Cat’s Cradle – A Miskatonic Repository Review [Call of Cthulhu]

Cat’s Cradle

Authors: Aaron Sinner, Todd Walden, and Christopher Olson
Publisher: Ruined Relic Games
Page Count: 54
Available Formats: PDF
PDF (DTRPG) – $3.99

The Chapel of Contemplation may be gone, but its legacy continues. Rumors and whispers of Walter Corbitt and his blasphemous house resurface. It has been over a year since those events, and now strange connections to its past are springing up. How can this be? Why now? Could it be linked to those strange dreams you’ve been having?

Cat’s Cradle is a sequel to Chaosium’s introductory scenario, The Haunting. It reunites investigators to their Mythos dealings with The Chaple of Contemplation. Is something sinister a foot or empty shadows from the past?

Note: Ruined Relic Games provided Rolling Boxcars with a review copy for this article. Please visit our Product Review Request page if you have an item you’d like Rolling Boxcars to review.

Though designed as a sequel, Cat’s Cradle also works as a standalone scenario. Investigators need not be connected to the events of The Haunting to enjoy. Though to get the most impact out of this scenario, I highly recommend using it as a sequel.

The scenario begins in 1921 with the Investigators meeting at the Shortstack Diner in Boston, MA, one year after the events of The Haunting. Three character hooks are provided if running the scenario as a sequel or two hooks if a standalone. All hooks lead to the diner gathering. If any  Investigators were present for The Haunting, they have had a recurring nightmare over the last several weeks. While dining, rumors, and clues begin to circulate. Odd behaviors from the local children and half-heard conversations stir the investigators’ interests—hints of the past, connections to The Chapel of Contemplation, persistent nightmares, and signs of trouble.

The bulk of the scenario is an investigation—a web of clues spread throughout the Boston area. There is no set timeline, so Investigators can take their time while those in a hurry will find themselves unprepared for what awaits them. That is not to say they have all the time in the world. A crucial part of the scenario will trigger once something is revealed, and then time is of the essence. Cat’s Cradle is a sandbox where Investigators are free to follow the clues in whichever direction they please—casually gathering information until the climax of the scenario.

A connection that ties the investigators together, even if they are strangers, is their nightly terrors. All the investigators, whether they begin the scenario having nightmares or develop them later, will succumb at some point. A grouping of nightmare handouts from disturbing to severe is provided in the handout section. There is enough for five characters, the suggested limit for the scenario.

From the initial location, the diner, the investigators will have several avenues to explore, with each destination leading to more. A visual aid, beautifully illustrated as a bulletin board-style clue trail with push-pin marked locations and string connecting them, aids the Keeper as the investigators move from breadcrumb to breadcrumb. Good sleuthing skills and thick sole shoes are the investigators’ best friends.

The investigation and clue trails are solid and well thought out. Even the dead ends are addressed and tied up nicely for the Keeper. Each location is well organized, briefly described with a clear direction into the Investigators’ following possible locations, and bolded game mechanics for quick referencing.

The Keeper is encouraged to personalize the horror from the investigators’ backgrounds. The use of “Knife Theory” is encouraged. It is a method popularized and promoted on Reddit for generating backstory using a series of knives in the back of the character’s history that the gamemaster can use against the player character. Cat’s Cradle provides a list of tailored “Knives” for the players to tie into their character’s backstory.

Cat’s Cradle introduces two new spells to Call of Cthulhu and a couple of new variants to those found in the main rulebook. All are to be used against the investigators. The scenario also presents some very nasty horrors the investigators hopefully will sidestep or are well-armed if encountered.

There are several published connecting scenarios to The Haunting. Cat’s Cradle joins a host of many and incorporates ways it can fit within the patchwork of materials. These included Of Wrath and Blood by Jon Hook, Dream House by Evan Perlman, The Haunting Handout Pack by Ivo Eduardo Zanin, The Star on the Shore by New Comet Games, and “The Chapel of Contemplation,” The Unspeakable Oath #18. With each of the above items, Cat’s Cradle provides guidelines on incorporating itself with the established material if played before or after their events. This isn’t a guide to connect scenarios but a way to keep consistency among the information handed out or already known to the Investigators.

 Final Thought

My initial gut reaction to discovering Cat’s Cradle was a sequel to The Haunting was less than enthusiastic, but my attitude quickly changed. Much of the credit is owed to its compelling underlining plot, its great use of clue trails, and its entertaining connection to the Investigators’ past mythos history. Its easy-to-read and well-presented handouts and a sprinkling of illustrations throughout though sparse, enhance its play. Cat’s Cradle incorporated itself well into existing campaigns, whether planned or not. If you’ve run The Haunting for your group, and at least one of their Investigators still continues to dabble in mythos-related investigations, adding Cat’s Cradle to the mix will dredge up echoes from their past while providing you and your group an entertaining evening, or two, of excellent gaming experience.

~Stephen Pennisi

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