Month: September 2014

Island of Ignorance

This book, the third Call of Cthulhu Companion, published by Golden Goblin Press, was the first Companion supplement in some time, and the first one not published by Chaosium itself. I am in part writing this review because at the time of this writing, they are running a Kickstarter for their Cthulhu Invictus scenario book supplement, De Horrore Cosmico, which I fully encourage any and all to support. I have earlier reviewed their other volume, Tales of the Crescent City, and I will say that from my current exposure, their products are consistently of high quality and value.

The first few sections are Keeper material, and I won’t go into detail about them at this point, but will say they are good resource material, seeds for adding to a campaign. Not everything is to everyone’s taste, but I think they stand out in quality as well. On to the scenarios.

Scenario One: Consumption by Brian M. Sammons

The first scenario in this scenario is an intriguing piece, with no monsters other than humans, with no mythos threat per se, but can easily prove to me one of the most devastating scenarios a group of investigators can run through if it’s handled right. As a sequel to the H. P. Lovecraft story “The Picture in the House,”  this story posits the survival of the old man from that story, and events following several years later, with the old man having inspired a few others to follow in his footsteps, so to speak. People of considerable influence and public respectability form a small cannibal cult preying on people in the Arkham area. The risks are high, the need to maneuver carefully important, but a well written, well presented scenario. I highly recommend it, it makes a great change of pace while at the same time giving a great ride.

Scenario Two: Let the Children Come to me by Mark Shireman

This scenario pushes envelopes in a few ways, first it brings up some very sensitive..if not outright touchy issues, topics of Child Labor Laws, sexual abuse, specifically on underage victims, and if that isn’t touchy enough, the scenario presents some strange moral ambiguity for a subtext. This is not a scenario for every group, but if the group can handle sensitive issues and moral ambiguity this is a strong scenario, well written with a strong threat. It does involve one of the monsters that is a bit of a major challenge, and is on my ‘probably too tough to actually fight’ list, something I have gone on about at various points in both blogs.

Short summary, a young worker is molested by a man abusing power, and fleeing in panic and despair, she finds comfort in a secluded location of power, and is taken in..and changed, by Shub Niggurath, who sees in this girl an opportunity to regain a lost opportunity for power. Other children get drawn into the snare of the Outer God. A complex story unfolds as the investigators get drawn in, where a victim has become a cultist, where others essentially innocent are drawn into a ritual beyond their comprehension, and the sacrifice to unleash this evil is a person that virtually no investigator would want to defend or protect (though as written, actually being able to save him is nearly impossible). Choosing who to try to protect, who to fight against, and more importantly, how…this is a tangled web the players have to unravel ‘on the fly’.

A great scenario for players willing to take risks and deal with moral ambiguity.

Scenario Three: The Lonely Point Lighthouse by Oscar Rios

Another great scenario by Rios, someone I’ve come to pretty much expect great scenarios from, we again enter morally ambiguous waters, this time a bit literally. (Don’t get a swelled head, please Oscar, but I’ve liked almost everything I’ve read of yours, which puts you pretty high up there among scenario authors in my book). The trend in this book’s scenarios remains strong for some of the most monstrous behavior falling in the laps of the humans, this time the players are sent to investigate a haunted lighthouse, and a local sea monster incidentally. They are linked phenomenon, the party will learn, and if they investigate well, connected to a human’s act of villainy in the past. The human has died and is long past being punished directly, but the players have the position of being able to either help right those wrongs to a point, or to act against two monsters who at this point want nothing more than be left alone and set free. The fact that they are monsters of the mythos complicates the picture for some, and the players have to decide what to do and how to do it, and live with their decision.

Sometimes my players get annoyed with me, but I love stuff like this.

A great scenario for players who can handle shades of grey instead of everything black and white.

But then again, that suits my perception of the game perfectly.

Scenario Four: With Blue Uncertain Stumbling by Jeff Moeller

This scenario has a (sort of) human villain, with a hurricane as the backdrop for the last part of the scenario. An interesting variation on the ‘living on after death’ magics that often creep up in Lovecraftian fiction (Thing on the Doorstep, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Return of the Sorcerer, et al.) with investigators called to investigate a ghost story in Key West that ultimately both is, and is not, a ghost story, with at least one unknown innocent at risk (I can’t really explain this without going into details that surprisingly are not pivotal to the scenario).

The nature of the threat, the pending ritual, the advancing storm, all make for a nice and moody piece, and a scenario where investigation may be the major function, the closest to a ‘purist’ style scenario in this book, and one of the most purist scenarios to show up in recent years outside of the Trail of Cthulhu game. A good scenario, but a distinct one that even if the investigators ‘beat’ the threat, may still have major questions about exactly what they were dealing with after playing it out.

Scenario Five: Darkness Illuminated by Jon Hook

This book wraps with a very strong sandbox scenario, and again we are awash in moral ambiguity, another case where the humans come across as the biggest monsters, with a ruthless businessman exploiting a captive mi go, and multiple innocent humans victimized by both the humans and the mi go.

Picking who to help, if any, picking what to do, it all becomes player driven, against a timeline that will carry out unless the players interfere, but the more they learn, the more the players can do to impact this storyline.

One of the complications in the story is that by the time the investigators involved, there are victims, but no innocent bystanders remaining.

In playing this scenario, I had one player grumble at one point ‘this is the Midwich Cuckoos as the rebel alliance’…and to a strange extent, I can see their point. A great scenario to wrap up a great book.

Now, if you haven’t already, at least pop over and check out the Kickstarter.