This massive tome is all about exploration, about mounting expeditions to the furthest-flung corners of the world - and being Trail of Cthulhu finding stuff that it might be better to leave undisturbed. There are a full ten complete adventures to keep your Investigators out of mischief, as well as loads of information about running expeditions in your game, whether you use these adventures or come up with your own.
The adventures provided can be woven into a regular campaign as you see fit, perhaps planning ahead and foreshadowing the need to go exploring - or dropping it on the party suddenly as prefered. Or perhaps your group are professional explorers, and travel in search of interesting places to go... they will find them here with expeditions to outer Mongolia, Rhodesia (the place now called Zimbabwe), underwater in Bermuda, Paraguay (in the middle of a war with Bolivia of course), the Yutacán, the Punjab in India, Greenland, New Guinea (head-hunter territory, of course), Ireland and a remote South Sea island. Neatly, the page with which Mythos monsters are involved with each adventure is kept away from the adventure summaries, so you can show them to your players if they are wondering where to go... assuming, that is, you are giving their characters any choice in the matter.
The next section is GUMSHOE Expeditions, which presents a subsystem for running expeditions using GUMSHOE (the underpinning ruleset for Trail of Cthulhu). It looks at ways of using an expedition to enhance the excitement of your game without getting bogged down in how many cans of corned beef and toilet rolls you need to take along with you. You don't need to play out every minute of the journey, yet you do want to give the party the feeling that they've been travelling far and for a long time, so there are methods for modelling that using the concept of the Tour - the overall time you expect the trip to take once the party leaves the last vestiges of civilisation. Then you divide that into travel increments, handling each one separately. Each increment will include some 'stock footage' narration of what they are travelling through, an assessment of how much of their resources are used up, and at least one scene where you can play out notable events along the way. There's a fair bit of material about expedition costs and arrangements, but for game play it's all abstracted down to a Survival Pool which represents the expedition's total resources: food and other consumables, staff (apart from the Investigators), vehicles or animals and the rest. This gets depleted as the expedition progresses. Unless you really love resource management, this is a neat way of modelling it while focussing on the real meat of the adventure, the dealing with whatever Mythos monster or plot the party is up against.
It's not a completely-mechanical abstraction, though. There are various challenges to deal with, which can be played out or boiled down to appropriate die rolls depending on taste, while different terrains exact different costs against the expedition's Survival Pool. Whatever the reason for the attrition, once the Survival Pool drops to a low level the group begins to run out of supplies... then they'll have to replenish their stocks or begin to starve. The Nythos is not all that you have to fear!
Then comes a section on Expeditions and the Artmitage Inquiry. This covers the supposition that at least one Investigator works at Arkham University (or at least, at a university), and gives some ideas about how to run a campaign based around, or at least including, academic expeditions. With notes on the academic environment (mostly accurate... she says, writing this review during a lunch break at a university!), suitable NPCs and ideas for the sort of trips academics are likely to make, this is an excellent resource for the academically-inclined, and could provide the basis for a whole campaign if that takes your fancy.
And then it's on to the adventures themselves. Presented in standard fashion, beginning with a Hook, the Spine and the Horrible Truth - or how to get the Investigators involved, an outline of the course of the adventure and information about what is really going on - each comes with a wealth of information to aid you in presenting the setting and running the adventure effectively, including the numbers to punch into your Survival Pool calculations. Maps, encounters, NPCs and more are all here... each could fill an entire review on its own, so suffice to say that if the concept of an expedition in true Indiana Jones style appeals, then rush out to get this book!
The material on running expeditions and on the university setting are excellent, and the adventures show just what can be made from these resources. This is an outstanding addition to the Trail of Cthulhu line.
Return to Mythos Expeditions page.
Reviewed: 21 April 2017