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Dead Man's Cove
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/01/2017 10:27:41

One Baldrick Mornstar, a merchant, has got fed up with his ships being raided by pirates so he has hatched a cunning plan: to raid the pirates in their base! Naturally he is in search for some brave adventurers to take on the challenge. Will your party step up?

The DM Background explains what Mornstar has done so far in his vendetta against the pirates, then the adventure itself opens with a job offer, a generous one at that. Then it's down to the party to head out on an arduous overland trek to the location of the pirate lair, for which Mornstar has apparently managed to acquire a map. This trip will take a couple of weeks, and whilst it is suggested that this ought not to be event-free, you are left to supply appropriate encounters if you want any. A copy of the plan to the pirate lair is provided, but this is the DM's map, you will have to put something together based upon it for a player handout.

The pirate lair is quite a nice set-up and is explained well, with plenty of options for the pirates' reactions depending on what the party decides to do. An added twist is that a pirate ship is due to arrive, so the party will have to figure out how they deal with that as well. There's a new maritime monster and a new magio item.

This is a neat little one-session adventure which can be slotted in whenever the party is somewhere that sea-borne trade is carried out. The pirate lair is well-constructed and gives the impression that life is going on there no matter who might come around, a nice touch that makes it come to life. The matter of the arriving ship is handled less well, although again there are several options open depending on what the party decides to do about it. There are no suggestions for follow-up adventures, although it ought not to be too hard to come up with some. It makes for an unusual take on a pirate theme, and makes for an enjoyable caper!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Dead Man's Cove
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Trail of Cthulhu: Dreamhounds of Paris
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/26/2017 07:42:07

If you are looking to get seriously weird with your Trail of Cthulhu game, this where you ought to be looking. The materials here are designed you to take the already-weird surrealist movement in 1930s France, mix in the Mythos and come up with something that is warped beyond all recognition. It's all about accessing the Dreamlands via occult means, meddling with them, then trying to repair the damage. And if the green fairy doesn't play a part, you will be wanting a glass or two by the time you are done. ('Green fairy', if you don't know, is a nickname of the time for absinthe, widely believed to have addictive and degenerative properties which led to it being banned in France in 1914, not being revived there until 2000! But I digress, back to this book.)

This is a toolbox rather than a campaign or adventures. It starts by presenting a history of the surrealist movement including write-ups of leading figures as NPCs and complete with a timeline. Next comes material on creating surrealist characters and giving them appropriate abilities such as 'dream-shaping' as well as being artists. Explorations of both 1930s Paris and the occult scene follow, and then comes the Dreamlands themselves. It all winds up with advice for the Keeper in running a campaign involving the Dreamlands and a scenario to get you started.

Reading through the material presented here spawns all manner of ideas. There's even the intriguing possibility of playing an actual member of the surrealist movement if you'd like - the entries on them are detailed enough for you to transfer onto a character sheet and pass on to an interested player. Fancy becoming Salvador Dalí? Now you can... or of course, the Keeper can use this resources to bring these luminaries to life in the game for the Investigators to meet. It's recommended, however, that careful secection of the most appropriate historical surrealist for at least most of the players will lead to the most memorable stories.

Paris too is brought to life with maps and snippets of information, many being places that were there in the 1930s and often traces remain today, if not the actual establishments. You'll soon find yourself chasing confidently around Paris even if you do not know the city, if you do you will feel at home. Naturally once you, as Keeper, are comfortable with the setting, you'll be able to make it feel real for your players as well.

The discussion on running your Dreamhounds game is fascinating and informative. In most Trail of Cthulhu games, the Investigators are the guys who come in and clean up the mess made by incautious, accidental or malicious messing with the Mythos: here, as real or imagined members of the surrealist movement, they are the ones who have made the mess in the first place. The plot involves both making the mess by finding, exploring and modifying the Dreamlands, then realising what they have done and attempting to rectify it, a somewhat different and refreshing approach to normal. The trap to hook them in is the chance to explore the ever-shifting precincts of dream, in an attempt to marshal its power to achieve the large-scale social and political change they seek to bring about through their surrealist art. It's easy to see how such individuals would be tempted... and that's part of the reason for getting as many of your players as you can to play actual surrealists. A system for tracking what's going on - and more critically, what the players think is going on - is provided, it may seem a bit mechanical but handled with care to avoid spoiling the atmosphere you are creating in the game proves helpful in ensuring everything hangs together in a coherent - if weird - manner. It's call Arc and Pivot, and tracks what happens in each phase of an adventure and pinpoints when characters move from exploring to actively meddling, then realise the import of what they have done and attempt to put things straight. It's a somewhat 'story game' technique, but can be used to effect in your game if the players are comfortable with letting the underpinning mechanics intrude into the collective consciousness, perhaps in after-session discussions rather than during play.

There's all manner of advice about weaving the personal histories of the real figures into the narrative, handling the ever-present problem of characters having knowledge and skills that their players don't, the use of humour when dealing with surrealism, and much, much more. What do you do if the character's won't even enter the Dreamlands but hang around Paris? Or stay in the Dreamlands and won't come out? Find out here how to handle it seamlessly, never letting on that they are even causing an issue as far as the plot is concerned. How do you use investigative abilites in the Dream? Plenty of notes on that too. Study this section well and you will be able to handle everything with aplomb!

With a full-blown scenario to get things off to a flying start, this book equips you to dive headlong into surrealism in 1930s Paris and the Dreamlands (some might say the one is as weird as the other, perhaps that's how they manage to cross over...) and turn it into what may possibly become the most remarkable game you have ever run.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Dreamhounds of Paris
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Trail of Cthulhu: Mythos Expeditions
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/21/2017 08:08:04

This massive tome is all about exploration, about mounting expeditions to the furthest-flung corners of the world - and being Trail of Cthulhu finding stuff that it might be better to leave undisturbed. There are a full ten complete adventures to keep your Investigators out of mischief, as well as loads of information about running expeditions in your game, whether you use these adventures or come up with your own.

The adventures provided can be woven into a regular campaign as you see fit, perhaps planning ahead and foreshadowing the need to go exploring - or dropping it on the party suddenly as prefered. Or perhaps your group are professional explorers, and travel in search of interesting places to go... they will find them here with expeditions to outer Mongolia, Rhodesia (the place now called Zimbabwe), underwater in Bermuda, Paraguay (in the middle of a war with Bolivia of course), the Yutacán, the Punjab in India, Greenland, New Guinea (head-hunter territory, of course), Ireland and a remote South Sea island. Neatly, the page with which Mythos monsters are involved with each adventure is kept away from the adventure summaries, so you can show them to your players if they are wondering where to go... assuming, that is, you are giving their characters any choice in the matter.

The next section is GUMSHOE Expeditions, which presents a subsystem for running expeditions using GUMSHOE (the underpinning ruleset for Trail of Cthulhu). It looks at ways of using an expedition to enhance the excitement of your game without getting bogged down in how many cans of corned beef and toilet rolls you need to take along with you. You don't need to play out every minute of the journey, yet you do want to give the party the feeling that they've been travelling far and for a long time, so there are methods for modelling that using the concept of the Tour - the overall time you expect the trip to take once the party leaves the last vestiges of civilisation. Then you divide that into travel increments, handling each one separately. Each increment will include some 'stock footage' narration of what they are travelling through, an assessment of how much of their resources are used up, and at least one scene where you can play out notable events along the way. There's a fair bit of material about expedition costs and arrangements, but for game play it's all abstracted down to a Survival Pool which represents the expedition's total resources: food and other consumables, staff (apart from the Investigators), vehicles or animals and the rest. This gets depleted as the expedition progresses. Unless you really love resource management, this is a neat way of modelling it while focussing on the real meat of the adventure, the dealing with whatever Mythos monster or plot the party is up against.

It's not a completely-mechanical abstraction, though. There are various challenges to deal with, which can be played out or boiled down to appropriate die rolls depending on taste, while different terrains exact different costs against the expedition's Survival Pool. Whatever the reason for the attrition, once the Survival Pool drops to a low level the group begins to run out of supplies... then they'll have to replenish their stocks or begin to starve. The Nythos is not all that you have to fear!

Then comes a section on Expeditions and the Artmitage Inquiry. This covers the supposition that at least one Investigator works at Arkham University (or at least, at a university), and gives some ideas about how to run a campaign based around, or at least including, academic expeditions. With notes on the academic environment (mostly accurate... she says, writing this review during a lunch break at a university!), suitable NPCs and ideas for the sort of trips academics are likely to make, this is an excellent resource for the academically-inclined, and could provide the basis for a whole campaign if that takes your fancy.

And then it's on to the adventures themselves. Presented in standard fashion, beginning with a Hook, the Spine and the Horrible Truth - or how to get the Investigators involved, an outline of the course of the adventure and information about what is really going on - each comes with a wealth of information to aid you in presenting the setting and running the adventure effectively, including the numbers to punch into your Survival Pool calculations. Maps, encounters, NPCs and more are all here... each could fill an entire review on its own, so suffice to say that if the concept of an expedition in true Indiana Jones style appeals, then rush out to get this book!

The material on running expeditions and on the university setting are excellent, and the adventures show just what can be made from these resources. This is an outstanding addition to the Trail of Cthulhu line. (Can I really only give it FIVE stars?)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Mythos Expeditions
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Trail of Cthulhu: Soldiers of Pen and Ink
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/20/2017 07:57:51

This mini-campaign is set to embroil the Investigators in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The hook provided has them sent to Madrid as a documentary film crew, and this is supported by the pre-generated charaters provided, but you may have your own ideas about how to entice them over there. Like many idealists, they may even have gone to fight... fascism, supporters of a democratic republic and communists are involved in the conflict.

The Horrible Truth reveals what is really going on, and then the Spine lays out the sequence of events which begin with one of the party's associates disappearing. There's even the chance to catch up with Ernest Hemingway as the search progresses. There's loads of supporting material here, from some wonderful pseudo-science to 'explain' how the Mythos is working in this instance to details of what a besieged Madrid is like (the fascists are trying to dislodge the republicans, the communists are bickering with the republicans whilst trying to keep the fascists out...) and notes on typical characters likely to be encountered. There are some new archetypes - the extremist, the volunteer, the spy and the black marketeer - all commonly encountered, orwhich can be used by enterprising players if they don't fancy the documentary team idea. It's suggested that the Investigators, whoever they are, enter the game not knowing much about Spain or what's going on there, not only is it likely that your players are equally ignorant, so were most of the people who went there to fight or report on the situation. This enables you to drip-feed information as necessary rather than giving them a massive info-dump before the game begins. Given that most Keepers probably don't know much either, there's loads of background material here to draw upon. Not all is completely accurate, but it all suits the purposes of the game well... this isn't supposed to be a history text, after all!

So, on to the adventure itself. It is fast-paced, beginning with the party's hotel being subjected to an early-morning artillery barrage. Scene piles upon scene as the Investigators try to stay alive, make their film, and discover in the midst of all this that their local contact or fixer has gone missing. Loads of people to meet, to interact with or maybe to fight, there is a lot going on, several whole strands of which any or all may be followed. Clues of course abound, and as they mount up they will lead the Investigators more closely to the truth. Along the way there a bureaucrats to argue with, people of various political opinions to debate with or defend themselves against, academics to visit and the odd chance to evade arrest... until the final scene in a bullring.

Despite an exciting and compelling plot that should grip your party, possibly the best bit about this adventure is the sheer scope - if the setting appeals, there's plenty here to use in your own adventures. Perhaps the party survives and continues their exploits in Spain. This could turn into a whole campaign if you are of a mind. Well-resourced, there are even references to further reading if you want to do some research. Bring this oft-forgotten sidenote of history to life, with opportunities for various Mythos powers to meddle. It's a cracking adventure, best played Pulp but there are some Purist elements as well.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Soldiers of Pen and Ink
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Final Revelation
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/18/2017 11:59:35

Although this book contains four previously-published adventures - The Dying of St Margarets, The Watchers in the Sky, The Dance in the Blood, and The Rending Box - this is more than a mere compilation.

The work begins with a short additional scenario called The Final Revelation. Its purpose is to provide a framework that can allow the other four to be played as a short campaign in the Purist mode. If you know the other adventures, you may be scratching your head at this point: although they are all set in the same time period and take place around the United Kingdom, there isn't anything else to link them together. If you use the pre-generated characters (who are ideally suited to the scenario for which they are provided) they do not carry over well, and even if you generate your own it is hard to come up with Investigators who would be interested enough in all four situations to get involved.

The solution is ingenious in the extreme. You start playing The Final Revelation and at certain points come across a core clue that points to one of the other adventures... at which point, you play the adventure indicated. The Investigators used to play The Final Revelation are not used for the other adventures: either use the pre-generated ones or once made using the guidelines provided. The core concept is that the original Investigators are a group who sound pretty much like conspiracy theorists, gathering together information on some pretty weird stuff, and their research leads them to the material in the other adventures. What they ultimately discover, the final revelation itself, is hardcore Purist in nature and if they are not already unhinged by then, they will wish that they were!

Sample pre-generated Investigators for this overarching scenario are provided, as well as guideline for those who prefer to create their own. Five pre-gens are provided, but you will have to transcribe them onto character sheets to make best use of them. Each has an intriguing backstory, which could easily be used to spawn other adventures of your own making should the players be interested in digging in to them, although this is not necessary to discover the ultimate shocking truth. Various notes are also provided on how best to handle clues, directed scenes and going mad, and the main NPCs in the overarching scenario are introduced.

The adventure itself begins with the Investigators arriving for the first meeting of the group. One invitee is missing, and following that up leads to the first core clue... and it's time to haul out The Dying of St. Margarets. This tells of a brooding clifftop school on a Scottish island, lurking horrors below and the disappearance of the last lot of Investigators to go there. Will your party fare any better?

The starting premise is that your Investigators are part of, or at least familiar with, the "London occult set" and will be familiar with a bunch of their peers who wanted to investigate the strange aftermath of a meteorite which landed in the vicinity of the school and eventually took jobs there as a means to this end... but who have not been heard from for several months. The Keeper is encouraged to talk to the players in some detail about their characters' involvement: who was it that they knew amongst the disappeared fellows, what sort of job do they intend to take up, and how well (if at all) do they know the rest of this party? This information should be kept and referred to frequently to personalse the adventure to each character in the group. There are notes about generating characters for this adventure - it is, it seems, better suited to being a one-shot than part of an on-going campaign, although you may decide differently. This includes a discussion about Drives, and how each will interact with events in the adventure. Other dramatic tips are also discussed.

The adventure proper starts as the party arrives at St Margaret's, but it is suggested that flashbacks and directed scenes are used to backfill just why they are all on the ferry. Then it's on to the school with notes on the main members of staff (complete with suggestions for role-playing them that verge on acting - posture, voice, mannerisms - little things that help them come to life for your players). From then on in, school routine takes over and the party will have to slot into it as appropriate for the post they are filling. Note that posts are pretty dependent on your social standing (as determined by Credit Rating) although with cunning use of Disguise characters may attempt to seem what they are not.

There are, of course, loads of clues to be had. Each one comes with an array of ways to discover it, which brings the whole thing to life and enables you to weave them in seamlessly to conversations and explorations. There are locations to visit, each with their own array of clues, and eventually the party will be led to the source of the problem... and it is left to them how they cope with what they find. Perhaps they give up and die, maybe they escape at least physically (but probably go mad...

Returning to the overarching scenario and its Investigators, the truths discovered begin to warp their reality, with some cunning minor clues provided to help you create the desired effects. So, on to the next week's meeting and events soon launch you all into The Watchers in the Sky. In it, there are strange birds around... from those surrounding a mental patient to others who hang around watching, watching... and when dissected, they're not quite right. Purge all thoughts of Hitchcock's The Birds, this is far worse!

The horrible truth is revealed straight away for the Keeper and then there are notes on how the party actually gets involved. Those with connections to medicine or psychiatry may hear about the mental patient who is convinced that the birds he feeds are watching him. Scientifically-trained ones may get involved in research that appears to suggests that the results of experiments change when these weird birds are around. A biologist or vet might catch one and cut it up... all roads lead to a university library where there are further clues as to the location of where these birds roost, and a couple of deaths will likely precipitate the climax of the investigation... entering the caves from whence the birds come.

Shaken, no doubt, return your players to the overarching scenario and provide them with more unsettling hints that reality is changing about them (or are they just perceiving it more clearly?) as you move on to the next stage where things are getting even stranger even before clues are found that send you off to The Dance in the Blood, which starts with the Investigators gathering in an hotel in the Lake District, not knowing each other and mostly a bit baffled about why they have even come there... then they see the photograph. That alone should rock them back on their heels, but it is only the beginning. Strange dreams, events, encounters... and no matter what their Stability score says, they will probably feel that they are going mad.

Back home again, it's time for a few directed scenes poking at the Investigators' Sources of Stability which have, along with everything else, warped a bit yet still remain recognisable... and things are even worse when they reassemble for their next scheduled meeting. A clue thoughtfully takes them swiftly into The Rending Box, which concerns an antique box, which the Investigators are asked to take from London to a contact up in the Lake District, a professor who studies folklore. Put it this way, this box makes Pandora's Box look like a benign ornament. The adventure piles detail upon detail, clue upon clue, leading the party inexorably on to their fate. At some point, probably, they will open the box. Don't push them (most Investigators will not need to be persuaded to take a peek), although there are some hints to help whet their curiosity if they seem reluctant. That's when the fun really starts... and it doesn't stop when they return to a London warped out of all recognition, back as their original characters. A horrifying final twist ends the tale.

The whole thing is a delightful conceit, which should delight all Purists. It brings out all the horror and hopelessness that this style calls for, stirs up emotions and shows that nothing at all can be relied upon. Bleak, yes, but that's what Purist is all about. It's a triumph.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Final Revelation
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Bring Him Back Alive!
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/17/2017 08:30:28

Typical, isn't it? The party has just had a really good dinner in a peaceful inn when someone staggers in needing their help and right now. The Player Background sets the scene, with a comfortable 'gastropub' inn in an unnamed settlement (so it's easy to slot it in to an appropriate place in your campaign world) and a badly-beaten fellow pleading for the party to rescue his son from whoever's got him.

The DM Background explains what led up to this situation, and then its straight in to the adventure as the party gets an opportunity to begin their investigations (assuming they accept the challenge... if they don't, find some new adventurers!). This should take them out of towm to some ruins beside the road where there's plenty of unfriendly wildlife to deal with before they even get near the villains of the piece. There's a basic plan of their lair under the ruins, descriptions of what is to be found and an interesting opportunity to talk the situation through rather than resolve it with combat.

Oddly, it's not until the end that we find out that there's a dangerous untamed wilderness between the inn and the ruins, and are provided with an encounter table - this really ought to have been provided earlier in the adventure. It pays to read through the entire thing before you play it! A new monster and a quite intriguing new magic item complete this offering.

This makes for a nice adventure which is both financially and emotionally rewarding for the party. The alternative ways of dealing with the situation give the players different options. There isn't much in the way of follow-up adventures, although the grateful father could be a useful patron in the future. You might want to reuse the inn as well, especially if the party is into good food! A nice little interlude.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bring Him Back Alive!
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Kurishan's Garden
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/16/2017 12:36:19

A city is having supply problems, and asks the party to find out why deliveries from the village of Darbin have failed to arrive for a couple of months - Darbin hitherto having been the city's main source of produce. The citizens are getting hungry and the price of food is soaring. With the Player Introduction on the back cover of the adventure, a more detailed DM Introduction explains what the problem is... but it will be up to the party to discover a way to deal with it.

The adventure text begins with the characters arriving in the village of Darbin. This makes it easy for you to drop the adventure in to an existing campaign, using a suitable city and either building up to the adventure with the growing dearth of food in the city, or just reading the Player Introduction to them if you are eager to get on with the scenario. There's plenty of potential to turn this into a horror story, as the villagers do not seem to be... quite themselves. There is a map of the village, with associated notes on what is to be found there, and one of Kurishan's Garden itself... Kurishan being a botanically-inclined wizard who retired to the village.

This adventure focusses on rather creepy investigation and combat - most everyone the party meets will engage in combat at first sight, although there may be some opportunities to interact in other ways. A new plant monster and a variant magic item are introduced during the course of the adventure, and are written up in full at the end. The adventure will end when the party kills off the main antagonist (or dies trying), there are no notes for follow-up adventures although to be fair apart from helping the villagers rebuild I cannot think of anything much! It's quite unusual and played right could be quite spooky, an interesting evening's entertainment to drop in to your campaign at an appropriate moment.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Kurishan's Garden
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The Crypt of St Bethesda
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/15/2017 13:15:29

This is an adventure to drop on your party when they think they are safe relaxing and drinking the profits of their latest exploits in a city somewhere in your campaign world (it needs only be large enough to have reasonably powerful law enforcement!). The Player Introduction, printed on the cover of the module, sets the scene: after a good evening carousing, the party is making their way home taking a short cut through or near a cemetary. Probably a bit tipsy they fall over a corpse... just as a patrol comes upon them and promptly accuses them of murder!

The DM Introduction continues setting the scene and explains what is really going on. There is also advice on what to do if the party does not immediately leap into action to investigate with the hope of clearing their names. Basically whatever they do, their only options are to get killed on the spot, to rot in gaol until executed or to investigate a slime trail from the body leading somewhere in the bowels of a nearby abandoned cathedral. Assuming that they are true adventurers and choose the latter option, the adventure text begins as they enter the cathedral cellars.

Put it this way, worshippers may have abandoned the cathedral but there is plenty of wildlife down here, and most of it is hostile. A nice clear plan is provided along with concise notes about what is down there, including read-aloud text and appropriate monster stat blocks. Most of the encounters will result in combat, but there are a few limited opportunities to talk rather than fight. A new monster and a new magic item are presented during the adventure, and have complete write-ups at the end should you wish to use them elsewhere.

The scenario ends with a few suggestions for further adventure which could prove interesting, but as it is this should provide an entertaining session just when the party thought that they were not going to be doing any adventuring... rather neat, really!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Crypt of St Bethesda
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Trail of Cthulhu: Out of Space
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/14/2017 13:08:23

The introduction - Behind the Pallid Meme - to the first adventure by Robin D. Laws gives a quite disturbing glimpse into the author's imagination (and a shameless plug for some of his short stories that I think I'm going to have to track down...), flaoting some interesting ideas for a really warped campaign which alas isn't the one herein, although this first scenario, The Repairer of Reputations, is strange enough to fit right in.

Then on to The Repairer of Reputations itself. This adventure has an intriguing basis: it takes a piece of speculative fiction written in 1895 but set in 1920 and dumps the characters straight into the middle of its plot in a fine alternate history. The story is called The Repairer of Reputations by Robert W. Chambers, inventor of The King in Yellow stories about a play so warped it drove all who read or see it insane, which was adopted by Lovecraft and his followers and woven into Mythos lore.

Chambers' story itself is reproduced here, well worth a read if you have not encountered it before and, of course, pretty-well essential if you are going to run an adventure based upon it! It tells the tale of a hideous conspiracy, one which is stopped (barely) in the story but in the adventure things are changed around a bit and it is the Investigators (naturally) that stand between a mostly-peaceful, idyllic even, alternate America and the machinations of Things That Should Not Be, a plot that would place a minion of Hastur on a newly-created imperial throne.

Next we read of the alternate history, giving America a surface tranquility but at a cost our modern minds would view as being far too high to bear. A truncated character generation system is presented to provide semi-pregenerated but personalised characters for your players who will fit in to the alternate America as it is their home. They are further developed during play, giving an almost story game air in places as once the Investigators have had a chance to introduce themselves, one is selected by the Keeper to begin the scenario and he then has to call on others as their particular talents are needed, with scope to define that Investigator's persona as they are introduced into the action.

As the adventure begins, all this is laid out clearly for the Keeper, but you will have to ensure that your players know what is expected of them. It is very much an adventure of interaction and investigation, the plot unfolding before their eyes... but violence lurks closely underneath the urbane surface, and there is ample opportunty for a brawl as the adventure reaches a climax. Various conclusions are provided, from which you can choose the most appropriate outcome based on character actions.

This is an intriguing and well-presented adventure, by its very nature a one-off, with a subtle nightmarish air to it. Pick your players carefully, with the right people it will prove a memorable game indeed. Or perhaps you'll take the ideas Laws was kicking around, and turn it into a complete campaign...

Next up is Flying Coffins, here introduced by an essay The Jolly Old RFC in which author Adam Gauntlett with a historical tale about how a bright red HP Sauce delivery van, pressed into service as an ammunition transport, led several of their aircraft to safety in filthy weather under German pursuit. It goes on to discuss the nature of the early RFC and the air war, themes to bring into your game as appropriate.

The background material explains which Mythos creature is to blame - they're to be found in the atmosphere around 20,000 and resent these pesky impertenent humans in the flying machines intruding into 'their' airspace. At least they don't care if the intruders are British or German, they are annoyed by all of them! Or at least, not until one of the Germans paints a 'good luck' sign on his aircraft - unfortunately one suggested by a sorceror relative who showed him how to draw a Yellow Sign. The spine of the adventure is laid out, and with the help of no less a worthy as Arthur Conan-Doyle (currently working as a war correspondent) and the urging of Military Intelligence, the Investigators find themselves engaged in aerial duels with a leading German ace...

There is a section on aerial combat, both game mechanics and an idea of tactics, with quite an elegant system to handle an aerial dogfight between two aircraft. There's an example to demonstrate the system in action, and details of the aircraft used by both sides in the conflict. Anti-aircraft fire, attacking ground targets and other aspects of earlu aviation warfare are also covered. There is plenty here to empower some exciting combat in the air during your game.

It all begins with a sortie to destroy a German observation balloon somewhere over the Western Front. During the ensuing dogfight, the Investigators notice a flying creature hauling a pilot bodily out of his aircraft and flying upwards with him, casually tearing his head off as it leaves! From then on the adventure intensifies as the Investigators try to find out what is going on and then after several aerial encounters comes the climax of the adventure, with Allied forces making a big push on the ground with aircraft of all nationalities swarming overhead.

Six pre-generated characters are provided, and there are some good photographs of appropriate aircraft. If for whatever reason you don't want to play members of the Royal Flying Corps a few changes to names and backgrounds - and to the aircraft they fly, of course - will enable you to play American, French or even German aviators instead. This adventure provides an interesting glimpse into how the Mythos can disrupt conventional warfare (even if it's almost by accident), a neat bit of alternate history that provides for an exciting scenario. The rules for aerial combat work quite well, even if you don't want to add the Mythos into the mix and prefer a 'straight' WW1 aviation game or campaign.

Next, Jason Morningstar introduces his Many Fires adventure with a Commentary in which he explains that the scenario was spawned by a chance remark in a biography of General Pershing (who features in the adventure) that led him to a tragedy in which his wife and all but one of his children died in a house fire. It's an interesting look at how an adventure comes to be written, how the ideas develop mixing fact and imagination until the whole is ready to be presented - which it then is. It's an unabashed Pulp-style adventure set in northern Mexico, with plenty of adventure and action, evil cults and wielders of magic to keep everyone on their toes. Basically, the Investigators are asked to accompany an ageing General Pershing to Mexico to finish what the Mexico Punative Expedition of 1916 began, dealing with rebels... but of course there's a bit more to it than that.

Pre-generated characters, with backstories that weave them into the plot, are provided and their use is recommended unless you want to run this as part of a larger campaign with existing Investigators. If you are doing that, some hooks to help you get them involved with the trip are provided. There's plenty of background on Mexico and the people involved available for Investigators to discover through the usual channels before they go - and a big section of Secret Background for the Keeper's eyes only: the lowdown on what is really going on... and what Pershing is really up to.

The adventure itself starts with the party leaving Cuidad Chihuahua for the Valle de Bustillos where all the action takes place. Plenty of material is provided about places to visit and people to interact with, this should help bring the adventure to life and fuel the action. There's all sorts of folk here from natives and even a bunch of Mennonites to rebels and members of a fire-worshipping cult. Following the clues should eventually lead the party to witness the climax of the adventure: a scene straight out of Indiana Jones with cultists enacting a ritual to summon their deity... will they manage to stop them?

Following this is a magnificent array of resources and information for the Keeper, with plenty more NPCs, weird drugs to sample and more. Finally, there are character sheets for the pre-generated Investigators. Each has their own background showing their involvement not just with the adventure at hand, not even just with Pershing, but with each other as well. This needs to be handled carefully as it has the potential to set them against one another - not all groups of players like that, but you know your players better than the authors! Amend as necessary. There are also some beautiful handouts (even if the list thereof refers to 'Page XX' several times - look it's about the only proofing error here apart from confusion between 'discrete' and 'discreet' in one of the character sheets!): maps, documents, newspaper clippings and the like. It's a well-presented alternate history adventure with plenty of pulp action, neatly weaving Mythos fiction through known historical fact to provide something that proves extremely entertaining to run.

The next adventure is Hell Fire by Adam Gauntlett, who has provided an essay on London in the Time of King George to introduce it. He paints a picture which lives up to his claim that it's a setting that seems designed for a perfect horror game, and reading what he has to say spawns ideas for adventure aplenty! And that's before he suggests a few plot ideas of his own that interested Keepers may wish to develop. The adventure itself set in the 1760s mostly in England with a side trip to the Colonies. It revolves around preserving the reputation of the Hell Fire Club, an organisation dedicated to rational philosophy (God does not exist... in a day and age when everyone believed or at least gave lip-service to religion) and fine literature (as in, pornography) - not perhaps the most respectable body, yet many otherwise upstanding members of society belong to it.

There is plenty of background for the Keeper including what is actually going on and the REAL threat to their comfortable Club life, notes on the times and relevant rules changes: some alterations to skills and rules for adjudicating a duel. These are normally conducted with a sword, and all gentlemen should know at least the basics of wielding one. Fortunately pre-generated characters are provided, and it's probably best to use them. Unless you are really into this period of history, it will probably be a one-off adventure.

The adventure begins when the Investigators meet in a coffee house (consider the origins of Lloyd's of London, it's either that or a similar establishment) with a fellow Club-member who wants help. A lady is trying to force him into marriage, most unsuitable - I mean, she's the sort of person who's been posing as a life model - but has some letters of his she is threatening to use to take him to court in a Breach of Promise case if he won't. He's arranged for her to visit tonight and wants the party to go and purloin the letters whilst she is out at his place. Needless to say, it's not the letters they find when they go round... and what are those American fellows doing?

Events develop thick and fast, with an emergency meeting of the Hell Fire Club, various events on the streets of London and assorted avenues of enquiry to follow up all amply provided for... and there is an inquisitive journalist poking around, and some ladies of negotiable affection to deal with as well. There probably will not be too much combat (unless the party fights a lot of duels) but there is plenty of interaction, and to put matters properly to rest will involve a trip to Bermuda to deal with those Colonials! A suitably dramatic climax provides an opportunity to save the day, indeed the entire New World. This is an interesting adventure that - like all good alternative history - blends historical fact with plausible plotlines, weaving the whole into something that might have been... it makes for a cracking adventure with plenty going on!

The final adventure is The Millionaires Special set on R.M.S. Titanic, complete with iceberg. No essay this time, but the adventure itself is jam-packed with interesting background material. In this adventure, the Investigators - all travelling aboard and in First Class, no less - meet a gentleman who has a mummy (the Egyptian sort) that he's going to donate to an American museum but is eager to show it off to anyone who is interested. There's a legend that anyone who looks at this particular mummy's face is doomed, but that's all a silly superstition, isn't it?

The background for the Keeper explains how the being doomed stuff is not quite as silly as it sounds (with a little bit of help from the Mythos, of course) and provides a spine for the adventure. This begins with a luncheon date with the mummy's owner and ends (naturally) with a certain iceberg... There's some interesting background on the trans-Atlantic trade of the time, and a quite detailed timeline of the Titanic's voyage. Rather neatly, all the encounters and events of the adventure are included in the timeline, making it clear what is going on around the Investigators as well as whatever they are focussed on at the time. There's a goodly sprinkling of NPCs who do not have anything to do with the plot, another nice touch to remind players that the world does not revolve around their characters... subplots such as shipboard romances or gambling games are also encouraged.

There are vivid descriptions of scenes, the Titanic was noted for her luxury and there is plenty to draw upon here as you set the scene for your players. Six pre-generated characters are provided, or you can use/generate your own, but they will need a high Credit Rating to be in first class. Additional rules material is provided for everything from playing cards to surviving in icy waters. The actual sinking is handled well, and perhaps at least some of the Investigators will survive... or will something else catch up with them? There are some general notes about handling subsequent events should you have survivors on your hands.

Overall, it's a good exciting adventure which could probably be played out in a longish evening. Fact and fiction are woven together well but as always when dealing with real events, be aware of your group's needs - I have a role-player friend who lost an ancestor on the Titantic and was very upset and annoyed about the movie, I'd not invite him to play this... but for those without such a connection it makes for an excellent game and knowing what will happen adds a certain edge.

The adventures in this compilation are still stand-alone, there's not been any attempt to link them - nor do I think it would have been possible. The additional essays are interesting, probably not enough to make it worth buying if you have all the adventures already, but if you do not it's an excellent way to get your hands on a collection of memorable and fascinating scenarios that explore the possibilities of this game to the full.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Out of Space
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Out of Body, Out of Mind
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/13/2017 08:24:26

Cunningly, the background information is divided into two parts - the knowledge characters would have is printed on the back of the booklet, and there's more 'DM only' information inside. Indeed it's suggested that you read the text on the back to the players before you start the game! It all concerns a now-peaceful realm with a turbulent history full of warlords and battling mages, the pacification being the work of a member of the nobility who turned on everyone else, beat them into submission then imposed peace on the land some 600 years ago. It was thought that his impressive exploits were due at least in part to his magic items, which were buried with him... only it seems that someone or something is now attempting to retrieve them, no mean feat as the tomb is placed over a lava pit! Oh, and is guarded by an order of paladins for good measure.

The DM Background explains what was really going on and the lengths the paladins have taken to secure the site. It's not quite clear who is trying to break in, though. Anyway, the party is asked by the current ruler of the realm to go investigate and deal with anyone trying to steal the items. Getting to the location is left up to you, the scenario starts with the party faced with their first task: getting in to a tomb that is suspended over a lava pit by massive chains. Unless they can fly, they'll have to climb across. From then on in, it's a prowl through an extremely well-trapped tomb with the potential of unleashing a dreadful evil upon the world... although there is a friendly ghost to help. Apart from him, everything else they encounter is only interested in combat.

There is a new magic item (quite tasty) and a new and quite nasty monster which is at the heart of the problem. The map is clear, and all the traps are explained clearly however the ways to survive or even disarm them depend mostly on die-rolling rather than figuring them out. This is an adventure you could drop into any remote part of your world that has a suitable volcano, just change any names as necessary. Some suggestions for further adventures are included, or of course it could be run as a one-off if preferred. It is quite deadly given the traps and the fact that nothing there (apart from that ghost) want to do anything other than fight. The layout is good, and the traps ingenious, however, and if the party realises what is in there and manages to prevent its release to the world there's a good feeling of satisfaction to be had. Best take your bard along, the party will want - and indeed deserve - to have their exploits sung about!



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Out of Body, Out of Mind
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Jerimond's Orb
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/11/2017 07:49:09

This is a neat little scenario to drop in and use as a side adventure for a beginning party seeking to grow a reputation of being good fellows to go to when you have problems. A once-prosperous village is having difficulties, and it's up to them to find out what's amiss and sort it.

There's very little background for the DM, indeed there isn't really any for the party either - first they know about it all is getting attacked by a hitherto-unknown monster (a new one, introduced in this adventure). It apparently comes on them whilst they are camping at night, this is not clearly explained. From then on, they need to go to a nearby village where they will need to interact with the locals to find out what is going on. Apart from the initial monster attack (and a potentially-puzzling aftermath), the first part of the adventure is pure role-play although there are plenty of opportunities for combat later on... even if all with the same monster! (As in, several of them appearing rather than just one specimen.)

The village is well-described and set up in such a way that it's easy both to locate it wherever you want in your campaign world and expand and reuse it later on. There are various locations to visit and it is clearly laid out which clues to the mystery can be found where. There's also a nearby tower, which used to belong to one Jerimond, a mage who befriended the village during his later years before he died, which they can visit. There are no plans for either village or tower, however, and you will likely feel the need to sketch something out. As well as a new monster, the pivotal magic item (Jerimond's orb, of course) is described at the end.

With a nice balance of investigation and combat this should provide an enjoyable evening's play, although this is not quite a pick-up-and-run scenario: you will find that studying who knows/thinks/is doing what will repay the effort and as mentioned above you may wish to draw or find suitable plans for the village and tower. The scope for making it fit into both your world and your ongoing campaign is excellent though. There's also potential to run it as a quite scary adventure with unknown monsters plauging terrified villagers...



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Jerimond's Orb
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Against the Barrow King
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/10/2017 07:14:05

This neat adventure is just the sort of thing for a party of low-level adventurers to enjoy as they build their reputations as people to turn to in times of trouble. The people of a remote settlement called Glenn Hollow fear they have upset the 'Barrow King', a supernatural being they believe lives in ancient burial mounds not too far from the settlement - and they hail a bunch of adventurers as a welcome source of aid.

The work opens with a DM Background which lays out what is actually going on and a brief Adventure Summary which boils down to 'Go and fix the problem'. Notes for finding a suitable location for Glenn Hollow in your own campaign world are provided, and then it's on with the adventure itself.

It's assumed that the party is on the road one autumnal evening when they arrive at Glenn Hollow. Just why they are in that area is left to you to determine. The village elder lays out the problem and asks for help, and it's off to find the burial mounds next morning. There's very little description of Glenn Hollow, so if the party wants to hang around and talk to folk you will need to invent something. The area of the burial mounds isn't mapped either, although there is a good map of the Barrow King's tomb and what lies beyond... the associated descriptions are clear, and brief details of the denizens and how they'll fight are provided. Everyone that the party encounters wants to fight to the death, there is no scope for any kind of interactive save a dialogue of steel and spell.

There is a new creature, a construct called a chirurgeon, and a new magic item - a greataxe called Fiend infused with chaos - introduced here, and there's a little bit of mundane treasure to be found if the party has time to go rummaging, but the real reward is the virtuous glow of having got rid of something quite evil, and of having rescued some villagers too. A few notes are provided on directions further adventures might take.

Overall this is a simple but neat 'delve' adventure which shouldn't take more than a single session, best used as a sidetrek in your campaign or a standalone adventure when the group is in the mood for some hack and slay adventuring.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Against the Barrow King
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/08/2017 11:23:38

Remarkable, not to say peculiar goings-on in London, as the Investigators are visited by a stranger seeking their help - who dies before he can explain the problem. Then the police arrive, not about this body but about another one that has their address in its pocket... only it seems to be the corpse of the same person, Edward Bigsby! It only gets worse, dead Bigsbys turn up all over the place!

Introductory material lay out what is going on, which Mythos being is involved - the Investigators may even encounter him if they make too much of a mess of things! - and a strange mechanism that is causing the duplications to occur. It also presents the Spine of the adventure, and then we're off...

Much of the action is set in Soho, a part of London that was very Bohemian in the 1930s (and still is, for that matter). There's a fair bit of background to help you bring it to life for your group. It's a bustling place with a varied population, with artists and poets rubbing shoulders with drug dealers and card sharps. People from all over the world are found here: Irish, Australians and Chinese to name but a few. There are gangs and criminals and ladies of negotiable affection... plenty going on even before the adventure starts.

As for the action, there's a cult to investigate, a Chinese restaurant crawling with triads to visit as well as a museum ... and of course most Investigators will want to find the man who sent Bigsby to them in the first place. Plenty of action and interaction to be had in what is a fun and busy scenario. And just when the Investigators think they are done... the police turn up again.

It's an inventive and neat adventure with a lot going on, yet well-constructed. It would probably make quite a good film. Notes at the end suggest ways of linking it in to a Bookhounds of London campaign if you are running one, but it works just as well if the Investigators - or at least one of them - are based in London for any other reason. Just watch out for green doors!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby
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Trail of Cthulhu: Eternal Lies
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/07/2017 08:14:10

The Introduction attempts to lay out the epic scope of what is being attempted here (a four-page table of contents is a giveaway as to its size...), with a tale running from the past into the future involving two generations of Investigators... yet it is designed to be customised or adapted to suit each group's needs, modular enough that bits can be taken out for those for which this is too much, or added to if you want to incorporate it into an existing campaign or have other ideas that might fit in. Or both. These opening notes are a bit strange, though. Since when was there a role-playing campaign in which what happens is NOT influenced by the choices made by the characters? Rightly denounced as railroading, there's little point in role-playing if your character's actions have no effect on the alternate reality in which you are playing.

This slightly odd Introduction out of the way, we come to a section Players' Background and Investigators. This is written as if it was to be available to the players - yet as just about all of this 300-odd page book is for the Keeper's eyes only, not many players are going to be buying a copy! Here it goes on a bit more about the pivotal role of the characters, the Investigators and presents three options: use existing Trail of Cthulhu characters, create new ones specifically for this campaign or select from the ten pre-generated characters provided. It goes on to discuss how to create characters that are suited to the campaign, ones who are likely to respond positively to the opening 'hook' of the wealthy daughter of an occultist being willing to provide money and other resources to those willing to investigate a family mystery. There are very player-directed thoughts about playing existing characters (mostly how to role-play them to good effect in this campaign if they've been around the Mythos block before) and on creating original characters which will fit in from the start. Creative use of Drives and Sources of Stability (recommended for this campaign) are also discussed.

We then move on to the Keeper Introduction. Here we are back to the concept that this campaign is different from most, in that this book contains a collection of clues, scenes, characters, motives, secrets, and ideas that, taken together, form the shape of a story which you and the Investigators will tell together. It's a tale that covers over a decade and spans the world (and perhaps beyond) filled with vaunting ambition and petty desires, with the chance to save the world or lose your own soul (or both). What's here is an outline, a framework, a collection of ideas, and Keepers are encouraged to mix it up as they like and be responsive to whatever the player-characters get up to - however much it drags you away from the campaign outline. That's how I run my games anyway, but it is refreshing to have this laid out so clearly in a way which will support - rather than frighten - people who have been more inclined to stick to the script until now. If you fancy developing and improving your game mastering skills, particularly in being more freefrom and flexible, it's almost worth getting this book for that alone (and even if you don't normally play Trail of Cthulhu.

Next the campaign structure - three acts, beginning, middle and end - and summary of what might happen are discussed. If you have this in mind, you can then mess with it as becomes appropriate. Starting with the hook of a daughter curious about the secret her occultist father took to his grave, there are a myriad of locales to visit - across America and around the world - as the Investigators follow up clues beginning with the book the daughter gives them, and find themselves hunting down cultists and even avatars of a dread godling. The climax of all this, in a very suitable location which I'm not going to mention (some pesky player might be reading this review!), turns out not to be the end at all, and there's more to be done before the unwitting world is saved. At least for now. It all begins in an insane asylum, and may end up there too...

The resources provided are magnificent, loads of detail that you can make use of as you make each location and event come to life for your group. It's all fairly modular, and much can be taken in whatever order suits the party. They'll wind up in the same place in the end. There are notes to help you deal with a campaign slanted towards the Pulp mode, with details of a 'hybrid mode' that introduces more Purist elements for those groups who prefer that style.

If you enjoy epic world-spanning adventures, the chance to save the world or die trying, with opportunities to display courage or cowardice, unleash violence or cower in the corner, interact and brawl... then this is the campaign for you. It's a masterpiece of the combination of a taut storyline with great freedom for the party in how they go about dealing with it - many campaigns and games promise such, but here it is laid out clearly and well supported throughout. And that's before you get to the handouts!



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Trail of Cthulhu: Eternal Lies
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Trail of Cthulhu: Dulce et Decorum Est
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/04/2017 07:39:28

This is a collection of resources for those who'd like to run Trail of Cthulhu adventures set during the Great War, including two completely new scenarios as well as Sisters of Sorrow, the already-published one involving sailors in a German U-Boat who fall foul of Deep Ones. The introduction talks about many aspects of running a Great War-themed game, perhaps summed up in the title. 'Dulce et Decorum Est' is part of a Latin quote from the poet Horace, 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori' or 'It is sweet and honourable to die for your country'. That's the spirit with which many went to war...

... but of course, they didn't expect to encounter the Mythos! So, is it Pulp or Purist? Purist aims for a philosophical horror, while Pulp strives for action - so you might be forgiven for thinking that as it's a war setting, action is paramount and this will be a Pulp campaign. Yet even amidst the action, reflection and introspection on the sheer horror of war - remember they described World War 1 as a 'war to end all wars' - may give scope for some Purist elements to sidle in, especially if the stories you want to tell are not in the thick of military action.

Whilst this is by no means a historical treatise, when dealing with real history (even if you're going to twist it out of all recognition) it's worth getting the basics straight. So there is a good detailed timeline starting with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo that sparked things off and covering all parts of the world and the oceans right through to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in July 1919. Next comes some rules stuff, with new and amended skills and abilities of a military nature, the rules for a gas attack... and even how to deal with Investigators who survive the war and continue adventuring. Many people playing games set in the 1920s and 1930s will have had characters with a military background... here's a change to gain a vivid and personal one!

This is followed by notes on the war in the air, with WW1 being the first in which there was any significant use of aircraft. The detail here will enable you to run dog-fights in the skies and provides a hanger-full of different aircraft and their characteristics to ensure all combatants have the appropriate ones. Next comes a look at the war in the trenches, with copious detail on the hardships and hazards on this fairly distinctive (and unpleasant) way of waging war. There's also that new-fangled invention the tank to contend with. War at sea is also covered - including the true tale of a 'Ghost U-Boat' that might be repurposed for game needs.

The solid factual material is followed by some Mythos notes. Warfare always delight the likes of Mordiggian, the Charnel God, so there's an extensive introduction showing how he can fit in. Basically, he's in his element! With little concern for actually interacting with anyone (or even accepting worship), he just wants everyone dead. So perhaps he'll be trying to instigate even greater bloodshed. He may cause strange apparitions, and there may be those who try to call upon him to aid their cause, their side, by offering to rain death and destruction upon their opponents and thus feed his appetite for death. Various Mythos tomes are touched upon, as well as the effects - particularly on people's Stability - of Mordiggian taking a personal interest on the battlefield. Should anyone be unwise enough to try it, there's also a ritual to summon him... unlike many rituals, this one can be cast during combat (in fact, Mordiggian quite likes that!). There's an example cult, woven beautifully out of the real-world habit of handing out white feathers to men who did not appear to be 'doing their bit' and other people influnced by Mordiggian for you to use in your plots, too.

Next comes a discussion of settings for your campaign. There's a lot of scope once you have decided on a Great War game, and this discussion is designed to assist you in making the necessary choices. There are more options that throwing your Investigators into a battle, perhaps they are active on the home front, supporting the war effort. Or perhaps they are in Paris, a city in a strange frenetic state, starving, freezing yet exciting to behold. And of course, there is the battlefront: the trenches spread across France, or maybe somewhere like Palestine and the Middle East.

Then come the actual scenarios, beginning with Vaterland. This is set in 1914 New York (with America, of course, still neutral - they didn't enter the war until 1917 unless, of course, your game changes the course of history!) aboard the premier German vessel of the Hamburg-American Line. This vessel, the Vaterland, is currently stranded in New York harbour, as although they are officially neutral the Americans don't intend to let Germany have her back any time soon. The Investigators take the role of journalists investigating what is going on aboard... the least of which appears to be a death cult operating somewhere below decks. This was a real ship, and there's a lot of detail to help you create the right atmosphere, as well as plenty of material about those to be encountered there - some real and others fictional. Chief, perhaps, of the real people is William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper mogul. And of course Treasury Agents. Lots of them, all convinced that the crew of the Vaterland are up to no good. In that they are probably right, although they were thinking about spies and saboteurs... It all begins with a gala party, then things (as they do) take a turn for the worse, with a cult ritual and dimension warps that take people to some quite unexpected places. With a good mix of intrigue, interaction and out-and-out terror and plenty of opportunity for combat, this works on several levels depending how your group likes to play. Six pre-generated characters are provided, but it will work fine with appropriate ones of your own.

Next, Dead Horse Corner is set in the trenches of the Western Front, with the Investigators tasked to find out why a trench has been abandoned without trace by the people supposed to be there. It's written from an Allied point of view, but change a few names and it will work as well from the German side. There's a lot of sloshing through muddy trenches and foes (both Mythos and mundane) to fight. Again, pre-generated characters are provided, all members of the British Army of various ranks. If you choose to use your own characters, they too will have to be military personnel. Nobody else is out here. There's potential here to bring home the awfulness of trench warfare, and Purists can create a bleak atmosphere of despair.

Finally, there's Sisters of Sorrow, set on a German U-Boat. This is a creepy and claustrophobic adventure in which the Investigators take on the roles of members of the submarine's crew, and pre-generated characters are provided. It's likely this will be a one-off adventure, so it is probably best to use them. There is some excellent historical background on German underwater warfare and the U-boat service to help you set the scene (this can be shared with players), and enough explaination for the Keeper as to what is actually going on. It will help if the whole group has a good feel for life on an early submarine, so be sure to discuss everyday details with them before and during play.

The actual scenes for the adventure are well-paced and designed to bring out the claustrophic nature of life aboard an early submarine. If you're looking for background, hunt down a copy of the 1981 TV series Das Boot - although that was a WW2 submarine, it has the same sort of atmosphere you are aiming at. Whilst many events are inward-looking, concentrating on what is going on aboard, there are external events including enemy ships on the surface, an abandoned sunk U-boat and strange noises from outside the hull. Even whalesong sounds spooky if you are in a submarines...

Playtest notes suggest that this adventure can very easily end in a bloodbath which nobody survives, although some smart - or lucky - groups did defeat all challenges and emerge victorious. It seems that those groups where one of the Investigators is the Kapitan of the U-boat have a greater chance of survival; you may prefer this route if you'd rather not kill any more PCs than you have to!

If you fancy taking your Mythos adventures back to the Great War, this is an excellent resource. The adventures probably work best as one-offs rather than as a linked campaign as it's quite difficult to see how the same people could be involved in such disparate adventures. Any one of them (if the characters survive) could be the beginning of (or indeed a part of) a campaign of your own devising. Well worth your attention if you have a mind for wartime adventuring.



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Trail of Cthulhu: Dulce et Decorum Est
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