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That Which Does Not Die
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/03/2018 12:26:50

If someone hires you for a 'simple bodyguard job' you know it's time to expect the worst, right? This one is no exception, as the party is hired to protect a merchant and the bodies begin to mount up. But will they stay dead?

The DM's Background explains all, introducing a new undead monster template, the revenant - a killing machine bent on revenge and it seems nothing will stop it. The plot itself concerns skullduggery in the clothing trade, and there seems to be plenty there to keep the party busy even without the introduction of undead... and of course they'll have to decide if they are protecting the right individual.

The adventure can start in any reasonable-sized city in your campaign world, when the party sees plenty of want-ads for good bodyguards and investigate further. There are events in town, messages in the dark and opportunities to fight or make a hasty exit, and hopefully the party will piece things together and realise not all their opponents are still alive although their employer's associates are departing this mortal coil at an alarming rate. Perhaps they can save one or two by getting there before who- or whatever is killing them off does. Eventually they should end up in a subterranean maze under a keep owned by one of these associates, where matters come to a head...

What was created as a vehicle for presenting new undead (to go along with Alderac Entertainment Group's sourcebook Undead) is a lot more, with a coherent backstory and a chance for plenty of interaction and excitement as the party try to keep people alive... but do they deserve to live?



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
That Which Does Not Die
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Covenent Hill
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/01/2018 12:39:36

This adventure, for characters of 5th-7th level, sends the party into a ruined keep that's crawling with undead where they'll have to find out what's causing the problem and face a tough decision between doing the right thing and lining their own pockets rather hansomely! The Players' Introduction explains that everyone knows about the lich who lives up there and so stay away, but of late it seems impossible to bury your dead hereabouts without them springing back out of their graves!

The GM Background explains what's going on and who is really behind all the trouble. Moreover the party receives not one but two job offers to clear out the keep... one of which is from the lich himself! Needless to say, the objectives of the two job offers are somewhat different, and whichever one the party decides to take, the other lot are bound to be annoyed and liable to cause them problems in the future.

The adventure begins in the bustling port of Heathwyck, which lies in the shadow of a mountain known as Covenant Hill. Here the party receives their first assignment from the Temple of Light, who want them to steal the lich's phylactery, the artefact that empowers his abilities to raise and control undead. The locals greet the news with delight, and start treating them as heroes even before they depart on their mission...

It's not too far to the keep, even if it is a bit of a climb and the road is overgrown. The keep is well-described and there's a good plan (but it's not player-friendly, you'll need to sketch something out to show them) - and the place is crawling with undead. Should the party study what they find they can discover the truth of the matter, which might change their opinions as to what they ought to do. A new form of undead and the phylactery itself provide the customary new monster and new artefact.

It's a fairly straightforward slog of a fight against a large - and I mean large - number of undead, although the twists and turns of who's actually doing what and the conflicting job offers make it just a little more than that. There are a few errors in the text (mostly spelling, but one bit that doesn't make sense - fortunately not an important one), otherwise it's presented clearly. A good session-worth of fighting to drop into a campaign. And of course there's the undying emnity of someone to contend with thereafter...



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Covenent Hill
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Cthulhu Britannica London: The Journal of Campbell Thompson
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/31/2017 12:27:42

Whilst this makes a nice bit of atmospheric Mythos fiction, its real joy is if you are running The Curse of Nineveh campaign. Reginal Campbell Thompson is, you see, the archaeologist who dug up the artefacts that are causing trouble all over London, and you can use this as a rather magnificent player hand-out! Indeed, the opening item is a note from Theodore Rayburn-Price, the party's benefactor, suggesting that it might be of use to them...

It opens as Campbell Thompson is about to leave Marseilles to travel to Iraq, and notes several conversations with fellow-passengers on the steamer on the way to Constantinople, from where they were to travel overland to the dig site. It's a detailed account that lets you follow his route and picture the places and people that he sees - even if not for the line drawings that pepper the text. It all sounds remarkably ordinary - not that such a trip is ever ordinary - to begin with, but once excavations have begun things begin to go astray, beginning with a weird Arab berating them and threatening all manner of curses and evils should they continue the dig. They continued work of course, and then begin to describe what they found... and what then occured. You do not, in the regular course of things, expect long-dead mummies to arise, however much racket you make to disturb them.

The excavation continued, and an impressive list of artefacts catalogued, along with illustrations. The unfortunate events also continue, with one of the party being murdered, a vertiable plague of nightmares, and more violence much of it from this strange band of Arabs. Indeed most of what happens admits of a logical explanation and yet...

A note at the end gives suggestions as to how you might use this journal in your game. The obvious one is to use it as intended, as a massive player handout during The Curse of Nineveh campaign - best given to the party near the end of a session so that they can read it without being distracted during play. Alternatively, you might choose to run the excavation itself as an adventure, allowing the party to have all the dreadful experiences that, in the text, befall Reginald Campbell Thompson and his team. Either could prove interesting...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica London: The Journal of Campbell Thompson
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Cthulhu Britannica London: The Journal of Neve Selcibuc
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/30/2017 10:19:45

Presented as the journal of one Neve Selcibuc, a young journalist, this serves double purpose as a piece of Mythos fiction and - more excitingly - a mammoth in-character resource that Keepers running The Curse of Nineveh campaign can had to the players as background and indeed clues.

The tale Neve has to tell is quite dramatic beginning with someone leaping off a passenger ship to their (presumed) death leaving a small but ancient artefact, and various alarms and excursions that follow as she visits an English country house then spends time in London, with deaths and a kidnapping or two and some unexplained fires. There's even a gunfight! Stirring stuff, as the Mythos disturbs 1920s Britain. It all ties in well with the content of The Curse of Nineveh, and opportunity is provided in that work's text for this volume to appear should you have it to hand, as Neve Selcibuc features as an NPC.

It's nicely-presented, and the writing has a certain gentle charm, highlighted by line drawings that complement the text. As an in-game resource, it enhances the information available in the campaign but may prove rather too much for players to want to deal with during actual play - it may be preferable for you lend it to them to read between sessions. To help you use it to best effect, there are some notes at the back with suggestions as to the role it can play in your game. The particularly interesting thing is that only the last few pages tie in to the actual plot of The Curse of Nineveh, yet there's a whole raft of other peculiar events which could be used to develop a plot of your own, to run in parallel with the main campaign or at another time as you prefer.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica London: The Journal of Neve Selcibuc
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The Ballad of Bass Rock - Call of Cthulhu
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/29/2017 06:20:24

This is a short adventure designed to be run in a single session. Set in Scotland, it tells the tale of a pleasure cruise that goes horribly wrong... It will work well with a new party, perhaps even with people who have never played Call of Cthulhu before.

The Keeper's Information explains the background: what exactly is on the island of Bass Rock and what it is doing. It then explains how to get the investigators involved. They don't even need to know each other, they just have to have decided to go on a boat trip, a day trip to Bass Rock just off the coast of Scotland near Berwick (off the east coast to the south of Edinburgh). It's a real place, by the way, so you can supplement the map in the book with real ones if you wish.

The trip is intended to last about four hours, and everything starts off well. Then the weather turns nasty. Sensibly, the boat's captain chooses to cut the trip short, lowering the sail and starting the motor to return to port. Fate - or at least the plot - has other ideas...

The adventure is well-resourced, with an excellent description of the shipwreck combined with clear notes on what the investigators must do to reach the shore. Once ashore on Bass Rock, they will have to survive the night. The resources continue with good details of what is to be found on Bass Rock, player handouts and a useful 'plot map' to ensure nothing is missed.

Although simple in form, the adventure is well-planned and well-paced, with plenty of advice in ramping up the tension and horror as the night progresses. Game mechanical information is provided as needed, e.g. a description of an unstable gantry is accompanied by the DEX rolls required to keep your footing on it, which makes it very straightforward to run. It certainly would make an excellent introduction to Call of Cthulhu, or a neat interlude within a campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Ballad of Bass Rock - Call of Cthulhu
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Cthulhu Britannica London: The Curse of Nineveh
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/28/2017 09:37:44

This mammoth work comprises a campaign set in London during 1925-1926. Intended to be used in conjunction with the Cthulhu Britannica London box set, it is made up of seven parts based around artefacts brought back from an archaelogical expedition to Nineveh. The Introduction explains all this in detail along with background material about what was going on in Nineveh in ancient times and the history of the excavations themselves. This includes references to The Journal of Reginald Campbell Thompson which is available separately as both a novel and something that makes an epic in-character handout to give to your players - Campbell Thompson was the expedition leader. A timeline for the whole campaign and key players are also presented here. Notes on each are extensive, including what they are after and what they are prepared to do to attain their objectives. This enables you to plot their actions throughout the campaign, rather than having them only reacting to the party's actions.

Next comes information on how to set up the campaign. It's assumed players will create characters specifically for it, and to facilitate party formation an organisation called the Wentworth Club is provided: they'll all be members. This is a typical London club, although it has recently decided to accept ladies as well as gentlemen into membership. The club is based on a shared interest in folklore, mythology, history and the occult. Full floorplans and details of some leading members and club staff are provided. Furthermore, there are notes on creating suitable characters for the campaign, likely middle or upper class fellows with appropriate interests for Wentworth Club membership. These interests may be professional or they may be hobbies. There are also options for those who don't want to be club members and a note about integrating replacement characters. Of course, if you are running other London-based adventures (or decide the party is based there) the Wentworth Club makes a good focal point before or after you run this campaign, if you do so at all.

The rest of the book contains the seven adventures. Six relate to separate artefacts from the Nineveh excavation, the final one reveals the underlying plot and brings matters to a head. Interestingly, depending on party actions, events in later chapters may be set in motion even before they have finished the investigation at hand, so it's worth being familiar with the entire campaign before you start (although things are quite well sign-posted as you go through the text). This gives an excellent feel of the world carrying on regardless, making events feel more real to the party.

The first chapter begins at the Wentworth Club at a memorial banquet for a deceased member. Here the party meet one Theodore Rayburn-Price, who is to become a benefactor and mentor of sorts. At the time, though, he is concerned about a young lady journalist who is investigating the rumour of a curse attached to an artefact... which of course soon ends up in the party's hands. (If you have it, so does the young lady's journal - The Journal of Neve Selcibuc, published separately - which she is happy to hand over. From then on - and indeed throughout the campaign - there is a wealth of clues to follow up, people to meet and incidents to investigate.

This campaign is classic Call of Cthulhu at its best, and any Keeper ready to tackle an epic campaign that will take months if not a year or two to complete could do a lot worse than consider this one. Resources in this book alone are excellent, and the companion Cthulhu Britannica: London box set and the two journals mentioned above serve only to enhance it.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica London: The Curse of Nineveh
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Cthulhu Britannica London Boxed Set
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/27/2017 10:49:55

This is a massive and invaluable resource for anyone contemplating running Call of Cthulhu adventures set in 1920s London. It is formed of three parts: An Investigator's Guide to London, A Keeper's Guide to London, and Adventures in Mythos London. There's also ancillary material - posters, maps, and handouts.

Beginning with An Investigator's Guide to London, this is intended as a comprehensive reference for players and as such doesn't talk about the Mythos. After a timeline of 1920s London, it quite sensibly begins with ways of getting to the city from both North America and Europe, as well as from the rest of the UK; and then touches on that most British of preoccupations, the weather. Once there, it's a big place so there's a section on how to get around. It is already a cosmopolitan city, and the people who live there are the next facet to be explored. This includes the 'class system' - a concept beloved of sociologists, but with a real and biting reality in the 1920s where it really did matter - the role of ethnic minorities, of which there were plenty. and some new/modified occupations and skills should you be contemplating a Londoner as a character.

The next few sections cover London life: shopping, how news is distributed, entertainment, and law and order, before moving on to a very detailed survey of the city itself in 'The London Guide' which begins with Central London and spreads outwards, reaching the commuter belt. Then follow specific places such as Royal Palaces, military facilities, hospitals, London University, graveyards and the River Thames... places which the party might have reason to visit in their explorations. It's illustrated by plenty of maps, although these are a bit small and cramped and you have to peer to see much detail: they are, however, contemporary to the 1920s and give a wonderful period feel. There's lots of indidental information and illustrations as well, and overall presents a delightful and pretty accurate of London in the 1920s. This can be safely handed to players as reference material, if their characters are familiar with London or have access to a good guidebook.

The Keeper's Guide to London, unlike the preceeding book, is jam-packed with Mythos material and references. It begins with a discussion about bringing the Mythos to life, covering dreaming, hiding, creeping and screaming... a fascinating discussion about how what has gone before influences the present, and how so much lies beneath the surface just waiting to be discovered (or to erupt!); then there is the Keeper's History of London, a far darker thing than the historial information in the preceeding book, the sweep of power and counter-bid that has made it the place it is today. There is a collection of unusual locations, all with connections to weird events or people and notes on how to use them in your game, and then a cavalcade of people: occult organisations and their members, potential allies and information sources, and a couple of clubs - investigators of suitable social standing might be invited to join. Then we turn to a series of Mythos Threats, and finally a collection of Mythos and related tomes. There are enough libraries in London to poke through, after all!

The third book, Adventures in Mythos London provides three full adventures. The first, Terror on the Thames, is a short linear adventure suitable for novice players and any group where the investigators have not yet met one another, as it makes for natural and unforced untroductions, with some useful suggestions as to how you can get all your investigators aboard whatever their background. It all begins with an innocent party aboard a river boat... but ends in tears.

This is followed by Those Poor Souls who Dwell in Light, which concerns the antics of a rogue vicar who ought to have known that the correct way to heaven is not through magic and crystals of power. The final scenario is The Non-Euclidian Gate, which drags the investigators into the often cut-throat world of antiqurian rare book dealers, and the scarcly less tame one of a girls' school. All three adventures have plenty going on and numerous clues to discover to lead the party to the threat, if not to a means to deal with it.

Overall, if you want to run a London-based game of Call of Cthulhu - or anything set in the 1920s (you can always leave the Mythos bits out if necessary) - this is an excellent resource to have to hand.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica London Boxed Set
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Cthulhu Britannica: Shadows over Scotland
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/26/2017 12:55:12

This work provides an introduction to Scotland as a setting for adventure, and presents no less than six full adventures ready to be played. The Introduction begins with essential background to 1920s Scotland for the Keeper, including a map with major rail routes and a sweeping overview of Scotland - a rich and varied landscapes with mountains, bogs, woodland and more. It's mysterious, beautiful and wild; people have fought over it for centuries, and in the darkness the Mythos stirs. Notes on Scottish life in the 1920s point out that it matters what your social standing is, and that few families remain untouched by the Great War. Standards of living are lower than in the rest of the UK, and social unrest is not far behind. The arts are flourishing, however, with painters, architects and the stage popular and innovative.

Some Scottish dialect and a good summary history of Scotland follows, taking us from the Stone Age through Romans, the nation that flourished between 1000 and 1500, up to the Industrial revolution of the 1750s and to the present day (or at least the 1920s). Scattered comments inject Mythos elements to what otherwise is a competent summary of Scottish history; and there is a timeline of Mythos activity. The chapter rounds off with notable figures of 1920s Scotland, the party may not meet them but they will have heard of them and might read of them in the papers.

We then embark on a more detailed exploration of Scotland in three chapters which cover the Lowlands, the Highlands and the Islands. Each contains a wealth of material starting with the geography then moving on to culture and people, flora and fauna, the climate and - of course - the Mythos in that region. Much of this last is presented in a way that makes it easy to develop each topic touched on into an adventure for your party. Each 'Mythos Threat' is introduced, then there are sections on investigation and possible encounters as well as all the game mechanics and NPCs you might need to run them.

The Lowlands chapter also contains details of Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews with maps and notes on famous locales. Edinburgh University apparently boasts a professor who studies the Mythos (oddly, he wasn't there twenty years later when my mother studied there!). The Highlands section naturally has space devoted to Loch Ness and possible monstrous inhabitants even though Nessie really only caught the public imagination in the 1930s, as well as notes on Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness. In the Islands chapter, Kirkwall on Orkney, Portree on Skye and Stornoway on Lewis are detailed, and there are notes on the steamers the party will need to travel around the isles.

Armed with this alone, you'd have plenty to run games in Scotland even without the six adventures which follow. The first is Death and Horror Incorporated, set in the underbelly of Glasgow where the party stumbles upon a dark nexus of evil that spreads around the gaol, the cathedral and Glasgow Royal Infirmary. This is a nicely free-form investigation where the party can wander at will gathering clues, but probably would work best with experienced players. It begins with an appeal from the Lord Provost (city mayor) for aid in dealing with a spate of murders... and ends in a desperate battle in the bowels of the earth.

Next, The Hand of Abyzou takes place in Edinburgh and begins when the party learns that an old acquaintance has been committed to the Royal Edinburgh Asylum for the Insane... apparently he'd been babbling about a cult of sorcerers and unearthly terrors in the vaults below the city. This is followed by Uisge Beatha (the Gaelic for Waters of Life, generally used to describe whisky). In rural Aberdeenshire, the heir to some lands arrives from America and visits a distillery that is part of his property for the first time and found rather more than he'd bargained for. Deciding that the locals were probably involved in what appears to be pagan activities (and him a staunch Baptist), he instructs his lawyers to find suitable investigators... and there is plenty for them to find!

The fourth adventure is Heed the Kraken's Call, which takes the party to Loch Ness. A famous naval explorer who announced his intention to survey the loch and plumb its depths has been murdered and his ship set alight. The police are baffled by certain aspects of the crime, and need specialist help. Again, this is a freeform investigation with plenty for the party to discover before they find out what's really going on and try to deal with it. Ample notes are provided to accommodate the party's investigations wherever they choose to go and whoever they speak with. Will they find Nessie?

Then comes The Forbidden Isle which takes the party to the Isle of Rum, where some fellow called Sir George Bullough plans to turn the island into a luxurious playground for Britain's rich and famous... but faces stiff Mythos opposition. Can the party help? Finally, Star Seed leads farther north, to Orkney where a strange artefact has been unearthed by an archaeologist. This adventure is aimed at novice investigators, but has enough meat to keep more experienced ones entertained.

All these adventures are well-resourced with background material, excellently-detailed NPCs to interact with, many intriguing encounters and plot twists and a useful 'Plot Map' that helps you ensure that all critical points are covered. They all have wonderful flavour that help them come alive as you read, never mind around your table-top. With the additional material covering Scotland as well, this is a magnificent addition to your collection as a resource as well as for the adventures.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica: Shadows over Scotland
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Cthulhu Britannica: Avalon - The County of Somerset
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/25/2017 07:51:51

Somerset, found in the south west of England, has always been a little strange and in this book its potential as a setting for Call of Cthulhu adventures is explored - very successfully! Complete with details of geography and local legends, a collection of NPCs, three complete scenarios and several more adventure seeds, there's all you need to make it happen.

The Introduction sets all in context, explaining the pleasant nature of the area and the underlying stories. Innocuous legends about dragons and witches, giants and fairies, have - the author claims - a deeper and darker origin in the Mythos. Seeing as that's where he grew up, he ought to know! Finally it introduces the (sadly fictitious) scholar Noah Ainley-Chant, a 19th century antiquarian and occultist, whose comments surface throughout the book.

Scene set, we next turn to the History of the region, which goes right back to prehistory. First, though, is a note on the Somerset dialect - Keepers being encouraged to develop some facility in it to render their NPCs more distinctive (but preferably not sounding like pirates, a common misconception!). It seems that the area was inhabited by humans, or their precursors, since the dawn of time even if they have left little more than the odd bone or shard of flint behind them. Erudite comments from Noah Ainley-Chant pepper the pages adding an air of verisimultude to what is a fairly accurate summary anyway. Adventure hooks are added where appropriate, just in case the text itself doesn't spark any ideas. History sweeps on, through Roman times and the Dark Ages (when the name King Arthur arises), Saxons, Middle Ages, and - via the Monmouth Rebellion - right up to the present day.

Next up, Geography. Physical features - rolling hills and lots of rivers - rub shoulders with numerous archaeological sites, before moving on to Locales, which provides details of areas of interest that may be sites for adventure or merely places that attract the investigators' attention for some reason or another. Many are linked into local legends, of which more anon. Many more plot ideas are scattered about here, as well. There's a more extensive section on the city of Bath, which covers its history as well as what it is like in the present day (or at least, in the 1920s). Hospitals, hotels, public buildings and other places to visit are listed here. A map is given but you may prefer to source a better one from an historical map site, and there's a chart of prices for 'taking the waters' for both 1890s and 1920s. Note that the waters are rather sulphurous and unpleasant (something not mentioned here) even if they are supposed to be good for you.

Then comes an extensive section of Legends and Customs. Many are location-based, linking back to the previous section, and there are many observations from Noah Ainley-Chant and plot ideas mixed in to the entries. However fanciful a legend may be, somewhere once there was some element of fact, a real event, item or person that triggered it. Dig deep, you never know what you might find. Here, of course, the root of each legend is given a Mythos twist. They make fascinating reading: standing stones, wassailing, witchcraft, and more.

The three full scenarios follow. Blood and Water mixes Grail legends with the Mythos, an unholy and sanity-wrenching mix that involves the Monarchy. Set in 1923, it begins with the death of Princess Helena Augusta Victoria, one of Queen Victoria's children, and some shady antics attributed to her husband a few years earlier... but it all begins when the party witnesses someone being thrown into a river! The plot thickens, cultists emerge, and the prize of immortality is dangled...

Next is Strange Little Girl. Madness and revenge power this tale, a creepy tale that begins with a strange letter received by one party member, who soon realises that it's intended for someone else of the same name and involves a strange girl and an occult investigator who seeks to banish her to the darkness from which she came.

The final full adventure is St.Swithun's Hole. It's a horror story involving vast underground caverns and begins, as many adventures do, in an inn to which the party has been invited by an antiquarian friend who has a tale to tell and a spot of caving to suggest. There's plenty to find down there for the brave and stout of heart (although not stout of figure, like many caves there are narrow bits you have to wriggle through).

As if these were not enough, there's an array of six adventure seeds you can develop into full adventures, as well as appendices covering cider, magic and local NPCs. Overall, a magnificent introduction to a fine area of Britain, ripe for investigation and well-suited to the Mythos, which has been masterfully entwined with real-world information about Somerset.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica: Avalon - The County of Somerset
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Cthulhu Britannica: Folklore
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/23/2017 12:37:25

Britain has loads of folklore and, if you look at it in a certain way, you can twist it to your own uses in running a Call of Cthulhu game. Wherever you go, there are myths and legends, tales of the faerie folk, monsters and all manner of supernatural things. They're most rooted to certain locations and it's not too far a leap to say that if there is any basis in reality, the Mythos might be involved... and this book explores such a concept with a whole bunch of ideas for you to use.

The Introduction explains this, with an academic grounding and further references for the interested reader. Then Folklore: A Closer Look delves into the whole concept of what folklore actually is, the remarkable creativity of the human mind when, untrammeled by too much 'common sense' or scientific knowledge, it attempts to explain the world around it and the odd things that go on there. Such tales were still going strong in the 1920s, and people were beginning to collect them - there's a new skill, Folklorist, for anyone who wants their character to take an interest.

Next, Using Folklore in Call of Cthulhu Games looks at how it can add depth and excitement, grounding the plot in a context that is familiar. There are various ways that you can use it. The most obvious one is to have a local folk tale have an origin in something Mythos-related. However, perhaps there's a folklore story running parallel to your Mythos-based one - local colour, perhaps, or a complete red herring to confuse the investigators. At times the discussion is a bit dry and academic, but it gives a good grounding in a range of different ways of involving folklore that may not all have occurred to you before. Folklore always raises more questions than it answeres...

The rest of the book provides an array of ideas which can inspire (or just be used outright) your games, starting with Using Folk Magic in Call of Cthulhu games. Folklore is full of magic - magical events, beings that can wield magic and so on. The Mythos too has its magic: but how do they interrelate? Perhaps folk magic is the present-day relic of ancient lore passed down by Mythos beings, or maybe it developed independently as human beings learned to manipulate powers themselves having seen that such powers existed and could be manipulated... Again, more questions than answers, but by pondering them you can figure out what works (and what is mere superstition) in your game. There are plentiful examples to help you decide, and notes on the allied field of folk medicine. To some, folk medicine is wrapped up in magic, for others it is an instinctive knowledge of the properties of plants applied to the healing arts.

Next is A Folklore Bestiary. It provides details of an assortment of common spirits, monsters, creatures, and peoples of folklore complete with notes on how they may have Mythos connections and all the necessary statistics for you to incorporate them into your game. After all, even if they don't have a Mythos connection, if the Mythos is real, so might they be real and able to show up where appropriate! Faerie folk, giants, wizards, shapeshifters and more await you here... not to mention ghosts and other spirits, and strange beasts such as Black Dogs, a common feature of folklore, along with water horses, dragons and of course the Wild Hunt. Plenty of material here to inspire you.

This is followed by The Folklore Calendar. We cannot have our beasties turning up at the wrong time - or if we do, there must be a plot-driven reason that might give the insvestigators a clue as to what is going on. Then Old Ones and Old Gods looks at Mythos figures in terms of how they might feature as the tradional deities (and other powerful beings) in folklore.

Folklore Mythos Threats continues this theme with information on the activities and motivations of a number of Mythos threats lurking behind British folklore in the 1920s. Find out what the Beast of Bodmin might actually be... presented in enough detail for you to run this as an adventure, complete with a few NPCs and events to throw into the mix. There are other pieces in similar vein, scenario outlines at least, concerning an ancient skull, strange finds in chalk downs and a farmer whose plough dug a little too deep one day. There are strange sightings off the coast of Devon and Cornwall which may not be smugglers for once, and strange goings-on associated with a group of tinkers and missing bodies, not to mention a disappearance in the Fenlands that is decidedly suspicious and the appearance of the Allendale Wolf, larger and more ferocious than any normal animal, or a vast cave system in Wales that is said to be an entryway to Fairyland.

Even if you find the earlier chapters too abstract and philosophical for your taste, this last section provides a wealth of material that you can incorporate into your game. Perhaps you will drop one in occasionally to an existing campaign, or use them as a basis for an entire folklore-related series of adventures... whatever you choose, you'll never listen to a folktale in quite the same way again!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica: Folklore
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Cthulhu Britannica
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2017 13:48:42

Normally I don't pay much attention to cover art - I'm more interested in the contents of a book - but the adaptation of Constable's The Haywain to include a horse being tossed into the air by a tentacled something in the millpond is sheer genius. Cthulhu has come to the UK big-style, in the shape of five separate adventures set from Victorian London to a rather desperate far future when the End Is Nigh if not already here. The Introduction provides a brief summary of each and points out that every one comes with a set of pre-generated characters. A few notes on atmosphere and pacing complete this section, then it's on to the adventures themselves, presented in historical order.

The first adventure, set in Victorian times (1895 to be precise), is Bad Company. It's summer in London and 'society' is in full swing - but one young gentleman who ought to be taking a leading role has vanished from his home in the dead of night, missing presumed kidnapped. Upper-class investigators are best, either the ones provided or your players' own (especially if you want to use this as part of an ongoing campaign). The Keeper's Information explains what actually is going on and provides a timeline, then the game's afoot when young Arthur's father, Sir Godfrey Sommers Bt., summons the party and asks for their help. (Note how I've written his name: this is the correct form of address for a Baronet, you don't address or refer to him as Baronet Sommers as is done repeatedly in the text!) There are plenty of aventues of inquiry for the party to follow, with plenty of information - some of it useful - for them to discover and if that's not enough for you there are a few optional side-plots you can weave in. Neatly, there are two main routes to the solution of the mystery, the party may follow either or both to reach the adventure's climax through the squalid underbelly of London to an outwardly-respectable house in the Strand. Here the awful truth becomes evident and the party have the opportunity to put an end to things... or not. All possible outcomes are covered in the conclusion.

Next up is Darkness, Descending which is set in the 1930s, taking the party to a small village in Norfolk. Here some finds have excited the archaeological world (including the party, apparently). Again pre-generated characters are provided or your players may use their own. The adventure is designed as a one-off, taking up to three sessions to resolve, but could provide the starting point for a campaign presuming the party is successful - failure might make continuing rather difficult. Without going into too much detail, the dig has unearthed something it would be best to leave undisturbed. Once the party arrives, they are soon embroiled in the dig but will also be able to look around the village. Their arrival is set for the Friday, and a timeline of events leads to a climax at sunset the following Monday - the Autumn Equinox.

The following adventure is Wrong Turn, which involves a film crew in the present day who get trapped in a deserted location in a clausrophobic and horrific scenario. Designed as a one-off, it's the sort of horror survival scenario in which there's a slow dawning of what is going on even as the rest of the party gets picked off one-by-one... The core idea is that the film crew have come to an abandoned observatory to assess its potential as a location, being tasked to stay there for 24 hours. This will be a very long 24 hours, and very likely their last. There was but a single night's observing done here which went disasterously wrong, and which have left the place in an unstable state that is not conductive to spending the night there. The adventure takes place in three phases, the horror mounting as time passes...

Moving on, King is also contemporary, and designed as a visceral horror experience rather than an investigation. It begins when the investigators attend hospital as out-patients to receive treatment for a minor eye condition. Then they wake up tied to hospital beds with no idea of how they got there... and that's just the beginning. Intended as a one-off, for reasons that will become obvious once you read the plot, there are some interesting suggestions for how to continue the adventure.

Finally, we travel to the end of known time (or at least, just before) - or so the blurb would have you believe, in actuality it could be run in the present day - for My Little Sister Wants You To Suffer. Stuck on a spaceship, the investigators have no idea where they are or why... and the truth is quite different from what they might imagine it to be. Nothing, as they say, is what it seems. It's a delightful opportunity for the Keeper to really mess with the players' heads, and although the scenario is a linear one, there is a very good reason for what might appear to be rail-roading.

Overall, a nice selection of adventures to have to hand, a bit heavy on the 'bottle show' and 'horror' angles and, apart from the first two, not necessarily very Mythos-related. The first adventure does need London, but any of the others do not necessarily have to be in Britain if for some reason you'd rather run them elsewhere... Solid, horrific fun.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Britannica
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Deep Magic: Elemental Magic for 5th Edition
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/21/2017 11:16:10

Opening with an almost-poetic paean to the elemental powers, the introduction describes how beguiling and indeed easy it is to tap in to them... yet it is dangerous in the extreme. These are not powers to be trifled with or accessed lightly. Tapping in to the elemental planes has the potential to release far more energy than the mage might expect, and elemental creatures are just as bad - most seek to surround themselves with their element, no matter the damage that they might be doing to their surrounds. Nothing malicious, they just don't realise the harm that they can do.

There's a note about elemental magic in Midgard, where the Dragon Empire and the Southland deserts are particular hot-beds of elemental magic, then a new sorcerous origin is presented: Elemental Essence. Throughout, there are options to base one's power on air, fire, water or earth; and naturally all abilities key in to the chosen element.

For budding warlocks, there's a new Patron, the Genie Lord. Strange, inscrutable and innately quarrelsome, they cannot be fully trusted yet offer much to those who make a pact with them. Wizards are not neglected, there's the new Arcane Tradition of Elementalism which provides many options for gaining mastery of the chosen element.

Finally, there are some seventeen new spells. Most relate to a particular element - not stated, but it's pretty obvious - and there's a good range of dramatic effects. There's also a single magic item, the magma mantle, but it is intended as an example - see what you can come up with!

This opens out exciting possibilities for a spellcaster wishing to specialise in elemental magic. Experiment carefully!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Elemental Magic for 5th Edition
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World War Cthulhu: Cold War - Our American Cousins
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/20/2017 13:17:24

Whilst World War Cthulhu: Cold War contained information about intelligence agencies around the world, the main thrust of that work was British activities. Yet in the Cold War the driving force was the interaction between America and Soviet Russia, so this book deals with American espionage activities. When Section 46 was formed, its ostensible role was to liaise with intelligence agencies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. There's been a long association between British and American intelligence agencies ever since WW2, and peace did not affect this special relationship. Of course, N is somewhat wary of any government looking into the Mythos - for reasons unknown, a couple are suggested but you can pick what you wish - and keeps a sharp eye on what the Americans are up to. There's a summary of some of the more unusal operations and investigations run in America during the 1960s and 1970s - some real, like Project Bluebook which gathered information about UFO sightings, some weird like Project MKUltra which experimented into mind control, and more.

For those wishing to play American agents, the default agency is the CIA, however other agencies are described and may be used if preferred - for example, a campaign based around events in America might work better with an FBI team. Most published adventures are written with British agents in mind but it ought not to be too difficult to use American ones instead. Groups of agents from different agencies might be difficult to explain if you are aiming for a 'real-world' feel to your game, although they might work together occasionally.

The first chapter deals with The US Intelligence Community in the 1970s. It starts by looking at the somewhat uneasy situation with scandals caused by the revelation of some well-dodgy programmes being run within US agencies. The CIA changed Directors at a dizzying rate, brief details of each are provided. Agencies covered include the CIA, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the FBI, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the National Security Agency (NSA) and more of the 'alphabet soup' of three-letter agencies that populate the US intelligence scene. It ends with a bibliography for those who wish to delve deeper into real-world American agencies.

Next, Domestic Briefings provides a run-down of what is going on in the murkier circles of the American underworld (apart from the activities described in the preceeding chapter). Organised crime, gangs, drug dealers, domestic terrorists and dissidents rub shoulders with cultists - real ones like the Reverend Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ (which ended in the Jonestown Massacre, a mass suicide). A couple of real dodgy clandestine operations is followed by outline ideas for adventures along similar lines. Each provides both an intelligence operation and a parallel task from N.

Then there's a look at Foreign Intelligence Theatres, a scan around the world with more outline missions in Central America, Angola, Bolivia, Europe, the USSR, Afghanistan, the Far East and Australia. Plenty to keep the party busy and on their toes. This is followed by Keeper Dossiers, a series of two page spreads, featuring a core story or topic, and a series of ancillary facts, characters, locations and topics, along with some targeted guidance for further reading, all designed to inspire the Keeper to come up with even more missions with which to task the party. They're grouped geographically: UK, USA, and the rest of the world.

Beyond Top Secret then looks at the Mythos threat in more detail, providing the Keeper with the necessary information to run credible threats. There's a whole bunch of activities that either Mythos creatures or cultists have been getting up to, and these can be woven into existing missions or provide entirely new ones.

Next, The Brocken Spectre provides a full ready-to-run scenario set in East Berlin and the Harz Mountains of East Germany. It all begins with a search for a missing NSA agent, complicated by the arrival of the estranged son of a person the agent mentioned, the Stasi, and a strange woman who after something but nobody's sure just what. There's enough detail on East Berlin to run it as the dark and claustrophobic place it was, the usual host of well-characterised NPCs. The consequences of failure in this mission are potentially dire, and could even precipitate war between the West and the East.

Finally, there's a collection of American Fortean events (more plot ideas in abundance) and a collection of Persons of Interest - NPCs you can use to help or hinder the party as suits. Each also comes with ideas for plots involving them, although most will make good 'bit part' players to be encountered during other missions.

This makes an excellent addition to the World War Cthulhu: Cold War line, and with a bit of modification in the mission briefings will work with British agents if preferred. A lot of the material would work well in more regular spy games, just excise the Mythos elements (or treat them X-Files style where there was usually a real-world explanation as well as a spooky one for every weird effect.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World War Cthulhu: Cold War - Our American Cousins
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World War Cthulhu: Cold War - Covert Actions
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/19/2017 13:30:02

Opening with the statement 'There is no such thing as a standard mission' this book contains six complete scenarios for you to play through. Each one combines a regular espionage mission appropriate to British or allied secret agents with a lurking undertow of Mythos mischief that turns ordinary missions (filled with people ready to arrest, torture or kill agents at the drop of a hat) into something far more dangerous and horrific. All take place in the 1970s and take the party around the globe from the Arctic to Australia, with Moscow and Cyprus included in the itinerary. Real world events and Mythos horror meld to provide adventures to challenge and terrify the best and bravest that the spy world can offer.

First up, Puddles Become Lakes is set in the United Kingdom in 1970, where a chase to find a leak to the Soviets takes the party from the squalor of the East End of London to the high-living of a golf tournament in St Andrews - the 1970 Open no less. The initial task is to contain a journalist who seems to know too much, and find out where the information's coming from. Section 46 chips in with orders to investigate dreams with the concern that the Mythos may be attempting to pervert the regular give and take of espionage to its own ends. Oh, and the rot extends to the House of Lords... but were they passing information to the Soviets or to someone else? Compressed into five days, the party needs to move fast to deal with it all, visiting the House of Lords, a London pub, a stately home and other locations in their quest with a climaz at the Open golf championship pavillion.

Next, the Forcing Move takes the action to Iceland and another sporting event, the World Chess Championship of 1972. Here the party is tasked to persuade a low-level KGB double-agent that now is not the time to defect, he's of more use where he is. Meanwhile, word is that an American cultist is in town with a nefarious plot in mind... Is this an explanation for Bobby Fischer's erratic and paranoid behaviour? From a briefing in a posh London gentleman's club (complete with special arrangements to admit any female party members to the consternation of other fellows in the club!) it's off to Reykjavik via a quick meeting with N. There's ample background on Reykjavik to help you run the adventure effectively, and plenty about the chess tournament which provides a backdrop to events. It gets quite tense at times...

Then, Cadenza takes the party to Cyprus in 1974 as Turkey invades, with the action centred in Limassol and RAF Akrotiri. If the Royal Air Force personnel didn't have enough to worry about with the invasion there's a rising tide of sabotage and this is what the party - in the guise of RAF Police - are sent to investigate. The adventure revolves around a strange musical transmission picked up by a technician running a numbers station on the base and a honeypot trap that appears to be aimed at stealing a nuclear warhead... but the true explanation is mind-blowing! How will the party account for their discoveries to their superiors?

The fourth adventure is Guardians of the Forest, and takes place in East Timor. The Australians are covertly assisting an Indonesian invasion and have asked the British for help - and the party is sent. Meanwhile N would like them to investigate the disappearance of an expedition studying a remote tribe just before World War 2 broke out. The action starts in Hong Kong, to which they are summoned to receive a briefing on Christmas Day. East Timor is a former Portuguese colony, and their mission is to plant evidence that the current leader of the country is in the pocket of the Communists. From Hong Kong they are flown to Darwin, Australia, thence by boat to East Timor with the action taking place both in the capital city and in the jungle.

Next comes Operation Header, which occurs in the 1970s in Canada. It all begins with the agents being sent to the CIA headquarters in Langley, where it's revealed that they are to investigate a Distant Early Warning (DEW) outpost that has gone silent deep in the Arctic regions... and of course, it's winter! They soon find themselves heading north by airplane then helicopter... finding the outpost damaged and populated mostly by corpses, although there are a few terrified survivors. This is an adventure where atmosphere is important: a dark and bleak location ripe for horror. And a polar bear, plus some Inuit (Eskimo). Survival may well become more important than finding answers...

Finally, The Unclean occurs in Moscow sometime during the 1970s and starts with a rather spectactular defection. Meanwhile Section 46 wants them to investigate a series of deaths going back to the Russian Civil War. There's no mission briefing per se as this scenario starts with them, for whatever reason, manning the night shift for their agency's Moscow station when an unlisted phone rings. Then they are off down a veritable rabbit hole of violence, shady deals and intrigue when it's not clear who - if anyone - can be trusted. Just about every spy agency that is represented in Moscow seems to be in on the action, Russian and foreign alike - Cold War spy games at their very best!

Each adventure is well-resourced with masses of NPCs all pursuing their own agendas and details of locations to provide a backdrop. As just about everywhere is real, you can supplement this with additional information from guidebooks or online - just remember this is supposed to be the 1970s! If you can get hold of old National Geographic magazines, they make a fantastic resource for this style of game. This book provides a series of absorbing scenarios to whisk your party into the Great Game Cold War style.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World War Cthulhu: Cold War - Covert Actions
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World War Cthulhu: Cold War
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/18/2017 10:46:52

If World War 2 proved a great opportunity for Mythos forces to get on with their own deviltry amongst the chaos, just imagine what they could do with the ongoing hostilities, tensions and confusion of the Cold War? Imagine no longer, here's a resource to enable you to bring the Cold War into your game.

Part 1: Introduction sets the scene. It revisits the ideas expressed in World War Cthulhu: The Darkest Hour, that while the Mythos isn't interested in taking sides in human conflict, it will take advantage of the chaos, fear and suffering that arises from it. If nothing else, the activities of Mythos powers and their minions can always be passed off as having been 'enemy action' rather than exposed for what they really are - a threat to all humanity whichever side they are on. There's a brief but cogent history of the Cold War, loads of detail about the intelligence scene around the worlds, and information about Section 46 which grew out of the Network N of wartime days. The predominent mood is paranoia, it's a time filled with proxy conflicts where it's more important to know not who is fighting but who is backing each side. And the nuclear threat looms over everything and everyone. There's a reminder that this work deals with recent events, some of your group may have lived through them (as I have) or had their lives affected by them, so care must be taken in choosing the themes you want to explore - the example given is the rise of terrorism from the 1970s onwards. Make sure your group is comfortable with what you want to do in your game.

Next, Part 2: Investigator's Resources is mostly concerned with character generation. The core intention is that characters are somewhere within the intelligence scene even before getting involved with Section 46. Some will have done other jobs before being recruited as a spy, others are picked up as potential candidates while still at university. Once recruited, they receive specialist training, and there are a variety of career paths open to them in the intelligence world... and there's always the possibility of a 'double-recruitment' if the other side tries to get them to become a double agent. You also need to decide how the character first became aware of the Mythos, and how Section 46 became aware of him. The assumption is that the character is British, although there is some wiggle-room if you want to have a different background. There are also notes on converting regular Call of Cthulh and World War Cthulhu: The Darkest Hour characters if you have an existing character you'd like to play.

Then the extensive Part 3: Keeper's Handbook covers notes on mission design, reams of material about what is going on around the world intelligence-wise (accompanied by loads of ideas for missions in each area discussed), and a section on likely Mythos threats and how to incorporate them into your game. There are some NPCs... but high-level ones, the party will have heard of them but may well never meet them. There are also notes on cover identities and weapons (but these matters are covered more extensively in the Section 46 Operations Manual). Possibly the most interesting piece of advice is that you should keep the party feeling paranoid - they should never know just who they can trust. You also should create a heady mix of 'Cold War' espionage activities and Mythos machinations, ideally the party will spend a lot of time wondering which is which! If you either lived through the Cold War or are well up on its history it's great to mix in real-world events that your players might have heard about. There's also a section on typical covert activities and how to run them in your game, and an armoury-full of weapons and other handy equipment you may (or may not) wish to issue.

Finally Part 4: Intersections is a full-blown scenario to get your Cold War campaign off to a flying start. It's more of a mini-campaign, if you use everything that's here, though. There's a whole web of intersecting plots going on in Istanbul, but it all begins when the party is sent there to meet a KGB agent who claims he wants to defect. There's a host of NPCs - British, American, Turkish, Russian - not to mention cultists galore, a bunch of spells and many exotic locations to explore, littered with encounters and opportunities for investigation. The structure allows for considerable player freedom, whatever they decide to do, you will have resources to deal with it... and it ends with suggestions for further adventures as well as the likely consequences for this one.

If you fancy exploring the latter part of the 20th century with a Mythos twist, this is the sourcebook for you. The dizzying amount of information will take a while to digest, but once you have you will be in a position to run some exciting, challenging and scary adventures.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World War Cthulhu: Cold War
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