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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!!!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu
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Basic Roleplaying
by Gregory D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/08/2012 13:04:40
I will be honest, this could have been better. It has no setting which for me is always a plus, however it also has more rules than needed. A lot of them are optional, yet I don't want to have to look at a matrix chart just to see if my character is stronger then another. The combat is very broken, but that adds more to the realism in my opinion. I tried a zombie survival game, and it went well, but all my players agreed that there where just too many rules needed to do the simplest of tasks. In all it is an okay system, not great, but not bad either. I just wished that chaosium would have made these rules a bit easier to understand.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Basic Roleplaying
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A Resection of Time
by Tomas W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/06/2012 06:01:15
“A resection of time” is a well though out and exciting scenario, - in short its 1990s Call of Cthulhu done right!

Good things:
- A good story!
- The characters backgrounds stories are not what it seems, so the horror is also on a personal level for each player, not only the splatter/monster level.
- Many fun scenes, and (at least half-) believable characters in just the right mix with larger than life exploration, some Indiana Jones action (but not to much pulp) and just plain weird stuff.
- Has good historical background information on the Maya.
- Beautiful handouts.
- Very nice dream scenes for the players.
- Easy to expand/twist with your own plot creations and characters.

Some bad things:
-Not the best dramaturgy of events, so you have to rearrange them. Placement of the different handouts is one example, where the most revealing might come to early, and some of the fluff is found near the end. You probably also like to switch the arrangement, or maybe mix, the scenes where the investigators go to Arkham and the Foundation, - but that's just my opinion.
- The handouts are to long and some are not important enough. And on the other hand some important info should have been made into a handout, but is not!
- Should have included some guidelines for designing suitable characters, and more examples of motivations and incentives for getting hired by Swarthz in the beginning.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Resection of Time
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BRP Witchcraft
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/26/2012 15:53:06
The book itself is small, only about 72 pages, but really that is plenty for the topic. You need the latest version of the Basic Role-Playing System book from Chaosium since there is no character creation information in this book.

Introduction
We are given an introduction to witches and witchcraft and how they can fit into various game settings from Dark Ages to High Medieval to High Fantasy and Arabian Nights and Renaissance. What is mission of course is a Modern setting, but I think that might be assumed, given the nature of the BRP rules.

Caveat: It has been years since I have played any BRP game. I have the newest BRP rules set and I like them a lot, they are just far down on my list of go to games.

The nest section details the Witch Profession.

As a conceit of the monograph the author decides that witchcraft is an oral tradition and thus does not use a grimoire. I can live with this for the time periods mentioned above, but a Victorian age could, and a Modern age witch would most likely be literate and keep a Book of Shadows. This is only a minor quibble though.

There are skills detailed some new, others expanded.

Spirits or Demons details where a witch gets her power. I like this distinction since it gives a variety of types of witches; From your devil-bound or demon worshipping evil witch to the pagan or natural earth witch. To borrow an analogy it is roughly the same distinction made in the Rachel Morgan books by Kim Harrison. Earth magic would be this book's Pagan, Ley Line would be Neutral and Demonic is Infernal.

Given the history of the BRP game and taking a page from D&D4 it would not be difficult to imagine a "Mythos Witch" that gets her power much like the Infernal, only from the Lovecraftian beasties. With loss of SAN of course.

Coven and Sabbats cover the organizations a witch can belong to; Family groups, to supernatural ones to solitaries. Each of these can be expanded into various examples. The family groups could be something like Ann Rice's Mayfair witches or gypsy folk magic handed down mother to daughter.

The section on Witch's Magic is the meatiest. There is a mechanic for dealing with an oral tradition based magic system. It is nice and I like it for it simplicity and it's general common sense logic. It just looks like it works. Alterations for Familiars are mentioned as well.

There are a few new spells, but oddly enough I did not see one for Blindness, a rather iconic witch maleficia. But all look fine and fit the background material well.

In addition to spells we have new Witch's Sorceries and Witch's Potions.

I like the potion section the best of these last three since it is difficult to find good rules for witches making potions on the fly. In D&D 3 it takes way too long, but if you watch shows like Charmed or read books like the Dresden Files or the Rachel Morgan series their witches are brewing potions in hours, not weeks. Like the spells there is a good number of effects listed here. We also get Talisnans.

In Witches' Allegiance we see the differences between white and black magic and what the character gains (and looses) for their allegiance.

Mystic Artifacts details some of the unique magic items that are connected to witchcraft, Baba Yaga's Hut, the Hand of Glory and a couple of others. I would have liked to have seen Circe's Wand too, but that is just me.

There are some Sample Organizations which are flexible enough to work in any game really.

And finally we end with a number of Witch NPC Sample Characters.

Thoughts
This is a good book and if you want to play a witch in one of the BRP games then this is a great place to start. I could see these, as written, working in a Call of Cthulhu game or even an Elric one.

The book itself reminds me of the old Mayfair Games book on Witches for 1st Ed. AD&D. The tone and tenor is the same and there is plenty of text given to both sides of the witch persona; the good and the evil.

In terms of "playing a witch" I think this is the closest thing you can get in a BRP game. The author has clearly done his research and I am certain he knows there is so much more that he could have written.

I suppose the only issue I had with it was the lack of support for playing a modern age witch. Not that I don't already have a 1,000 games now that allow me to do that, I found their exclusion odd.

All in all I found this book to be an enjoyable read and looking forward to stating up a few witches using it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BRP Witchcraft
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Secrets of Japan
by Richard A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/26/2012 01:58:28
A very impressive supplement, even by CoC standards. A GM could get more than one Japan-based campaign out of this book alone. A must have for anyone looking for a fresh approach to CoC.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Secrets of Japan
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Mansions of Madness
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/19/2012 10:20:08
As might be expected based on the title, each of these investigations centers around a mansion although there is quite a bit of variety in terms of what exactly the adventure entails – these are simply five different, Scooby Doo haunted houses.

-- The Five Investigations --

Mr. Corbitt involves the PCs investigating a neighbor who has been acting somewhat unusual, only to discover there's something far more sinister going on across the street. Without giving too much away, the story definitely has a bit of a Dunwich Horror vibe to it. I like the premise of the adventure, which would work great as a one-shot at a convention and the investigation definitely has a purist Lovecraftian feel to it, although it has the potential for a pretty pulp-like ending. Two thumbs up.

The Plantation is a cross-country adventure, starting in New England and finishing up in South Carolina on an antebellum plantation. It also involves a snake cult and some proper cultists. As such it's much more a pulp-style adventure.

Crack'd & Crook'd Manse is probably my favorite premise of all of the book's content since it involves a house with a sinister past in which a very Lovecraftian horror has taken up residence. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a disconnect between the house's past and the current issue – the investigation ends of splitting the difference which lessens the impact of both (i.e., the background of the house is largely pointless. Overall though it's a cool idea and there's a lot of potential for a creative Keeper to mine here. This is probably the most purist-style adventure in the book.

The Sanatorium is another interesting twist on the typical “bad things happening at the Sanatorium” adventure premise since it's set on an isolated island and involves a sanatorium catering to the rich. Obviously things go wrong fast and the PCs find themselves in a Mythos experiment run amok. This is a decent enough adventure, which walks the line between purist and pulp-style play. That said, I think it would have been more interesting to make the setting a vacation resort rather than the cliché sanatorium because it would have made the whole thing a lot creepier and would be an interesting way to involve the PCs (i.e., they're all on vacation when things go nuts).

Mansion of Madness is another solid investigation with a good set-up: the PCs visit the house of a wealthy art collector while investigating a missing Boston businessman. In the process they discover that the painting within the house are far more than they seem and that multiple factions are working behind the scenes to carry out their nefarious plans. I like this investigation because it involves multiple villains, who at times are at odds in terms of their priorities, and makes good use of the 1920s setting including gangsters, flappers, and a bunch of cool locations. This is perhaps the most complex investigation in the book (due to the multiple locations) but it's also one of the most rewarding since it involves a lot of different scene possibilities ranging from social conflicts to bare knuckle brawls. Good stuff.


-- The Verdict --
Mansions of Madness is a great supplement/adventure collection for Call of Cthulhu. Best yet for me, all of the content is easily converted to Trail of Cthulhu and I've already set about creating several convention scenarios based on the adventures it contains. As such, it's definitely worth checking out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mansions of Madness
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Cthulhu by Gaslight
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2012 23:45:47
Whilst I know a lot of die-hards who will insist that the 1920’s is the only time to play Cthulhu, I must only respectfully disagree, but forward this book as clear evidence. ‘Cthulhu by Gaslight’ sets the machinations of the tentacle one (and others who cannot be named) against the backdrop of Victorian England, amid the slums and factories, the gentlemans’ clubs and secret societies and weaves the fog and darkness through the stories. In every way, this is a perfect fit, made more so by the attention to detail shown by the authors (who do build upon two previous editions of this book).

Divided into four parts, the book gives attention to

- the specifics of creating Victorian-era characters and in usual Chaosium style, the reader will find everything from Occupations and skill alterations to a glossary and prices indexed for the time period;
- a gazetteer-style section outlining the British Empire, and London in particular leading to;
- a section entitled ‘Strange Britain which is by far the most interesting section of the book. In here you’ll find occult societies such as the Order of the Golden Dawn and the Masons (no surprises regarding their inclusion), real world occult and ‘strange’ sites in Britain (which could be expanded into a book all by itself), how the Cthulhu Mythos fits into Britain uniquely. This third section is then rounded off with a look at fictional characters; so if you’ve ever wanted Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes or even the Martians for a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/Cthulhu cross-over, you’ll have all the tools you need. Overall, this is the stand-out section of the book.
- and lastly two fully-kitted-out adventures (at about twenty pages each). In both adventures the writing is extremely well-delivered and the concepts in both uniquely Victorian.

What is clear is that the developers wanted a product which not only provided the factual and mechanical information for playing in this time period, but also wanted to prove themselves capable of implementing these concepts. In reading through this book, one feels that a conceptual journey has been undertaken, first gathering all the necessary information required for a game, and then seeing it all put into practice.

The book is rounded off with Appendices full of inspirational media and a collection of great maps.

I’ve always been impressed with Chaosium’s ability to present a book which is so completely situated in the time period, right down to the choice of fonts and typeset to the illustrations, commentary and maps. It provides the reader with a wholly immersive experience and this attention to detail may not always be explicitly appreciated – but it is subliminally present.

This is a must for all Cthulhu Keepers and it is a pleasure to see this book updated and back in print (in a manner of speaking). Just remember that knife-wielding murderers in Whitechapel are the least of your concerns in this game...

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu by Gaslight
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Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
by Dennis S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/30/2012 17:59:08
The Call of Cthulhu quick-start rules are definitely a step in the right direction to get players started on the game. However, it feels as though an opportunity was missed to reduce the size of the game even more and still completely retain its essence when compared to newer games like Trail of Cthulhu. The Resistance Table is still a page-long ASCII art project, for example, and the stats could have been unified under a single simple rolling mechanic, rather than some rolling 3d6 and some rolling 2d6+6 and so on. The Occupations section could've used a bit less trimming than these mechanical elements. The inclusion of character sheets and a small adventure is quite helpful. For free, this is a great product, and a great introduction to Call of Cthulhu, but I feel that it could've been even simpler for newer players.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
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The Gaslight Equipment Catalogue
by Brian L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/18/2012 17:32:54
The Gaslight Equipment guide should be part of the library for any Victorian or Steampunk game. Cthulhu, Space 1889, Red Sands etc gamers should all have it for their group.

Sections are separated by topic. Only a few are directly related to combat or combat mechanics. Combat mechanics are written for Cthulhu/BRP. These you can easily replace with those of your used game system or make up stats for the mechanics in use.

Other sections give numerous entries. It shows alot of what things where available in the setting. For instance "backpacks" aren't what must of modern people would think.

The amount of desciption by item is enhanced by articles explaining things in general. This is exceptionally useful as the modern player hasn't lived in Victorian times so might not even know how men shaved or ladies pampered in the morning.

For roleplayers the articles, non-combat items, prices, descriptions all give you content to make use of in descriping your character's action. Pack-rats and combat-focus will appreciate being able to figure out what they really caring and the differences in weapons.

All in all ... you should have it for any game in Victorian/Steampunk setting. For a PDF you can print a copy or simply show it on a screen to the different players.

Personally I use a laptop now. So I like having PDF books that I can pop-up easily. The laptop with 100s of PDF is alot easier to carry to the game then a stack of merely 12 books.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Gaslight Equipment Catalogue
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Devil's Gulch
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/06/2012 08:30:16
Devil's Gulch does double-duty as both a setting book and a genre sourcebook, and given a page count of only 92 pages, that's a tall order.

It delivers both, sufficient to kick off a short Western campaign set in Devil's Gulch for a while.

On the genre sourcebook end, it provides an all important one-page listing of various aspects of the 'Code of the West' in the Old West -- measure a man by what he is today, not by his past; never try on another man's hat; give your enemy a fighting chance, etc. It's great at evoking a real sense of the times and climes of that almost mythic era.

It also gives various character professions that add on to the other more normal (time-period appropriate) professions for the era -- with a particular 'weird west' bent to them. I particularly like the snake oil hustler and the hexmaster, though the medicine man is also a welcome inclusion as well.

As a setting sourcebook, it gives a respectable number of locations in Devil's Gulch that are easily extractable to your own setting if you wish. Each location has a map, a statted-out NPC or two if appropriate, and a short but detailed description of what if found within, along with telling details that reinforce the western feel of the setting. I enjoyed little things like the lists of supplies that can be found in the general store, and how easy fires can be started in the dry, almost-entirely-made-from-wood buildings of Devil's Gulch.

The NPCs are also memorable, worthy of stealing from when looking for a random NPC walking the streets to liven up the session.

That interior art is consistent and distinctive. It's not really a photorealistic approach, but a moody, evocative, slightly cartoony feel -- kind of like the art in the Weird Western comic book The Sixth Gun and the art in Alan Moore's League of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen -- that captures and evokes the weird western feel quite well.

If you're looking for something to expand your Weird West collection of materials, or have been hankering to run a Weird West campaign using the BRP system, this would be a fine addition to your sourcebooks.

(from my review at armchairgamer.blogspot.com)

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Devil's Gulch
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Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
by Christopher B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/04/2012 13:49:05
A good all round intro to this system.
It could have done with some more detail particularly occupations

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
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Call of Cthulhu Quick-Start Rules
by Radosław G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/04/2012 08:59:09
This is very good summary of rules that you can hand out to Players who have never played CoC before. !EXCEPT! very nice adventure that they will for sure read and you will not be able to play it - which is a shame because I find this adventure very good as introductory adventure.

Other than that - I like this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks of Nyarlathotep
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/27/2012 07:13:24
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/04/27/tabletop-review-masks-o-
f-nyarlathotep-fourth-edition-call-of-cthulhu/

Wow. What can be said about Masks of Nyarlathotep that hasn’t been said before. It’s one of the longest published adventures of all time, regardless of systems. It’s one of the most famous adventures of all time. Having won many awards and is often cited as one of, if not THE best adventures of all time. As a long time Call of Cthulhu fan, it may surprise you to learn my first exposure with Masks wasn’t until the third edition, otherwise known as The COMPLETE Masks of Nyarlathotep as the Australian chapter was excised from the campaign since it was crazy long already and placed into Terror Australis: Cthulhu Down Under. Despite my love of Call of Cthulhu, I only ever picked up one boxed adventure and that was Horror on the Orient Express, which still remains my favorite Call of Cthulhu product of all time and it vexes me that it’s not in PDF. Maybe someday…

I love the third printing of Masks of Nyarlathotep, but it’s been out of print for wow…at least a decade now, so it’s wonderful to have it back in print and in PDF format. Let me start by saying I’m exceptionally pleased with the price tag. In the mid 1990s, this thing went for $40 for the printed version, so with time and inflation being considered, paying less than twenty dollars for this Fourth Edition is such an insane deal that every Call of Cthulhu gamer should be thrusting money towards Chaosium, begging for them to take it. Masks of Nyarlathotep is that good. It’s also THAT LONG. Masks of Nyarlathotep is a massive undertaking. It covers an entire year of in game time, which each of the six sections taking multiple play sessions to get through. If you game once or twice a week with your friends, expect to be playing this adventure for months if not a full year yourself! It’s an awesome experience, but for people who can’t make the time commitment to the campaign, you might be better off just reading the adventure and enjoying it that way instead.

Two other quick words of advice on actually running Masks of Nyarlathotep. The first is that the Keeper should make a lot of the random based rolls ahead of time to streamline things and keep the game moving. This is a long undertaking after all, so if you have everything prepared ahead of time, you won’t have to stop in the middle of a gripping scene and roll to see how many cultists there are, or how many people hear the Investigators breaking and entering. The other piece of advice would be to make sure players realize their original characters will probably not survive the full campaign. There is a LOT of PC death in this, so make sure they are prepared for back-ups based on the location where the PCs currently are in-game. Masks of Nyarlathotep involves a lot of globe-trotting so if a character dies in say, Shanghai, it doesn’t make all that sense to replace him with a Samoan cricket player. I remember one time, I actually had a player sacrifice his beloved character, so he could make someone new with a few particular skills they knew they would need to properly proceed. A bit too meta for my liking, but you’ll see things like this happen in order for the team as a whole (and the world) to survive the machinations of the Crawling Chaos. Also, it made for a great scene that evening. ;-)

This fourth edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep is wonderfully done. The artwork is amazing and there’s so much detail in the little things, from character statements to scrawled insane blathering meant to be written by one of the NPCs. The Keeper is going to have to print a decent amount of the PDF off as handouts for players though, so don’t try running it straight from your Kindle Fire, Ipad or other e-reader type device. It’s important to print these bits off as it really makes the game cover alive for the players. Masks of Nyarlathotep can be a very tactile adventure at time so have some paper and scissors ready in preparation for your trip around the world. The only downside to the fourth edition is the same as the third in that the box set was truly something to behold. The box set consisted of

2 business cards & 1 matchbox kit on glossy card sheet
1 booklet of handouts
1 New York booklet (blue cover)
1 London booklet (maroon cover)
1 Cairo booklet (yellow cover)
1 Nairobi booklet (brown cover)
1 Shanghai booklet (green cover)

…and of course the box. Everything is still here (along with the Australia bits), but from an aesthetic standpoint, the first two editions were just amazing for the level of detail and the all the different booklets. On the other hand, this fourth edition is much cheaper and far easier to keep a hold of everything, especially if you get the PDF. No worries about losing the handouts or business cards here! I do miss the first edition box art though…

So what is Masks of Nyarlathotep about? It’s hard to explain without completely spoiling the story. After all, a good deal of the fun is figuring out all the crazy conspiracies going on, which ones tie together and how, and then stopping the literal decimation of the planet. The stakes have never been higher in a Call of Cthulhu adventure, because if Nyarlathotep succeeds in its plans, not only does the world get ravaged by the Outer Gods, but by the Great Old Ones as well. This my friends, is a big deal.

What starts off as a routine meeting with a friend of the Investigator(s) quickly spirals into a horrifying murder mystery with only snowballs into something much bigger from there. Players start off in New York City, but from there the adventure becomes amazingly free-form (especially for the time period in which MoN was originally written. This was light years ahead of what was being done for RPG tabletop scenarios). Investigators can find themselves visiting London, Cairo, Shanghai, Australia and Kenya (Not necessarily in that order) Each leg of the adventure contains red herrings and/or side quests to trip players up and keep the clock counting down to doomsday. Player death and Insanity are commonplace here and the end results is one of the most memorable adventures ever written for Call of Cthulhu or any other RPG system. Even if you don’t play Call of Cthulhu, you should be picking this up simply to see both how a large scale adventure is done and why so many people in the industry consider this one of the best things the entire industry has ever produced. If you read this review and don’t outright purchase the PDF or the physical copy of Masks of Nyarlathotep, then shame on you.

If you are looking for an adventure that will keep your players (and their characters) busy for months, the opportunity to save the world while fighting off legions of cultists (in proper Call of Cthulhu fashion), or you simply want to see why so many people consider this one of, if not THE, greatest adventures for an RPG system ever written, then go purchase Masks of Nyarlathotep the second you get done reading this. This will easily be the most intense, as well as the most memorable, published adventure you’ll ever experience. Just get it. Just get it and experience it. That’s all I can really say.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks of Nyarlathotep
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The Ghosts in the House
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/24/2012 06:19:09
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/04/24/tabletop-review-the-gho-
sts-in-the-house-call-of-cthulhu/

Ghosts in the House is the latest Call of Cthulhu monograph put out by Chaosium. For those of you who have never picked up a monograph before, these things are bare bones pdfs where the author of the piece has also done the editing and layouts. Sometimes they even do the art. Chaosium is pretty hands off on these, publishing the pieces for the sake of getting more Call of Cthulhu adventures and/or supplements out there. Sometimes this turns out wonderfully. This can be seen in pieces like the recently released Children of the Storm or The Abbey. Sometimes it goes spectacularly, horribly, awry like the awful train wreck Mystic Alliances. Usually though, you get a decent little piece that has merit but, in the end, really needed an editor to guide the piece so that it doesn’t fall short of its potential. Ghosts in the House is just such a monograph.

Ghosts in the House is meant to be a full campaign taking place in upper Wisconsin near the upper peninsula. The location for all four adventures? A sub-par nursing home. It’s an interesting location, but to set a full campaign around a single building is stretching things. It also risks boring the hell out of the people playing the campaign. Four adventures revolving around any single location, no matter how cool or outside the box it is, is going to get dull. A nursing home wears out its welcome pretty quickly.

An odd thing about this monograph is that, although it contains four adventures, the first fifty four pages of the monograph contains a single adventure, leaving thirteen pages for the other three. While the first adventure is pretty interesting, the other three adventures end up feeling thrown together without any real substance. This is especially true of the fourth and final adventure in the campaign, which feels like it belongs more in something like Shadowrun then Call of Cthulhu. I can’t see any party of Call of Cthulhu players wanting an adventure that is not only primarily about violence and little else, but one that is stacked in such a way that the players can’t “win.”

Perhaps the oddest thing about the monograph is how the first adventure is laid out. I’ve never seen a more disorganized or jumbled up adventure that actually made it to publication IN MY LIFE. The thing reads horribly – as if the person writing it for the adventure wrote it specifically for themselves, and so it all made sense to them because they knew everything already. For everyone else who picks this up, you’re going to be sitting here wondering why random events are mentioned before you have any plot synopsis, while important details about specific characters are mentioned before you’re even introduced to characters, and why the thing jumps around so much without any real cohesive writing. It’s as if sections were put into the pdf in the wrong order. Again, this is where we see the flaw in many a monograph. Ghosts in the House desperately needed an editor and didn’t get one. The other three adventures are lucky that they had such little detail spent on them; otherwise they too would have fallen prey to the same fate.



There are two big problems with the adventure, however. The first is that the adventure is geared primarily for "beginning characters." However, this and the proceeding adventure both really need the "Summon/Bind Ghost" spell in order to truly ensure success. The adventure even suggests having it at points. Yet, the adventure gives no real way for the Investigators to ever get this spell. That's bad planning. As the adventure proclaims itself to be for brand new characters, this means they won't have access to magic, or have any Cthulhu Mythos exposure. Yet it still wants you to have that spell. Catch 22. Again, more proof this thing needed a professional editor to vet this stuff out.

The other problem is that the adventure feels like it is meant to be read rather than played. There is a whole bunch of information and back story that players will never encounter. Only the Keeper will know what is going on because they read the little "What's Really Going On" section. There's no way for players to ever learn this information unless the Keeper just gives it to them (which will ruin the adventure) and the way the adventure ends, the players, both in and out of character, will be left with more questions than answers, no closure and a sense of "well, that came from out of left field." It ends up being an unsatisfactory experience, and even afterwards, when you explain what actually happened to your troupe, the reaction is... less than thrilling. There's a lot of potential in this adventure and the majority of it is quite fun to run, but the ending is just terrible.

The second adventure is "A House Full of Ghosts", a direct sequel to "The Man in the Hat." How the adventure goes down depends on how "The Mat in the Hat" ended with your players. I loved that the adventure takes nearly all possibilities into consideration and gives you different ways to run it based on what your players did. This is exceptionally well thought out and is definitely the best adventure in terms of writing and cohesion. Playing the adventure though... that's where the problems begin. Again, you really need the “Summon/Bind Ghost: spell to make this adventure a success. However, the writers went a bit overboard and decided to throw TWENTY-THREE ghosts at you. What the hell? No Call of Cthulhu adventure should have that many paranormal creatures in it, especially in such a small location. What the hell were they thinking? Less is more with this system after all. It gets even weirder when the players are offered two $50,000 goals for this adventure. That’s an insane amount of money for a group of four to six players to spend a week or two in a nursing home. Honestly, I love Shadowrun, but the writers seem to think that they can write missions with monetary figures and the sheer number of enemies you encounter in that system and port it over to Call of Cthulhu without any problems. I love the idea of the story (much like “The Man in the Hat”), but there’s too much going on and at only three pages long, there’s really not enough for a Keeper to go off of. They’ll have to make up the majority of the adventure themselves, and at this point, they might as well make up something from scratch instead. Once again, this is a middle of the road affair. Great ideas, but poor follow-through. I like the emphasis on following up the first adventures and all the possibilities, but the writer really needed an experienced Call of Cthulhu editor to say, “Wait. Hold up.”

“The Hole in the Attic” is the third adventure that brings the players back to Oak Grove, and this time, it’s in an attempt to find a weird goblinoid creature. The adventure is pretty cut and dry. It’s very quick and the premise is simple. It wouldn’t be a “Ghosts in the Home” adventure without some big problems, however, and in this case, it’s about providing proof of the supernatural to the employer. Again, the adventure feels more like a Shadowrun affair. You have a Mr. Johnson, a specific extraction run, and some violence for the sake of violence. I suppose it’s fine for what it is, but “The Hole in the Attic” just doesn’t feel like a COC affair. Maybe a Chill adventure, but not something Chaosium would want its name attached to. It’s the best written of the adventures, but the least Cthulhoid. Like everything else in this collection, it’s a thumbs in the middle.

The final adventure is “The Last Gasp” and it’s outright terrible. I honestly can’t see any self-respecting Call of Cthulhu player wanting to sit through this. For an Monograph that says “The adventure emphasizes data collection and discussion over running and screaming,” they sure missed the mark big time with this one, as the entire adventure is once again, you guessed It, far more Shadowrun than Call of Cthulhu. Here players return to the “Yupper Pensinula” one last time into what will surely be their deaths. Investigators are given a MacGuffin and have to figure out what it is. Then a mysterious cult that is not given any back story (nor is even seen or heard from again) tries to take the item, by force if necessary. There are as many cultists as the players plus five and they all have twenty hit points (which is an insane number for CoC and almost impossible for a human to have). It’s almost a given that the PCs will die or lose the object and then… the adventure just ends. It’s violence for the sake of violence with no actual substance behind it. Not only is this contrary to what Call of Cthulhu is all about, it is also contrary to what the monograph espouses to be. It’s just a terrible adventure in every way possible.

All in all, I can’t really recommend Ghosts in the House. The majority of the piece is cluttered and unorganized, while the other three adventures are too short and bare bones. There are huge problems with each adventure that even a Novice Keeper will instantly see, and the overall content is just too weak. Now, there IS a lot of potential here. With a good editor re-arranging the contents of the first adventure, fleshing out the second, leaving the third alone and either excising or outright replacing the fourth, there could be something here well worth investing in. As it stands, Ghosts in the House is an example of where Chaosium’s monograph series falls short of its intended existence. For seven dollars, this isn’t a HORRIBLE purchase, but you can definitely find better CoC collections to spend your hard earned money on.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Ghosts in the House
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Masks of Nyarlathotep
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/23/2012 23:18:12
Masks is by far one of the most interesting and compelling adventures I have had the pleasure of reading and playing. I don't want to divulge too much of the plot for the sake of those who will still end up playing the game, but I will try to at least mention the high points of this adventure.

Masks presents a strong investigative / pulp adventure vibe, and while it is still the traditional and horrifying jaunt through the Cthulhu Mythos, there's plenty of travel, research and adventuring to satisfy the needs of many a gamer who enjoys the era of play. The presence of so many varied and interesting NPCs each with their own secrets and agendas that can run counter to the players in the most interesting of ways.

Masks is a tightly linked series of adventures that forms an entire campaign, and as such, it requires a lot of dedication from its players. This isn't a beer and pretzels adventure by any stretch of the imagination. Masks requires a lot of attention, care and note-taking to get through, and sometimes even the most careful investigator might end up in over his head.

I would highly recommend Masks of Nyarlathotep as an essential part of an CoC library. The campaign itself is long, and at some parts quite possibly unfair, but for a dedicated team of Investigators, it's all worth it for the memory of being able to take on Nyarlathotep and live to tell about it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Masks of Nyarlathotep
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