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A Baleful Eye: Call of Cthulhu Now Available

Red Eye of Azathoth CoverIn 887 A.D., on an island off the east coast of England, the Vikings celebrating their sack of a British monastery fall silent when the night’s burgeoning storm clouds roil back to reveal a red comet low in the sky. As a haunting, discordant sound of flutes echoes across the bleak landscape, a rain of blood begins to fall, and the cadavers of Vikings and butchered monks strewn across the shore stir and begin to rise.

Deep in the defiled monastery, Brother Calhoun leans against the scriptorium’s shelves, clinging to consciousness. He slits his wrist, holds it out, and asks his last question. Brother Hallow, his innards dangling from the Viking axe stroke, grips Calhoun’s wrist to his mouth, drinks long, and then answers with dead eyes. “The Lidless One seeks the song that keeps great Azathoth asleep, so that he may unplay it. Silence the music or all die tonight.”

And so it begins. Something from beyond sanity’s borders strives to strip away the protections that keep the mindless Outer God Azathoth unaware of the worlds of man. Those that oppose this madness are cursed to be reincarnated to fight for humanity’s survival each time the Red Eye of Azathoth looms in the heavens. Time and again across the centuries, they stand alone — in the frozen mountains of feudal Japan, in the burning streets of the Inquisition sweeping Valencia, Spain, and the New World’s doomed Roanoke Colony. Each time, at terrible cost, they uncover more of the dark design.

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Review: Eureka! 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters

It’s really an excellent time to be a GM; companies are falling all over themselves catering to us. The recent releases of the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 by Wizards of the Coast and the simultaneously retro and forward-thinking GameMastery Guide by Paizo are both excellent sources of advice and tools for running a game, full of insight even for a jaded old warhorse like me. The lists of noble titles and the vocabulary set in GMG made me smile; Gygax would have loved these books.

But sometimes it’s up to a small, new outfit to try wild and weird new things—wonderful experiments in GM help like Eureka, a collection of 501 half-page plot summaries, each of them enough to kick off a great RPG session. The book is a meaty 314 pages long.

This is the first big project from the blogging crew over at Gnome Stew, and let me tell you, they must have slaved over this thing for a year. Every time I thought “Yes, but that won’t work because…” they were already there, thinking it through. Much more than a simple book of plots, Eureka! stands as one of those essential tools that GMs and game designers will find themselves reaching for again and again. Here’s three reasons why…

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Behind the Curtain: The Red Eye of Azathoth

Great_Comet_of_1577What could be the harm? It’s only a book.

If the Blind Idiot God has its way, you’ll be holding The Red Eye of Azathoth before you know it. This adventure anthology, guided by the superbly capable hands of Joshua Stevens, is Open Design’s very first Call of Cthulhu patron project, featuring a senses-shattering series of adventures cast throughout history.

The five scenarios can be run independently or linked for one time-spanning mega-scenario. Two scenarios are already in editing and the others are well on their way to completion. Consider this your handbook for the coming reign of chaos that only Azathoth can bring.

From the Mouths of Madmen

KQ: I caught up with Josh at the asylum… er, rather, while on vacation. In a rare instance of lucidity, he told me all about the project…

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The Red Eye of Azathoth: a Public Report

The Red Eye of AzathothThe first (of 5!) playtests is complete. Here’s what designer Tim Connors had to say (without spoilers!) on changes to the design introduced as a result of playtest feedback.

  • Added event-triggered flashbacks designed to encourage camaraderie between the otherwise opposed Viking and monk investigators.
  • Based pregens on Cthulhu Dark Ages to tweak/balance things like armor/weapons that don’t work as well with the gaslight era rules.
  • Adjusted the BBEGs armor and magical shielding, because the pre-gen Viking brute could really pummel him if reasonably lucky.
  • Restructuring the overall scenario to make it easier to read during play, including read-aloud text and streamlined handouts. I discovered very quickly that it was far easier to have all the handouts together, so I could hit Print once. And the read-aloud text helped carry a consistent mood.
  • Changed the island map to hide certain locations, which allowed me to make a handout of it.
  • Added an optional, harder ending requiring some sacrifice. I ran this version and it made the finale truly memorable.
  • Added an option to play in real time. I kicked this option into play about mid-adventure, and my players loved it.

If you’re a fan of the Call of Cthulhu, The Red Eye of Azathoth is definitely worth your attention.

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A Very Lovecraftian Holiday

Santa ClausIt was the evening before Christmas. Our home, decorated with a regal evergreen resplendent in ornamentation and with stockings that had been hung with ritual precision by the mouth of the fireplace, was deathly quiet. I could not sleep that night; it seemed as if the great yawning silence of the house pressed upon my mind. Fitfully, I tossed and turned for endless hours, wishing for nothing so much as the sound of a mouse as it scurried over the floor—anything to take my mind away from this terrible stillness. It was as though the entire world was holding its breath in anticipation of some arrival…

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