Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Monday, 9 December 2019

Horror & Hedonism

If ever there was a city ripe for subversion by the Mythos it is Jazz Age Berlin, the Berlin of the twenties, of roaring inflation, the Weimar Republic, of unfettered artistic expression, of outrageous entertainment, of political extremes and violence, of a flood of immigration from Russia and Eastern Europe, and more that led it to be called the ‘Wickedest City on Earth’. It is this period—between the end of the Great War and the Nazi party under Adolf Hitler taking power in 1933—and its subversion by the Mythos which is explored in Berlin: The Wicked City – Unveiling the Mythos in Weimar Berlin, the latest supplement for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition. Published by Chaosium, Inc., the content and subject matter of Berlin: The Wicked City—sex, drugs, and prostitution—as well as the horror, make it one of the more mature titles published for the venerable roleplaying game of Lovecraftian investigative horror to date.

Berlin: The Wicked City begins by exploring why an investigator would be in a Berlin. Well despite its reputation for political violence and the rampant inflation in the earlier part of the decade, it is a welcoming city, not just for immigrants of all sorts, but also tourists, artists, and academics as well as homosexuals, lesbians, transgendered, and others. For Berliners and Germans come to Berlin, there is the matter of asking the question, ‘How did you spend the War?’ to be answered and whilst no new Occupations are given, several new Experience Packages are provided which focus on aspects of Berlin life. These are Street Fighter, Underclass, and Former Corpsstudent (ex-member of a student fraternity). Four Investigator Organisations are given as examples for the Investigators to join, all pleasingly suitable for the Berlin of the 1920s, including as they do Hilde-Film, a struggling film company—the city being the centre of European film production—which believes it has footage of ghosts and the Landsberger Tenants’ Association, whose members have uncovered something weird in the cellar and fear that others are taking an interest in it. Further on, it looks at the possible contacts that the investigators can cultivate in the city, including political, occult, and criminal.

Berlin itself is accorded a decent history and description of each of it zones and districts. Each is given a page of detail accompanied by a list of its sites of interest—both mundane and unusual, house of worship, chief contact, gang or organisation, nightlife, ongoing problem, and prominent form of prostitution. Also covered are the city’s weather, transport network, media and communication, and penal code. Equally as useful for any Investigator are the descriptions of Berlin’s museums and libraries, whilst those for Haus Vaterland—a department store of restaurants, Romanisches Forum—the square where the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial-Church and the exploitative Heaven and Hell Club both stand, the Institute of Sexology, and more, are described in more detail. The discussion of food and drink and Berlin’s nightlife, including the possibility of investigators owning their own club, move Berlin: The Wicked City onto more contentious ground.

One aspect that marks Berlin: The Wicked City as a sourcebook for more mature gamers is that the fact that it includes sex, drugs, and prositution, all prevalent in the period. These are subjects which some roleplayers may find dealing with more uncomfortable than the cosmic horror of Call of Cthulhu with its death and madness, but given that Berlin: The Wicked City is a supplement about Berlin, they are unavoidable. So yes, it does give rules for the effects of taking a variety of recreational drugs—including alcohol, it does list the types of prostitutes working in the city, and it does discuss both LGBTQI investigators and LGBTQI politics in the city. Notably though, it treats all of these subject matters in a mature fashion and a tone that is always measured, never salacious. Further, the treatment of these subject matters barely scratches the surface—Berlin during the Jazz Age deserved its reputation as the ‘Wicked City in the World’.

Before Berlin: The Wicked City delves into the weird, it gives biographies of some twenty or so famous Berliners and other inhabitants of the city, including Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein, Christopher Isherwood, and Vladimir Nabokov. None are given stats, but they do not really need them. What is given is the period when they are resident in Berlin, highlighting the possibility that the investigators might just meet any one of them.

More than half of the supplement is dedicated to the Mythos in Berlin. This includes the presence of Nyarlathotep as the emcee of the city’s wildest parties and cabarets, wild youth who style themselves as the ‘Lost Boys’ from J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and worship something caprine in the woods outside the city, and a dance troupe whose ‘cosmic ballets’ might just be summoning clear vision to the world, but might inadvertently be summoning something else. These short write-up are accompanied by ten scenario seeds awaiting the Keeper’s development.

Berlin: The Wicked City is rounded out with three scenarios which together form a loose campaign which takes place in 1922, 1926, 1928, and 1932. Each of the three explores a particular theme which the author discusses at the scenarios’ starts, so the theme for ‘The Devil Eats Flies’ is ‘lustmord’—‘lust death’, for ‘Dances of Vice, Horror, and Ecstacy’ it is ‘überschreitung’—‘transgression’, and for ‘Schreckfilm’ it is ‘algolagnia’—‘sexual pleasure derived from physical pain’. ‘The Devil Eats Flies’ is a noirish case of a missing person which descends into political unrest and violence on Berlin’s streets and one of the stranger tales of the twentieth century. There are some nice set pieces to this scenario, including a scene at night in the city’s zoo and at the antagonist’s home. Overall, this is a rich, meaty mystery for the investigators to get their teeth into. ‘Dances of Vice, Horror, and Ecstacy’ draws the investigators into the life of a dissolute artist when something strange happens at one of her performances and they are asked by an occultist to investigate. This is a louche and loose scenario with multiple plot strands which may not be that easy to follow and the Keeper will need to ensure that she has well prepared before running this scenario. Foreshadowing events years in the future, the scenario takes on a grandeur in its later scenes in a number of quite wicked set-pieces. Lastly, ‘Schreckfilm’ begins with a MacGuffin falling into the investigators’ possession and finds them trailed by trouble as the authorities and other organisations, both mundane and monstrous, take too much of an interest in them. Investigating the MacGuffin will furnish them with clues and an encounter with a surprisingly urbane Englishman before plunging them into the seamier side of Berlin society and an attempt to prevent the co-option of the mass media by the Mythos. Taking place before the election of the Nazi party, there is a strong sense of foreboding throughout ‘Schreckfilm’, one that stems our knowledge of events which followed. For the investigators though, this is one last chance to stop at least some of the madness. 

All three of these quite lengthy scenarios make excellent use of Berlin as a place, making them difficult to set elsewhere. They also parallel the events and moods of the decade the supplement covers. Starting with the terror and uncertainty of the political violence and economic instability of 1922 and ‘The Devil Eats Flies’, continuing with the transgressive decadence of  ‘Dances of Vice, Horror, and Ecstacy’ in 1926 and 1928, before coming face-to-face with moral decay and turpitude of ‘Schreckfilm’ in 1932. All three of these scenarios contain sexual elements, especially the second two, so any group of players roleplaying these adventures need to be aware that they contain adult content that is more obvious than in other Call of Cthulhu scenarios. 

So what is missing from Berlin: The Wicked City? There are perhaps two things which it could have included. It mentions that despite laws being enacted following the Great War which banned the private ownership of firearms, guns were easy to get hold of. What it does not do is tell the Keeper what weapons might have been readily available. It need not have given stats for them since there are plenty listed in the Call of Cthulhu Rulebook, but giving their names would have been useful at the very least. The other thing missing from Berlin: The Wicked City is a timeline for the decade or so that it covers. Obviously, much of that can be found online, but for a setting supplement for a roleplaying game of Lovecraftian investigative horror, a timeline of occult or weird happenings in Berlin would have been useful.

Physically, Berlin: The Wicked City adheres to Chaosium, Inc.’s now high standards in terms of layout and look. This is a clean and tidy hardback, illustrated with a good mix of period photographs and full-page, full colour pieces of artwork, the latter capturing the gaiety of the city as much as the horror. The cartography though, is excellent, whether it is the period maps that depict the cluttered layout of the city or the delightfully architectural floor plans. The cover is also well done, hinting at the reach that the Mythos has over the bright lights of Berlin.

Berlin: The Wicked City gets the balance between background content and playable content right. There is more than enough of the former that is both interesting and useful to help run the latter and help the Keeper develop her own material. Although the more mature, if not adult, elements of that background may put some roleplayers off, it is carefully handled and presented throughout, especially in the scenarios where the investigators are more than likely to encounter it. And should roleplayers decide to avoid the supplement on those grounds, then they will be missing out on what are three good scenarios. Although the Keeper is given several scenario seeds to develop, an anthology of scenarios set in Berlin between the three scenarios in Berlin: The Wicked City would be more than welcome. Certainly Berlin: The Wicked City sets the blueprint for what a good city or setting supplement should be like for Call of Cthulhu.

Berlin: The Wicked City – Unveiling the Mythos in Weimar Berlin is an impressive supplement. It more than does the setting of the ‘Wickedest City on Earth’ justice and it enables the investigators to explore that setting in three tales that cover the influence of the Mythos in a decade of danger, dissipation, and decay. 

Sunday, 8 December 2019

The Moldvay Way

One of the aspects of the Old School Renaissance is that with access to the Open Game License and System Reference Document, roleplayers, Dungeon Masters, Referees, and game designers can not only revisit particular versions of Dungeons & Dragons—whether that is the original Dungeons & Dragons, Basic Dungeons & Dragons, or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons—but specific editions of those games. So it is with Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy. Published by Necrotic Gnome—a publisher best known for the Wormskin fanzine and Dolmenwood setting—following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy is one such retroclone of a particular edition of Basic Dungeons & Dragons. That edition is the 1981 revision of Basic Dungeons & Dragons by Tom Moldvay and its accompanying Expert Set by Dave Cook and Steve Marsh. The core book for which is the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome.

What this means is that Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy is a Basic Dungeons & Dragons retroclone. It is a Class and Level roleplaying game, the combination of the Moldvay Basic Dungeons & Dragons and its Expert Set, providing scope for characters to go from First Level to Fourteenth Level. It does ‘Race as Class’, so the Classes are Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, and Thief—all Humans, plus Dwarf, Elf, and Halfling. The Dwarf is a Fighter able to detect underground construction tricks and room traps, with Infravision, and good hearing; the Elf is a Fighter able to cast arcane spells, has Infravision, good sight and hearing, and is immune to Ghoul Paralysis; and the Halfling is a Fighter good at hiding, has good hearing, and is good with missile weapons. The Cleric has the Turn Undead ability, but does not get a spell until he has reached Second Level, whilst the Magic-User gets just the one spell at First Level. The attributes are still on the three to eighteen scale, but the modifier ranges from -3 to +3. The Alignments are Law, Neutral, and Chaos, rather Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral, Lawful Evil, Neutral Good, Neutral, et cetera. In combat, weapons do a six-sided die’s worth of damage with Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy uses THAC0 or ‘To Hit Armour Class 0’. Notably though, the range of Armour Class values starts at 9 and ends at -3, rather than starting at 10 and ending at -10 as in other iterations of Dungeons & Dragons.

Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy also includes the option for High-Level play, taking the player characters above the Fourteenth Level maximum of the Moldvay Basic Dungeons & Dragons and its Expert Set, right up to Thirty-Sixth Level much in the vein of the Mentzer edition of Basic Dungeons & Dragons and it subsequent expansions. Another inclusion is a list of the Level titles—so Acolyte, Adept, Priest/Priestess, and so on for the Cleric Class and Veteran, Warrior, Sword-Master, and so on, for the Fighter Class—another feature of early versions of Dungeons & Dragons. Both the rules for High-Level play and the Level titles are taken from the Moldvay Basic Dungeons & Dragons and its Expert Set rather than being new additions.

Ixyll
First level Magic-User
Alignment: Law
Armour Class: 10
Hit Points: 3
THAC0: 19

Strength 05 (-1, 1-in-6 Open Doors)
Intelligence 13 (Elvish, Literate)
Wisdom 10 
Dexterity 12 
Constitution 12 
Charisma 08 (-1, Max. Retainers: 3, Loyalty: 6)

Spells: Sleep
Equipment: Backpack, lantern, oil flask (2), tinder box, wine, iron rations, crowbar, daggers (3), 63 GP

At its core, Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy is Basic Dungeons & Dragons writ large then. Except not—and in a number of ways. To begin with, it provides options that shift it away from the original Moldvay version of Basic Dungeons & Dragons and a step or two closer to modern sensibilities. Most obviously, providing rules for ascending Armour Class as first seen in Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition rather than the descending Armour Class of THAC0, and to be fair, it is an easier, more intuitive option. Another modernism is actually not, that of ability checks, which in Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy has a player rolling equal to or under one of his character’s six abilities for the character to succeed at a challenging task. Rather its inclusion is intended to address an ambiguity, their being included as an option in the Expert Set rules for Basic Dungeons & Dragons, but not in the Basic Dungeons & Dragons rules themselves. Other ambiguities the designer has addressed from the Moldvay edition of Basic Dungeons & Dragons includes the Encumbrance rules; how much Experience Points should be awarded to retainers—half of the Experience Points earned by the player characters is due to them; clearly distinguishing between the room traps that characters of all Classes can attempt to find, and the small or treasure traps which the Thief Class specialises in finding and disarming; clearly stating that characters cannot run in combat; changing the Morale rules so that monsters definitely check Morale the first time when one of their number is killed; and balancing the values of the various treasure types. 

In addition, Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy expands the scope of Moldvay Basic Dungeons & Dragons. For the most part these are more changes in terminology rather than scope. Thus ‘Adventure’ is no longer used to refer to a single session of an ongoing game; the term ‘Hirelings’ is introduced to cover all non-adventuring retainers; and the term ‘THAC0’ is imported from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition to help explain the combat mechanics. (Its inclusion also helps ground player and Referee in the retroclone.) It also opens up the use of the subdual rules for dragons to apply to other monsters too and applies the rules for handling watercraft to other vehicles.

So what else is in the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome? Besides the seven Classes and method of creating characters, the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome covers wealth and encumbrance; vehicles and mounts; extensive spell lists for both Arcane spellcasters—the Magic-User and the Elf, and Divine spellcasters—the Cleric; adventuring—dungeon and wilderness adventuring, encounters, pursuit and evasion, and combat; hired help—retainers, mercenaries, and specialists; strongholds and domains; a bestiary, from Acolyte, Ape (White), and Bandit to Wyvern, Yellow Mould, and Zombie; advice on Running Adventures for the Referee; and treasure lists including sentient swords. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of information here, but a very great deal of it will be familiar to the target audience for the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome. Which means that a member of that audience could grab a copy of this roleplaying game and a fantasy scenario of their choice and run using these rules.

At the sharp end of the game, the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome also covers adventuring in just a few pages, covering marching order and the ‘Caller’ and ‘Mapper’ roles, time, movement, adventuring in dungeons, the wilderness, and on the water, combat, and more. Notably here, the dungeoneering aspect of the game is played out in ten-minute turns, the Referee first rolling for wandering monsters, the party deciding its actions and the Referee describing their outcome, followed by his bookkeeping at the end of the turn. Wilderness Adventuring and Waterborne Adventuring follows a similar pattern, but adding weather and getting lost into the mix. What the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome is doing here is highlighting the procedural nature of play within the rules of not just this retroclone, but also Dungeons & Dragons in its earlier incarnations. In fact, the graphical design of Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy draws the reader’s very attention to this by placing each sequence of play in a box at the start of their relevant sections.

The Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome comes as a thick digest-sized hardback, but it never feels stodgy or like it is trying to pack too much information into its smaller page size. What is obvious about Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy is that as much thought has gone into its physical design as its mechanical design. A great deal has effort is made to fit particular sections of rules onto double page spreads, so how to create a character and an explanation of the six abilities take up a double page spread as do the rules for hazards and challenges, dungeon adventuring, wilderness adventuring, and so on and so on. The designer does this again and again, but some rules need just a page, like those for Alignment, and other content needs more, such as the spell lists and the bestiary obviously. The designer really makes good use of the space in the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome and none of it feels wasted.

The Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome is liberally illustrated using a lot of black and white pieces with full colour spreads between chapters of the book. Some of it is weird, some of it wonky, some of it wonderful, but a wide range of styles showcasing many of the artists drawing for the Old School Renaissance today. The writing and editing is also good, the former succinct in presenting and explaining the rules. A nice touch is that many of the most useful rules and tables have been reproduced inside the front and back covers of the book.

What is missing from the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome is anything in the way of examples. So there is no example of character generation, of play, of combat, and so on. True, its target audience does not need such examples, but it would have been nice to have had them included, not just to see the designer’s mind at work, but perhaps add a degree of verisimilitude from the roleplaying game that Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy is based upon. Similarly, there is no adventure in the book, or sample locales, but again, the audience for whom Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy is intended will doubtless have content of their own to use. Equally as similar is that it would have been nice to see the types of adventure that the designer had intended to use these rules for, but that said, he has published several for use with the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome

What the version of Basic Dungeons & Dragons that followed the Moldvay version—the Mentzer version from 1983—ultimately got, but the Moldvay version never did, was a compilation. This was the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia, which is now available via Print on Demand. That is no longer the case. Thanks to Necrotic Gnome, the Moldvay version of Basic Dungeons & Dragons now has its own answer to the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia in the form of the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome. It is not only a lovely representation of those rules, Old School Essentials Classic Fantasy is a representation with a polish, an adjustment for inconsistencies, errors, and so on, all to make it more playable. The Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy: Rules Tome is the update that the 1981 Moldvay version of Basic Dungeons & Dragons deserved.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

All Aboard the Godwhale

Published by Lost Pages, Genial Jack Vol. I is the first issue of a serialised setting that is one-part the Book of Jonah, one-part Green Ronin Publishing’s Freeport, one-part Swift’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. In Four Parts. By Lemuel Gulliver, First a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships or Gulliver’s Travels, one part Baron Munchausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels and Campaigns in Russia, but all weird nautical urban fantasy that can be best described as ‘whale-punk’. This is because Genial Jack Vol. I details a levianthine Blue Whale which for centuries has been home to the teeming town of Jackburg built across his thick skin and in his stomachs and deep into his intestines, much of it made up of the ships he has swallowed and those that have sailed into his maw and permanently moored inside of him. Jackburg is home to peoples and islands that the whale—the ‘Genial Jack’ of the title—has swallowed, from the Draugr to the Fomorians, and today it serves as a roaming free port, from which merchants sell the strange and exotic goods they have acquired in distant lands as well as the ambergris constantly formed deep in his gut.

Designed for use with Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition—but very easily adapted to the retroclone of your choice—Genial Jack Vol. I focuses very much on the peoples and places of Jackburg. The former includes over thirteen new player character Races. These start with the undead Draugar, drowned corpses from the north who dwell in longships and a reputation for fell curses and trading in people, and Finfolk, sly, shapeshifting merfolk who are known for their illusions and the indentured workers they mark with their bloodsucking maws; and Formorians, giants banished from Faerie by Queen Mab who can cast an evil eye about, but are skilled crafters of magical devices and weapons and armour, to Sirens, who have reputations as malicious seductresses, but are highly charismatic and help in Jackburg’s aerial defence; Undines, water elementals who can turn into water and back again and work in Jackburg powering waterwheels, serving as living air-suits, and moving vessels and cargo; and Urchins, Jackburg’s underclass, beggars—Urchin Beggars?—who will happily eat rubbish, but who are considered to be lucky. The others do include Humans, but also the hive-mind Jellyfolk, the Karkinoi crustacean warriors, tentacular mercantile Octopoids, the sentient and artistic coral Polypoids, the bankers and thieves who make up the Ratfolk, and the often vicious shark-men raiders known as the Selachians, who include an individual casino-owner and moneylender who is called, of course, the Loan Shark. All of these Races have adapted to an amphibious life aboard Genial Jack and inside Jackburg, including being able to see in dim or low lighting, many need to be submerged at least once per day.

Genial Jack Vol. I then examines each of Jackburg’s districts in both Outer Jackburg and Inner Jackburg, the former being on the exterior of Genial Jack, the latter inside him. Each is given a full page which includes a short description and a handful of encounters and locations. So along the great whale’s flanks can be found Barnaclebank, the series of barnacles which have been hollowed out and linked via tunnels of reinforced glass and iron, then carved and reshaped, many of them into gun emplacements, harpoon launchers, and torpedo bays manned by the Whaleguard, Jackburg’s guard and security forces—unsurprisingly, Genial Jack has a decent navy to protect both himself and Jackburg. The encounters include an emergency as a porthole has cracked and is letting in water with the player characters being the nearest ones who can fix it before the Whaleguard can get there and the discovery of an enormous crimson pearl brought ashore by Jackburg’s fisherfolk, which might be anything from a mermaid lich’s phylactery to a resurrection stone. The locations given thumbnail descriptions are the Barnaclebank Fish Market which operates on the extendable docks on Genial Jack’s starboard flank, and the Sea Star Saloon, a tavern inside a single, huge barnacle-shell which is run by a man with the lower body of a starfish and which caters to Whaleguard officers and fishermen alike.

At the other end is The Gutgardens at the bottom of the whale’s main stomach. Here fish and krill is received from Genial Jack’s maw via canals and tubes and cultivated into gut bacteria and symbiotic algae which soothes his innards. They are worked by Gutgardeners in signature green and black uniforms with gas masks and heavy-duty work boots and gloves. The encounters include coming across a pair of Bloodskulls gang members about to dunk a debtor in Acid Lake; an invasion of Feral Fungoids driven into frenzy after feeding on Genial Jack’s blood; and a poisonous miasma that will leave all who breathe it in with a lung infection. The locations include an abattoir where a Jellyfolk mentalist humanely stuns livestock before their slaughter; the aforementioned Acid Lake, where enclosed and perfumed domes provide popular picnic spots for those from Inner Town; and the Digestive Reserves, areas kept entirely free of buildings and people to aid in Genial Jack’s digestion.

Some twenty or so districts are described in this fashion, along with a centre spread illustration/map of Genial Jack and Jackburg, as well as a list of city slang. So far, so good, but so far this is forty pages into Genial Jack Vol. I and the reader is left wondering how all of this works, who is in charge, and so on. At this point, Genial Jack Vol. I does cover the authorities of Jackburg, including The Captains’ Conclave held at Mysterium Tremendum, a massive ship and alehouse, where every captain and depending on the size of their constituent populations they represent, ship’s mates too, express their opinions and suggest where the Whale journeys next. Such are directions are imparted by the Navigators, the divine intercessors between the peoples of Jackburg and the ‘Godwhale’ that is Genial Jack, who are descended from those first shipwrecked inside him. Lastly, the Whaleguard is Jackburg’s navy and police force. Rounding out Genial Jack Vol. I are some details of Jackburg’s laws and criminal organisations as well as a list of some twenty interesting Jackburgers, inhabitants of Jackburg.

Physically, Genial Jack Vol. I  is more of a magazine rather than a book. Down in black and white throughout, this first issue is richly illustrated with some fantastic cross sections of Jackburg’s twenty districts. Use of the art does veer into the repetitious, but it has to be said it is good art. On the downside, the twelve new Races are only given portrait illustrations rather than full body shots, so players and Referee alike will need to use a little imagination there. The cover though is absolutely fantastically fantastic, a piece of artwork which just grabs the reader. Elsewhere, the writing is decent, as is the editing.

Genial Jack Vol. I  still feels as if it is missing one or two things. Obviously a scenario, but then it has almost forty encounters across the various districts it describes, but more problematically there is no discussion of what Classes are suitable or found in Jackburg and there are no new Classes. Yet, the one thing that is really missing is a discussion of the technology found on and in the Godwhale. Gunpowder definitely, but also an overhead tram which runs from Genial Jack’s Maw down its oesophagus, and working of iron and glass into tunnels, all of which suggests advanced technology of a kind. Exactly what though, is another matter. Hopefully, it will be covered in a later issue.

Although written for use with Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition, the rules content in Genial Jack Vol. I is very light being confined to the various abilities possessed by each Race. This means that it is very easy to adapt to the retroclone of your choice and it is very much a case of Genial Jack Vol. I being imaginative enough to transcend any limitations a Referee or player should have with regards to their roleplaying game of choice. Not only could this be adapted to the retroclone of your choice, it could be adapted to the setting of your choice, whether that is Green Ronin Publishing’s Freeport: City of Adventure or the world of 50 Fathoms for use with Savage Worlds or the Referee’s own campaign world.

Although just the first issue, Genial Jack Vol. I is a satisfying appetiser for what promises to be an imaginatively weird and wonderful setting. It can absolutely be described as unique, the first ‘whalepunk’ setting. Genial Jack Vol. II is eagerly awaited.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Friday Fantasy: More Than Meets The Eye

More Than Meets The Eye: A Short Adventure with Lots of Tentacles is one of four short scenarios for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay released by Lamentations of the Flame Princess at Gen Con 2019, the others being Barbarians of Orange Boiling Seas, Menagerie of Exiles, and Zak Has Nothing To Do With This Book. Written by Kelvin Green, the author of Forgive Us and Fish Fuckers – Or, a Record, Compil’d in Truth, of the Sordid Activities of the People of Innsmouth, it is like several other scenarios from the publisher, set in the early modern period of the opening decades of the seventeenth century. It is also a sequel of sorts to the author’s scenario for adult Referees and players, the aforementioned Fish Fuckers.

From the start, including the title and its vibrant cover, it is obvious that More Than Meets The Eye is a weird, fantasy homage to a certain franchise of films involving giant robots capable of transforming into everyday objects. Not only is its location called St. Michael’s Bay, but the antagonists of the bay are transforming aliens, though not robots. Instead they are squidy, squidgy, tentacled aliens—shoggoths?—capable of transforming into everyday objects. This is depicted on the front cover and in a really good illustration inside the book. This transformation theme runs throughout the scenario, whether it is objects transforming into aliens (shoggoths), or the player characters into another race or Class, or simply into goop. There is a certain sexual element to the scenario, but it is not quite as prurient as that of Fish Fuckers.

Like the aforementioned scenario, More Than Meets The Eye is set in the West Country, but Cornwall rather than Devon, begging the question, “What exactly, does the author have against the people of the West Country?”. A light has been in the sky over the coastal village of St. Michael’s Bay or there has been violence in the coastal village of St. Michael’s Bay following a light has been in the sky or nothing has been heard from the leading men of the village, Ernest and Henry Hastings, and their business associates want to ensure that they are all right. These are the reasons to bring the player characters to the village of St. Michael’s Bay, which absolutely has to be the best use of the director’s name under any circumstances and well, it is set in Cornwall, home to Saint Michael's Mount (if there was a French version, there has to be a joke in there about Le Mont-Saint-Jean-Michel-Jarre).

What is going is this. St. Michael’s Bay has been invaded—twice. First by a group of shape-changing aliens in the past, fleeing a civil war amongst their kind. This group has recently been awoken after millennia of hibernation and in the process, the second group, come to Earth to capture the first. Which leads to a confrontation and a stand-off, one which the player characters are likely to break. Depending upon the outcome, there is a chance that the player characters might end up with a—unsurprisingly, given that this scenario is for Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplay—weird spaceship, which is not actually as bad as it might seem. After all, there are any number of scenarios published for the roleplaying game and other Old School Renaissance roleplaying games which are set in weird locations, for example, Barbarians of the Orange Boiling Sea, which could be reached by a spaceship.

Physically, More Than Meets The Eye: A Short Adventure with Lots of Tentacles is well presented, with some really quite entertaining artwork. The book could be better edited though.

More Than Meets The Eye: A Short Adventure with Lots of Tentacles lives up to its title. It is short, probably providing no more than a session or two of play—though if the player characters get hold of the spaceship, it opens up all sorts of possibilities. It also has a lot of tentacles and no, you do not want to get close and personal with any of them! More Than Meets The Eye: A Short Adventure with Lots of Tentacles is also bonkers, but it is the best version of Michael Bay throughout all of time and space.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Jonstown Jottings #4: Yossarian’s Duck Bandits!

Much like the Miskatonic Repository for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, the  Jonstown Compendium is a curated platform for user-made content, but for material set in Greg Stafford's mythic universe of Glorantha. It enables creators to sell their own original content for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha (Questworlds). This can include original scenarios, background material, cults, mythology, details of NPCs and monsters, and so on, but none of this content should be considered to be ‘canon’, but rather fall under ‘Your Glorantha Will Vary’. This means that there is still scope for the authors to create interesting and useful content that others can bring to their Glorantha-set campaigns.

—oOo—

What is it?
Yozarian’s Bandit Ducks! A RuneQuest Glorantha scenario for 3-5 players is a short one-shot with pre-generated players character Ducks.

It is a thirty-six page, full colour, 7.76 MB PDF.

Yozarian’s Bandit Ducks! is well presented, nicely illustrated in a cartoonish style, and the maps are good.

Where is it set?
Yossarian’s Duck Bandits! is set in Sartar in Dragon Pass. The default location is 32 km north of Apple Lane in the lands of the Dinacoli, but it can be shifted to any location on the fringes between civilised lands and the wilderness.

Who do you play?
Duck bandits. Or rather, Ducks who through misfortune and circumstance have turned to a life of banditry. Five pre-generated Ducks are included ready to play. They consist of two Odayla-worshipping Hunter brothers, an Uleria-worshipping ex-courtesan, a Humakt initiate, and an Orlanth initiate.

What do you need?
Yossarian’s Duck Bandits! can be run just using RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. The Glorantha Bestiary may be useful for information on Ducks and veteran Gloranthophiles may want to refer to the scenario ‘The Money Tree’ from RuneQuest, Third Edition for more information about the primary NPC in Yossarian’s Duck Bandits!

What do you get?
Yossarian’s Duck Bandits! is a tragi-comic affair about five Ducks who have been forced to turn to a life of crime and are about to commit their first act of banditry. This does not go quite as well as planned—for mostly tragic, comic reasons—but the Ducks do learn the whereabouts of even greater treasure. Unfortunately that involves a trek up a mountain and down again, a tight squeeze, some hungry, hungry trolls, and a ‘river rapids ride’ with Ducks!

Yossarian’s Duck Bandits! is in part intended to be played for comedy, played out against a very big threat, but there is a lot of flavour and nuance to the scenario which stems in part from the interplay of the pre-generated Ducks and their relationships. This should drive the events of the scenario as much as its fairly simple plot, and should also provide plenty of opportunity for some good roleplaying too. Although the outcome of the scenario is not set in stone, there is a good chance that the player characters will come out of it heroes—after all, they are bandits more by circumstance rather than choice—and the authors do provide several adventure seeds should the Game Master want to continue with the further adventures of Yossarian’s Duck Bandits.

Yossarian’s Duck Bandits! is about the right length to be run as a convention scenario and so could be run in a four-hour session. No advice is given to that end, but an experienced convention Game Master should have no issues with running the scenario.

Is it worth your time?
Yes. Yozarian’s Bandit Ducks! A RuneQuest Glorantha scenario for 3-5 players is a fun, exciting affair, easy to run as a one shot (or convention) scenario which demonstrates one of the odder aspects of Glorantha. Duck fans will love this, as will fans of the original ‘The Money Tree’ scenario, and they will also want a sequel,which the scenario deserves.

No. Yozarian’s Bandit Ducks! A RuneQuest Glorantha scenario for 3-5 players involves Ducks and some people find Ducks silly.

Maybe. Yozarian’s Bandit Ducks! A RuneQuest Glorantha scenario for 3-5 players involves Ducks and some people find Ducks silly, but there is plenty of tragedy in the scenario to counterpoint the silliness—and at the very least, it is just a one-shot. 

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Jonstown Jottings #3: This Fertile Ground

Much like the Miskatonic Repository for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, the  Jonstown Compendium is a curated platform for user-made content, but for material set in Greg Stafford's mythic universe of Glorantha. It enables creators to sell their own original content for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha (Questworlds). This can include original scenarios, background material, cults, mythology, details of NPCs and monsters, and so on, but none of this content should be considered to be ‘canon’, but rather fall under ‘Your Glorantha Will Vary’. This means that there is still scope for the authors to create interesting and useful content that others can bring to their Glorantha-set campaigns.


—oOo—


What is it?
This Fertile Ground is a short, two-session scenario set in Beast Valley in Dragon Pass for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. It is within easy journey’s travel distance of the Colymar tribe lands and so can be run as part of the Colymar campaign begun in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – QuickStart Rules and Adventure and then continued in and around Apple Lane as detailed in the RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen Pack

It is a twenty-two page, full colour, 9.15 MB PDF.

This Fertile Ground is well presented, but is not illustrated and needs another edit. The maps are decent though.

Where is it set?
This Fertile Ground takes place in Chasteberry Hollow in Beast Valley where the Man and Beast Runes vie for control of the area.

Who do you play?
This Fertile Ground does not have any strict requirements in terms of the characters needed, but ideally, the player characters should include an Ernalda (or other Earth deity) worshipper or even better, an Ernalda priestess.

What do you need?
This Fertile Ground can be run using just RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. If it is run as part of the Apple Lane campaign then the RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen Pack is recommended.

What do you get?
This Fertile Ground takes place in Sea Season in Beast Valley where two different Beast Men cultures have clashed over access to land and that clash has escalated into conflict between the opposed Man and Beast Runes. On the one side are the Coney, peaceful, sentient rabbit-folk from Esrolia who have settled Chasteberry Hollow where they farm and harvest the chasteberries, an important ingredient in their fertility potions. On the other are Leporids, the larger hare-like nomads for whom Chasteberry Hollow is their traditional mating ground. Enter the player characters.

Several plot hooks are given to get the player characters to Chasteberry Hollow. These include being sent to acquire several vials of the Coney’s famed fertility potion—certainly it would make sense for Queen Laika at Clearwine to obtain some for the vineyards and thus send the player characters, an Ernalda priestess going to help with the birth of the local priestess, the Coneys wanting to hire mercenaries, the innkeeper at nearby Stone Cross wanting someone to find his pot boy who has gone missing, and so on. There is plenty of flexibility in the set-up although the strongest would be to link to the Colymar campaign.

When the player characters arrive in Chasteberry Hollow, there is a standoff between the Coneys and Leporids. That is likely to change with their arrival, but although there is a plot which will play out with their arrival, there is still plenty of room for player characters to undertake whatever action they want to resolve the situation. As written there are definitely villains to the piece, but neither side is totally blameless for the situation.

Besides describing the situation in Chasteberry Hollow and Chasteberry Hollow itself, This Fertile Ground details some ten or so NPCs from each side, possible outcomes for the scenario, and presents two new types of Beast Men, the Coneys and the Leporids. These can be created as NPCs or player characters.

Surprisingly, although some of the NPCs have the Jump Rune Spell, none of them have the Jump skill. This seems an odd omission since they are described as leaping in and out of combat. 

Is it worth your time?
Yes. This Fertile Ground presents opportunities for both roleplaying and combat with a standoff that nicely brings two opposing Runes into conflict and gives room aplenty for the player characters to resolve that standoff. If the player characters include an Ernalda priestess, then this is a good scenario for her to be involved in. The scenario is also easy to add to the Colymar campaign.

No. If your campaign is not set anywhere near Beast Valley and perhaps you have an issue with leporine Beast Men, then This Fertile Ground is not for you.

Maybe. This Fertile Ground can be run as scenario encountered whilst the player characters are travelling, but how useful it is depends on how far they have come and where they are going, and it does not make the best use of the given plot hooks.

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Jonstown Jottings #2: The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths

Much like the Miskatonic Repository for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, the  Jonstown Compendium is a curated platform for user-made content, but for material set in Greg Stafford's mythic universe of Glorantha. It enables creators to sell their own original content for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha (Questworlds). This can include original scenarios, background material, cults, mythology, details of NPCs and monsters, and so on, but none of this content should be considered to be ‘canon’, but rather fall under ‘Your Glorantha Will Vary’. This means that there is still scope for the authors to create interesting and useful content that others can bring to their Glorantha-set campaigns.


—oOo—

What is it?
The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths is a short, two-session scenario set in Dragon Pass during Dark Season easily run as part of the Colymar campaign begun in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – QuickStart Rules and Adventure and then continued in and around Apple Lane as detailed in the RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen Pack

It is a twenty-six page, full colour, 7.76 MB PDF.

The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths is well presented and decently written. The internal artwork is okay, but the map is decent and the front cover is excellent.

Where is it set?
The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths by default takes place in Apple Lane in the lands of the Colymar tribe and then on the Big Starfire Ridge. Ideally, it takes place after the events of the scenarios presented in RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen Pack when one of the player characters has been appointed the hamlet’s Thane. Alternative locations are given for the scenario in Sartar, as well as Prax, Grazelands, and Tarsh, should the Game Master decide to set it elsewhere as well as an alternative hook should one of the player characters not hold the position of Thane. 

Who do you play?
The scenario does not have any strict requirements in terms of the characters needed, but ideally, the player characters should include an Orlanthi worshipper and an Ernalda (or other Earth deity) worshipper. A Shaman may be of use as well.

What do you need?
The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths can be run using just 
RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. If scenario begins in Apple Lane, then the RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen Pack is recommended.

What do you get?
The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths is relatively straightforward scenario which begins deep into Dark Season with the villagers asking for the adventurers’ help in locating a boy who has been abducted by what might be a bogeyman or a demon out of folklore, a figure known as Krampus. Clues and legend point to a mysterious wall of ice on the Big Starfire Ridge, but getting there means venturing out into the worst weather of the year.

The main location for the adventure is the ‘Throat of Winter’ itself, a frigid cave system home to Krampus and his minions as well as one or two secrets that keep him—mostly—in the cave system. The incredibly cold caves have a dungeon-like quality, lots to explore, treasure to be found, and a trap or two as well as the monsters. Then there is the choice of the Krampus, the ‘half-goat, half-demon’ anthropomorphic figure of Central European folklore who Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved, as the main villain, which essentially makes The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths a Christmas (in Glorantha) story. That may not sit well with every Gloranthaphile, but of course, ‘Your Glorantha May Vary’, and anyway, it is easy enough to change the name.

Nevertheless, the author presents plenty of background explaining who the Krampus is and what he does as well as what exactly is going on in the ‘Throat of Winter’. He also suggests means other than combat for dealing with the situation, but since that means dealing with a demon, the player characters do have to be careful if they are to gain anything from the situation. Various possible outcomes are explored, including one or two which will have long term consequences for the player characters and the surrounding region. The most positive outcome does feel a little too similar to that of the scenario in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – QuickStart Rules and Adventure, so this should definitely not be run too soon after that scenario.

Is it worth your time?
Yes. If you are looking for a slightly festive scenario to run for your RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha at Christmas, or you want another scenario to run as part of the Colymar-set campaign from the RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen Pack in and around Apple Lane, then The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths will be a solid addition to your campaign with nicely done background lore and wintery atmosphere.

No. If are not looking for a slightly festive scenario to run for your RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha at Christmas or a village-set scenario in Dragon Pass, The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths is unlikely to be of use to you.

Maybe. Some groups may balk at the obvious Christmas-theming of The Throat of Winter: Terror in the Depths, but that can be changed.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Jonstown Jottings #1: Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1

Much like the Miskatonic Repository for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, the  Jonstown Compendium is a curated platform for user-made content, but for material set in Greg Stafford's mythic universe of Glorantha. It enables creators to sell their own original content for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and HeroQuest Glorantha (Questworlds). This can include original scenarios, background material, cults, mythology, details of NPCs and monsters, and so on, but none of this content should be considered to be ‘canon’, but rather fall under ‘Your Glorantha Will Vary’. This means that there is still scope for the authors to create interesting and useful content that others can bring to their Glorantha-set campaigns.


—oOo—

What is it?
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is the first part of campaign set in Sun County in Prax. It includes background for a remote region of Sun County and a complete scenario, ‘No Country for Cold Men’ along with six pre-generated player characters. Besides a gazetteer of the region, there is a quartet of maps for use with the background and the scenario.

It is a thirty-nine page, full colour, 3.69 MB PDF.

In general, Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is well presented and decently written. It does need another edit and the artwork is a little rough, but the maps are excellent.

Where is it set?
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 takes place in Sun County, the small, isolated province of Yelmalio-worshipping farmers and soldiers located in the fertile River of Cradles valley of Eastern Prax, south of the city of Pavis, where it is beset by hostile nomads and surrounded by dry desert. Specifically it is set in and around the remote hamlet of Sandheart, where the inhabitants are used to dealing and even trading with the nomads who in the past have fought to gain worship access to ruins inside Sandheart’s walls.

Who do you play?
The player characters are members of the Sun County militia based in Sandheart. Used to dealing with nomads and outsiders and oddities and agitators, the local militia serves as the dumping ground for any militia member who proves too difficult to deal with by the often xenophobic, misogynistic, repressive, and strict culture of both Sun County and the Sun County militia. It also accepts nomads and outsiders, foreigners and non-Yemalions, not necessarily as regular militia-men, but as ‘specials’, better capable of dealing with said foreigners and non-Yemalions.

The six pre-generated characters include a banished Yelmalion noble, a local and  ambitious farmer’s son, and a Yelmalion tomboy whose ambitions are stifled by Sun County misogyny. Plus an Impala rider and scout who has lost his clan, a Lhankor Mhy Sage from Pavis County with a hatred of the Lunar Empire, and a mercenary, would-be Humakti from Esrolia.

Guidelines are given to create ‘quirky’ members of the Sun County militia in Sandheart. It includes character concepts, equipment, and a list of starting equipment and advises using the quick-start method of creating characters rather than the Family History method in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha. (Primarily because the Family History method in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha is not specific to Sun County.)

What do you need?
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 can be run using just 
RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha

Although not absolutely necessary, the Game Master may also find the supplements Sun CountyThe River Of CradlesPavis, and The Big Rubble to be of use in providing deeper background. Tales of the Reaching Moon Issue 14 and Tales of the Reaching Moon Issue 15 may also be of use for details about the fertility god, Ronance.

What do you get?
Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 includes a description of Sandheart, a hamlet built around a series of plinths, remnant structures from Genert’s Garden. It details how the attitudes of the local inhabitants are different to those of the rest of Sun County and how that affects their dealings with outsiders and the rest of Sun County. Full details of the militia, its equipment, and its duties are given, along with its notable figures, the magic of the plinths, and ‘Beaky’, a highly inquisitive Wyter.

The scenario ‘No Country for Cold Men’ continues the penchant in RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha for terrible puns and pits the militia men against a well-organised band of drug runners with links all the way back up the Zola Fel River to the city of New Pavis. The drug is hazia, a highly addictive contraband euphoric herb grown along the valley of the River of Cradles and sold to traffickers who can make great profits by selling to users and addicts. The discovery of several dead riding and pack animals leads to a ragged caravan whose members seem reluctant to deal with the militia. This reluctance will probably escalate into a direct confrontation and from this the player characters will learn about the drug trafficking in the county. Following up on the clues revealed by the encounter, the militia men will track back up the traffickers’ route into the county, likely uncovering signs of corruption in the county, and giving the militia men an opportunity to strike against the criminals acting in the county. This is despite the fact that as members of the Sandheart militia, the player characters are very likely operating well outside of their jurisdiction.

Is it worth your time?
Yes. If you are looking for an interesting set-up, the opportunity to run a scenario in a more organised and civilised setting with player characters who have the authority and the duty to act in Sun County’s best interests—despite their less than upright and morally upstanding reputations. Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is an opportunity to run and roleplay a campaign that is very different to other RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha scenarios. Hopefully, Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 2 will develop the story and the setting much further.

NoTales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is not worth your time if you are running a campaign or scenarios set elsewhere, especially in Sartar as per ‘The Broken Tower’ from the RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha – QuickStart Rules and Adventure or in in and around Apple Lane as detailed in the RuneQuest Gamemaster Screen PackTales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 would be a difficult scenario to add to such a campaign.

Maybe. One of the issues with scenarios set in Sun County is that the dominant Light-worshipping culture of the Yelmalions is… “[X]enophobic, misogynistic, repressive and strict…” Some players may find this unpalatable, but that said, Tales of the Sun County Militia: Sandheart Volume 1 is about roleplaying characters who are either from outside of that culture or at odds with it to one degree or another. This sets up some interesting roleplaying challenges, as the player characters get to be noble and heroic in upholding the best values of Sun County, but still chafing against its dictats and constraints.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Miskatonic Monday #30: Night of the Rising Sun

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 of the DeadRise of the 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 depths of the Miskatonic Repository.

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Name: Night of the Rising Sun

Publisher: Chaosium, Inc.
Author: Arjen Poutsma

Setting: Shōgun-era Secrets of Japan

Product: Scenario
What You Get: 7.45 MB twenty eight-page, full colour PDF
Elevator Pitch: A disastrous Dutch dinner at the end of the world before the ship leaves. 
Plot Hook: Everyone wants something off the island of Dejima.
Plot Development: Food galore, strange displays, secrets revealed, revenge, blackmail, smuggling, disaster...
Plot Support: Map of the island, six pre-generated characters, six plots.

Pros
# One-session one-shot
# Unique historical location
# Strongly plotted
# Potential convention scenario
# Six solid pre-generated characters
# Period art and cartography

Cons
Tightly plotted
# Poorly explained set-up
# Unfamiliar setting
# Not suitable for the new Keeper
# Works best with six players

Conclusion
# Unique setting
# Underwritten set-up
Solid one-session one-shot convention scenario