Sentinel Hill Press
Is your Call of Cthulhu game located in Lovecraft Country? Does it need more depth and variety? Either way, this review is for you. In this review, we’re going to look at the Arkham Gazette magazine, specifically issue number 2. Though some of my general comments could apply to all the issues in this series, there are specifically directed at this issue. I normally have a full blow format which I use for reviews, but I am changing it up for this review. Magazines are little more free-form when it comes to reviews so, bear with me, please.
Sentinel Hill Press (SHP) publishes the Arkham Gazette, a series of lengthy print and digital magazines that focus almost exclusively on the fictitious towns in Lovecraft Country and are geared specifically for the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. All issues have a predominant theme and you can expect the content each issue to rigorously conform to the theme. The theme of Arkham Gazette, Issue 2, is Innsmouth. At the time of this review, this issue is currently available only in PDF. I am told by the publisher that a Print On Demand option will soon be available through DriveThruRPG.
Available at DrivethruRPG:
Arkham Gazette, Issue 2
The PDF version of the magazine is a whopping 117 pages cover to cover! With internet zines, all the rage these days, a lengthy, more traditional magazine is breath of fresh air. Originally published in November 2013; it has since been revised and republished in March 2018. The overall presentation and layout of the magazine is fantastic. The layout has an early Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game look and feel. Enthusiasts of Chaosium’s earlier works will appreciate the care taken with the layout. The imagery used throughout is both thematically appropriate and really does enhance the reading experience. The use of “call out” boxes to highlight important supplemental details within articles is a nice touch. Too often publishers go overboard with these “call out” boxes and they become easily ignored. SHP’s use is done in such a way that it supports and enhances the article, without detracting from it.
This issue contains 16 articles covering various topics such as an in-depth look at Innsmouth’s burying grounds, how Polynesian history plays a part in Innsmouth’s own past, and a look at some Innsmouth specific curios; to name just a few. Those and all the other articles give this issue depth and diversity. Issue 2 also contains a fully developed and playtested scenario that puts Innsmouth at its center. Drawn from the Water has a very classic scenario feel to it. A local artist named Michael Walton has disconnected from his family and friends and has fallen off the grid. It would seem that Michael has gone missing and the clues lead to Innsmouth. Investigators will learn what has compelled Michael to abandon family and friends, but can they intervene and save him in time? You’ll have to read the scenario, better yet play it, to learn the fate of Michael Walton and how Innsmouth takes center stage.
I could ramble on continuously detailing every facet of each article, but that is not the point of this review. Rather, I want to highlight my favorite articles and give you an idea why I enjoyed them.
Favorite Article #1: Deep Background: Innsmouth’s Burying Grounds. The owner of the Arkham Gazette, Brett Kramer, has a deep passion for including historically accurate information in his writings and this article is no exception. He also has a well-known interest in old cemeteries and burying grounds. His writings, descriptions, and details are inspired by real new England burying grounds; as such, if you didn’t know any better you would think you were reading a historical summary of a real-life cemetery. As a student of history, I have a real appreciation for these types of articles. They really give locations like Innsmouth depth and character; more than you’re likely to find in other publications. Each entry is a glimpse into the cemetery’s origins and prominence with some great factoids that keepers can use to really make them standout focal pieces.
Favorite Article #2: Annotated Scenario Bibliography: Innsmouth and Deep Ones. I am the type of keeper that likes to use locations as either a base of operations or as a recurring location within my games. Having a resource like this at my fingertips has immense game-related value to me. Especially if I wanted to use either Innsmouth or the Deep One menace as a recurring theme in future games. Being a fan of pre-made scenarios, this article alone provides readers with a list of 15 previously published scenarios, to include where it was originally published, summary, featured locations, entities, tomes, and other notes on each. The bibliography also contains a second list of globe-spanning scenarios know to include Deep Ones. As I mentioned, this is a useful resource for Keepers.
If you’re looking to add a little more depth to your Lovecraft Country game or just looking for inspiration for your next game, The Arkham Gazette is a magazine to have in your Call of Cthulhu toolbox. Issue 2, specifically, is well written and very well produced. The articles all conform to the theme, but yet there is a sense of adaptability. That sense of adaptability implies that most of the articles can be easily used as a source of inspiration or easily adapted to other locations in or out of Lovecraft Country. This is what makes it an all-around valuable asset for Keepers and Players alike. in any Call of the Cthulhu toolbox.
Other Arkham Gazette Reviews:
A Look Under the Hood; Arkham Gazette #1
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