RPGNow.com
Browse
 Publisher Info











Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Keeper Screen Pack
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2016 08:00:06

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/11/21/tabletop-review-call-of-cthulhu-7th-edition-keepers-screen-pack-digital-version/

On Monday, November 17th, Chaosium finally released the 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu. Well, the digital version anyway. Those of you who want to wait for the dead tree version (or pre-ordered/crowdfunded that edition) will have to wait a few more weeks for that. Since I know a lot of other people will be (are) talking about both the Keeper’s Guide and the Investigator’s Guide, I decided to start my coverage of the new Chaosium releases with the Keeper’s Screen Pack. After all, it’s going to be overlooked in favor of the two core rulebooks and because it comes with two adventures, it definitely deserves a piece done on it.

Now, as mentioned, this is a digital Keeper’s Screen Pack, not the eventual physical release we will be getting. This means the product comes as nine documents. You get six PDFs and then the two adventures in .epub, .Mobi and .prc formats (in addition to the previously counted PDF version). It’s great to see Chaosium trying to be so all-inclusive digitally. Compare that to a company like Games Workshop where their digital releases are iPAD only (lame) or a lot of releases industry wide that are PDF only. What a smart move by Chaosium because this ensures that any e-reader or computer can read and/or use these documents with their gaming group. Kind of. There is one big problem.

The Keeper’s Screen is divided into two PDFs – obverse and reverse. In both cases, they look like complete crap on an e-reader. Trying to enlarge them just creates a massive unrecognizable blob and at their default size the PDFs are simply illegible. That means you can’t use the reverse Keeper’s Screen as a digital cheat sheet. So both pieces are fundamentally worthless unless you are looking at a computer monitor to view them and who has their computer set up while gaming with friends unless you are doing it over Skype? As well, the PDF is not high quality enough to use in a print and play situation. It just does not look good printed off, which again, makes the Keeper Screen part of the Keeper Screen Pack fundamentally unusable unless you use your computer monitor as the screen and have it loaded up on a PDF reader. Obviously this won’t be a problem with the physical copy when it is released but right now the Keeper’s Screen is pretty painful to look at on an e-reader and almost laughable when printed out. So if you’re honestly looking to purchase the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Keeper’s Screen Pack in its current form or for a print and play option, for the love of god – DON’T. Wait for the physical copy or you will regret it.

Now that said, the layout of the Keeper’s Screen is fantastic and if I look at these PDFs as a teaser/preview of what I will eventually be getting in the mail, I’m pretty excited. The front side is a gorgeous tribute to a lot of tropes from the 1920s era of the game. A group of Investigators prepares to enter an ancient ruin built into the side of a mountain while some unnamable lurks in the nearby woods. It’s wonderful art and it might be my favorite Screen Art in many years. I’m not a big screen user as I tend to let my players see the dice (I don’t fudge for or against the group), but I have a few I really love for the art and ancillaries that came with it like Mayfair’s old DC Super Heroes one and the original V:TM screen. The front of the screen looks great and as long as you are patient for the physical copy, you won’t be disappointed.

The reverse side for the Keeper’s use is pretty nice too. It’s well laid out and very easy to find pertinent rules/mechanics on. I especially love the flowcharts for combat and death. These things are fantastic. At the same time, there are some areas that can use work. I appreciate the “Sanity Loss Examples” list and also a list of Insanity Effects. However it’s missing the rules for temporary/permanent Insanity or when you would roll to see if Insanity has set in. Now we long term fans of the game know these rules by heart, but for a newcomer, or at least someone new to running Call of Cthulhu, information like this would have been really helpful. Still, the majority of the information on the Keeper’s screen is great and will definitely see use, especially since a lot of the rules new to 7e like pushing and canon hard/extreme successes are on here. Again, the PDF is unreadable on all devices save computer monitors, so as good as the content is, you can’t use the digital version under most circumstances and so you should probably wait for the physical.

Of course, there is more to this package than just the two screen PDFs and some of those extras might entice you to pick this up in spite of how flawed the screen PDFS are. You also get three maps. The first is of Lovecraft Country. It shows the locations of Innsmouth, Kingsport, and of course Arkham is relationship to the rest of Northeastern Massachusetts. Because Dunwich is farther to the west, it gets its own inlay map showing its relative location in the state. It’s a decent enough map. It’s nothing fancy or mind blowing, but it gets the job done and will certainly be of use to any Keeper. The next map is of Arkham, MA. It’s not really a map as it doesn’t really show landmarks of points of interest. It’s just kind of an art piece and nothing more. There are close-ups of four districts like the Miskatonic Campus and French Hill but again, there is no real attempt at detail or defining places. So if you’re looking for where Pickman’s artist studio was, you’re out of luck. This was the weakest of the three maps in terms of usefulness, but it is rather pretty, especially the Lovecraftian art placed around the map. Finally we have the Call of Cthulhu world map which is the highlight of the set. It shows the canon locations of all sorts of locations. Not sure where R’lyeh is? Now you will! Thinking Irem is in Egypt because of Mummy: The Curse. This map will show you the correct location. So on and so forth. This is a really useful map and I love the layout. These three maps are a fine inclusion with the Keeper Screen but there’s a however coming. Ready? HOWEVER, these maps are all available with the purchase of the core rulebook/Keeper’s Guide. Now anyone who buys the Keeper’s Screen Pack is going to have the Core Rulebook. Sure there will be some weird rare scenarios where you’ll have this set but not the core rulebook, but those are so rare they are not worth mentioning. Besides, how would you run the game without the core book, you know? So these maps, as good as they are, are redundant and not worth buying this pack for. If Chaosium really wanted to entice someone to purchase the Keeper’s Screen Pack on its own, they should have included something exclusive to it.

So we’ve have a Keeper’s Screen you can’t actually use and some maps you probably already have via your Core Rulebook purchase. So things aren’t looking good for the digital version of this release are they? Well, not so fast. Remember how I said this pack needed something exclusive to make it worth your fifteen bucks? Well, there are two adventures that come with this set. Blackwater Creek and Missed Dues come bundled in a single 97 page PDF. Two adventures or a 100 page PDF is still a bit pricey for fifteen bucks but they are by far the highlight of the collection. Whether or not two published adventures are worth the price tag is going to be up to you and how much you enjoy each one. So let’s take a look at what each one entails.

Blackwater Creek has a team of Investigators travelling to a small rural Massachusetts to figure out the strange-goings on there. The adventure is really unique because you have two options for how to play it. You can be a traditional team of Miskatonic University staff members trying to track down a missing professor and his wife. The other options is that you play as a crew of bootleggers (It’s the 1920s and thus Prohibition era after all.) trying to muscle in on the whisky trade going on in Blackwater Creek. The whisky brewed there seems to be…unique and thus quite popular. The Investigators’ boss wants to take control of the region and its spirits and that’s where the PCs come in. There’s also a third option that the writer of the adventure hadn’t considered. Have you ever played any of those super Dungeons & Dragons adventures like Vault of the Dracolich where multiple parties do the adventure at the same time. If you have enough players, try that here. I ran this with a team of Miskatonic staff and a team of Bootleggers (the wonders of online gaming) and let one team’s actions affect the other. Together they were able to discover that the missing Professor (and wife) and the source of the strange whisky coming out of Blackwater Creek are interconnected. They also survived the Mythos encounter at the root of this piece once both groups came together where they probably would have died horribly had they tried their plan for success with a regular sized team of Investigators. It was a lot of fun and a really big change from the usual CoC rigmarole.

As mentioned, the core of the adventure is exploration and investigation, but there is room for a lot of physical conflict with everything from creepy mutated hillbilly bootleggers to crazed woodland creatures. More importantly, you’ll see player characters transformer mentally and physically as the adventure progresses. Think of it like Ravenloft power checks but creepier. Yes, CREEPIER. It’s also worth noting that the adventure’s text is extremely newcomer friendly, filled with advice and tips to help the adventure run smoothly. I almost feel that this adventure should be in the Core Rulebook since it’s geared towards holding the hand of a new or inexperienced Keeper. At the same time the adventure is very open ended and non-linear. It doesn’t even have a specific ending or endgame for the Keeper to follow. What happens is really up to the Investigators and how the Keeper plays off their actions/decisions. The adventure can be as mundane as fighting rivals for the bootlegging operations in the area or as Lovecraftian as dealing with a horrible Great Old One-Human hybrid transforming the region around it into a bizarre collection of fleshy bits and tentacle tree fetuses. Regardless how it goes down, Blackwater Creek is an adventure well worth experiencing. It also comes with several pages of handouts and six pre-generated PCs.

The second adventure in this set is Missed Dues and much like the first it has you playing as members of the criminal element from the 1920s. Unlike Blackwater Creek, there is no option to play as anything else. This makes the adventure extremely limited except in a one-shot pre-gen situation because it is exceedingly rare when all players will make the same basic character profession and doubly so where they all play as outright villains. So this probably was not the best thought out adventure or one to offer to the public in a two pack because it honestly won’t be used by very many gamers.

Of course, being a very niche adventure doesn’t make it a bad one. One shots are great if you doing gaming podcasts or have friends that can’t get together very often. Unfortunately the perceived quality of this piece is going to vary drastically by those that read it. Is it another yet another adventure that takes place within the confines of Arkham? Yes. So a bit uninspired there, but at the same time, it’s a familiar location Keeper’s can easily use. Is it the second adventure in a row that revolves around one set of hired goons muscling in on the territory of another? Yes it is. This is a shame because a bit of variety would have really helped this two pack. With the same plot hook shared by two adventures, it makes both adventures look weaker than if they were dramatically different from each other. Of course, had the adventures been placed in the opposite order I might be saying the previous lines about Blackwater Creek, but I doubt it since it’s designed better and has more than one option for character backgrounds. Again though those first impressions are deceiving because once you get into the adventure, you’ll see it is quite different.

In the PC ruffians have been sent to collect money from “Stick Jack” Fulton who hasn’t been paying his dues back to the larger crime syndicate in Arkham. Of course, it’s not really Jack’s fault but neither the PCs nor their employer knows this. See Jack was hired for a super secret job by a local religious organization (Cult) and unfortunately that job led to an indirect encounter with Azathoth, cursing himself, a few cult members and the entire apartment building Jack resides in with the attention of everyone’s favorite blind idiot god. Whoops. So the PCs go in thinking they are going to rough up a co-worker and instead get sucked into an interdimensional affair where Azazthoth is essentially an unwitting slum lord. Obivously the PCs will probably want a raise after this adventure.

Missed Dues follows the usual Call of Cthulhu tropes for beginning characters. They are told they have to deal with something mundane but through investigation, exploration and speaking with locals, they slowly begin to discover that they are in over their heads due to dealing with supernatural and/or alien happenings. Essentially Missed Dues is new set of drapes on the same old windows, but the window dressing is different enough that most players won’t care or notice unless they have played a LOT of Call of Cthulhu over the years. Then expecting some whining. I’ll admit I’m torn on this. On one hand it’s nice that the Keeper’s Screen offers a fairly basic linear adventure for new Keepers and players alike as it helps them learn the system, setting and stereotypes of the game. At the same time, aside from the gangster aspect, it is a fairly generic adventure in flow and form. I enjoyed it for what it is but if you or your friends are the type who feels people are just retreading the same old ground with published CoC adventures, you might not be a big fan of this one.

Overall, the / Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Keeper’s Screen Pack is a bit of a bust –at least digitally. The screen itself isn’t formatted for use with e-readers and it’s pretty useless on a computer monitor. The maps also come with the core rulebook so they are a bit redundant. At least you get two new adventures which may be worth $15 to some of you. I really liked Blackwater Creek and Missed Dues wasn’t completely generic so it will appeal to a small slice of CoC gamers. Are the two adventures worth the $15 price tag? No, I can’t say that they are. I’d pick it up for about ten bucks though. Wait for a pretty big sale on this if you get it at all. I can however say that if priced properly, the physical copy of the Keeper’s Screen WILL be worth getting. The screen is pretty useful, the art is wonderful and the two adventures are worth picking up if you can get a good price on the whole package. So yes, while this first of the big Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition releases was on the disappointing side, there is some good to be had here and the physical version will probably be worth the wait.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Keeper Screen Pack
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Cold Harvest
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2016 07:58:55

Originally Published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/10/23/tabletop-review-cold-harvest-call-of-cthulhu/

Ah delays. They are not only to be expected with a Kickstarter campaign, but are generally a fact of life. If a backer is lucky, the company is apologetic and gives out some bonus freebies to offset the delays. We’ve seen Flying Buffalo do this with Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls for example. If a publisher is lucky, the backers are understanding and cordial, especially when the delay is the fault of a third party company. Although some backers for both of Chaosium’s Kickstarters have been less than understanding, Chaosium has been churning out a lot of free adventures for them to try and make up for the fact physical copies of Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition and Horror on the Orient Express are not available yet (although digital ones are). Recently Chaosium has given all of their backers in both campaigns a copy of the new Seventh Edition adventure Cold Harvest. While I am pretty used to Kickstarter problems and am a patient, accepting man with crowdfunding, I’m certainly not going to say no to a free adventure when it is offered to me. So I poured through Cold Harvest and found it to be a delight on multiple levels. It’s definitely something I can recommend to the rank and file of experienced Call of Cthulhu players.

One of the things that I really liked about Cold Harvest it that it was designed to be played with just a single Keeper and Investigator. You can certainly add more PCs if you want, but it’s so rare to see an adventure these days for a single player. We all know these are desperately needed. There will be times you and a friend want to game but the rest of the crew can’t get together. AD&D, Second Edition had eight or so adventures like these and they were all really top notch and fun. The concept of a solo adventure has died off (except for Tunnels & Trolls, which are more Choose Your Own adventure in style). Pagan Publishing did Alone on Halloween (which currently goes for $100 on the secondary market, so you know there is demand for this sort of thing) in this same fashion, but there are so few Call of Cthulhu adventures you can play by yourself or with a buddy that Cold Harvest becomes a breath of fresh (cold) air. After all, look at all the Lovecraft stories featuring only a single protagonist rather than a group of intrepid adventurers. This really should become a regular thing, but for some reason, it never has.

Another thing I enjoyed is the setting. Cold Harvest takes place in Soviet Russia during the late 1930s. There have only been a handful of adventures set during this time period and location, so it’s still a pretty unique way to play Call of Cthulhu. Let’s be honest, there are only so many adventures set in 1920s Arkham where you are doing battle with Shaggai or Deep Ones that a gamer can take before they start to get bored, so new locations, time periods and ideas are essential to keeping a game as old as CoC fresh. Even better, there is an Appendix in Cold Harvest that lists all the other adventures that take place in Russia, so an enterprising Keeper can round them all up and make a campaign out of them! Out of the four other adventures set in 1930s Russia that are shown in this Appendix, I only own and have played the Age of Cthulhu one, Shadows of Leningrad, which is really well done. So if you like Cold Harvest, you at least have a way to get more CoC content for the same time period and location. Yay!

So now let’s talk about the actual content itself. Although the PDF for Cold Harvest is sixty-seven pages long, the actual adventure only takes up thirty-three of those pages. So what makes up the rest of the page count in Cold Harvest? Well a lot of really neat and useful information actually! The piece starts off with a healthy dose of Keeper-only information, setting the stage for the adventure and also giving background information about what late 1930s Russia was like. Post-adventure, the content includes a whole host of NPC stats, an appendix of handouts for Investigators to look at, EIGHT pre-generated characters, a glossary of Russian terms used in the adventure, works of reference, the aforementioned list of other Russian adventures in the 1930s, and a conversion guide for those of you that don’t have (or want) Seventh Edition CoC but would like to play Cold Harvest with an earlier edition of the game. So there is a lot of content packed into this adventure beyond the scenario itself. I was impressed with how much fit into the sixty-some pages that make up Cold Harvest and I think most gamers will agree that even if they don’t care for the setting or adventure, the attention to detail and amount of effort that went into this piece deserves respect.

So with all that out of the way, it’s adventure discussion time! In Cold Harvest, you’ll be playing as a member of the NKVD aka the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs AKA the standard and secret police of Stalinist Russia. A member of the NKVD has a great deal of power and can easily have an average joe sent to a correctional labor camp or even killed if the agent feels someone is being Anti-Soviet/Anti-Communist. Realize that in Stalin’s Russia things like not working your hardest or being depressed count as being “Anti-Soviet.” So there are a wide range of things a NKVD agent can “write someone up” for. That said, for all the power and room for corruption in the agency, there is also a great deal of risk. If you fail an assignment, it might be you the agent who goes to a labor camp or gets a bullet in the brain stem. Plus there was constant turnaround, so one day you may have a boss that likes you and the next one who wants nothing more than to see you humiliated. It was a time of constant paranoia and backstabbing throughout an entire country and it had to be a horrific experience to live through. So keep in mind that while you are playing the adventure, you’re going to have to work together but also cover your own ass, even at the expense of the other Investigators unless you want to be dying of pneumonia in Siberia in a few months. Well, your character not literally you.

In Cold Harvest the Investigator(s) are sent to Krasivyi Okatbyr, a small sovkhoz (think collective farm commune) that has stopped its high production values. In addition, a member of the Sovkhoz has accused a household there of sabotage and anti-communist activities. The NKVD Investigators have been sent to detain the family and send them to hard labor service but also see why the camp has not been checking in properly or producing flax and beets at the same level it used to. Of course, Investigators can always arrest and detain even more residents if they need to. In fact, they can bring down the whole village if needed…which is a very real possibility depending on player actions and if they are purposefully being extreme Soviet hardline dicks. There are a lot of issues to report ranging from the entire collective suffering from ennui and depression, to some people being completely deranged and/or physically deformed. Also there has been a murder right before players arrive so surprise – another added wrinkling for the NKVD to deal with and report on in order to keep their higher quality apartment and shorter food lines.

Nearly all of Cold Harvest is discussion and investigation. The entire adventure can occur without any combat at all. Really, for the best atmosphere, combat should be limited or excised completely, but the author has put a few pieces in for gaming troupes that feel they need to stab or shoot something in a play session. Really though, the adventure revolved around making hard ethical and moral decisions weighed against saving one’s own ass (and their loved ones as family is punished too, you know). This adventure is primarily a horror story because of how Stalinist Russia treated its citizens and the overwhelming fear and oppression that stymied everyone in the country to some degree.

Of course, primary does not mean ENTIRELY. After all, it wouldn’t be a Call of Cthulhu adventure without something supernatural or alien going on. Otherwise this would be for BRP instead of CoC. There is indeed something not human at work in this little Russian farming community. Players and their Investigators will see some examples of it. Sometimes it will be very subtle to the point where players will assume something else is the cause or the act is a red herring rather than something otherworldly. Sometimes, it will be blatantly obvious spooky things are afoot. Generally the deeper Investigators dig and/or the more they attack/arrest/detain, the bigger and badder the events will be over the three days the NKVD are active in Krasivyi Okatbyr. Again, the adventure is best if the Investigators never actually encounter or solve the root of the problem, but the author has included some optional occurrences where that will happen for more combat minded players or those that need guaranteed story resolution and/or hand-holding. My advice is don’t give in and keep the players guessing while also frustrated because the creature is too smart to outwardly reveal itself. The end result is a great adventure where you really have to use your wits to get through things and where there is a constant ambiance of creepy terror. Best of all, there is no “correct” solution to the adventure. All the possible outcomes are unhappy to some degree and the Investigators will have to live with the decisions they made. Of course the individual and their fates don’t matter in the face of another glorious success for the People as a whole, eh comrade?

I really loved Cold Harvest. The setting, plot and ability for the adventure to be played by as little as a single Investigator were all terrific on their own. Combined, you have a fantastic piece that might not be for everyone, but exudes a high degree of quality. If you are looking for an adventure that will challenge you on multiple cerebral levels and leave you a bit uncomfortable (without being squicky) when all is said and done, then by all means, grab Cold Harvest. It’s a truly outside the box adventure that reminds the average CoC fan that not everything has to involve Arkham, ancient evil tomes or the usual Mythos antagonists. A fantastic freebie for Kickstarter backers and one worth paying money for when it because available to the general public.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cold Harvest
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Nameless Horrors
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/11/2016 07:57:04

Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/06/03/tabletop-review-nameless-horrors-call-of-cthulhu/

While we are close to the two year past due date anniversary of Horror on the Orient Express to fully ship and the one and a half year late anniversary of 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu, Chaosium is at least still churning out the freebies for backers. Case in point, Nameless Horrors, which came about as a stretch goal for the 7e CoC Kickstarter. This collection contains six adventures from different time periods. There are two things that make this particular collection stand out though. The first is that the artwork is VERY different than a lot of recent releases. That’s not to say that CoC’s art has been lacking as of late or that the art in Nameless Horrors is bad. Art is very subjective. It’s more just to give you a head’s up that it look different from even other 7e releases. The cover is extremely striking too.

The other thing worth noting is that none of these adventures contain any traditional Mythos creatures, gods, monsters or beasties. Now obviously there are alien, eldritch and bizarre goings-on within Nameless Horrors, but you won’t find any ghouls, Deep Ones, shaggai, Mi-Go or other familiar Lovecraftian tropes in this collection. In many ways, it is similar to Pagan Publishing’s Bumps in the Night, which was a hit-or-miss piece that I reviewed three years ago. With Bumps in the Night, I adored the concept because it got writers to use the system everyone loved, but also forced them to be creative with their story ideas. Unfortunately the end result was two adventures I liked, one I hated and two that were merely okay. Does Nameless Horrors follow suit, or does it prove that a first party release can take the same concept and do it better?

As mentioned there are six adventures in Nameless Horrors. Each one takes place in a different time period and location. Each adventure is also designed specifically as a one-shot, but some of them do make attempts to be useable in an established campaign. I know some of you hate one-shots and prefer more flexible adventures. If that is the case, Nameless Horrors is probably not for you. As well, these adventures are designed for use with pre-generated characters (there are six for each adventure) and again, I bring this up since some gamers hate pre-gens and prefer to only make their own character. In this case, once again, Nameless Horrors is not something you should pick up. Sure, the adventures could be used with original characters, and each one tries to accommodate games that NEED their own characters, but these work best with the characters that are provided. Granted that between the one-shot experience of the adventures and the pre-generated characters, you will feel like you are “on-rails” for each of these adventures, but that’s not always a bad thing. If you and your gaming friends don’t get together that often, one of these would be perfect for that rare chance when you get to actually play a tabletop RPG. As well, the pre-gens and one-shot combination means you can start right up instead of spending hours rolling up characters. It’s also better for newer or casual gamers that are learning the game. You can focus on playing a role and understanding the mechanics instead of character creation to boot. So yes, Nameless Horrors is for a specific section of Call of Cthulhu fans, and there is nothing wrong with that. In some ways, this is like the Halloween or Blood Brothers collection in that you are acting a character someone else has designed and thought up. Much like a play or movie. Again, there are positives and negatives to this. It just depends on the type of gamer that you are.

Our first adventure is, “An Amaranthine Desire,” which can be described as “The Crucible meets Groundhog Day.” It’s an interesting adventure that involves characters going back in time from the Gaslight to 1283. Players will find themselves in a familiar city-at least in name only- trying to end a time loop that has them repeat the same day over and over again. Unlike Groundhog Day though, the time loop is slowly eating away at the characters, causing them to rapidly age, so the characters are on a definite timeline here to solve the mystery or dissipate into the ether. It’s an odd adventure where characters won’t die by conventional means, but it is all too easy for characters to simply cease to exist because the solution isn’t that obvious to those that play things out. There are a very limited amount of “nights” to complete the adventure, so more often than not, the adventure will just kind of…end unless the Keeper is very hand holding. Even if characters do achieve their mission, they can still cease to exist as they escape the time warp and the eventual ending of the adventure is very unsatisfactory to me as it involves some more time travel shenanigans that just didn’t do it for me.

That’s not to say the adventure is a bad one. Far from it. It’s just unforgiving and drops the ball with the possible endings. I love the rest of the adventure. The characters are very interesting, the mystery is fantastic, the setting and time period are something I wish we’d see more of in Call of Cthulhu and most of all, it involves the lost crown of Saxony. Long time Diehard GameFAN readers are probably familiar with a video game entitled The Lost Crown which is perhaps the best modernization of the three crowns legend. I reviewed the original release back in 2008 and Aaron Sirois reviewed the HD remake in 2014. Both versions of the game won awards from us in the years they came out and I was overjoyed to see the crown finally show up in an official Call of Cthulhu adventure. The adventure details the history of the actual real world crown nicely. Sure only the Keeper gets to enjoy the folklore bits behind the inspiration for the adventure, but I love when they put that stuff in here. After all, more adventures are read rather than played. Overall, “An Amaranthine Desire” is an interesting adventure. Keepers will more than likely tweak rather than play it as is, but the core of the adventure is a really nice, outside the box piece that I enjoyed for what it is.

“A Message of Art” is the second adventure in the collection and it takes place in Victorian Paris. The adventure bills itself as a sandbox piece, but it is anything but. The jargon “sandbox” refers to an adventure this is wide open where the player(s) can do whatever and whatever they want to the point of completely ignoring the core story hook and instead choose to do any number of side quests without time limits or worries about how said jaunts will affect the core story. I’m always disturbed when I see adventures thrown out the terminology without actually using it properly. It’s how you know they’re just trying buzzwords like “proactive” in the 90s. It’s a red flag that something is going to suck. In truth, “A Message of Art” is perhaps the most on-rails adventure in the collection. Even more so than the previous adventure, you have a very strict timeline characters will have to follow or they will simply die. There is very little to no room for deviation because so much of the adventure involves you have to follow the timeline exactly. In many ways, “A Message of Art” is more the tabletop equivalent of a visual novel because while entertaining, you’re more or less along for the ride with the Keeper having to control nearly everything for this adventure to work properly. It’s by far the weakest (and my least favorite adventure) in the collection and if you want an actual sandbox piece for Call of Cthulhu, might I suggest The Sense of Sleight of Hand Man.

Again though, this doesn’t mean the adventure is all bad. I utterly love the premise behind this piece, which is that art in all forms is actually an alien sentient virus of sorts. It’s an intriguing concept as is the core antagonist in this piece. It’s just too bad the seeds of inspiration germinate so quickly in this adventure. Had it been weeks, months or even years, this adventure would have a lot more potential and could even have a full campaign wrapped around the idea. Instead everything is just too rushed to really have the effect the concept should have. To make this enjoyable, a Keeper is really going to have to put some time in and rewrite huge parts of this adventure from the ground up.

Adventure number three is “And Some Fell on Stony Ground.” It takes place in small town North America during the 1920s. It can be in any state really. It’s a hard adventure to explain without giving up complete spoilers, but I’ll try. The Investigators are run of the mill townfolk who just happen to be unlucky enough to live in a town slowly dividing in two. Now, I know since it’s the 1920s, you might think the divide is racial or political, but it’s between two very different groups – The Blessed and the Broken. The Investigators are not members of either group, but can end up in one or the other as the adventure progresses. The first half of the adventure has players trying to figure out the mystery of the town and why people are changing in personality. The second half is a survival horror romp akin to Resident Evil (4 or 5, not 1-3) where players are trying to get out of town or be brutally murdered. It’s a really fun adventure and the fact the two halves play so differently but come together so seamlessly, I can assure you that the piece is a fantastic one. Whether your players prefer talking head adventures or combat oriented affairs, this adventure has something for everyone. I really enjoyed it, although there is a chance for PvP to come about, so if you have gamers that are drastically opposed to competitive instead of co-operative tabletop gaming, you might want to avoid this one simply for that reason.

“Bleak Prospect” takes place in the days of the Great Depression. My favorite monograph from Chaosium, is Children of the Storm, which takes place during this era and “Bleak Prospect” can actually be fit with that set of adventures nicely. Characters will be residents of a shantytown/Hooverville in Massachusetts as winter is about to come rolling in. New England winters are horrible enough if you have a secure warm home, yet there is something even scarier awaiting the downtrodden. A strange disease and faceless men are rumored to be spreading through the shantytown. Children are missing, the remaining wealthy of the town seem to actively oppress the have-nots and yet all of this pales compared to what else awaits the Investigators who just want a nice meal and a warm bed. I should also add that “Bleak Prospect” is a quasi-sequel to “From Beyond” (the story, not the movie), by HP Lovecraft and it’s a wonderful homage to the original. Unless you read the adventure or have “From Beyond” memorized, you probably won’t notice the subtle hints in the piece.

I really enjoyed “Bleak Prospect” as it’s super creepy on multiple levels and I haven’t even talked about the freakiest part of the adventure. Alas, I can’t because of spoilers, but rest assured, this is my favorite adventure in the collection.

The penultimate adventure is “The Moonchild.” It takes place in modern times and revolves around a group of men and women in their 40s whose collegiate hijinx in an occult club of sorts comes back to haunt them. Whoops. The story is a new twist on things like The Omen, Lucius, Rosemary’s Baby and the like. It’s also interesting to see that the Investigators are pretty much completely to blame for everything that happens in this adventure, even if the mistake was made during a drunken sex orgy in their college years. Having a cast of middle-aged screw ups is a very different atmosphere than the usual Investigators you find in Call of Cthulhu. There are no Dilettantes, private investigators, Miskatonic professors or the like to be had. Drug addicts, child abusers and more make up the main characters and friends in this adventure. Although it is set in modern times, it feels more like a 1970s horror film in tone and characters. I’m not sure if that is intentional or not, but it’s a nice change of pace. The adventure also does give a trigger warning because there are subjects like child abuse, possible incest/molestation, and sex with a minor going on (although with the latter the adventure tells you to make the younger of the pair juuuuust old enough to be legal). I appreciate whenever an adventure provides trigger warnings to its audience although in this case, I think people who are usually squicked out by stuff involving minors will be okay here. It’s not like five year olds are being sodomized and beheaded.

“Moonchild” is an interesting look at what is real and what isn’t and also makes for a nice juxtaposition between Lovecraftian style magick and the version of occult magic people have picked up from horror movies, Simon’s the Necronomicon and Anton LeVay. In many ways, “Moonchild” doesn’t feel like a Call of Cthulhu at all, which helps to make it stand out from the pack. It could easily be ported to other horror games like Chill, Cryptworld and even something by White Wolf/Onyx Path. In fact, a White Wolf World of Darkness is an apt comparison for this adventure as it contains little to no violence and/or detective work. Much of the adventure is purely social interaction amongst old friends. If you’re looking for a good adventure to convert to Cthulhu Live!, this would be an excellent choice.

All in all, “The Moonchild” is very different from most CoC adventures, but that’s the point of Nameless Horrors. I quite liked it for what it was, even though I recognize the style and atmosphere might be TOO different for people that want only Lovecraftian adventures. Still, I loved how this piece took old horror movie themes and turned them into something fresh, new and fun.

Our last adventure in Nameless Horrors is “The Space Between” and it takes place in modern day LA. On the surface it feels like a dark satire of Scientology and its hold over some bad Hollywood movies, but it is more than that. In many ways this adventure feels like, “What if a mythos cult had the Hollywood ties Scientology has?” Instead of a play like The King in Yellow, they instead have a movie – In the Mouth of Madness style. Well, they’re TRYING to have a movie anyway. The cast and crew are members of the religion, the Script is based on its principal scripture and even the investigators are members of the religion, known as The Church of Sunyata. With everyone being of a similar background, you would think production would run smoothly. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Instead, things are going wrong. Chief amongst the problems? The female lead has gone missing. Oops. It’s up to the players to figure out what is going on while also protecting their religion from scandal.

This is a fun little adventure for many reasons. The first is the obvious parody of Hollywood culture. The second is that technically the investigators are the bad guys, even if they are unwittingly so. After all, they’re members of the cul…church. The third is that at, some point, some, if not all, of the investigators, will stop being human and become…something else. It’s fun to play as a fiendish thingie from time to time especially in a piece like this. Finally, the potential for playing this piece as a bit of comedy-horror is there. It just depends on the personalities of those playing it. Whether you play it straight or as a farce, the adventure is still a lot of fun and well worth experiencing.

Overall, I really enjoyed Nameless Horrors. Out of the six adventures, there were four I really liked, one I liked but felt needed a little bit of work and one I like the concept of, but not the follow through. Obviously, these are just my opinions and how much you enjoy Nameless Terrors will really depend on how much you NEED actual Lovecraftian monsters and themes in your Call of Cthulhu adventures. As I play a lot of different games and grow tired of tropes/stereotypes quickly, this was a nice breath of fresh air and really did what I had hoped Bumps in the Night would accomplish several years ago. With only a $14.97 price tag, you’re paying about $2.50 an adventure, which is a fantastic deal, no matter how you slice it. For those looking for something outside the box instead of the usual Mythos rigmarole, definitely consider picking up Nameless Horrors. It should sate you until the rest of Horror on the Orient Express or CoC 7e finally gets here. I hope.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Nameless Horrors
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
by Rafael L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/20/2016 13:24:21

Not all Quick Start Rules Booklet comes with an sample adventure. This one does! For that, I consider this product one of the best Quick Start RPGs ever. Congrats!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Call of Cthulhu Investigator Handbook 7th Edition
by Michael G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2016 15:49:47

This is the only book Players of 7th edition CoC will need to play the game (Keeper's/GMs will need this AND the Keeper's Guide). I own several previous editions of CoC rule sets and in the past, they used to be combined (a player's section AND a Keeper's in the same book). Chaosium has separated them for 7th edition. Like in previous editions, this book contains everything you'd expect to find in a Player's Guide for a game: how to play the game, how to create characters, skills, background stuff, and historical and cultural context for how to play in the 1920s (default setting for CoC). This book is well formatted, good art and has several rules tweaks from previous editions. Even if you want to stick with a previous edition of CoC, I would recommend picking this guide up at some point for Keeper's and pick and choose which new rules you might want to bring into your game. FYI: character creation in 7th edition is different in some ways from 6th, such as attributes and skills (you can now essentially have critical success as well as critical failures, although they're not called that). You can also "push" a roll, which is re-rolling with more at stake (if you fail a second time something bad happens, which adds a great element of increased tension to the game). Overall, a good book. Again, if you're ONLY playing CoC 7th edition, this is all you will need. If you are a Keeper, you will need this book AND the Keeper's guide.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu Investigator Handbook 7th Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition - Keeper's Rulebook
by Michael G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/08/2016 13:26:33

I own the 5th and 6th edition of CoC and have been playing for several years. The 7th edition of the Keeper's Rulebook is massive and has many changes from the 6th in terms of art, content and rules changes. The spirit of CoC, of course is still the same. I feel like the art, layout choices, information and overall presentation of information in this guide are very solid and a slight upgrade from the 6th (which I love btw). Even if you decide you want to stick with an earlier version of CoC I recommend buying this guide and picking and choosing which rules and information you want to cannibalize for your game. Several rules tweaks, such as "pushing" (attempting to reroll a failed skill check, but with the added risk of some type of adverse effect if you fail again) are brilliant.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition - Keeper's Rulebook
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Masks of Nyarlathotep
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2015 02:41:57

Just brilliant. I don't play Call of Cthulhu but I'm certainly going to be heavily adapting this for my Dungeon World game. It's that good. I was inspired to read this by Justin Alexander's discussion of the 3 clue rule. Recommended reading if you want a good example of how to run a mystery game no matter what rule system you run. B



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks of Nyarlathotep
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Basic Roleplaying Quickstart Edition
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/20/2015 13:02:08

This is a good edition of Chaosiums Universal system. works with Call of Cthulhu and old runequest editions. It is easy to pick up, and is very well written. a GREAT product from one of the older RPG groups out there!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Basic Roleplaying Quickstart Edition
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Basic Roleplaying Quickstart Edition
by Jeffrey M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/06/2015 13:15:19

I will start off by saying anything that is FREE should automatically get 3 stars. I happened upon this while in search of an RPG to play. I had about a 15 year hiatus from RPGs and wanted to get back into it. The $0 price tag caught my eye instantly. I do very much like this particular game. After playing a bit with some friends, I decided to purchase the full version. Totally worth a look.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
HeroQuest: Core Rules
by iain s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/02/2015 10:09:24

LOl purley the price here is £9 where as on the gloranthan site is around 9 dollars



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
HeroQuest: Core Rules
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Nephilim Character Dossiers
by Bjørn K. S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/16/2015 05:02:10

I already own the physical product but decided to purchase this pdf verion so I wouldn't have to bother scanning the dead tree version.

I thought scanning it would result in a mediocre result and so, full of anticipation, I bought, payd for, and downloaded this.

Which then turns out to be exactoly what I described above, Namely a hand scanned version of the printed edition.

Not only are the pages of the pdf horrendously dark, bordering on useless for printing but the scans are also crooked and tilted to one side.

At the very least I had expected it to be in a correct horizontal position but printing these out and using them in a game is compleely out of the question.

Quite a dissapointment to have paid money for this.

There, consider yourself warned.

That said I love the Nephilim setting and it's source material, all of which I am the happy owner!

So please DO buy the core book :)



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Nephilim Character Dossiers
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Mythic Iceland
by Ahimsa K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/05/2015 12:53:28

I actually haven't ever run a game here, but the book itself is so well researched that I've read through this book a couple times.

It's really everything a sourcebook should be!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Iceland
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

The Stars Are Right!
by Alex M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2015 03:50:08

An excellent collection of scenarios that not only play well as investigations but also capture the tone of modern Call of Cthulhu perfectly. They have dated in some places (which is why it loses one star) but not some much that any Keeper worth his or her salt won't be able to fix them with very little effort.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Stars Are Right!
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Magic World
by Richard T. H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/04/2015 07:59:11

Magic world is a simple D100 fantasy RPG. It uses Chaosium’s BRP system and is quite similar to the call of Cuthulhu game. I’ve found combat relatively quick in comparison to other RPGs. Instead of grinding away a few hit points per strike, combat feels fast and fluid. The character’s attributes effect their skill chances of success and the skill list is comprehensive. Magic is plentiful and powerful and the bestiary extensive.

All of this sounds good but we can say this about most games. What I like about MW is the way you can keep most of the rules in your head. There isn’t the need to spend hours looking up some obscure rule. Now this isn’t because Magic World is overly rules light. It’s because the rule system is homogenous. Once you grasp one concept most of the others just fall into place. Secondly there aren’t endless lists of feats, cults and combat styles to learn. Tell the referee what your dong and they’ll calculate in a few seconds the modification and or Effects.

Yes this is a fantasy game but we do want so cohesiveness within the frame work and it’s a relief for me that there aren’t any 98HP fighters going around or abstract game mechanics that have to be computed before the fun begins. This is because although MW is new, it’s actually old. It has grown out of other Chaosuim games from Elric to historical RQ and has been refined and play tested through decades of RPG evolution via these other systems.

It’s the game I play the most. It’s the one I introduce other new gamers to RPG with. It’s my go to fantasy RPG. The system is smooth and works really well and it's never let me down. I think it’s probably the best Fantasy RPG system in the market today.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Magic World
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Dead Light
by Eric S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/04/2015 03:28:16

Played beautifully. This is what Cthulthu should be. The antagonist creature very easy to play for the Keeper without pushing human motives--very much a 1950s kind of relentless evil, a la The Blob or Stephen King's The Mist. Meanwhile there's no railroading; the PCs were smothered by their own choices in every direction. The most beautiful moment for me as Keeper was when the PCs realized they would endanger themselves no matter what they did and decided they would just be as courageous as they could be. Ending a bit anticlimactic (due to player choice) but it worked out for a very fun evening.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Light
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Displaying 31 to 45 (of 241 reviews) Result Pages: [<< Prev]   1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG