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Trail of Cthulhu: Many Fires
by JAMES U C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/17/2012 06:29:40
Let the players bring their private planes and machineguns and carloads of dynamite - I can't see that any of it will help them much at the death, in the mountains where no-one will see. Notable, also, for how much the players know (between them) going in, neatly inverting an expectation of the classic game. The scenario successfully gives the players power without giving them safety, delivering high-stakes gaming.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Many Fires
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Trail of Cthulhu: Hell Fire
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/17/2012 06:19:40
The central connection is essentially a sound idea and the trappings of Rationalism show a lot of potential as an era of play. This doesn't manage to build up to very memorable dangers, though, and indulges the author's reinterpretation of the being in question. Why do writers do that?

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Hell Fire
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Four Shadows: Music for Trail of Cthulhu
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/16/2012 21:04:59
James Semple’s compositions for Four Shadows are beautifully conceived and performed, and they capture exactly the right tone of an investigation-based Cthulhu mythos game. Including both a “pulp version” and a “purist version” of the Trail of Cthulhu theme is a brilliant move (if you’re not familiar with Trail of Cthulhu, those are the two game styles described in the rules) and the music fits each label perfectly. Neither theme, however, is a “loop while playing” kind of composition, so their usefulness is really rather limited. The other two tracks, “Ruminations” and “Anagnorisis,” are wonderfully cinematic—but, unfortunately, rather too cinematic. Despite each track’s modest length (3:08 and 3:14, respectively), both exhibit definite movement and progression. Such distinct changes of mood, crescendos/decrescendos, and so on make the tracks ill-fitting for a freeform RPG where anything might happen. Therefore, while the music and the production values are of absolutely the highest quality, the product doesn’t well serve the purpose of scoring a Trail of Cthulhu play session. You could, I suppose, wait and play the tracks at just the right moment, once through instead of looping. The Eternal Lies Suite, also by James Semple’s team, serves better. Get Four Shadows for simple listening pleasure, not for constant background music during your game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Four Shadows: Music for Trail of Cthulhu
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Trail of Cthulhu: Hell Fire
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/12/2012 04:01:25
Rezension Hellfire

„Hell Fire“ ist ein weiteres Abenteuer für „Trail of Cthulhu“, entgegen des üblichen bespielten Zeitabschnitts (1930er) findet das Abenteuer jedoch in der zweiten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts statt und entführt die Spieler in die Welt der „Lords and Ladies“.

Das Empire befindet sich gerade in Bewegung: einerseits wächst die Kolonialmacht, anderseits muss sich das Empire jedoch mit Reformen im Inneren sowie dem aufkommenden Unabhängigkeitswillen Amerikas zurecht finden.

Die Geschichte beginnt mit der Verwicklung einiger Gentlemen des „Hellfire-Club“ in einen mysteriösen Mord, da es sich bei dem Opfer um eine Dame von Stand handelt, mit weit rechenden gesellschaftlichen Folgen. Schritt für Schritt offenbart sich, was sich tatsächlich hinter dem legendären „Hellfire-Club“ verbirgt und vor allem, dass man während des illustren Treibens der High Society die Aufmerksamkeit fremder Mächte geweckt hat. So müssen sich die Spieler nicht nur gegen Gesetzeshüter behaupten, sondern auch politisches Geschick beweisen. „Alles nur halb so wild“ könnte man meinen, aber für das zusätzliche Quäntchen Aufregung sorgt zweifelsohne der Mythos mit seinen Schergen.

Erscheinungsbild

Ebenso wie bei „Many Fires“ kommt das Abenteuer als hochwertiges PDF daher, besonders die Möglichkeit von Szene zu Szene springen zu können (via PDF-Inhaltsverzeichnis; Dateigröße: etwa 16 MB) gefällt mir sehr gut. Der Band ist wie gewohnt überwiegend in einem Drei-Spalten-Layout gehalten, nur hin und wieder wird dieses Schema mit Textboxen bzw. Bildern unterbrochen.

Inhalt

Zunächst erhält der Leser eine kurze Übersicht über den Plot sowie Informationen bzgl. der nötigen Regelanpassungen, um den Unterschieden zwischen der aktuell bespielten Epoche und der eigentlich vom System vorgesehenen Zeit (überwiegend 30er-Jahre) gerecht zu werden. Einige Fähigkeiten werden komplett gestrichen (einige technologische/wissenschaftliche Entdeckungen fehlen zu der bespielten Zeit schlichtweg), andere kommen hinzu (z.B. „Politics“ als Richtwert für das Talent des Charakters sich auf dem politischen Parkett zu bewegen).
Danach geht es mit den einzelnen Szenen direkt ans Eingemachte: über zwanzig Seiten Material um das noch blanke Skelett des Abenteuers mit dem nötigen „Fleisch“ auszustatten. Auch dieses Abenteuer glänzt durch seinen eher modularen Aufbau, ganz wie schon in der Rezension zu „Many Fires“ beschrieben.
Zwar gibt es einen „roten Faden“, jedoch kann durch das Verhalten der Spieler ein von Runde zu Runde unterschiedlicher Verlauf des Abenteuers entstehen. Meiner Auffassung nach ist das Abenteuer ausreichend konkret um allzu viel Vorbereitungsarbeit überflüssig zu machen und bleibt dabei ausreichend vage um es nach eigenem Belieben mit eigenen Details auszuschmücken zu können. Zum Abschluss des Bandes finden sich dann noch sechs Seiten mit vorgefertigten Charakteren.

Um ohne konkrete Spoiler auf die enthaltene Geschichte(n) eingehen zu wollen: über politische Intrige, cthulhoide Bedrohungen und den sündigen Untiefen der erlauchten Gesellschaft bereisen die Charaktere ein weites Feld. Hier sind weniger Abenteurer und Kämpfernaturen gefragt, eher Diplomaten und gesellschaftlich ambitionierte Figuren.

Wussten Sie, dass die „Erwachsenen-Literatur“ durch das Aufkommen günstiger Druckerzeugnisse regelrecht boomte?

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis

Ein stimmiges, vielschichtiges Abenteuer für eine Handvoll Dollar? Dazu sollte man auf keinen Fall „Nein“ sagen.

Fazit

Wer sich für die Epoche erwärmen kann und „Socializing“-Rollenspiel favorisiert, sollte hier zugreifen. Mit ein wenig Arbeit lässt sich aber das für „Trail of Cthulhu“ verfasste Abenteuer vermutlich auch auf andere Systeme ummünzen, lediglich die Mythos-Fraktion müsste entsprechend umbesetzt werden. Handouts gibt es hier leider keine, man hätte den Band meiner Ansicht nach noch mit ein paar Ingame-Briefen aufpeppen können. Zwar gibt es hier und da kurze Textpassagen, die mit ein bisschen eigener Arbeit zu Handouts gemacht werden könnte, aber eben nichts Fertiges.

Bewertung

Erscheinungsbild – 4,5/5 (ich mag den Zeichenstil nicht)
Inhalt – 4/5 (Handouts!)
Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis - 5/5

http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Hell Fire
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The Complete Eternal Lies Suite
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/05/2012 00:02:45
Absolutely fantastic! This album is wonderfully conceived and beautifully executed, easily on par with Hollywood film scores. The tone is perfect for a Cthulhu-oriented game. It’s a little more expensive than a typical iTunes album, for comparison, but I personally think it’s well worth it. The album makes very enjoyable listening even when you’re not using it to score a game.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Complete Eternal Lies Suite
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Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2012 01:30:26
This is a pretty interesting variant on the usual "heroic Investigators versus the great unknown" theme of most CoC campaigns (or Tail of Cthulhu campaigns for that matter). While most of the stuff published for Trail thus far has been the dark and depressing kind (which, while it's true to the spirit of most of HPL's works is nonetheless...well...dark and depressing), and this one is too, this one at least provides a structure and REASON why the players are acting that way. Not because of their inherently nihilist state of mind, but rather because they need to make a quick buck (or pound, in this case) in order to put bread and milk in the icebox. The investigators can be one of several types of "bookhounds" which are specialty occupations (with their own advantages and disadvantages) in search of those rare tomes and volumes so desperately sought after by evil wizards and "Dudley Do-Rights" alike, with the added incentive of being able to discover nefarious plots and decide what to do about them. The characters are gritty, no better than they have to be, and just as likely to commit a crime in order to accomplish their goal as not. Sort of like Kolchak: the Night Stalker in that sense -- balancing on that thin gray area between the legal and the downright illegal, and frequently crossing from one side to the other as the adventures go on.

The book provides a campaign setting based in post-Great War London, though it would be relatively easy to transpose it to any major western city (such as New York or even LA for that noir effect) or time. The rules are complete (though you DO need Trail of Cthulhu to understand the mechanics of the game system), and provide plenty of ideas and concepts to allow you to run your players through this type of campaign. While as I noted above pretty much all of the stuff published for Trail to date have been darkly themed, and this one isn't that much different, it feels more pulpish than the others and, as noted, could easily be transformed into something a little less "futile" in terms of long-term outcome. Really the premise of the campaign setting is absolutely brilliant -- where else can you come up with a valid reason for allowing the players to get their hands on something truly awesome in terms of forbidden lore without having them actually confront Great Cthulhu in the process? Plus, given that the business they are in is SELLING BOOKS, you can just as easily take it away from them ("What, that old leather-covered Manuscript with the cramped lettering by Olaus somethingorother, and the worm damage?" the aged proprietor responded to my urgent question; "I sold that to a gentleman that came in last week. Got a tidy sum for it too. You really need to see if you can find another copy!")

All in all, Kenneth Hite continues to demonstrate why he is one of the best horror and fantasy authors writing today. This supplement is a must-own for any Keeper looking for a new hook to get his campaign off the ground. As always it is well written, succinct (which might just be another way of saying "well written"), with plenty of great ideas and plot seeds for the alert GM to follow. I strongly recommend this volume to everyone!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2012 14:20:03
Graham Walmsley really knows how to take classic Lovecraftian tropes to create original and yet very "authentic" Trail of Cthulhu scenarios. The Rending Box is another investigation designed for Purist-mode adventure which highlights the horror of the setting and really pushes the characters to the edge of sanity. As such it makes a perfect one-shot adventure, and like all of Walmsley's ToC scenarios is simply a lot of fun to play if you're a fan of Lovecraft's stories and don't mind the likely outcome that their characters are unlikely to come out of the adventure unscathed. I would highly recommend this and the other adventures by Walmsley.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
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Ashen Stars: Dead Rock Seven
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2012 14:14:30
These are an excellent set of scenarios for Ashen Stars, taking the characters to a variety of colorful locations during their investigations. Although the included scenarios are linked, they can easily be played as single scenarios instead. Of the four scenarios, I liked "Dead Rock Seven" the best since it reminds me of some of my favorite sci-fi stories. One word of warning for potential buyers: the adventures are somewhat "adult" in nature, especially "The Pleasure Bringers" which centers around the search for a missing corporate investigator on a planet whose economy largely revolves around sex, drugs, and rock & roll. While the references aren't gratuitous (I would call it PG-13) and it's easy to push all of those references to the background, it's something that some readers might not like. Personally I love the fact that the author decided to write scenarios aimed directly at an adult audience rather than ignoring various tropes and elements that are perfect for the dark, gritty Ashen Stars setting. Kudos.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ashen Stars: Dead Rock Seven
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Cthulhu Apocalypse: The Apocalypse Machine
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2012 14:04:34
The Apocalypse Machine is an interesting read and a fresh take on Lovecraftian gaming. The book is well-written and rather than simply saying "here's how the apocalypse happened" it offers up a number of possibilities using a system (i.e., the Apocalypse Machine) to help generate a meaningful and interesting back story and setting to make each apocalypse unique. While the PDF is clearly designed for use with the Trail of Cthulhu RPG, most of it is system-free and thus could be used with a variety of games including Apocalypse World.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Apocalypse: The Apocalypse Machine
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Ashen Stars
by Devon K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/01/2012 08:43:18
The first thing I'm going to say about this game is that it's GUMSHOE. I really, really like GUMSHOE. It's a wonderful system that really supports the style of games I like to run and play. So, as soon as I saw there was a new GUMSHOE game out, and that it was space opera, I was as giddy as a school girl and had very high expectations for this game.

After reading the game, I'm very please with it. But it didn't meet all my expectations.

The positive aspects of this game are many. It's GUMSHOE, so I know I already like the system. However, a few additional character traits have been added that I think will make for a few more interesting twists during game play. I like the addition of Drives in this game. I see them as adding an extra dimension and direction to the characters, one that I've not seen in the previous GUMSHOE games I've played. The Reputation score is also very intriguing and I'm excited to get my hands in there and tinker with that system and see how it works.

The only real negative aspect I saw in the game was the space combat. In theory, I like the process of setting a goal to achieve through combat and having all your exchanges add points towards achieving that goal. But, in this case, it felt like that system was just another step back from the action. It seemed like another layer of insulation between the characters and the players. Personally, I feel it is going to require a bit of tweaking and testing before I'm happy with how that runs in the game. And, I don't feel space battles really fit with the flavor of the rest of the game.

Even so, this is a wonderful book and if you're a fan of GUMSHOE, you really need to pick this one up. The sections on running the game have been the most helpful of any GUMSHOE game I've read. The setting is extremely interesting and has just enough detail to get my imagination going and enough blank spaces for me to insert my own creations. Wonderful job!

Check out the podcast @ http://podcast.sharkbonegames.com

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ashen Stars
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Invasive Procedures
by Jonas . [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2012 08:52:16
Looks good, reads good hopefully it plays good. I like it a lot

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Invasive Procedures
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Fear Itself
by Jonas . [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/25/2012 08:50:17
Loads of inspiration, shame about the illustrtions though some are good. I love Gumshoe so I kind of knew what to expect.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fear Itself
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The Book of Unremitting Horror (d20 version)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/12/2012 22:28:03
I am not sure what I can add to what has already been said.
I love horror games and TBoUH is one of the best source books I have had the pleasure to use in a while. Plenty of ideas here for lots of different games.

I like to think of horror as not just as a main course, but also a spice or a nice side dish to regular games. I dash of horror in your Supers game, a pinch of it in your FRPG, a nice horror sauce over your Pulp game. This book has enough several years worth of meals.

Fantastic work.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Unremitting Horror (d20 version)
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Ashen Stars: Dead Rock Seven
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2012 20:34:18
The perfect companion to your Ashen Star Core Rulebook, Dead Rock Seven gives the eager GM four scenarios to run that range from sexy pleasure planets to desolate asteroid mines. In each case, your lasers will need to use ingenuity, skill, and luck to navigate these dangerous worlds. Everything you would expect from Pelgrane scenarios is here, investigation backbone, clues associated with a variety of skills, ample contingencies and ways to weave the story, and pregen characters to get you off and running quickly. If your group is anything like mine, they will want to make their own characters after your first run, which is a great thing.

These scenarios are not for the faint of heart. What do you expect when the first one is set on a sex planet with a mysterious disappearance of "Johns". Needless to say, my players were both shocked and awed. All the scenarios are that risque, so don't worry. But don't let your guard down, there are horrors beyond intergalactic STDs and they aren't nearly as forgiving.

Buy this now.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ashen Stars: Dead Rock Seven
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Ashen Stars
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/07/2012 20:10:45
This is another amazing success from Pelgrane Press. The GUMSHOE engine provides the basis for the game, but it's so different from the previous games like Fear Itself or Trail of Cthulhu. The game is set in a universe where a powerful alien race was set to destroy the known races of the galaxy, who banded together to defeat their near omnipotent foe. Unfortunately, no one remembers anything about the Mohilar War as it seems there is a permanent gap in everyone's memory concerning the war, how it ended, or what happened to the Mohilar. This core mystery is at the heart of the game and serves as ample fodder for GMs to come up with universe spanning campaigns of epic proportion.

Your characters assume the role of "lasers", galactic police for hire. Many worlds have been devastated by the years of war preceding the timeline of the game and the majority of the star systems are simply trying to rebuild. Lasers essentially patrol the known universe looking for work settling disputes, solving crime, and generally trying to keep the peace. Your players have a lot of freedom in how they deal with the precarious situations you put them in. They are judge, jury, and executioner. Of course, you will have to do some serious PR work if you nuke a town to get rid of a small bodysnatching plot by some recently discovered race of brain-eating slugs.

The system is fast and furious like all GUMSHOE games. Anyone can learn and most of the skills are self-explanatory. Unlike other Pelgrane games, there is a bit of a learning curve on equipment, which is borderline absurd and quite funny at the core. The game features a number of alien races you can play as well each with their own pros and cons. There is a rich backstory for how the races have gotten along throughout the centuries. Needless to say, I had just as good a time reading the lore as I did playing the game and I LOVE playing the game.

As for the tone of the game, it teeters between almost silly and disturbingly graphic. It lures your players into a false sense of wholesomeness before smashing their heads in with a space pipe. Nothing is what it seems and the truth is always stranger than fiction. I think this is one of the best games I've played in a long time and my players agree. We are definitely going to integrate this into our gaming routine. Let the world be warned!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ashen Stars
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