Categorized | Reviews, RPGs

Age of Cthulhu: Shadows of Leningrad Review

Posted on July 13, 2010 by spikexan

Available at

    Shadows Over Leningrad
    Age of Cthulhu RPG Adventure Module by Mike Ferguson
    Goodman Games, 2010

    Shadows of Leningrad (50 pages, $8.99) 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.

    The book’s smart layout ran a printer-friendly gambit of basic two-column text, minimal artwork, and good looking bordering along the headers and footers. When sidebars popped up, they were positioned at the bottoms of the pages. Most of these sidebars were reserved either for historical clarifications or Cthulhu tidbits. The handouts at the end of the adventure were varied and quite cool.

    The adventure’s artwork by Bradley K. McDevitt didn’t call for sanity checks at any point. The images were mainly character representations and rich with detail. I particularly liked how the artist hid little things in his mostly innocuous pieces. For example, a sketch of a young girl on a cot looks innocent enough. She has a doll in her lap and a smile on her face. The drawings scribbled on the floor next to the bed prove a little bothersome (are those vampires?). The girl’s smile suddenly seems a little sinister now. Readers won’t find much artwork in the adventure, but it felt like an ample amount for this sized document.

    The adventure draws the Investigators to an artist’s death. It’s the kind of adventure easily developed for a one-shot (pre-generated characters are provided). The adventure can also be nestled into an on-going campaign. The author does suggest a few motivations for the players to trek to Russia (Keepers can easily expand this short list). The plot makes sense and the clues can lead Investigators in some interesting (sometimes circular) directions.

    For me, the adventure starts off a bit dry, but picks up readily once a few interesting NPCs (Katrina and Churin) make their presence felt. There is significant attention to the details of the time period and setting for history buffs; however, the adventure isn’t bogged down with historical minutiae. The author’s choice in Mythos entities (and other supernatural beings) are varied and could off-set most hardened gamers. He does introduce an artifact that, well, is just a nasty little piece of work that could swiftly be mined for another game with equally evil results. I didn’t find the read as compelling as Death in Luxor, but still liked it.

    My scores for Shadows of Leningrad are:

    Layout: Four out of Five Dice (It’s not a case of beautiful layering upon layering. No, it makes a brief adventure look good without being cruel to your ink fund. Some may find it a bit bland).
    Artwork: Four out of Five Dice (clever Easter eggs makes simple character sketches all the better)
    Writing: Three out of Five Dice (A good adventure that could have been just a bit more engaging)
    Overall: Four out of Five Dice (A very investigative adventure of Investigators to unravel. Violent bits can occur; however, the things they can occur against don’t make for a likely happy ending).

    Review by Todd Cash

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