New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley
Publisher: Miskatonic River Press
Product Code: 0003
Publishing Year: 2008
Cover Price: $29.95
Format(s): Softcover and PDF
Return to Lovecraft Country with this collection of six all-new adventures set in the Miskatonic Valley region. Investigators will visit favorite haunts such as Arkham, Kingsport, and Dunwich, as well as less familiar destinations like Foxfield.
- The Reeling Midnight, by Tom Lynch
- Wasted Youth, by Christopher Smith Adair
- Spirit of Industry, by Oscar Rios
- Proof of Life, by Keith Herber
- Malice Everlasting, by Oscar Rios
- The Night War, by Kevin A. Ross
Additional: Preface (by Keith Herber), Player Handouts
Front Cover Text
No additional text.
Back Cover Text
for Call of Cthulhu licensed by Chaosium, Inc.
New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley
Six all-new scenarios set in the fictional New England of H.P. Lovecraft. Written by veterans Keith Herber and Kevin Ross, and new Call of Cthulhu voices Christopher Smith Adair, Tom Lynch, and Oscar Rios. Cover art by Santiago Caruso and interior illustrations by Jason C. Eckhardt.
In Arkham, Tom Lynch's "The Reeling Midnight" introduces players to Arkham's truly decadent party scene.
Christopher Smith Adair's "Wasted Youth" explores the roots of juvenile delinquency, culminating in a wild chase through the wilderness.
"Spirit of Industry" takes players back to the village of Dunwich, where Oscar Rios explores old murders and an ancient mystery.
Oscar Rios is back for seconds, this time exploring Kingsport and old grudged with "Malice Everlasting."
Comments / Trivia
Dedication (by Keith Herber): For Lynn Willis, long the backbone of Call of Cthulhu and a mentor I never expected. Thanks for all the lessons, I try to pass them on as best I can.
Playtesters were: Dave Sokolowski, Tony Neff (as Bertie), Jaime Chamberlain (as Silas and Buffy), Bruce Stephenson (as Flora), Mike Peck (as Randolph), Mark Irons (as Nells).
There is an article/ review on the site that might be linked here, but the content is now attached to the section 'Keeper's Eyes' Only' below.
Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
Players should not read any further.
Comment here to Keepers about this book. Comments on specific Scenarios and Campaigns go on their respective pages. Keep DISCUSSION on the talk page.
This collection of six scenarios set in Arkham country is plainly and clearly laid out. It has and atmospheric cover by Santiago Caruso and twenty internal illustrations by Jason Eckhardt. The handouts and maps are functional but a deal with the HPLHS means that there is online access to considerably more characterful handouts, too.
The scenarios are 1920s set, and playable in almost any order, focusing on Arkham, Dunwich, Foxfield and Kingsport. What isn't stated anywhere, perhaps because it is so obvious to anyone who would be interested in the collection, perhaps because it might imply this wasn't a stand-alone product, is that there are large sourcebooks published by Chaosium for Arkham, Dunwich and Kingsport which Keepers can use to support New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley. These books are not necessary for the keeper to run these scenarios but they do, unavoidably, tie in for anyone like this reviewer who has read them previously. Perhaps even more significantly there exist several scenario collections set in Arkham country such as Tales of the Miskatonic Valley, Adventures in Arkham Country, and Dead Reckonings. How does New Tales stand up against these?
The Scenarios [SPOILERS throughout]
The Reeling Midnight by Tom Lynch A con being played on Arkham's decadent social scene becomes deadly because of a mythos infestation of a participant. All the investigative angles are covered though the disturbing climax and its aftermath seem unavoidable. There are no loose ends but there is a loose beginning in that the involvement of the Great Old One, encountered by its victim in the Dreamlands, appears unmotivated and arbitrary. This is something of a moot point because the scenario will work perfectly well without adjustment, but it does mean the scenario lacks grounding in its setting. Arkham-based investigators will have no trouble getting involved but the scenario could easily be moved to another town, too, and perhaps might fit a larger one better.
Wasted Youth by Christopher Smith Adair This scenario grounds itself very effectively in Arkham and requires the investigators to do some detective and journalistic work in order to discover what is sending some local kids off the rails before it delivers an exciting chase climax. Some reviewers might whinge about the victims being young persons but this can be fully played out with the investigators having to face the consequences of any over-hasty responses. The pursuit section features a creature that appears to be pure Keith Herber and promises to be exhaustingly enjoyable.
Spirit of Industry by Oscar Rios The investigators are dragged to Dunwich by a journalist friend to investigate a supposed haunting at an old sawmill. This scenario would be an ideal inclusion in the Chaosium Dunwich sourcebook (written by Keith Herber) which has always lacked proper scenarios. The major plot elements of Dunwich are put in to play here very effectively and in a way that leaves lots of (unnatural) life in the setting.
Proof of Life by Keith Herber (with thanks to John Pitman) The small community of Foxfield is the setting and a death threat is the hook. Investigators have to penetrate the smalltown politics to find the horror and madness underneath. Innocents fallen into the pincers of the Mi-Go are the cause of clandestine and murderous actions. There are several effective touches here as the inhuman nature of the antagonists is revealed but it seems that these are a group of rogue Mi-Go who risk revealing their existence by carelessly relying on human agents and simply by not giving up their base. (Compare A Night on Owlshead Mountain by Dennis Detwiller or even The Doom from Below by Stan!). As with The Reeling Midnight, this should be no obstacle to any group having a great time with this scenario but in terms of Keith Herber's work its more Trail of the Serpent than The Sanitorium. Released as a PDF file before the book it is a selling point but is not the high point of the collection.
Malice Everlasting by Oscar Rios For me, this is the best scenario in the book joining Fade to Gray and Dead in the Water as classic Kingsport scenarios. It follows, roughly, the sorceror's revenge plot exemplified by Keith Herber's The Condemned though there is more variety and there are plenty of clue trails and options for the Keeper to play up intrigue or horror at points along them. As some have noted this scenario shares, with 'Wasted Youth', an underage villain but it is really well developed and distinct in both cases (just don't play them back to back). The background and handouts for this scenario are great, there is a full-on climax in which Y'golonac shows up but even this does not end the intriguing possibilities set up. It promises to be a real blast.
The Night War by Kevin Ross With Kevin Ross the originator of the Kingsport book and of The Dreamlands as a game setting this is an authoritative scenario and will be for some the standout scenario in the collection. As my previous comments infer I'm less keen on it, but this is because, for me, a predominance of Dreamlands is too much. Drawing on the prose and fate of W.H. Hodgson this scenario pitches the investigators into a deadly, phantasmagoric Great War trenches setting and strongly motivates them to seek a therapeutic solution. This equals a crafty way to put characters not eligible for the front line in a combat setting and challenges them to understand the damaged mind of a real veteran (see also the work of Bruce Ballon). It's a striking scenario but not one everyone will enjoy playing.
Overall verdict [NO SPOILERS]
There are two great scenarios in this collection, three good ones and one marmite love/hate scenario. Your mileage may vary but other reviewer's verdicts seem to run about the same even if we may disagree which scenarios are best. The whole point of a collection is to provide something for everyone.
The collection has few frills but the excellent Eckhardt illustrations have a great feel for the 1920s and combine horror and comedy with great facility. It's a shame the great handouts of the HPLHS could not have been in the book; those that are seem a little bland, but this is a minor gripe.
New Tales of the Miskatonic Valley stands up well with the earlier Arkham Country collections.