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Preview: Reviews from R'lyeh

Reviews from R'lyeh

A blog dedicated to reviews of RPGs and their supplements, with an emphasis on Call of Cthulhu and other Lovecraftian inspired games. All leavened with the occasional board and card game review.

Updated: 2018-03-18T11:18:11.104+00:00


Miskatonic Monday #6: The Kirkwood Farmhouse Massacre


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 Invictus, The Pastores, Primal State, Ripples from Carcosa, and Halloween Horror, there was a Five Go Mad in Egypt, Return of the Ripper, Rise ofthe Dead, Rise ofthe 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 far reaches of the Miskatonic Repository.—oOo— Name: The Kirkwood Farmhouse MassacrePublisher: Chaosium, Inc.Author: Fred LoveSetting: Modern Day, DreamlandsProduct: ScenarioWhat You Get: 4.3 MB, 10-page full colour PDFElevator Pitch: Murder expose takes The Haunting to Iowa—and beyond (via a slippery slope)!Plot Hook: The investigators are literally investigators—journalists—looking to write an expose of serial killer murders in the 1920s.Plot Development: Unincorporated towns; ghosts; possible prequel to ‘Forget Me Not’ from Things We Leave Behind or an investigation for Saucerwatch from Delta Green?Plot Support: Free PDF, The Kirkwood Farmhouse Investigation, provides investigation and context; straightforward plot.Production Values: Needs a slight edit. Hand-drawn maps.Pros# Short scenario # Easy to run# Simple plot with few timed eventsCons# Linear# Ignores the greater plot and the other villains# Sanity losses too high# Ignores the journalistic processConclusion# Slight investgative scenario# Greater story left unexplored[...]

Leagues of Mummies


Leagues of Gothic Horror takes Triple Ace Games’ roleplaying game of globetrotting adventure and mystery, Leagues of Adventure: A Rip-Roaring Setting of Exploration and Derring Do into that melodramatic genre full of legends, ghosts, vampires, dark magic, great evils, sinister villains, and even romance—gothic horror! That supplement is further supported by a number of smaller books, each of which explores various aspects of the gothic horror genre in greater in order to bring them to life. The Guide to Mummies is one such volume, expanding upon the information upon certain monsters and threats presented in the night—and more! And just like other titles in the series, such as the Guide to Apparitions, the fact that it is written for use with the Ubiquity roleplaying system means that its contents works with other roleplaying games and settings which use those mechanics, such as Exile Game Studio’s Hollow Earth Expeditions and Clockwork Publishing’s Space: 1889.Given that our fascination with the Mummy really stems from the discovery and excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the 1920s and Boris Karloff’s portrayal of  Imhotep from the 1932 film, The Mummy—and exacerbated by the more recent 1999 remake—initially it seems slightly out of place to have the Mummy as a monster back in the ‘Mauve Decade’ of the 1890s, which is when Leagues of Adventure and Leagues of Gothic Horror is set. Yet fascination with the Mummy dates to even earlier, with French and British archaeologists finding and excavating tombs throughout the nineteenth century as their nations’ imperial interests extended to Egypt and the recovered artefacts and Mummies being brought back to Europe for display. Further, both Bram Stoker and Conan Doyle wrote stories featuring Mummies—The Jewel of Seven Stars and Lot no. 249 respectively—during or close to this period. So if Leagues of Horror can do vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and more, then why not the not so humble Mummy?Now from the outset, it should be no surprise that the Guide to Mummies focuses on the Egyptian Mummy, since that monster is essentially what we think of first when it comes to Mummies. It examines their origins in Ancient Egypt, their embalming process, animal Mummies, and the misuse of Mummies for medicinal and other purposes. In terms of game design, it suggests and examines various origins—accidents, curses, magic, and so on—and when you combine this with the list of Mummy motivations such as duty, love, power, and revenge, then the Game Master has a readymade ‘big bad’ generator. They should also provide the basis for the research needed by the globetrotters—the player characters—in order to identify any Mummy antagonist and how to protect themselves from it or destroy it. The various new magical texts given in the supplement, such as Egyptian Magic and The Imhotep Papyrus, may also provide further clues.Mummies also need tombs. Locating them is also a matter of research, but designing them is the Game Master’s task. The Guide to Mummies gives a guide to their design, including their size, traps—descending stone blocks, pits of spikes, volleys of darts, and so on, and of course, and of course, curses to trigger by a tomb being excavated. So Raiders of the Lost Ark or the Curse of King Tut—take your pick! A selection of Mummy related relics can be used to provide further clues, serve as objects to be found in such tombs or with the Mummies, or serve as MacGuffins.As to their design, the Guide to Mummies divides Mummies into Greater and Lesser types. The latter are mostly unintelligent servants, the former actually intelligent, whether as supernatural masterminds or servant to some other mastermind. Their form can be skeletal, preserved, incorruptible, or even flesh and blood, but all Mummies have the advantages of not needing to eat, drink, or sleep, not feeling pain, and cannot be stunned. Beyond this, for each Level of the Patron advantage, a Mummy can have an extra Power, such as Body o[...]

A Symbaroum Miscellany


To date, the majority of the releases for Symbaroum, the dark fantasy roleplaying game published by Järnringen and in English by Modiphius Entertainment, have been scenario anthologies, such The Copper Crown, the Symbaroum: Gamemaster Screen which included Adventure Pack 1, and Adventure Pack 2. All that changes with the release of the Advanced Player’s Guide, a supplement which greatly expands upon the options for players in the design of their characters; recategorises occupations as well as providing new ones; adds boons and burdens; offers new Races; and even gives away one or two of the secrets to the setting of Symbaroum. As much as the contents of the Advanced Player’s Guide adds to the game, all of it is optional. Not only that, but it is explicitly stated in the book that the contents are optional, which is important because this supplement changes many elements of Symbaroum.The Advanced Player’s Guide is divided into three sections—The Characters, The Skills, and The Tools, each further divided into various chapters. The Characters sections opens with an expansion of the roleplaying game’s archetypes. In the core rules, there are just three Archetypes—Warrior, Mystic, and Rogue, but this set up the oddity where essentially the Hunter occupation fell under the Rogue Archetype. It felt out of place. Here the Hunter becomes an Archetype of its own, with the Witchhunter and Ranger occupations from the core rules being joined by the Iron Sworn, Bounty Hunter, and Monster Hunter all falling under its category. In addition, the Archetype is given a unique ability, in this case, Hunter’s Instinct, which makes a Hunter better at hitting a target or quarry. It is unlocked and can be selected once a player character has taken three other abilities from those suggested for the Archetype. Of the occupations, the Iron Sworn, who works to maintain the Iron Pact, is actually a Profession. This is actually an advanced occupation, something not available at character creation, but available through play and the expenditure of Experience Points.The Advanced Player’s Guide does this in turn for the Warrior, the Mystic, and the Rogue. So for the Warrior, the new occupations are the Tattooed Warrior, Rune Smith, and Weapon Master with the Templar, who serves the Church of Prios, and the Wrath Guard, who serves the High Chieftain of the Karvosti, being the Professions. The Mystic has more Professions than new occupations—eleven versus two! The latter are the Symbologist and Troll Singer, whilst the former are the Artifact Crafter, Staff Mage, the White Path of Witches Spiritualist, the Red Path of Witches Blood Wader, Demonologist, the Green Path of Witches Green Weaver, Illusionist, Inquisitor, Mentalist, Necromancer, Pyromancer, and Confessor. The Queen’s Spy and Gentleman Thief are the Professions for the Rogue, whilst its standard occupations are the Former Cultist, Guild Thief, and Sapper.As much as this opens up the options for characters with the Warrior, the Mystic, and the Rogue Archetypes and now the Hunter Archetype, and is all the more welcome for that, there is an imbalance in terms of Professions for the Mystic Archetype versus those of other Archetypes. Another issue becomes apparent when considering the new Races added in the Advanced Player’s Guide. These are Elves, Abducted Humans, Dwarves, Trolls, and Undead. These are Summer Elves tasked with enforcing the Iron Pact, the agreement which protects the dark secrets of the Davokar forest; Abducted Humans are the children taken by the Elves when they leave Changelings behind and who grow up to serve the Iron Pact; Dwarves value their families above all, including morality and law; Trolls are crafters, singers, and warriors from below the earth who learn through song and challenge; and the Undead are a recent phenomenon, individuals returned from death for reasons unknown. The races are given the same treatment as those in the core rulebook, the section explaining why each member of [...]

Lost on the Gods


Published by Apollyon Press, LLC, following a successful Kickstarter campaign, On the Shoulders of Giants is a setting sourcebook for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying and other Old School Rennaisance retroclones. It presents an intriguing setting, four new Classes, associated spell-like abilities, a short bestiary of strange beasts, a location ready for adventure, and more, all illustrated by Scrap Princess, the artist whose artwork has graced the pages of other titles for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying, most notably the Ennie Award winning Veins of the Earth and Deep Carbon Observatory.The setting for On the Shoulders of Giants is not the body of one dead god, but twelve. In ages past, the twelve gods of the Greek pantheon—Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, and Dionysius—warred against each other over the imperfections they saw in one another, and one by one they died at the hands of their fellow gods until only Apollo lived. In anguish at what he had wrought, Apollo stabbed himself in the heart, and he too, died. Their divine caracasses did not remain inviolate however, and from their bodies were born maggots and as these maggots feed upon the godly flesh, they first formed mannish faces, before transforming into men, each with behaviours and attitudes born of their source flesh.In time these men learned to make their way on the bodies of these gods. They farm the maggots for food and crafting materials; they draw the gods’ blood from their giant veins and distil, filter, and separate into humours for use in draughts and potions; they extract bone marrow and harden it with fire to make arms and armour; they take god-flesh and smelt it into metal or grind it into a paste; and they seek out the organs of the gods for the untold riches they might hold—although the stomach is known to be home to daemons!On the Shoulders of Giants offers four Classes—the Conspirator, the Corpse Worker, the Prize Fighter, and the Witchdoctor, each of them quite simple. At each Level, the Conspirator gains Planning Points which he can use in an adventure to modify the results of the twenty-sided die, roll twice for damage and take the best result, and reduce damage taken on a point for point basis. When a Planning Point is spent, the player has to explain what he did before the start of the adventure in order to prepare for such a situation. This is a nice and simple mechanic, allowing a player to add to the narrative. The Corpse Worker extracts vital memories, the four humours, and more from the bodies of the dead gods, supplying Witchdoctors with ingredients for their experiments and more. Corpse Workers are skilled in Climbing and Architecture as well as being hardier and having good Saving Throws.Prize Fighters are bruising fighters and can withstand the Witchdoctor’s ability to graft limbs more easily than others, but they cannot take much in the way of punishment. Witchdoctors research and conduct Experiments using reagents and ingredients mined from the bodies of the gods. Some thirteen Experiments are described in On the Shoulders of Giants, for example, Bloodletting involves humours being sprinkled on an open vein to actually heal someone (though there is the chance it may inflict more damage); Pick Up the Scent requires the use a nose which will twitch in the direction of the intended quarry; and with Viscous Membrane, a phlegm-coated leather scrap can be turned into an impenetrable barrier for a few rounds. It should be made clear that Experiments are not spells, but rather vile tests and procedures using godly ingredients.By default the only available Race in On the Shoulders of Giants is the Human-like men transformed from maggots born of bodies of dead gods. It is suggested that depending on what body a maggot was born from, certain residues might carry over and influence certain attitudes and b[...]

Dracula Goes West


Dracula’s America: Shadows of the West: A Wargame is a new set of rules from Osprey Publishing. They work on three levels. The first is as a set of rules for handling skirmish conflicts in the Old West. The second is as set of rules for handling campaigns involving such skirmishes. The third is as a campaign setting which brings elements of the supernatural and the gothic to the Wild West. As with the publisher’s Frostgrave, the buy-in for this game is no more than ten figures per side, and as with Frostgrave, players are free to use the miniatures of their choice, though Northstar Miniatures manufactures the official range of miniatures. The likelihood is that the official miniatures will be worth obtaining once the players decide to add the supernatural elements of Dracula’s America to their games. In addition, players will need to provide whatever scenery they want to play as well as six each of six-sided, eight-sided, and ten-sided dice, along with various tokens to indicate various statuses and a deck of cards for each player. A good playing surface, roughly equal to the size of a kitchen table will also be required.Each player in Shadows of the West controls a Posse of between six and ten figures, typically led by a Boss. Each figure is armed with the weapons it carries and is either a Novice, a Veteran, or a Hero. This determines the dice type a player rolls for each type, six-sided for Novices, eight-sided for Veterans, and ten-sided for Heroes—and represents each figure’s Rank of Grit. These dice are rolled in various tests, including disengaging from combat, shooting, fighting, and saving against hits. A success in any test is counted as a result of five or more on each die, though modifiers can adjust the results on each die. Any die which comes up the maximum result allows a player to reroll the result of a failed die (rather than allowing the successful maximum die to be rolled again). Only one success has to be rolled for a figure to succeed in an action, though in combat successful hits can be countered by successful saves. Successful hits which are not stopped will inflict damage—up to two hits will render a figure Shaken, three or four hits will Down a figure, and five or more will remove them from play as a casualty.Like other Old West or Wild West games, initiative in Shadows of the West is handled through cards rather than dice. On a turn, each player draws a hand of cards from his deck—typically equal to half the number of figures he has in his Posse—and then uses these cards to determine the order in which his figures are activated during the Action Phase. This is a fairly straightforward mechanic and provides the players with the means of better controlling when their Posses act than dice would.The rules to Shadows of the West are in general and straightforward to understand and play. Besides the basics, they cover maintaining Lookouts, handling Bystanders and NPCs, using dynamite, horses, unexpected events, and so on. The advanced rules also cover building a Posse, choosing a scenario, and setting up the table. To support this, guidelines cover special rules for scenarios and some seven sample scenarios. The latter includes staking claim to particular objectives, grabbing loot, having a straight shootout, and so on. So far, so good, but whilst the core rules to Shadows of the West are not complex by wargaming standards, they are not quite suited for pick and up play by beginning, or at least, younger players. That said, they are not difficult to teach and really only represent a step up or two in terms of complexity when compared to the beginning rules of Frostgrave.The second level for Shadows of the West, the campaign rules, allow the players to each take a Posse and play multiple scenarios between them, each scenario having the potential for lasting effects beyond its play through. This includes injuries that might leave a member of a Posse with an old wound that wi[...]

Dice Against Death


Published in 2015 following a successful Kickstarter campaign, Grim Games’ Grim is a push your luck, dice rolling, take that game in the which players must compete against each other in a humorous dice game of Grim’s own design in an attempt to save themselves from a GrimFATE in the AfterRealm. Described as ‘The Exciting Dice Game’ in which your ‘Roll For Your Life’, it is a filler game, designed for between two and six players, aged ten plus, which can be played in approximately fifteen minutes.The game consists of one-hundred-and-twenty green Grim counters, eighteen red Strike counters, six Grim Scorecards, decks of Grim’s Hand and Grim’s Decision cards, a deck of GrimFATE cards, a green twelve-sided die, and three Grim dice. The latter are six-sided dice, each marked with Grim’s face in red, blue, and green. Both the Grim’s Hand and Grim’s Decision cards are circular in shape, whereas the GrimFATE cards are standard shaped. The Grim’s Hand cards are a way of striking at rival players, whilst the Grim’s Decision cards are optional penalty cards that a player may be forced to take.The objective for each player in the game is to rid themselves of their green Grim counters, either by passing them to rival players or handing them over to Grim himself. Each turn, a player rolls the Grim dice to generate Grim counters to either turn in or save them up to purchase Grim’s Hand cards. By ridding himself of all of his Grim counters, a player earns the right to go one-on-one with Grim. If the player loses, he restarts play with ten green Grim counters, but if he wins, he gains immortality, wins the game, and all of the other players have to read out their GrimFATE cards as the losers.At the beginning of the game, each player receives a Grim Scorecard, ten Grim Counters, and a Grim Fate card. The latter is dealt out randomly and kept face down and hidden from everyone until the end of the game—even its owner does not know what his ultimate fate is… The Grim’s Hand cards are placed in easy reach, along with the twelve-sided die.On his turn, a player rolls the three Grim dice, the colour rolled determining the outcome. A blue Grim face die freezes the die and prevents it from being rerolled; a green Grim face means that the player gains a green token; and a red Grim face means that the player gains a red Strike counter. A player keeps rolling the dice and generating green Grim counters until either he has rolled a green Grim face and decides to stop; rolls three blue Grim face dice and has to stop; or rolls three red Grim face and has to stop and add three green Grim tokens to his total. (Alternatively, he can draw a Grim’s Decision card if they are being included in the game.)Once a player has either given all of his green Grim counters to Grim or other players, he can duel Grim himself. This involves the duelling player attempting to roll higher then Grim on the twelve-sided die. The duelling players gets three rolls to beat the number rolled by Grim, but the actual number to beat is actually determined by the other players. They in turn, each roll the twelve-sided die, and whomever rolls the highest, sets the target to beat for the duelling player. If the duelling player beats Grim’s number then he wins; if he rolls lower than Grim’s number, he loses; and if the result is a tie, the duel starts all over again.Physically, Grim is well presented. The card quality is decent, the dice are actually quite nice, and the counters solid. The rules leaflet is perhaps a little underwritten, but the game is easy enough to pick up.So instead of accumulating resources or tokens, Grim is all about getting rid of them, either to Grim himself or on to other players, the latter via the Grim’s Hand cards. To support that though—as well as the duelling, which sometimes can be against other players rather than Grim if the right Grim’s Hand card is played—the game [...]

Miskatonic Monday #5: The Idol of Thoth


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 Invictus, The Pastores, Primal State, Ripples from Carcosa, and Halloween Horror, there was a Five Go Mad in Egypt, Return of the Ripper, Rise ofthe Dead, Rise ofthe 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 far reaches of the Miskatonic Repository.—oOo— Name: The Idol of ThothPublisher: Stygian Fox PublishingAuthor: Joe TrierIllustrations: Stephanie McAlea, Djahuti, J. Smith, & Jeffrey Koch.Setting: Jazz Age (Classic), Boston, Arkham, Lovecraft CountryProduct: ScenarioWhat You Get: 20 MB, 22-page full colour PDFElevator Pitch: Against the clock mystery to find a missing idol by the light of the silvery moon.Plot Hook: The investigators are hired by a museum to finding a mising idol before an exhibition opens.Plot Development: Lunacy; links to Egypt's darkest period; tight timeline; a drive into the Dead Light? Plot Support: Fully plotted out with three NPCs, scenes and events, timeline, and archaelogical investigation. Plus tips for the Keeper.Production Values: Needs a slight edit. Clear maps. Good asylum map. Polished layout.Pros# Short scenario suitable for beginners and experienced# Few NPCs for the Keeper to handle and portray# Simple plot with few timed events# Mythos underplayed# Decent bait and switch# Solid advice for the KeeperCons# No map of the museum# Keeper needs to create hook for the investigators# Lines of investigation presented out of geographical order# Sanity losses needed killing the innocent# Boston area maps not clearly marked as for the Keeper and investigatorsConclusion# Good short, investgative scenario# Needs a map of the museum# Professionally presented[...]

The Bumper Book of Mythos Magic


It is surprising that after over thirty-five years of publishing history, there has just been the two supplements dedicated to the subject of magic in Lovecraftian investigative horror. One of these is for Call of Cthulhu, Sixth Edition, a Miskatonic University Library Association called Mythos Magic, which in 2007 provided “An Optional Magic System for Call of Cthulhu and Basic Roleplaying”. The other is Rough Magicks, a supplement for Trail of Cthulhu. Both are different treatments of the subject matter, but both left room for a supplement specifically and officially for Call of Cthulhu. That said, the publication of Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition in 2015 was a chance for the designers to re-examine how magic worked in the uncaring universe in which the Cthulhu Mythos is a reality. Now there is a third supplement, specifically for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, one which not only examines magic in the context of the Mythos, but also collates and updates over five hundred and fifty spells drawn for the last three decades and more of the roleplaying game.It opens with sections concerning both magic and spells and this casting. This examines a caster’s state of mind, the nature of the sacrifice required to cast the spell, and whether or not the stars are right, the latter listing the spell associations and notes for days of the week, phases of the Moon, and notable pagan festivals, plus other astronomical events of note (comets, conjunctions, et cetera). Unless specifically given in the spell descriptions, it is left up to the Keeper to decide whether such requirements are pertinent to a spell’s casting (or if a Mythos sorcerer simply thinks they are). Further notes examine the importance of spell names, how they should be evocative and descriptive rather than matter of fact; deeper magic, essentially greater knowledge of how a particular spell works as known by the insane and as introduced in the Call of Cthulhu Keeper Rulebook; spellcasting difficulties and flawed spells; and spell components and magical tools, these last two supported by tables of suggestions that the Keeper can use to add flavour and detail the casting of spell should it warrant it.The primary focus in The Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic is of course upon the magic of the Mythos, but it does look at other traditions too—or at least traditions which fall on the outer remit of Mythos magic. One is folk magic, known by the wise woman, the witch, the shaman, and so on, though the Keeper is advised that such spells as Healing or Charm Animal may feel better suited to epic fantasy roleplaying games and so may not have a place in his Call of Cthulhu game. The other is Dreamlands magic, which is more a manifestation of the dream reality and again more akin to the magic of fantasy roleplaying games. The Keeper is given suggestions as to make them darker if he so desires.Besides the desired effect of any spell, it is possible that there will be other side effects. One of these is to leave magical residue after a casting, after effects that linger as a certain wrongness perhaps making spells easier to cast or weakening the veil between the dimensions, allowing entities to slip in and out of our world. Alternative sites—perhaps connected by Ley Lines—lend themselves to similar confluences and perhaps similar side effects despite being of a more mortal tradition.The content of the book devoted to the casting and the nature of spells runs only to a few pages and in fact, some eighty percent and more of The Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic is simply concerned with listing the very many spells that have appeared in Call of Cthulhu over the years. Each entry lists the spell’s name, cost in terms of both Magic Points and Sanity points to cast, casting time, and alternative names, if any. A full description of the spell details what a spell do[...]

To Be Mercenary About It...


Published by Colin & Ryan Pearson Games, Mercenaries – RPG Deck Building Game is a card driven, deck building game of dungeon exploration and combat. It is set in the fantasy kingdom of Berelt, long after a war which has left a tradition of mercenary groups undertaking minor missions that the kingdom’s tiny army cannot or will not, such as clearing out an abandoned mansion of goblins or striking down an Orc champion and his demon dog. The members of these groups, the mercenaries, are exactly that, mercenary and sometimes of questionable morals, and if not exactly honourable, then they will at least get the job done and take the money. Nevertheless, mercenaries do live by a code—they cannot strike another, but they can use trickery, steal kills, steal weapons, distract or lie to others, or in fact, do anything that will put them ahead in the competition to be top mercenary! Mercenaries – RPG Deck Building Game can be played co-operatively or semi-co-operatively in competitive mode. The mercenaries fight through room after room, facing monster after monster, the aim being to defeat all of the monsters in an adventure and have at least one mercenary on zero or more Health. In a competitive game, the mercenary with the most ‘MVPs’—acquired from striking, and especially, killing monsters—is determined to be the ‘Most Valuable Player’ and thus wins the game. In a co-operative game, everyone either lives and wins or everyone dies and loses. Since the players are essentially playing against the game, Mercenaries can be played solo, much like the co-operative game and the rules do include alternative player set-ups, such as a two-player game with each player controlling two mercenaries and even a five-player game with four mercenaries and a Deck Master. The latter player gets to play all of the monsters and wins by defeating the mercenaries. Designed for between two and four players, Mercenaries – RPG Deck Building Game takes between ninety and one-hundred-and-twenty minutes to play. The game does not suggest an age limit, but twelve plus would not be an unreasonable guide. Mercenaries – RPG Deck Building Game comes in a large, square, black box. Behind the engaging, almost children’s fantasy book-like cover can be found the ten-page Rule Book, twenty-four-page Adventure Book, four play mats and four score pads, one-hundred-and-forty condition tokens, thirty-six grid cards, one twenty-sided die, and some six hundred or more cards, divided into over eighty different types. The Rule Book contains the rules, using the first adventure in the Adventure Book as a guide and the Adventure Book contains four adventures, plus descriptions of the game’s cards. The play mats have spaces for a mercenary’s deck, discard pile, acquired cards, and so on, including the score pads for recording a mercenary’s current Health and Experience Points. (The score pads can easily be replaced by gaming tokens or counters, which may be easier for some groups to keep track of their mercenaries’ Health and Experience Points.) The various tokens are used to mark if a mercenary has acted, been poisoned or webbed, and so on as well as how many wounds a monster had taken. The grid cards are plain—even bland—and used to mark out the battle area which forms each counter. The cards in Mercenaries really fall into four categories. These are Area Feature cards, Skill cards, Ability cards, and Monster cards. The Area Feature cards describe the locations where the mercenaries will be fighting and any possible special effects. For example, the Dart Trap always attacks the First Player for damage and prevents their attacking that turn, whilst in the Dwarven Tavern, all Dwarven monsters have better Health and Melee Attack Values, but worse Defence Values. Skill cards provide the mercenaries’ act[...]

A Gloranthan Starter


Published in 2010 by D101 Games, Gloranthan Adventures 1: New Beginnings is a fanzine of adventures set in Glorantha for use with HeroQuest. That said, and despite it being inspired by the fanzine, RQ Adventures, it has the polish of a supplement, an anthology of adventures, rather than the rough and ready feel of a fanzine. It presents a quartet of adventures which can be used singly—on their own or as additions to a Narrator’s campaign or together to form a complete mini-campaign, ‘Weathering the Storm’. As the latter, Gloranthan Adventures 1: New Beginnings serves to introduce players to both HeroQuest and Glorantha, in particular, the conflict between the Sartarite tribes of Dragon Pass and the invading Lunar Empire, perhaps as a lead in to the events detailed in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes. It is written for use with HeroQuest, Second Edition, but would work relatively easily with HeroQuest Glorantha and is designed to be played by up to six players.Set in the year 1617, the players are rebels twice over. First, they are rebels fighting against the occupying Lunar Empire forces. Second, they are rebels against their clan, fighting when their clan prefers peace and negotiation to combat. Specifically, they are members of the Silverwind Clan, part of the Colymar tribe, which has the deserved reputation as a Peace Clan and thus few enemies and many friends. In some ways, the clan is feared for its persuasiveness, whether that is in mediation, forging trade routes, or defusing a combat! The player characters though, have eschewed the path of peace and chaffing under the traditions of the clan, have joined the Hidden Gale, a rebel band which has been harassing the local occupying Lunar forces with hit and run tactics. As the campaign opens, the Hidden Gale have been defeated and scattered at the hands of a Lunar regiment called the Silver Shields.The ‘Weathering the Storm’ campaign begins with ‘Adventure 1: Fortress of Doors’. The player characters have returned home, looking for somewhere to hide after their defeat and conferring with the clan’s council, it is suggested that refuge might be sought in the nearby Fortress of Doors, a fortification dating from the time of the Empire of Wyrms Friends. The first scene gives a good opportunity for the player characters to introduce themselves, the second presents the first of the series of mythic challenges which if done correctly will reinforce both Sartar mythology and the player characters’ as reinforcers of that mythology. This will continue in the second scenario, ‘The Black Ziggurat’, in which the characters seek aid from the Long Ravens, a clan known for its skill in fighting the undead. The clan gains this from its worship of Lerin, a great hero who killed the god of vampirism, Nontraya. Unfortunately, the Long Ravens have fallen prey to an outbreak of undead. If the heroes are defeat this outbreak, then one of them at least must heroform and become Lerin himself to defeat Nontraya once again.In ‘Fixing the Wrong’, the third scenario, the player characters are shown what might become of the Silverwind Clan if the Lunar Empire was to punish it for insurrection. A decade ago, scarlet-robed Comet Seers brought down the Starfall upon the lands of the Hazel Owl clan and all but obliterated it. The Lunar Empire was not without compassion and established a mission house to attend to the refugees who survived, including the then beautiful daughter of Hazel Owl chieftain, Jalhena the Gentle. Driven mad by the experience, in the years since, Jalhena the Gentle has become Jalhena the Hag and a Lunar convert, so when she approaches the neighbouring Birch Shaper clan in order to claim the hand of the chief’s son in marriage, mediators are required. Thus the player characters are sent as representatives of t[...]

An Elemental Improvement


Since 2014, Wizards of the Coast has published just eight adventures for use with Dungeons & Dragons. This does not sound like much, but where in the past both Wizards of the Coast and TSR, Inc. before it published scenario after scenario, now Wizards of the Coast releases whole campaigns, all in one go, twice a year. The first campaign, ‘Lost Mines of Phandelver’, part of the most recent Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set, was really more of a scenario in the traditional sense, but what followed was Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat, which together formed the Tyranny of Dragons campaign. Sadly, the underwhelming nature of the campaign not only delayed the review of The Rise of Tiamat after Hoard of the Dragon Queen, but also delayed any return to review titles published by Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons & Dragons. Yet there lingered a curiosity that wondered if the subsequent campaigns were any good, but to answer that, it was necessary to turn to the next one published, Princes of the Apocalypse.Published in 2015, Princes of the Apocalypse is a campaign for characters of First Level through Fifteenth Level, which returns to the Forgotten Realms after the Tyranny of Dragons campaign. Given that it concerns the return of Elemental Evil to the world, it should be no surprise that Princes of the Apocalypse is a sequel of sorts to T1 Temple of Elemental Evil, the classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign written by E. Gary Gygax and Frank Mentzer and published in 1985. It is not a true sequel though, like Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, the campaign for Dungeons & Dragons, Third Edition published in 2001, but rather a thematic sequel, in that Elemental Evil can work from one world to another and this time it is Forgotten Realms as opposed to Greyhawk.Specifically, Princes of the Apocalypse takes place in and around the Sumber Hills at the heart of the Dessarin Valley many days’ travel to the East of Waterdeep. The hills are not only dotted with ruins and towers, but also hide the sundered ruins of a Dwarven city below their surface. Of late, these ruins have been occupied by four cults—the Cult of the Howling Hatred, the Cult of the Black Earth, the Cult of the Eternal Flame, and the Cult of the Crushing Wave—the members of which serve a prophet dedicated to one of the Princes of Elemental Evil. These princes are Imix, the Prince of Evil Fire, Ogremoch, the Prince of Evil Earth, Olhydra, the Prince of Evil Water, and Yan-C-Bin, the Prince of Evil Air. These four cults have staked out their part of the ruins and now compete to spread terror and their influence across the region. Initially, this will be through deception and subterfuge, banditry and theft, but as the campaign progresses, they will unleash air, earth, fire, and water elementals upon the region as well as lightning storms, firestorms, earthquakes, and floods. Besides the obvious chaos this causes, in some cases it actually drives the inhabitants of the Dessarin Valley into the arms of the cults, seeking answers and solace when their gods seem to fail them. In this way, each cult aims to prove itself greater than its three rivals in its devotion to Elemental Evil and so be worthy of serving the Elder Elemental Eye when it is brought into the world.For the player characters, Princes of the Apocalypse begins with the search for a missing delegation from the city of Mirabar which was passing through the Dessarin Valley. Pleasingly, hooks aplenty—probably too aplenty—both personal and with both the major and the minor factions of the Sword Coast are given to pull the adventurers into the region and the campaign. Primarily of course, this includes the Harpers, the Order of the Gauntlet, the Emerald Enclave, the Lord’s Alliance, [...]

The Zone Quartet (+1) III


Mutant: Year Zero Zone Compendium 3: Die, Meat-Eater, Die! is the third supplement for Mutant: Year Zero – Roleplaying at the End of Days, the post-apocalypse set RPG based on Mutant - År Noll, the Swedish RPG from Free League Publishing released in English by Modiphius Entertainment. As with the first, Mutant: Year Zero – Zone Compendium 1 – Lair of the Saurians, Mutant: Year Zero and the second, Mutant: Year Zero – Zone Compendium 2 – Dead Blue Sea, this is a slim supplement that presents various scenario set-ups and situations—though not new rules—which can be quickly and easily dropped into a Game Master’s campaign and the sectors of his Zone map. Where Mutant: Year Zero – Zone Compendium 2 – Dead Blue Sea took Mutant: Year Zero to sea, what Mutant: Year Zero Zone Compendium 3: Die, Meat-Eater, Die! does is set up encounters with mutant animals in the post apocalyptic world of Mutant: Year Zero. However, it does not present four encounters in a thirty-two page supplement like those two previous supplements, but five encounters in a thirty-six page supplement, but this is only a minor difference.What really sets Mutant: Year Zero Zone Compendium 3: Die, Meat-Eater, Die! apart from the previous entries in the ‘Zone Compendium’ series is that it is a supplement to another supplement as well as the Mutant: Year Zero core rules. That supplement is Mutant: Genlab Alpha, the standalone roleplaying game and supplement which enabled the Game Master and his players to explore the place of mutant animals and their roles in the post apocalyptic future. Notably, it included the campaign, ‘Escape from Paradise’, which told of the various animal tribes coming together to discover who their robot overlords were and ultimately making an escape into the world beyond Paradise Valley. It is beyond this valley home where the encounters are to be had in Mutant: Year Zero Zone Compendium 3: Die, Meat-Eater, Die! take place, in the Zone—or at least near it—where the player characters have their home in their tribe’s Ark.Problematically, the title and cover of Mutant: Year Zero Zone Compendium 3: Die, Meat-Eater, Die! are a bit of a giveaway for the first location. ‘New Kingdom of Deeproot’ presents a warren of lagomorphs, militantly paranoid in their fear and hatred of meat-eaters—as depicted on the front cover. The rabbits have also formed a workers’ protectorate and entrenched themselves against attack. In some ways this is the most challenging encounter in the book, the Rabbits being equally as entrenched in their opinions and beliefs, and getting to persuade them otherwise will take a lot of effort upon the part of player characters. Now the concept of gun-toting bunnies has been a mainstay of the gonzo post-apocalypse genre ever since Gamma World gave us the Hoops, so what we have with ‘New Kingdom of Deeproot’ is something of a cliche. Fortunately, this a decent treatment of a genre standby and whilst it might not be the easiest of location to use, there are good suggestions on how to use it.Fortunately, ‘Blackhand’s Bar’ is much easier to use. It presents a former rest stop, an oasis of calm and rest amidst the tumult and the wreckage of the long past, somewhere where the player characters can stop, recover, and perhaps gather information. ‘Blackhand’s Bar’ is also the headquarters of the Zone Riders, messengers who traverse the Zone carrying missives and mapping out the Zone. A simple encounter with the Zone Riders will easily draw the player characters to ‘Blackhand’s Bar’ and from there they can establish relationships with the owners and the patrons, perhaps with the aim of also establishing a forward base. Another area of interest is ‘The Garbage Masters’,[...]

The Most Useless Dungeons & Dragons Supplement Ever?


In the space of four months, beginning in October, 2007 and ending in January, 2008, Wizards of the Coast published what were arguably the worst three books ever released for Dungeons & Dragons. The first was the Dungeon Survival Guide and it would be followed by Wizards Presents: Races and Classes in December 2007 and Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters in January 2008. Now Wizards Presents: Races and Classes and Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters were essentially previews of Dungeons & Dragons, Fourth Edition, the new edition of the game to launched in June, 2008. They were essentially advertising that the reader paid for, because once read, neither added anything to the game. What then, of the Dungeon Survival Guide?It is not anything akin to the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide, which published in 1986, was one of the last supplements to be released for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, First Edition. In fact, it was systems neutral, describing dungeons and the art of dungeoneering, but without game stats or mechanics. Indeed, Shannon Appelcline, writing in Designers & Dragons, noted that it was “pure fluff [...] with no stats at all”, noting that Wizards did not want to produce books that would be out of date within a year as they were preparing D&D 4th edition. Yet, even when it was published in 2007, the Dungeon Survival Guide could not have been considered be in any way, shape, or form, ‘in date’, and as we shall see, it would not be ‘in date’ for almost a decade.As a product, the Dungeon Survival Guide can be divided into two parts. The first part is about dungeons in general and the second part is about specific dungeons. Of its sixty-four pages, roughly a third is devoted to the former and two thirds to the latter, each entry typically consisting of just a two-page spread. The first part, in seven sections, looks at dungeons, who would dare delve into them, what gear they carry with them, and what to find below. The latter covers everything from the types of dungeons to be found from one world to the next, what terrain and other features to be found below as well as hazards to be avoided and treasure—mundane, magical, and legendary. The coverage of these subjects gets off to an odd start in that the first section, ‘The Dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons’ is more about the dungeoneers, the adventurers who would brave the depths, than it is about dungeons. Even then it is a little odd in that it only really looks at the four core Classes—Fighter, Cleric, Rogue, and Wizard—and the four core Races—Humans, Dwarves, Elves, and Halflings—than it does at the wider selection available in Dungeons & Dragons, both in 2007 and now. Although several other Classes get mentioned, this overview feels as if it owes more to Basic Dungeons & Dragons than it does Dungeons & Dragons, Edition 3.5, the edition available in 2007. In addition, the section introduces the five archetypal player characters—a Human Fighter, a Human Cleric, a Halfling Rogue, an Elf Wizard, and a Dwarf Fighter—who in turn provide advice and reminiscences about their time in the classic dungeons described in the book’s second part.Once past the oddity of the subject matter of ‘The Dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons’, The Dungeon Survival Guide settles down and sticks to the subject matters suggested by the titles of the sections. ‘Dungeon Survival Gear’ is an all too brief at barely half a page of text and lots of art. It really is a missed opportunity to look what use adventurers can put their gear to whilst in a dungeon and it really would have been nice to hear what the five archetypal player characters carry and why. Really, both sections could have been better handl[...]

The Magic of Now


Magic items have been a feature of roleplaying games since 1974 and the publication of Dungeons & Dragons and over the years they have been supported with supplement after supplement. For games set in the contemporary or modern era, such supplements are rare, and whilst there is nothing to stop a Game Master from updating items from the fantasy to the modern setting, the release of The Book of Contemporary Magical Things: A Collection of Mundane Items Imbued With Magical Power For Use In Contemporary Horror And Fantasy Roleplaying Games from Stygian Fox Publishing is more than welcome. The supplement presents almost one-hundred-and-twenty of varying power, from a Hot Spoon which always stirs your tea just right to Delgado’s Orrery which is capable of aligning the planets with many, many items in between, plus antagonists and rivals for their possession. What is important to know is that all of these items and personalities are presented in a systemless fashion, so a Game Master can take an item, write it up for the rules of his choice, and add it to his campaign as his wont.The background to The Book of Contemporary Magical Things is simple. Since 1945, magical artefacts have begun to appear. Not the great artefacts of legends past, but common or garden items, like boxes of matches and boxes of nails, handbags, torches, stools, sunglasses, caps, trainers, rings, SIM cards, goop, cooking pots, fishing nets, watches, door handles, lamps, bookcases, laser pointers, snow globes, handkerchiefs, pistols, and on. As these have come to the attention and notice of collectors and those in the know, they have not only been sought after, but classified according to their power. The power scale runs from Mina or Cantrips up to Cosmica via Minora, Media, Majora, Maxima, Magisteria, Magnifica, and Miracula. An example Mina would be the Silver Cat Statue, which when dropped or knocked over, sends out dreams calling for kittens—it is marked with the word “Ulthar” on its base; The Senator’s Pastime are a sample Minora, an item of everyday power, cigarettes that grant the ability to sense the intent of others; and an example Media, an item of uncommon power, would be ‘Lucky’ Kowalski’s Luger, a hand built fully functional replica pistol which fires bullets that most of the time pass around cover. An example passion made corporeal or Majora, would be Grandmother Edith’s Rocking Chair which when sat in and rocked allows the rocker to see out of the nearest window and into the future or the past; an example of disaster or Maxima would Jimmy Walsh’s Flight-stick, a flight-sim joystick capable of flying any real world aerial vehicle; and The Underwater Porsche would be an example of a Magisteria or the height of mortal power. The Power Armour of Ebony Harris, a surprisingly powerful and capable cosplay suit is a sample of a Magnifica, an item with power of demi-gods, currently being used by a vigilante; the wrath of deities or Miraxula is wrapped up in something like The Bed of Ressurection; and of course, Delgado’s Orrery or ‘The Devil’s Instrument’ embodies Cosmica, both destruction and creation.Throughout, the detailed descriptions of these items are colour coded: green for the beneficial effects of an artefact, red as a warning to its dangers, and blue for interesting facts. These are easy to spot by the reader, as is the number for each entry which keys to the maps at the back of the book marking where everything is. It is clear that the authors are having fun with the entries in The Book of Contemporary Magical Things. In some cases, they can be very specific about the details, such as Potter’s Dice, a set of polyhedrals with a twenty-sided die th[...]

A Literal Sandbox


Taking its cue its title, if not its cue, from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Slumbering Ursine Dunes is a mini-sandbox style setting designed for characters of between Second and Fourth Level for use with Goblinoid Games’ Labyrinth Lord. Published by the Hydra Collective LLC following a successful Kickstarter campaign, it is the first part of a trilogy of supplements which continue with Fever-Dreaming Marlinko and Misty Isles of the Eld and set in the Hill Cantons, a setting described as, “A Slavic-myth inspired, acid fantasy world of Moorcockian extradimensional incursions and Vancian swindlers and petty bureaucrats.” Much of this is true—Slumbering Ursine Dunes lacks the swindlers and the petty bureaucrats—but the setting is infused with Slavic myth and penetrated by Moorcockian Science Fantasy from beyond, and it is Vancian in its baroque feeling of age and the sometimes-retiring nature of the setting.Although a sandbox setting which the player characters are free to wander where they will, Slumbering Ursine Dunes is not a hexcrawl, but a ‘pointcrawl’. This depicts a region as a series of connected nodes rather than hex grid of locations and wilderness spaced in between. This makes travel in a sense more direct and avoids the problem of having an adventuring party wandering endlessly in the wilderness trying to find specific locations. It turns the map of the region depicted in Slumbering Ursine Dunes into something representational rather than exact and topographical, much like the map of the London Underground. Cleverly though, the concept of nodes and distinct travel routes is supported by the topography of the setting itself. The Slumbering Ursine Dunes consists of a mass of huge dunes of scarlet sand, each dune all but insurmountable, so that the easiest way through the dunes is by the existing routes between and along their bases. That said, the number of points—and thus encounters—in this pointcrawl are quite small at just twenty-five and for any adventurers, getting across the Slumbering Ursine Dunes should take no more than a morning at most—in either direction.The Slumbering Ursine Dunes are sudden plateau, some three-hundred-and-fifty feet high, that jut out of the landscape on the coast of the Persimmon Sea opposite the Misty Isles. They are known for the scarlet colour of their sand and for the annual pilgrimage of the soldier-bears who serve the hirsute and ursine godling, Medved, who rules over the plateau. The plateau is rumoured to be a place of great strangeness, whether it is the green pearls which carry the souls of evil men or the magical wheat fields where succour and sustenance is granted. The only access to the plateau is from the stairs that lead up from the settlement at Kugelberg—there is certainly none to be had from the coastal side. Two points of interest stand on the coastal side though: The Golden Barge and the Glittering Tower. To reach them, any adventurers will have to trek across the Slumbering Ursine Dunes, for the waters are not safe around the coast and there are no beaches.Once atop the plateau, the player characters will encounter an array of the weird and the wonderful. There are War Bears and Centaur toll keepers, a hermit living in a Zardoz-like head, a magic rye field, and a reservoir which holds the remaining floodwaters of the last Great Deluge. This reservoir is home to a trio of crooning willow-like Rusalkas who like to drown their men and a band of Giant Beavers whose duty it is to maintain the dam, just as it has been for their forefathers before them. Their lair is in the dam and contains not just an aquarium, but also a gift shop! This is in addition to [...]

The ‘I Got The Altered Morphology Blues’ Trio


Despite there being being some well-known and highly-acclaimed comic book series about the policing of superheroes—including Alan Moore’s Top 10, Brian Michael Bendis’ Powers, and Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central—it is surprising that few superhero roleplaying games have explored the subgenre. One notable exception is Mutant City Blues, superpowered roleplaying game written by Robin D. Laws and published by Pelgrane Press in 2008, and powered by the GUMSHOE System.Mutant City Blues posits a near future in which following the outbreak of ‘Ghost Flu’, approximately 1% of the population exhibits ‘Sudden Mutation Event’ (SME) and subsequently manifests strange and wondrous powers and abilities. Most of these individuals go on to lead normal lives, some of course, become celebrities and politicians, whilst others turn to crime. In response, most big city police forces establish a Heightened Crimes Investigation Unit (HCIU) or similar department, staffed by the super powered and tasked to investigate and solve SME related crimes, whether committed by or against SME sufferers. The HCIU also serves as a combination liaison/bulwark between these mutants and ordinary folk, both civilians and fellow police officers. The result is a roleplaying game which more an investigative Police Procedural—such as NYPD Blue or C.S.I.—with and about powers rather than a ‘Four Colour’ affair. Sadly, Mutant City Blues received just the one supplement in print, Hard Helix. There is though, another scenario anthology, one which only appeared in PDF.Brief Cases presents a trilogy of cases to add a Mutant City Blues campaign or a change of pace—with some adjustment—in another superhero campaign. All three cases involve plenty of investigation, just about the right amount of combat, and lots of roleplaying. None of the three scenarios should take more than a good session or two and would work as single cases or scenarios to slip in between longer investigations.The trilogy opens with ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ and the chance discovery of a bomb-making workshop. Closer investigation reveals a plot against an anti-mutant rally. This cleverly puts the loyalties of the characters and the members of the HCIU to test as they have to protect someone who hides their anti-mutant prejudice under a veneer of respectability and concern. This is Adria Dawson, a former celebrity chef, who is now the motherly face of Families First and passive anti-mutant prejudice. Mutant opposition to her means that there are plenty of suspects and opportunities for the player characters to keep the peace and handle the press. The scenario though calls for solid forensic skills and good use of the Quade Diagram, the means of selecting powers for characters and NPCs alike and of HCIU officers determining what powers are used at a crime scene. The Game Master has some fun NPCs to portray and there is a nicely constructed clue trail for the players and their characters to follow in what is a really enjoyable investigation that in 2018 has some parallels with the prevailing social climate.The second scenario, ‘Blastback’, starts with an interesting premise, a mutant-only gym and sets a murder there. Playing upon the concept of the Danger Room from the X-Men comics, the Danger Room is a gym where mutants go to practise and exercise their powers and now one of its customers has been killed, stabbed to death by a knife machine despite his having the Blade Immunity power. This is more of a labyrinthine investigation, delving back into the history of both the gym and mutant culture. Getting to one NPC is a bit awkward and could have b[...]

Looping Your Home


It is not an unreasonable claim to suggest that the ENinie award-winning Tales from the Loop – Roleplaying in the '80s That Never Was, published by Modiphius Entertainment, was the best roleplaying game released in the English language in 2017. Based on the stunning artwork of Simon Stålenhag, also used to illustrate the roleplaying game, Tales from the Loop depicts an alternate past in which children discover that the landscape around them is rife with mysteries, many of which seem to stem from the advanced scientific research institutes that their home towns are built around. And all this whilst having to deal with an often troubled home life and adults who never believe what the children have seen.The first supplement to be released for Tales from the Loop is Our Friends the Machines & Other Mysteries. This presents three full scenarios, a mixtape of scenario hooks and threats, four blueprints for threats, and a guide to putting a Loop around your hometown. All bar the latter is written with the setting of Mälaröarna, the islands of Lake Mälaren, which lies to the west of Stockholm in Sweden, the default setting in Tales from the Loop. As in the core rulebook, they are supported by notes and indicators to help the Game Master adapt the content to the roleplaying game’s other setting of Boulder City, though it would be interesting to see a collection of scenarios written with Boulder City as the base setting rather than Mälaröarna.All of the scenarios in Our Friends the Machines & Other Mysteries as well as the scenario hooks of the Mixtape, are inspired by various aspects of the nineteen eighties. So there are stories about the commercialisation of toys and the craze for certain toys, the moral panic about video nasties, hooks based on classic eighties rock and pop tracks, and so on. As to be expected, this is all very well presented, with a clean layout, fantastic illustrations, and some very nice cartography. That said, the editing is a little scrappy in places and it does feel as if the book was rushed into English translations. Nevertheless, Our Friends the Machines & Other Mysteries is a handsome looking book.The supplement opens with the titular, ‘Our Friends the Machines’. In this mystery, the Kids’ hometown has been selected to launch a new toy line based on the animated series, Our Friends the Machines. The toys in this series are robots, divided between the Convoys and the Deceivers, each capable of transforming into ordinary vehicles and objects. After the chaos of the launch at the local toyshop, strange things begin happening in the town, the adults begin acting obsessively, and the toys…? Very obviously inspired by The Transformers, devotees of the animated series will get a kick out of playing what is a fun Mystery. Groups who have a Computer Geek archetype amongst their number will have a certain advantage, but any Kids with Tech skills will be useful.There are creepy moments to be had in ‘Our Friends the Machines’, but the tone of the book definitely makes a shift to the creepy in the second scenario, ‘Horror Movie Mayhem’. It starts with the Kids’ hometown being beset by a moral panic at the video nasties—or at least the horror movies—that the youths are swapping and watching. Led by the Parent-Teacher Association, this escalates into an attack on the local video store and then just out of sight, against anyone or anything who is different or stands out from the social norm. The one by one the adults begin changing their behaviour and of course, this includes many of the Kids’ parents. Somehow, the Kids need to find out what i[...]

Miskatonic Monday #4: Plague


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 Invictus, The Pastores, Primal State, Ripples from Carcosa, and Halloween Horror, there was a Five Go Mad in Egypt, Return of the Ripper, Rise ofthe Dead, Rise ofthe 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 far reaches of the Miskatonic Repository.—oOo— Name: PlaguePublisher: Chaosium, Inc.Author: Matt Ryan & Noah LloydIllsutrations: Sam MameliSetting: Arkham, Modern Day, Lovecraft CountryProduct: One-Shot ScenarioWhat You Get: 26.2 MB, 36-page full colour PDFElevator Pitch: Against the clock, medical emergency to defeat the shrubbry of deathPlot Hook: The investigators are members of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team assigned to investigate the outbreak of an unknown and deadly disease in an old house.Plot Development: Inter-team rivalries; the demands of the building's tenants; a rapidly developing disease. Plot Support: Fully plotted out with eighteen NPCs, scenes and events, timeline, and medical investigation. Plus six pre-generated inter-connected investigators.Production Values: Needs an edit. Clear maps. Good house map. Investigator backgrounds not with their investigator sheets.Pros# Works as a convention scenario# Good one-shot or first exposure to the Mythos# Passing resemblance to The Monolith Monsters# Lots of well-drawn NPCs for the Keeper to portray# Simple plot with few timed events# Mythos underplayed# Link to 'The People of the Monolith'# A very giving Gug# Easy to adapt to Delta Green   Cons# Finding a cure feels underplayed# Feels like there is just the one possible outcome# What happens next?Conclusion# Medical investigation underwritten# NPC reactions and motivations nicely handled# Limited possible outcomes# Delivers some good 'shocks', but the one potential shock is the best# What happens next?[...]

Reviewing Bad


Here is an interesting situation. Almost a decade ago, in 2009, I wrote a review of Age of Cthulhu II: Madness in London Town. It was one of the infrequent negative reviews that I have written and as exercises in writing and reviewing, they can be quite fun to do. At the time, my editor asked me if I wanted to reconsider. After all, the review was not written in a discursive style and it was direct and to the point about the issues that I had with the scenario. I reread the review and decided that I wanted to stick to what I had written. The editor duly posted the review and I moved on to the next review. To this day, I cannot recall what that review was, or the one before it, but I do remember my review of Age of Cthulhu II: Madness in London Town. I also remember how I was unprepared for how unhappy the publisher was with the review and the relatively minor controversy this caused. At the time it was strange experience, to watch online as a furore swirled around a couple of thousand words I had written.Now in 2018, another reviewer, Bryce Lynch of, has posted a review to of a scenario called Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin. It should be noted that this review is written in line with Lynch’s particular standards when it comes to writing reviews of Old School Renaissance titles, but like my review of Age of Cthulhu II: Madness in London Town, this review of Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin has attracted some attention and not necessarily for the right reasons.Published by Jon Brazer Enterprises, this is a dungeon adventure designed to be played by six characters of Sixth Level using Swords & Wizardry Complete, the retroclone published by Frog God Games. Previous versions of the scenario were written for use with Pelgrane Press’ 13th Age, Paizo’s Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition from Wizards of the Coast. This version of Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin is the publisher’s first offering for Swords & Wizardry and the Old School Renaissance.The adventure opens with the line, “Northam has been razed. None survived. Send reinforcements immediately.” It is delivered by an injured man who staggers into the adventurers’ camp before promptly dropping dead. The party has camped on the edge of a boggy area known as the Crannogs, at the heart of which is the Great Swamp. The area is policed and patrolled by the Stormhammer Rangers—and the dead man happens to be a Stormhammer scout. When the party reaches Northam, the adventurers find that its buildings smashed, livestock slaughtered, its inhabitants either dead or missing, and the following words burned into the ground: “Beware The Blackener Of Bright Waters, For She Is Come Again.” They also learn that the town was attacked by a force of lizardmen and wyverns from the nearby Ixtupi tribe and that the force stole the skull of Nyrionaxys which was mounted on the wall of the town’s mead hall. Long ago, the Crannogs was a country known as Greenacre governed by a society of druids. Then the Ixtupi tribe, led by the black dragon queen, Nyrionaxys, attacked, destroying the druids, despoiling their temple, and as well as establishing draconic rule and turning the land into a greater swamp. Eventually, Nyrionaxys’ rule was overthrown, the Ixputi tribe driven back, and ultimately, Nyrionaxys herself was cut apart as she slept… The question is, why has the Ixputi tribe returned to attack the peoples of the Crannogs and what does it want with Nyrionaxys’ skull? Clues point to another upcoming [...]

Friday Filler: An OSR Miscellany


Tim Shorts—via Gothridge Manor or GM Games—is one of any number of small press publishers who are garnering support for their output via Patreon. Many similar publishers put podcasts funded via Patreon, for example, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias and the GROGNARD Files, but GM Games provides support for use with Swords & Wizardry Light, but there is no reason that this support would not work with the more recent Swords & Wizardry Continual Light or other retroclones.The end of the year for 2017 package for GM Games comes in a digest-sized envelope. Inside there are four types of item, each of which is handily sized and easy to bring to the table and drop into an ongoing game.The first of the four items actually consist of two items—or rather two Character Records for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. Now the character presented at the end of Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is bland at best, but awful at worst. Done on heavy paper, those presented here are little pamphlets just four pages in length. There is room on the front for a player character’s name and then the stats, Class and Race abilities, Saving Throw, Base Hit Bonus, Armour Class, Spells, and equipment on the inside pages. There is probably not quite enough space in the boxes given for this information unless the character’s player has small writing. Pleasingly on the back page there is an Experience chart for the character where a player can tick off the number of adventures that have been played. Overall, these character sheets are a bit cramped, but they are charming and if there is ever a Swords & Wizardry Continual Light Whitebox Set, then they—or something like it—should be in the box.—oOo—The second of the four items is an NPC Card. The NPC Cards series presents NPCs on a single A6-sized laminated card in full colour. The NPC this time around is ‘Harker, Goblin Warrior’. A two Hit Dice creature, Harker is a big goblin who wields his grandfather’s sword, Arm Eater, his father’s goblin armour, and his own Imp Helm—actually an Imp’s horn atop an iron cap, which regenerates Hit Points for him. Harker is perhaps best described as cunning, preferring to pick and choose his fights. Although nicely presented, the NPC himself, Harker, is not all that interesting and really it should be suggesting ways to use this NPC in way that is interesting for the players and their characters—that is, interesting enough for the players and their characters not to simply kill the NPC.—oOo—The third of the four items is a Micro-Location. Micro-Location #19, ‘Oubliette’, is also in full colour and comes on a laminated card, roughly six inches by three-and-three-quarter inches. It describes a pit, twenty feet deep, and an adjoining room. Both are shown in cross section. The location is both small in size and small in scope. Both the cross section and the illustration are nicely done. The monster is more of a trap than a monster, but no less deadly, and the given magic item is of limited use, but useful nevertheless. Overall, this location is easy to drop into most settings, whether that is in a dungeon, the ruins of a castle or manor house, and so on. —oOo—The fourth of the four items is a Micro-Adventure. These are where GM Games began with its Patreon output and ‘Iron Crawlers’ is Micro-Adventure #70. It is written for use with Swords & Wizardry Continual Light and has a simple plot, fairly mundane opponents, and actually, a down-at-heel charm. It opens with the player c[...]

Cthulhu Classics VIII


From one week to the next, Reviews from R’lyeh writes reviews of new games and supplements with an emphasis on Call of Cthulhu and other games of Lovecraftian investigative horror. This series concentrates on Call of Cthulhu and other games of Lovecraftian investigative horror, but not those recently released, but those of the past. There have been innumerable titles published over the years and this is an opportunity to appraise them anew, often decades after they were first released.Having looked at the releases from Games Workshop, culminating with Green and Pleasant Land: The British 1920s-30s Cthulhu Source Pack, Reviews from R’lyeh now moves on to another early licensee for Chaosium, Inc. This is T.O.M.E. or Theatre of the Mind Enterprises, a publisher best known for the five titles it released for use with Call of Cthulhu and Gardasiyal: Adventures in Tékumel, the 1990s roleplaying game set in the world of Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne. Between 1983 and 1984, T.O.M.E. would publish five collections of scenarios—The Arkham Evil, Death In Dunwich, Pursuit To Kadath, Whispers From The Abyss And Other Tales, and Glozel Est Authentique!—for use with Call of Cthulhu, Second Edition. The second release though, and the subject of this review, is Death In Dunwich.As with The Arkham Evil, it is initially difficult to determine what Death in Dunwich actually is. The extent of the back cover blurb runs to, “The Nightmare Continues . . . The police aren’t talking . . . The coroner is terrified . . . But it’s Business as Usual in Dunwich! Another macabre adventure from: Theatre of the Mind Enterprises, Inc.” Not only is this unhelpful, elements of the blurb are inaccurate. There is no indication as to what nightmare is continuing from, is it H.P. Lovecraft’s story ‘The Dunwich Horror’, or is it from The Arkham Evil? It is certainly no sequel to The Arkham Evil and despite being set in Dunwich, it has very little to do with that story. As to the inaccuracies, the police will tell the investigators what they want to know, so they are talking, and as to the coroner, he is more mystified than terrified.So what is Death in Dunwich? Well, it is a scenario set in 1922 which takes place in Massachusetts and New York. The mystery at its heart is the death of Dale Plunckett, an art expert with French citizenship whose body has been found a few miles outside of the Massachusetts town of Dunwich. The investigators are hired by a mysterious stranger to determine how he died, who killed him, and why he was killed. They are given a week in which to conduct the investigation and paid handsomely for it. Exactly what the interest of this mysterious stranger has in the fate of Dale Plunckett is unclear, adding further to the number of obfuscations littering the pages of Death in Dunwich.The investigation begins with the state police in Springfield, Massachusetts and they will be happy to answer the investigators’ questions as will be the coroner. There are one or two clues to be found in Dunwich, but the next step of the investigation hinges on the discovery of a key. If this is found, then the investigators can access a treasure trove of clues—some twenty-five or so individual clues across some eight pages, nearly a quarter the length of Death in Dunwich’s thirty-six pages. If the investigators do not get the key, then both they and the scenario are basically derailed. There is a way to get them back on track, but it essentially involves the investigators being arreste[...]

Disappointingly Close To The Near Heavens


The advent of the Open Gaming Licence opens up a world of publishing possibilities for both creatives and other publishers. So it is with the Cepheus Engine System Reference Document from Samardan Press which details the core rules for a Classic Era Science Fiction 2D6-Based Open Gaming System. In other words, it allows the creation of Science Fiction gaming content which is compatible with Traveller, the first big Science Fiction roleplaying game, though not set in the same background as Traveller’s primary setting of the Third Imperium. So for example, Stellagama Publishing has its own setting in These Stars Are Ours! as does Battlefield Press with Warren C. Norwood’s Double Spiral War. Stygian Fox Publishing, best known for publishing the highly regarded Things We Leave Behind for Call of Cthulhu, Seventh Edition, also has its own setting in the form of ‘The Near Heavens’ of which A Life Worth Living is the first release for.‘The Near Heavens’ offers “Hard Edged Science Fiction Roleplaying in the Near Heavens Setting of AD2151’. In the twenty-second century humanity has explored and colonised worlds out as far as Groombridge and Sirius, the limits of the authority of the Terran Associative. This is the governmental organisation which has come to regulate life on and off world as nation states shattered in the wake of a limited nuclear war in the twenty-first century. Although there are still nation state holdouts, what has replaced them across most of settled space are polities based around cultures, often fracturing out of their former states in a series of ‘Culture Wars’. These continue to this day, with some ‘Culture Wars’ actually serving as proxy wars for other polities or corporations. Such conflicts, typically low scale, offer employment opportunities for mercenaries. Interstellar travel is achieved via Jump Space, but a Jump takes weeks and requires passengers to travel in cryosleep as only Synths, or Synthetic androids, can withstand the rigours of Jump space. Passengers do not age in cryosleep, so frequent travellers are typically biologically younger than their chronological age. Space travel is not entirely safe and Jump inversion incidents, which occasionally result in the loss of passengers rather than a starship, are a known hazard.A Life Worth Living is an introduction and scenario for ‘The Near Heavens’. It is a fairly linear affair designed to highlight various aspects of the setting and comes with a set of pre-generated player characters designed to play the scenario. They are Private Security Contractors—or mercenaries—who operate as a special operations cadre known as Black Maul. Currently on Groombridge after completing a contract, they receive messages from Terese de Sainte, an ex-member of the squad. Her messages make reference to the ‘Cabin in the Woods’, an incident on the world of Eden in the Groombridge system in which the squad was attacked by Edenite separatists and had to hold out until it was evacuated. It was a defining moment for the squad and the constant references to this incident suggest that she might be serious trouble.The trail leads back to Earth and beyond, the mystery revolving around a McGuffin or two, both of which will remain elusive and just out of reach for much of A Life Worth Living. The plot is fairly straightforward and involves a good mix of interaction and combat as well as investigation. Whilst it has some decent moments, it does end on a downbeat note with li[...]

Miskatonic Monday #3: Terror Itself


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 Invictus, The Pastores, Primal State, Ripples from Carcosa, and Halloween Horror, there was a Five Go Mad in Egypt, Return of the Ripper, Rise ofthe Dead, Rise ofthe 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 far reaches of the Miskatonic Repository.—oOo— Name: Terror ItselfPublisher: Chaosium, Inc.Author: James Coquillat & David NaylorIllsutrations: Alex Low, David Naylor, & Leon FechnerSetting: Massachusetts, 1920s, Miskatonic University, Lovecraft CountryProduct: ScenarioWhat You Get: 2.2 MB, 24-page full colour PDFElevator Pitch: Archaeology meets things under the bed all against the clockPlot Hook: A lonely strangeness comes to an isolated Massachusetts village after the Investigators begin an archaeological dig on an Indian burial ground.Plot Development: Interesting archaeology and missing animals. Are strangers—the investigators?—responsible or is something else haunting the town? Plot Support: Fully plotted out with eight NPCs, scenes and events, timeline, and archaeological investigation. Plus six pre-generated investigators.Production Values: Needs an edit. The map could be clearer. No area map. Pros# Archaeological dig used as a means of investigation# Good mix of main NPCs# Good addition to an archaeology-based campaign# Good addition to a Miskatonic University-based campaign# Good mix of timed and freeform events# Possible link to Innsmouth (in name only)# Makes great use of shadows# Easy to adapt to Cthulhu by Gaslight or Cthulhu Now Cons# Minor NPCs left undeveloped# No village or area map# Sanity losses and gains too low in places# Needs a careful read through# Odd mix of pre-generated investigators# Title feels like a placeholderConclusion# Excellent use of Archaeological excavation as investigation# Short, two session scenario# Creepy and underplayed plot# Solid addition to a Lovecraft Country campaign# Uninteresting title# Pleasingly unnerving in places[...]

Under Swords & Wizardry's Light


When it comes to the Old School Renaissance, the gamer has plenty of retroclones to choose from, depending upon his preferred version of Dungeons & Dragons. Of course, if you really wanted to play in the Old School style, then what you want is a retroclone which draws from Original Dungeons & Dragons and for that there is no finer starting point than Swords & Wizardry. Originally published in 2008, Swords & Wizardry has proved to be a popular choice of retroclone and despite  being a fantasy roleplaying game, it has actually formed the basis of some Science Fiction roleplaying games, in particular White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying  from Barrel Rider Games and its Pulp Sci-Fi offshoot, Dare the Stars! The Future as it Once Was from Wild Boar Games, LLC. In the decade since, Swords & Wizardry has appeared in various versions, most notably Swords & Wizardry - Complete Rulebook and Swords & Wizardry Light. As its title suggests, the former contains everything you need to play and more, but the latter is a free-to-download and play version that covers the four core Classes of Dungeons & Dragons and First to Third Levels of play. Between the two and released in late 2017, is the latest iteration of the roleplaying game, Swords & Wizardry Continual Light.The opening sentence of the introduction to Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is as follows: “You remember, don’t you? The sounds of battle heard through the clatter of dice? The shuffling of character sheets? The war stories shared with fellow campaigners?” This perfectly explains what Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is designed as. This is both as an introductory roleplaying game and not as an introductory roleplaying game. It is an introductory roleplaying game for gamers who have roleplayed before, either returning to the hobby after a while away and wanting to play a fantasy roleplaying game a la Dungeons & Dragons once again or wanting to try an Old School Renaissance retroclone after playing other roleplaying games. It is not an introductory roleplaying game in that its rules are radically streamlined for ease of play rather than ease of learning, so there is no explanation of what roleplaying is or how the game is played.Characters in Swords & Wizardry Continual Light have the usual attributes—Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. A bonus of +1 is awarded if one of the attributes is fifteen or more, which has various effects depending upon the attribute. So yes, the +1 bonus for Strength applies to a Fighter’s attack and damage rolls, but for a Magic-User, a +1 bonus for Intelligence acts as a penalty to anyone who has to save against his spells, whilst for Charisma, it also grants an NPC, a Torchbearer, who will join the adventurer on his explorations and expeditions. There are four Races—Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Human, and four Classes—Fighter, Cleric, Magic-User, and Thief. The three non-Human Races provide various bonuses, but are limited in their choice of available Classes. The Classes work as well as you would expect, granting Class abilities, a Saving Throw, a Base Hit Bonus, and a Hit Dice, but there are differences.So a Fighter is good at fighting, a Cleric can cast holy spells and turn undead, and so on. All Classes presented in Swords & Wizardry Continual Light are given a choice of Gear[...]

The Ninth Doctor


With The Ninth Doctor Sourcebook, Cubicle Seven Entertainment’s celebration of Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary for the Ennie-award winning Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space roleplaying game leaps onto more recent and familiar ground with an examination of the first Doctor to appear in the ‘Nu Who’ era. Brushing all but the basics aside of what had come before it, the Ninth Doctor reset just about everything to have unencumbered adventures with a new Companion, all new monsters—only one old monster would return in the first season of ‘Nu Who’, and hugely improved funding at Saturday teatime where he belonged. Of course, neither the Doctor nor his Companions were wholly unencumbered—as we shall see—but the success of the first season of ‘Nu Who’ would lay the foundation for the worldwide phenomenon that Doctor Who would become in the twenty-first century and ensure that the BBC had faith in the programme once again. The shortness of the Ninth Doctor’s incarnation though, does have its repercussions and its parallels for The Ninth Doctor Sourcebook.“Change, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon.” If the quote from the start of the Sixth Doctor’s era is appropriate for a review of The Sixth Doctor Sourcebook, then it is never more appropriate for the Ninth Doctor and The Ninth Doctor Sourcebook. For it is actually surprising to realise that the Sixth Doctor and the Ninth Doctor have certain aspects in common. Both had more or less the same number of stories—eleven in the case of the Sixth Doctor, ten in the case of the Ninth Doctor. Both were brash and no-nonsense characters, both in counter to their previous incarnations, but where the Sixth Doctor was assured bluster, the Ninth Doctor hid regrets and grief. Both also introduced a longer format for their stories—forty-five minutes rather than the traditional twenty-five minutes. Both stories of the Sixth Doctor and the Ninth Doctor included seasons with overarching plotlines, the Sixth Doctor with ‘Trial of a Time Lord’ and the Ninth Doctor’s only season.Of course, the big difference was that the Ninth Doctor introduced ‘Nu-Who’, reviving the series after almost a decade away from the screen, and that only after Doctor Who: The Movie, the primary outing for the Eighth Doctor, as detailed in The Eighth Doctor Sourcebook. It brought in production values that the BBC had never applied to Science Fiction, it told more personal stories, and engaged more with the lives of the protagonists, especially the Companion, Rose Tyler, along with her family. Although perhaps not as successful worldwide as the seasons that were to come for the Tenth Doctor, it proved to be popular and laid the groundwork for the more than a decade’s worth of seasons that have followed.Despite the change in format and style of the television, The Ninth Doctor Sourcebook follows the same format of the previous eight entries in the series. It can be divided into three chapters—‘The Ninth Doctor and Companions’, ‘Playing in the Ninth Doctor’s Era’, and ‘The Ninth Doctor’s Adventures’. The first chapter looks at who the Ninth Doctor is, who his Companions (and almost-Companions are) are, and their characters as well as providing a character sheet for each. The second examines the various and elements of the Ninth Doctor’s era, whist the third details each of the Ninth Doctor’s[...]