Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Stars are Right for Shadows over Scotland. (Part2)

Well you may have read and seen the first part of our look at Shadows over Scotland by Stuart Boon (Keep a wee eye out for an interview with Stuart coming soon).  Shadows over Scotland is an Origins 2012  Award Winner.

Now we present our second video review.  

If you have the book you can get the hand outs in an easy format on the Cubicle 7 Website

And on top of that we present a review of the book by an avid Call of Cthulhu Keeper, Tim Snoddy.  He has been running Call of Cthulhu for quite some time and we thought his views on Shadows over Scotland would make for a good, independent and experienced piece for you to read.  He also kindly points out our failure to find the pdf handouts.  (What is it with Cubicle 7? a shroud of numptiness seems to descend every time we are doing something about them.)

"I have had the pleasure of owning Shadows over Scotland for a few months now and have run three of the scenarios with a group of investigators new to roleplaying.  So what can I add to the boys video review?
First off I have to say the pair of them fail their "spot hidden" roll in fact they fail their "spot the bleedin obvious roll".  The hand outs are available as a free download from the publisher.  The link is on the product description page.  Better still the whole book isavailable as a PDF.  I printed the handouts by using the snapshot tool to highlight the required section and pressing print.  This automatically scaled the print out to the output paper size and was the easiest way I have come across of generating printed hand outs.
There are several comments I would make about the formatting of the book.  First it is a lovely product.  The scenarios are laid out in a different style to Chaosium.  Instead of describing things as they come up in a potential narrative of the adventure, people and events are presented by location.  I found  this a little frustrating looking for information on characters in their location causing me to flick back and forth.  On the other hand it was very freeing not having to worry about straying too far from the suggested order of events.  In the end though I think it is actually a better idea because there is a simply beautiful "plot map" at the end of each scenario.  The plot map gives each important location, states who can be found there, their relationship to other characters, their motivation and any clues which can be found at the location.  I found this tool invaluable and hope it is universally adopted for future Cthulhu scenarios.
I would have a couple of niggles with the product however.  There are no character portraits.  There are lovely descriptions of what people look like but it would have been so much easier to be able to point to a picture.  I struggled to differentiate some NPC's from others without portraits available.  In the scenario "The Forbidden Isle" there is no map of the principal location, a castle to which the investigators are invited to stay.  Far from an insurmountable obstacle but there were a few anguished shouts of "you didn't tell us there was room x" from my group.
The general information on Scotland and linking of real world sites and events to the Cthulhu Mythos is very well done.  Providing very useful information for GM's who would like to base a campaign in Scotland. I guess a lot of people will, like me, buy the product mostly for the six scenarios.  I would say without hesitation it warrants purchase just for the scenarios.  I have read four of them and GM'd three.  One scenario I read featured too many NPC's for my GMing ability but your mileage may vary.  The three I did run were thoroughly enjoyed by myself and the group I played with.  They were all quite original in that none of them featured investigators trying to intervene before a summoning took place.  All were tightly written with no obvious plot holes.  The scenario "The Water of Life" I felt was a little over the top and I toned it down considerably. Still a great scenario with a myriad of plot hooks and some stinking red herrings.  "The Forbidden Isle" is a classic closed environment scenario and I think I would actually use it as my first scenario of choice for new players using UK characters.  Mind you my group did get within a hairs breath of bringing an elder god into the world!  By far my favourite was "Death and Horror Incorporated".  The scenario takes place in Glasgow which is suffering from post war depression, Jack the Ripper style slayings and an outbreak of a contagious plague like disease.  The investigators are hired by the city authorities and it was a really pleasant change for the investigators to be working hand in hand with the authorities.  The various plot elements link well and my players certainly felt lost and alone in a crowded hostile city.
So in summary I have no hesitation in giving this excellent product my full recommendation."

Tim Snoddy has been roleplaying and wargaming for yonks.  At the minute he is very taken with Gruntz, Fields of Glory and Call of Cthulhu RPG. 
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