I’ve had a nasty stomach bug for the past couple days, hence my silence. The break nonetheless let me curl up with the new Mysteries of Mesoamerica, for one adventure of which I give spoilers below.
Before going on, I’d like to say I’m greatly enjoying this book. Blair Reynolds’ artwork is wonderful, Brian Appleton and John Crowe have written some fine scenarios, and Clint Staples’ sections… well, I haven’t read them because one master’s degree is enough Mesoamerican knowledge for me, but they look excellent.
Nonetheless, one scenario – “The Temple of the Toad” – is perhaps the epitome of how Call of Cthulhu adventures use tomes in curious ways.
This adventure is based on Robert E. Howard’s “The Thing on the Roof,” which has as a major plot point the differences between the various editions of von Junzt’s Unaussprechlichen Kulten. “Temple” follows suit, but it doesn’t let us see any of these – no copies are available, and no quotations are provided. In fact, it’s made clear that the investigators have absolutely no way of actually viewing this book.
Obviously, the short answer is that the author didn’t want the characters to sit down for 52 weeks and read the book, as per the rules. I can certainly understand that.
Nonetheless, it illustrates one of the main trouble with the classic Mythos tomes in Call of Cthulhu – their use as sources of Cthulhu Mythos percentiles and spells and not books that are actually read for useful information. Despite the central role books like the Necronomicon and De Vermis Mysteriis play in the Mythos and the game, most of the actual clues in the game appear in newspapers, journals, matchbooks, business cards, videotapes, or in some book that the author cooked up to get around the time restrictions on reading those tomes. That’s understandable for one-shot adventures, but even campaigns usually provide the tomes but don’t give much relevance for them in terms of content.
In short, I’d like to handle this differently in Fury of Yig. My post next week will be on how I’ll try to shake matters up.