The Drooler in the Dark is a 5-page PDF designed to function as long-term background colour for an on-going campaign with a fixed location. Originally written in 1992 by Michael LaBossiere, the text has been updated a number of times including for the 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu. It can be downloaded from DriveThruRPG for free but the pay-what-you-want suggested contribution is 50 cents.Continue reading “REVIEW: The Drooler in the Dark”
First published in 2020, written by Bridgett Jeffries with editing and layout work by Jared Smith, Sorrow in Tsavo is a single-session Call of Cthulhu adventure set in 1890s Colonial Africa. The PDF is 43-pages long and includes six pre-generated characters with specific ties to the story so it cannot be easily integrated into a campaign. Thoughtfully written and full of lovely touches, Sorrow in Tsavo is undoubtedly one of the best recent Call of Cthulhu adventures I have discovered on DriveThruRPG.
I have in the past remarked that Call of Cthulhu sourcebooks all too often feel like sourcebooks for a 1920s adventure game that just happens to contain elements of Lovecraftian horror.
This certainly rings true when you consider the way that setting books struggle to strike a balance between historical accuracy and game-relevant content meaning that sourcebooks dedicated to places like New York wind up feeling like Lonely Planet guides to a version of 1920s New York that was identical to our own except there’s a bunch of ghouls living in an old building.
To make matters worse, while Chaosium are undoubtedly more interested in history than horror, their engagement with the stuff of history is usually paper-thin and often amounts to little more than over-researched set dressing. Rare is the adventure or sourcebook that looks at a historical period and uses Lovecraft as a means of emphasising certain themes and ideas. Bridgett Jeffries’ Sorrow in Tsavo is a rare and refreshing exception to that depressing rule.Continue reading “REVIEW: Sorrow in Tsavo”
Written by Sam Guinsatao, Carson Jacobs, Joy Lemont, Elijah Oates, Rayce Patterson, Emily Pawlowski, and J. Tucker White, Refractions of Glasston was first published in April 2019 as a scenario for 1920s Call of Cthulhu. 46 pages long including illustrations, maps, hand-outs, and pre-rolled characters, this two session scenario is currently available to download from DriveThruRPG for free.
Set in Northwest Indiana, the adventure revolves around a glass company that claims to have created an unbreakable jar. Having arrived in town, the characters are encouraged to wander around talking to people and noticing things until they come to realise that the town’s booming glass industry has sinister underpinnings.
Okay… so that summary makes this adventure sound a little bit silly and that intuition is not without its merits. However, while Refractions of Glasston may have a few rough edges and boasts a number of perplexing creative decisions, both the peculiarity of its origins and the rigour of its execution make it an interesting piece in its own right and a fascinating counterpoint to Stygian Fox’s somewhat similar Under a Winter’s Snow (which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago).Continue reading “REVIEW: Refractions of Glasston”
Written by Nathan Ross, Under a Winter’s Snow was first published by Stygian Fox in February 2020 as a scenario for what is referred as ‘Classic Era’ (i.e. 1920s) Call of Cthulhu. Twenty pages long and illustrated with an array of drawings, photographs, and hand-outs, this single-session scenario is currently available for download from DriveThruRPG for the entirely reasonable sum of $4.95.
Set in small-town North Dakota in the midst of a snow storm, Under a Winter’s Snow invites players to investigate the source of a mysterious and lethal pandemic. Long on investigation and short on monster-stomping, the scenario is timely, thematically rich and full of human tragedy. The only thing that lets this scenario down is the disordered and incomplete nature of the text.Continue reading “REVIEW: Under a Winter’s Snow”
“The Haunting”… reskinned.Continue reading “REVIEW: The Room without Doors”
Set in early 1920s Britain, A Very British Horror is an on-going series of adventures (half of which have been published at time of writing) designed to either stand alone or function as an extended campaign. The first volume, The Folly of Ponsonby-Wild is set in a decaying B&B in the Cotswolds and it involves a traumatised friend, a deranged husband, family secrets, and a sinister cult with ties to the British establishment. I thought it very good when I played it, I thought it even better when I sat down to write about it, and I remember it now as one of the few published Call of Cthulhu adventures to really grasp the unique horrors of Britishness.
However, while The Folly of Ponsonby-Wild may be a fantastic stand-alone adventure and a great place to start a Call of Cthulhu campaign set in 1920s Britain, the second volume in the series is something of a disappointment.Continue reading “REVIEW: The Wombwell Stones”
Hand of Glory is part of Type40’s ongoing series of ‘adventure seeds’.
What you get for your $9 is a short, single-session adventure designed to be run with minimal preparation. You also get a set of pre-gens, and a selection of beautifully-designed handouts. What you do not get is very much of anything else.Continue reading “REVIEW: Hand of Glory”
Sandy Petersen’s “The Haunting” is said to be the single most widely played Call of Cthulhu scenario of all time.
The reason for its popularity could not be more clear: It literally teaches you how to play the game.Continue reading “On The Enduring Popularity of “The Haunting””
Iain Ross’s The Folly of Ponsonby-Wild is the first volume in a series of Call of Cthulhu adventures that will eventually come to form a campaign entitled A Very British Horror. At time of writing, three of the planned four volumes have been published and while I have yet to take a look at any these later episodes, I can confirm that the first episode plays very well indeed. In fact, I would even go so far as to describe this adventure as a delight.Continue reading “REVIEW: The Folly of Ponsonby-Wild”
Endless Light is the second Call of Cthulhu ‘seed’ adventure published by Australian nerd-tat purveyors Type40.
The format is largely unchanged from that pioneered by The Mummy of Pemberley Grange: $9 gets you a short, simple adventure built around a single planned encounter and supported by some high-quality handouts and a group of pre-generated characters.
The format is best understood as a radical departure from the approach to adventure design favoured by Chaosium and echoed by most people publishing adventures in and around Call of Cthulhu. The difference is that while traditional Call of Cthulhu adventures tend to be highly contextualised and incredibly detailed, Type40 adventures tend to be simple, abstract, and stripped of any broader context.
The result is a series of adventures that can either be run in a couple of hours with almost no preparation, or be expanded into something a bit more substantial through the addition of a pre-amble and the introduction of connections to an on-going campaign. Your mileage will obviously vary but while the first possibility does not interest me at all, I have found the second possibility extraordinarily rewarding. My players enjoy the simplicity, I enjoy having something solid upon which to expand but one man’s solid is another man’s ill-smelling goo.Continue reading “REVIEW: Endless Light”