Oakland, California: Chaosium, 1997. Steve Purcell; Jason C Eckhardt; Shannon Appel. First Edition. Softcover. Very Good. Item #56
A very good player's copy of Chaosium's 1997 update to The Trail of Tsathoggua. This is the first edition of the 1997 update and not the original 1984 edition. Some very light softening to the corners and a couple errant pencil marks on one page that could easily be erased. Else, all pages are clean and complete.
The Compact Trail of Tsathoggua by Keith Herber contains two scenarios, linked together to form a short campaign in the 1920s. In this second edition, the third unconnected adventure "The Haunted House" was not included, but the two remaining scenarios have been updated and revised.
The first scenario "The Trail of Tsathoggua" is a nice archaeological expedition to Greenland to investigate a huge wall of stone recently exposed from the ice covered in hieroglyphs from an ancient culture predating the Egyptians and Sumerians. The investigators, working for the archaeological team, have lots to do to keep them busy, and a mystery deepens while they explore and learn more of 1920s Greenland culture, for this is one of the best Call of Cthulhu scenarios to depict a non-United States country in an informative and entertaining approach. Finally the investigators head inland onto the snow (not really surprising) where they discover further remains of this once great by now lost civilisation. There they encounter the lost civilisation’s descendants who wish to keep their secrets. The conclusion is nice and frightening, but one gets the impression that Keith Herber drew the adventure to a close too early, before the ruins could be properly explored.
The second scenario "The Curse of Tsathoggua" takes the investigators to Canada and the cold wastes of that continent in search of the legendary Sasquatch. In the wilderness again they finally catch up with an old friend from Greenland, who has changed a bit since they last saw him, and may or may not be their ally. This adventure differs from the second in that there really isn’t any Mythos threat so to speak, rather it confronts the players’ notion of what is monstrous and what is not. There are dangers in Canada of course, but not as terrifying as in Greenland.
The two scenarios make an excellent low key campaign. The stories are good for introducing new players or investigators alike, and they are straightforward enough so that players who do a little planning and keep their head about them will come out the other side sane and healthy.
Artwork by Steve Purcell (from the original edition) and Jason Eckhardt (especially drawn for this edition) is nice, capturing the sense of remoteness and the cultures born of icy wastelands, but it is the cover piece of a Spawn of Tsathoggua by Steve Purcell which is my favourite. That investigator depicted with a scraggly beard and ineffective ice pick really needs to give his next move some careful consideration, just like a good investigator should.