Entry 39: Age of Cthulhu 1: Death in Luxor

The Age of Cthulhu series, by Goodman Games, is a well written and well-presented series, all but one of the volumes a single scenario in each volume (volume 5 has three smaller scenarios). They are fairly firmly set in location and time frame, and if you want to move them in time or space you will have to do some major tweaking. I will preface this by saying that I don’t care for all of the developments in the series, monster or location choices are sometimes problematic for me. Having said that, I will also say that even the episodes I have issues with are consistently well-written and well presented, this series is a winner, set generally in the ‘classic Lovecraftian’ era, with settings all over the globe.
The first volume is set in Luxor, Egypt, in a scenario that is a little ‘railroady’ for my taste, with a fairly linear plot but a nice ongoing mission. The players find themselves stumbling upon the aftermath of a bit of a massacre. A professor having lost sanity from his first encounter with the Mythos also had the misfortune to deduce his wife’s infidelity and in the maelstrom of emotions following he unleased a figurative, and somewhat literal hell, beginning a chain of events that the players must discern and struggle to derail before a major threat is unleashed. One group seems to be chasing the truth down in parallel with the investigators, but they are on their own agenda, and the investigators are, at best, useful tools to them. A cult is working against both, but at the same time, letting events flow to some extent, as long as their own agenda is not compromised as well. As a background, unless the players have been very careful, a corrupt police force is looking for the players.
Add to the mix assorted deep ones, at least one lesser monster that is easily a ‘tpk’ monster, and the final baddie which is one of the creatures I feel is a major catastrophe if ever unloosed, and you have an intense adventure with a threat looming overhead, even if not clearly understood until far into the game.
The players are not forced into any particular course of action, but as written a specific course of action will play out, with the players the only potential interruption of that flow. It ends up feeling like a strange mix of railroad and sandbox, but ultimately is a successful scenario, though a keeper may well need to be on his toes to keep the entire scenario from rolling over the players as events play out.
I do find most of the scenarios in this series to be similar in linearity and in strength of construction. Many unusual ideas are presented, and if a keeper can, they will be well served by these scenarios, even if the keeper doesn’t opt to use them directly.
The full series, as of this writing is presented below:
Volume 1: Death in Luxor
Volume 2: Madness in Londontown
Volume 3: Shadows of Leningrad
Volume 4: Horrors from Yuggoth
Volume 5: The Long Reach of Evil
Volume 6: A Dream of Japan
Volume 7: Timeless Sands of India
Volume 8: Starfall over the Plateau of Leng

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