Unfortunately, Darkness in the Void – A Sci-Fi Call of Cthulhu Scenario Set on an Alien World is spectacularly uninteresting. To begin with, the plot, such as it is, is little more than series of mechanical rolls and skill checks to see how well the Player Characters recover the lost pieces of technology, enlivened by alien species of tree-like hunters which will attack the Player Characters, who are expected to run away. The scenario calls the Player Characters Investigators just as you would in any other Call of Cthulhu scenario, but the scenario does not call for any real investigation. The scenario is written for use with Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, but does not involve any of the Mythos. Of course, there have been plenty of scenarios published for Call of Cthulhu which do not involve the Mythos and it is perfectly acceptable to have a non-Mythos horror scenario for the roleplaying game, but to not make that fact clear until fourteen pages into the scenario when discussing the rewards and repercussions? Rewards which include Sanity gains when there is no Mythos involved? Similarly, there is no scope for interaction or roleplaying either, since whilst six pre-generated ‘Investigators’ are provided with the scenario, they lack roleplaying hooks or hints as to the relationships between them which might have engendered or encouraged roleplaying.
Worse, Darkness in the Void completely fails to follow through on the promise given in the blurb on its back cover. It states, “The planet holds mysteries and terrors the likes of which they have never dreamed of, or experienced in their worst nightmares.” There are no mysteries whatsoever in the scenario, and whilst being attacked by an alien species, might be described as a terror, it is such a raging cliché that it will probably bore both the Keeper and her players. Some possible mysteries—the other regions of the planet might hold other horrors and treasures, the Pavel Sukhoi might detect a strange alien signal or remnant of an alien civilisation, are suggested under ‘Further Adventures’, but why promise them on the back cover if the scenario is not going to deliver and simply leave them for the Keeper to create?
Worse, there is an interesting setting behind Darkness in the Void, one which involves Galilee Heavy Industries’ links to the Mythos. Like everything else which might be labelled ‘interesting’ in Darkness in the Void, it is only hinted at. Salo’s Glory, another Science Horror scenario for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition published by Stygian Fox, addresses it in more direct fashion and does involve the Mythos.
Besides its thin plot, Darkness in the Void includes basic deck plans of the Pavel Sukhoi, details of the various pieces of equipment the Player Characters will use throughout the scenario, new skills for the Science Fiction setting, stats for various NPCs and two alien species, and the six pre-generated Player Characters. The illustrations are at least decent, especially of the pre-generated Player Characters, In fact, they may actually be the best thing about Darkness in the Void. Otherwise, Darkness in the Void is poorly written and developed, intermittently edited, but on the plus side, the layout is decent and it is in colour.
Darkness in the Void – A Sci-Fi Call of Cthulhu Scenario Set on an Alien World might be written for Call of Cthulhu, but it is not a Call of Cthulhu scenario. It is at best—and it should be made clear that there is nothing in this scenario which can be described as ‘best’—a Science Fiction scenario with a plot that is not only paper thin, but so much of a cliché, it would have been labelled trite at the dawn of the genre. How a scenario so unremittingly boring and uninvolving could have been foisted upon Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition beggars belief. Avoid at costs, and if you have bought it, seriously, not only ask for your money back, but ask for compensation for your time and effort. Stygian Fox should be paying you to read this scenario, not the other way around.
Darkness in the Void – A Sci-Fi Call of Cthulhu Scenario Set on an Alien World is the perfect reason why DriveThruRPG.com needs an ‘unbuy’ button.
wow. "ask for your money back"? That sounded verging on the personal.ReplyDelete
If you want to misinterpret a bad review as sounding as if it was "verging on the personal.", that is entirely your choice. This is in no way a good book and not the first from Stygian Fox, unfortunately. Any review needs to be balanced, but in this case there was nothing to balance the bad against, so it got the review it deserved.ReplyDelete
In the meantime, balance this review against those of other Stygian Fox titles I have written, many of which received positive reviews. The notion that I would single out this book and thus its review as a some kind of personal attack not only beggars belief, it is laughable.