Sun Spots: A Call of Cthulhu Adventure
Not far from the hustle and bustle of snow-engulfed Boston in the sunny resort town of Red Valley, sun-worshippers are enjoying unseasonably warm weather in February. One of those sun-worshippers, Susan Petersen, daughter of the very concerned Daniel Petersen, has left college to join a new church at the mountain resort. Despite pleas from her father to return to school, she resists. The investigators are to accompany Mr. Petersen to Red Valley to bring his daughter back. Mr. Petersen, who briefly visited there in a failed attempt to bring her home, recounts for the investigators the immoral activities taking place in Red Valley like co-ed lodging and public bathing. Certainly not a proper environment for any young lady of 1926. But Red Valley problems are more than just immoral activities and an errant daughter. It’s up to the investigators to sort things out.
Sun Spots takes place in the roaring twenties; February 1926 to be exact. It’s broken up into three acts beginning with getting the players quickly on their way to Red Valley; using a flashback to conduct initial research into Susan Petersen. The reason the scenario starts this way is so players don’t get bogged down in research and can get to the good stuff quickly. Once the investigators arrive in Red Valley, finding Susan and convincing her to return with her father is not as easy as it sounds. The Investigators soon realize that this mountain resort is attracting sun-worshipping cults. The investigators have the townsfolk at their disposal in this sandbox-style scenario to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, the keeper will be keeping careful watch as events transpire, leading up to the eventual climax of the scenario. Investigators trying to leave with or without Susan will find it difficult. But why would they? The sun is shining and it’s so warm for February.
This well-written scenario is fun to run or play in. Players will enjoy the free form style to explore without feeling lead. For Keepers, the scenario contains the investigators with interesting locations and NPCs to pass on clues to solve the mystery. If you don’t mind spoiling the scenario or wish to know how it plays, the troupe over at Skype of Cthulhu recorded their session through Sun Spots.
As great as this scenario is Sun Spots came close to not getting published. Author Dave Sokolowski began developing Sun Spots after answering Keith “Doc” Herber call for submissions for his new publishing house Miskatonic River Press in 2007. “Doc” liked Dave’s idea and slated it to appear in a collection that was never published; due to Keith’s untimely passing in 2009. Before Keith’s death, the two worked together to develop most of Sun Spots. Fast forward to 2011 and Dave was eager to finish what he had started. He regained the legal rights to the manuscript and worked to complete it. For a time Dave retooled the scenario to work with Graham Walmsley’s Cthulhu Dark which he planned to fund through Kickstarter. Once it was ready and headed to Kickstarter, his 2nd, Michael O’Brien from Chaosium contacted him and asked if he would be interested in publishing Sun Spots for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. Mr. Sokolowski agreed and reworked the adventure once again to have it finally publish through a successful Kickstarter in 2017 under a Chaosium license — honoring the work that he and Keith “Doc” Herber started 10 years earlier.
As I mentioned before, it’s a great scenario and a lot of fun. My only gripe about Sun Spots is its physical presentation. The PDF is over 100 pages for a single scenario that should take about 6 to 8 hours to play through. The page count is needlessly bloated with wide margins and two-columns of text. Little design is given to the copy to make it stands out. Finding information on the fly is difficult and requires a lot of page-turning and searching within. Keepers will need a good memory or craft their own notes to recall elements quickly. In reality, the scenario could fit within 20-30 pages with full-page art which by the way are fantastic.
Contributing to the book’s bloat are three appendices. The first appendix contains an extra location to conduct research at the start of the scenario. It was originally left out for reason explained in a Sun Spot Keeper Kit—sold separately. The second appendix assists the keeper in moving the scenario to another era. Reading through Sun Spots I could see this moving to the late 60s/early 70s with the hippy counter-culture movement and the rise in cults. The third appendix lists all the NPCs fully stated up.
Other than my opinion on the page count, Sun Spots is a great scenario to run for your group. It has all the great Call of Cthulhu elements that anyone would want; research, NPC interaction, cults, Mythos tomes, and outer gods. Sun Spots could be completed in one or two sessions of play. It’s versatile enough to adjust to another era quite easily. If Keith “Doc” Herber thought it was good enough to publish then it’s good enough bring it to your table to enjoy.
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