Posted on February 18, 2009 by Flames
“Midnight Harvest” (OWC4003) is the second of three Call of Cthulhu adventures currently available from Super Genius Games. While “The Doom From Below” suggested ways to tie the other two adventures to it, this adventure does not. In this modern-day adventure designed for four to eight investigators, players are introduced to the town of Five Lanterns, Rhode Island (suggestions for running the adventure in either the 1890s or 1920s strengthen the book’s introduction) as it celebrates its annual Halloween bash. Of course, this is a CoC adventure so expect cultists, mad dreams, and more from the Things Man Is Not Meant To Know.
I like to start out with the book’s artwork and layout. The book’s cover art by Zak Plucinski depicts a group of trick-or-treaters going on their merry way while a dread skeletal figure looms just beyond their reach. The concept of the artwork probably lends to why this piece was chosen as the cover art when there are better pieces of art within the book. Artwork is thin in this adventure. Only five pieces exist (not counting the cover art or handouts). Some might find this too sporadic, but I found myself enjoying the text too much to really notice.
The layout–sidebars, fonts, and borders–of this adventure is identical to “The Doom From Below.” I like the commonality between these two adventures and suspect that the third adventure will share the same format. It makes good sense to do this should they ever decide to combine the three as one printed piece. The handouts are a mixed-bag. The advertisement for the Haunted Trail is excellent as is the artwork for the characters, particularly Noa Tatupu and Kelly Redfern; however, the map of Five Lanterns could have been given more attention.
As always, I won’t go into spoilers in my review. I’ll just say that the game centers around an old town Halloween festival and a quest for . . . greatness. The writer claims the game can run in four to six hours, which I believe would be ample time as well. This would be a fantastic convention or pick-up game, although I would personally up the stakes a little bit more for the tastes of my gaming group. This adventure is 80% investigation and 20% action. I’d tweak it to 70/30 and call it awesome.
The writing itself adheres to what I found in “The Doom From Below.” The writers from Super Genius Games have a formula roughly concocted that works rather well for adventure writing. The opening page contains credits and a snapshot of what the PDF contains. Pages two through seven serve to describe the background for the game. Pages seven and nine through twelve deliver the game’s synopsis, which is critical as certain things are either chronologically or geographically important. Notice that I left out page eight. Page eight offers a rule for this game that could be easily applied to other CoC games.
I like this rule.
Without getting into the specifics of it, the author lays out a rule for determining the sanity of a city/town/community. Things are bad enough when cultists are chasing you through the streets. What happens when the town you’re running through is in the midst of a mental breakdown?
Bad things. That’s what.
The bulk of the book consists of three acts.
The first act (pages 12-23) details the key people and places in Five Lanterns and how they will be affected by the events occurring over the five days of the adventure. Because of the investigative nature of this scenario, players won’t feel railroaded at all by the plot at this point.
In truth, the adventure does a terrific job of keeping the railroad tracks out of it.
The second act (pages 23-30) contains the marker points of the tale, events destined to move the story along. These are the things that are probably gonna happen just to spite the players (though some can be avoided by industrious players).
The final act (30-34) focuses on the adventure’s climax, which can be a whopper for investigators who maybe miss a clue or two.
Pages 35-37 offer a few new artifacts and creatures to freak out your players. Some of these are really fun and usable later on in future adventures.
My scores for Midnight Harvest are:
Artwork: 3 out of 5 Dice
Layout: 5 out of 5 Dice
Writing: 4 out of 5 Dice (would have liked to see more of a threat)
Overall: 4 out of 5 Dice
Review by Todd Cash