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

Sunday 20 November 2022

The Fungi From Yuggoth II

Back in the early days of Call of Cthulhu, naming conventions for campaigns and supplements drew more on the literary titles of the source material rather than being inspired by the contents of either the campaign or the supplement. Thus, there are campaigns called Shadows of Yog-Sothoth and The Fungi from Yuggoth—later renamed Day of the Beast—neither of which were about Yog-Sothoth or the Fungi from Yuggoth, although the later do appear in the campaign. When Shadows of Yog-Sothoth does appear for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, it seems unlikely that it will be renamed since it was the first campaign for the roleplaying game, and should The Fungi from Yuggoth or Day of the Beast return, it could be good candidate for adaptation to Pulp Cthulhu: Two-fisted Action and Adventure Against the Mythos. However, there is a campaign worthy of the name, The Fungi from Yuggoth and that is A Time to Harvest: Death and Discovery in the Vermont Hills.

A Time to Harvest: Death and Discovery in the Vermont Hills – A 1930s Era Campaign Across New England and Beyond is notable for several things. Originally presented as a six-part Organised Play series for Chaosium’s ‘Cults of Chaos’, it takes place at the beginning of the 1930s, is primarily set in New England on the edge of Lovecraft Country, it uses Miskatonic University as its base—with the Investigators as students, it is designed to be an introductory campaign, and it involves the machinations of the unknowable Fungi from Yuggoth—or Mi-Go—as its central threat. Many of which are firsts. Thus to date, there has been no campaign involving the Mi-Go, although they have featured in many a scenario, including many set in Lovecraft Country. Similarly, there have been no Lovecraft Country campaigns, though there are plenty of scenarios set there. Nor have there been any campaigns involving Miskatonic University. Of course, there have been introductory campaigns. A Cold Fire Within: A Mind-Bending Campaign for Pulp Cthulhu for Pulp Cthulhu: Two-fisted Action and Adventure Against the Mythos being the best-known example. If so, then A Time to Harvest is its counterpart for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, and further, casting the Investigators as students is an appropriate introductory from which to involve them in Lovecraftian investigative horror. Although the idea of roleplaying students at Miskatonic University goes all the way back to the eponymous scenario in the 1983 anthology, Pursuit to Kadath from T.O.M.E., no supplement or campaign has effectively carried that through until A Time to Harvest.

A Time to Harvest can be run just using Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition. It can even be run using Pulp Cthulhu, and the campaign includes notes and adaptations to that end. However, the campaign suggests a number of extras which would prove useful. The first of which is for the Keeper to read H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Whisperer in Darkness’ as it serves as the inspiration, and sets the tone, for the campaign. The second is to reference a number of other supplements. Notably, H.P. Lovecraft’s Arkham will be useful for source material on the town where Miskatonic University is situated, and of course, the Miskatonic University supplement will be useful in expanding upon the information given in A Time to Harvest, which includes Occupations for students at the New England college. Lastly, it should be noted that A Time to Harvest does carry several content warnings. Understandably, A Time to Harvest is a horror campaign and it does involve obsession, in particular, romantic obsession, possession, and murderous minors, but there is advice for the Keeper on handling all of these elements should they be inappropriate for any of her players.

A Time to Harvest begins in the summer of 1930. A group of students—including the Investigators—are going on a field trip to the town of Cobb’s Corners in rural Vermont where one team will conduct geological research and the other collect anthropological data on local folklore. What is strange about this is that it follows a previous expedition which resulted in the death of one student and the disappearance of several others. It is against this backdrop and the often-overbearing presence of the town’s puritanical sheriff that oddities and strange incidents begin to occur. The leader of the fieldtrip—a fellow student—behaves erratically, the locals are at first welcoming, but then seem angered by the students’ presence, the weather turns against them, and whilst staying at the ramshackle farmhouse which has been rented for them, the students begin to suffer strange dreams… Ultimately, this second field trip to Cobb’s Corner ends in disaster, and very likely horror. The Investigators will in part be blamed for this, even though they are not really responsible, and consequently they have reason to feel aggrieved. Now as an introductory campaign, this first part of A Time to Harvest is more complex than perhaps it should be. There are two plot strands to be followed as the Investigators are divided between the anthropology team and the geology team, and some of the later scenes do require careful timing. Further, the Keeper has a large cast of fellow students to roleplay, her portrayal important for subsequent events in the campaign. These difficulties, such as they are, should be offset by careful preparation upon the part of the Keeper, but even so, the start to A Time to Harvest is more complex than that of Chaosium, Inc.’s other starter campaign, A Cold Fire Within: A Mind-Bending Campaign for Pulp Cthulhu.

The second chapter begins with the Investigators back at school, chastised and the subject of gossip. Out of character activities and attitudes amongst their fellow students should become apparent and arouse their curiosity. Forces beyond the Investigators’ understanding at this point, are operating in the hallowed halls of Miskatonic University and will likely move against them too before carefully sowing the seeds of chaos on campus and carrying out their primary objectives. The Investigators by this time should at least have their suspicions, especially if the Keeper has been roleplaying the now-antagonists well, but an entertaining optional scene atop Hangman’s Hill should leave the Investigators with some idea of what is going and a sense of urgency. The finale of chapter is combative in nature and if their Investigators survive, provides a cathectic climax, and it is followed by an optional chase. In fact, both optional scenes add a lot to the understanding of the Investigators and their players, and are great set-pieces.

In the third part, the Investigators gain an unexpected ally—Federated Oil and Chemical—whose owner takes a dedicated interest in the activities of what are now their joint enemy. In return for their co-operation, the head of Federated Oil and Chemical expects their aid in its forthcoming investigations into the activities of the Mi-Go. For the most part, there is a chance here for the Investigators to rest, recuperate, heal, and even restore a little Sanity and perhaps a little of their reputations, as well as learn something about the Mi-Go (and the Mythos in general). However, an optional trip to Canada reveals that sometimes suspicions about Mythos activity can be taken too far and the bloody finale exposes the Investigators to the dangers of the Mythos in general, rather than just the Fungi from Yuggoth. Whatever the outcome, the Federated Oil and Chemical field trip returns the Investigators, along with a small army of security men to Cobb’s Corners, this time armed and dangerous. Of course, such preparations are all for naught against the knowledge and technology of the Mi-Go, as the Investigators are forced to take drastic action to save themselves and their friends. The final part of the campaign has the Mythos rise wild and walk amongst the houses and surrounds of Cobb’s Corners in a maelstrom of maliciousness and mayhem with the Investigators likely caught in the middle. In addition, there is an alternate ending which continues the campaign which takes the Investigators to a place very far away in a fitting nod to the original the Fungi from Yuggoth campaign. More of a secret strike mission, this is specifically written for use with Pulp Cthulhu, although it can be adjusted to be run using standard Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition rules—though advice would have been useful to that end considering that A Time to Harvest is designed as an introductory campaign.

In terms of support for the Keeper, the campaign is well-appointed. The town of Cobb’s Corners and its inhabitants are described in detail—since the Investigators will be returning to it again and again; the Mi-Go are greatly expanded from their core write-up in the Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook with multiple variants of the Fungi from Yuggoth given; Miskatonic University is covered in a good overview, including floorplans of various buildings; there is extra staging advice where needed; and there is a set of pre-generated Investigators, ready to use at the start of the campaign or as a source of replacement Investigators. Each includes background, thumbnail portrait, and options to be run using Pulp Cthulhu. There are notes too at the end on how to carry the campaign on, with the Investigators either back at Miskatonic University or still working for Federated Oil and Chemical.

Apart from one or two horror elements that some players might not want to have to deal with—hence the content warnings—the only potential problem with the campaign is the opening chapter and first half of the second. The Investigators and the players are likely to be on the back foot during these opening scenes, often blamed for events outside of their control, and feeling as if they are being punished. There is not really any way around this, except to advise the players to keep at what is potentially an initially disheartening play experience. Veteran roleplayers may have less of an issue with this, but as the beginning to an introductory campaign, it could be off-putting to those players new to Call of Cthulhu.

Physically, A Time to Harvest is very well presented. Both artwork and cartography are excellent throughout, the handouts are good too, and they are of course reprinted at the back of the book. There is a useful index too.

A Time to Harvest is a campaign in which the forces of the Mythos are proactive. There are clear and obvious thought processes behind their plans, whether this is attempting an objective, striking at the Investigators, or taking advantage of the efforts of others. There are moments too when the Investigators have the opportunity to take the fight back to them, whether that the campaign is being run for Call of Cthulhu or Pulp Cthulhu, but even if armed—and the campaign gives multiple means of the Investigators acquiring firearms—it is of course not going to be enough in the face of the Mythos. The scope of the campaign is kept enjoyably small and focussed, but it still hints at wider forces and presence of the Mythos without belabouring the point, which is perfect for an introductory campaign.

Ultimately, the choice of foe gives the campaign a distinctive feel too. A Time to Harvest is modern and dynamic, scientific horror rather than eldritch horror, and cosmic horror of a Science Fiction bent. A Time to Harvest: Death and Discovery in the Vermont Hills gives the Mi-Go—the Fungi from Yuggoth—the campaign they have been waiting for, Miskatonic University itself a great starting point for a campaign involving staff and students, and for the players and their student Investigators, a summer of horror and scientific madness they will never forget.


Both Reviews from Rlyeh and Chaosium will be at DragonMeet on Saturday, 3rd December, 2022.


  1. One could argue that the adventures in the original Delta Green book presented a MiGo campaign, but there's probably a bit of squinting involved.

  2. Pookie - great review as always. I have a question - are the chapters in this campaign discrete or is it very intermingled. The group I will potentially run this for may struggle to meet regularly, maybe for a weekend now and then, with months in between. I though since this was organised play originally, it may lend itself to this kind of broken up schedule of play. Or to put it another way, is the plot so complicated that sporadic play will mean the players are perpetually asking "what happened" and "what was the plot". What do you think? Thanks again. Marty

  3. Marty, the chapters achieve both I am afraid. Primarily because they are for the most part set in the one location that the Investigators will return to and need to be aware of their previous activities when they did. Plus I think the large cast of NPCs and the fact that the Investigators get blamed for something which was not their fault may well be an issue too.

  4. Pookie, thanks. I will discuss with the group - of usual suspects ;-) - and see what they think.