Posted on May 4, 2011 by spikexan
Available at RPGNow.com
Castle Bravo is a tightly focused adventure for Trail of Cthulhu that ties together halfbreed mutants, nuclear bomb testing, and more sanity-blasting goodness. According to the product page on RPGNow.com, this adventure didn’t just go through an in-house playtest. It also went through some actual tabletop playtesting at Dreamation 2010. I mention this only because I enjoy games heavily linked to playtesting (Chad Underkoffler’s Zorcerer of Zo comes to mind). While this game only shows the finished product, it stands as an excellent example of how a well-polished adventure can look.
The layout and artwork of this adventure stays in line with the Trail of Cthulhu line. The artwork is a mix of real photos mixed with strange artistic renditions. In most games, I honestly wouldn’t like the look; however, it is the perfect mix for this setting. The setting is the “real” world where sometimes things from the wildest imaginations of madmen come to be.
Huguenin’s artwork and art direction find a great fit as Navy men struggle to stand against two distinct races of Mythos creature and a damn interesting villain who feels a little bit like the Watchmen’s Dr. Manhattan (the list of connections doesn’t stop with the name).
The adventure deals bomb testing in the Pacific. The intense use of energy brings unwanted attention, which becomes the heart of the adventure. Things Man Was Not Meant To Bomb. One of the tenants of the Gumshoe line is staying on course. The clues that are meant to be discovered are discovered. I usually hate this. Give me red herrings the players create any day.
For this adventure, the Gumshoe motto makes perfect sense. The game takes place on a ship midst Cthulhu madness. There aren’t many ways to get side-tracked. Should the players manage to, it won’t be long before the Big Bad makes itself known or legions of oddities gently put them back on track. This isn’t to say the adventure reads as a railroad game. No, there are various avenues of success, although the end result should be one particular thing. Plenty of free will exists in this harrowing little ride.
It looks like the game would be perfectly fitted for conventions or one-shots. After all, it is hard to imagine all the players working with Navy soldiers prior to the adventure. It would be more challenging to make this game part of an existing campaign. I give Castle Bravo the following scores:
Artwork/Layout: Five out of Five Dice (some cool images/art fits the game)
Writing: Four out of Five Dice (Great story. Only people not interested in such a focused
detour or a one-shot would be unhappy)
Overall: Five out of Five Dice (Great game. Could feel like a Summer Blockbuster if ran
Review by Todd Cash