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

Sunday, 4 June 2023

Initiation Island

It seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. The chance to attend the annual summer camp of Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory, a prestigious performing arts institute located on an island just off Providence, Rhode Island. Graduates of the summer camp are guaranteed admittance to Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory and graduates of the institute are all but guaranteed of a glittering career including recognition and status. You are gifted. A dancer. A saxophonist. A painter. A singer. A violinist. Yet something is not quite right—about you. About the Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory. You hide a secret. Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory has its secrets. This is the set-up for a mini-campaign published by Symphony Entertainment using Cthulhu Dark, the minimalist roleplaying game of Lovecraftian investigative horror in which the horror is so bleak that the Investigators can at best hope to survive rather than overcome. Thus, attendees of the Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory summer camp do not so much need to overcome their experiences at the institute, as rather find a way to survive, and perhaps even a way to abide…

Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory is a one-shot scenario in which the players take the roles of teenagers, musical prodigies attending the Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory for the first time at its annual summer camp. It is designed for five players. It can be played with fewer players, but works best with five. As the inspired Investigators enter the various arts programmes at the conservatory, they will quickly come to notice that not all is what it seems on the island. It is clear that the institute and its backers are wealthy, the conservatory being almost a luxurious retreat as much as it is a school. Yet there is a strangeness to it, as if it is not quite of this world, the other students in attendance are often unsettled, or driven to act in desperately weird ways, such as attempting sculpt a statue on the campus to get it right, but do so hands on with hot food on the plate like modelling clay or such as slamming themselves from wall to wall at their inability to perform to the level of skill they want. There is also the feeling that the Investigators are being groomed for something, tested not just on their musical ability, but on their past experiences and how they affect their musical ability. Ultimately, whatever it is, they will be given a choice…

Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory is supported with detailed descriptions of the five Investigators, as well as the Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory, its facilities and staff, and then a broad timeline of the thirty days that the Investigators will spend on the island. There is only the one map, and no floorplans, but most of the NPCs have photographs, and the handouts are decent. (In fact, the handouts would actually work if they were physically made as props.)

The scenario is also supported throughout with ‘Director Insight’, which includes advice for the Director—as the Keeper is known in Cthulhu dark—and playtest and staging notes. It also makes use of Cthulhu Dark’s ‘Dark Symbols’, which indicates if a scene involves a clue, something harmful, dialogue, something to sport, or a combination of two or more of them. They are useful as they highlight the key points of any one scene and they can also be used to suggest to the Keeper that certain skills need to be rolled in those scenes if she is running the scenario under another rules system. However, they are not always best placed to be spotted with any ease.

The scenario does ‘suffer’ from a certain disconnect. More so than any other scenario of Lovecraftian investigative horror. Players of the genre quickly learn to recognise the elements of the genre in play and have to pull back from that knowledge lest it informs their roleplaying and their Investigators. In the case of Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory, this is challenging because the scenario resonates with the Mythos. It is everywhere and unavoidable, despite the Investigators knowing nothing, so roleplaying across that disconnect is all more challenging and all the more demanding for the players. Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory does play around a little with that divide, but not too much, and certainly not enough to alleviate the degree of challenge that the scenario demands.

Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory is potentially a very difficult scenario because it does call upon the players to confront their Investigators committing dark acts and committing themselves to dark, antithetically inhuman forces. There is an interesting way of alleviating this within the scenario, at least initially, almost like a comfort blanket—although this one goes ‘woof!’ and wags his tail—but ultimately, the players and their Investigators will be called upon to make a choice. One minor irritant that breaks the atmosphere of the piece is naming an NPC, if only a minor one, ‘Vincent Price’.

It is possible with Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory to draw parallels with two other roleplaying campaigns connected to Chaoisum, Inc., one Call of Cthulhu related, the other not. These are The Eldritch New England Holiday Collection from Golden Goblin Press, which is, of course, Call of Cthulhu related, and Six Seasons in Sartar, which is not. All three are about initiation and heritage, all are about playing children, teenagers. The Eldritch New England Holiday Collection, not into the Mythos, but about the Mythos. Six Seasons in Sartar is an initiation into both the core cults of Glorantha and Glorantha as a setting—both in as characters and as players. Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory is also about initiation and the Mythos, but both into and about the Mythos, but unlike the other two where the players and characters accept their situation and their heritage, Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory is whether not they accept their initiation and heritage. All of which plays out on an island retreat which is one part music school, one part The Village from The Prisoner, as if viewed through the fisheye lens of the Mythos.

Scenarios for Lovecraftian investigative horror which call for the players to take the roles of cultists are far and few between. This is primarily because such roleplaying games are about investigating and stopping the consequences of the cultists’ actions, preventing the end of the world, and saving humanity. They are about humanity, not inhumanity. This is not to say that such scenarios are not interesting to roleplay, and where they do occur, it is always as fully fledged cultists, having committed to the cause. Not so, here. Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory offers something genuinely unique in offering the player the opportunity to become a cultist and everything their Investigator wants, but never once lets up on the horror and weirdness of that choice, whilst ultimately making the moral option the most painful one. Miskatonic Shoreside Conservatory is an unnervingly, relentlessly horrifying scenario which deserves to reach a wider audience and be the single answer to the question, “Are there any scenarios in which you play cultists?”

Saturday, 3 June 2023

Quick-Start Saturday: Corporation

Quick-starts are means of trying out a roleplaying game before you buy. Each should provide a Game Master with sufficient background to introduce and explain the setting to her players, the rules to run the scenario included, and a set of ready-to-play, pre-generated characters that the players can pick up and understand almost as soon as they have sat down to play. The scenario itself should provide an introduction to the setting for the players as well as to the type of adventures that their characters will have and just an idea of some of the things their characters will be doing on said adventures. All of which should be packaged up in an easy-to-understand booklet whose contents, with a minimum of preparation upon the part of the Game Master, can be brought to the table and run for her gaming group in a single evening’s session—or perhaps too. And at the end of it, Game Master and players alike should ideally know whether they want to play the game again, perhaps purchasing another adventure or even the full rules for the roleplaying game.

Alternatively, if the Game Master already has the full rules for the roleplaying game for the quick-start is for, then what it provides is a sample scenario that she still run as an introduction or even as part of her campaign for the roleplaying game. The ideal quick-start should entice and intrigue a playing group, but above all effectively introduce and teach the roleplaying game, as well as showcase both rules and setting.


What is it?

The Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start is the quick-start for Corporation 2nd Edition, the Science Fiction, Cyberpunk roleplaying game first published in 2008 by Brutal Games, but now published by Nightfall Games.

It includes a basic explanation of the setting, rules for actions and combat, details of the arms, armour, and equipment fielded by the Player Characters, the mission, ‘Riot in Commissary B’, and four ready-to-play, Player Characters, or Agents.

It is a forty-two page, full colour book.

The quick-start is lightly illustrated, but the artwork is decent. The rules are a slightly stripped down version from the core rulebook, but do include examples of the rules which speed the learning of the game

It requires an edit in places.

The themes and nature of the Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start and thus the
Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start means that it is best suited to a mature audience.

How long will it take to play?
The Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start and its adventure, ‘Riot in Commissary B’, is designed to be played through in one or two sessions.

What else do you need to play?
The Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start requires six ten-sided dice per player. One of these dice should be a different colour to the rest.

Who do you play?
The four Player Characters are all licensed Agents who have been biomechanically enhanced and employed by one of the setting’s five Corporations. they include a Tactical Ops specialist, a Telepath, an Infiltration Tech, and a Facilitator.

How is a Player Character defined?
An Agent has six stats—Strength, Dexterity, Knowledge, Charisma, Concentration, and Cool. Stats are rated between zero and six, whilst the skills are rated between one and four. He also has a seventh stat, PSI, which represents an Agent’s instincts or intuition. It is a pool of points who use is twofold. First, points can be temporarily expended to reroll dice in a Skill Test or add a bonus to a Dice Roll. Second, it can power a Telepath’s psionic abilities. An Agent also has Traits such as Cybernetic HUD & comms, Datanetica Neural Jack, Internal Computer, Pain mitigation, and Process socket.

How do the mechanics work?
Mechanically, the Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start uses the ‘S5S’ System previously seen in SLA Industries, 2nd Edition and The Terminator RPG. This is a dice pool system which uses ten-sided dice. The dice pool consists of one ten-sided die, called the Success Die, and Skill Dice equal to the Skill rank of the skill being used. The Success Die should be of a different colour from the Skill Dice. The results of the dice roll are not added, but counted separately. The aim is to roll equal to or higher than a Target Number, ranging from eight and Challenging to sixteen and Insane, on each of the dice. The Skill Rank of the skill being used lowers the Target Number. Preparation and advanced technology, including toolkits can modify the Skill Rank for the Skill Test. If the result on the Success Die is equal to or greater than the Target Number, then the Agent has succeeded. If the results of the Skill Dice also equal or exceed the Target Number, this improves the quality of the successful skill attempt. However, if the roll on the Success Die does not equal or exceed the Target Number, the attempt fails, even if multiple rolls on the Success Dice do.

Each Agent has a point of Conviction. Conviction can be spent to perform cinematic feats such as ‘Come and Get It!’, ‘Done!’, ‘Proper Planning and Preparation...’, and ‘It’s Only a Flesh Wound!’.

How does combat work?
Combat in Corporation 2nd Edition, as with other ‘S5S’ System roleplaying games is designed to be desperate and dangerous. It is detailed and tactical. It takes into account offensive and defensive manoeuvres, rate of fire, recoil, damage inflicted on armour, cover, aiming, and so on. The scenario features a lot of combat and the Game Master should pay particular attention to those rules in the quick-start. The mechanics take into account various weapon types, including beam weapons, incendiary weapons, laser weapons, plasma weapons, and more.

How do PSI Powers work?
One of the pre-generated Agents is a Telepath. Common Psi Powers in Corporation 2nd Edition include Biokinesis and Telekinesis, whilst true Telepathy and Empathy are rare. Use of a Psi Power requires a Manifestation Test, a Skill Test where Successes can recover the points of PSI expended on the Manifestation Test or increase the duration of the manifestation beyond a single round. The

What do you play?
The setting for Corporation 2nd Edition is the year 2500. The United International Government has ensured two centuries peace, hand-in-hand with the Big 5 corporations. The fortunate reside in the soaring spires where they live in monitored, crime-free comfort. The unfortunate live in the Underswells, where there is warmth and comfort, but the gangs rule. The worse off reside in the old crumbling cities of the twentieth century—and earlier—and take their chances with the best policing they can get in the face of widespread banditry.

The Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start includes the adventure, ‘Riot in Commissary B’. Initially, this is a highly tactical affair as the Agents deal with several Wretches from the Underswell who have broken into the commissary and potentially, the rest of the Spire, instigating a riot. After stopping the riot, the Agents are tasked with investigating how the break in occurred since the only point of access is kept locked and requires a high Ranked individual to open it. The resulting investigation is not easy—probably slightly too difficult to run as a convention scenario—and quickly leads to powerful corporate interests who would prefer the Agents not to be investigating despite them being under orders to do so. The scenario has a bureaucratic feel to it as well as a sense of irony.

Is there anything missing?
The Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start is complete. Portraits for the pre-generated Agents would have been useful, as well as for the NPCs. The pre-generated Agents do not have any backgrounds, but these are available online.

Is it easy to prepare?
The core rules presented in the
Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start are relatively easy to prepare. The Game Master will need to pay closer attention to how both combat and PSI Powers work in the roleplaying game, as both figure, and combat is designed to be highly tactical in play. The scenario, ‘Riot in Commissary B’, is also fairly complex, and will require a high degree of preparation.

Is it worth it?
The Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start introduces a Cyberpunk setting where the Player Characters are agents of the authority and have the licence to act on their employer’s behalf, but balanced against that is the bureaucracy and power of the corporation they work for. Essentially, their agency grant by their employer against the agency above them.

Where can you get it?
The Corporation 2nd Edition: Quick Start is available to download here.

Solitaire: Bumbling

As the title suggests, Bumbling – a solo RPG is about bees. Or rather about being a bee, a worker bee, to be precise. Published by Button Kin Games, also responsible for the fun Caltrop Kaiju: A Monstrously fun and fast-paced TTRPG, and part of the team responsible for the superlative Odd Jobs: RPG Micro Settings Vol. I, , this is a solo roleplaying game in which you control the fate of a worker bee as it goes about its bee business—learning dances, dancing, leaving the hive and questing, and so forth. On the quest, the worker bee will encounter other creatures, some friendly, some not, who perhaps will point the bee in the direction of flowers, discover landmarks, and when flowers have been found, complete the quest by returning with pollen to fill the hive. The further away from the hive the flowers are, the fewer fellow bees will have visited them, and so they will contain more pollen. Once the worker bee returns, it can not only learn more dances and go out questing again, but it can also dance too, and so teach other worker bees about the flower locations it found on its quest.

Bumbling – a solo RPG is played out on—what else?—a hex map. At the centre is the hive and surrounding will be a patchwork of landmarks, including buildings, natural features, and so on, as well as the much-desired flower beds. Initially, just three, but as the worker bee travels further and explores new hexes, it will discover new landmarks, encounter new friends and enemies, and hopefully escape the creatures that want to eat it, and return with ever increasing amounts of honey. To play, the player will need a six-sided die, a sheet of hex paper, a journal to keep notes in and record his worker bee’s quests. Dance moves are optional for the player, if not the worker bee.

Bumbling – a solo RPG is about exploration, learning, and making friends. The play is derived from randomly generated elements—the dances that the worker bee knows, the dances associated with particular hexes on the maps, the landmarks and flowers on each map, and the creatures and their reactions. What is not random is how the worker bee reacts to these core elements and thus what the player records in his journal. In play, the limitations upon the worker bee’s travel are twofold. First, on the dances that it knows and the dances associated with particular landmarks. Second, on the creatures it knows and interacts with. Both will serve as navigation points. So, the worker bee will initially fly in the direction of hex with a dance it already knows. If this leads to flowers, fine. It can return with the much-needed pollen. If not, the worker can begin to explore, building a map of new locations and landmarks and creatures and hopefully, flowers full of pollen. These become way points that the worker bee can return to again and again as maps dances and locations. In returning to the hive, the worker bee can do three things after depositing the pollen. Learn a new dance, tell the other worker bees about the flowers it has found, and best of all, develop new dance moves and teach these.

Play ends with the worker bee having filled up all one-hundred-and-eighty cells of the pollen score sheet. It might also end early if a creature attempts to eat the worker bee, but the game does suggest the worker bee is nimble enough to get out of the way. At which point, the player has a map to consider and a story to read.

Bumbling – a solo RPG is slightly underwritten in terms of explaining the initial exploration and tying a dance to a hex. Perhaps an example of that would have helped. Otherwise, physically, Bumbling – a solo RPG is bright and pink and simple and quick and easy to pick up and begin play. It even comes with blank hex maps and scoring sheets for the player to copy.

Bumbling – a solo RPG is exceptionally light as a solo, journalling game. In comparison to Caltrop Kaiju, it is contemplative in nature, without the sense of peril. That lack of peril means that its sense of achievement comes from the exploration and the interaction with friendly creatures, and telling the story of this rather than defeating or overcoming an obstacle. However, without that, it does mean that there is not the inherent need to return to Bumbling – a solo RPG to play again and to see how well you did. Nevertheless, Bumbling – a solo RPG is a bee-calming little game, providing the means to explore and learn about world from a worker bee’s eyes point of view and tell its story.

Friday, 2 June 2023

Friday Fantasy: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly

Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar
#2: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly
is a scenario for Goodman Games’ Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game and the first scenario for the
Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar Boxed Set. Scenarios for Dungeon Crawl Classics tend be darker, gimmer, and even pulpier than traditional Dungeons & Dragons scenarios, even veering close to the Swords & Sorcery subgenre. Scenarios for the Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar Boxed Set are set in and around the City of the Black Toga, Lankhmar, the home to the adventures of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, the creation of author Fritz Leiber. The city is described as an urban jungle, rife with cutpurses and corruption, guilds and graft, temples and trouble, whores and wonders, and more. Under the cover the frequent fogs and smogs, the streets of the city are home to thieves, pickpockets, burglars, cutpurses, muggers, and anyone else who would skulk in the night! Which includes the Player Characters. And it is these roles which the Player Characters get to be in Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #2: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly, in which they see a strange pair of silver-plated skeletal hands escape the the shop of their local fence and after a chase through the streets and alleys of the city, find themselves at the entrance to vaults under the city. The fence claimed that the legend says that the silver-plated skeletal hands know the location of a great treasure. So anyone in possession of the hands might get a pointer. Of course, that might only be a legend and legends are not always true...

Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #2: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly is designed for Second Level Player Characters and it is as different from other Dungeon Crawl Classics as could be—although not as different as the first scenario for the setting, Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #1: Gang Lords of Lankhmar. It is also much shorter, more straightforward, and does involve a dungeon of sorts. Designed for two to three Player Characters, it opens with them at a local pawnshop run run by Rooga the Fence, who specialises in the odd and the unusual and the occasional bit of objets d’art. Having offloaded most of the goods from their most recent larcenous endeavours, both they, Rooga, and Rooga’s bodyguards are surprised when the silver-plated skeletal hands suddenly animate and make a successful scuttle for freedom, climbing out of a window and racing off down the street. Which means that the race is on!

Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #2: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly is divided into three acts. The first takes place in the pawnshop, but the second out on the fog bound streets of the city as the Player Characters race after the rapidly disappearing pair of silver-plated skeletal hands. This is handled as a chance as the Player Characters attempt to remain in sight of both their quarry—and as they fall behind—and each other. Along the way, there are encounters, mostly random, one or two not, which the Player Characters can plough into or through, perhaps avoid, but all will delay their progress in the chase. There are some inventive scenes mini-encounters here, made all the fun because they are run into and at pace. There is a reward to be gained in keeping with the fleeing silver-plated skeletal hands, though that may come at a loss to those who cannot keep up and get lost in the fog.

In the third act, the Player Characters will find themselves at the entrance to vaults under the ruins of a burned out building. Gaining access is easy and as they search for the missing hands, the Player Character discover a long abandoned wizard’s laboratory, oddly linked to the worship of the martyred god, Crooked Issek, and showing signs that dreadful experiments took place here. In the last act, the owner of the vaults—and what remains of the house above, appears in a nasty showdown which could lead to loss of a Player Character or at the very least, the loss of their body! The latter possibility can lead to some interesting adventures which are hinted at here, but the Judge will need to develop them herself. There is also the possibility of a rich reward if the Player Characters can keep hold of it and out of possible litigation.

Physically, Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #2: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly is as decently presented as you would expect from Goodman Games. The scenario’s chase is clearly explained and comes with examples, as well as a tracker. If there is a downside to the scenario, it is that its map is not that interesting. It could have done with some detail and flavour.

The only issue with Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #2: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly is its Player Character numbers. Two to three is low for a typical playing group, but there are notes throughout the scenario for upping the ante and adjusting to running it with four to six Player Characters.

Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #2: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly is not as good or as interesting a scenario as Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #1: Gang Lords of Lankhmar. However, that does not mean that it is not worth either the Judge’s time or adding to her Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar campaign. Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar #2: The Fence’s Fortuitous Folly is fast-paced, easy to add to a campaign, and offers an entertaining single-session adventure.


Goodman Games will be at UK Games Expo
from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th, 2023.

Mörk Borg Minis

The pamphlet scenario or supplement packs as much information as can be got onto an A4 sheet of paper down in a trifold format and aims to make it playable. First seen as a support for roleplaying games such as MOTHERSHIP Sci-Fi Horror Roleplaying Game and Mörk Borg, the format enables publishers to present smaller content in distinct—and succinct—packages of their own that are quick and easy to prepare and run at the table. In many cases these pamphlet scenarios are available in collected bundles as well as singly, enabling the Game Master to pick and choose which one she wants and which ones she wants to run. The format, of course, has its limitations, primarily those of limited space and arrangement of information in that space. This can often lead to poor explanations of the context for their content, or worse, inadequate or missing explanations. In the case of the latter, the Game Master will have to supply that after reading through the rest of the content, whilst for the former, she will simply need to read through the pamphlet for it to make sense.

Loot the Room has published several of these pamphlets. Two are compatible with Mörk Borg, the Swedish pre-apocalypse Old School Renaissance retroclone designed by Ockult Örtmästare Games and Stockholm Kartell and published by Free League Publishing. One is a generic fantasy adventure. All three fall into the ‘GrimDark’ fantasy—or fantasy horror—genre and like the majority of content for the Old School Renaissance, are easily adaptable to the Dungeons & Dragons rules variant of the Gamer Master’s choice.


The God of Many Faces is not only compatible with Mörk Borg, but also set in the city at the heart of Mörk Borg—Galgenbeck, and it shares the Artpunk sensibilities of Mörk Borg in of neon yellow as its choice of colour. It begins on the steps of the Cathedral of the Two-Headed Basilisks. Rumours ripple out and back again that a prophet has appeared proclaiming Verhu to be a fraud, the Calendar of Nechrubel is sham, and the Miseries are the work of the Basilisks themselves. The Basilisks must and in their stead a new god will arise—the God of Many Faces, The Eternally Open Eye. As the rabble before the steps beats drums and cries for donations to their new god, the Player Characters must decide upon their course of action and examine their motivation. Perhaps they have to gather information upon The Many-Faced God upon pain of death, simply want to witness them first hand, seek salvation and a new life from them for a sick family member, or as an agent of Two-Headed Basilisks, just stop them by any means.

The God of Many Faces is a hex-crawl across the city of Galgenbeck. Just limited to ten hexes, the Player Characters will travel back and forth across the city in search of The Many-Faced God, constantly finding signs of their passing, including warriors with their eyes sewn closed; a rampaging Many-Faced Mace, sacred to The Many-Faced God, so killing it will be an act of blasphemy; and apostates ready to convert the will even as they castigate and execute the unwilling. There are a couple of encounters which the Player Characters must have in order to trigger the final encounter, so the Game Master will need to improvise what happens if the Player Characters need to return to previously visited locations. Other than a quartet of new Sacred Scrolls, The God of Many Faces is a short, direct affair, which can played through in a single session. It does suffer from not being quite clear as to what is going on, at least initially, as the explanation is on the inside back page of the trifold, with the full locations, stats, and map placed across the centre spread. However, read through that and the Game Master has in hands a riotously raucous adventure set across a city in uproar and religious fever that is easy to read through, and prepare in minutes.


SNÜNGEON is a molluscular dungeon that is easy to drop into location. The husks of dead titan snails litter the landscape, slimy, grimy, and simply odd. Others come to the field of husks to find refuge, the secret treasures left behind by the giant molluscs, or for darker ends. For the Player Characters, might need to find the dead flesh of a titan snail to clear his debts, another to hunt down rivals who have hidden amongst the husks, or simply because wants a snail nail helm because they are cool! SNÜNGEON is linear, its innards spiralling deeper, odd and alien… This snail-themed dungeon might not contain all that the Player Characters are looking for, but what they will find is a secret cult of snail-worshippers, working towards their own molluscular transformation, and snail assassins which creep along the ceiling…

SNÜNGEON has an oozy atmosphere and a mature tone that echoes that of the Xenomorphs of Alien. It is a straightforward dungeon in a different type of enviroment, which runs to just seven, decently detailed locations. Again, easy to prepare and run, it is actually presented in a more accessible manner so that it is easer to prepare than The God of Many Faces.


The Grasping Tunnels is not for, or compatible with, Mörk Borg, but it could be. It does take longer to prepare because it is systems agnostic and thus needs stats to be created by the Game Master. Once done, it is easy to drop into almost any location. It opens with the collapse of a patch of earth in a fallow field, followed by the expulsion of a blast of foetid air. What is in the tunnel? Where the air come from? Does it represent a danger to the children who used to play in the field? Some have already ventured below, only to return, wounded of body and mind, dragging their dead companions with them, and whispering of the grasping claws and teeth to be found below.

The Grasping Tunnels has Lovecraftian undertones in that its tunnels are home to strange beast with long arms which can snake the length of many corridors in the net, grasping for food to drag back to its babbling, tongue-filled maws. There is a strong sense of claustrophobia too, as the Player Characters face these flailing, grasping limbs in a series of lightless rooms and tunnels of crumbling earth. This is made all the worse by every hand being different—and odd, there being a table provided for the Game Master to roll randomly each time one is encountered. There are no suggestions as what kind of power or ability to pitch the adventure at, though the Player Characters do need access to decent magic, silver weapons, or magical weapons to effectively defeat the creature. The Grasping Tunnels is also clearly laid out and thus easy to use, and overall, provides a horrifying descent into the earth for the Player Characters.


All three pamphlet scenarios are easy to use, in general, well presented, and above all, incredibly quick and easy to prepare. In the cases of The God of Many Faces and SNÜNGEON, very easy to prepare, taking only a few minutes. Overall, adventures like The God of Many Faces and SNÜNGEON, as well as The Grasping Hands, are decent mini-encounters, but worth holding in reserve when the Game Master needs something quick to run. Of the three The God of Many Faces stands out for capturing the rapture of a religious riot and making the Player Characters work their way through it.

Monday, 29 May 2023

Miskatonic Monday #196: The Terror in the Tapestry

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 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.


Publisher: Chaosium, Inc.
Author: Ryan Sheehan

Setting: Dark Ages England
Product: Scenario
What You Get: Thirty-two page, 22.80 MB Full Colour PDF

Elevator Pitch: What would drive someone to commit tapestry theft?
Plot Hook: Part of a holy tapestry has been stolen. Can the thief be found?
Plot Support: Four pre-generated Investigators, two handouts, eight NPCs, one map,
one Mythos spell, one Mythos tome, one Mythos artefact, and two Mythos monsters.
Production Values: Serviceable.

# Scenario for Cthulhu Dark Ages
# Can be run using Cthulhu Through the Ages. Better with Cthulhu Dark Ages.
# Set near Totburh, setting for Cthulhu Dark Ages.
# Nicely detailed ritual
# Good mix of action and investigation
# Ophidiophobia
# Homichlophobia
# Textophobia
# Pentiliarphobia

# Needs a slight edit.
# Plain map.
# Some terminology could be called ‘problematic’
# Odd means given of obtaining the ritual

# Solid scenario for Cthulhu Dark Ages themed around an interesting artefact
# Suitable addition to a campaign set in and around Totburh

Miskatonic Monday #195: The Cult of Gl’thol’tic

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 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.

Publisher: Chaosium, Inc.
Author: Jess Charle

Setting: Jazz Age Massachusetts
Product: Scenario
What You Get: Thirteen-page, 39.00 MB Full Colour PDF
Elevator Pitch: Small town murder mystery, plus the Mythos
Plot Hook: Can your god be summoned before they come for you?
Plot Support: Two handouts, five NPCs, and one map.
Production Values: Plain.

# The very definition of a ‘fixer-upper’ scenario
# One-shot with the players as cultists
# Call of Cthulhu Investigators as the enemy
# Small town mini-murder mystery
# Pretty map
# Paranoia
# Capiophobia

# Needs an edit
# Player Characters are not supposed to know they are cultists
# Murder mystery mostly incidental
# No staging advice
# No sense of the Player Characters being investigated
# No option for the Player Characters to act against the Investigators
# No pre-generated Player Cultists
# Bryce Wane. Millionaire Vigilante. Industrialist. Notorious playboy. Fights crime as ‘Rat Man’.
# Yes. You read that correctly.
# Bryce Wane. Millionaire Vigilante. Industrialist. Notorious playboy. Fights crime as ‘Rat Man’.
# No. Not kidding. Really is an NPC in the scenario.

# Potentially interesting scenario with Player Characters as cultists undone by severe lack of development
# Lack of pre-generated Player Cultists significant omission 
Bryce Wane. Millionaire Vigilante. Industrialist. Notorious playboy. Fights crime as ‘Rat Man’.