loaded with shot and powder and can be fired only once every six rounds by even the most skilled user. They cause 1D10 points of damage and have a base range of 20 yards. They are simple and sturdy. It takes 14 points of damage to break one.