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Monday, 8 June 2020

Miskatonic Monday #39: A Lark in the Cage

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.

—oOo—

Name: A Lark in the Cage

Publisher: Chaosium, Inc.
Author: Noah Lloyd
Setting: London, 1895

Product: Scenario
What You Get: 10.70 MB fifty-eight-page, full-colour PDF
Elevator Pitch: A cuckoo in the nest reveals monsters and a monstrous plot, but which is the greater evil? 
Plot Hook: When the investigators are attacked by a monstrous man after a neighbour claims that her recently-born baby is not hers, could there be truth in her hysteria?
Plot Development: A missing lover and dead men in the Thames takes the investigators back and forth across the river whilst a feat of engineering—their final destinationgoes on below.
Plot Support: Six pre-generated investigators, eleven NPCs and entities, two maps, and seven handouts.

Pros

# A scenario for Cthulhu by Gaslight
# A family affair
# Full play-through available here
# Acknowledges the attitudes of the period

Includes ‘Bulwark of the Hudson’, a one-page prequel scenario
Nice handouts
# Excellent use of an engineering marvel 
# Avoids clichéd investigators
# Good production values
# Decent investigative plot
# Mired in dirt and ordure

Cons
Acknowledges the attitudes of the period
# Wide margins
# Plot connections could be slightly clearer
# High potential for disaster

# Very specific in terms of time and place

Conclusion
A good scenario for Cthulhu by Gaslight
# Avoids clichéd investigators
# Good production values
# Mired in dirt and ordure

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