Curse of the Cthonians (1984)

Today we have Curse of the Cthonians. As you might expect, that means there are a number of giant burrowing tentacle monsters in these scenarios, which makes them of questionable use to a keeper who enjoys the friendship of his players.

I love the cover, but Call of Cthulhu mainstay Tom Sullivan. So bright and squishy and obviously about eat/crush me. And this is probably a good spot to mention my deep love for the early Call of Cthulhu font and how its art nouveau curves subtly signal both the decadence of the 20s and the sorcerous mysteries the game revels in.

The contents, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. “Dark Carnival” is one of many flawed early Call of Cthulhu scenarios that begins with a too-brief investigation followed by a large dungeon crawl, which, in Call of Cthulhu, are pretty much always death trap for soft, squishy investigators. “The Curse of Chaugnar Faugn” is a great, complicated scenario probably best used as a one-off rather than part of an ongoing campaign.

Finally, there’s “Thoth’s Dagger” and “The City Without a Name,” which form up two halves of a cruel mini-campaign. The first part is descent enough, though it involves a trip to Egypt and Nyarlathotep, two things handled much more capably in Masks of Nyarlathotep the same year. The second part involves a puzzle requiring knowledge of Hebrew gematria, leads to a large, deadly dungeon crawl and ends with the investigators likely stranded in the middle of the Rub al-Khali without water. I’m all for grisly investigator deaths (it is a horror game after all), but that is just a dick move.

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