Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Cults of Cthulhu

Product– Cults of Cthulhu

System- Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $25 here https://www.chaosium.com/cults-of-cthulhu-pdf/ 

TL; DR– Solid Book of bad guys, set ups, and tools 100%

Basics–  Ia! Ia!  Cults of Cthulhu gives you… exactly what it says!  This book is a book of four different cults, adventures to go against each cult, and tools to build your own cthulhu cult.

Mechanics or Crunch–  This book is VERY much a Keeper’s book and not a players’ book, and that’s ok.  This book has new monsters and stats for them, variant spells, and tips for building your own cult.  I am honestly impressed by the depth of ideas for building a cult.  I play too many fantasy games where the idea of how a cult is financed doesn’t come up.  But here, how the money happens is a very important way to build your cult.  Even optional crunch for Pulp Cthulhu is presented!  Players will find nothing in this book, but Call of Cthulhu doesn’t really ever give players much more beyond the basic investigator book.  The crunch doesn’t disappoint in this one.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– Again, this is a Keeper book, but built in a fun, informative way to help the Keeper build a world.  Each of the four presented cults have real depth and personality with individual people and their goals presented.  My one minor negative is like most Cthulhu books, you really only get the 1920s as a playground.  It’s the most popular time for Call of Cthulhu, so I understand why, but I do seriously appreciate the one modern cult that is presented here.  Also, adventures!  There are four adventures against these four cults.  So even if you need a one shot, this book has you covered.  5/5

Execution– I don’t think Chaosium has ever disappointed me.  Hyperlinks, solid handouts, easy reading, separate files, pictures of monsters, and everything else makes this the whole nine yards.  Its 25 bucks as a PDF, which is a decent chunk for a PDF, but even if you just used this for four one-shots, that brings the price down to manageable levels of any other market adventure for CoC.  And it seems that Chaosium is listening and , while I love them, the handwritten notes are hard to read, Chaosium is making just nice plain text ones as well.  My one complaint is I want pregens for each of the adventures, but that is just begging for more on an already solid product.  5/5

Summary– Cthulhu is gonna be the main draw for a game called Call of Cthulhu, so why not have some humans doing bad things for him?  This book is a solid resource that, even if I just wanted some quick adventures and handouts, is well worth the price of admission.  If you want to build your own cults, then this is the book you might want to check out as well.  NOW DO YOG! 100%

Daily Punch 10-27-22 Tragic Return spell for Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

Ok, one more to make all the loose ends tie up.

Tragic Return

Cost: 24 magic points; 2D10 Sanity points, 10 POW
Casting time: 24 hour
This spell allows a mortal to begin to reverse a tragic event but always at great cost. The spell requires much from he caster, but the bodies of those affected by a massive loss of live must mostly be whole. These unfortunate souls are brough back as zombies with limited memories of their old life but extreme memories of their violent ends results in them being driven insane.
Alternative names: Familiar return, Mass Resurrection

Thoughts?

Daily Punch 10-26-22 Return to Life spell for Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

time to finish of these ideas!

Return to Life

Cost: 10 magic points; 1D10 Sanity points
Casting time: one hour
A ghoul that changed from a zombie must have first created through a separate evolve ghoul ritual and feed a freshly killed human within a day of its death. Once the spell is complete and the ghoul feed, the ghoul violently shake and rots off its outer layers resulting its the person the zombie was created from emerging as a blood covered mess. The human will be completely health however, but over time will develop odd ticks and mannerisms as the underlying person slowly becomes an aspect of Yog-Sothoth. Watching this transformation requires a sanity check (2/1d10) by anyone who did not cast the spell.
Alternative names: The Grand Change, At Promised Gift, Aspect of Creation

Thoughts?

Daily Punch 10-25-22 Eternal Tablet tome for Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

I have an idea for something new and fun. Let’s throw this up to the players!

Eternal Tablet
English, by unkown author found in 1926

This tablet was found in a mine in 1926. the author is unknow, but the most remarkable fact is this two sided stone tablet never shows the same text. Each time the tablet is turned over, a new page of text is seen on the tablet reveling more debauchery and horrible knowledge with each revolution of the tablet.
France. Only one copy is known to exist and it has been lost since 1933.
Sanity Loss: 1D10
Cthulhu Mythos: +4/+8 percentiles
Mythos Rating: 30
Study: 20 weeks
Suggested Spells: create zombie, Contact Ghoul, fist of Fist of Yog-Sothoth, Shriveling, Enchant Sacrificial Dagger, evolve ghoul, contact Yog-Sothoth, return to life

Daily Punch 10-24-22 Evolve Ghoul spell for Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed.

Time to build on some ideas!

Evolve Ghoul

Cost: 6 magic points; 2D6 Sanity points
Casting time: one hour
A zombie must have first created through a separate ritual and feed a freshly killed human within a day. Once the spell is complete and the zombie feed, the zombie will enter a torpor where it will begin to violently shake, distend, and tearing flesh as it elongates and transforms into a ghoul with the whole process closely related to a the process of becoming a werewolf. It will gain all statistics of a ghoul and retain more memories of its past life. Watching this transformation requires a sanity check (2/1d10) by anyone who did not cast the spell.
Alternative names: Ritual of the Awakening Mind, Undead Communion, Food of the Undead Gods

Daily Punch 8-16-22 Brew Thought Philter magic spell for Call for Cthulhu 7th Ed

I have an idea I need for an adventure, but I need a way to help the adventurers get more brain power…..

Brew Thought Philter
Cost: variable magic points; 1D6 Sanity points
Casting time: 1 hour
Through a concentrated mix of effort and mental strain, you extract magic power from your self or a restrained victim. This power is condensed in to a shimmering blue liquid that you can place into any container of your choosing. Your or the victim lost one point of magic per magic point put into the brew. These points are restored normally. The liquid lasts for a week per point of magic extracted. If the magic power is extracted from yourself, no additional sanity is lost. But, if the magic points are extracted are extracted the victim loses two points of sanity for each point of magic extracted.

Thought Philter

Used by: Anyone

This shimmering blue liquid restores the mind’s power. Upon drinking this brew, you los 1d6 sanity and gain magic power back equal to the number of magic points invested in this brew.

Thoughts?

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Down Darker Trails

Product-Down Darker Trails

System- Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $44.99 here https://www.chaosium.com/down-darker-trails-hardcover/ 

TL; DR– Cowboys and Cthulhu! 97%

Basics–  What’s that ahead on the trail?  Down Darker Trails is a wild west source book for Call of Cthulhu.  This book has information for both the game master and players to build anything, from gunslingers to wild west cults serving dark gods all across the west.  Let’s look at the parts.

Mechanics or Crunch– This book is an interesting and well done mix of old and new.  Arguably there are LOTS of reskins of stuff we have seen before, but honestly, that’s what I need.  I need to know what the fire rate for guns in that time was and and the prices.  There are some major changes between 1880 and 1920, but the damage really doesn’t change that much in this game.  That said, this book adds a lot of new stuff, from spells to real life states for characters, to excellent new options for investigators/players.  I like everything that is here and it adds the right amount of depth and crunch for a game in this time.  5/5

Theme or Fluff– I like what’s here, but I have some minor issues.  I mentioned before that there is a lot of reskinning for the time.  That’s true and it’s true here too.  But, I don’t see anything crazy new here regarding the mythos.  It doesn’t invent a ton of new monsters or elder things.  Lovecraft didn’t do a ton out west, so thats part of it, but I would like to see more new in the story of the mythos.  That said, what is here is excellent.  Amazing history summaries, great write ups on persons of the time, solid respect to the cultures of the west and its people, and character options that will let a person who is new to the old west beyond Back to the Future III into the world of what really went on out there.  There is always more to be learned, but as a first pass into this world and the idea that a book can’t continue for forever, this is a great way to build mythos into the west and the west into the mythos.  4.5/5

Execution– Chaosium knows book publishing with the art, layout, readability, and book mechanics like hyperlinks and such all on point.  This book even has real pictures of people from the time to so you can see the real faces of the west.  Furthermore, since the real west was a lot more racist than the fun and wholly-pretend cowboy and Indians I played as a child, the book treats the indigenous peoples of the west with respect in art, writing, and design.  5/5

Summary– This is a phenomenal book.  I love Call of Cthulhu, and recently lots of my video games have been old west as well.  The pretend old west is fun, but the real west is far more entertaining and deep.  This book gives me the keeper/gm the tools I need to merge those loves and it gives my players the tools they need to jump right in as well.  I have some minor issues, but like all the products I love that quibble about it comes down to wanting more.  What I do have is a well done book with crunch and stories to build a fun western adventure and a book that easily revealed its secrets.  If you want cowboys in the mythos, then you need this book.  96%

Daily Punch 7-31-20 Transfer Trauma spell for Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed

Ran an adventure for GenCon 2020. Had a blast doing it, but a player instantly go crazy. How about a spell that can fix that… for a cost.

Transfer Trauma
Cost: 5 magic points; 1D4 Sanity points
Casting time: 1 round
Even the most powerful general knows when to sacrifice a few few peons, and you a no good to the gods if mad. When cast on a target, you link your mind to the target. The target will experience your trauma instead, taking all Sanity loss for you at double the rate for the next hour after the initial sanity loss for casting the spell. An unwilling target may counter the spell with an opposed POW roll each time they would lose sanity. If pain is inflicted upon the target when when the spell is cast, it gains one penalty die on the opposed POW roll for each point of damage made during the casting
Alternative names: Mind Bridge, Dark Link of the Mad

Thoughts?

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Refractions of Glasston

Product– Refractions of Glasston

System-Call of Cthulhu, 7th ed

Producer– Taylor University PWR Press

Price– free! https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/297601/Refractions-of-Glasston?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– A grade 297601college work!  90%

 

 

Basics-All is not well in the midwest….In a small glass making town in Indiana, something ancient and evil is stirring.  Can our heroes learn the horrific secrets in time or will fail and end up consumed by the glass as well? Let’s break this down!

Mechanics or Crunch– This is mechanically well done for an intro adventure.  Honestly, the only major tool in the CoC toy box that isn’t on display is a chase scene.  There are fights, ancient, evil books, spells, investigation, and lots of social interaction.  If you play your cards right, don’t lose your head, and look everywhere (all the parts of a smart CoC investigator), you can put down something TRULY evil, and it will feel natural when you do it.  5/5

Theme or Fluff-Here things suffer a bit.  The story is decent once you are in.  However, it’s a big rough getting the different investigators together, into the town, and working together.  That’s a pretty rough start other than “YOU SEEM TRUSTWORTHY! LET’S INVESTIGATE HORRORS BEYOND HUMAN KEN TOGETHER!”  But once you are past that part of the story, it opens up well and you will have a blast. 4.5/5

Execution–  PDF?  Yep! Hyperlinked?  no…. For a first outing by this team, I like what’s here.  Need my links, but it’s not bad. There are rough spots like there is a character that they characters will need up with who plays a major role in advancing the story, but she’s not in the Dramatis personæ at the back of the adventure, so that’s a minor problem.  Aside from minor issues like that, the adventure is solid. The pregenerated characters have a mix of types that are fun, but their skills are thought out enough that they compliment the problems you see well. I would like for pulp options in the next adventure like how that is handled in the larger adventures Chaosium puts out, but again, that’s going beyond in development.  What’s here is relatively solid and reads well out of the box. 4/5

 

Summary-I majored in the hard sciences in college, so I never did anything as cool as write a CoC adventure for credit.  But, if this is the quality I can expect going forward, I think I really missed something awesome. This is a good intro adventure with a fun variety of toys to spring on and for the adventurers.  The story has a harder start, but once it’s going, it takes off. The execution is decent. It’s not perfect, but the issues are minor enough that the players won’t know if you think on your feet as a keeper.  Good layout and text make this easy enough to read. I did enjoy the line about completely reading the adventure before you start because that NEVER happens. Overall, this is a fantastic intro adventure I feel like I can spring on any group of new players and get an amazing CoC experience that will hook them for decades to come.  90%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Masks of Nyarlathotep

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Masks of Nyarlathotep

Originally posted at www.throatpunchgames.com, a new idea everyday!

Product– Masks of Nyarlathotep

System– Call of Cthulhu, 7th Edition

Producer– Chaosium

Price– $59.99 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/245820/Masks-of-Nyarlathotep–7th-Edition?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– Ya, this is about as good as it’s gonna get!  98.3%

Basics-Where will you find the Dark God?  Masks of Nyarlathotep is one of the granddaddy scenarios for Call of Cthulhu occuring in almost every edition of Call of Cthulhu.  Starting in Peru as a backstory adventure or in New York when the main action starts, players find a world spanning cult where different groups worship and advance the goals of an ancient evil creature beyond the stars as they travel the globe.  Let’s dig into this GIANT tome.

Theme or Fluff-You might not like Call of Cthulhu or Chaosium, but you can never fault them for their research.  First the “main” book clocks in over 500 pages. The original edition of Masks was about 150 pages.  That was pretty big for something in the 80s, but HOLY COW! This book has some details that you might never thing to check.  When was the first plane the flew over the Andes? The book checks! What is the ethnic makeup of the different locations in 1920s?  The book checks! This book has lots of small details provided where you need them. The story has been repeated so many times before, but that doesn’t make it bad, because this is the people who told it before. You’re going to stop a bad thing across the world.  It feels like Indiana Jones pulp, but then again, it should. Indiana Jones is 1920s. You just have to choose how much Pulp you want in your Mythos Orange Juice. Whatever your desire, this book is an excellent resource for telling a world spanning mythose tale. 5/5

Mechanics or Crunch– I really like the Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition rules.  It’s light and clean. I’d like a bit more character advancement beyond your numbers increase, but overall, it works really well.  That’s the rules you get for this book. The people who wrote the rules I like wrote a story they know well. So, unsurprisingly, it’s done well.  Now, it’s not perfect. I’d like some more advice on some things, but that criticism goes to the heart of Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition. Some things are hand waved a bit too much for my taste like if I keep the ancient evil gold, how much does your credit rating go up?  A bit more advice in those aspects would help, but I don’t think it hurts the product too much. This version of Masks is like the advice given by Michelin Star chefs-simple, well produced ingredients prepared expertly make amazing products. 4.75/5

Execution-GAWDDAMN!  So, Masks of Nyarlathotep is a beast at the main book clocking in over 500 pages.  But for $60 for a PDF, that would put that at an average price point. (By the way, hyperlinked PDF because Chaosium, while they write about the past, is not stuck in it!)  But, IT DOES NOT STOP THERE! You get a handout PDF that is expertly crafted so you can hand that out to your players WITH MAPS! You get a file of NPC portraits that you can show off.  You get a PDF of a GM screen and a separate Keepers guide. HOLY COW! You took the time and made this thing amazing. Oh ya, new art, maps, and the layout is great too. That’s usually what I whine about, but those basics are covered so well that I barely felt the need to mention it.  Like normal, I skimmed the first section before my first game running it and was able to pull of a great game without having to memorize the giant section on Peru. Digging deeper pays off, but its written well enough that you can just jump in the command chair right away and get running.  That’s hard to pull off in a FIVE HUNDRED PAGE BOOK! I really want to emphasise that! I’ve had basic DnD scenarios not be able to pull that off in five pages, so kudos to the writers. The price is a bit steep for some new GMs, but if you can pull the trigger, then you will get exactly what you need to run games for at least a year, if not more.  This level of production is well worth the price. BONUS ROUND!!! PDFs should be free if you buy the book. That’s my bold stance. Chaosium agrees. If you buy the PDF from them and then go to buy the physical book from them, then you SUBTRACT THE PDF PRICE FROM THE BOOK! The physical price will be over $100 because it’s over 500 pages (AGAIN THAT’S A LOT!), but if you want a book that can break a shelf at your house, consider ordering form them since you get the PDF for free when you get the physical copy.  Also, I LOVE this strategy as maybe I only want one and not the other but might change my mind later. LISTEN OTHER COMPANIES, GO DO THIS! 5/5

Summary-Every DnD player explores the Tomb of Horrors.  It’s in almost every edition, it get reprinted, and it’s a rite of passage.  Sometimes that reuse of material is throw in a separate book and called good as a slapdash money grap when you don’t have anything better on the horizon.  Sometimes the product is nurtured, loved, and cared for till it matures like fine wine. That is exactly what happened here. The 7th edition Masks of Nyarlathotep is an phenomenal product that is well worth the considerable money you are putting into the product.  I love the writing, the mechanics, and the overall presence of this thing. It’s got some flaws, but those are minor issues that will not distract from the amazing product her. If you have the money and want to play some Call of Cthulhu, then this is your purchase!   98.3%