Dateline: Lovecraft, Issue 1
I’m perpetually on the search for Call of Cthulhu supplements, props… you-name-it. If it pertains to the tabletop roleplaying game, chances are I want to have a look it at. In my most recent search for new and cool stuff, Dateline: Lovecraft caught my attention on Twitter.
Imagine a complete fictionalized newspaper from our beloved Arkham. Well, that’s what you get with Dateline: Lovecraft. There is more to it than that so let me explain. Dateline: Lovecraft is a unique and new type of product from the creative geniuses at Cthulhu Reborn (publisher of Convicts and Cthulhu). This system agnostic product is both a game table prop and a potential gold mine of scenario hooks and drips with thematic goodness. It is also what Cthulhu Reborn calls a “self-perpetuating Product Line”, which simply means that they will be creating and releasing (for free) additional material inspired by the material contained in the Dateline: Lovecraft series. More on that at the end of this review.
What do you actually get once you make your purchase on DriveThruRPG? The product comes with two PDF files. The first file is the 12-page newspaper and the other is a 59-page Guidebook. I’ll briefly outline both of these.
The newspaper itself is a beautifully crafted, realistic-looking newspaper from the 1920s. Dateline: Lovecraft Issue #1 features a print date of 15 October 1928. As you can imagine all of the articles, news tidbits, and advertisements are full of period flavor from the fictitious town of Arkham. There is more than meets the eye with this PDF. The publisher has enabled several “layers” allowing game masters to control the look and feel of the newspaper. See the infographic below for a preview of the layer options available. The newspaper is also fully searchable for those that need or want that feature.
l have also obtained a physical copy of Dateline: Lovecraft Issue #1 and wow! The physical newspaper is just amazing. The physical dimensions are roughly 19″ x 13″. The paper quality is fantastic, though it is a tad thicker than modern-day newsprint. This is a good thing as means it will stand up to more wear and tear at the table. As you can see from the image below, the coloration of the paper is like that a freshly printed newspaper, light bleed-through and all. Which in my opinion, makes it much easier to read and gives a very authentic look and feel.
In addition to the newspaper, Dateline: Lovecraft Issue #1 includes a guidebook that adds articles, campaign framework, scenario(s) featuring clippings included in the newspaper, and several important pieces of information for the game master. As you clearly see listed below, the guidebook is just that, a guide on how to make the most of the newspaper.
- A how-to guide for the various printing options
- A how-to guide for using the “layer” feature
- Explanation of the clipping identification scheme
- Visual clipping map to find what you’re looking for
- A complete index to every clipping using the clipping ID system
- Article “Nine Ways to Use [or Abuse] the News” (Some great pointers here!)
- A campaign framework to get game masters started
- Several fully fleshed out scenarios
The book is nicely laid out in black and white with color (mostly sepia tones) covers and a nice array of quality art pieces. The art really helps to set the tone and convey the Mythos vibe nicely. The mark of a good book is, does it make the game master’s life easier and it is user-friendly. This guide book meets both of those ideals. The Table of Contents is nice done and the how-to guides are very easy to understand. Both of these contribute immensely to the easy navigation of the book. The PDF and physical book are Not identical. The PDF is 59 pages with the added scenario To Touch the Untouchable and the physical book is 98 pages with the two additional scenarios, Help Wanted and Smoke Green.
All four scenarios are fully developed and purposely designed to be short investigative stories that make extensive use of the Dateline: Lovecraft Issue #1 newspaper itself (physical or digital). So, depending on which version of the product you get, will dictate which scenarios you have access too. But wait, there is good news for digital owners! Keep reading.
I previously mentioned that this will be a “self-perpetuating Product Line”, wherein Cthulhu Reborn intends to release additional products for free under the Pay What You Want (PWYW) model, using this “base” product. Owners of the digital version do, in fact, have access to the other two scenarios that are included in the physical book. Both scenarios, Help Wanted and Smoke Green are available for download at DriveThruRPG. A newer fourth scenario, Spoiled Milk, is also available for download at DriveThruRPG. The three downloadable scenarios are sold under the Pay What You Want model.
Who’s this product for? It’s for any game master that loves props and who is looking for a source of inspiration for their Mythos or investigative horror game. As a system-independent resource, Dateline: Lovecraft can be used for a wide variety of roleplaying games, not just Call of Cthulhu. If you’re looking to use it as an at-the-table prop, you’re going to want to pick up the physical copy, it’s impressive! If you are the type of game master that doesn’t do at-the-table props, you can easily take advantage of the digital version and print only those bits that pertinent to your game.
I am going to go out of my way to find interesting ways to include Dateline: Lovecraft in my future Mythos games. I can honestly see myself running the scenarios available as well as using the newspaper content as the nexus for creating my own scenarios.
Okay, I’m switching off the fanboy mode. This is a genuinely useful and resource-rich gaming accessory that anyone who runs Mythos or investigative horror games will want to check out. There is immense value here for a very fair retail price. I’m excited to see what the future holds for the Dateline: Lovecraft product line.
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