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%

 

Daily Punch 3-19-18 Spell Tattoo for Call of Cthulhu, 7th edition

Played some Cthulhu over the weekend, and this idea came up.

Spell Tattoos

Some practioners of the art don’t rely on books or scrolls, but etch their foul words on their very skin. Any caster may tattoo the a spell into their skin performing any checks as part of the spell then. The spell deals an additional 1d4 sanity damage and 1d2 hit points of damage in addition to its normal costs. The spell is maintained for a number of days equal to the bearers power divided by 10, rounded down. A caster may active a spell without it being an action on their turn but may only activate one per turn. When a spell is activated, it’s magic is used up, but the spell may be reinked to reactivate the magic. A spell may be learned from a magic tattoo even if the bearer isn’t alive.

Thoughts?

Daily Punch 5-10-17 Shattering Revelations spells for Call of Cthulhu 7th ed.

How about some quick ways to gain power.  Nothing bad ever happened from that!  Here’s another spell for Call of Cthulhu, 7th ed.

 

Shattering Revelation

Cost: 10 magic points; 2D10 Sanity points
Casting time: 1 hour
This spell opens the gate in your mind wide to the cosmos.  You begin to see all in front of you.  That which you ask for, and that which man was not to know.  For every 2 whole points of sanity lost in this spell, you increase your Cthulhu Mythos skill by 1.  May the gods have mercy on your soul.

Alternative names:  The Dark Tutor, Peering Through the Keyhole, The Madman’s Path

Daily Punch 5-9-17 Ululation to the High Priest spell for Call of Cthulhu 7ed

Finally got to play some more Cthulhu, so let’s build on what went down!

Ululation to The High Priest

Cost: 10 magic points; 1D6 Sanity points.
Casting time: 30 minutes
As you finish screaming the words of this spell, you open a small gate to the high priest of the dark gods himself where he offers you the gift  of his own knowledge. Spending 10 magic points give you a bonus die on one Cthulhu mythos roll.
Alternative names: Dark Blessing of Cthulhu,  The Expensive Tutor, The Harsh Mastery

Daily Punch 1-16-17 Bask in New Knowledge option for Call of Cthulhu

I had a fun event last week at my Call of Cthulhu campaign after I killed two players via sanity loss from an elder god.  How about we add that in as an option.

 

Bask in New Knowledge

When a character sees an elder god and would passes a sanity check, that character may elect to fail the roll.  If they do so they take normal sanity loss as if they had failed the roll, but gain half the lost sanity as a bonus to their Cthulhu Mythos skill.  Luck may by spent on a point by point basis to reduce sanity loss to avoid going insane.

 

Thoughts?

 

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Delta Green: Agent’s Handbook

ProductDelta Green

System-Delta Green

Producer-Arc Dream

Price– $20.00 here http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/181674/Delta-Green-Agents-Handbook?affiliate_id=239993

TL; DR-Great RPG with one big problem 87%

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Basics– ia ia cthulhu fhtagn- BUT NOW WITH GUNS! Delta Green is Call of Cthulhu if run by the government as secret agencies vie for power and try to keep the horrors from beyond time and space from destroying the world or taking over the United States!  Can you handle the truth?

Mechanics or Crunch-Let’s break the mechanics up and give the basics as well as my assessment.

Base Mechanics-Delta Green is a classic percentile based system.  You have a skill or an ability rating, and you roll under that number to succeed.  As I grow older, I like this no fuss/no muss methods of rolling dice to avoid overly math-y systems.

Difficulty-When a situation is harder or easier than normal, the GM might ask you to add or subtract 10% or 20% to or from your skill or ability total.  Again, it’s a simple and easy  way to modulate difficulty.

Combat–  Combat is basically simple.  Characters act in dexterity order from high to low.  On your turn you do one action.  These actions range from move, shoot, or aim among other things.  For actions that require a roll, you roll under a skill as above.  There is no given dodge roll if you are attacked.  If you haven’t acted in a round, you can forgo your next action to try to dodge an attack by rolling under the attack roll.  Damage is a single dice roll that subtracts from a hit point total.  Go too low on the hit point total and you pass out.  Also, some weapons have a lethality rating.  If you roll in that range, the weapon just kills the target in one go!

Personal Life and Sanity- Just like other horror RPG, Delta Green has a sanity system.  Characters lose sanity and gain mental illness as they go crazier and crazier dealing with horrors beyond time.  This system throws in bonds as a serious component as men and women lose family members, friends, and loved ones.  Think of the PTSD struck veteran, but now add the fact that he/she deals with monsters beyond human ken.  Players may lose family members or whole families as they slowly go deeper and deeper into the world of Cthulhu slipping away from normal.  That level of commitment to roleplaying in the mechanics is awesome.

Advancement-Advancement is a snap in this game as well.  When a player attempts a roll in this game and they fail, they mark the skill with an X.  At the end of the game session, any skill that you failed that you had at least 1% in, you gain an additional 1%.  Also, between sessions, a character can gain 1 in an ability or they can gain 1d10 in a skill if they spend time working on it.  If they do, they lose 1 level in a bond as they lose touch with someone they felt was important!

Summary- I really want to like this game more than I do.  The addition of solid role-playing psychology makes this a great way to blend the theme and mechanics of a world where things just can’t be and can’t be dealt with rationally.  However, combat just makes me irrationally angry.  I don’t like systems where you can’t move and act.  That’s a minor issue as if all the players and monsters abide by this rule, I can deal.  However, the rules as written basically make it better to have a lower dexterity.  You get to react to an attack, but people who go fast can’t.  I can understand not being able to take your next action if you dodge, but this game penalizes people who go first.  Sure, it can be a minor issue if you don’t fight much, and I can deal with not having a dodge roll at all.  But, this irks me deeply to my core.  Therefore, it’s an ok system with a serious flaw. 3.5/5

Theme or Fluff-I mentioned above how much I love the commitment to theme the game has in its mechanics.  This game might even be darker than Call of Cthulhu as this game brings the role of sanity and psychology to the forefront in a very post-9/11 way as the psychology of the soldier is experienced first hand.  The book is full of stories and fragments of people trying to handle the unhandable.  It’s deep and immersive in a way I can really dig, safely and from afar.  5/5

Execution-This is a well put together book.  It flows well, has great art, and the PDF is well done and hyperlinked.  I like the index, the layout, and the whole book overall.  Some things could use a bit more organization, but the book is an exhaustive reference on both the government and the paranormal for new players.  4.5/5

Summary-Delta Green is a great RPG with one serious flaw.  Now, as a gaming group, you can play this however you see fit.  It’s a flaw that you can fix by all deciding that this is how the game runs.  It’s a flaw I will fix instantly in my tables, but the rules as written make me spitting mad.  And it’s just that one part.  The rest is amazing.  I love the depth of little extra bits that the authors throw in about government jurisdiction and random trivia that are in the book.  The art is great and the treatment of psychological factors in our veterans is phenomenal.  Sure, this is a just a game, but the level of depth that game goes into to use these conditions as things a person would experience if they experienced Lovecraftian horrors is excellent. I like everything in this EXCEPT one thing.  If you can get past that one thing, this is a great RPG that really updates Lovecraft to the post 9/11 world.  And since it’s under $20, it’s well worth the look even if you just use it for a guidebook to government organizations in your horror games.  87%

Daily Punch 10-26-16 Distance Radio Education for Call of Cthulhu, 7th ed

Did you know back in the 1910-1930 there was an attempt to educate via radio waves?  http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring01/declair/history.html

 

Let’s work that into Call of Cthulhu!

 

Distance Radio Education

Over the course of 1 month, a character may attempt to learn a skill via the standard education rules.  However, the character gets a bonus die when they attempt to roll over their current skill, thus it is harder for them to do so.  When a character succeeds on this check, they gain 1d4 points in that skill.  No character may gain more than 20 total points in a skill via this method.

 

Thoughts?