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The Dracula Dossier: Director's Handbook
by Andy W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/09/2021 15:00:47

Our group (experienced gamers with probably 100+ years of role-playing between us) recently finished a six-month weekly campaign using this book. Some of their comments:

'Quite possibly the best campaign I've ever played. So much depth. Majestic.'

'Such a wonderful campaign. Delightfully entertaining, very immersive, clever and action packed. When I look back on where we started and all the twists and turns we had to navigate along the way, the mind truly boggles at the depth and breadth of the story. Some highly satisfying mystery solving and a nice slice of action to boot - 5 stars!'

The book is so packed with material I can imagine running the campaign at least two or three more times without repeating myself. It strikes a superb balance between providing huge amounts of background and characters, and yet leaving the GM and players the freedom to create their own unique story. The premise of the campaign is also so intriguing and inventive, with so many possible angles and layers to explore. This will be a tough act to follow as a GM.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Dracula Dossier: Director's Handbook
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Night's Black Agents
by Joshua W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/30/2021 17:07:23

Angel's Citadel just did a review of Night's Black Agents. You can find our take on it here: https://angelscitadel.com/2021/05/28/review-nights-black-agents/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Night's Black Agents
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13th Age Core Book
by Petr S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2021 04:00:05

I am not a fan of too many rules and thus prefer systems as FATE. However, when I finally jumped into the text (I admit, I did not like the art that much) of this book, I was enthralled. First of all, this book felt after a long while like an honest player to player conversation. The commentaries from the authors and also the system itself feels more natural than many of the RPG books I have seen (especially I got the feeling with Star Wars and Star Trek books). The system itself feels like house rules polished into a diamond. The great and unique additions of 13th Age are mentioned many times and I must say, they work as a charm. For anyone peeking into the book, do not let yourself discourage by its length and especially the fact that it brings with itself already a setting. The system is so natural and easy to adapt that you can basically start creating characters with your players and with them create also the world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
13th Age Core Book
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Hideous Creatures: Mi-Go
by Donald S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/21/2021 12:03:52

It is nice for what it is. I'd hoped for something a bit more in-depth on the Migo.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hideous Creatures: Mi-Go
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Night's Black Agents: Solo Ops
by Patrick M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/21/2020 06:34:37

This is a perfectr 1on1 RPG product. The mechanics work great for individual player + GM, the pre-gen PC is great and the three "adventures" are top notch. I love the NBA regular game, but this product is even better.

Mechanics and story are tightly connected, so it is a little harder to prep a story on your own, but the 3 stories included will keep you and a friend busy for some gaming nights.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Night's Black Agents: Solo Ops
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Trail of Cthulhu
by Edward K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2020 22:51:17

Ring Side Report-RPG Review of Trail of Cthulhu

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

Product- Trail of Cthulhu System- Gumshoe Producer- Pelgrane Press Price- $24.99 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/55567/Trail-of-Cthulhu?affiliate_id=658618 TL; DR- Do you think Call of Cthulhu has too much Crunch? 88%

Basics- Should the story stop when the players just suck at rolling? Trail of Cthulhu believes that story trumps mechanics as story should drive the game. Let’s look at the pieces.

Overview-Trail of Cthulhu is a skill system like Call of Cthulhu, but unlike Call of Cthulhu you have two types of skills: investigative and general. General covers any contested rolls and investigative covers learning the horrors of the mystery. Let’s break that down.

Investigative Skills- You enter a room, ask to search the library for secret books, and you find all secret books. If you have ranks in the appropriate skills, you find all the books. That’s it. If you couldn't find the books, the story might stop. Trail of Cthulhu focuses more on you learning the mystery and less on you flubbing rolls to learn the mystery. You build these skills with points like ranks, but those points are spent to learn more, not just enough. Characters with even one rank would find all the books, then can spend points to learn more, like find the right places in the hidden books to skip something horrible or learn more secrets beyond the base mystery.

General Skills- Punch a guy, out run a monster, and hide from the cultists are all opposed rolls where the story isn’t the issue, so they become general skills. This system uses ONE d6. That’s it. You want to to a thing? Roll a d6 and aim for a 4. Before you roll, you can spend points from the pool to add to the roll. Some skills give you more damage or more hit points or sanity, but for the most part opposed rolls happen with skills or trying to do a thing that isn’t dependent on the story happening at all.

Honestly, that's it. There is sanity and HP, but for the most part the two types of rolls define the system. Let’s see my thoughts.

Mechanics or Crunch-I like crunch (heck I build point based Shadowrun characters for fun!), but for the most part, this is a quick, light system. My more roll-happy friends freak out when we play as they NEED to roll to search, but the option to make story happen as the goal is a good one. If you just want a game that happens fast without a ton of hassle because you didn’t spec into the right build at level 4 to cast the one spell to put the deepone to sleep, but you will want a horror game then this is the crunch for you. 4.5/5

Theme or Fluff- This game is put out by the premier Lovecraft people in the industry. They know their stuff. It feels right, but it also feels like Indiana Jones as they build Pulp and straight Lovecraft versions of the rules into it. If you want to punch the ghoul, then this can be your game, or if you want to go mad at the sight of a corpse, then this can also be your game. The book builds out a full world in a quick way to help new GMs get running right away. 5/5

Execution- PDF? YEP! Hyperlinked? YES! I have the two big things I want, but why am I not happy? Well… RPG books can be built one of two ways: mechanics first or theme first. This goes character build first. I don’t know what ANY of the math means until WAY far into this book. When I googled it it made perfect sense, and then 20 pages later I saw the explanation. That is not good. I like the world that is built with the book, but it's a pain to read; a three column design isn’t great. This book is modern, but some of the design decisions are just a bit off. 3.75/5

Summary- Slick and simple. This game is a fun one regardless of the book design. I like the game this makes. The solid focus on story first is nice. I would like a bit more crunch, but simple is fun sometimes. The story and theme of the book are top notch. The execution isn't. If you want a game that starts quick and plays quick but still has great Lovecraftian horror, then Trail of Cthulhu is worth checking out. 88%



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu
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The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition Sampler
by William B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2020 01:09:44

I really enoyed Esoterrorists 2nd Edition, and I wish it would have caught on. Similar to another game I ran for a while, Conspiracy X 2.0, it really fills that awesom niche of X-Files type stories, and ventures further into horror elements. The reason I'm not running it today has nothing to do with the book itself. The reason I wasn't able to run the game is that I couldn't ever find anyone to play, and there wasn't any integration with Fantasy Grounds or Roll20. I advertised all over the place; roll20, Reddit, Facebook, but it just seemed to be a completely dead community. Several years ago when I read this, I think where someone might have succeeded in running it would be with an existing gaming group willing to try something new, but that resource was not at my disposal. Today, I think anyone looking for this type of gaming would probably auto-select the current version of Delta Green.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition Sampler
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Trail of Cthulhu
by Nathan L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/02/2020 23:30:23

This is The Cthulhu game, in my opinion. GUMSHOE and Cthulhu go so well together.

Drives, Stability & Sanity.... The power of Investigative Skills; this game is absolutely amazing. The section on the 1930s, Ken Hite is the master and this book is a must for anyone who is a fan of the era, investigation games, or cosmic horror.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu
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The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition
by Nathan L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/26/2020 20:18:03

So far bad. The PDF causes my iPad Books app to freeze and crash.

Had the same issue with Fear Itself. So far; the Publisher hasn't been helpful.

PDFs with bigger file sizes and larger res, more colourful graphics run fine (City of Mist, KULT). Problem is bad authoring of the PDF.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition
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Creator Reply:
Hi Nathan. I'm really sorry you're also having problems with The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition. I responded to your review on Fear Itself 2nd Edition asking you to contact us so we can assist you with this. I received your email yesterday, and we are currently looking in to the issue. Please see my response to your email for further details. Thanks, Becky.
Fear Itself 2nd Edition
by Nathan L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/24/2020 19:45:34

So far, bad.

The PDF doesn't even load on my iPad. Game itself may be great, but who knows when it won't load. PDFs for KULT and City of Mist load very quickly and are super responsive. Both are bigger in filesize than Fear Itself and have a lot more colourful graphics.

Once I can actually read it and run it; I'll rewrite the review.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Fear Itself 2nd Edition
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Creator Reply:
Hi Nathan. We're really sorry to hear you're experiencing problems opening the PDF of Fear Itself. Please contact us on support@pelgranepress.com so we can help resolve this. Thanks, Becky.
Invasive Procedures
by Chris D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/17/2020 18:39:30

I have said much already in my comment on the store page for this but yes, this is quite possibly the most "Squicky" and outright terrifying horror module I have ever run. Owning Book of Unremitting Horror is recommended if you seek to run this, but I would STRONGLY recommend making it a one or two shot and not trailing it into a campaign given what you are about to do to these characters.

Without going into too many spoilers, there is a lot of grotesque body horror in this module, and the entire thing is packed with detail top to bottom in all of the squicky, uncomfortable and horrifying things. If doctors scare you or your players, even if they don't, this will make them scared.

It does seem extremely brutal and while I am not incredibly familiar with The Essoterrorists or Trail of Cthulhu, it is a rather brutal scenario

My STRONGEST recommendation to anyone on this module, is to use it as an idea mine for other games, especially for anyone who likes Hellraiser, Silent Hill, or Jacob's Ladder. There are a TON of incredibly interesting and screwed up ideas in here you could tear out and use in just about anything.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Invasive Procedures
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Cthulhu Confidential: One For the Money
by CD F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2020 19:28:33

The mix of WW2 era Washington DC history, the challenges of racism and the other worldy challenges of The Mythos make for a great scenario. Fighting Nazis, racism and supernatural horror what better challenges for a RPG?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu Confidential: One For the Money
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Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos
by John B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/05/2020 04:28:21

As you would expect from a Trail of Cthulhu product, Hideous Creatures is a top-notch piece of work. It stretches from the must-have monsters to obscurities, hinted at in Lovecraft's work in passing. It provides you with a variety of options to personalize your monsters, a wide array of lore you can choose from (taken from their imagination and various stories, sometimes contradictory as real legends can be), and an array of sources to see how others have used those creatures. My PDF has a few blank pages for no apparent reason, especially towards the end, but none of the creatures are actually missing. I especially enjoyed, to my surprise, the Star Vampire entry, which includes ideas for how to use them in Night's Dark Agents' games. This bestiary is pretty much everything I want from a monster book, especially for a Cthulhu game. Kudos! Four out of five stars and it would be five if I didn't have random blank pages.

There are 31 creatures plus a section on general guidelines on making new horrors or converting old ones to serve your purpose, Each creature itself comes with customization options and lots of ideas on variations, and 2-4 entire adventure ideas focused on that creature. About a third of them are things mentioned by Lovecraft but not really developed which I had never seen before in a Mythos tome.

Anyway, if you're into the mythos, Trail of Cthulhu products are always worth the money. I have all the old Hideous Creatures mini-books, but this is well worth the money.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos
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Worldbreaker
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/31/2019 06:51:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mega-adventure/anthology clocks in at 91 pages of content if you disregard editorial, ToC, etc., and one of the pages is devoted to a brief hack for Night’s Black Agents – and as an aside, my favorite GUMSHOE game so far is pretty much Esoterrorists with some Night’s Black Agents-rules spliced in.

This review is based on the perfect bound softcover version of the book, which sports the name on the spine, making it easy to find in your RPG-library.

Anyhow, this mega-adventure, structurally, has an introductory scene, and then allows the agents and GM to choose from 4 scenarios that may be run in any order; after these have been completed, the adventure has a furious final module. In many ways, this is thus akin to Night’s Black Agents’ excellent “The Zalozhniy Quartet”, with one crucial difference – there is less interwoven content. In said adventure, the sequence in which the respective modules are tackled would influence the overall plot and how they behave with regards to each other; this could seriously increase the replay value. Worldbreaker does not sport connections between the scenarios, which makes preparing the module easier, but also decreases the replay value of the entirety and makes the respective parts feel less connected and more disparate. Worldbreaker also sports only one possible finale, instead of multiple ones, but said finale is developed in a more nuanced manner and feels, as a consequence, less like a cut-scene/final fight.

Which of the two approaches you prefer remains ultimately up to you, but personally, I’d have loved to see the myriad connections and versatile endings; this would have bloated the page count by, according to my rough estimates, at least 20 pages, though, so not sure that’d have been feasible. There is one further aspect on a formal level that I was less than enthused by, and that would be the continuation of the annoying tendency of GUMSHOE modules not sporting proper maps. There is not a single map included, in spite of the fact that more than one scene would have really benefited from having at least some sort of map. Without an expert GM, this mega-adventure can feel somewhat indistinct regarding dimensions etc., and I strongly advise getting some building plans and maps from the public domain when running this. On the plus-side, the book features quite a bunch of handouts, though these are not collected in an appendix – you’ll have to copy/print them, and cut them out. An appendix would have been more comfortable there.

Okay, the formal aspects out of the way, this is an Esoterrorists module, and as such, it is a HORROR adventure. If you’re easily offended and consider horror to be problematic, if you want sanitized games…why play a horror module in the first place? This module includes gore, twisted stuff, death, psychological horror, etc. – you know, horrific stuff? Its setting is the Ocean Game version of the real world that acts as a backdrop for both Esoterrorists and Fear Itself, and the focus is on investigation. This also is not a module for Esoterrorist (or at least, investigation) novices – it can be tough, and the introductory scene has a component that works much better if it is properly contextualized by previous adventures. Worldbreaker works best as a campaign capstone, as it is a) deadly, and b) has potentially a huge impact on agents and OV. I assume familiarity with the terms of Esoterrorists in this review.

Okay, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

… .. .

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, the game starts in San Francisco, where something twisted has happened, and I don’t mean in the fun way. The OV meets up at the luggage carousel in Sand Francisco ( a notion kinda making this more real to me – when I first visited the US, it was San Francisco where I landed), and from there, the investigators are off to the Basement. What’s that, you ask? It’s a discreet sex club catering to an international crowd. As an aside: The club’s footage features one of the most compassionate and understanding ways in which BDSM is depicted in a piece of mainstream media – usually, it’s depicted in a rather twisted manner, when in real life, a relaxed and often playful atmosphere is cultivated. As a lifelong practitioner, that was nice to see. Oh, and the BDSM folks are not the bad guys for once. I know, right? Instead, they are, alas, the victims – victims of an example of a textbook American family. Wholesome, nice, kids and granny included. The Powells entered the club, brutally slaughtered everyone, and then committed ritualistic suicide. Investigating the scene also sees the handler, Mr. Verity in OV-terms, snap – the lady (also called Mr. Verity) attempts to kill herself – hopefully, the agents can intervene.

Anyhow, analysis of the footage and investigation into the family’s background, leads to some twisted realizations – slug-like ODEs, so-called Symps, seemed to have taken over the family, only to then infiltrate different persons attending the BDSM-club – and from there, the threads of the plot’s narrative spread out through the 4 main chapters/episodes. And yes, the family’s home and all the small investigative scenes yield further clues – in spite of the finale being more linear than “The Zalozhniy Quartet”, the massive investigation has a surprising amount of failsafes, second chances and similar tricks, by which the pacing may be maintained.

Each of the episodes has a somewhat different gameplay and focuses on a different type of horror: The first of the scenarios puts the investigators on the trail of an international lobbyist, hunting the guy via a series of escalating incidents from new Jersey to Leicester and Italy, with the theme and chapter-header being “Coulrophobia” – we have a murder-clown adventure, where twisted clown ODEs cause fatal traffic accidents – yes, plural, for they have built a kind of crèche wherein new ones spawn. With their own, strange rules to uncover, dangerous incidents and the requirement to understand their twisted, obsessive MO, this is a great, classic horror investigation, one that, like the others, benefits immensely from the agents doing their legwork properly – this is a deadly scenario, but one that is very much beatable by smart agents.

The second Symp has an agenda that is, in a way, less flashy, and which may be the toughest investigation of the scenarios within – the chapter is called “Geoslasher”, and the notion is pretty cool: The (for copyright reasons) renamed Google-company of the world’s streetview etc. Pictures hae been showing killings – and it’ll take some serious sleuthing to uncover everything. This one is also when experienced OV agents will realize that something bad is going on: Organ grinder…as a “oh yeah, and then there’s that ODE”-encounter. Just kinda happens right there. Things are becoming rather twisted. Oh, and obviously, discerning the game of the Symp, how the streetview/satellite imaging corresponds with the murders…that’s a pretty tough cookie. I love the slow burn here, with paranoia, estrangement and technology-anxiety being some of the leitmotifs featured within.

The third episode made me recall “The Seventh Circle”, but works imho better: This one is plain ole’ survival horror done well – set in the Actun Tunichil Muknal caves of Belize, its theme is one of a reality TV show diving into ancient Mayan sites – and the dark that haunts these places. Against a backdrop of ancient legends and cults, this is all about navigating a labyrinthine place of darkness, of light and survival – it is the one scenario that is closest to the structure of many horror games and movies. It also sports a rather rudimentary ad nigh useless (and ugly) map of the labyrinthine caverns, and feels easily like the least exciting of the scenarios of the campaign. It plays better than it reads, but considering what the Popol Vuh and associated legends offer, it feels like it seriously undercuts the potential of its own premise; in many ways, it feels most like it could have benefited from a few extra pages.

The fourth and final regular episode is one that I’d indeed suggest to run as the last one – “Heart of Outer Darkness” once more takes us to Morovia (I have to visit this place at least once!) and begins like an international spy story, dealing primarily with weapons’ shipments – and the trail leads to Africa, first to Ebola-ridden Liberia and then to Nigeria – it turns out that the ODEs have come upon the grand plan to not only supply nuclear material stolen from Chernobyl to the dread Boko Haram, no, they also want to weaponized frickin’ Ebola. In the hands of arguably one of the nastiest extremist movements ever. The stakes are high here, and indeed, the finale of this one is easily one of the best in any GUMSHOE scenario – not only can the agents prevent a nuke being used, the trail leads them to the master of the Boko Haram, who turns out to be a mystery man, a nigh demigod ODE, mainly interested in playing the eponymous Ocean Game, a psycho-magical fugue in which contestants are driven insane. The twisted being not only escalated its involvement in the states of mankind, it also pronounces doom for all of the world and seeks to sow dissent and paranoia – and its set-up is masterful. Indeed, and that should be emphasized: This is an exceedingly well-structured horror-campaign that GETS horror. The book is never cheap or excessive or dumb with its concepts.

The finale obviously took a cue from the whole Fyre Festival debacle; seeded throughout the campaign, a cornucopia of clues can help the agents determine entry vectors to a take on said festival, on an island that shouldn’t be there. No map is provided. Boo. An island, where, coincidentally, a passenger flight vanished, and where esoterrorists from all over the world engage in a twisted, massive debauchery-style festival interspersed with human sacrifice of the passengers…to the largest ODE ever to attempt to enter the world, a being so vast, it might shatter the membrane! This scene perfectly encapsulates the notion of how the membrane is thinned – it is grotesque in a truly twisted manner, this strange juxtaposition of the mundane and celebratory, and the cataclysmic madness. The primary antagonist doesn’t put up a fight – but he doesn’t have to. The entity is here. And any attempt to combat it results in instant death for the agent. No check. Heck yes. Having the chutzpah to properly go all out? Yeah! The endgame, even for triumphant agents, thus is very grim – the standard proposed solutions have, at best, one agent as a lone survivor of the insanity here – but when the fate of the world hangs in the balance, can the OV agents do what needs to be done?

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column b/w-standard, with quite a bunch of amazing b/w-artworks throughout. The cartography is a big weakness of the module; it’s rudimentary and not very appealing when present. The softcover sports glossy pages, and is well-crafted.

Robin D. Laws’ Esoterrorists is my favorite contemporary horror game, and frankly, I believe that it’s not as popular as it should be primarily because its modules have been somewhat problematic. Worldbreaker breaks that tendency, thankfully. This is HORROR. It’s not cheesy, it’s not redundant, it is genuinely clever, modern horror that works exceedingly well regarding pacing, variety of themes, and plot structure. This is, in short, the Esoterrorist module that the game always deserved, but never got. I adore this, I love it to bits, and while I have some niggles here and there, I can genuinely recommend this campaign to anyone with a soft spot for modern horror campaigns. I have barely touched upon the complexities of each chapter, and there is a lot to love and explore, so many clues to put together, so many variables, that I indeed consider it to be an excellent investigative horror scenario. With better cartography and a few more pages, this could have become my all-time favorite horror mega-adventure, but even as is, this warrants a unanimous recommendation. Even if you disliked all the other Esoterrorist-scenarios (heck, I hated a lot of them), check this one out. It’s genuinely awesome. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Worldbreaker
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Black Drop
by Stephen P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/18/2019 00:19:34

I would love to give this product five stars. It has all the elements you would want from a great Trail scenario. Unfortunately, it really needed a good editor. It is not just typos, although there are plenty. The poor editing results in a lack of clarity. Concepts and characters are referenced before they are introduced, and some basic information, that should be easily accessible is hard to glean from the text.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Black Drop
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