||The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=22761.
Three Kings is part 1 of the Acthung! Cthulhu campaign, for Call of Cthulhu, taking place during World War II. While its roots lie within WWII horror thanks to the Cthulhu Mythos, the campaign (or at least this module) has a pulp-like feel to it and lies somewhere between investigative horror and pulp action. Considering the characters are military-styled agents, the campaign leans less toward the survival aspects of horror and more toward the extermination of it. While this isn’t the core of a traditional Call of Cthulhu setting or game, it is a new way of implementing the Cthulhu Mythos theme using the Call of Cthulhu rules in a setting that allows the players to experience a piece of World War II history flavored with horrific aspects. If you keep this in mind, you won’t be disappointed when playing the campaign.
Three Kings is well-written adventure and a good starting point for a campaign. Although it doesn’t follow traditional design for Call of Cthulhu, it does contain elements that allow you to survive through a full campaign and places the characters in the midst of a gran story unfolding between the events of World War II. Albeit more action-oriented than investigation, it still is a module that I recommend for those who enjoy a little pulp-styled adventure in your Cthulhu Mythos.
Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Three Kings is a beautiful book visually. It appears to have been designed for print, however, as the layering of the PDF makes the pages load dreadfully slow. When I read this on my Nook, some pages took almost half a minute to load. While this is annoying, the layout, formatting, and illustrations of the publication make it stand out. I find the text to be very easy to read and the formatting allows it to flow smoothly. The illustrations have a very early-20th Century look to them through the use of dark colors and lack of definition (this is good because it supports the theme). The maps are a great bonus and I love the loose-leaf design. When you look at the book, it looks like a briefing one would get before entering the field for covert operations. It should be noted that on my laptop, once each page has been loaded, going back and forth through the PDF does not take extra time to load.
Storyline: 8 out of 10
Three Kings has a good storyline that develops well from beginning to end. While there are several holes in the actions being taken by the characters (in relation to the content), much of this can be easily filled-in with the fluff material contained throughout and by simply following the general direction of the adventure itself. While many of these holes do seem to be very deliberate, giving the characters maximum flexibility in relation to how they proceed through the adventure, it would be nice to have suggestions on how to keep things moving forward should the adventure begin to stall. Regardless of this, the overall storyline is still a good one.
Desire to Play: 8 out of 10
Like Delta Green, Acthung! Cthulhu takes a very different approach to Call of Cthulhu. Characters are not professors (although they could be), archaeologists, reporters, and police officers; they are instead agents of the soon to be MI-6 out of England. Being that they are performing what could be called a covert operation, you would expect a more militant approach to the adventure. And that’s what you get, a more action-style Call of Cthulhu adventure that is more akin to pulp than it is to horror. While many may feel this strays from the concept of Call of Cthulhu, it is merely another way of utilizing the game system. If you view the adventure as it’s meant to be written, you will enjoy it a lot more.
Overall: 8 out of 10
Three Kings is an interesting deviation from the normal Call of Cthulhu adventure. It provides a little more survival power to the characters and involves them in more than just the Cthulhu Mythos. While the end Mythos creature is an important part of the adventure, it is not an integral part as the adventure encompasses more than just that. It’s a different approach, but a very well-developed one.
[4 of 5 Stars!]