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Monday, 15 January 2018

Miskatonic Monday #3: Terror Itself

Between October 2003 and October 2013, Chaosium, Inc. published a series of books for Call of Cthulhu under the Miskatonic University Library Association brand. Whether a sourcebook, scenario, anthology, or campaign, each was a showcase for their authors—amateur rather than professional, but fans of Call of Cthulhu nonetheless—to put forward their ideas and share with others. The programme was notable for having launched the writing careers of several authors, but for every Cthulhu InvictusThe PastoresPrimal StateRipples from Carcosa, and Halloween Horror, there was a Five Go Mad in EgyptReturn of the RipperRise ofthe DeadRise ofthe Dead II: The Raid, and more...

The Miskatonic University Library Association brand is no more, alas, but what we have in its stead is the Miskatonic Repository, based on the same format as the DM’s Guild for Dungeons & Dragons. It is thus, “...a new way for creators to publish and distribute their own original Call of Cthulhu content including scenarios, settings, spells and more…” To support the endeavours of their creators, Chaosium has provided templates and art packs, both free to use, so that the resulting releases can look and feel as professional as possible. To support the efforts of these contributors, Miskatonic Monday is an occasional series of reviews which will in turn examine an item drawn from the far reaches of the Miskatonic Repository.

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NameTerror Itself

Publisher: Chaosium, Inc.
AuthorJames Coquillat & David Naylor
Illsutrations: Alex Low, David Naylor, & Leon Fechner

SettingMassachusetts, 1920s, Miskatonic University, Lovecraft Country
Product: Scenario
What You Get2.2 MB, 24-page full colour PDF
Elevator Pitch: Archaeology meets things under the bed all against the clock

Plot Hook: A lonely strangeness comes to an isolated Massachusetts village after the Investigators begin an archaeological dig on an Indian burial ground.
Plot DevelopmentInteresting archaeology and missing animals. Are strangers—the investigators?—responsible or is something else haunting the town?
Plot SupportFully plotted out with eight NPCs, scenes and events, timeline, and archaeological investigation. Plus six pre-generated investigators.
Production ValuesNeeds an edit. The map could be clearer. No area map.

Pros

Archaeological dig used as a means of investigation
Good mix of main NPCs
# Good addition to an archaeology-based campaign
Good addition to a Miskatonic University-based campaign
# Good mix of timed and freeform events
# Possible link to Innsmouth (in name only)
# Makes great use of shadows
Easy to adapt to Cthulhu by Gaslight or Cthulhu Now 

Cons

Minor NPCs left undeveloped
No village or area map
Sanity losses and gains too low in places
Needs a careful read through
# Odd mix of pre-generated investigators
# Title feels like a placeholder

Conclusion

# Excellent use of Archaeological excavation as investigation
Short, two session scenario
Creepy and underplayed plot
# Solid addition to a Lovecraft Country campaign
Uninteresting title
# Pleasingly unnerving in places