This program book clocks in at a massive 100 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page autograph page, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 96 pages, so let’s take a look!
This review was requested by one of my patreons, to be undertaken at your convenience.
On the inside of the front cover, we’ll get the Gen Con luck chart, which has been modified for this year – overlaps are there, but yeah. Since Gen Con 2014’s over, this probably won’t be a factor to decide whether you get this.
Now, the first major section of the booklet is an “Age of Cthulhu” scenario, “Transatlantic Terror”, penned by Jon Hook. It should be noted that the “Age of Cthulhu”-series is primarily set apart from more mainstream Call of Cthulhu scenarios by the emphasis on pulp over horror. While there is usually something creepy going on in these scenarios, the modules are not per se horrific and feature themes à la dinosaurs, serpent-people and the like. This may not be fair per se, but honestly, I could never get behind the series and the pulp-theme it tries to convey. While I adore pulp themes, I never felt that CoC’s rules are particularly conductive to the themes of the genre. If you’re looking for something horrific, you won’t necessarily get it in this adventure. Otherwise, you may well enjoy the scenario and how it puts you in the guises of young dilettantes. Pregens and stats are provided. As a whole, I couldn’t really get behind this adventure. We do get a properly mapped luxus liner and per se, the angle is interesting, but a moderately capable keeper and logically-played adversaries would mitigate the chances for success altogether. That being said, if you’re looking for a solid CoC-oneshot with a pulp angle, this may well work for you. It did nothing for me.
After this adventure, we get 3 pages of the humorous “Dear Archmage Abby” help column before getting the DCC worlds tour section, highlighting the tour with brief notes and photos galore. 9.5 pages are devoted to this. Some modules when ordered on Goodman games’ store did come with a collection of different bonus encounters o postcards. Obscure by design, we do get three of these collected here: One for “intrigue at the Court of Chaos”, one for “The One Who Watches From Below” as well as one for “Bride of the Black Manse.” I own all three adventures, and the reviews of them are forthcoming. These bonus encounters span a total of 1.5 pages and represent a nice way for completionists to get these obscure components. The latter one, which does have an artwork for hand of glory creation, is particularly neat.
After this, we have “The Emerald Enchanter Strikes Back” – the bonus scenario/epilogue/sequel to “The Emerald Enchanter,” which has since then been included as the bonus scenario in the second printing of the module. I have covered this cool adventure in ym discussion of the Emerald Enchanter-review.
A page of mailing label designs are next, and 7 pages explain the process of DCC cover design – which may or may not be interesting for you. Really cool: The classic “The Dungeon Alphabet” gets a unique entry here: “O is also for Omen,” penned by Michael Curtis. This is followed by a 4-entry selection of previews from the “Monster Alphabet.”
After a one-page ad for Maximum Xcrawl (seriously underrated!), we get “Too Tough to Die” – this short story spans 9 pages and is a pretty nice reading experience.
After this, we get a 1-page ad for Metamorphosis Alpha (if you don’t know what MA is and consider yourself to be an expert RPG-aficionado, look it up, seriously!), before none other than James M. Ward provides “Coming of Age”, an introductory scenario for the game. Full disclosure: I lack both the playing, playtesting and GMing experience in the system to properly judge the intricacies of the mechanics of the adventure. My experiences with this one are solely theoretical. This being said, the scenario is…actually really, really cool. It depicts the PCs going on the Destiny Walk, a coming of age rite, wherein the PCs venture into the maze of Thorn Valley. The mutant plant creatures and hazards, as well as the humanoids make this look a true blast to play, and frankly, the delightfully wacko creature ideas may make it worth checking out this book on their own. This is easily the strongest component of this supplement.
After this cool adventure, we take a look at some “upcoming for DCC” sneak-peaks and further previews. Following this, we get d40 questions for the Goodman crew, which can provide some interesting notes for fans, before the final piece of mechanically-relevant content within would be the Vandroid, designed by Joseph Goodman as a homage for the comic book series by Dark Horse.
Editing and formatting are very good to good throughout the supplement. There are a few minor things to complain about, but nothing serious. Layout adheres either to a one-column, two-column or three-column standard, depending on the section covered, mirroring the preferred presentation of the respective game. Artworks are b/w and amazing, as is the cartography. Speaking of which: No player-friendly, unlabeled maps are provided for the respective scenarios. The supplement included bookmarks for each of the specific sections. I can’t comment on the merits or lack thereof of the physical copy – I only own the pdf.
Whether you enjoy this program guide or not anno 2018, is highly contingent of what you hope to get from it. If you’re a diehard DCC-completionist, you may appreciate the inclusion of the obscure postcard encounters (1.5 pages); the previously rather important Emerald Enchanter-sequel has since then been included in the 2nd printing of the module, depriving this book of its main selling point for DCC-fans. While personally, I REALLY disliked the whole Age of Cthulhu product line, if you’re enjoying it, you certainly also will enjoy the tone of the Age of Cthulhu scenario featured herein.
Personally, I consider the main draws here to be the Dungeon Alphabet entry – and, much to my surprise, an adventure for a system I have played a grand total of twice in my life. James M. Ward’s “Coming of Age” is a great adventure in every sense of the word, and with the advent of MCC, fans of should check this out. The adventure is so cool that it almost warrants the asking price for the pdf. As a whole, this program guide is aimed primarily at folks enjoying Gen Con, obviously, and in specific, Goodman Games fans. While I count myself among the latter, I couldn’t help but feel like this would be of limited use for most judges/GMs. If either the Age of Cthulhu scenario or a good old-school scifi/post apocalypse-style adventure sound like fun to you, then this is worth checking out. Folks solely interested in DCC need not get this one. How to rate this? Well, here things become tough for me. As a whole, I can see this work…or bomb horribly. All in all, this is, almost by design, a mixed bag, wherein not everything will appeal to everyone. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.
You can get this supplement here on OBS!