Publisher: Sentinel Hill Press
Authors: Aleolex, L. T. Barker, Evan Van Elkins, Dean Engelhardt, Chris Huth, Bret Kramer, and Ben Wenham
Year: 2017 (originally released in 2013)
Players: It’s for an RPG, so two or more
Ages: 14+ (My opinion)
Playing Time: Ongoing
Genre: Call of Cthulhu magazine
Retail Price: PDF $8.00; Special softcover and PDF bundle through DriveThruRPG $13.00
I’ll note the fine folks at Sentinel Hill Press were kind enough to send along a physical copy of the Gazette for review.
Readers may recall I thoroughly enjoyed the third issue of The Arkham Gazette when I encountered it last year. The overall theme of the issue was Witchcraft in Lovecraft Country and plenty of great info, as well as a rather long and quite interesting Call of Cthulhu adventure, was included within its pages. Now the first issue of the Gazette has been revamped for rerelease nearly four years after it originally appeared online.
The contents of the first issue’s seventy-five pages include:
- A guide to useful locations in Arkham from published scenarios
- The Gladding School – an institution for mentally impaired children and other ‘undesirables’
- An in-depth look at Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New-English Canaan
- An Encounter on West Armitage Street – a scene you can insert into a scenario
- Arkham’s Boundary Markers, a historical New England oddity
- The Case of the Missing Manhole Covers – a scenario seed
- Reports of Delusions of an Invisible Monster – a prop document
- Arkham’s Diners, a guide to a distinctively New England style of eatery
- Arkham’s Curios, odd items, mysterious and malign, to use in your games
- Scenario – “The Bosworth House”, wherein madness creeps just beneath the surface
- Annotated list of the more than 50 Arkham-set Scenarios
For the most part each of these articles are well written, with some being certainly more useful to Call of Cthulhu Keepers than others; the extended look at the Mythos tome Thaumaturgical Prodigies in the New-English Canaan as well as various curios which could be included in your adventures makes for interesting reading while the ten pages devoted to a handful of diners/greasy spoons in Arkham comes across as a bit of filler. Likewise, the piece regarding The Gladding School is chock full of nuggets to mine for any CofC game while the scenario seeds are throwaway at best.
The nineteen page scenario The Bosworth House is an interesting tale (with plenty of nicely produced handouts) yet the biggest wrinkle to the adventure – one of the investigators’ experiences in the house will be much different than those of the others – strikes me as something which sounds good in theory only to turn out rather difficult, or clunky, to execute around the gaming table. I do like the overall vibe of the story and the fact the Keeper has a good number of options as far as wrapping it up.
I also found it strange this issue’s PDF revision became available in January yet the statistics of the content haven’t been converted to the 7th edition rules for Call of Cthulhu. While I understand this revamp has quite a lot more material than the original, wouldn’t converting everything to the new rule book have been one of the first priorities? The PDFs for the latest Call of Cthulhu had been out for over a year when this Gazette went to press. It also doesn’t help that the issue is supposed to have a downloadable PDF with the conversions but I was unable to find a link to it.
I surely don’t meant to imply the revised first issue of The Arkham Gazette isn’t worth a purchase. There’s a good deal of useful material for most Keepers, especially those who base a lot of their CofC adventures in and around the town of Arkham. Plus, eight dollars for the seventy-five page PDF is a fair price. I won’t say the Gazette is a must buy for gamers who don’t utilize Arkham much as a backdrop in their campaigns though, since the entire issue revolves around the town.
All in all, the revised first issue of The Arkham Gazette is simply pretty good but not great; for every couple of useful articles I seemed to find one which was fairly *meh* for lack of a better word. I certainly understand the original issue released in 2013 and was essentially the first time up to the plate for the gang at Sentinel Hill Press. The third Arkham Gazette is excellent and it’s readily apparent to readers how far the small publishing company has come in just a few years when looking at this issue. While number one doesn’t necessarily stand out, it’s certainly worth a purchase for most Keepers if even only in PDF.