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Esoterrorists: The Love of Money
por Thilo G. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 07/17/17 10:30:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive adventure for The Esoterrorists clocks in at 111 pages, 107 if you take away editorial, etc.

This review is based on the print copy of the module. I do not have access to the electronic version.

Okay, so the first thing you have to know about this massive adventure would be that it is pretty hard to integrate into an ongoing campaign, working best if you have a couple of months to set up the proceedings. Otherwise, it may make sense to play this as a one-shot with the supplied pregenerated characters - 6 of these are provided, with detailed motivations and notes for the players to establish their relationship to their team-mates and the NPCs featured herein, in particular a specific one, but more on that later.

For the GM's convenience, we actually get a handy table that sums up team-skills by category, providing all you need to know on one page - really comfortable and nice to have! It should also be noted that this module is really great when it comes to hand-outs - no less than 12 have been provided, ranging from photographs to strange scribbling, puzzle clues and images of ODEs, I was positively surprised by the amount of neat supplemental material featured here - including brief suspect profiles etc.

Speaking of ODEs - the module does feature a new ODE, the so-called spectrosite and provides a full write-up with stats, limitations, theories, etc. Genre-wise, its hould be noted that this is an adventure for SMART players - it has two rather unforgiving bottlenecks and if you're new to investigative roleplaying, you may want to elect for something easier. That being said, this is a nice challenge for those of us who enjoy challenging modules that require some brainpower to solve. It should be noted that this module is not particularly gory or combat-centric, being more about psychological horror and personal tragedy.

All right, and this is about as far as I can go without going into serious SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right. Psychological breakdowns are responsible for most OV-agents being retired. When John Sheldon and his sister were recruited into the OV, things went well for a while - John was brilliant and he championed the operation that gives this module its name: Operation 610, after Timothy 6: 10 - "For the Love of Money is the Root of All Evil." - he figured he had found a way to deal a crippling blow to Esoterrorism by destroying their financially backing, but it hinged on using a lone operative, him - something the OV generally does not condone, for good reasons. Frustration built up.

Then, one winter's night, his obsession rising, his sister and wife wanted to take his mind off things - all drinking. Caroline took her brother's car keys and drove home, being the most sober of the 3...and then, in the rear-view mirror, the spectrosite, an ODE hiding in reflective surfaces like mirrors, showed itself - just long enough to make the car crash. John was inconsolable and severed all ties with his sister (who is btw. one of the pregens - see what I meant with "hard to integrate into an ongoing campaign?"). He had nothing left to lose. He initiated his plans for T610.

Traveling to Europe, he managed to infiltrate Métallon Incorporated, which is led by industrial giant Johan van der Hulst, who has been an Esoterrorist for most of his life, guided by his invisible play mate Nicholaus (who shows up in mirrors...) into the murder of, among others, his parents. He is deeply convinced of his twisted cause - and he has been gathering Rhodium, for Nicholaus has told him about a means of tearing the membrane temporarily.

It should come as no surprise that Hulst knew of Sheldon's plan. Nicholaus poses as Mary in the mirror, twisting Sheldon's already strained psyche further, convincing him that she's trapped in the Outer Dark, that he must free her - and that Hulst would know how. Hulst has a device, but it does require a willing sacrifice - it would not end Sheldon, but it would "reunite" him with his wife...but to bring both him and her back, someone else would need to take their place in the Outer Dark...and it only took a bit of gaslighting to convince the embittered operative to blame the OV.

Sheldon allowed himself to be ritually slaughtered, fusing his heart with the Rhodium-device crafted by Hulst. He is waiting the right circumstances.

Meanwhile, the PCs have all been considered to be potentially compromised by Sheldon dropping off the grid and are thus sent to Amsterdam to investigate the proceedings, fitted with heart-monitors and surveyed by psychiatric metrics...and an SSF team may well be waiting in the wings...The briefing is btw- fully detailed and a nice flow-chart of potential adventure scenarios and sequences of scenes has been provided. The PCs thus travel to Amsterdam to not only get to the bottom of the matter, but also to clear their name: And they will have to contend with a rather grisly scene, namely that of Sheldon's demise, carefully orchestrated to draw the agents ever closer into the proceedings - Veil Out of a potential witness's gruesome death at the hands of the spectrosite, right in the police station, will require some serious creativity and quick thinking.

Indeed, things become even more complicated pretty fast: Beyond the professional killers and snipers under Hulst's command, a rival Esoterrorist and former subordinate of Hulst tries to eliminate the PCs - with methods that are not exactly subtle. However, at the same time, this involvement may actually put stumped PCs on the right track! You see, there is a component that explains WHY Sheldon's murder was staged this publicly - the heart, extracted from his body, needs to be activated...and for that, it requires bloodshed by his enemies, the OV.

This adds a great moral dimension to the proceedings, as the agents may be required to race the SSF...if they are not duped by "Mary" as well and survive potential encounters with the spectrosite...and it emphasizes that the OV agents are supposed to be the good guys. That being said, in one way or another, the heart will probably be activated...but Verity's order remains: Get the head of the conspiracy. Hulst has the device on an oil rig, which is represented, image-wise, with a nice hand-out, yes, but it (and pretty much all of the action-oriented scenes) imho suffer from a lack of maps - in the case of the rig and the scenario, where the Esoterrorists try to dupe the PCs and the SSF to spill their blood in particular - these scenes could have really used some proper maps.

The approach to the oil-rig, btw., features the most brutal of bottlenecks in the scenario: If the PCs have botched their investigation, they may be shot out of the air by the surface-to-air-missiles installed on it via Hulst's fortune and black market connections...unless they have found the proper coded MP3 to call off the automated attack, this may well be "Game Over". The running gun battle through the rig feels like an afterthought, when set against the possible outcomes of the scenario - and while partial success is at least somewhat likely, stopping Sheldon's tormented soul and succeeding at the veil out without a horrid, horrid gaze at the abyss of the Outer Dark will be only something truly smart (and compassionate) players will succeed in.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but not as good as usual for Pelgrane Press - my copy did sport quite a bunch of hiccups and glitches on the typo-level. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks/photographs are nice and well-made. The big weakness of the module, ultimately, is that its action-scenes don't have sufficient information to render them compelling - cartography, at least basic one, would have helped here. I can't comment on bookmarks or the like.

Matthew Sanderson's "For the Love of Money" is, in almost all disciplines, a glorious module: The Esoterrorist plot is challenging, smart and hard to foil and grasp, all while remaining fair. The antagonist reactions, detailed NPC-reactions, copious information for PC-actions and massive supplemental material really help. The investigation part of this module is really, really amazing. Unfortunately, the module does fall flat pretty much almost always (exception would be the cool visuals of the potential showdowns with the ODE) - they feel like afterthoughts. They don't sport the same attention to detail, aren't nearly as interesting and compelling as the rest of the module.

It is within the nature of the plot that integration into ongoing campaigns is hard, so I won't penalize the module for that. However, the none-too-compelling action-scenes and lack of proper cartography drag down this otherwise great module. If you're looking for a glorious investigation and don't mind working on those bits, then this is a very clear recommendation. Otherwise, it remains a module for fans of investigation who don't care much about the action-aspects of the game. When all is said and done, this gets the tone and feeling of Esoterrorists rather well and provides a compelling adventure, though one that falls slightly short of the excellence it could have easily achieved. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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The Esoterror Fact Book
por Thilo G. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 07/03/17 07:51:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive supplement for The Esoterrorists (or any other horror game, really!) clocks in at 150 pages (excluding cover, which is its own pdf), 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC,, leaving us with 147 pages of content.

This review is mainly based on the print edition of the book, which was kindly provided by one of my patreons for the purpose of a review at my convenience.

So, what is this massive tome? It represents at the same time a massive dossier that could be considered to be useful as a kind of colossal hand-out, is written as though it was a dossier for agents of the OV: It discusses, on a need-to-know-basis, the realities of the struggle against the forces of the outer dark and the esoterrorists that seek to bring down the membrane, discussing changes in strategy, the psychiatric metrics of the struggle and the, very important, code of ethics that agents should strive to uphold. More than that, it explains the details of extractions, of the conduct in the field, etc. and supplements these pieces of information with flavorful and extremely creepy transcripts.

The methodologies of station duty, establishing deep cover and the like are presented in a concise manner that is a true joy to read - if you're like me and read a ton of RPG-books (and sometimes read them for reading pleasure/immersion), then rest assured that this book is a phenomenal reading experience - and not only in the guise of a pseudo-secret-agency operations manual. The adversary map as a prop can be seen as a kind of precursor to the organizational structures later refined in the Nights Black Agents game. Speaking of which - the book does cover branches of the agency usually not associated as regular PCs - the SSF, the special suppression forces of the OV, join the ranks of playable options, with more crunchy combat options included for such games herein.

Now this predates Night's Black Agents and the crunchy combat rules and high-octane gameplay of that system by years, so it is no surprise that they are not as diverse, but for GMs/directors stumped on how to combine the two, these represent a no-work-required variant for more action-oriented gameplay, with evasive maneuvers, martial arts, etc. - so if you're looking for a change of pace from standard Esoterrorists gaming, this may well still hold up rather well. Still, that would be the one part of the book that has not aged as gracefully as the rest.

Beyond those more crunch-related aspects, however, it should be mentioned that concise rules for dealings with assets and enemies are set down - while these may be modified by the GM, obviously, they represent glorious leitmotifs for whole campaigns. Speaking of which - what I honestly did not expect to like this much, would be the NPC-aspect of this book. You see, the factbook talks, in detail, about various potentially dire, perhaps even world-ending plots that esoterrorists are currently engaged in; it mentions weird occurrences, classifies the antagonists according to their respective psychological profiles...and sports a TON of some of the best NPCs I have seen for modern horror-gaming: From disgusting, sleazy media moguls to cynical cultural scientists, the book offers a diverse and truly creative cast of characters worthy of being primary antagonists for whole campaigns. Sample notes on missions, successful ones and failure, are interspersed throughout the book, further enhancing the reading experience.

From advertising agents to serial killers, the agents of the Outer Dark are presented in a manner that makes them come alive...and it is very evident that the book goes above and beyond, actually managing to get terminologies right and thus making the respective characters feel plausible. Suspected cells and operations are provided in similarly inspiring ways, ranging from gangs to incestuous farmers, international security consulting and high-stakes players on the global scene. The book also lists a wide variety of locations, all of which basically scream to be included in one's game: Haunted suburban homes, strange logging camps, the road to nowhere and more outré locales render this aspect of the book, once again, a pure joy to read.

While we're at it: The book not only covers antagonists, but also potential neutral parties - like seemingly benevolent, esoteric cult leaders "doing good" with "magic" - the problematic aspects of these practices and the double-edged nature of involving such beings makes them valid and intriguing wild-cards that further add a significant dimension to the game and the plots you can craft.

Now, the book also contains a sample adventure, one made explicitly for SSF-characters and taking place in Burma - the adventure is per se a well-crafted series of action-sequences, though ultimately, the brief scenario is pretty linear. The ODE introduced here is pretty disturbing and potent, and its weakness/symbolism MAKES SENSE and can be deduced by smart agents, even if they botch parts of the investigation - the module, in short, is solid.

The book closes with a handy appendix explaining the acronyms used and a massive, 3-page index that helps navigating this book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue accumulation of glitches or hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice two-column b/w-standard and the book sports a wide variety of amazing, atmospheric b/w-artworks.. The pdf has no bookmarks - I'd suggest getting the softcover print book instead.

I honestly feel like I failed Robin D. Laws' book here. Why? Because, frankly, I cannot hope to convey how well this works - this is a glorious reading experience, extremely immersive and inspiring and it gets the horror aspect of Esoterrorists down to perfection. This book, in short, represents a truly inspiring option for horror gaming. All negative things I can say about this book are the result of me being somewhat late to the party - and are thus not the book's fault. Still, the lack of bookmarks can be annoying and the more combat-intense rules are solid, but pale before the newer GUMSHOE-mods. Even taking that into account, however, I do still consider this to be a must-have offering for anyone even remotely interesting in modern horror or GUMSHOE gaming - the inspiring fluff and glorious prose render this a must-own offering. While this book thus misses my seal of approval by a tiny margin, it should still be considered to be a truly glorious offering, fully deserving of a 5-star-verdict, even in 2017, 8 years after its release. So yeah, get this - it is a true wellspring of inspiration!

Endzeitgeist out.



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Profane Miracles
por Thilo G. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 06/21/17 06:20:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Esoterrorists clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page blank, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! So famous financier Jonathan Bentley was recently resurrected from beyond the pale in a rather public manner, at a charity ball of his widow Grace Summerville, and this feat was achieved by the famed psychic Cassandra Madrigal. The OV-agents are sent in with cover identities as investigative reporters. That's the basic premise.

Behind the scenes, resentment has festered between Jonathan and his wife - she was smarter and always one step ahead, the true brains of his enormous success...and thus he faked his death with an esoterrorist drug named Fatalix, which also acts as a drug...if Bentley stops heeding the call of the esoterrorist Dellinger, he'll withhold the drug. Bentley thus has fallen deeply into the control of the movement and the gambit of the esoterrorists (the medium is, obviously, a pawn as well) has paid off - Cassandra has retreated from business to live with her secretly loathsome husband, who has also, in his decadence, sired an illicit child - something that the investigators can find out...and the child is horrifically disfigured and can provide a hint regarding the involvement of the financier and his predicament.

The investigators will find a strange substance used by Cassandra during the ritual in the initial investigation of the big gala; it is this substance that will provide a clue. Cassandra, as mentioned before, is pretty much a well-meaning patsy and ultimately can point the investigators towards a street vendor of the occult and esoterrorist operative, one Vincent Marlowe, and point towards a large-scale order by Bentley financials - and yes, a nice chase may ensue here.

Blissfully unaware of the loathsome character of her husband returned from the dead, Grace can be convinced when faced with evidence (or smart investigators) provides access to the GPS-tracker and thus the PCs can track down Dellinger's sanctuary. Here, an ODE, the dementia larvae and Marlowe prepare for a showdown, while Bentley lies comatose and a journal etc. fills in the undoubtedly at this point numerous blanks. There is still some crucial stuff to decide: There is an antidote, but it can either save Jonathan or his illicit child, not both... and there is still the matter at hand to stop Dellinger's plans for a bigger ritual, on live TV - here, a series of obstacles provide some serious customization - and ultimately may boil down to another dangerous boss fight against an ODE created from a very strange Cassandra. The pdf does mention dealing with the two women harmed by the schemes here and the appendix depicting the dementia larva.

...did you notice something? Yeah, neither the actions of Bentley, nor those of Dellinger, make any sense whatsoever to me. I read the module multiple times and it's REALLY, really hard to make heads or tails of them - hence the sudden, convenient journal-exposition dump. Worse, saving Jonathan suddenly makes him realize his love for Grace? SERIOUSLY? That bit had me frothing at the mouth. And this very public figure faked his death for a whole year, while indulging on sprees of decadence with drugs and hookers? Seriously, this module expects you to buy a lot of BS for a system that is based on logical investigation.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no glaring accumulations of glitches. Layout adheres to a b/w-two-column standard and the pdf sports really nice b/w-artwork and cartography. The pdf I have does not sport bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

I am sorry, I really love Esoterrorists. But Leonard Balsera's Profane Miracles is not a good module, to put it lightly. The motivations of the antagonists are jumbled, its shock-values are for shock only, the whole plan of the antagonists makes no sense whatsoever and the climax violates, to a degree, the summoning paradigms provided by the Summoning Guide. In short, the logic bugs herein not only extend to the meta-level, they can also be found on an in-game level. The exposition-dump that basically jams the whole story down the PC's throats had folks groan at my table, complete with plenty of question marks above their heads. If you just want cheese-and-crackers-no-brains gameplay, this may do something for you...but why are you playing this investigative game then? If you want an actually good, action-packed Esoterrorist module, go for Six-Packed instead - it is much more rewarding and not such a structural mess. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



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Candles, Clay & Dancing Shoes
por Customer Name Withheld [Comprador verificado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 06/19/17 01:07:41

Too short but a great little supplement. This is a resource for consumable magic items...the kind I like to put in games!



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Profane Miracles
por Ramon N. P. [Comprador verificado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 06/18/17 00:53:27

A rather serviceable adventure, that shows a simple mistery set in modern day LA/Hollywood. It's a bit more action - oriented than other Esoterrorists adventures, because the PCs are expected to deal themselves with any nastiness instead of being able to call the Special Forces of the OV to do the cleaning for them. Anyway, most of the action scenes can be avoided through carefully play, wich is positive.

There are some things missing, as one of the comments point out: if the PCs can, at the beginning of the game, see footgae of the millionaire's resurrection, there should be a description of how it was performed. Some other small details are missing too, and the GM will have to create descriptions for them. Nothing major, anyway.

At this price, the adventure is a good purchase. This adventure can provide a couple of interesting sessions, despite the simplicity of the adventure. It does not need much work on the part of the GM. If your players are new to Esoterrorists, it can be a reasonable introduction. I would recommend the purchase.



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Mutant City Blues
por Guillaume H. [Comprador verificado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/31/17 13:44:53

Mutant City Blues feels more like a collection of suggestions for a setting than a traditional book including setting and rules ; It's all good if you are willing to play a US based super mutant investigation, otherwise you'll have to do the legwork by yourself. The GUMSHOE system, at least the way it is presented in this book, lacks definition for my taste ; a player friendly set of pools, with clear instructions for the GM that failure does not exist and has little consequences on the investigation outcome. The order in which informations are provided makes little sense, with references, acronyms and rules that are explained long after being used into gameplay exemples. All in all, you'll find pretty good ideas in mutant city blues setting suggestions, but don't expect a solid foundation for a campaign, or a game ready to go... Therefore, the 20 USD pricetag seems a bit much.



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Hillfolk
por Matthew I. [Comprador verificado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/26/17 19:13:15

As far as ROLEplaying systems go I don't think you'll find one better. The character creation and dynamic scenes the systems create are so engaging and compelling I have used the system copy paste entirley into my other systems campaigns and my players love it. This system doesn't bother with complicated rules and stats it is simply a shared roleplaying story telling experience pure and simple. Fantastic pick up even for the most stat focused roleplayer if not just to spice up the times they do delve into a bit of deep roleplaying.



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#Feminism preview
por Harold N. [Comprador verificado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/12/17 13:54:33

Well written and presented, Feminism Preview is worth your time if delving into your own psyche is something that interests you. This game will mess with your head a bit, but in a good way; it makes you THINK. And, if it doesn't make you think, you're one of the reasons we need games like this.

The scenarios included in the preview are easily run, thoroughly designed, and will keep your mind engaged as you drop further into the settings. And you will probably learn a few things about what it really means to be a woman, what losing one's autonomy feels like, and what feminism actually is . . . because most people (most males) have absolutely no idea what it is.



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Trail of Cthulhu: Cthulhu Apocalypse
por Megan R. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/08/17 07:48:32

The Introduction reminds us how in most horror situations, the horror can be ended: leave the haunted house and leave the ghosts behind, the police can catch the serial killer, and so on. The Cthulhu Mythos always promises apocalyptic horror from which there is no escape - and this book gives you the means to present it to your players.

The first part is The Apocalypse Machine, presenting advice and additional rules for running Trail of Cthulhu in a post-apocalyptic setting (as if either the Mythos or an apocalypse weren't enough to cope with on their own). This pitches the Investigators as some of the few human beings to have survived whatever disaster occurred, trying to cope with the situation... and finding that the Mythos has survived as well! Or may even have instigated the apocalypse... Information here ranges from designing your own apocalypse to new Occupations, Skills and Drives appropriate to a post-apocalyptic world (and notes on how existing ones will work in the new setting). It assumes a Pulp style of play, although it may not be quite what you are used to. It also splits the setting into two periods: Aftershock, when the apocalyptic event has just happened, and Wasteland, set some time later when things have settled down a bit, or at least folk have realised that this is their new reality.

One of the most interesting parts of this section is the material to decide what happened to bring about the apocalypse, to destroy the world as you know it. Certain criteria are set. Humanity is well-nigh gone, some 99.99% of human beings have died in the event although the Investigators have survived (or their ancestors did if you have taken your Wasteland plot a generation or two into the future). The effects must be global, there's no scampering off to take refuge in an unaffected part of the world (well, maybe the Antarctic bases have survived...). Oh, and Mythos entities are taking the opportunity to arise, even if it wasn't them behind the apocalypse in the first place. So, the cause of the apocalypse may be human-driven, it may be the Mythos or it could be a vast natural disaster - the next dinosaur-killer asteroid, perhaps. Or a disease, or earthquakes or... get the picture? Life on earth is quite fragile when you start thinking of ways to wipe it out.

Once you are equipped with these resources, there is a whole campaign's worth of adventures to play. Quite a lot of the material has been published before as The Dead White World and Slaves of the Mother, but even if you already have these, this book is worth a look because there's a lot more new material here! New adventures have been added, firstly two to the Dead White World phase - an uncontaminated lake to investigate, and an unaffected woodland around an ancient barrow - both drawing on the underlying concept of contamination spreading across Britain (and indeed the rest of the world) and the search for refuge that the Investigators undertake in order to survive. Although they've been put after the original adventures in Dead White World they work better if they are interwoven with the others, after The Dead White World and before the climactic Sandgrown.

The remainder have been added at the end of Slaves of the Mother, which takes place three years later. At the end of the last adventure in the original Dead White World the party had to make a decision. They are now living with the result: England is now either overrun with strange white flowers or crawling with Deep Ones. Throughout, notes are provided to cater with both options, with them being referred to generically as 'Creatures'. The scene is set in the Introduction with explanations of the likely state of play depending on what the party is having to contend with, this will help you set the scene as the game begins. Thereafter, when the effects are different depending on what is there, this is clearly indicated.

The first three adventures - Bright Futures, The Nation Set Free and Slaves of the Mother - remain the same, but there are an additional seven complete adventures. These follow after Slaves of the Mother, in which the characters are faced with awful truths and have to decide whether or not to carry on or kill themselves out of sheer despair, as those who survive escape Britain in an aircraft and make it to America (the actual trip is left to you to manage, whether as an adventure in its own right or hand-waved to get them there).

Of course, all is not well in America either. The place is overrun with whichever set of Creatures you decided were the problem, and the few people left alive are attempting to survive just as those left behind in Britain were. The adventures address various ways of surviving and even flourishing in the aftermath of the apocalypse, each presenting considerable risk to the Investigators and even offering them a chance to put things right (or at least substitute something else) or to remain trapped forever where they have been taken... either way, this last adventure ends the campaign.

The additional material makes this the book to go for if you fancy taking your Cthulhu apocalyptic... even if you have the three volumes that make up the major part of it. The scope is here for memorable adventuring, the sort of campaign that is talked about for years afterwards by those involved. It may not be for everyone, thinking about the world as you know it being destroyed can be quite tough, but for those who do this is excellent.



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Trail of Cthulhu: The Long Con
por Megan R. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/05/17 07:52:02

If it is too good to be true, it often isn’t… and when the Investigators are asked to help organise a confidence trick they find that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. It all begins when one Sidney Price asks them to join him in suckering a rich American into participating in a fake auction, promising them vast riches… but if they are not careful they could end up in very hot water (and that’s before the police get involved!).

The Awful Truth reveals what is really going on (and who is conning who), and the Spine charts likely events although as the party has been asked to arrange things, they will be driving the action more than is usual. Strange things begin to happen as soon as they get involved, so the adventure turns into a more conventional investigation once they decide to check them out, or to enquire about the other people involved in this project.

The adventure is set in London, being particularly suitable for Bookhounds, and it does really have to be there – all the background is wound up in London’s history. Apparently – although not everyone believes these rumours – the Devil trades in lost occult lore, holding ‘Burnt Auctions’ of books destroyed during the Great Fire of London, and this is the event the target rich American is to be suckered into attending. As the adventure begins with the party being asked to arrange a con, some outline rules for running one are included.

A dizzying selection of Scenes are provided to drag the party deeper into the plot and see them driven demented by weird manifestations – unusual ones, researching them should keep everyone entertained as well as providing clues to more than just their nature. There are also opportunities to bring the law in if you are so minded (or if the party makes a public nuisance of themselves and attract attention!). Some occult help is also available if the party is willing to take that route. The climax of the adventure sees the action move to the crypts of St Paul’s where the awful truth is revealed as a ritual is enacted… and there’s a real risk of a catastrophic fire. It all makes for a tense and exciting adventure in the Bookhounds of London mode, indeed it’s best suited as an adventure within that campaign setting. No pre-generated characters are provided, use the Bookhounds rules or existing characters from there; but everything else you’ll need is to be found within these pages. If you like the somewhat dubious book-dealers of Bookhounds, this adventure is recommended.



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Trail of Cthulhu: The Book of Ants
por Megan R. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 05/04/17 08:24:24

If you think your Investigators - be they slithering their way through Dreamhounds of Paris, inquisitive Bookhounds or unwary individuals - have not parted with enough Sanity yet, give them a copy of this book and leave them to read it. For this is a strange collection of jottings purportedly from one present amidst 1920s-1930s Surrealists in Paris, presented in in-character formet as having been delivered in a cardboard box late one night to one Penrose who tried to impose some order and then published them.

The putatative author is one Henri Salem, who from the sound of it spent a lot of time drunk or under the influence of other substances. He rambles, casting out names some familiar and others not, sometimes touching on matters occult... a mish-mash of ideas and events and thoughts which a cunning (if perhaps deranged) Keeper could mine for atmosphere if not for plot. Certainly the descriptions of dreams and trance-experiences could provide some inspiration...

As the book goes on, there are descriptions of how Salem and his associates found their way through trance states into a strange world of dreams, some quite detailed descriptions of what they found (and did) there... and the weird way in which they can meet up with each other and hold conversations under such bizarre circumstances. Strange monsters, dreaming made real, artefacts produced at will, all paint a picture of a very peculiar place. A character from Lovecraft wanders in, rather oddly he's in the real world not the land of dreams... a book purloined from the dream world... and other things even more strange. Every time something looks familiar or appears to have meaning, it slithers away as you try to grasp at it.

Atmospheric, mood-setter... whether your players will have the patience to read through it or at least will dip in... or you may choose to use it in other ways, providing apposite exerpts, perhaps. Or using it as inspiration, places for Investigators to visit in their dreams or waking lives, events that may occur. There's plenty to conjure with here, it sums up the whole spirit, the being, of what Dreamhounds of Paris attempts to create. If you are running or intend to run that, this book is well worth a look.



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Trail of Cthulhu: Dreamhounds of Paris
por Megan R. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 04/26/17 07:42:07

If you are looking to get seriously weird with your Trail of Cthulhu game, this where you ought to be looking. The materials here are designed you to take the already-weird surrealist movement in 1930s France, mix in the Mythos and come up with something that is warped beyond all recognition. It's all about accessing the Dreamlands via occult means, meddling with them, then trying to repair the damage. And if the green fairy doesn't play a part, you will be wanting a glass or two by the time you are done. ('Green fairy', if you don't know, is a nickname of the time for absinthe, widely believed to have addictive and degenerative properties which led to it being banned in France in 1914, not being revived there until 2000! But I digress, back to this book.)

This is a toolbox rather than a campaign or adventures. It starts by presenting a history of the surrealist movement including write-ups of leading figures as NPCs and complete with a timeline. Next comes material on creating surrealist characters and giving them appropriate abilities such as 'dream-shaping' as well as being artists. Explorations of both 1930s Paris and the occult scene follow, and then comes the Dreamlands themselves. It all winds up with advice for the Keeper in running a campaign involving the Dreamlands and a scenario to get you started.

Reading through the material presented here spawns all manner of ideas. There's even the intriguing possibility of playing an actual member of the surrealist movement if you'd like - the entries on them are detailed enough for you to transfer onto a character sheet and pass on to an interested player. Fancy becoming Salvador Dalí? Now you can... or of course, the Keeper can use this resources to bring these luminaries to life in the game for the Investigators to meet. It's recommended, however, that careful secection of the most appropriate historical surrealist for at least most of the players will lead to the most memorable stories.

Paris too is brought to life with maps and snippets of information, many being places that were there in the 1930s and often traces remain today, if not the actual establishments. You'll soon find yourself chasing confidently around Paris even if you do not know the city, if you do you will feel at home. Naturally once you, as Keeper, are comfortable with the setting, you'll be able to make it feel real for your players as well.

The discussion on running your Dreamhounds game is fascinating and informative. In most Trail of Cthulhu games, the Investigators are the guys who come in and clean up the mess made by incautious, accidental or malicious messing with the Mythos: here, as real or imagined members of the surrealist movement, they are the ones who have made the mess in the first place. The plot involves both making the mess by finding, exploring and modifying the Dreamlands, then realising what they have done and attempting to rectify it, a somewhat different and refreshing approach to normal. The trap to hook them in is the chance to explore the ever-shifting precincts of dream, in an attempt to marshal its power to achieve the large-scale social and political change they seek to bring about through their surrealist art. It's easy to see how such individuals would be tempted... and that's part of the reason for getting as many of your players as you can to play actual surrealists. A system for tracking what's going on - and more critically, what the players think is going on - is provided, it may seem a bit mechanical but handled with care to avoid spoiling the atmosphere you are creating in the game proves helpful in ensuring everything hangs together in a coherent - if weird - manner. It's call Arc and Pivot, and tracks what happens in each phase of an adventure and pinpoints when characters move from exploring to actively meddling, then realise the import of what they have done and attempt to put things straight. It's a somewhat 'story game' technique, but can be used to effect in your game if the players are comfortable with letting the underpinning mechanics intrude into the collective consciousness, perhaps in after-session discussions rather than during play.

There's all manner of advice about weaving the personal histories of the real figures into the narrative, handling the ever-present problem of characters having knowledge and skills that their players don't, the use of humour when dealing with surrealism, and much, much more. What do you do if the character's won't even enter the Dreamlands but hang around Paris? Or stay in the Dreamlands and won't come out? Find out here how to handle it seamlessly, never letting on that they are even causing an issue as far as the plot is concerned. How do you use investigative abilites in the Dream? Plenty of notes on that too. Study this section well and you will be able to handle everything with aplomb!

With a full-blown scenario to get things off to a flying start, this book equips you to dive headlong into surrealism in 1930s Paris and the Dreamlands (some might say the one is as weird as the other, perhaps that's how they manage to cross over...) and turn it into what may possibly become the most remarkable game you have ever run.



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Trail of Cthulhu: Mythos Expeditions
por Megan R. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 04/21/17 08:08:04

This massive tome is all about exploration, about mounting expeditions to the furthest-flung corners of the world - and being Trail of Cthulhu finding stuff that it might be better to leave undisturbed. There are a full ten complete adventures to keep your Investigators out of mischief, as well as loads of information about running expeditions in your game, whether you use these adventures or come up with your own.

The adventures provided can be woven into a regular campaign as you see fit, perhaps planning ahead and foreshadowing the need to go exploring - or dropping it on the party suddenly as prefered. Or perhaps your group are professional explorers, and travel in search of interesting places to go... they will find them here with expeditions to outer Mongolia, Rhodesia (the place now called Zimbabwe), underwater in Bermuda, Paraguay (in the middle of a war with Bolivia of course), the Yutacán, the Punjab in India, Greenland, New Guinea (head-hunter territory, of course), Ireland and a remote South Sea island. Neatly, the page with which Mythos monsters are involved with each adventure is kept away from the adventure summaries, so you can show them to your players if they are wondering where to go... assuming, that is, you are giving their characters any choice in the matter.

The next section is GUMSHOE Expeditions, which presents a subsystem for running expeditions using GUMSHOE (the underpinning ruleset for Trail of Cthulhu). It looks at ways of using an expedition to enhance the excitement of your game without getting bogged down in how many cans of corned beef and toilet rolls you need to take along with you. You don't need to play out every minute of the journey, yet you do want to give the party the feeling that they've been travelling far and for a long time, so there are methods for modelling that using the concept of the Tour - the overall time you expect the trip to take once the party leaves the last vestiges of civilisation. Then you divide that into travel increments, handling each one separately. Each increment will include some 'stock footage' narration of what they are travelling through, an assessment of how much of their resources are used up, and at least one scene where you can play out notable events along the way. There's a fair bit of material about expedition costs and arrangements, but for game play it's all abstracted down to a Survival Pool which represents the expedition's total resources: food and other consumables, staff (apart from the Investigators), vehicles or animals and the rest. This gets depleted as the expedition progresses. Unless you really love resource management, this is a neat way of modelling it while focussing on the real meat of the adventure, the dealing with whatever Mythos monster or plot the party is up against.

It's not a completely-mechanical abstraction, though. There are various challenges to deal with, which can be played out or boiled down to appropriate die rolls depending on taste, while different terrains exact different costs against the expedition's Survival Pool. Whatever the reason for the attrition, once the Survival Pool drops to a low level the group begins to run out of supplies... then they'll have to replenish their stocks or begin to starve. The Nythos is not all that you have to fear!

Then comes a section on Expeditions and the Artmitage Inquiry. This covers the supposition that at least one Investigator works at Arkham University (or at least, at a university), and gives some ideas about how to run a campaign based around, or at least including, academic expeditions. With notes on the academic environment (mostly accurate... she says, writing this review during a lunch break at a university!), suitable NPCs and ideas for the sort of trips academics are likely to make, this is an excellent resource for the academically-inclined, and could provide the basis for a whole campaign if that takes your fancy.

And then it's on to the adventures themselves. Presented in standard fashion, beginning with a Hook, the Spine and the Horrible Truth - or how to get the Investigators involved, an outline of the course of the adventure and information about what is really going on - each comes with a wealth of information to aid you in presenting the setting and running the adventure effectively, including the numbers to punch into your Survival Pool calculations. Maps, encounters, NPCs and more are all here... each could fill an entire review on its own, so suffice to say that if the concept of an expedition in true Indiana Jones style appeals, then rush out to get this book!

The material on running expeditions and on the university setting are excellent, and the adventures show just what can be made from these resources. This is an outstanding addition to the Trail of Cthulhu line. (Can I really only give it FIVE stars?)



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Trail of Cthulhu: Soldiers of Pen and Ink
por Megan R. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 04/20/17 07:57:51

This mini-campaign is set to embroil the Investigators in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The hook provided has them sent to Madrid as a documentary film crew, and this is supported by the pre-generated charaters provided, but you may have your own ideas about how to entice them over there. Like many idealists, they may even have gone to fight... fascism, supporters of a democratic republic and communists are involved in the conflict.

The Horrible Truth reveals what is really going on, and then the Spine lays out the sequence of events which begin with one of the party's associates disappearing. There's even the chance to catch up with Ernest Hemingway as the search progresses. There's loads of supporting material here, from some wonderful pseudo-science to 'explain' how the Mythos is working in this instance to details of what a besieged Madrid is like (the fascists are trying to dislodge the republicans, the communists are bickering with the republicans whilst trying to keep the fascists out...) and notes on typical characters likely to be encountered. There are some new archetypes - the extremist, the volunteer, the spy and the black marketeer - all commonly encountered, orwhich can be used by enterprising players if they don't fancy the documentary team idea. It's suggested that the Investigators, whoever they are, enter the game not knowing much about Spain or what's going on there, not only is it likely that your players are equally ignorant, so were most of the people who went there to fight or report on the situation. This enables you to drip-feed information as necessary rather than giving them a massive info-dump before the game begins. Given that most Keepers probably don't know much either, there's loads of background material here to draw upon. Not all is completely accurate, but it all suits the purposes of the game well... this isn't supposed to be a history text, after all!

So, on to the adventure itself. It is fast-paced, beginning with the party's hotel being subjected to an early-morning artillery barrage. Scene piles upon scene as the Investigators try to stay alive, make their film, and discover in the midst of all this that their local contact or fixer has gone missing. Loads of people to meet, to interact with or maybe to fight, there is a lot going on, several whole strands of which any or all may be followed. Clues of course abound, and as they mount up they will lead the Investigators more closely to the truth. Along the way there a bureaucrats to argue with, people of various political opinions to debate with or defend themselves against, academics to visit and the odd chance to evade arrest... until the final scene in a bullring.

Despite an exciting and compelling plot that should grip your party, possibly the best bit about this adventure is the sheer scope - if the setting appeals, there's plenty here to use in your own adventures. Perhaps the party survives and continues their exploits in Spain. This could turn into a whole campaign if you are of a mind. Well-resourced, there are even references to further reading if you want to do some research. Bring this oft-forgotten sidenote of history to life, with opportunities for various Mythos powers to meddle. It's a cracking adventure, best played Pulp but there are some Purist elements as well.



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Trail of Cthulhu: The Final Revelation
por Megan R. [Cr�tico destacado] Fecha en que fue añadido: 04/18/17 11:59:35

Although this book contains four previously-published adventures - The Dying of St Margarets, The Watchers in the Sky, The Dance in the Blood, and The Rending Box - this is more than a mere compilation.

The work begins with a short additional scenario called The Final Revelation. Its purpose is to provide a framework that can allow the other four to be played as a short campaign in the Purist mode. If you know the other adventures, you may be scratching your head at this point: although they are all set in the same time period and take place around the United Kingdom, there isn't anything else to link them together. If you use the pre-generated characters (who are ideally suited to the scenario for which they are provided) they do not carry over well, and even if you generate your own it is hard to come up with Investigators who would be interested enough in all four situations to get involved.

The solution is ingenious in the extreme. You start playing The Final Revelation and at certain points come across a core clue that points to one of the other adventures... at which point, you play the adventure indicated. The Investigators used to play The Final Revelation are not used for the other adventures: either use the pre-generated ones or once made using the guidelines provided. The core concept is that the original Investigators are a group who sound pretty much like conspiracy theorists, gathering together information on some pretty weird stuff, and their research leads them to the material in the other adventures. What they ultimately discover, the final revelation itself, is hardcore Purist in nature and if they are not already unhinged by then, they will wish that they were!

Sample pre-generated Investigators for this overarching scenario are provided, as well as guideline for those who prefer to create their own. Five pre-gens are provided, but you will have to transcribe them onto character sheets to make best use of them. Each has an intriguing backstory, which could easily be used to spawn other adventures of your own making should the players be interested in digging in to them, although this is not necessary to discover the ultimate shocking truth. Various notes are also provided on how best to handle clues, directed scenes and going mad, and the main NPCs in the overarching scenario are introduced.

The adventure itself begins with the Investigators arriving for the first meeting of the group. One invitee is missing, and following that up leads to the first core clue... and it's time to haul out The Dying of St. Margarets. This tells of a brooding clifftop school on a Scottish island, lurking horrors below and the disappearance of the last lot of Investigators to go there. Will your party fare any better?

The starting premise is that your Investigators are part of, or at least familiar with, the "London occult set" and will be familiar with a bunch of their peers who wanted to investigate the strange aftermath of a meteorite which landed in the vicinity of the school and eventually took jobs there as a means to this end... but who have not been heard from for several months. The Keeper is encouraged to talk to the players in some detail about their characters' involvement: who was it that they knew amongst the disappeared fellows, what sort of job do they intend to take up, and how well (if at all) do they know the rest of this party? This information should be kept and referred to frequently to personalse the adventure to each character in the group. There are notes about generating characters for this adventure - it is, it seems, better suited to being a one-shot than part of an on-going campaign, although you may decide differently. This includes a discussion about Drives, and how each will interact with events in the adventure. Other dramatic tips are also discussed.

The adventure proper starts as the party arrives at St Margaret's, but it is suggested that flashbacks and directed scenes are used to backfill just why they are all on the ferry. Then it's on to the school with notes on the main members of staff (complete with suggestions for role-playing them that verge on acting - posture, voice, mannerisms - little things that help them come to life for your players). From then on in, school routine takes over and the party will have to slot into it as appropriate for the post they are filling. Note that posts are pretty dependent on your social standing (as determined by Credit Rating) although with cunning use of Disguise characters may attempt to seem what they are not.

There are, of course, loads of clues to be had. Each one comes with an array of ways to discover it, which brings the whole thing to life and enables you to weave them in seamlessly to conversations and explorations. There are locations to visit, each with their own array of clues, and eventually the party will be led to the source of the problem... and it is left to them how they cope with what they find. Perhaps they give up and die, maybe they escape at least physically (but probably go mad...

Returning to the overarching scenario and its Investigators, the truths discovered begin to warp their reality, with some cunning minor clues provided to help you create the desired effects. So, on to the next week's meeting and events soon launch you all into The Watchers in the Sky. In it, there are strange birds around... from those surrounding a mental patient to others who hang around watching, watching... and when dissected, they're not quite right. Purge all thoughts of Hitchcock's The Birds, this is far worse!

The horrible truth is revealed straight away for the Keeper and then there are notes on how the party actually gets involved. Those with connections to medicine or psychiatry may hear about the mental patient who is convinced that the birds he feeds are watching him. Scientifically-trained ones may get involved in research that appears to suggests that the results of experiments change when these weird birds are around. A biologist or vet might catch one and cut it up... all roads lead to a university library where there are further clues as to the location of where these birds roost, and a couple of deaths will likely precipitate the climax of the investigation... entering the caves from whence the birds come.

Shaken, no doubt, return your players to the overarching scenario and provide them with more unsettling hints that reality is changing about them (or are they just perceiving it more clearly?) as you move on to the next stage where things are getting even stranger even before clues are found that send you off to The Dance in the Blood, which starts with the Investigators gathering in an hotel in the Lake District, not knowing each other and mostly a bit baffled about why they have even come there... then they see the photograph. That alone should rock them back on their heels, but it is only the beginning. Strange dreams, events, encounters... and no matter what their Stability score says, they will probably feel that they are going mad.

Back home again, it's time for a few directed scenes poking at the Investigators' Sources of Stability which have, along with everything else, warped a bit yet still remain recognisable... and things are even worse when they reassemble for their next scheduled meeting. A clue thoughtfully takes them swiftly into The Rending Box, which concerns an antique box, which the Investigators are asked to take from London to a contact up in the Lake District, a professor who studies folklore. Put it this way, this box makes Pandora's Box look like a benign ornament. The adventure piles detail upon detail, clue upon clue, leading the party inexorably on to their fate. At some point, probably, they will open the box. Don't push them (most Investigators will not need to be persuaded to take a peek), although there are some hints to help whet their curiosity if they seem reluctant. That's when the fun really starts... and it doesn't stop when they return to a London warped out of all recognition, back as their original characters. A horrifying final twist ends the tale.

The whole thing is a delightful conceit, which should delight all Purists. It brings out all the horror and hopelessness that this style calls for, stirs up emotions and shows that nothing at all can be relied upon. Bleak, yes, but that's what Purist is all about. It's a triumph.



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