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Trail of Cthulhu: The Dead White World

The Dead White World

This book contains the first three adventures of a twelve-part campaign, Cthulhu Apocalypse that presents an horrific end-time in which life on earth is almost wiped out to be replaced by Mythos creatures. Only the Investigators stand in the way of utter disaster...

Five pre-generated Investigators are provided (in somewhat narrative form, best to transfer them to regular character sheets before giving them out), or players may create their own. Some advice for certain aspects of the characters is given. Everyone starts on a train going to Dover, with many intending to go to a wedding there. Next, the supporting cast of NPCs is listed, with brief notes and ideas for how to role-play them effectively including mannerisms and style of speech. This preparatory section also includes some notes on game mechanics specific to this campaign. One neat trick is that along with a hook, each adventure begins with a question. It is suggested that this question is read out to the group, giving direction as to what they ought to be investigating.

The first adventure is Dead White World, which begins with a train journey, is punctuated by an earthquake, and ends up with a large proportion of the world's population dead or dying. The question, unsurprisingly, is What caused this apocalypse. Opening with the Investigators regaining consciouness and realising that the train they were travelling in has crashed, they are soon plunged into an eerie world where everyone that they find is already dead. And there are these strange white flowers everywhere...

Rather oddly, after leading the Investigators around Dover as they try to find out what is going on, the final clues are to be found on a ship. Yet the adventure ends with them back on land and finding a Royal Mail van... there's no hint about how to get them on shore (more earthquakes and the cliffs falling into the sea never mind what else is going on is, to my mind, an invitation to seek sea room not return to the land), yet that's where the next adventure begins.

The next adventure is Letters From Ghosts and revolves around letters from recently deceased friends and family of the Investigators that are found in the aforementioned Royal Mail van. How did they get there? That's the question. The entire clue chain comes over as rather forced and requires the Investigators to take a precise series of actions to end up where it is intended that they should go. On the plus side, there is a marvellous opportunity to mess with your Investigators' heads. Use it to full effect. It's all really a bit strange, even given the overall premise, but persevere: there are clues to be found and places to visit, even survivors to meet... ultimately Blackpool, the setting for the third adventure.

The final adventure in this book (remember there are more to come in the campaign) is Sandgrown. The earlier clues have led the Investigators to believe that they have to go to Blackpool to stop an invasion - the question being, how? Here, they find some more folk who have survived so far (or have they?) and eventually, after a few mind-blowing sights, discover the awful truth of the one way in which they can stop the invasion.

The whole thing is a slightly uneasy mix of very little direction yet expecting the Investigators to go to specific places and take an interest in particular things. The underlying concept is excellent if a bit final. The world as you knew it has most definitely ended, there's no changing that. Resources are good, and there are some really inventive ideas here. With the right group, you could have an epic and memorable campaign on your hands.

Return to The Dead White World page.

Reviewed: 7 February 2017