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Superworld Companion
by Steve L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/28/2013 14:50:43
Multiple "negative" pages (white text on black background) are illegible, making entire sections of this product (weather effects, danger room) essentially useless.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Superworld Companion
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Shenandoah
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/30/2013 23:13:28
Shenandoah is a product that I first owned in print after picking it up at RinCon 2009. It's great to see it in e-book format.

Call of Cthulhu is one of the most long-lasting and beloved properties in roleplaying. Chaosium recognized early on that H.P. Lovecraft's groundbreaking horror stories would always be able to find an audience, and a roleplaying game set in that world would always have something to offer. There have been many takes on Cthulhoid roleplaying recently, from the more mystery-structured Trail of Cthulhu to the anime-influenced Cthulhutech, which is as it should be, since Lovecraft was significant not only in his own right, but as inspiration to modern authors and creators. But the Chaosium approach has held steady for almost-identical edition after edition and as a result they've built a great catalog over the years.

One thing about Call of Cthulhu I have always found interesting is that it takes as its approach that you are roleplaying "in the world" of H.P. Lovecraft. That is, much CoC material is based on developing a consistent geography and understandable mythos (at least in its close-up form), rather than trying to emulate the fictional material itself. (Lovecraft protagonists are often blank slates who don't do much anyway - not a great formula for successful RPG play.) Other scenarios give a string of events, though sometimes these run afoul of the plague of pre-published modules, railroading.

Shenandoah does an excellent job of walking the line between these two types of Call of Cthulhu material. It details the daily life and inhabitants of a small isolated town in the Ozark Mountains in 1927, when the investigators arrive looking into a mysterious set of events that are brought about by MONSTARS. An enormous amount of effort goes into making the inhabitants and surroundings real, detailed and thorough, so that investigators feel they are prying into the secrets of a real place, with their actions as outsiders having significant consequence for the community.

I can't stress enough how important setting is in avoiding the feeling of railroading in a scenario. If players feel they have permission to explore, that they won't accidentally bump into the backdrop (uh, accidentally run into the edge of the level, if you prefer a video game analogy to a theater analogy), they are more likely to conduct themselves in a more naturalistic and straightforward way...which ironically reduces the problems that railroading tends to try to fix! Shenandoah does a marvelous job of this.

There is a decent introductory text that tries to get across the feel of Cthulhoid horror and the nature of insanity in the world of Lovecraft. There are some ludicrous tournament rules for trying to determine what investigator did best in the scenario. (-2 for bathroom breaks, really?) Some of the points you get are for rolling really well. (Shouldn't the success in the moment be my reward for rolling well...shouldn't I gain more tournament points from flubbing things up, panicking and running and putting everyone at risk?) It would be better to have limited it entirely to hitting or discovering various secrets or plots related to the situation. And anyway, Call of Cthulhu is a game about a team of people, so introducing competitive elements is silly.

Call of Cthulhu has a successful formula and a successful approach to some often very difficult-to-envision literary material, and Shenandoah does a terrific job of showing some of the best that Chaosium has to offer. Let's hope this Monograph series, which produces somewhat smaller and simpler Call of Cthulhu materials, continues for a long time!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shenandoah
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Mythic Iceland
by Connor S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2013 14:41:50
After several good sessions of this game with friends, i would highly reccomend purchasing it. The historical accuracy of day to day viking life is incredibly detailed whether it is agricultural or general social life. This is a must try game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Iceland
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Mystic Alliances
by Brent N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2013 13:51:48
Mystic Alliances is poorly written, and changes the names of towns and neighborhoods for no apparent reason or gain. The rules for teenage investigators seem okay, but if you're looking for a supernatural horror game in seattle, give it a pass.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Mystic Alliances
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Outpost 19
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2013 06:30:16
This decent science-fiction adventure for the Basic Roleplaying system is hurt by netbook-quality production values, and the fact that the adventure is of very little use beyond the confines of its own plot.

Neither of these conditions are deal-breakers, as such, but they make it very difficult to justify the asking price of this product.

Much of what's here is text -- a lot of it macro-level detail about the fictional universe which surrounds the Outpost 19 adventure site.

If you're a BRP gamemaster hoping to scavenge useful elements from this adventure, there's not all that much to take away -- unless you're interested in making the Outpost 19 campaign setting your own.

The creators obviously put thought and effort into their creation; the fault is not theirs. The question remains, however: does this product justify its cost?

For myself, the answer would have to be no.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Outpost 19
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Masks of Nyarlathotep
by Michael T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2013 09:42:03
This is a review of the PDF, not the campaign itself.

The quality is crisp and clear, which is the main reason I purchased this (to supplement my physical copy and make clearer prints for the handouts.

However, the reason I marked it down was because it has NO BOOKMARKS. This is a large-scale campaign of almost 250 pages, and there is no navigation in this PDF. And with it being watermarked and protected, there is no way to ADD bookmarks. This severely impacts the functionality of this PDF in session use.

I advice purchasing the physical copy of this scenario over the PDF version, until Chaosium fixes this glaring issue in its professional release of the PDF.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Masks of Nyarlathotep
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Call of Cthulhu
by Michael T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2013 12:01:15
This is a review of the PDF download, not of the game Call of Cthulhu

I own multiple physical copies of this book, and I wanted to replace the low-quality PDF I've been using for digital purposes with a high-quality, company-supporting version.

This PDF version is clear and crisp, exactly what I was wanting in its purchase. However, it DOES NOT come with ANY bookmarks for chapters or tables or anything. If I'm paying this kind of money for a professional PDF release, I'm disappointed that it does not include the navigation features that make a digital book easy to page through. Since it is a protected, watermarked document, I cannot add the bookmarks myself, which severely impacts its functionality during sessions.

I do not recommend purchasing this PDF version of the rulebook. Instead, buy the physical copy -- if you're going to have to manually rifle through the pages of the book due to no navigation, might as well do it with a physical copy.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu
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Call of Cthulhu
by david p. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/03/2013 18:05:39
If you are sick of the fantasy setting for now, and want to try something different, this is it. This game perfectly captures the mood of HPL, exploring mortality and sanity in a way that other RPG's can't.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Ghosts in the House
by Dominik D. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/26/2012 10:56:34
Originally posted at: http://www.rollenspiel-almanach.de/rezension-ghosts-in-the-h-
ouse/

Geisterhäuser gehören spätestens seid Blackwood zum festen Repertoire der Horrorliteratur. Und auch in den Cthulhumythos haben gruselige Häuser in verschiedenen Formen Einzug gehalten. Ghosts in the House reiht sich nur in wenigen Punkten in die klassische Gruselhausgeschichte ein, in der Kampagne haben es die (Einsteier)investigatoren nämlich nicht mit einem kleinen abgeschiedenen Haus im Wald, sondern einem Krankenhauskomplex in einem -ebenso abgeschiedenen- Wald in Wisconsin zu tun. Selbstredend ist das „Oak Grove Nursing and Rehabilitation Center“ kurz vor dem Verfallen, aber dennoch ungleich belebter als ein einsames Häuslein. Das Krankenhaus wirtschaftet zwar auf Sparflamme und ist vom Konkurs bedroht, einige Patienten und die Angestellten sind aber dennoch rund um die Uhr zugegen. Die Interaktion mit Angestellten und Patienten ist dann auch das Hauptinvestigationsfeld der Charaktere. Diese werden als Gruppe angeheuert dem Spuken im Haus nachzugehen, dem sie mit Überwachungsgerät und relativer Bewegungsfreiheit auf den Grund gehen sollen. Wir haben es also mit einem ganz klassischen Investigationsabenteuer in der Gegenwart zu tun.
Über die Investigation und den Mythos soll an dieser Stelle nicht viel verraten werden. Letztlich handelt es sich um eine cthuloid aufbereitete Geistergeschichte mit wenig Überraschungen. Nicht nur das Lovecraftsche Motive hinter okkulten Magieversuchen zurückstehen, auch ist der Plot selber enorm simpel gestrickt. Es ist kein Twist dabei der das Abenteuer bzw. die Minikampagne besonders hervorhebt, dafür diverse Macken, da die (Einsteiger)charaktere streng genommen nicht einmal die Möglichkeit haben das Abenteuer zu lösen, da sie dazu einen Zauber benötigen, den sie im Abenteuerverlauf nicht erlangen können.
Die Stärke liegt wenn in der Ausgestaltung des Krankenhauses. Dieses ist wirklich lebendig und gut verflochten beschrieben. Zahllose NPCs und ihre Verbindungen sind beschrieben, der Alltag des Krankenhauspersonals ist nachvollziehbar und es entsteht eine Lebendigkeit, da die Reaktion der Bewohner durch bestimmte Ereignisse angegeben ist. Diese Liebe zum Detail ist eine Stärke die sich auch an einigen anderen Stellen positiv findet. So wird ein Akzent beschrieben der die Bewohner des umliegenden Städtchens und das Personal besser darzustellen hilft, werden interessante Ereignisse und kleine Nebenplots eröffnet und merkt man auch dem Sprachstil eine gewisse Liebe zum Setting an. Leider hört es mit dieser Liebe zum Detail und Setting auch schon mit dem positiven der Kampagne auf da das (digitale) Buch und die Abenteuer einige andere Makel enthalten…
Das ganze beginnt damit, das ein Versprechen der „Miskatonic University Library Association Monographs“ aufs genaueste eingehalten wird. Das Konzept dieser Reihe ist es den Inhalt zu prüfen, aber Editorische und Layoutaufgaben ganz bei den (Fan)autoren zu belassen. Auch wenn das Lektorat für diese Prämisse solide ist, schlägt das verhauene Layout vollständig zu Buche. Was der Leser kriegt sind 58 Seiten Blocksatz mit gelegentlichen Zwischenüberschriften, einer Prise Kursivierung und einer Hand voll Charakterzeichnungen. Letztere sind zwar durchaus akzeptabel ausgeführt, schaffen es aber kaum eine gruselige Atmosphäre zu erzeugen oder die Charaktere gut darzustellen. Der gewählte Comicstil verschlingt jede Atmosphäre und dient eher zur Orientierung beim durchblättern. Schwerwiegender ist aber allemal das Layout…
Grundsätzlich hakt das Abenteuer daran dass es mit einer ganzen Menge an Details und Geschehnissen daherkommt, man aber kaum weiß wie man sie unterbringen oder sich merken soll. So fangen die ersten Seiten noch sehr linear an und kann man sich das wichtigste herausstreichen, Hervorhebungen vom Autor sucht man aber schon hier vergebens. NPCs werden beschrieben wenn sie das erste mal auftauchen und nur mit Glück hat die Charakterbeschreibung überhaupt einen eigenen Abschnitt bekommen.
Danach geht es zwar systematischer aber ebenso schlecht Lektoriert weiter. Der Hauptteil des Abenteuers besteht aus möglichen Informationen, die verschiedenen (noch nicht beschriebenen NPCs) zugewiesen sind. Natürlich muss man auch hier Abschnitte zählen um die Informationen auseinanderzuhalten. Danach geht es mit ebenso aneinandergereihten zufälligen Ereignissen und von Charakteren angestoßenen Ereignissen weiter. Ein ganzes Sammelsurion am Ereignissen kann so passieren, sie im richtigen Moment als SL zu finden dürfte aber eine harte Aufgabe sein.
Erst danach geht es an die Hausbeschreibung die Raum für Raum und später Patient für Patient mit einigen Zeilen beschreibt. Hier hat man zwar die Überschriften fett und kursiv hervorgehoben und kleine abstände zwischen den Absätzen eingefügt, dafür sind die Überschriften mit „101. Occupied Room“ bis „313. Unoccupied Room“ alles andere als aussagekräftig. Charakternamen findet man nur versteckt und einzelne – meist gegenüberliegend angeordnete Bilder – helfen nur bedingt bei der Orientierung. Das ganze geht nun natürlich mit Angestelltenbeschreibungen und ein paar Seiten zu Untersuchungsmethoden weiter, bis man zur nächsten Ereignisleiste kommt. Tag für Tag werden nun die Geschehnisse von 20 Tagen geschildert wonach es dann an die Hintergründe der Geschehnisse selber geht. Erst in dieser Sektion heißt es nun „for the Keeper’s eyes only“, wobei bis dahin schon Spielleiterinformation um Spielleiterinformation preis gegeben wurde. Zwar kommt man nun noch einmal eine Ebene tiefer und kriegt die ominösen Hintergründe vermittelt, die bitter benötigte Struktur findet man aber auch hier nur ansatzweise.
Alles in allem ist dieser Aufbau auch bezeichnend für die Abenteuerstruktur. Im wesentlichen befragen die Charaktere Patienten und Angestellte, bauen Überwachungskameras auf und warten ab. Letzteres wird an manchen Passagen besonders bitter, wenn einfach ausgewürfelt werden soll nach wie viel Tagen die Aufzeichnungsgeräte bestimmte Dinge aufnehmen. Dieser fast klassische pseudorealismus durchzieht das Abenteuer deutlich. Es wird dann detailliert wenn es um Kosten, Rückerstattungsbedingungen, Bezahlung, Reparatur und Equipment geht und dann wenn es darum geht wann welches Ereignis eintritt. Dafür wird die konkrete Investigationsebene teilweise einfach vorausgesetzt. Hier drängt sich der Eindruck auf, dass das Abenteuer eher für den Autoren selber aufgeschrieben wurde als für einen Leser, der eben Schritt für Schritt an das Abenteuer herangeführt werden müsste, weil er nicht die Gesamtstruktur vor Augen hat.
Vielleicht ist es bisher aufgefallen das es mir schwer viel den Band als Abenteuer oder Kampagne zu bezeichnen. Irgendwie changiert das Buch zwischen beidem. Über 50 Seiten füllen das erste Abenteuer, was weitgehend aus Beschreibungen des Hauses und der Charaktere besteht. Die 3 folgenden „Abenteuer“ setzen das alles voraus und geben auf je 2-3 Seiten kleinere Folgeplots an. Hier bemüht man sich auf wichtige Stellen zu rekurrieren, strukturierter wird es dadurch aber kaum und die konkrtete Ausgestaltung des Abenteuers liegt fast vollständig in der Hand des Spielleiters. Wiederum liegt die Stärke wenn darin, dass der liebgewonnene Ort sich verändert und an Stränge des Hauptabenteuers angeknüpft wird, aber nicht in Innovation oder Ideenreichtum.Gerade das Ende unterbietet sogar vieles was man an Abenteuern gewohnt ist…

Alles in allem möchte ich die Kampagne irgendwie mögen. Man merkt den Autoren ihre Liebe zur Kampagne an und sie schaffen es durchaus das Haus und seine Bewohner dynamisch und lebendig zu präsentieren. Hier liegt viel Potential. Das Haus ist mit viel Details angereichert und lädt zum spielen ein. Leider wird dies von den meist völlig plumpen Plotentwicklungen und dem viel zu starren und unkoordinierten Abenteuerablauf überdeckt. Das Buch gibt einen Haufen an Informationen, Charakteren und einen groben Spannungsbogen, der Spielleiter muss aber die Dramaturgie und viel von der Ausgestaltung selber übernehmen. Außerdem wird er – vermutlich ebenso wie die Spieler – von der Überfülle an Informationen regelrecht erschlagen. Das Ganze wird nun nicht nur für den Spielleiter gehörig durch das wirklich miserable Layout und die ebenso miserable Struktur erschwert, sondern für beide Seiten des Spielleiterschirmes auch dadurch, das man sich durch etwa 50 Räume wühlen muss, die zudem hauptsächlich durchnummeriert sind. Das macht das Merken und zuordnen noch einmal schwerer zumal sich die handlung fast vollständig auf das eine Haus beschränkt.
In sofern kann ich zu keinem positiven Schluss kommen. Zwar haben die Autoren ordentlich zeit in das Buch gesteckt und kriegt man einiges für sein Geld, das Material ist aber meines Erachtens nur schwer spieltauglich und lässt fast alles an Service vermissen was man gewohnt ist. So gibt es keine Handouts, keine Übersichten, nur eine (bitter nötige) Karte und nicht einmal einen überzeugenden Plot.
Wer ein simuliertes spukiges Krankenhaus zum investigieren sucht und Lust hat sich mit viel Mühe in eben jenes einzuarbeiten mag vielleicht etwas mit den „Ghosts in the House“ anzufangen wissen, alle anderen dürften bessere Investitionsmöglichkeiten für immerhin 5€ finden…

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Ghosts in the House
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Call of Cthulhu
by James M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/14/2012 14:51:54
What more can be said about CoC? ONLY the GREATEST Horror RPG ever conceived, if not arguably the best overall RPG ever made. Do yourself a solid and purchase it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu
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Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
by Aaron B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/31/2012 19:45:33
One of the few truly horrifying RPG's out there. Give it a try.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
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Casting Call of Cthulhu
by Kyle H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/31/2012 18:52:24
Very nice! Gave me spot NPCs (and pregens!) when I needed em!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Casting Call of Cthulhu
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Halloween Horror
by Michael T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/25/2012 15:17:34
Halloween Horror: The Elder Pumpkin

This collection begins with a modern scenario, Eyes That Should Not See by Jim Lynch. When someone begins gouging out the eyes of victims and using trepanation to control them, it's up to the investigators to discover the Great Old One behind it all. Unfortunately, the Great Old One's name (SPOILERS YOU SHOULD NOT SEE) is F'Ncec, which on paper looks like it might be pronounced "effin-kek." Remember authors, always have a reader unfamiliar with your scenario read your Mythos beasts out loud!

F'Ncec has curiously human-like emotions – he is "deeply jealous of Cthulhu's dreams and influence." Really? Great Old Ones get jealous of each other now? What ensues is an escalating series of attacks over Cthulhu's artifacts by F'Ncec's trepanned minions. The descriptions are sparse, the plot is more of an outline, and all around this scenario feels rushed. Still, it has potential, and could easily be plugged into Delta Green's Army of the Third Eye. Three out of five.

For an example of how to write compelling scenes, look no further than Oscar Rios' Halloween in Dunwich. The set up features a ghostly witch, animated scarecrows, hobgoblins, and man-eating cornstalks. The investigators are children who must use the power of folklore and their wits to overcome their great-great-grandmother, which makes their connection to the story all the more compelling. Each character sheet has an interesting background – one even has a ghostly ally that can be summoned in a time of need. The scenario has a time limit and by its nature hedges the investigators in, but that only adds to the spooky Halloween fun. Oscar even provides a variety of options to defeat the witch. This is how you write a scenario! Five out of five.

Terror at Erne Rock by R.J. Christensen also takes places on Halloween in the 1920s, thrusting costumed investigators into a shipwreck that leaves them stranded in a lonely lighthouse. The lighthouse has several dark secrets that begins (TERROR AT SPOILER ROCK) with a seabird attack and concludes with wave after wave of deep ones. This is a straightforward survival horror complete with a few investigator secrets that crop up at inconvenient moments. Four out of five.

The range of scenarios here are above average, elevated chiefly by Oscar's contribution. For a series of Halloween one-shots it's a tasty treat.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Halloween Horror
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Mythic Iceland
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/10/2012 06:17:41
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/08/10/tabletop-review-mythic--
iceland-chaosium-basic-roleplayingcthulhu-dark-ages/

Let me start off this review with one statement: Mythic Iceland is perhaps the most intense supplement I have ever encountered in my life. It’s less a supplement than a mammoth text of information with enough of the core Basic Roleplaying rules system included that you can almost use this book on its own. I went into this thinking it would be like Cubicle 7′s Shadows Over Scotland where it’s mainly flavor text about the location coupled with a few adventures. Well, Mythic Iceland is like that but a whole lot more. It took me forever to wade through text. Not because it was dry or dull, but because there was so much information that it was almost sensory overload. It’s like the old Enclycopedia Britannica commercial where the kid gets a B+ for putting in too much information. So know what you are in for when you pick up this mammoth text. You’re not just getting a little history on Iceland – you’re getting character creation rules, a massive history, a set of new monsters, story seeds, a full adventure, information about other lands and even a Cthulhu Dark Ages supplement and adventure. Holy crap. Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at what all you get.

I should stress that Mythic Iceland is a blend of true Icelandic history, folklore and stuff the author made up to fill in the blanks. The book starts with an Introduction covering just this fact, along with the time period being covered (930-1050) and an Icelandic Alphabet guide. I thought this last bit was very cool and was the first indication that Mythic Iceland was going to be more a college textbook for gaming than your usual campaign setting book.

The next section is “History of Mythic Iceland,” which covers several creation myths (The world, the Norse Gods, Iceland itself and mankind)which is then followed up by a list of the various cultures that discovered, explored and eventually settled Iceland. I loved this section as I’m a big history buff and I found the blending of folklore and actual Icelandic history to be quite a fun read. I realize it won’t be for everyone, but each page gave me new ideas for adventures – not just for the BRP setting, but any game that uses real world settings. I had thoughts of Hidden World zombies for All Flesh Must Be Eaten to recovering artifacts with my Shadowrun chummers.

“Character Creation” is just what you think it’s about. When I first saw this I was surprised a chapter was devoted to the concept because hey, I already have several BRP books. Why would I need this? Well, it’s because Mythic Iceland has several new things that it brings to the table in regards to character creation ranging from Runic Magic to religious affiliation. Now you will still need both books in order to create a character, which is a bit of a downer because of the cost (almost $80 for physical copies!) involved. However because I love this book so much I’m going to help you out. Just get this and then download the free Basic Roleplaying Quick Start Rules directly from Chaosium. Problem solved. I also found it interesting how important status and family were in character creation. These are two things you don’t see brought up in the process by most RPGs. Finally, this chapter ends with some new skills, lists of Icelandic names and a two page character sheet.

“Life in Saga-Age Iceland” is another chapter devoted to historical flavor in a level of detail I’ve never really seen from a campaign setting before. Sure this chapter covers geography, climate, flora, fauna, cost of items and the other things you’ll find in most high quality campaign supplements, but Mythic Iceland continues to take things farther than I’ve ever seen before. You get essays on family life, social status, burial rights and so much more.

The following chapter is even MORE in-depth as you get fifteen pages of just “Law and Government.” Do you want to know how to probably engage in a duel with someone that has wronged you? It’s in here. Do you want to know all the districts of Iceland in the 10th and 11th Century? It doesn’t matter as the book will tell you anyway! You are given a systematic look at the courts, crimes, punishments, inheritance laws, and even how to run a full court proceeding within the BRP system mechanics. This is both awesome and crazy – I’m just not sure which it’s leaning to more. There is so much here, this will either become one of your favorite RPG books or all time to read…or you’ll burn out before you’re even a fraction of the way done with it!

The next twenty or so pages comprise the chapter on Religion. Here you are given a look at the major Norse gods and goddesses and how worshiping one can affect your character. Basically you are given a stat that measures your faith towards a particular Norse God with is directly contrasted by your stat towards Loki. As your ties towards a particular god strengthens, you’ll find your character is blessed with new abilities. The key, of course, is to make sure your deity of choice continues to look upon your4 character favorably. You’re also given a large section of Christianity and what this religion did to Iceland for both good and ill.

“Magic in Mythic Ireland” is the chapter you may want to pay the most attention to if you’re only into game mechanics. The magic section here is vastly different from every other Chaosium setting I’ve ever read or played. It’s the magic that also helps to truly make this setting come to alive in regards to hucking dice and scribbling on character sheets. Of course, few characters will be able to use magic due to the POW requirements, but it’s still as intricate as it is important to the setting.

Like with any good Norse based game, magic is primarily done through runes. Mythic Iceland gives you not only a “history” of Norse magic, but also a list of each rune, how many you start with, rules for how to actually cast magic, how to gain new spells and increase the power of ones your character already knows. The rules for runic magic are thirty-three pages long, which probably shocks you to read that. The good news is that most of those pages are the detailed description of each rune and what you can do with them, similar to a list of spells in a D&D Player’s Handbook. Basically, a runecaster just needs to combine three runes to form a spell. It’s a pretty open ended system with no specifics on what to combine to make a spell. It’s pretty much common sense. You wouldn’t have a rune for Ice (Iss) to create a rainbow coloured beaver for example. You could however take the runes Sol (sun), Elgur (defensive protection) and Dagur (Day & unexpected joy) to create a ray of sunlight to do damage to an undead creature though. The book gives examples of various combinations for certain effects, but otherwise it’s wide open for the player and Keeper, which I like.

“A Traveller’s Guide to Mythic Iceland” lists thirty-five different major locations on the island, complete with a bit of history behind the area, some mythology to compliment it and an adventure seed based on the previous myth for you to flesh out and then unleash on your players. You can pretty much have several campaigns worth of adventures just from this chapter. Whether it’s accidentally killing a troll’s beloved pet sheep in Skafti’s Mountains or being haunted by ghosts in Goose Sands, there’s so much stuff to throw at PCs, you’ll never have to worry about coming up with your own adventures.

“Elves and the Hidden People” is a chapter you’ll really want to read as Norse elves are not the tall thin pale pointy ear elves we see in most fantasy. No, these elves look just like humans; it’s just they reside on another plane of existence. You get details on why the average person can’t see the Hidden People and why even exceptional people can only see them for a limited amount of time. You’re given information on their culture, family life, what happens if a Hidden Person mates with a human and so on. You’re even given NPC stats. The one thing missing is that the book neither dissuades or promoted the idea of Hidden People as player characters. Obviously someone is going to try to do this, and it really doesn’t work. I wish there had been a sidebar or something that was to the effect of “Don’t allow this race as PCs because…”"Alfheimur” is another chapter, albeit a short one about elves. Unlike the previous chapter which were about elves that left their homeland to settle in Iceland, this chapter is about the actual land elves come from.

“The Lands to the West” was my favorite chapter in Mythic Iceland. This chapter alone is one of the best resource materials I’ve seen in a very long time. This very long and extensive chapter gives you a look at other countries/lands/regions that you can use. Maybe your characters get exiled from Iceland or just get restless. The two areas that can be found in this chapter are Greenland and Wine-Land, the latter being made up of eastern Canada and the United States. You’re given a specific breakdown of each country, such as locations, creatures and travelling by vessel to reach them. You’re even given information about the White-Fur and Dark Fur Skraelingar AKA Native Americans. Again the book is neutral on whether you can or even should make a PC Skraelingar, but as they are just humans, it might be a fun idea to have one as a guide if the other players are exploring say, the Slab-Land region of Wine-Land for reasons of riches and glory. Special note goes out to the awesome monsters you’ll find in what we know as North America like the race known as the One-Legged. I also loved the Thunderbird and how much the art looks like the Pokémon Zapdos. Although I’m sure it’s totally unintentional, it’s very telling as Zapdos is based on Thunderbird. Nice to see the unconscious collective at work here. Honestly, “The Lands to the West” is the best chapter in the book and it’s the one I know I’ll get the most use out of.

“The Wide World” is a chapter that simply talks about what is going on in the rest of the world during the time frame Mythic Iceland is set in. You get timelines and several paragraphs on each nation or island and although it’s nowhere in depth as “The Lands to the West,” it’s still a very fun read. “Going Viking” is about well…going Viking. It gives you information on Viking vessels, how to pilot them, the preferred weaponry one would carry and how to properly run a raid on a village or monastery. Very fun. “Running a Game of Mythic Iceland” is the all GM chapter in the book. It’s basically advice on how to run a game, ways to properly dole out various rewards such as experience, status, luck, magical items and religious allegiance points. I really liked the part on how to us a PCs prophecy power (if one has this ability) to keep the adventure flowing in the way you want it to go. Yeah for a built-in sidetracking prevention. This chapter also contains tables for inclement weather and alcohol effects.

“Creatures of Mythic Iceland” is just what you suppose. I do think Gms will get a bit lost looking for monsters since they are spread between this chapter and “Lands to the West.” People will probably look for wendigo or trolls in the wrong chapter. It might have been better layout wise had the book just had a pure chapter on monsters, but this is a minor nitpick on my part.

The final chapter in Mythic Iceland is an adventure entitled, “The Trouble With Neighbors.” It’s a long convoluted affair which has PCs being tricked by their neighbor into doing battle with trolls and then being railroaded by the ancient Icelandic legal system, forcing them to do battle not with sword and shield, but lawyers. Of course, every lawyer the party can pick from wants something in return for their services… The adventure is well written and laid out, but it felt like it was more Mythic Phoenix Wright than an adventure about stalwart Norse warriors. I actually felt most of the adventure seeds earlier in the book were more interesting than this one. While not a bad adventure, it did feel like a mediocre one and it isn’t one I’d ever run myself.

Mythic Iceland has three appendices – two of which are related to the Call of CthulhuL spin off: Cthulhu Dark Ages. Each of these appendices are quite long – more so that even some of the chapters in the main book. I was pleasantly surprised to see over twenty pages devoted to a different (but far more popular) Chaosium setting than Basic Roleplayingh; if only because of the differences in the two. That said, the inclusion of Cthulhu Dark Ages material was the original impetus for my picking up Mythic Iceland and I’m happy to say that the CoC bits are no less impressive than the rest of the book.

“Cthulhu Dark Ages Iceland” is the primary chapter CoC players will want to read. It gives you a more fantastical history of Iceland that the rest of the book in order to keep things in tone with the Lovecraftian history of the world. Elves and trolls are slightly different in appearance and demeanor, and you are given stats for both. You’re told about various cults, given sanity loss information about the monsters that appeared earlier in the book and quite a few new tomes and spells native to Iceland. Interestingly enough this section includes information on magic staves, which isn’t mentioned in the core Mythic Iceland book.

The second appendix is “Cthulhu Dark Ages Scenario,” which pretty much tells you what it is. Like the BRP adventure, this one is a little lacking and dull for my tastes. It’s your run of the mill, “Oh no! Relative of upstanding citizen X is actually Kai En Tai style EEEEEVIL (Indeed!). ” The adventure does highlight a special monster and spell from the book, but other than that, it’s a pretty cookie cutter affair. Again, it’s not bad, and it definitely works as a first ever adventure for people new to CoC, but for veterans of the system it’s a little week.

The third and final appendix is a wonderful bibliography by the way.

So there you go. 2,500+ words on why Mythic Iceland is one of the most in-depth and detailed roleplaying books I’ve ever read. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use it as it was designed as I don’t know anyone that plays BRP and I only own a few pieces from the system/ That said, I’ll definitely be adapting the book to everything from Call of Cthulhu and Vampire: Dark Ages to things like Shadowrun and even a D&D or Pathfinder game. There is SO MUCH information and material in Mythic Iceland that it might be a little too overwhelming for some gamers. It can be hard to remember where something was the first few times you go through it and there’s so much here it’ll take you a few days (or even weeks) to get through it the first time. For gamers that love to just read RPG related books or who love flavor text and background info rather than hard system mechanics, you’ll probably devour Mythic Iceland the same way I did. I will be shocked if this doesn’t win some sort of award at the end of the year from us here at Diehard GameFAN. Chaosium has been releasing some truly amazing stuff this year and Mythic Iceland is no exception.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Iceland
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Call of Cthulhu
by Gregory D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2012 13:22:15
Loved it! I liked the gameplay, the world, and the writing. I am not big on the combat, but thankfully combat in this system is not as much needed as D&D. I played only one game, and even tho I knew what was going to happen via reading everything from Lovecraft. I was still locked in fear more than once in the play through. Great game. Get it! The Great Cthulhu Demands It!!!

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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu
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