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The Unspeakable Oath 20
 
$9.99 $5.99
Average Rating:4.5 / 5
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The Unspeakable Oath 20
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The Unspeakable Oath 20
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/18/2012 18:10:35
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=26974.

Issue #20 of The Unspeakable Oath magazine is much like its ancestors. The magazine is dedicated to multiple aspects of Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying with this issue only containing Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green material (made for Call of Cthulhu, for now). A lot of the same great content you expect from issue to issue is here including short scenarios, full investigations, adventure hooks, and items to spark multiple scenarios. The pillar article for issue #20 is a piece discussing Assassins and their roots in the historical Middle East.

OVERALL

If you are looking for a great collection of Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying content for a great price, there’s little need to look any further than The Unspeakable Oath; especially if you’re a Keeper or are looking to run something completely new. There is lots of information here and investigation opportunity at such a great price that there’s very little reason to not pick up each issue, if only to read the scenarios and add to your own Cthulhu lore.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
As always, The Unspeakable Oath 20 is a wonderful looking book. The overall layout is kept simple and unlike some previous issues, the space is used very well providing a high amount of value for what you’re purchasing. There is no shortage of great art and some of the illustrations invoke a great amount of inspiration in and of themselves where the attached content only serves to enhance the visual aid. While I would like to say that I expect as much from Arc Dream Publishing, it’s proper to say that they did an excellent job of assembling issue #20.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
Truly the only mechanical piece in The Unspeakable Oath 20 is The Assassins article. There’s a lot of history delving into the historical past of assassins and their roots, but it also contains a lot of content that I failed to connect to Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying. There’s a lot of build-up and a lot of explanation, but more connection to in-game use would be preferred (and provide those connections directly next to where the content appears). However, near the end of the piece there are a handful of in-game uses for what is found, but a lot of the history seems lost in regards to those mechanics. That doesn’t mean the content is bad or not useful, it just means that connecting it to in-game use may prove difficult. It borders on information overload.

Storyline: 10 out of 10
The Unspeakable Oath 20 has two full scenarios: She Just Couldn’t Stay Away for Call of Cthulhu and Let’s Learn Aklo! for Delta Green. Both scenarios have excellent storylines with plots that are filled with suspense and situations that may fry your investigators brain. They are both written in an easy to follow fashion with no shortage of interesting points throughout. Plenty of sanity losing opportunities and I will not go further to avoid spoiling anything.

Value Add: 8 out of 10
There’s a lot of meat within The Unspeakable Oath for how much you pay. This issue has lots of Keeper information while The Assassins can be a great piece for players to get involved with along with the regular series of reviews for everyone’s reference. Although if you are a player, I’d advise keeping your eyes away from the scenario content to avoid ruining your experience. There’s just too much sanity-crushing information here that you wouldn’t want your investigator to become immediately insane.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Another excellent entry into The Unspeakable Oath library. There are plenty of great scenario opportunities and by incorporating The Assassins material into your games, you may find unexpected directions and lots of new opportunities for excitement using content you weren’t expecting (because the Cthulhu Mythos hasn’t dealt with this type of thing before).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Unspeakable Oath 20
Publisher: Arc Dream Publishing
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/15/2011 07:20:57
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2011/07/15/tabletop-review-the-uns-
peakable-oath-20/


I’m a long time Call of Cthulhu fan. I still own a ton of materials ranging from the original boxed set Chaosium put out to the green leather bound 20th Anniversary Edition of the game (Soon to be complimented by the 30th Edition). Yet I’ve never picked up an issue of The Unspeakable Oath until now. Hell, I’d never even heard of it. However, the second I saw the cover to The Unspeakable Oath #20, showing only the back of a grizzled Investigator with a Tommy Gun in one hand and a pistol in the other, I opened up my heart to the possibility that Arc Dream Publishing might be putting out a high quality periodical on the Call of Cthulhu/Delta Green titles, the same way TSR and Paizo once put out Dungeon and Dragon – two magazines I still own every issue of.

There are seven sections to The Unspeakable Oath, each with one to three articles in it. Below is a list of each section, the articles they contain and my thoughts on each:

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Columns

The Dread Page of Azazoth -This two page column talks about the controversy that inevitably arises over combat in the Cthulhu Mythos based RPG. We’re no strangers to that at Diehard GameFAN ourselves as we all universally crucified the video game Dark Corners of the Earth for doing things like killing Father Dagon with a rocket launcher and other things that would make Lovecraft weep. Yet, at the same time, we all love games like Persona 2: Eternal Punishment where you can get Hastur to ally with you by reading The King in Yellow and where the last boss battle is against Nyarlathotep themselves. How is that not a paradox? For the same reason given by author Shane Ivey in this article: It’s all in the handling and portrayal of it. In the case of Dark Corners of the Earth, it’s all Deep One killing, all the time and it utterly spits in the face of what the Mythos is all about. In the case of Eternal Punishment, it’s a magical/spiritual battle with Nyarlathotep, as is the entire story of the game, so it goes down a lot easier. This is a great little opener to the magazine and an excellent reminder that some game do need to be heavy with the violence, while others need little to none at all. The only downside is a typo or two (“The players may have one a single skirmish, but does the other side even know there’s a war?”)

The Eye of Light & Darkness -eight pages of mini product reviews by various reviewers. I really hate when magazines split up an article across a magazine, so that alone turned me off this. However, the reviewer looks at a CD, four Chaosium books, three indie published adventures, and a DVD set. That’s nine reviewable items over eight pages, which really doesn’t do justice to any of the products in question. As well, one reviewer consistently makes errors in his reviews, such as repeatedly calling the product Halloween Horror, “Halloween Terror.” If you can’t get the name of what you are reviewing correctly, how can anyone take the review OR the reviewer seriously? This issue is compounded all the more when you realize he’s the one that has written five of the nine mini reviews. I’m also trying to figure out why there are reviews of non-RPGs in here. The CD and DVD reviews shouldn’t be included at all. Many of the reviews are also of pretty old products – some going as far back as 2005. There has to be products that are more timely than this, right? In truth, this is a section to outright ignore because it favors quantity with a decided lack of quality. Sadly it’s also twelve percent of the magazine.

Directives From A-Cell -This four page column is mainly about bringing the timeline and world mythos of Delta Green into the 21st century. I definitely remember my first edition of Delta Green and a lot of it would have to be adapted for how dramatically the world has changed since then. I’m just surprised it has taken them this long to do it. It’s the problem that comes with doing a “real world modern era” RPG I suppose. It’s a nice little column that speaks heavily about a gaming universe’s canon and how it’s hard to have a collective canon when every gaming group is different and has different materials and experiences under their belt. Even more importantly, he brings up the elephant in the room that many Mythos creatures gained their names from the CoC RPG and that Lovecraftian scholars actually debate over whether this is acceptable, canonical and whether those names should be used in Mythos fiction. Also, there’s some subtle V:TM bashing. Hee hee hee.

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Tales of Terror

The Plot Thickens -This is a one page article about how to leave a plot thread dangling to tie one adventure into another. In this case it is a document with the names of prominent members of the community with either a cross or a triangle by their names. The article than gives three possibilities for what it means and lets you, the GM, run while fleshing out an adventure based off this simple hook.

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Arcane Artifacts

The Eye of Daoloth – This little artifact reminded me of Greyhawk’s “Eye of Vecna” when I first started reading this, but it’s hard NOT to think of that whenever you hear of a mystical “eye artifact. In truth this eye is quite different and thankfully isn’t something you insert into your own face. It is however, an artifact that might be way too hard for all but the most experienced CoC players to deal with and I can’t see it being used by too many people. Neat idea and concept, but not so much fun to actually use.

The Arm in the Green Box – This is an artifact for a Delta Green Campaign. It’s your “typical” reanimated limb. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Mysterious Manuscripts

The Monongahela Carver Cipher – This is an interesting article as it’s a combination of a mini scenario, some very specific game mechanics and a specific unique book to be used in a Call of Cthulhu game. This is a very unique and outside the box way of creating/using a Cthulhu Mythos manuscript. Very clever and creative.

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Feature Articles

Assassins – This nineteen page article is very similar to the sort of thing I write for Massive Online Gamer magazine. It’s a long, detailed and mostly (save for the Cthulhu and gaming bits) historically accurate. It’s a bit of a dry read, but it’s something that can work really well with Cthulhu: Dark Ages or a more Middle Eastern oriented campaign. The downside is that the article really does only focus on Middle Eastern assassins. This makes sense due to the word’s Arabic origins, but it could have touched on other cultures as well. Or the fact Shakespeare coined the English version of the word.

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Scenarios

She Just Couldn’t Stay Away (No, No) – This is a short adventure set in modern times for Call of Cthulhu. It’s eleven pages long and it’s a truly brilliant plot. It’s basically Groundhog Day but insidiously evil and a hording crazy cat lady instead of Bill Murray. I will say just the first page of the adventure made me go pet my rabbits in thanks that nothing like what happens to poor Penny could ever happen to them. This is a great adventure and it really dabbles into issues many GMs (or writers) come across with time travel, regardless of the game being played. I really loved this scenario and it alone is worth the asking price of the issue. Also, all proceeds go to the Cleveland Animal Protection League. What’s not to love about that?

Let’s Learn Aklo! – This particular adventure is for Delta Green It’s six pages long . Like the CoC adventure that proceeded it, LLA involves time travel but it’s FAR more violent and a little too disjointed for my liking. The crux of the story along with the potential for paradox means that this adventure is best left in the hands of a VERY experienced GM. The conclusion and why/how the story hook occurs is also unsatisfying.

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Message in a Bottle

Dying Sunlight – well it’s Dying Sunlight in the table of contents, but Signs is the title of the actual piece. Either way it’s rubbish. It’s a horrible trite little piece that reads like it was written by a person that talks to themselves and no one else. That’s the best way I can describe it. Remember the Vampire: The Masquerade kid that all the other V:TM’ers wanted to be up. This is that kid if they were in written form.

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Overall, aside from a few formatting and spelling issues, I enjoyed The Unspeakable Oath #20. If it was up to me I’d scrap the poorly done mini reviews and put in some more gaming materials (such as another adventure) or short story, but that’s just me. The highlights were definitely the CoC adventure and the short but poignant Dread Page of Azazoth column. All in all, this was a good read and I’m sure I’ll be back next quarter with the review of issue #21. It reminded me a lot of when I was a little kid flipping through an old Dragon magazine. The Unspeakable Oath is a quarterly magazine devoted to tabletop games that revolve around or are based on the Cthulhu Mythos. You can learn more about it here. It comes in print, PDF, for Apple products and the Amazon Kindle.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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