Call of Cthulhu is one of the all-time greatest of role-playing games, and the Investigator's Handbook makes the standard game even better. This book is full of useful supplemental information that extends the rules of Call of Cthulhu, and adds background to the game, especially if you are playing a game set in the 1920s. Given that the 1920s are now nearly 100 years in the past with the publishing of the current edition of Call of Cthulhu, this book is indespensible as a source of information for running a game in that era.
The book starts off with an overview of gameplay, and a retelling of the classic H. P. Lovecraft tale 'The Dunwich Horror'. From there it goes into the character creation process, from a walkthrough of how to roll for stats, to details such as a list of period-appropriate names. This provides a nice extention on the character creation rules of the core rulebook. As well, the book dedicates an entire chapter to character occupations that goes way beyond the brief list provided in the core rules. It offers many more options and much more depth for each option, sometimes including alternate rules and background information for 1920s vs modern games.
Next we come to the chapter on skills, which is largely in line with what you get from the core rules in terms of rules and skill descriptions. The important difference is that the Investigator's Handbook offers some details on how our modern concepts of skills differed from those in the 20s. Sciences that are central to the game, such as psychiatry and forensics were very different in that era, and being aware of those differences can make a huge impact in your game.
There are several chapters that help both keepers and players develop their setting and the characters in it. There is an entire chapter dedicated to organizations that invesigators may belong to, or perhaps cross paths with in the course of a campaign. This is useful for keepers who may need a reason to bring players together. There is also a chapter on sample characters, which is useful for players who need examples for ideas of what to play, and for keepers who may need an extra NPC on the fly.
Perhaps the best part is the chapter on the roaring 20s, which includes lots of historical information to add context to your game. It has a nice timeline of events, descriptions of daily life that include things like speed limits, firearm laws, and common technologies. There are some very useful lists of vehicles of the time, as well as a detailed and illustrated list of firearms of the era. There are also some brief biographies of many famous people from the 1920s, in case you want your players to catch one of Houdini's performances, or perhaps bring their newly-discovered lightning gun to Nicola Tesla. The last chapter of the book also has lots lots of useful information for pretty much anything you might need in the game, from distance charts, to prices for items and services both in the 20s and in modern times. As well, it features a section on converting rules from previous editions of Call of Cthulhu. And there is a very useful chapter just for players that gives advice on playing the game. This includes things like general good role-playing etiquitte, but also tips more unique to Call of Cthulhu, such as not relying on firepower to take down monsters and how to plan ahead for when you inevitably have to replace a dead character.
Overall, there is something for everyone in this book whether you are a game keeper or a player. If you are running a game set in the 1920s and want to keep any sort of accuracy in your game, this book is a must-have, unless you plan to spend hours doing historical research on your own. Even when running games in other settings, this book has plenty to offer anyone running or playing Call of Cthulhu.
Read our full review and ratings on this book at GeeksAGogo.com!
[5 of 5 Stars!]