Saturday 9 July 2016

The Cthulhu Review

Yes BRP and Chaosium I still love you, Im sorry for the mean thing I have said.

I had three copies of new ed of cthulhu quickstart rules in hand within a few weeks of release given to me by various people which two copies i donated to clubs. At firs I grizzled at changes because Im old and infllexible. Then I kept grizzling right up to the new edition was in my hands during the week. I get it now.

I was hurt to get home from con with leather bound anniversary 6th ed from a con the day new ed was announced making me feel ripped off. 6th ed I got because it had a few new things. I hated the bug eaten look that reduced legibility. I still found my older ed easier to find stuff in and read.

It is made to sell to a new generation of gamers. It has things in design in common with pathfinder and the new dnd.

Firstly the design is good. It does all the things that shit me about cofee table game books but does them better than everyone. Sightly larger text helps readability over the full colour faux vellum/aged book look. Now I mostly hate this stuff but they have done it very well. Somhow they made it work.It is a look that will have hipster fan boy game buyers throw money at it I hope.

It has some really very good art and photos. My first ed box set has silhouettes, it was from a time Cthulhu was mysterious. Now there are thousands of cthulhu images on line. Cthulhu is the bacon of gaming now and a god of the internet. If he was a online cat he would be in the top ten internet cats. The mystery is pretty much gone. Everyone knows the monsters and and trivia now so part of the mystery is over. Most Keepers I know about clubs have never read a mythos novel. As I have said before more skill points in editions creeping in has made game more action and pulpy oriented and anyone can be a military vet and a scholar now. So it isn't too surprising we have other versions now to reflect styles of play and eras.

This ed is for right now. It will be dated and need updating in a few years. As far as producing something potentially popular for the current times it is well done. It is not quite to my taste but now I can but my dated editions in the old school pile and go and run 1st ed like a grumpy grognard.

I will look more at later because I dont have a copy yet but might get shortly as some cash from a business card came in and I allow myself to spend game income on games. I will be able to run con games at the ones that only want hip current editions. I guess I will keep using cthulhu as my trojan horse to get new players into my historical and roadwar brp/cthulhu games.

But I have had a very good look at two new books

S.Peteren's field Guide to Lovcraftian Horrors
It is a perfectly ok book and possibly useful for gaming. Production values are good and art is pretty good. As a improvement on the original two books it is not so great.

Many monsters even ones described in the book as having colour all are in same green grey black pallette. They look like interesting alien creatures but many not like imagined in previous art. The game in history has gone from sillouettes to the frenzied abstract paintings of Tom Sullivan to these very modern alien creatures that could be from same alien eco system. It feels like they are trying to brand these versions for the new ed of the game but the book says migo are a bit pink then does not. Many creatures not like any previous versions or original descriptions. Though HPL drawings of big C has six eyes which you don't see very often in any book. This is all ok and I can handle the colour range. The thing that makes me wonder about changing the monster looks (Tsathogua not as toady as i would like, non pink migo, hounds without tongues, etc) is that the dreamlands monster section are copies almost exactly from the original book. The Mark J Ferrari art of the original is incredibly detailed and attractive. His cat from saturn is a psychadelic masterpiece. His Serpant men are serpent like and how I imagined from the many books they appear in. The new edition images are so copied, with a muted version of colours and mostly duller and without charm. Some have almost exact pose. So why change the traditional monsters then slavishly and poorly copy the original. Ferrari reminded me that the dreamland are Dunsanay whimsical fantasy. The new ones not so much.

So some of the monsters are good but I might re purpose as something else. The new cat from saturn looks like some mythos quadraped hunter. Nyarlathotep is great. Starspawn not really. Lots of monsters look a bit like they move by hopping. It is also worth noting no child would find the book frightening.

Like I said about the new edition I am probably not the target audience. Games have to compete with their old editions now and need to be more distinct not just quick make overs.

The Cthulhu Wars

The United States Battles Against the Mythos
Kenneth Hite & Kennon Bauman
Osprey Adventures

Wow. This is unaffiliated with the box set boardgame. It is part of the Osprey line of fantasy games and sources for wargames. This book is system neutral. This line of books are great and makes sense with history gaming struggling to survive in the future. The whole line are very good. The book is slim but jam packed with ideas. If you dont know Osprey they make historical guides for history buffs and wargamers with great art and good history. This same dry factual style has been applied to non fiction here with a history of America vs Cthulhu. If you play any historical or modern cthulhu this book is freaking amazing. It has a whole alt history with modified photos and historical images to ad to the pseudo history verisimilitude. You could probably show to a conspiracy nut as factual. I might make some bad photocopies of a section and try this out.  The colour plates are great and are detailed yet shadowy. The most ww2 and modern era section had me itching to play Australian special forces in the middle east or mountains of madness. I have been disapointed with many Cthulhu game books over the years but this will be one ov my favories (including all my paperback books). Ideas in this could help you make dozens of scenarios.

The system neutral sourcebook is a long held dream of mine and this has done a great job. Non gamers who like mythos and history will enjoy this equally. I cant recommend this book enough - one of the best books of genre in a long time.

Check it out. The Osprey folk also have pirate rules, steampunk rules, a bronze age wargame where you call gods to battle with you and many interesting new products I recommend. Plus the historical stuff is a great resource for many games.

Cthulhu bless you all

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