Categorized | RPGs

The Black Seal (Issues 1-3) Review

Posted on February 10, 2011 by spikexan

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    This collection of issues, originally released between 2001 and 2004, showcase a variety of Cthulhu goodness, especially for those interested in modern horror. One of the organizations from the Delta Green line, the British occult organization PISCES, takes the spotlight. Since the material within the magazines are basically alike, I’ll tackle the trio together.

    The artwork in the magazines comes from a collection of artists and are rather fitting for the Cthulhu Mythos. The first issue has a small amount of artwork (nearly non-existent if not for the well-crafted cartography within it). By the third issue, artwork fills nearly every page and yet doesn’t get in the way of the writing.

    The same can be said of the writing as well. I enjoyed the third issue across the board much more than the previous two. One reason is the content. The actual writing, while dense at times, keeps the same feel moreso than any other aspect of the magazines. No, the content is nearly a decade old and, well, shows its age. For the most part, it isn’t an issue. Tales of Age Horrors terrorizing Mankind proves timeless. On the other hand, reviews of ten-year-old books and some of the “hi-tech” in articles like Issue 1’s “Green Box” show their age. One could use them as an excellent flashpoint for running an adventure for that time period.

    There is a great mix of articles in the three issues. They range from Tales of Terror, which are little story sparks with a trio of options (I love these things), to looks at haunted sites around the world, to adventure scenarios, and to NPC write-ups (Usual Suspects). This mix makes an excellent mine for Keepers to explore and utilize. The options are varied. Why not throw something new at your players? Instead of cultists, why not try a tropical disease (Issue 3, “A Rough Guide to Fighting Evil in a Hot Country)? What does Cthulhu look like in the Sixties (Issue 2, “The Avengers”)? Want to throw some visual clues at your players (Issue 1, “The Tombola Cipher”)?

    The moral of the story with an anthology pieces is always the same. No issue is going to fully win you over; but each contain some exceptional insight in the various Cthulhu lines (traditional, Delta Green, and D20). Overall, I’d say Issue 3 is the gem of the bunch, but purists may want to start at the beginning in order to get the full effect.

      Review by Todd Cash

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