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The Laundry - Black Bag Jobs
Publisher: Cubicle 7 Entertainment Ltd.
by Kyle W. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/09/2012 11:17:38

Black Bag Jobs is a collection of adventures for The Laundry RPG by Cubicle 7 Entertainment (which, people may have noticed, makes really high-quality games).

The adventures are each relatively long, with each liable to run for a decently long session (especially if the players wind up chasing dead ends. The PDF is of high quality, though I do wish that the bookmarks were in the PDF file; there is a quick and easy table of contents, but it's off compared to how the page numbers are registered in the PDF, which bothers me ever so slightly especially given the otherwise high quality.

The art is good, the typesetting is decent, and the writing is phenomenal. This is what a collection of adventures should be like.

I can say that CASE LAMBENT WITCH looks really good. It doesn't have so much a Lovecraft feel as a spy feel to most of it, but when the Lovecraft begins to arrive it comes on thick, almost too thick since it leads to potentially a very combat-heavy scenario. On the other hand, you do get a couple squads of grunts to keep player character turnover low. Failure can be very bad, so I don't recommend this right off the bat.

Lost and Found is traditional spycraft and framing, with a twinge of the Lovecraftian. Of all the adventures it feels the least like Lovecraft's works, but it's still very well done. I'd recommend it as the sort of session you run when you're low on players; it's still awesome but it's not as incredibly dangerous as some others. It feels more petty than the other adventures, and consequences for failure are minimal.

I've also finished The Shadow over Kafirstan, and it's pretty awesome (in a sense that it sort of touches lesser-seen elements of the Lovecraft mythos, and is, in my opinion, more mind-screwy). It seems better for a starter character, and while it isn't as Dunwichy as some of the others it is really cool in its own ways; it's an approach to Lovecraft that seems almost to have sprung from Coleridge's Kubla Khan.

The Wild Hunt is really good too, bonus points for it working in traditional myth with the Lovecraft Mythos. It's a little contrived and there's a lot of ways for a smaller party to get overpowered, but it's still well done. It's a little thick at times, but it's got the Innsmouth vibe to it.

Secret Agendas is okay, but is more spycraft than Lovecraft-it's really good but the mixture of the two means either that your party will discover the secrets too soon or too late to do anything about it, and failure pretty much mandates shifting to an apocalyptic campaign. I don't recommend it for novice players.

The Signal is a good adventure in a lot of ways, if you like post-apocalyptic Stargate/Lovecraft, so I'd recommend it, but it doesn't reward the characters, which makes sense in context but will probably tick them off to no end. Still, it's exciting, fun, and alien, but it's also somewhat difficult.

Do follow the advice the game gives about the players' standing, if only to keep them from getting murdered. It also looks like the scenarios (at least most of them) would be best played in order, or in a slightly modified order (LAMBENT WITCH has a lot of opportunities to mess up things for everyone, though if it didn't it wouldn't be very fun, now would it?); I'd say The Shadow over Kafirstan may be the best starting point just from my own guess, though this is somewhat irrelevant to the quality of the adventures.

Quick Summary: Content: 5/5 (Six adventures that will last a whole session.) Art/Typesetting: 5/5 (It's Cubicle 7, and it doesn't disappoint) Writing: 5/5 (Sans for a couple of typos, everything was good) Awesome Factor: 5/5 (Ia! Ia! Sorry.) Interest: 5/5 (It's Lovecraft, so I geek out about it, but I think most people would enjoy it) Maturity: 16+ (If played as gritty as possible, some of these adventures would be on the edgy side, there is harsh language throughout) Value: 5/5 (At less than $3 per adventure for several good adventures, each of which has its own art and a coherent standalone storyline, you're getting a good deal).

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Laundry - Black Bag Jobs
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