Tales of the Miskatonic Valley (1991)

Tales of the Miskatonic Valley is the first book of Lovecraft Country scenarios – that is, adventures set in and around Chaosium’s series of sourcebooks detailing the fictional towns in Massachusetts from Lovecraft’s stories (Arkham, Kingsport, Innsmouth and Dunwich). The horror’s here, which range from haunted dolls to a monstrous freak show to an artist possessed by an alien consciousness, seem localized and intimate – prime stuff for a Halloween one-off game. They’re all solid scenarios and many are pinned to clever structural elements or complicated philosophical conundrum, making the collection headier than most.

I’ve always love John T. Snyder’s cover painting. As a kid, I vacationed frequently in Massachusetts as a kid, so the juxtaposition of modern industry with the seemingly ancient secrets represented by the riverside doorway capture some of the mysterious character New England still has. Thankfully, too my knowledge, New England does not have ghouls.

Inside we have illustrations by Blair Reynolds, which is always a treat. I find his portraits do an excellent job of conveying the personalities of their subjects while his strange composition choices give his actions scenes a sense of alieness, which works very nicely when you’re drawing a man who has a psychic bug controlling his brain…

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