Review of Age of Cthulhu (Vol. V): The Long Reach of Evil by Goodman Games

There is something extraordinarily terrifying about Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. Sure dealing with vampires and werewolves warring against each other is creepy at times, and everyone has their personal schemes for how they would survive the zombie apocalypse, but dealing with Cthulhu - or any of the other Great Old Ones - returning to claim the world is way beyond any sane person’s “coping mechanisms”.

Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu was the third game system I tried after discovering the RPG genre of games, and it made me not only a lifelong fan of CoC, but a devoted fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories, as well as the apocryphal writers, like Brian Lumley, Frank Belknap Long, and Clark Ashton Smith, who adopted and perpetuated the Cthulhu Mythos beyond its pulp origins. I can truly attest that immersing yourself in the founding literature definitely makes you a better CoC Keeper, and really gives you a insight for creating a campaign in a world on the brink of being annihilated by dark entities from “beyond the stars”.


But for Keepers without a lot of time to create their own adventures, Goodman Games has been producing a series of adventure supplements called Age of Cthulhu, which is licensed for production by Chaosium, Inc. They have recently released the fifth volume of the series, subtitled The Long Reach of Evil, offering three new Call of Cthulhu adventures for Keepers to terrorize their players with!

Age of Cthulhu (Vol. V): The Long Reach of Evil

  • Designers: Mike Ferguson, Rick Maffei, Richard Pett
  • Illustrations: Eddie Sharam (cover), Brad McDevitt (interior)
  • Publisher: Goodman Games
  • Year: 2011
  • Media: Softcover or PDF (72 pages)
  • Price: $15.99 (softcover from Goodman Games) or $9.99 (PDF from RPGNow.com
Age of Cthulhu (Volume V): The Long Reach of Evil is an adventure supplement for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu game setting by Goodman Games. The supplement is licensed by Chaosium Inc. and uses their Basic Role-Playing System (or BRP) for game mechanics. Age of Cthulhu V contains three adventures set in the 1920’s era of CoC, and includes five pre-generated characters to allow Keepers to get their players right into the adventure.


Production Quality


The production quality of Age of Cthulhu V is very good, with some exceptional writing and the adventures presented in a straight forward, easy to follow, format. All the information needed to run the adventures is contained in the supplement, including monster stat blocks, making Age of Cthulhu V a very complete package. And the use of tan paper coupled with sepia toned inks for the book definitely gives it that period feel to enhance the immersion in the genre.


Each adventure also comes with several player handouts, ranging from a telegram and a hand-typed letter to strange symbols and a mandala found on location. These are awesome additions to enhance the play experience of the investigators in a CoC game, and the graphic designers did a great job making them look authentic and/or creepy as needed. Regretfully, due to their locations in the book, cutting them out would not be advised as it would deface some of the Keeper text needed to run the adventure. Keepers will need to access a color photocopier to make full use of these handouts in their original sepia tones, but it would be well worth the investment to use these at the gaming table.


The illustrations in Age of Cthulhu V are also very well done, and do an excellent job of enhancing the overall reading experience of the adventures. Several of the illustrations actually depict creepy and even gruesome scenes which the investigators are witnessing throughout their quest against the forces of evil, and could also be used optionally as displays at the table to increase the tension and dread. The maps are also nicely rendered, although the ones in the first adventure are a bit difficult to read, due to them being darkly shaded then rendered in sepia colored ink on a tan background.



The Adventures


Age of Cthulhu V
contains three adventures, set around the globe, and designed to be run independent of each other so that they can be easily added to a Keeper’s existing campaign. However, the authors do provide a potential way of uniting the stories, via a series of prophetic dreams haunting the investigators, in order to make the three adventures into a mini-campaign. The authors also make sure to note that the dream images and stories can be embellished to add additional details or as the seeds for further adventures - assuming that the investigators survive the horrific events unfolding in the Age of Cthulhu supplement!


Linking the three adventures together would take a certain amount of globetrotting for 1920’s investigators to undertake, as the occult activities take place in Sumatra, Tibet, and Peru respectively. The authors do recommend using a central organization such as the International Historical and Archeological Society, that seems obsessed with occult studies, and to which all the characters can belong.


The first adventure in Age of Cthulhu V, The Fires of Sumatra, is penned by Richard Pett, and set near a Dutch colony in Indonesia where strange events are happening near an active volcano. Terror at the Top of the World is the second adventure in the supplement, by Rick Maffei, investigates the death of a world explorer by backtracking his travels all the way to a monestary in Tibet. Mike Ferguson wrote the final adventure, Abominations in the Amazon, offer investigators an exciting quest to seek a long lost fortune in Incan gold, and potentially uncover horrors better left undiscovered.


Given the nature of CoC adventures to be rather mysterious, its difficult to discuss any of the details of the adventures themselves, without creating massive spoilers. But without giving any of the important plot points away, I can say that the adventures are well-designed, and have a very engaging storyline in keeping with the Cthulhu Mythos genre. They are full of great details, such as what the various cultures and lands were like back in the 1920s, and there is a real feeling of immersion while reading the adventures, and the attention to detail will make it easy for Keepers to bring that to the gaming table for their players as well.


However, it should be noted that the adventures are fairly linear in nature, set up in a series of “scenes”, with little in the way of dead ends or side treks in the stories movement toward a conclusion. Of course, Keepers are free to make those little embellishments such as “red herrings” and false leads themselves, should they wish to make the adventures feel more “sand boxy” in play style. Each scene contains details about the area under investigation, as well as the foes the characters will face as they unravel the mystery.

And most scenes have notes as to the ramifications on subsequent scenes depending on how the investigators handled themselves, and at least one adventure has the potential to end quite catastrophically – as in major catastrophe affecting the planet - if the heroes bungle it!


Overall Score
: 3.7 out of 5.0


Conclusions

Overall, I really enjoyed the Age of Cthulhu (Vol. V): The Long Reach of Evil, and it made me really want to dust off my CoC gear and run a campaign again! The authors clearly have a keen sense of story-telling in the Cthulhu Mythos genre, and provide plenty of minute details on how Americans and Europeans would interact with third-world cultures in the 1920s, which definitely enhance the immersive feel of the product. On the other hand, the linear nature of the stories make investigations more like foregone conclusions than real detective work, forcing Keepers to flesh out side treks and false leads if their players are bent on clue-gathering. But it is still a solid Call of Cthulhu supplement, and offers Keepers the chance to take their investigators around the world to face down the horrors from beyond. Both softcover and PDF are reasonably priced for the amount of content within, and can offer several nights of gaming for any Call of Cthulhu campaign.


So until next Review… I wish you Happy Gaming!


Author’s Note
: This Reviewer received a complimentary copy of this product (softcover format) from which the review was written.


Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)


  • Presentation: 3.75
  • - Design: 4
  • - Illustrations: 3.5
  • Content: 3.75
  • - Crunch: 3.5
  • - Fluff: 4
  • Value: 3.5
 

Comments

Ben Naylor

Visitor
What a useless review. As a keeper I need to know about the content so I decide whether it can be used with my campaign plans.
 

In Our Store!

Advertisement

Latest threads

Advertisement

Top