Bride of Halloween Horror
Product Code: CHA0364
Publishing Year: 2008
Cover Price: $18.95
Format: MULA Monograph
Released as PDF: Yes
Autumn — the time of the Festival of the Dead, when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and prayers to ancestors easiest made. Pumpkin cakes are left in the Ancestors’ Niche in every house, and children tie black and orange ribbons to the doors and put candles in the windows of their houses so their dead ancestors can easily find their way home.
It is a quiet time, after the harvest and before the first snows of winter arrive. It can be a lonely time.
This Halloween adventure monograph is here just in time for your traditional Halloween Call of Cthulhu or Basic Roleplaying game! Here are nine numbing Halloween-themed adventures — winners and honorable mentions of the 2008 Chaosium.com Halloween Adventure Contest.
The Beloved Dead by Sarah Newton. This year the tiny fishing village of Mormouth sits uneasy at Belomas, the quiet good cheer of previous years replaced by fear of strangers and the dark. Since the start of the Festival three villagers have died in horrible circumstances, their bodies found in the early morning drenched in water and lakeweed, their lungs filled with water, a look of stark terror on their faces.
Cain's Clan by Ed McGlinn. Three years ago, something terrible happened. On Halloween night, Margot Alfredsen was brutally murdered. No killer was caught, and it was hoped that he had moved on. On Halloween night two years ago Bob and Janet Cawley were killed in the same fashion. But still there were no clues and no leads. Just last Halloween, Danica Andersen and Officer Lars Skoller were murdered, again in the same brutal fashion. Again, no killer was caught. Halloween is again approaching, and fear is gnawing at the pit of the stomachs of the good people of Jakob’s Bluff.
A Chill Down Your Spine by Harris Burkhalter. Members of the Anoka County Historical Society are approached by a confused teen asking about the history of the area — he thinks he is seeing ghosts. His later disappearance and strange investigation leads to the dream work of Dr. Kline and his sole surviving patient. A clue lies on the grounds of a historic sanitarium, where a corn maze has been constructed. As snow begins to blow in the icy breeze, dream begins to merge with reality.
The Dragon and the Wolf by John W. Thompson. A cool autumn wind shakes leaves from the trees as you enter the village of Wroxeter. It is said that this was once one of the largest Roman cities in Britain. Now, fragments of a great wall and some crumbling foundations are all that remains. Interspersed within and around these shadows of yesterday’s greatness is a humble village of just a dozen or so families. They watch you cautiously as you approach, men, women and even children with a bow or knife at hand, ready to fight. These villagers are hard, strong folk of Saxon heritage. These are the ones who stayed after the more fearful have fled to Shrewsbury. Yet, even in their eyes, you can see the hint of fear. This Black Wolf must be a fierce beast indeed to trouble these folk.
Earth: Rest Stop, Body Shop by John D. Kennedy. Man has sought for centuries to determine it’s own worth. Philosophers and priests have spent countless hours arguing about man’s spiritual worth, or the worth of its deeds. The one question that few have touched upon however, is what is man’s worth—as resources. In the more remote places in the galaxy, there exists a predator which exists to use its prey to its fullest.
Longa Obscuritas by Oscar Rios. For the Romans it was the end of the growing season and a time of harvest. It was a busy time, when those working the land gathered in the fruits of their labor and made ready for the long dark months of winter. It was an important time because if the growing season was poor those there would be many hardships ahead.
For the natives here in Britannia, it was all that and much more. To them this was a sacred time, the start of their New Year. It was also when those who had died during the year made their way to whatever afterlife these people believed in. A time when they believed that all manner of ghoulies and ghosties, and long legged beasties were free to enter our world.
Jubai Kaidan by Simon Yee. Today is the Halloween party at the Occidental Annex in the Izu Prefecture. Professor Fumio Shimano is a well respected teacher at Izu College and is the head provost to the Occidental Annex. Shimano tries to celebrate western holidays to enrich his student’s cultural understanding and to let his foreign instructors feel more at home. The party starts at 7:00 pm and is expected to end at midnight. Everyone is encouraged to wear a costume and families with children are expected to leave at 8:00. The players are invited after the party to his presentation of a traditional Japanese ghost story.
Revenge of the Hei People by Nick Davison. The investigators are the cast and crew of a movie being made in the nearby Dockyard who are visiting Fort Amherst for a Halloween Horrors event. This is the set of their latest movie, The Zombie Army of Napoleon. The other characters are screen writer (John), an SFX technician (Fi), a stuntman (Brent) who is playing the zombie, and Bambi’s stylist (Georgio).
Who's That Knocking? by Garnett Elliot. College Media Arts major Alan Breen decides to get some live footage for a "shaky-cam" horror movie he’s filming. He invites a group of college students out to an abandoned farmhouse he’s rigged with cameras and shotgun mikes for a Halloween party. Aided by a crew of fellow students/actors who share his vision for guerilla filmmaking, he plans to put the partygoers through a series of staged, "horrific" events, and add the footage to scripted scenes. The resulting opus, Who’s That Knocking?, will become a hit at the independent movie festivals. Fame and offers from established studios are sure to follow.
Or so he thinks.
Scenarios: The Beloved Dead, Cain's Clan, A Chill Down Your Spine, The Dragon and the Wolf, Earth: Rest Stop, Body Shop, Longa Obscuritas, Jubai Kaidan, Revenge of the Hei People, Who's That Knocking?
Front Cover Text
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Comments / Trivia
List dedication, color plates, rarity of the book, etc.
Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
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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 monograph is a collection of nine unconnected scenarios by nine different authors all entered in the 2008 Halloween Horror contest. As such (and as implied by the title) it is one of a series and therefore it is unlike the usual monograph in that Chaosium have clearly undertaken some editorial role in the selection of scenarios, their arrangement in the book and in the choices of illustration. The editorial work remains anonymous, however, and there are signs of the project being rushed through for Halloween with typos throughout and the lack of maps in most of the scenarios.
I'll deal with the scenarios individually below in enough detail that there will probably be spoilers, but this paragraph gives a general overview. Halloween is the linking theme but the scenarios span a wide variety of settings including a fantasy future, Cthulhu Invictus, Cthulhu Dark Ages and, mainly, the present taking us to Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin as well as unspecified generic mid-West USA, the UK and Japan. The focus on the contemporary is logical for horror stories, as authorities such as M.R. James and (following James) Sandy Peterson have argued. This means that, despite the number of scenarios, this collection neglects Classic 1920s and Gaslight periods. Obviously, Chaosium can't determine what is submitted to their competition, but some editorial comment in an introduction or in the blurb would help potential purchasers evaluate the product. Instead, what we get as blurb is nothing but cunningly tweaked flavour text from the first scenario.
The Beloved Dead by Sarah Newton In many ways this scenario is a plug for the author's Chronicles of Future Earth BRP campaign setting. For me, this is a problem since it can't really be played without that book: Page 5 describes races that the PCS may be from but no character creation information is supplied. Reading between the lines, Chronicles of Future Earth isn't science fiction but D'n'D-style fantasy centred on a recogniseable human society with alternative words for things we know (there is a glossary). The scenario offers up the nicely mapped village of Mormoth which is full of unstatted characters who may lead the PCs past a number of dead ends to BRP statted encounters with 'The Chelarch', servant and dogs, a ghost and, eventually, a lich on a nicely mapped island. The most intriguing potential investigation here is whether it was Chaosium or the author who thought this would be a viable and appropriate scenario for a Halloween Horror competition. I don't agree and think the effort to make it work would be wasted since it will never be a genuine Halloween encounter and the fantasy setting is unconducive to horror.
Cain's Clan by Ed McLinn This scenario begins unpromisingly with a description of an Indian brave fighting Nyogtha. It sets up a contemporary dilemma in which the PCs are consultants helping the local police deal with the prospect of a 4th year of Halloween night murders. It turns out that a resident has been contaminated by a severed part of Nyogtha, though why it only compels them to kill at Halloween isn't really explained. Nevertheless, the scenario is as plausible as many contemporary horror films. I rather liked the sinister sub-plots with another, unexpected, contaminated victim and the contaminated wildlife in the forest. Overall, though, I donâ€™t see any solution offered unless the PCs arrive very heavily armed. A lethal contemporary CoC scenario might, however, be just what you need for Halloween, even without maps.
A Chill Down Your Spine by Harris Burkhalter Set in the self-proclaimed Halloween Capital of the World in Minnesota and keyed to an actual Halloween blizzard from 1991 this is a well-grounded and interesting scenario with the strongest HPL elements in the collection, including a Dreamlands-based threat and marauding nightgaunts. The hook is a missing person and investigators are involved by their membership of a local historical society. No maps again, but there are 5 decent handouts (though the handwritten ones show signs of scanning resolution problems) and a list of resources and help on Yog-Sothoth.com!
The Dragon and the Wolf by John W. Thompson Set in (unmapped) Wroxeter during the (Cthulhu) Dark Ages this scenario has the PCs as wolf-hunters who will find a sorceror, a werewolf and a dragon (of sorts) during their investigation. Like the first scenario this one has a strong D'n'D vibe, but is much grittier and realistic. The role-playing challenge is to trust instincts and find the real villain before things go badly wrong and Nyarlathotep gets involved, potentially initiating a really horrific and bleak outcome.
Earth: Rest Stop, Body Shop by John D. Kennedy In contemporary Michigan an unpronounceable alien that uses organic technology has established itself near an outlying settlement and gained a human collaborator who has virtually taken over the town. This scenario has been done better or at least with much better resources (see Worlds of Cthulhu 6), but this is a pulpy Hollywood-friendly scenario. The final combat crawl to put an end to the threat is something that movie characters (rather than sane investigators) might feel motivated to do.
Longa Obscuritas by Oscar Rios A British-set, Cthulhu Invictus scenario by Invictus campaign writer Oscar Rios and MRP stalwart probably sells itself. Itâ€™s well-structured and offers a convincing Romano-British setting. Though I've seen a few too many variations on 'the little people' recently, they're well done here and the scenario offers a number of interesting resolutions. I particularly like the serpent men ruins to be found in the woods, even though their "geographical" shapes should have been "geometrical". No maps.
Jubai Kadain by Simon Yee This scenario uses the Secrets of Japan setting to plausibly place the PCs (whether familiar with the setting or not) at an occidental party in a university annexe and pitch them into the realm of J-horror. Though there are lots of references to the sourcebook everything necessary is included here. In fact, there are rather too many monster options, with profusion likely to confuse the investigators, but it is clear that the GM can mix and match in whatever way is effective. Both maps and flavour illustrations are provided â€“ it can be done!
Revenge of the Hei People by Nick Davison Set in Chatham/Medway, UK in 2007 this scenario has a British horror film crew hunted by scarecrows and their more powerful 'king'. The PCs are statted here and the actor characters are given imdb.com style pages full of fun postmodern self-referentiality. There are six short appendices giving background information and an unlucky 13 one line handouts to tip the humour into horror. In fact the scenario would be ready to run if it did not lack they key map of Chatham's Napoleonic Fort Amherst which is referred to extensively on pages 90-1. This is highly frustrating and seems like it is Chaosium's blunder. It would be nice if the absence could be addressed by some online source.
Who's That Knocking? by Garnett Elliot Similarly self-reflexive in its film references to the previous scenario, this one has the PCs unwittingly caught up in a Blair Witch style shoot at an abandoned farmhouse that turns out to be really haunted. There are lots of opportunities for creepy fun here as ghost hoax and ghost reality are revealed. The threat is manageable and potential problems are fully adressed in a troubleshooting section. As ever, a map would have been nice.
Conclusion Overall, this is not a bad collection of one-offs with some welcome support for pre-gunpowder eras. Not all the scenarios are worth your while, though YMMV, but there is enough viable material for several Halloweens here, as long as you're happy to make your own maps or wing it without.