Posted on August 20, 2009 by spikexan
Witchfinder, an adventure for Cthulhu Live 3rd Edition, is designed for a large group to explore some Nazi evil-doings. Stay with me as this is my first true LARP review, so my format may be a little different. This adventure is written for roughly thirty players; however, the writers do make concessions for larger or smaller groups. The PDF comes in several formats. For the purposes of this review, I worked from the grayscale option.
Witchfinder’s layout is really cool, even when toned down. Each page looks burnt and aged around the edges. For the pages of props (Morse Code transcripts), this style will look nice for players. The character sheet handouts also have this border, but are also inset with key information required for the game. The characters’ histories can be folded back or cut off after the information is gleaned. Also, icons for the various (there are quite a few) factions in the game highlight each character insert. The font is a bit drab throughout the book, but there is honestly no real way to spice it up. The font used in the headers is a sound choice, but couldn’t be used throughout the book. There are no sidebars to speak of in this book, which also makes sense. Keepers will need all of the book’s information; Players will not.
While there is artwork in Witchfinder, photography takes center stage. This is a fairly common trend in LARP books. I usually find these photos to be pretty bad; however, an effort to get somewhat authentic costumes proved worthwhile. The choice to mix these photos with either authentic or doctored photos from the 1940s was a truly good move. I actually wish they had doctored the obviously modern photos to match the (I believe) authentic ones. It would have created a sounder interior. The cover art, while basic, impressed me. It is nothing but a banner running down the left with a Nazi soldier along the right. Both of these blend into a map at the bottom where the book’s title is also featured. The interior art basically falls to World War II
iconography, but could be used as letterheads for future props should a Keeper be so inclined.
The book itself is composed of fifty-six pages. A two-page cast of characters and prologue gets the ball rolling quick. Fourteen pages are then reserved for the telling of the story, which revolves around missed communication. I seriously cannot hint to the actual story without giving too much away. Just know that immortality and superhuman strength are at stake. How could the Nazis and OSS not be involved? The writing shows a deep understanding of a small and underused aspect of World War II. It makes for an engaging read.
Three pages of hand-outs comes next in the form of military transcripts. In short, there are just enough clues in the hand-outs to get players killed right from the get-go (Mi-Go . . . I don’t know). After these three pages, thirty-one pages of character sheets fill up the bulk of this book. The final character sheet is a generic Nazi soldier (permitting those larger than thirty sessions). The writers do detail which characters to eliminate for smaller games. The final five pages were devoted to ad space/order forms.
This is my first post-GenCon 2009 review, so the images of LARPers in action is rather fresh in my mind. This particular game is designed as an investigation piece, but runs the risk of turning into a full-on blood bath by its climax. This wide spectrum should appeal to most players. It’s narrow focus probably makes it a little daunting for newbies, but tastes vary. My scores for Witchfinder are:
Layout: Four out of Five Dice (a bit easy to overlook)
Artwork: Three out of Five Dice (Photography is a tough sale for me, but this game
showed more effort than most)
Writing: Five out of Five Dice (I was surprised to see such rich detail in this adventure)
Overall: Four out of Five Dice (Pleasant surprises; LARPers should love the interactions
in this adventure)
Review by Todd Cash