Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Christmas Cthulhu Cornucopia!

Alas, yet another yawning gulf between posts...
Undaunted by my seeming inability to add something to the blog on a (semi-) regular basis, I'm yet again setting myself the task (New Years resolution!) of trying to produce one post - no matter how brief or banal - per week. To facilitate speed of writing and publication, I've neglected to include links in this post. Sorry, but if you're interested in any of the below it should be easy enough to find via Google.

The Christmas/pre-Christmas season was marked by a dearth of Cthulhoid rpg goodness, including: pre-release copies of Cthulhutech and Trail of Cthulhu (both of which I managed to pick up at Dragonmeet 2007), as well as the long-awaited Delta Green: Eyes Only. In addition, Worlds of Cthulhu issue 5 also appeared just prior to Christmas. In light of which, this first post of 2008 constitutes a brief review of the former three volumes.

Cthulhutech: an interesting Mecha-style take on the Mythos (not as bad as it sounds!). The book is glossy full-cover and looks beautiful - only marred by the cheap print-on-demand style binding. The mythos is dealt with in an interesting (but often 'non-canonical') manner, and although the idea of giant robots taking on Mythos beasts sounds counterintuitive to Lovecraft's original vision, it is dealt with intelligently and is well supported by some of the short fiction found in the volume. Probably something I won't get around to playing. Unless, of course, they were to turn it into a tabletop miniature game...

Trail of Cthulhu: the pre-release version was very nice looking, with some great illustrations and gaming content geared towards an innovative, storytelling style of play. I still have issues with one of the central claims of this book - that it 'fixes' what was 'wrong' with Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu (namely that finding clues is dependent on die rolling, and a bad die roll can blow the game). In my opinion, this is a non-issue and is easily dealt with by thoughtful scenario design(most Keepers worth their salt will ensure that there are multiple routes to clues built into scenarios). I haven't yet had time to fully read and digest the rules, but one problem I noticed with the Esoterrorist rpg (upon which ToC is based) is that it seemed to encourage a kind of railroading when it comes to character creation. Even so, a worthy effort, and worth picking up for Ken Hite's take on the the Mythos alone.

Delta Green: Eyes Only: Of the bunch, the one I was most looking forward to, and the one I was subsequently most disappointed with. I'm avoiding spoilers here for fans of the DG universe so some of the following may seem rather vague. Despite the hype, Delta Green: Eyes Only (published in a limited run of 1,000 copies) didn't quite deliver. The book is essentially a collection of material that didn't make it into the original Delta Green sourcebook. This was put out in a series of three chapbooks in the late 1990s, now collected for the first time in this volume with some additional material. The piecemeal nature of the material shows - particularly in the first section of Eyes Only. Overall, the first half of the book doesn't really seem to add anything substantial to the DG background, and only one major secret concerning a member of the Fate is (kind of) revealed to be pretty much what was hinted at in earlier volumes. The latter half of the book is an improvement (especially the stuff on the Philadelphia experiment), but overall Delta Green: Eyes Only failed to excite despite the anticipation.

That's it for now. Be seeing you!

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