Based on past rants about purist Trail of Cthulhu, I am probably the last person to review the latest Trail of Cthulhu adventure, The Dying of St. Margaret’s. Nonetheless, Simon Rogers of Pelgrane was kind enough to send me a copy, so I’ll see what I can do with it.
This tournament adventure takes place at a girl’s school on a lonely island off the coast of Scotland, which is not as naughty as some of you are thinking. Recently, a number of occultists working at the school vanished. Their associates, the investigators, have taken up their posts at the school to attempt to unravel the mystery.
I’m most impressed with the quality of this adventure, especially having read hundreds of Call of Cthulhu scenarios. The atmosphere is creepy, the characters are memorable, and the clues necessary to move the adventure forward are available through multiple paths. The climax itself could have been stronger, but its handling of the denouement was impressive and in keeping with the setting.
I did have a few questions about the set-up. Notably, there is little consideration of what might happen if the investigators question the girls at the school rather than the staff.
One trail of clues leads to an encounter in the island’s town; not only does it involve the investigators “remembering” something that is never told to them in-game, but the vanished people do not have any motivation to confide to the person in question. (They do suggest another method of handling the situation in the scenario, however.) Finally, though the antagonist is quite appropriate for a purist game, it’s one that’s been used several times in other game scenarios recently.
Nonetheless, this is a chilling scenario epitomizing Lovecraft’s cosmic horror. It not only recommends itself to Trail of Cthulhu purist players, but it’s also an excellent resource for Call of Cthulhu players who want more cosmic horror in their games.
UPDATE: Author Graham Walmsley and Pelgrane have already responded to this review by creating a new set of clues to address the point stricken out above. Nice job, guys!