Game Title: Occam’s Razor
Publisher: Stygian Fox Publishing
Author: Brian M. Sammons
Illustrations: Henriette Boldt and George Cotronis
Genre: Anthology of seven modern horror adventures for Call of Cthulhu
Pages: 156 pages
MSRP: $19.95 for the PDF at DriveThruRPG
Occam’s Razor features multiple modern scenarios for the Call of Cthulhu game. Each scenario goes in depth and features a new story, characters, maps, and a reward and repercussions system. The last set of pages has handouts, maps, and pre-generated characters provided.
The first scenario titled “A Whole Pack Of Trouble” does come with a content warning detailing mental and physical abuse as well as a multitude of death situations. Players begin by involving the investigators that are hired to look for a group of students from a college’s film school. Players are given information about a missing film student named Kyle and begin their investigation. To really set the scene, movies are listed that have similar themes for players to watch before playing.
Players will act as the investigators in this scenario but can choose to use an alternate way to play as provided. The setting will be at Windsor College during spring break with the majority of staff and students absent. Campus police will be present as well as the occasional straggling student or staff member. These will be some of your obstacles. Players will be able to find papers that can be collected for the investigation. Along the way, optional events showcasing foreshadowing can be followed. Players will get to sneak into buildings and explore with a map provided and will encounter terrifying obstacles. During these explorations, players can search and collect supplies. Information regarding rewards and repercussions as well as NPC’s are provided at the end of the scenario.
The next scenario called “Eye Of The Beholder” deals with such content like assault, kidnapping, and mental illness. This adventure follows the investigators and their journey finding a young woman named Amy Lagan who has not been seen within the last five days. Players can choose to play the angle of being friends of Amy’s looking for her for their own reasons or they can be hired by Amy’s family. Players will receive information on Amy and her last known whereabouts. Investigators will meet many obstacles such as having to gain entry into Amy’s apartment, searching the museum of art and will be collecting papers along the way. Investigators will also have to research various topics at the library as an integral component in their investigation. As players’ findings come to fruition, they will have to make choices that could lead to rewards or repercussions. Maps and information on NPC’s are provided.
“Frozen Footsteps” is another adventure players can journey that deals with cannibalism, inbreeding, historical abuse and sexual assault:(against NPC’s, offscreen),murder, and trauma. This adventure is a self-starter and begins innocently until the players notice something amiss. This scenario contains artifacts, books, and elements that relate to the Cthulhu Mythos. Included is a short history lesson on the background of Lake Superior as this will be pertinent to the setting. Once again, listed is a set of movies to watch to give background on the slasher theme. Players will receive papers with pertinent information regarding the investigation. Players can be expected to encounter mass graves, obstruction by weather, and searching through cabins. Information on NPC’s and a map of the campground are provided.
The scenario “Dark And Deep” will have players encountering graphic descriptions of torture porn like death and rape. The adventure begins with investigators somehow catching wind of a disturbing video. Investigators will begin by analyzing the footage and picking out known landmarks. Depending on how investigators obtained the video, the source of the footage should be determined by the Keeper, for instance if there is a note or other message attached separate from the film. Players will want to quickly identity the victim and move forward. Subsequent background information on the victim will lead investigators to tracking down associates. Gaining information will largely be based on skill and how players choose to approach their interrogation tactics. These tactics will determine rewards and repercussions for players. A map and NPC information will be available.
The following adventure “Visions From Beyond” will cover drug use, animal death, and potential assault. This adventure will take place during the winter season and players should choose an investigator who either has an educational occupation or is close to the family of the missing. Players will begin by receiving a frantic phone call from James (Jimmy) Weiter, a sophomore at Windsor College. Players will learn about James’ background and interest of the occult. Investigators will travel to the college campus and begin their journey. After talking to fellow classmates, investigators will gain new leads and insights into their search of James. During this investigation, players will have a map and NPC information. Like the other adventures, rewards and repercussions will be determined by player action and the outcome. The Keeper may choose an alternate ending if they please.
The scenario “The Watchers” features mental illness and will act as a lesson for investigators to learn how to handle mysterious circumstances. Investigators will quickly learn not to assume, and will need to be cautious about those they trust. The victim in this adventure is a woman named Linda Lopez that is dealing with mental illness. Players must be able to see the difference between a sufferer of mental illness and someone that thrives on hurting others. Players will need the mindset of being open and understanding of Linda’s mental state. Investigators will meet with Linda and learn her background. Clues to Linda’s disorder will be sprinkled throughout until the conclusion where investigators decide what to do with this information and how to approach her. The Keeper may add a dose of Mythos into the scenario as they wish. Throughout the adventure players will need to convince Linda at times and will need to think strategically as this will affect a players’ rewards and repercussions.
“A Cleansing Flame” deals with stalking, harassment, murder, trauma, and graphic harm to animals. This adventure works best if one or more of the investigators has a personal connection to the case. If this is true, players will need to establish this early on in the campaign as the character of Jason Seeley will be someone investigators are really close to. This scenario will be set between September and November, preferably close to October 31st. Investigators will collect newspaper clippings as well as other papers throughout. Players will begin the investigation by visiting the crime scene and will need to find a way to extract information from those mingling around. For this adventure, players are expected to break into offices, question others to gain as much information as possible, research and collect additional information through paper evidence and library access, and lastly take down the suspect. The Keeper will determine the conclusion and has room to be creative. Rewards and Repercussions will be determined by player action.
Occam’s Razor depicts dark thematic choices that will heavily influence player decisions. This particular set of adventures covers realistic elements with small occult components featured throughout. Players will need to make decisions with an open mind and creative liberty. Plenty of extra side information is provided for background or to help players feel more encompassed in environment. This might include movie recommendations or a music playlist, and insight into real places. Each scenario leaves room for the Keeper to insert their own ideas into the investigations to throw off players. The set itself does not feature much of the Cthulhu theme, thus, can be a little disappointing for those expecting a heavy influence of Mythos. The themes for each scenario can be disturbing so I would recommend either toning it down or making sure players are comfortable with what’s expected. Overall, the set contains seven short adventures for those that prefer shorter campaigns, and is plenty entertaining with small dosages of occult themes throughout.
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