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  1. It's a very specific recommendation, but I've been super happy purchasing direct from Chaosium (buying various Call Of Cthulhu rpg books). Their customer service and email support is excellent, and I think their policy of "buy the pdf, get the full price of the pdf off if you buy it in physical form when it's released" is excellent. (Meaning any typos etc are caught and corrected in pdf before it goes to print). Physical copies also come with pdf copy if bought from them. I'll also second Gameslore as being excellent.
  2. I *did* have an issue with an order I placed from BGE (some years ago now). It was a nothing arriving and no reply to my emails, a search of facebook found other people in the same situation. However I'd *never* had an issue when I'd previously bought from them via their eBay shop - which I'd done regularly. It took public calling out on Facebook and Twitter to finally get a "we're having stock problems" reply, and an eventual fulfilment of the order a long time later. I don't use them any more because of that.
  3. I probably would be up for some Call Of Cthulhu. Am playing a bit at the moment via zoom (probably monthly).
  4. I was looking through a bgg forum about best/worst artwork on games (boxes), and half of the suggestions I couldn't tell without reading whether it was going to be a suggestion for best or worst. Sometimes people were arguing for the same art as best as others were for it being worst. Clearly it is very subjective.
  5. Beautiful looking, and good luck. I'm sure this would have had good UKGE table presence as that's a hell of a looker! And by the way - "Die of the Dead" is a great name!
  6. Me and one of my best friends still laugh about an evening we had many years ago with Sherlock-Holmes-Consulting-Smug-Bastard (Sleuth Games edition), which saw my friend literally screaming "It's a fucking SUICIDE. It's OBVIOUSLY A FUCKING SUICIDE!!!" at us all. And demanding we call it, and check the outcome/questions. We placated him and he grumpily agreed to visit "one last location". The person there completely ruled out his theory and he humble-pied it for the next hour as we still failed to work out what had gone on.
  7. Congrats on your successful funding! Looking forward to it.
  8. Backed this. Good price point for an indie rpg I think. Initially I skim read the description and thought it was set in the 2000AD universe, which meant I wasn't interested (never having read/seen/etc. anything from that world*). Good luck with the rest of the K.S. *Apart from Slaine on the ZX Spectrum, which I didn't even realise was 2000AD related at the time.
  9. So - my overall thoughts on new Call Of Cthulhu 7th edition Starter Set as a whole now I've run the last scenario. The Call Of Cthulhu Starter Set, (just over £20 directly from Chaosium + postage, includes PDF version), definitely represents good value. One could argue that Alone Against The Flames and the Quick Start Rules are available as free pdfs - but having printed versions is definitely a boon. At £8.10 the pdf only version represents even better value - and if you're playing digitally anyway is a bargain. Within the box you really do have (almost) everything required for many hours of running games - and enough of a flavour of 'how it works' to build your own scenarios if that route appeals. The contents: Alone against the Flames. A fine introduction to the world and the basics of the system - and making the link between 'choose your own adventure' style books and tabletop RPGs is a nice gentle unthreatening introduction. Also available as a free Pdf. The intro rule book is well formatted and easy to read. If I wanted anything beyond this, it'd have been a list of pre-prepared n.p.c. names (that's all, just typical names) so that in having to ad-lib a character/headstone/victim I had wasn't pulling a name from my the top of my head. The 'Investigators Companion' book has such a list, but it's also easy enough to prepare one in advance of running a scenario. I'd recommend all keepers, new or old, have one to hand. This is the intro rules, reformatted - but without The Haunting scenario. Five pre-generated character sheets covering a diverse range of backgrounds. Character sheets to fill in and make custom investigators. (Along with the rules to make them). Full autocalc PDFs available direct from Chaosium - so I'd recommend making up your own set. A set of polyhedral dice. Includes an extra D10 for bonus/penalty roles. A booklet of handouts. This is the first misstep of the set in my opinion - this would have been so much more useful as loose sheets (though it's easy enough to cut the binding off) - but three of the pages in this contain more than one handout per page. So folding/cutting would be necessary to not give out other handouts too. Practically this will mean using the PDF (free with purchase of Starter Set from Chaosium) instead, and printing that for most players. There are a couple of other things I'll say about handouts with respect to scenarios. The three scenarios: (This contains spoilers for the scenarios - perhaps don't read on, if you're going to be a player, rather than keeper). Paper Chase - a relatively un-deadly intro scenario written for one investigator and one keeper - though I modified this for three investigators and one keeper without much trouble. A nice short intro, and some good opportunity to role play. This scenario highlights the importance of negotiation rather than violence. The 'map' handout for players utterly telegraphs what is important (the graveyard) and I'd probably advise not giving players this, unless they are stuck (even then, and Idea roll might be better). I'd also say some other handouts (of which there are some good ones online available. Having Kimble's Diary prepared as a handout might help a new keeper/player. Similarly I was surprised that the newspaper articles that are mentioned aren't given as handouts. Google provided third party ones I used.). In a slightly picky way I'd also point out the (great) artwork that accompanies the scenario isn't useful insofar as the description of Kimble as Ghoul makes him sound far far more through his transformation. The 'Ghoul' illustration is (perhaps) of help to players in imagining him. I showed the other Kimble-reading-in-the-graveyard pics to the players after we'd played the scenario when we discussed what Kimble had been up to over the past year or so. They don't work 'in game' as he looks nothing like that now. Edge Of Darkness - a great blend of investigation and epic climax (fighting off the undead whilst reciting a ritual to banish an evil thing). It's easy to join this on to the previous investigation, if you want the players to use the same characters. There are a lot of red-herrings/potential plot hooks for the keeper to manage here. This is A Good Thing (if you, as keeper can manage them), but can be a sticking point if the players become too focused on those rather than the job at hand. I very nearly lost my investigators to a trip to New Orleans! Fortunately I was able to ramp up the action locally to make that the focus of their investigation. Worth reading other people's experiences of this scenario online before running it, to mitigate against some of the potential sticking points. Dead Man's Stomp - this scenario, that requires the most of the Keeper, is kept for last. Set in Harlem, and moving the action away from Lovecraft's Country and into a setting with very real historical context might require the keeper getting their head around that (Charlie Johnson's Band, Louis Armstrong, Eddie Smalls are real people, and Small's Paradise club and Harlem in 1925 are real places - perhaps the keeper might want to make sure they are 'true' to that reality as far as possible). The criticism that is commonly levelled at Dead Man's Stomp is that it is in danger of feeling railroaded - and that the investigators are watching a story, rather than taking part. I think that careful keepering can stop this - the very short timescale involved (scene one is the evening, the next major scene is 11am the next day). The investigators splitting up and investigating different threads means it's far less likely to feel 'on rails' for them. But requires gauging who's not been in the spotlight for a while, and when to push the drama. My personal minor criticism of this scenario is not with the scenario at all (just be prepared) but in the handouts. There are beautiful maps of 1. Harlem 1925, 2. Small's Paradise Club and 3. An Old Garage that give away in their key the name of important n.p.c.s (in the case of 2 and 3) and an important place of interest (in the case of 1) that the investigators don't know about. It's also particularly annoying that the Keeper version of the Harlem map has a different key to the one in the player handouts and the 'numbers' don't match up. (Columbia University is 9 on one, and 8 on the other for example). I'd MUCH prefer the map with no key at all - and I can tell the players what the numbers mean as and when they find/need them. (I redacted the key from the keeper's version of the Harlem map, and gave them that.). I also redacted the key to the Small's Map, and gave them the main area they could see, and revealed the backstage area only as they went there. Similarly The Old Garage - with it's key players didn't match my version of the key players (having introduced an n.p.c.) so I just gave them the main area they could see. It's a shame because these handouts are beautifully done - they just give too much information to the players if not careful in my opinion. If handled sensitively Dead Man's Stomp also has something to say about storytelling a very sad story, in a racially sensitive time. With an epic ending. The three scenarios can be linked (with a little work from the keeper) if desired, and make for a fun trio of stories - although it is slightly disappointing that Zombies feature in two of them. Given the wealth of horrors available, it's a pity that we don't see a bit more variety (although people love Zombies, apparently). All told though, despite those minor criticisms around handouts (and they are minor) this is an excellent set - a great introduction (or reintroduction, in my case) to Call Of Cthulhu - with the new 7e rules (that work excellently). My session report on the last scenario (Dead Man's Stomp) here if you fancy a massive read, but I doubt it'll make much sense unless you've read the scenario beforehand.
  10. Jostien Gaarder - An Unreliable Man It's good, but not as good as The Solitaire Mystery, Maya or Sophie's World. But it is intriguing, and you're drawn into the narrator's tale of unlikely relationships - and left without a satisfying conclusion (but in a gently thought provoking way). It's one of those books that's back-cover-blurb reveals something you wish hadn't. So I'm glad I read it without reading that. As with most of JG's books it has stories within stories to unpick. Recommended, but only if you can stand huge digressions into the etymology of words (which the Narrator frequently goes on). Special props to the translator, because this must have been a bitch to move into English from Norwegian. This story could also make an interesting springboard into a number of other topics, if you the reader finds one of the digressions interesting enough to descend down a google rabbit hole. Cecilia Ahern - The Gift A reading group choice, not mine. Generally excellent prose by this Irish author, whom I'd never heard of. She seems to be in the 'chick-lit' section, although this is a Christmas fable about coming to terms with what is important in life. Some over-detailed descriptive passages, but generally I was much more entertained by this book than I thought I'd be. Has the feel of a 1980s Twilight Zone episode (specifically "Shatterday", starring Bruce Willis). Victoria Hancox - The Alchemist's Folly / Nighshift Two adult-facing horror choose-your-own adventure style books, that I've read this year. No dice required. Interesting experiments in non-linear fiction, by this self published author. Nightshift was her first book in this genre, and I enjoyed it enough to buy the new one (Alchemist's Folly, 2020). I think AF is actually the better book, and the plot (such as it is) which is 'get through the interview procedure at the (evil) company' is gloriously daft. The first book was wander-around-a-macabre-hospital complete with all the horror tropes. The thing I liked about these was the variety in the puzzles, from noting 'codewords' you'd picked up along the way, to calculating page numbers, to actually knowing some general knowledge. They feel a bit more substantial than the old Fighting Fantasy books.
  11. Just if anyone is interested in giving Call Of Cthulhu a go, there's some good stuff out there (for free) for the 7e rules. There are the Quickstart rules, including the classic beginner scenario The Haunting https://www.chaosium.com/content/FreePDFs/CoC/CHA23131 Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Quick-Start Rules.pdf And this video playlist gives an excellent overview of the complete rules, and a flavour of what play feels like (even if it feels like sometimes he talks rather quickly) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJmFJXf3BXjx-HGqco2c1BXUQnRlYmkZQ
  12. I've posted this photo to our Whatsapp group and the players. My players loved it (and are devastated that the authorities realised the gunshots were post-death, and that Maggie, who they killed as a zombie, was engaged).
  13. Well - two more sessions down and we've tackled The Edge Of Darkness (the old classic, as included in the new Starter Set). My three investigators fleshed out the backstories before we before this one began. We learned a bit more who Luke Chan (widowed), Rupert Knuckles (cook) and Heath (socialite) were. Again my players through themselves into this really well. Some gentle nudging of questions ("Who's back home?" "Are you married?" "Who do you care about?") and they were becoming more human characters that emerged. Into the scenario itself - the three investigators were asked to help an old friend, on his deathbed. As written there a few 'plot hooks' (or red herrings) that could provide springboards for further adventures... but what do you do if your investigators get a bit fixated on them, to the exclusion of the quest they're actually supposed to be on! In this session RK managed to getting himself banned from the Orne Library, and Luke broke into the reserved books section and stole De Vermiis Mysteriis (an arcane book that, according to the scenario as written, they shouldn't be able to get - but they were so insistent, and their efforts so entertaining, I decided to let them eventually succeed). They'd also befriended a Languages Lecturer, but managed to completely piss off the Head Librarian. They seemed they definitely didn't want to talk to the police about the mysterious death they'd learnt of - but DID want to tour local antique dealers, gun shops and introduce themselves to more and more n.p.c.s that I needed to ad lib. It was all rather good fun, although not desperately action-y, and they were planning to journey to New Orleans the next day when I finally called time on that evening. Before the next session I looked up the travel time to New Orleans (~48 hours) and decided there needed to be more urgency in the proceedings - hopefully to motivate them to actually carry out their friend's dying wish and investigate the hamlet a few miles away instead of looking for exotic art dealers in Louisiana! I was pleased to have the affronted librarian that RK had offended cause a scene in the street - and reintroduce their dying friends wife to tell them that he'd now died in hospital. This did the trick, and they cancelled their plans to visit New Orleans, instead visiting the farmhouse they 'should' have been heading towards. (Borrowing a car to get there, such was their urgency now). The people of the village near the farm were suspicious of outsiders, what with local Maggie having gone missing recently ... my investigators jumped to all kinds of conclusions about her being sacrificed, and headed to the farmhouse. As they investigated the farmhouse (at last) my jump-in-headfirst-cook started really taking damage, trying to climb into the attic was perilously close to him dying (though he didn't know it!). Eventually they performed the ritual - and killed two Zombies and a zombie racoon. The climax had Luke seeing a vision of his dead wife, and the Socialite having to be physically restrained by the Cook to stop him walking into the arms (mouth) of the creature that they were trying to banish. The same Cook he'd previously attacked when he went temporarily insane and saw him as his arch rival from back home. Somehow they all survived, albeit by the skin of their teeth - thanks to a couple of lucky rolls (not fudged rolls, I was perfectly prepared for one to die, and had a couple of characters on standby in case). We wrapped up the session discussing how they were going to explain the dead body of Maggie ( that they'd killed in Zombie form ). They decided they'd pin it on the hobo, (that they'd also killed as a Zombie), as they (rightly) thought the police would never believe the truth. Investigator development ensued and I shared a few snippets of information they didn't know about, so they learnt a bit more about the surrounding story. All told - a good couple of sessions - and again, the BRP Cthulhu 7edition is easy to get to grips with. Combat was new to my players, yet they soon got their head around it. And 'pushing' rolls in a narrative way was coming quite naturally to them. Especially when they were trying to concentrate on continuing their chant ("I try to block out the noise and smell by thinking about my latin master at school and focus on the pronunciation of the words!") Looking forward to Dead Man's Stomp next!
  14. Some of 2020's books for me. Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas - Adam Kay It's (slightly) more of the same (being more of The Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries Of A Junior Doctor). But this is a wafer thin pocket book, rather than a fully fledged book. Whereas that book felt genuinely enlightening, and upsetting, about the life of a Doctor, this really is the stuff that ended up on the editing room floor. It's .. fine. But the other book was essential. This really isn't. Gotta Get Theroux This - Louis Theroux His autobiography - with an understandable, but a bit distracting, focus on the documentary he made about Jimmy Saville. I like Louis generally, and it's easy to read this book in his voice, and imagine he's there with you. You don't learn loads about L.T. biographically, but focuses more on the making of his programmes. Fine for what it is. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley I first read this book about 30 years ago, but re-reading now I realised how funny it is, and how satirical and relevant it feels - not just with the society that is motivated by drugs and meaningless sex - and being predestined to be happy with their lot - but also on the focus on rampant consumerism. No new sports are encouraged without consideration of will they make people spend more, etc. It's interesting to read this 90 years after it was written and see how prescient it feels. Overland - Graham Rawle The best novel I've read in ages. Presented in an interesting landscape format, with pages at the 'top' being Overland - an idyllic fake town build to hide 'Underland' (which is written on the lower pages) - the Lockheed factory in Burbank, California in 1942. (This really happened). We're presented with four characters, meticulously woven into a funny, sad, uplifting and shocking book with beautiful writing. George designed the fake world 'Overland', Jimmy works in the factory below, Queenie is a starlet dreaming of success in Hollywood, and Kay is an American being persecuted for her Japanese heritage after Pearl Harbour. Their lives and that of 'Overland' all are tied together this beautiful novel. I can't recommend it enough. (Get the physical copy, rather than ebook though, I'd say - as the two worlds are separated by typefaces alone in the ebook - and the physical copy's layout adds a giddying dimension to the novel). Three Body Problem - Liu Cixin Proper Sci-Fi - but in part set in China against the 'cultural revolution' of the late 1960s. The 'sci' of the sci-fi is hard (as in hard sci-fi, that plays up the science). I really enjoyed this novel, in part through the interesting questions it raises about 'what if', but also how real it all sounded in the believable characters and the culturally interesting setting. I really appreciated the 'cast' of characters' listed at the start, that I occasionally had to refer back to - more books should have this. I don't want to spoil the plot, but I had this on a recommendation to me based upon my physics degree I think, but my enjoyment came from the characters and setting - and I don't think that a knowledge of anything specialised is required. It's all set on earth, and everything is well explained. I'm definitely intending to read the two sequels in this trilogy, so that speaks for itself (and not just because of the slight cliffhanger ending). House Of Leaves - Mark Z Danielewski I'd never read this, but had it sitting on my shelf for years. It's an amazing book, and I want lots of people I know to read it so I can discuss it with them! It might be a massive prank of a novel - with no 'solution', but it's certainly one that leaves you questioning what is 'real' in the story you've read. It might be a horror book. Or perhaps a romance. Or a mystery. But it is multilayered - does fascinating experimental things with layout and typefaces - and has three 'layers' (at least). Presented as a book put together by a hedonistic unreliable narrator, who has gathered together the writings of a blind old man, who has been writing about a documentary film he has watched and has been researching. With more footnotes that you can possibly imagine. The documentary concerns a house which doesn't seem to obey the laws of physics, and the blind man has been researching and philosophising on this. The compiler has his own problems, and finds the blind man's writings sending him further and further off the rails. And there are appendices. And 'editors' notes. And an index. And you know 'something' isn't right about what you're reading. Somethings don't add up. Or do. I understand why people have tried to pick this book apart and write on forums theorising who 'really' wrote it. And these ones I read as I joined a 'reading group' during lockdown to read then discuss books. None of these were my picks. Before The Coffee Gets Cold - Toshikazu Kawaguchi An intriguing premise - but stretched paper thin, and a written in a form that betrays its origins as a (one room) stageplay I thought. An arbitrary set of rules that allow limited time travel in a cafe, back to that cafe at an earlier time. I don't think I've ever read a translated book where the translator felt so audible and artless. Having looked up the translator, his pervious work appears to be solely in textbooks and instruction manual translation, and the writing here is so matter-of-fact it beggars belief. No effort is made to translate the pun-ny Japanese names of the characters - and cultural norms like Family Name, Given Name convention are inconsistently used. On the story itself, the 'four act' plotting of the story is very repetitive by the end - which is a shame in such a short book. It *does* ask some interesting questions, and at least one of the four stories is likely to emotionally resonate. But it isn't as good or important as it'd like to be I'm afraid. One Of Us Is Lying - Karen M McManus Crap. It just about kept me reading to find out 'who did it'. The author takes the character tropes from the Breakfast Club and puts them in a 'one room' murder mystery (detention) where they are all suspects. But unlike Agatha Christie one of the key bits of evidence is kept from the reader. When the character reveals the 'inconsistency' they'd noticed I went back and checked - the reader had never had that shown to them, so despite feeling like a 'whodunnit' it really isn't. The author also writes each paragraph/chapter from a different suspects point of view - which would have been better if they had any unique 'voice' to them, but they all sound identical. Crap. I might have enjoyed it if I was 14. Might. You Me Everything - Catherine Isaac Richard & Judy book club choice, apparently. Hmm. It's actually pretty well written, passably entertaining throughout but leans of cliched characters a lot. It's an entertaining enough chic-flick of a book, but hit home rather harder with me than I'd imagined it would have, thanks to the main character going through the pain of watching her mother die through a neurological disease. I watched my own dad do this a couple of months ago, so I found it very resonating and upsetting - but mileage may vary on that score. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini I may be pissing on other people's favourite book here, but I only found this only okay. It felt like the three distinct sections (Childhood in Kabul, America, Return to Afghanistan) were quite different. The nostalgic first section was likeable enough and felt like a dreamy travelogue through idyllic lands, America was slightly 'culture clash' comedy but also a bit boring, and the last section was Action! Adventure! Heroics! Explosions! Guns! Fights! The overcooked demonisation of the Taliban - making their local head being a sociopathic sadistic paedophile neo-nazi who vocally supported Hitler - was a bit over-the-top I thought. Yes, I get it, ... you're making them the baddies - they don't have to be cartoon evil villain. It was pacy though, and easy to read. I've not seen the film to compare, and this didn't make me want to watch it.
  15. I was going to echo this (and offer sympathies). My Dad had Parkinson's dementia, and whilst he didn't necessarily play competitively, he did enjoy being involved. So something simple like Catan, or Carcassonne was just about manageable. "Sprawlopolis" is solo/coop and excellent - if rather harder than you might be looking for for your dad. Same makers and form factor (18 cards) as "circle the wagons", mentioned. "DDay dice" is a fun solo/coop dice roller (yahzee style). Both of these stand up to being played with a lot of thought as a solo puzzle - but more casually as something to see how badly you do, without giving it too much thought. You'll know your dad best, of course - but might be enjoy the storytelling of "Sherlock Holmes consulting detective"? You'll spend your time just discussing the case with him.
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