Bad Times in Ba'more
In the late 19th century, Frederic Alcott—a fan
of Edgar Allan Poe who lived in Baltimore—
purchased a trunk at an estate auction. The
trunk was full of old papers and assorted junk
from an obscure literature professor from
Franklin & Marshall College, a specialist in early
to mid-19th century American popular literature.
Alcott examined the papers and discovered
that many were written by Poe himself and were
as yet unknown to academia. However, they
were not the fiction, essays, or literary criticism
that Poe was known for; they were a catalogue
of real-world supernatural events and entities
around Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond.
Poe was clued-in, knew an awful lot, and had the
good sense not to publish any of it; who would
have believed him? The Dupin Society (named
after the hero of Poe’s detective stories) dedicated
itself to continuing to observe the supernatural
around Baltimore. If you want to know
something about the supernatural community
in Baltimore, chances are the Dupin Society
knows it, or at least knows who you can contact
to find out.
The Dupin Society learned a tough lesson
right around the turn of the 20th century. They
found out about a scourge of Black Court
vampires in northeast Baltimore and determined
to drive them out of the city. The society
was nearly wiped out; Alcott was killed, as were
half a dozen of his students and associates.
The survivors licked their wounds and decided
never to intervene actively again; they would do
nothing more than observe and record. They’re
good at this; if a person or event in Baltimore
has a supernatural angle to it, chances are the
Dupin Society knows about it.
Currently, the Dupin Society consists of
around two dozen Baltimoreans from all walks
of life, and most—if not all—have no supernatural
talents of their own. Its director is Paul
Mackey (page 384), who works as a curator at the
Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. The
society poses as a literary discussion group; its
true nature is kept secret.
Some members are questioning the society’s
firm policy of nonintervention, the most
vocal of which is John Vastolo. They point to
the success of “Lizard” Gibbs and his cohorts
(see “Individuals,” below) in slaying a White
Court vampire, and they argue for taking a
more militant line against supernaturals that
prey on mortals. Others argue that they are
not trained or equipped to do so, and that they
should simply continue to observe and record.
The society clearly embodies the theme of
The Dupin Society does not enjoy a terribly
warm relationship with Evan Montrose, the
Montrose family, or other Baltimore wizards. It’s
personal—we’ll discuss this more later.