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A Cold Fire Within (2019)

I kind of forgot about A Cold Fire Within (2019). It’s the second full-fledged campaign for Pulp Cthulhu, following The Two-Headed Serpent. For my money, it represents a considerable upping of the over-the-top ante, which is impressive as it is 100 pages shorter.

It involves: psychics, the remains of an ancient underground empire, a trip to the center of the earth and the possible end of the world. There are many factions, including a psychic who has made himself king of his Catskills village, a psychic research institute, a crypto-fascist cult that wants to defeat FDR in the presidential election, and the disembodied consciousnesses of a number of pre-humans hungry to restore their long lost culture, among others. There is an optional chapter that involves traveling into prehistory to rescue displaced consciousnesses. There are strange machines. There is teleportation via disintegration. The opening action takes place in Weehawken, New Jersey. It involves cats from Saturn. This campaign fires off like a rocket.

Befitting its pulpiness, the plot is pushed along less by investigation and more by a combination of exploration and discovery. Players move in the right direction, stuff happens, and they run a little further into the plot. The styling of that plot leans quite a bit on Lovecraft’s story “The Mound,” which introduces K’n-yan, but also Bulwer-Lytton’s Vril novel and Mike Mignola’s hollow earth stories — black flames abound here.

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