Friday, October 21, 2011

Reviewing: Ye Booke of Monstres for Call of Cthulhu


Liked re-writing my Vampire: the Masquerade review in the last post, so I thought I'd continue re-reviewing games. This original review I wrote is from 2009 for Roolipelit.net forum.


Ye Booke of Monstres - The Aniolowski Collection, Volume 1

Ye Booke of Monstres kansikuvaSourcebook for Call of Cthulhu introducing a bung of monsters from a selection of authors inspired by H.P.Lovecraft's work and Mythos. Author of this sourcebook tells that some of these Monsters aren't official Mythos entities but they fit in the world of Cthulhu. Monsters from this books are collected from 70 years of novels and short stories and different writers.

Outlooks
This is a thin book with only 59 pages + a few extra including index. The cover is dark and pretty cool although the art is a bit amateurish. From distance it is great but when examining the details you discover it.

Book is with soft covers and black and white illustration. Layout is lame. Every monster within includes a picture and monsters are divided with big headline and a line what shows pretty well where one description ends and the next starts.

Most of the illustration is similar to Call of Cthulhu rulebook illustration. Monster pictures are a bit scruffy. Illustration isn't that sterling although you can get a picture what the monsters are supposed to look like. I really like the fact that every single being is illustrated when you realize how strange and multi-dimensional some of Mythos beings can be. Points for the effort even though some of the monsters look more hilarious than insanity eating. But it is hard to draw something what is four dimensional, unspeakable and defies all physical laws. 
Olentoja ja hirviöitä

There are plenty of creatures. 69 total. You can do the math yourself. If there are 59 pages for creatures and 69 of them the descriptions cannot be that broad. Also when stats are included for everything here. This is the weakest link in the book, not enough information. Too many monsters tucked in a too small box. Most of the monsters only get few sentences for description.
Usually motives of creature or location is totally missed when information tells usually that monster attacks immediately and fights 'till the end. Also because some monsters are too mighty to fight with rules the stats are just for their ego boast.

I am bitter about this. Now the book is more like monster manual giving combat stats for monsters instead of actually adding more into Mythos and strangeness. You get a picture, stats, small description and that's it. Rest is totally up to the Keeper to use that monster in his adventure. In my opinion Mythos needs more monster information what doesn't tell the stats but how you can use them in your game.

Also for some reason there are plenty of human like monsters with big earlobes who look more like new age science fiction beings than monsters. I personally don't like them.
For Gaming

Even though the books lacks all the interesting information - actually describing the chreatures - it might give inspiration and variety for core books monsters. Problem is, that the Keeper don't get story seeds to use these. He gets combat stats but creating the adventure still depends on the Keeper. I like descriptions what give ideas how to use things. But if your gaming group is bored in ordinary Mythos monsters in core book, this might give small addition from other authors to check out. Although I don't have much of experience about Call of Cthulhu sourcebooks I bet there are better investments to put your money into to get more abominations to use in your games.

Some of the monsters are lame and stupid but there are few I really liked and actually got adventure seeds around certain monsters. Creative Keeper can make adventures from anywhere, so for those this might be a good inspirational source.
 Final Words
Plenty of new Mythos creatures but unfortunately short descriptions. You get stats but not what you really want to use. Thin and fast to read. Cover is not that bad and picture of every monster is great bonus. This could have been so much more. With more information about creatures or narrowing some of those to release more space. Some of these are really stupid.
I am not sure would I like this more if I was familiar with books these monsters are in. You know, saw it on book, get the stats. But for me who is unfamiliar for the fiction behind these this is waste of time. Oh, not so. There are few monsters I actually got inspiration to build campaign around. So it isn't throughout a bad sourcebook.

Points

1 for not providing enough information about monsters.
3 because cover is kinda neat and every booger is illustrated
1½ because I got few inspirations.

1½ final points. You don't need this. If you got almost every single Call of Cthulhu sourcebook, you can buy this. Or if you get this under 5 dollars, consider this. This doesn't change your CoC experience.
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