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Cthulhu Week: Your Top 20 Cthulhu Mythos Reviews

Posted on August 16, 2010 by Flames

Cthulhu Scribe by Drew PoczaWhat do you and Cthulhu have in common? A love of the mythos, of course! In this post, we take a look at your favorite reviews of Cthulhu and other Mythos-related music, games, comics, books and films that you’ve enjoyed over the years. While we have an extensive selection of Lovecraft-related reviews and articles on the site, we chose these twenty not only because you really enjoyed reading these, but also because we felt that they were definitely worth a second look during Cthulhu Week. After all, who better to recommend something Cthulhu-related than your fellow cultists readers here on FlamesRising.com?

Without further adieu, here’s the list of your favorites. Have you played any of these games or read any of these books? Is there anything in this list that you’d recommend more than one of the others?

1. CTHULHU 101 Review – Have you repeatedly heard references to something called “Cthulhu” and wondered what it was all about? Are you already familiar with “the Big C,” know the signs and the secret handshakes, but are still looking for something to fill the great, gaping wound in your soul? Look no further, dear friends – Cthulhu 101 is good for what ails you!

2. CTHULHUTECH RPG Review – In Jaws, Roy Scheider’s character tells us that “we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” That is the chief message underlying CthulhuTech. We’ll explore the meaning of this later on. The Cthulhu mythos has seen some amazing variations since it’s conception nearly thirty years ago. The core rules evolved through six editions, not including solid side ventures like Delta Green. One of the hallmarks of these games is the sheer horror that comes when facing something you, well, can’t really beat.

3. NECRONOMICON CD by Nox Arcana Review – Nox Arcana delves headfirst into the darkness with its musical tribute to the Cthulhu mythos. Creating a haunting festival of sounds to this is a challenging feat—every day that passes Cthulhu transforms into more of an icon than a mere concept of Lovecraft’s imagination. Nox Arcana delivers its tribute in a jarring way; this is not a CD that should be idly played in the background, this is a performance that demands your attention.

4. INNSMOUTH ESCAPE Board Game Review – In Twilight Creations’ board game Innsmouth Escape, one player takes on the role of the human trying to free her friends and flee from the accursed town infested with frog-like worshipers of Cthulhu, while the rest play the nefarious Deep Ones themselves, intent on keeping their dark secret away from the prying eyes of outsiders.

5. MUNCHKIN CTHULHU Card Game Review – Munchkin Cthulhu combines the zany comedy of the previous Munchkin games with the oddities of the Cthulhu Mythos created by H.P. Lovecraft and its further developments by other authors and game designers. While you don’t need to know anything about the Mythos to enjoy Munchkin Cthulhu, having read some Lovecraft or played a few Call of Cthulhu games certainly makes the jokes and bad puns more entertaining.

6. THE STARS ARE RIGHT Board Game Review – The Stars Are Right is a board game produced by Steve Jackson Games. Inspired by the Lovecraft mythos, the object of the game is to “summon” ten points worth of servitors and gods before your opponent. The game can be used for a family night of fun, but I recommend following the age guidelines of twelve and above.

7. FOUR SHADOWS Music for TRAIL OF CTHULHU Review – Trail of Cthulhu: Four Shadows is a collection of four songs designed to be played during your Trail of Cthulhu game. The titles of the songs are: Anagnorisis, Ruminations, Pulp Trail of Cthulhu Theme and Purist Trail of Cthulhu theme. Ethereal choirs, a full symphony and some unusual sound effects flesh out the compositions, which average about three minutes in length.

8. A VERY SCARY SOLSTICE CD Review – Many people try to find some solace in seasonal music at this festive yet emotionally draining time of year. After years of hearing the same classic carols — or more recent covers with no soul and even less imagination — if you’re like me you’re looking for something a little different to inspire the holiday spirit. A Very Scary Solstice by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society fills the bill nicely, with 25 Mythos-inspired takes on classic Holiday songs.

9. SHADOWS OVER FILMLAND RPG Review – This work opens with ‘Double Feature,’ a scholarly essay comparing and contrasting 1930s horror movies with Lovecraft’s work: similar themes but different treatments. Lovecraft describes everything in detail while movies suggest with light and shadow, much being left to the viewer’s imagination. Many elements are common to both, but the movies have more random, innocent victims while most of Lovecraft’s bring horror upon themselves; and in the movies the monsters usually are defeated by the final reel… even if they return in the sequel! Your games will likely draw on both horror movies and the written word, and those pesky Mythos horrors have a habit of popping up in the next adventure.

10. WAKING UP SCREAMING Anthology Review – Waking up Screaming is an anthology of tales written by H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft today is considered to be the father of modern horror. Before picking up the work, I read some accounts of his background through the Flames Rising links. Entranced with the trappings of a colonial life, Lovecraft lived in the early 1900s casting out all things modern. He frequently wore older styles of clothing, and made his home in Providence. Upon his death, his work was posthumously published by two of his friends. Lovecraft enjoyed some success during his lifetime, however, it wasn’t until World War II that his work gained in popularity.

11. DELTA GREEN: DARK THEATRES Anthology Review – Delta Green is a new take on H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythos, bringing the fight against darkness and horror to the 90’s and beyond. Delta Green is made up of government agents secretly working against a larger conspiracy of horror and madness. This anthology offers us eight tales from around the world of various agents and the missions that bring them into conflict with creatures of terror.

12. LOVECRAFT Graphic Novel Review – Most of us who love the horror genre have at least heard of H.P. Lovecraft. His influence spreads out like the tentacles of the beings that populate his stories–into movies, comics and role-playing games, as well as the works of today’s great horror writers.

Lovecraft is a graphic novel written by Hans Rodionoff and Keith Giffen, with art and cover by Enrique Breccia. Lovecraft, published by Vertigo, puts a unique spin on both H.P. Lovecraft the man and his creations. The story asks the question: What if everything Lovecraft ever wrote about was real?

13. FRONTIER CTHULHU Anthology Review – As explorers conquered the frontiers of North America, they disturbed sleeping terrors and things long forgotten by humanity. Journey into the undiscovered country where fierce Vikings struggle against monstrous abominations. Travel with European colonists as they learn of buried secrets and the creatures guarding ancient knowledge. Go west across the plains, into the territories were sorcerers dwell in demon-haunted lands, and cowboys confront cosmic horrors.

14. FALL OF CTHULHU: THE FUGUE Graphic Novel ReviewThe Fugue collects the first several issues of the Fall of Cthulhu comic book series published by Boom! Studios. This is a modern tale of the Cthulhu Mythos featuring several well-known elements of the setting that have been built up over the years in various novels, anthologies and role playing games. The treatment of Miskatonic University is a great background element throughout the story, for example.

15. HARDBOILED CTHULHU Anthology Review – Hardboiled Cthulhu is billed as an anthology of “Two-Fisted Tales of Tentacled Terror”, and mostly it delivers. Jonathan Sharp’s “The White Mountains” gave me the same sense of wonder (in a horrifying way, of course) that I had when I first read Lovecraft, lo these many moons ago. Bravo. “Then Terror Came” by Patrick Thomas takes a Lovecraft original (“The Hound”)and gives it a bit of highly successful updating; it left me wanting more stories about the same “Men in Black”-type Agency that deals with the dangerously supernatural.

16. CALL OF CTHULHU Film Review – Produced by the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, this modern silent film treatment of the classic Lovecraft tale is remarkably effective: creepy but not gory, atmospheric but well-paced. The film is in black and white “Mythoscope,” meaning it’s artificially aged so as to seem vintage, and the soundtrack may be played in “Mythophone”, so that the music seems aged to match the film.

17. CTHULHU LIVE 2nd Edition Review – Cthulhu Live is set in the universe of eldritch horror created by Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Cthulhu Live is a theater-gaming experience of horror, action and suspense. The participants are both actors and audience. The game is a full evening’s worth of fun every time it is played.

LARP (Live Action Role Playing) offers players a chance to get into costume, test their acting skills and interact with many more characters than the standard tabletop game usually entails. Several different LARP games are available; Cthulhu Live remains one of the most widely played in several countries.

18. AGE OF CTHULHU: SHADOWS OF LENINGRAD RPG Review – Shadows of Leningrad is the third in Goodman Games’ Age of Cthulhu series. These adventures, set in the 1920s, allow for pulpish globetrotting (Luxor and London set the scenes for the first two adventures). While these adventures can possibly become rather violent, their design strongly favors a traditional investigative format. With an unforgiving setting (early Communist Russia), a generous sampling of supernatural entities, and mundane threats, the adventure proves to be a daunting one.

19. CURSE OF THE YELLOW SIGN, ACT I: DIGGING FOR A DEAD GOD Review – To a certain extent there is much to compare the Curse of the Yellow Sign series with the trilogy of scenarios within the Chaosium monograph Ripples of Carcosa – three scenarios that explore the ‘Hastur Mythos’ over different eras. However whilst Ripples of Carcosa stretches from the height of the Roman empire to a future of space-faring travellers, Curse of the Yellow Sign seems much more tightly focussed on a period closer to our own. This, of course, makes it more accessible but also means it requires nothing more than the Call of Cthulhu core rules to play since we are relatively familiar with the setting and worldly events at these times. And Curse of the Yellow Sign shines by comparison in other respects too.

This adventure could very easily be adapted to Call of Cthulhu d20, Trail of Cthulhu, or any of the other Cthulhu campaign settings that have cropped up (with the provisor that the story is set in 1939). If you were prepared to create six new characters and dress up the sandbox slightly differently there’s no reason you couldn’t shift this to any other time.

20. WHERE THE DEEP ONES ARE Children’s Book Review – The classic children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak has been parodied before, but rarely as successfully as in Ken Hite’s Where the Deep Ones Are. Ostensibly a childrens’ book, Deep Ones is a story of a boy who rebels and is banished to his room in punishment, subsequently discovering a hidden world that calls to him enchantingly.

Instead of Max, we now have Bobby, a boy who loves to eat fish. He also wears a frog-like costume with several tentacles dangling from the face, and it’s mentioned more than once in the text that he has a cousin named Larry Marsh. This boy is well on his way to becoming a Deep One himself, which parallels the story of Shadow Over Innsmouth, on which the actual tale of Where the Deep Ones Are is partly based.

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