Jay Draper over at The Mad Adventurers Society reviewed Trail of Cthulhu. Full review here, thanks Jay!
“Overall, I really enjoyed playing Trail of Cthulhu. Despite it sharing the same setting as Call of Cthulhu, it is a far simpler game that is definitely more suited to the narrative, roleplay-focused style of gameplay that is popular at the moment. There’s also a more cerebral element to the game, through the resource management of skills and the fragility of the characters, though not to the extent of Call of Cthulhu. The more cerebral element also comes through in the shift in focus towards players working together to solve the clues as opposed to turning clues into abstract dice rolls to succeed or fail at, as so many roleplaying games try to do when they attempt mystery elements. With an array of optional rules and the purist/pulp dials, there are plenty of ways to customise your Trail of Cthulhu experience, and the rules are lightweight enough to not intrude as you craft a thrilling story of Lovecraftian strangeness for your players to investigate. If you like mystery investigation or cosmic horror, there is no reason why this book shouldn’t be on your shelf.”
“I’ve got to say it was great to return to the Cthulhu setting with Trail of Cthulhu. The Cthulhu Mythos offers such a rich tapestry of foes and lore to tap into, and combined with the social issues that go hand-in-hand with Depression-era America, you’ve got a great start to any game. The way the Mythos is addressed in Trail of Cthulhu makes it very approachable for those without a lot of experience in using or playing within the Cthulhu Mythos.”
“One thing I particularly liked about the point-spending nature of the tests is that for stability, the skill that represents the ability to withstand mental trauma, is that in order to pass the frequent tests against stability loss, players must spend stability points to avoid losing more. It seems futile at first, but once you get a feel for the nature of the setting, it suddenly makes sense that whilst you might be resisting being pushed over the edge towards insanity, you’re still cracking and undergoing a slow descent into madness, even if it feels like you’re winning for the moment.”
“I particularly liked the use of the purist and pulp rules throughout the book, they definitely expand the options the game offers and its re-playability by essentially presenting two very different games within one book. Purist is more well-suited for old school Call of Cthulhu fans and folks who prefer gritty, challenging realism, with investigators being far more fragile and less able to weather physical and mental trauma, as well as being less able to defend themselves. Pulp suits the more adventurous players, who want to play something more heroic and that suggests a higher rate of survival.”
Trail of Cthulhu is an award-winning 1930s horror roleplaying game by Kenneth Hite, produced under license from Chaosium. Whether you’re playing in two-fisted Pulp mode or sanity-shredding Purist mode, its GUMSHOE system enables taut, thrilling investigative adventures where the challenge is in interpreting clues, not finding them. Purchase Trail of Cthulhu and its many supplements and adventures in the Pelgrane Shop.