Stunning Eldritch Tales

Stunning Eldritch Tales
From: Pelgrane Press
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Stunning Eldritch Tales is a new Trail of Cthulhu RPG Adventure supplement from Pelgrane Press.

Stunning Eldritch Tales is your basic scenario book for Trail of Cthulhu. It contains a collection of four adventures written by Robin D Laws.

From the back cover:
“Strolling Arkham’s fog-veiled streets, you stumble across a humble antiquarian bookshop you’ve never before noticed.”

In The Devourers In The Mist castaway investigators face the an ancient evil. As island castaways, the players are put through a rugged adventure of survival and mystery.  This scenario is perfect as an introductory adventure or a one-shot adventure game.  It is a great adventure for a convention game, where most games like this get a lot of play.  However, it also has tips on how to integrate it midstream in a campaign.

Being partial to one-shots and convention games, I love this adventure.  I can not give too much away, but it has a Lost (the TV show) feel to it initially.  The players are passengers on a boat to somewhere in the Orient when the boat sinks, stranding them in a mysterious island. It has pregenerated character at the end of the adventure which are handy if you run this as a demo at your local gaming store or at a con.

One thing I liked while reading this was the Flashback side-panel.  If used as an introductory campaign, the writer shows how a GM and a players can interactively use flashbacks to show depth in a character.  This is a technique that could be used in any game and I found inspiring.

Shanghai Bullets is a 1930s pulp fiction story with international intrigue and action combined with a Lovecraftian plot.  The author attributes Spy novelist Eric Ambler as an inspiration for this adventure.  In this adventure, the players are hired to find out the fate of a missionary named Emil de Briac.  This leads the characters to Shanghai, following a trail of bodies in the heart of Chinese gangland.  They encounter trouble with local authorities and some local denizens as well as the local gang, the Black Lotus and international spies.

I like the setting in this adventure.  Pre-war China is fascinating because of all the intrigue possibilities.  It’s described as a place where “British, French, and German  intelligence agents rehearse the coming way in Europe.”  Soviets chase down people escaping Stalin’s rule while American intelligence watch and learns.  Throw in a plot from beyond all human understanding,  and that’s what you have with this adventure.

From the back cover:
“ Driven by the febrile compulsion of the committed bibliophile, you slip inside.”

Death Laughs Lasts puts a new twist to the classic pulp hero adventure.  It has masked vigilantes and shadowy villains all with a twist of the Lovecraftian mixed in.  The characters are hired to investigate a millionaire’s murder in New York City only to find that he lead a secret life. They find themselves in a world of the masked vigilante, the Penitent, and his supernatural enemies.

This is a very different Lovecraftian adventure at first approach, but once you get into it, it is very cool.  What I liked most about it is really in the core plot and gives away too much.  It definitely has a dark feeling to it, like The Dark Knight, etc.

In Dimension Y, the PCs witness an inventor’s presentation of a new machine to peer into a non-Euclidean reality, and then feel reality slipping from beneath them.   This reminds me, in a lot of ways, of the Lovecraftian movie From Beyond, which was based on a Lovecraft story of the same name.  Unlike the others, in this one, the players are not investigating a murder, but instead are simply friends of a inventor who wish to show off his new invention.  Unforunately, one of his assistants goes mad and things fall apart from there. It’s a great mad scientist adventure.

In conclusion,  this is perfect adventure set for the Trail of Cthulhu fan.  It has a wide range of adventures, and although I tend to only run one or two out of the classic Call of Cthulhu adventure books, I can easily find myself running all of these very cool adventures.

For more details on Pelgrane Press and their new Trail of Cthulhu RPG Adventure supplement “Stunning Eldritch Tales” check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Stunning Eldritch Tales
From: Pelgrane Press
Type of Game: Trail of Cthulhu RPG Adventure supplement
Written by: Robin D Laws
Cover Art by: Jérôme Huguenin
Number of Pages: 82
Game Components Included: One softback book
Game Components Not Included: Core Rulebook for Trail of Cthulhu
Retail Price: $ 17.95 (US)
ISBN: 9781934859094

Reviewed by: Ron McClung
Date: 5/4/2009