Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: The Unspeakable Oath

How much fun can it be to thwart evil only to be eaten alive or driven insane for your efforts? As it turns out, quite a bit. Cthulhu fans everywhere rejoice in the return of a quarterly magazine dedicated to their favorite tentacular genre, Unspeakable Oath.

The periodical publication is overloaded with material that takes a while digest. It’s not that the 80+ pages couldn’t be read quickly. it’s just that you’ll want to stop ever so often to contemplate ways to work the material into your campaign. WARNING: The Oath is not a light read.

Four Tales of Terror by John Scott Tynes, Pat Harrigan, Monte Cook, and Nick Grant give scenario ideas for Keepers. They are skeletal, game system agnostic, and provide great adventure seeds. Each tale provides the initial scene or adventure concept then offers three different adventure paths. The Oath also contains a fully-fleshed, 16 page CoC adventure set in the 1920s Louisiana swamp titled “Dog Will Hunt.”

The Oath contains information on ancient tomes and scrolls for your campaign as well as a malevolent CD set for modern campaigns. The Arcane Artifacts section details mythos devices with the history, plot hooks, and CoC statistics for each. The review section contains eight reviews of Cuthy related books, games, and movies.

I found the Tales of Nephren-Ka section to be most interesting. James Haughton did a great job pulling together various historical and fictional references to The Black Pharaoh of ancient Egypt. This worshipper of Nyarlathotep occurs in H. P Lovecraft’s original works, is later embellished by other Mythos writers, and is used in several adventures from Chaosium and others. The article does a ‘deep dive’ on the legendary figure citing real mythical (ironic, I know) texts giving great adventure hooks, spells, and artifacts as well as the Black Pharaoh’s place in history.

Another great historical article by C.A. Suleiman and George Holochwost describes the effects of the dust storms of 1935 on the Southwest. The worst natural disaster in American history helped create the Dust Bowl encompassing Oklahoma, Southeastern Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, and North Texas. The article details the effects of Black Sunday in CoC game terms and provides a number of adventure possibilities in a world where threats like Hastur, Nyarlathotep, and Shub-Niggurath are real.

The Oath is back and better than ever. The quarterly is packed with information to spice up your existing Cthulhu game or can be the source of great campaign ideas to start a new adventure in Lovecraftian horror. The contributors' love of the Mythos shows on every content-loaded page. For $7, there’s hardly a better deal for Chtulhu fans.

Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing under license from Pagan Publishing.

Contributors: Richard Becker, Monte Cook, Adam Gauntlett, Nick Grant, Dan
Harms, Pat Harrigan, James Haughton, George Holochwost, Shane Ivey,
Matthew Pook, Brian Sammons, C.A. Suleiman and John Scott Tynes.

Artists: Todd Shearer, Toren Atkinson, and Dennis Detwiller.

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