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Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo $5.95
Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo
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Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/12/2011 06:25:23
Castle Bravo is a 32-page adventure for the Trail of Cthulhu RPG, written by Bill White and published by Pelgrane Press. It is available only in pdf format, and is priced at a very reasonable $5.95. While it has an attractive color cover, the interior is black & white making it very printer-friendly. In terms of appearance, the adventure is attractively laid out, with excellent, evocative artwork inside and everything you need to run the adventure, including six pregenerated characters.

The adventure is designed for 3-6 players with the "sweet spot", according to the author, being four players. The adventure itself plays out aboard a US Navy aircraft carrier on a nuclear test mission in the Bikini Atoll in 1954. To keep this as spoiler-free as possible, let's just say that the previous atomic detonations drew the attention from something beyond and this follow-up test won't go as smoothly as those in command planned. The adventure is written specifically to be run in Purist-mode for Trail of Cthulhu, although it could easily be adapted to use as a pulp-style adventure as well and the nature of the adventure works equally with either style of play.

One of my favorite parts of the adventure is the waythe aircraft carrier - on which much of the adventure takes place - is handled: rather than trying to provide exhaustive maps of a very labyrinthine craft, the author has broken the ship into a set of zones, creating a simplified schematic that can be used to see how the zones relate to one another and thus how the characters might navigate the ship. This fits very well with ToC's low-overhead GM style and keeps things focused on the action and story rather bogging down in to a square-by-square dungeon crawl.

Pelgrane Press has put out a lot of great Trail of Cthulhu adventures and Castle Bravo is one of their best because it pays homage to HPL's stories while at the same time presenting an original setting in which they unfold. I can't recommend it enough. However, one minor issue with Castle Bravo's premise and set-up needs to be mentioned as a "buyer be aware" piece of info: the adventure takes place in 1954 and thus is outside the normal time frame of the default ToC era. It also is based on the assumption that the characters are members of the military - given the top-secret nature of the mission civilian involvement seems fairly implausible in most cases - and ideally the adventure really runs best as a one-shot, ideally using the pregenerated characters provided. Therefore, fitting the adventure into an ongoing ToC campaign would be difficult for most groups and is something anyone looking for the next adventure in their ongoing campaign needs to be aware of before purchasing the adventure - the use of the Bikini Atoll atomic tests as a premise for the adventure means that moving the adventure forward or backward in time would be difficult. In reality, this shouldn't discourage most people considering purchasing the adventure since as a "purist" adventure, characters aren't really meant to finish the adventure unscathed and so I think Castle Bravo is ideal for a one-shot game lasting 1-3 sessions. Therefore, I would still rate the adventure as a "should buy" for anyone who is a fan of Trail of Cthulhu.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Tuukka H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/08/2010 07:07:48
I bought this ebook this on the strength of the few reviews I was able to find: sadly, I found myself disappointed in spite of the glowing praise others had given Castle Bravo.

I won't disparage the quality: I agree with the other reviewers that this is a fine piece of work. It's versatile and well put together. My disappointment came with the content. The author had dipped into a portion of the Cthulhu mythos that I consider the genre's poorest offering. In retrospect, I wish someone had tipped me off to the nature of the adventure's nemesis.


WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW.



Simply put, the author made heavy use of the Great Race of Yith, with the "space alien" and "temporal paradox" elements that story invites. This even includes a few in-character revelations from the million-years spanning future Lovecraft portrayed in the original story "Shadow out of Time", which are fairly important in resolving the plot. To my taste, that story was always HPL's silliest, featuring dry numbering and matter-of-fact anecdotes about far-fetched things: a fair antithesis of the themes of horror and of things beyond human comprehension (or our ability to describe) that many people love about the mythos.

Therefore, it's a fine piece of work, but its content is badly in conflict with the themes most people think of when they hear the words "Cthulhu mythos" or "Lovecraftian". If that's no objection in your book, then give buying this some serious thought.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/06/2010 17:51:54
Making the investigators deal with '50s ideas of nuclear safety, before any Mythos horrors show up, appeals to me. Some reinterpretation that, I suppose, is reasonable but not compelling and a few scenes that have the potential just to become silly. 3.5 stars, mostly for the setting.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Castle Bravo
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/02/2010 22:20:41
As with all of the Trail of Cthulhu scenarios I've purchased, Castle Bravo is top notch. I'll give you fair warning. I ran this as a one-shot and it ran 4.5 hours with some serious cuts in material. If you want to include all/most of the hooks and plot lines available in this book, plan it for a 2 session game at least.

Overall, this is written very clearly and is well structured. The book starts out with the standard GUMSHOE story summary and plot skeleton. It then goes into the particulars of the scenario starting with the characters standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier before a nuclear bomb is tested on a nearby item. That's when very strange happenings begin.

The group I ran this for really enjoyed it. It is definitely a "slow burn" where the creepy stuff escalates slowly and then eventually comes to a head. That's when all heck breaks loose and the players have to do whatever they can to survive.

The best part of the book is that it is modular in some respects so that you can easily move the story along if things begin to drag. It is also simple to improvise as your players go off the beaten path. As a GM who routinely runs things fast and loose, I appreciate that.

Overall, this is a great change of pace for Cthulhu fans who are used to classic 1930's scenarios or modern day adaptations. The 1950's McCarthy-esque paranoia and nuclear horror atmosphere lends itself very well to a Cthulhu game and offers something different for your players. For the price, this is well worth your money and then some. Buy this now and run it as soon as you get a chance.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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