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Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London $19.95
Average Rating:4.8 / 5
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Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
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Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2012 01:30:26
This is a pretty interesting variant on the usual "heroic Investigators versus the great unknown" theme of most CoC campaigns (or Tail of Cthulhu campaigns for that matter). While most of the stuff published for Trail thus far has been the dark and depressing kind (which, while it's true to the spirit of most of HPL's works is nonetheless...well...dark and depressing), and this one is too, this one at least provides a structure and REASON why the players are acting that way. Not because of their inherently nihilist state of mind, but rather because they need to make a quick buck (or pound, in this case) in order to put bread and milk in the icebox. The investigators can be one of several types of "bookhounds" which are specialty occupations (with their own advantages and disadvantages) in search of those rare tomes and volumes so desperately sought after by evil wizards and "Dudley Do-Rights" alike, with the added incentive of being able to discover nefarious plots and decide what to do about them. The characters are gritty, no better than they have to be, and just as likely to commit a crime in order to accomplish their goal as not. Sort of like Kolchak: the Night Stalker in that sense -- balancing on that thin gray area between the legal and the downright illegal, and frequently crossing from one side to the other as the adventures go on.

The book provides a campaign setting based in post-Great War London, though it would be relatively easy to transpose it to any major western city (such as New York or even LA for that noir effect) or time. The rules are complete (though you DO need Trail of Cthulhu to understand the mechanics of the game system), and provide plenty of ideas and concepts to allow you to run your players through this type of campaign. While as I noted above pretty much all of the stuff published for Trail to date have been darkly themed, and this one isn't that much different, it feels more pulpish than the others and, as noted, could easily be transformed into something a little less "futile" in terms of long-term outcome. Really the premise of the campaign setting is absolutely brilliant -- where else can you come up with a valid reason for allowing the players to get their hands on something truly awesome in terms of forbidden lore without having them actually confront Great Cthulhu in the process? Plus, given that the business they are in is SELLING BOOKS, you can just as easily take it away from them ("What, that old leather-covered Manuscript with the cramped lettering by Olaus somethingorother, and the worm damage?" the aged proprietor responded to my urgent question; "I sold that to a gentleman that came in last week. Got a tidy sum for it too. You really need to see if you can find another copy!")

All in all, Kenneth Hite continues to demonstrate why he is one of the best horror and fantasy authors writing today. This supplement is a must-own for any Keeper looking for a new hook to get his campaign off the ground. As always it is well written, succinct (which might just be another way of saying "well written"), with plenty of great ideas and plot seeds for the alert GM to follow. I strongly recommend this volume to everyone!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2011 11:17:13
Bookhounds of London expands upon a campaign frame originally presented in the Trail of Cthulhu rulebook, providing in-depth information, inspiration, and details to run a campaign centered around unscrupulous book collectors. As the name suggests it's set in London during the 1930s. Overall, this is my favorite of the campaign arcs because it's both unusual and morally-grey which makes for much more interesting story development. The PDF is very nice although this is a book that I think paying either for a hard cover copy or at least having the book printed through RPGNow's P.O.D. service is well worth the extra cost.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by NB N. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/31/2011 20:40:04
This book is far beyond the usual one-shot adventure for Trail of Cthulhu. The book provides an entire campaign setting set in London during the standard 20's/30's Lovecraftian time period. The cool part is that you aren't necessarily an investigator of creepy paranormal activities. You are a collector of rare books, which often happen to discuss rituals, truths, and mysteries that are better left buried in the annuls of time. As you try to buy and sell these books, you are invariably pulled into terrifying situations that will test your sanity.

The book includes character suggestions and motivations, extremely detailed maps of London at the time, rules for upgrading and managing your shop, and of course story hooks for adventures. This is an amazing resource that you can read almost like a novel even if you aren't planning on running the game. If you are interested, this is for a more advanced player as the history is pretty deep. However, use what you want and roll with it if you are a novice. This is a great setting that can be used to really play into the everyman pulled into extraordinary scenarios in a Cthulhu setting. Love it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: Bookhounds of London
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/30/2011 01:41:22
'Bookhounds' is a fine addition to the Cthuhlu Mythos and really plays to my sensibilities of what a Cthuhlu game is all about - the price of knowledge. This supplement offers your characters the opportunity to track down rare books of forbidden knowledge (for a variety of reason) through estates, auctions and even word-of-mouth in 1930's London. the new Occupations and Skills are well-matched to the setting, and the new rules on creating Bookshops are a lot of fun (in terms of making a Keeper and the players seriously think about the tone of the campaign). Whilst the Occupations are clearly designed to be integrated as a party, there are enough subtle differences to ensure the party cohesion will be tested from time to time.

The sections on the Book Trade, running a Book Hounds campaign and the sample module are all well-written, thoroughly engrossing sections that offer more inspiration than a rational (?) Keeper could realistically achieve. It sets out very clearly that there are a number of themes that can be explored and no two 'Bookhounds' games need be the same.

Likewise, the Monsters section is focused and useful - I can see plenty of opportunities for any of these to insinuate themselves into the game in a meaningful way. The last chapters of the book have a slew of maps, floorplans and reading lists - all of inestimable value to an enterprising Keeper.

In all, the book wieghs in at 185 pages, but the skill of the authors means that there is a lot more information in here than you'd think. The writing is very focused, but incredibly engaging and the general themes of the game are explored in a thought-provoking manner. I'd recommend this for any game that uses exploration of the unknown, such as Dark Conspiracy, Mage or even Nephilim. There are simply too many ideas to pass up. If you'd like to play in a 1930's 'Cthuhlu meets Warehouse 13' game, then buy it now.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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