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Trail of Cthulhu: The Black Drop
by Stephen P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/18/2019 00:19:34

I would love to give this product five stars. It has all the elements you would want from a great Trail scenario. Unfortunately, it really needed a good editor. It is not just typos, although there are plenty. The poor editing results in a lack of clarity. Concepts and characters are referenced before they are introduced, and some basic information, that should be easily accessible is hard to glean from the text.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Black Drop
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Invasive Procedures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/09/2019 06:54:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Fear Itself clocks in at 86 pages if you take away the editorial, ToC, etc., and the module was written for the first edition of the Fear Itself game. The adventure comes with rudimentary conversion notes for Trail of Cthulhu. It should be noted that my review is based on the softcover version of the supplement – I do not own the electronic iteration of the supplement. If you’re playing this module in conjunction with Fear Itself’s second edition, expect to do some conversion work, as this adventure obviously has medical themes, and 2nd edition provides some expansion there. If none of the PCs have such skills, this obviously is not an issue.

The module comes with 5 pregens, which work well in conjunction with the module, but unlike many GUMSHOE-scenarios, the adventure works actually very well when used within the frame of an ongoing campaign – it works rather well with characters other than the pregens. A slight bummer: We do not receive any cartography – personally, I suggest getting some hospital floor plans and/or merging the Silent Hill-series’ hospital plans for the purpose of the like.

All right, this is as far as I can go without diving into any SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

… .. .

All right, only GMs around? Great! This module take’s place with the PCs recuperating from a serious injury of some sorts in the old and somewhat remote “Our Lady’s Hospital” – should the characters be agents of e.g. OV, the presence of Dr. Clifford Drake, a world-renowned surgeon, makes for a great reason for them to be in this particular hospital.

How to handle flashbacks of being injured and the like is properly explained, and indeed, the module does an EXCELLENT job regarding its premise – as badly wounded as they are, getting out of bed costs the PCs one Health Point; similarly, stressful activity imposes the same tax. A full rest replenishes 4 Health, while an interrupted night only provides 2 Health Points. The hospital staff, fully detailed, is kind – though the module wastes no time: A patient breaks into the PC’s room – obviously mad, babbling and attacking the PCs, babbling about in German, for example, missing testicles. While the madman is retrained, the staff thereafter is properly apologetic. All seems as well as the initial shock may make it.

The module takes its time, building up a sense of anxiety, with the next day providing consultation, and the means to notice that the German lecturer from the previous night, Gavin Langley, seems to have met a nasty fate…provided the PCs are smart. If they botch this, then no problem – the module cranks up the tension in the next night.

You see, at night, the hospital turns into a Silent Hill-ish hellscape, with none other than the Practice in charge. What’s that? Think of them as Anti-Hippocrates doctors, morticians and nurses, transcendent beyond the confines of mortal life, turned into Outer Dark entities. PCs are overpowered, and dragged towards a painfully, horrible operation – this turns one character into someone with both sets of reproductive organs, internally, and there is a scar on the forehead…while another is missing an eye. Indeed, the Practice has turned on PC into The Eye. The scar on the forehead hides a not-yet-healed third eye that allows the user to see auras…but that will only slowly become apparent.

The hospital’s conveniently cut off from the rest of the world, with the somewhat grotesque porter as a strange foil for particularly clever PCs. Still, the daylight hospital is an example of almost painful normalcy as the PCs, probably increasingly panicked, proceed with their investigation. A second nightly operation will remove finger-bones from one character, replacing them with plastic, while creating a second, grotesquery, the Hand. This PC will be capable of using a limited (and painful) telekinesis. The visit of the Hospital’s overseer provides no respite – but at night and day, the PCs have hopefully at this point put the clues together.

You see, Dr. Drake has had a troubled career: Brilliant, but troubled, his career flatlined, hardcore, due to his erratic mood-swings. Dr. Drake is suffering from a split personality, with his more psychotic personality hell-bent on joining the Practice – the means to do so extracted with the help of the by-now dead German lecturer. The task of the Riddle of Flesh is complex: In one PC, there is a bezoar-like tumorous growth – this growth contains the key that provides the sole means for the PCs to escape the hellish version of the hospital at night. Drake will confront them, or they will find him – but here, we have another great thing: You see, while Drake was tainted and abused by the Practice, he’s the best chance of the PCs to retrieve the bezoar: The PCs will need to use the Eye to see the bezoar, the Hand to extract it. And yes, this can be very lethal to the poor sod with the bezoar. Drake is the PC’s best shot to perform the operation – while his regular persona is in command.

Escaping together is the best course here; for, to become a member of the Practice, Drake must die. If the PCs kill him, they actually transform him, and get a truly nightmarish and dangerous final confrontation with the ascended Drake – and of course, there’d be the issue of having earned the enmity of the Practice’s potent members…

The book does reprint the whole entry on the Practice from the Book of Unremitting Horror, just fyi.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column b/w-standard, with a couple of really awesome b/w-pieces included. The book has no maps, which is a comfort-downside, as far as I’m concerned. I can’t comment on electronic features, but the softcover book is nice.

Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan provides a genuinely awesome and truly creepy horror-adventure here. From body horror to a sense of reality breaking down, “Invasive Procedures” hits all the right spots. The NPC-cadre is nuanced, the investigation streamlined, yet challenging, and the resource-management game of Health adds further tension to the adventure. In short: This hits all the right spots.

This is creative, genuinely frightening and an all-out successful adventure that made me wish the author had written more Fear Itself and Esoterrorists material. My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Invasive Procedures
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The Seventh Circle
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/03/2019 05:19:10

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Fear Itself clocks in at 78 pages of content if you take away the covers, editorial, etc., so let’s take a look!

First of all: This was penned for the first incarnation of the game, which means that you may need do some slight conversion work when adjusting this to the second iteration of the game. Secondly, it should be noted that the “Trail of Cthulhu”-header denoting an alternate system is not simply cosmetic or an indicator of a single page of information; the module does present quite a bit of advice on how to use it in conjunction with that game, should you prefer that cosmology to the criminally-underrated Ocean Game-setting.

My review is based on the print version, a softcover with glossy, nice pages. I do not own the electronic version of the book.

The book comes with 6 different pregens, and essentially can be summed up as two different scenarios: The imho more rewarding one is clearly intended for a regular playing experience – it hinges on the PCs being smart and doing their legwork from the get-go, and makes the whole scenario significantly most investigative in focus. The second way of playing this, is to basically throw the PCs pretty quickly into the main location of the module – in such a context, the whole story may end up being somewhat obtuse in its details, but the module can then be easily resolved within the frame of e.g. a convention. It should be noted that this adventure does a much better job at this convention-game-angle than many comparable modules released for Esoterrorists or Fear Itself.

Okay, and this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

… .. .

So, this is the story of a man named Patrick Raleigh, and how he met the lawyer Valerie Irvine and thus was introduced into the per se not malignant Hermetic Order of the Seventh Circle. While, of course, not necessarily benevolent in the context of the world of Ocean Game, these occultists nonetheless are not per se esoterrorists – and when Raleigh found out about the island Eilean Mòr (situated in the Flannan Isles) and how mysterious disappearances happened there, he began investigating.

Wary of Valerie Irvine, he indeed confirmed that the remote island does seem to have something going on – and decided that he’d need to place a ward there to harness the power. This is where the famed architect Nathan Glaas entered the frame, who himself was in the midst of a nasty divorce with his soon-to-be ex-wife Audrey. Nathan was tasked to create a house based on the principles of sacred geometry, Indeed, much to my joy, the book comes with rather extensive cartography, an explanation of sacred geometry patterns, and provides player-friendly versions of the maps as well – this is, particularly for GUMSHOE-titles that often skimp on the cartography, a huge plus!

Anyhow, Nathan Glaas complied to the demands of Raleigh for secrecy – also to keep the profits from the construction off the books, after all, he was involved in a messy divorce. Soon after the building’s completion, Raleigh and the now properly in the order initiated Nathan traveled to the island, unearthing an ancient cave that showed signs of human sacrifice – and something truly dire – basically a tear in the membrane. Sealed for now, but yeah – the occultists pushed the circular altar to the side, and inadvertently opened let the genie out of the bottle – something emerged from the Outer Dark! Retreating into the house, the surviving members realized that they had a containment breach of the worst kind, but thankfully, the sacred geometry of the house left them with one final, desperate gambit – a ritual that would see the occultists all die but Raleigh, and see Nathan entombed in the center of the house, as a kind of supernatural ghost-guardsman.

Thus, Raleigh vanished, taking the alias of Adam de Brate (funny) – but he did not account for Valerie Irvine’s ambition or Audrey Glaas’ persistence. With her husband vanishing, divorce was stalled, and so the two women forged an alliance that saw Irvine masterminding the entry vector of the PCs. The pregens are members of the television-crew of a Ghost Adventures-like reality TV – perfect dupes to unleash the entity – and for Irvine, to harness the power.

Thus, the module has two vectors – if the PCs do their legwork, they will happen upon Raleigh and enter the island forewarned, while otherwise, just throwing the PCs inside can make the rather labyrinthine background a bit puzzling. My personal suggestion? Play this with OV-agents that research Raleigh, find him and before he explains what he knows about the horrid things that came to pass, cut to black. THEN use the pregens, play the second route of the scenario, and once things inevitable go down the drain, have the OV-agents show up. This way, you can play both scenario-progressions at once!

The island and its dilapidated lighthouse manage to evoke a sense of forlorn potency, and as the PCs experience the haunting of the ghost-turned Nathan Glaas, they will sooner or later find the prehistoric ritual chamber and their puzzling array of corpses – the PCs even get the chance to rappel down into basically the Outer Dark (hint: BAD IDEA!), and Valerie Irvine as a mundane villain and wildcard, makes for a nice tool for the GM to use if the PC’s finale is going too smoothly.

You see, once Nathan’s been taken care off (from the PC’s perspective, he is, after all, responsible for the haunting!) and laid to rest, the true horror emerges. Or rather, doesn’t. Why? Well, of all critters. Of all ideas. Of all the cool entities that the world of Ocean game offers….of all of them, the module opts for living darkness. Yep, ladies and gentlemen, whip out all of your Lost and Alan Wake jokes right now, the big monster is about as lame as can be. And yep, it can, big surprise, be driven back by light. You’ll likely need the appearance of Valerie to sabotage the PCs, and in the convention version, this can come rather far out of left field. This monster is the central failure of the module – it is not even remotely scary. It’s boring, cliché, and I strongly suggest that you replace it with something more interesting.

They can also use her to beat the adventure – for sealing the rift once more, you guessed it, requires a sacrifice – either one of the players, or some NPC – and the latter aren’t exactly available aplenty on the remote isle.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the two-column b/w-standard with really neat b/w-artworks provided. The cartography and handouts are similarly b/w and truly appreciated in their player-friendly focus. The softcover is neat, and I can’t comment on the electronic version.

Matthew Sanderson’s “The Seventh Circle” is a per se great and versatile adventure; the investigative angle works slightly better than the one where you drop the PCs directly on the island, but the option to employ both in conjunction with one another as I suggested above adds some further replay-value and options. While the background story can feel a bit overcomplicated for the convention-game-style progression, it can be really helpful when the players are veterans, making the truth at least somewhat challenging to unearth. Indeed, I’d consider this a 5-star adventure, were it not for one thing: As awesome as the story, the atmosphere, the build-up, is, the payoff is hard to stomach – it is one of the worst disappointments I’ve seen in a horror module in quite a while, and it kinda sinks the module as written for me. Sure, a replacement is easy enough to pulls off, and sure, the Trail of Cthulhu option is actually better this time around, but ultimately, this drags the module down from a definite recommendation to a module that is certainly good, but not as good as it could have easily been. My final verdict will thus clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Seventh Circle
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The Dracula Dossier: Dracula Unredacted
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/21/2019 08:38:13

A masterpiece. The research that went into this product, the art, the writing…. I have been playing and GM-ing tabletop RPG’s for over 25 years now and I have never seen anything as impressive as this.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dracula Dossier: Dracula Unredacted
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Fear Itself 2nd Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/07/2019 05:54:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second edition of the Fear Itself horror game clocks in at 178 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages of ToC, leaving us with 173 pages of content. These include a two-page index and a 1-page character sheet.

After a brief introduction, we are introduced to the basics of the game, which is the first huge difference in comparison to the 1st edition. You see, where the first edition was intended for one-shots and as a kind of hack for Esoterrorists or similar GUMSHOE-based games, this edition is actually a full-blown stand-alone game. While this playstyle is still fully supported, the game now differentiates between angles from the get-go: The book notes that one-shot, mini-series and full-blown campaign are all possible, and also lists which sections in the book you should check out. Nice. The game is set in the same dark version of our world as Esoterrorists, meaning that the Outer Dark and its entities represent the primary antagonists. Books that feature this myth are tagged as “Ocean Game”, after the process by which one of the most formidable type of creature likes playing with mortals in a strange game, driving them insane.

Unlike Esoterrorists, this game does not assume that you have a benevolent organization or proper background to have at least sometimes a fighting chance against the Outer Dark – instead, Fear Itself focuses on more action-laden horror and a feeling of powerlessness; it’s less about uncovering full-blown wrongness of the universe, and more about survival, though themes can easily be mixed and matched. In one of my earlier reviews, I proposed kicking off a GUMSHOE-campaign with Fear Itself, and then, after the PCs have been recruited by the OV, using the Esoterrorist or Night’s Black Agents-rules (or a combination thereof!) for the next chapter of the campaign.

Fear Itself does not cast you in the role of heroes – the PCs are everyday people, and as such, there is a difference in focus and power-level that is reflected by the rules, but before we get into the details, let it be known that I do actually own the softcover of the game, as well as the pdf-version. I primarily based my review on the print copy.

Fear Itself deliberately restricts the use of combat/investigative experts and occult experts, which are considered to be out of the question unless this works in conjunction with your premise. Psychics are also restricted in a way – rules for them are provided, but they are risky. Unlike Esoterrorists, there is no OV guideline against these guys, so yeah – that’s a rather different angle. The Fear Itself game assumes the characters to be ordinary folks, and this angle is reflected in character creation: The number of players dictates the suggested number of build points per character, and there are capped abilities that are not available at character creation, unless you’re the group’s expert in the given field. Being an “expert” in a field means that you usually pay for your expert rank by some sort of drawback, which brings us to a crucial narrative angle that enriches the game and that can be rather fun: Risk factors. These represent, for example, a stern conviction in the scientific, a drug addiction, curiosity – all those behaviors that make characters die in horror movies. There are hard and soft risk factors, and resisting them requires a stability test, punishing the character for not giving in, while rewarding “risky” play and providing an incentive to creating tension.

But before we get to stability, let’s talk about abilities: Beyond a limit on aforementioned capped abilities, there are two survival abilities: Fleeing and Hiding. If your Fleeing is equal or higher than Athletics, you get 2 Fleeing for every build point spent, and the same holds true for Infiltration and Hiding. Infiltration and Athletics are universally better than Hiding and Fleeing, hence the discount – and this obviously enhances the emphasis on fleeing/hiding vs. direct combat. Concise lists of the abilities are provided – they are generally grouped in the categories Academic, Interpersonal, Technical, and General.

Stability, briefly noted before, is pretty self-explanatory – it’s the mental stamina and ability to resist sources of stress and mental breakdown. As such, the book guides you through the process of determining the cornerstones of your sources of stability. From neighbors to certain tasks to pets, these sources of stability are what keep you standing, and their development obviously provides means to attack the character; they are a catalyst for roleplaying, for saving them, for getting your character involved. The requirement, hardcoded into the game, ultimately, means that both GM and player have reasons to engage with the NPCs, be proactive in roleplaying.

Indeed, one of the things I very much enjoyed seeing, would be the salient advice provided for players, helping the game immensely. From embracing the flashbacks to roleplaying the mundane, to how to deal with being stuck in investigations, this section is really useful, particularly when dealing with players that are relatively new to GUMSHOE-based games.

A big difference to the previous iteration would be that we actually have the system explained in a concise manner: As you probably know about now, you can Spend points in your abilities to gain additional information – this game of resource management is crucial to how GUMSHOE works, and we have the process explained – and all abilities are noted with sample clues and benefits from the use of the abilities explained. This may sound obvious, it really helps GMing the game, and it makes it easier for players to know which abilities to choose. The ability-list has also been expanded, with new abilities getting a helpful “New”-tag, making conversion of older supplements easier. These new abilities also enhance the game in that they represent options that enhance the ability to play longer campaigns. Health now is just such an ability, changing that aspect.

Mechanically, the game has a simple resolution mechanic: If you have a point in ability, you can roll a six-sided die. The target difficulty numbers range from 2 to 8 (usually), and for each spend, you add +1 to the roll. The players do NOT know the target difficulty of the roll, just fyi. Other characters can piggyback on rolls – paying 1 point from the relevant ability, they can piggyback…but being unable to pay increases the difficulty by 2, which can be rather brutal. Contests follow an analogue mechanic, making that aspect simple to resolve as well. The narrative repercussions and how to handle the like are included.

When you exceed an opponent’s Hit Threshold, you may deal damage, rolling a die and applying modifier. Not having points in combat-relevant abilities locks you into the action you announce at the start of a round, decreases your damage, makes you go last and firearms have a chance of going wrong, big time. So yeah – if you have no combat training, you better be careful.., At 0 Health, you are Hurt; Starting at -6 Health, you are seriously wounded, and at -12 Health, you’re dead. Stability has similar thresholds, with effects like starting to close off, etc., despair, etc. Rules of thumb for different genres of horror are provided for your convenience, and indeed, particularly newer GMs and groups will definitely appreciate the vast array of pieces of advice contained within these pages.

Speaking of which: The GM gets a LOT of helpful advice herein, walking you through the process of designing a mystery, of how to use clues, determine core scenes, personalizing horror, when to use floating clues. A similar amount of guidance is provided not only for the process of designing a mystery, but also for the actual running of the mystery. Alternative rules like escape pools further enhance this section. Low and high-powered psychics, and some minor suggestions on running an all-psychic game may also be found within the pages of this massive book.

A couple of sample creatures that will mostly be familiar to Ocean Game veterans may be found, and the book contains stats for classics like slashers, werewolves, zombies, etc. Then, the book’s structure begins to change – as noted before, the game now has a broader perspective, and as such, features chapters for one-shots, mini-series and campaigns. For the one-shot, we get a sample adventure to accompany the general advice provided – it is a nice one, though the twist may be something the PCs see coming. The mini-series and campaign chapters have outlines provided instead of fully-fleshed out adventures – the latter two imho are more interesting, particularly the mini-series’ hook, but since that is very much a matter of taste, it won’t influence the final verdict.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a neat two-column b/w-standard, and the book features quite a bunch of nice b/w-artwork that ranges from inspired to solid. The softcover version has glossy paper, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Personally, I think that going hardcover for the book would have been nice.

The second edition of Robin D Laws and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan’s Fear Itself-game is superior to the first in every way; no longer simply a hack to slap onto a GUMSHOE game, capable of being used as a stand-alone supplement, Fear Itself is a versatile investigative horror game that is deadly, interesting and has an amazing world; I am a huge fan of the whole Ocean game mythology, and frankly, I don’t understand why these games don’t get more love from the gaming public, particularly when compared to the Cthulhu-mythos. There is but one aspect of this book where it falls flat of the first edition: In the sample adventure/outline. Fear Itself’s first edition had a BRILLIANT sample adventure, and while the options herein are well-wrought, they don’t manage to attain that same level of pure horror. That being said, this book now presents all the tools you need to actually craft horror mysteries for your group – which you’ll have to do. As per the writing of this review, there only are two modules released for the game’s first edition. I will cover both of them, but yeah – much like the criminally underrated Esoterrorists, this is one of the Pelgrane Press games that’d deserve more love. If you’re looking for a change of pace from the tentacles, give this a shot – chances are, you’ll very much enjoy it! My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fear Itself 2nd Edition
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RMS Titanic: The Millionaire's Special
by Stephen M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2019 08:55:10

A really fantastic module. The Titanic setting is just ripe for horror and mystery, and its taken great advantage of here. It also suits the Trail of Cthulhu system/style really well. You can listen to an actual play of this moduel over at: http://thetabletopreview.com/podcast/?p=212



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
RMS Titanic: The Millionaire's Special
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The Book of Demons
by Ashe W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/20/2019 13:45:25

The PDF is broken; only about five pages out of the whole book load, and the rest are just completely blank. Is there a way we can get a fix for this? I love 13th Age, and I want to get my demon-summoning on!



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Demons
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Cthulhu Confidential
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2019 05:44:12

The following review was originally published in Mephisto 67 and translated from German (find orignal German review below).

Cthulhu Confidential

As a spin-off for the Cthulhu role-playing game Trail of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Confidential is a rulebook with an unusual twist: The system known as Gumshoe One-2-One is about one game master playing with exactly one player. The goal is that, similar to novels or films, a central protagonist stands in the center of attention and is therefore in the limelight. Cthulhu Confidential crosses the classic Cthulhu mythos with the atmosphere of the detective stories of the film noir and thus shifts the storyline to the late 1930s.

The opening is made by the rules, which are clearly different from the regular Gumshoe rules. A further point that applies here is the idea that the possession of the skill and the search in the right place, or the asking of the right question, is sufficient to gain decisive clues. However, a new system based on six-sided dice is used for action skills. Here a certain minimum value must be achieved by successively rolling the dice.

A new central rule element are edges and problems, which also replace life points and mental stability in their function. If a test is solved perfectly, the character usually gets a short-term or temporary advantage, called an edge and represented by a card. If the character fails completely, a problem is assigned to him as a card. At the same time the player can voluntarily take on a problem to win an extra die, but in the worst case this can lead to two problems in the end.

The problems are states and difficulties that can be returned under certain conditions or through appropriate recovery. Edges offer analogous advantages. Even if it is not intended that a character dies or goes mad in the course of the action (because then the game is over), the player must be careful to get rid of his problems at the end in order to survive the action undamaged. With this system, the player's character is clearly in focus and instead of simply losing abstract points, his actions have direct tangible consequences.

Since the game approach is very unusual and requires a lot of preparation from the game master (each story needs defined edges and problems), Cthulhu Confidential delivers three adventures as an essential part of the book, which take place at three different locations with three different characters and thus show an exciting cross section, which fits to the Cthulhu myth as well as to the movie genre.

From my point of view, Cthulhu Confidential is an exceptional highlight, because the concepts for the one-player-master-a-player-game are well thought-out. Together with the adventures you have very good starting material for exciting game evenings. With the right player this should offer a very intensive game - so that it depends here whether one wants to get involved as a game master and player in this party of two and play without the safety net of more player characters. If you don’t like off-topic discussions at the gaming table, Cthulhu Confidential is the perfect approach to concentrate completely on the game.

Deutsche Version

Als Spin-off für das Cthulhu-Rollenspiel Trail of Cthulhu ist mit Cthulhu Confidential ein Regelwerk mit ungewöhnlicher Ausrichtung erschienen: Bei dem Gumshoe One-2-One genannten System geht es darum, dass ein Spielleiter mit genau einem Spieler zusammenspielt. Das Ziel ist, dass hier ähnlich wie in Romanen oder Filmen eine zentrale Hauptperson im Mittelpunkt und entsprechend intensiv im Rampenlicht steht. Dabei kreuzt Cthulhu Confidential den klassischen Mythos mit der Atmosphäre der Detektivgeschichten des Film Noir und verlegt so die Handlung in die späten 1930er.

Den Auftakt machen die Regeln, die gegenüber den regulären Gumshoe-Regeln deutlich abgewandelt sind. Was hier weiter gilt, ist der Ansatz, dass bei den Ermittlungsfähigkeiten bereits der Besitz der Fertigkeit und die Suche am richtigen Ort, bzw. das Stellen der richtigen Frage ausreicht, um entscheidende Hinweise zu gewinnen. Bei den Aktionsfertigkeiten kommt jedoch ein neues System zum Einsatz, das auf sechsseitigen Würfeln basiert. Hier muss durch sukzessives Würfeln ein bestimmter Mindestwert erreicht werden.

Neu als zentrales Regelelement sind Edges und Problems, die in ihrer Funktion auch Lebenspunkte und geistige Stabilität ersetzen. Wird eine Probe perfekt gelöst, bekommt die Spielfigur meistens einen kurzfristigen bzw. temporären Vorteil, der Edge genannt und durch eine Karte repräsentiert wird. Versagt der Charakter komplett, dann bekommt er ein Problem als Karte zugeteilt. Gleichzeitig kann der Spieler freiwillig ein Problem auf sich nehmen, um einen Zusatzwürfel zu gewinnen, was im schlimmsten Fall jedoch dazu führen kann, dass er am Ende mit zwei Problemen dasteht.

Die Probleme sind Zustände und Erschwernisse, die unter bestimmten Bedingungen wieder zurückgegeben werden können oder durch entsprechende Erholung abgelegt werden können. Edges bieten analog Vorteile. Auch wenn es nicht vorgesehen ist, dass eine Spielfigur im Lauf der Handlung stirbt oder dem Wahnsinn verfällt (weil dann das Spiel zu Ende ist), muss der Spieler darauf achten, zum Abschluss seine Probleme losgeworden zu sein, um die Handlung unbeschadet zu überstehen. Mit diesem System steht der Spielercharakter klar im Fokus und anstatt einfach abstrakte Punkte zu verlieren, haben seine Handlungen direkte, plastische Konsequenzen.

Da der Spielansatz sehr ungewöhnlich ist und entsprechend viel Vorbereitung vom Spielleiter erfordert (jede Probe braucht definierte Edges und Problems), liefert Cthulhu Confidential als wesentlichen Teil des Buchs gleich drei Abenteuer, die an drei verschiedenen Orten mit drei verschiedenen Charakteren stattfinden und somit einen spannenden Querschnitt zeigen, der sowohl zum Cthulhu-Mythos als auch zum Film-Genre passt.

Aus meiner Sicht ist Cthulhu Confidential ein Highlight, denn die Konzepte für das Ein-Spielleiter-ein-Spieler-Spiel wirken durchdacht. Zusammen mit den Abenteuern hat man sehr gutes Ausgangsmaterial für spannende Spielabende. Mit dem richtigen Spieler dürfte eine solche Runde ein sehr intensives Spiel bieten – so dass es hier darauf ankommt, ob man als Spielleiter und Spieler sich auf diese Zweier-Runde einlassen und auf das Sicherheitsnetz der restlichen Gruppe verzichten will. Wen die Randdiskussionen am Rollenspielabend stören, findet mit Cthulhu Confidential den perfekten Ansatz, sich ganz auf das Spiels zu konzentrieren.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Confidential
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Trail of Cthulhu: Cthulhu City
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/24/2019 04:00:33

The following review was originally published in Mephisto 69 and translated from German (find orignal German review below). More reviews can be found in the Mephisto 69 Online Add-On (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/261389/Mephisto-69-Online-AddOn).

Cthulhu City

Great Arkham is a metropolis that includes illustrious places like Arkham, Innsmouth, Kingsport and Dunwich. Above all, however, it traps its inhabitants due to an alleged epidemic. Even those who can sneak past the feared transport police will not escape, because Great Arkham is not of this world, and here the powers of myth are omnipresent.

With Great Arkham, Cthulhu City presents a city in which the mythos is almost openly present, but most people ignore it. Several cults operate barely hidden against each other in the city and work on a great ritual, the effects of which are not clear. Nobody really knows whether the ritual of opening makes the powers of the mythos finally break into Great Arkham or locks them out forever.

Cthulhu City deliberately leaves many questions unanswered: It is not clear whether Great Arkham is just an illusion, in the dreamlands or on a strange planet. Accordingly, there are several interpretations for the different places, people and other elements in the book.

The adventure Whisperer in the Light completes the volume. Even if this investigation takes place in Great Arkham, it could also be used in other campaigns.

Cthulhu City is an unusual source book. If you want to confront your gaming group with an extreme dose of myth and a really frightening starting situation, you'll find a well-filled construction kit here, but because of the abundance of characters, places etc. not only a longer preparation period but also many individual decisions are required. Cthulhu City is therefore an unusual hook for a campaign, which certainly doesn't fit to every gaming group, but from my point of view provides a very original (and dark) background.

Deutsche Version

Great Arkham ist eine Metropole, die illustre Orte wie Arkham, Innsmouth, Kingspor t und Dunwich einschließt. Vor allen Dingen schließt sie aber ihre Bewohner aufgrund einer angeblichen Epidemie ein. Selbst wer sich an der gefürchteten Transport-Polizei vorbei schleichen kann, dem wird es nicht gelingen zu entkommen, denn Great Arkham ist nicht von dieser Welt, und hier sind die Mächte des Mythos omnipräsent.

Cthulhu City stellt mit Great Arkham eine Stadt vor, in der der Mythos nahezu offen präsent ist, die meisten Menschen ihn aber ignorieren. Mehrere Kulte operieren kaum verborgen gegeneinander in der Stadt und arbeiten an einem großen Ritual, dessen Auswirkungen aber nicht klar sind. Denn ob das Ritual der Öffnung die Mächte des Mythos endgültig über Great Arkham hereinbrechen lässt oder sie für immer aussperrt, weiß niemand wirklich.

Cthulhu City lässt bewusst viele Fragen offen: So ist nicht klar, ob Great Arkham vielleicht nur eine Illusion ist, in den Traumlanden oder auf einem fremden Planeten liegt. Entsprechend gibt es für die verschiedenen Orte, Personen und andere Elemente im Buch mehrere Interpretationen.

Das Abenteuer Whisperer in the Light rundet den Band ab. Auch wenn diese Ermittlungsgeschichte in Great Arkham spielt, ließe sie sich auch in andere Kampagnen übernehmen.

Cthulhu City ist ein ungewöhnlicher Quellenband. Wer seine Spielrunde mit einer extremen Dosis Mythos und einer wirklich erschreckenden Ausgangslage konfrontieren will, der findet hier einen gut gefüllten Baukasten, der aber aufgrund der Fülle von Charakteren, Orten usw. nicht nur eine längere Einarbeitung sondern auch viele eigene Entscheidungen erfordern. Cthulhu City ist damit ein ungewöhnlicher Aufhänger für eine Kampagne, der sicherlich nicht zu jeder Spielrunde passt, aber aus meiner Sicht einen sehr originell (und finsteren) Hintergrund liefert.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Cthulhu City
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Black Drop
by Mike P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/30/2018 16:37:59

Holy cow! This is a beatiful piece of work. Centered around a real place with a slew of real-world informational bits, this bleak but inspired scenario is incredibly well-written. The kernel of the story is fairly simple, but the attention to detail, excellent characters, and well-developed encounters make for a memorable scenario.

I bought this alongside another adventure for CoC as two possible options for a one-shot and this module hits every single note that the other adventure didn't, providing a scenario that I couldn't have just written myself. It's sandbox with lots of potential exploration routes. And, the author has done the best job of SHOWING not TELLING that I have seen in a while. The author also has a wonderful vocabulary (I had a flashback to my early days reading Gygax et al and looking up several words in the dictionary [albeit with an iPhone instead of a book]).

My only criticism is that I wish there were some more zoomed in maps (of the village, the layout of the meteorologist camp, etc.) and that the pre-gens had an easily printable "sheets" to hand to the players.

It's dense with information and has a lot of moving pieces, so I'd recommend reading through this adventure a couple times to really grok the flow of things. But, I cannot wait to see it in play and let my players get rolling on this!

For the incredibly low price of $6, this is a must-buy.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Black Drop
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Las Vegas: 1968
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/24/2018 17:16:48

Excellent little summary of 1968 Las Vegas for use in gaming, especially for crime, espionage or horror campaigns. I particularly enjoyed the "Sources and Resources" section as a list of films and books to research further. Unfortunately it doesn't have a map of the city. Luckily there are period maps on the web - I found a 1968 Vegas map at http://vintagelasvegas.com/post/40666780188/las-vegas-map-1968. Another annoyance is that all the distances are in meters or kilometers and the temperatures are in degrees Celsius, which feels anarchronistic for a sourcebook on Las Vegas in 1968.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Las Vegas: 1968
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13 True Ways
by Brian B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/16/2018 13:07:52

13th Age is possibly the best RPG System I can remember since the First Edition of West End's Star Wars. The System itself is an amalgam of the best parts of OSR/3E/4E and each of the "main" Rulebooks (including this one) has indispensable guidance for advancing Creatures and making them your own. It's a clean, logical, AND immersive/evocative set of Rules that I believe you can do anything with. The writing and art are "Grade A" meaning you can tell right away that this is a product from some of the very best talents in the industry.

13 True Ways is critical as it has the "Good" Dragons, Lycanthropes, Mind Flayers (I mean "Flensers"), and Devils you don't want to miss.

Even though it's not advertised as a "Universal" Toolkit I honestly believe I could run ANY type of campaign with the 13th Age System. It's that good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
13 True Ways
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Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
by Mathew D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2018 01:27:55

An in-depth depiction of the seedy and dishonest world of bookselling that is as accurate as it is entertaining. Beware the marginalia.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
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Trail of Cthulhu
by Mathew D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/27/2018 00:51:31

Maps the narrative drive (via Investigative Abilities) and pulp theatrics (via General Abilities) of the inheritors of Lovecraft with verve and precision, and communicates the existential atmosphere of He Who Lies Dreaming via supporting materials of great variety and thematic depth. A very fine game indeed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu
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13th Age Core Book
by Dario T. N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2018 02:07:09

A great game for introduce more story and less rules in D&D-like games. I wrote here a longer review



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
13th Age Core Book
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