Oakland, California: Chaosium, 2000. Steve Purcell; Jason C Eckhardt; Shannon Appel. First Edition. Softcover. Very Good. Item #59
A very good player's copy of Chaosium's 2000 Keeper's Companion Volume 1. Some light bumping to covers and slight rubbing to edges. Interior pages are compete, clean, and unmarked.
Review rom RPG.net: "The Brazen Head is a grotesque brass bust created in thirteenth century Germany by a nameless cultist. You activate it by performing a ceremony which culminates in dumping a quart of burning blood on the head, at which point it opens its eyes (which happen to be living, rather than brass) and dispenses whatever blasphemous knowledge currently interests you.
These and other penny dreadfuls are presented within the covers of The Keeper's Companion, the latest edition of Chaosium's core supplement for Call of Cthulhu Keepers. The book covers a lot of ground, with sections on occult and Mythos tomes, weird magical antiquities, Mythos cults, forensic investigation, alien races, mysterious places mentioned in Mythos tales, and character skills. While there are some new mechanics presented in the book, The Keeper's Companion is mostly source material (although the designers by no means skimp on presenting mechanical descriptions of tome, item and spell effects where needed).
Like many supplements of its type, the Companion begins with suggestions for Keepers and Investigators on running, and playing, a good game. While this section isn't of much interest to Cthulhu veterans, it ought to be a mandatory read for anyone starting out with this game. The mindset of Call of Cthulhu is more geared toward research, investigation, and problem solving than any other RPG, and this section succeeds in conveying that difference. On the other hand, the player advice section with which the books begins really belongs in the core rules, not the Keeper's book.
The Companion contains two sections on books: one on "mundane" occult books, and the other on Mythos tomes. The occult books sections is divided chronologically, so that 1890's Keepers won't make the mistake of throwing books not published until decades later into their cultists' libraries. The books in this section are great for fleshing out occult libraries, and provide some adventure hooks in their own right. The real, sanity-destroying Mythos tomes inhabit their own chapter, which includes detailed descriptions of blasphemous librams like Cultes des Goules, The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan, and of course the Necronomicon. While all of these books are extraordinarily dangerous to read and cast spells from in and of themselves, sadistic Keepers will delight in the many variants and mistranslations of the standard tomes, which make these books even more dangerous for Investigators to peruse.
In addition to the books themselves, a section on the history of bookbinding and writing, a guide to the weird languages used in writing Mythos tomes, and the Feverish Study rules give Keepers new tools for adding depth and rich description to the pursuit of forbidden knowledge.
One of the best sections of the Keeper's Companion for adventure-generating spookiness is the chapter on Arcane Antiquities. Replete with plenty of grotesque illustrations, the chapter crawls with bizarre artifacts guaranteed to doom Investigators, or drive them irreparably insane. Favorites of mine include the aforementioned Brazen Head and the Moon Lens, a weird contraption that summons horrendous monsters with focused beams of moonlight.
The section on Mythos cults features a very good description of witch cults, particularly the Arkham witch cult of Keziah Mason. Also present is a useful write-up on the Order of the Sword of St. Jerome, an outlawed Catholic witch-hunting organization. Other than that, the section is a little thin. The cults presented are useful as examples, but more guidance for Keepers seeking to create their own cults and cultists would be welcome.
Chaosium always does a good job of injecting realism and careful research into Cthulhu supplements, and this is evident in the section on forensic medicine and law enforcement. The chapter discusses autopsy procedures, evidence collection, causes of death, and human decomposition, among other things. Also included are a timeline giving the dates at which various investigative and forensic techniques were introduced, and a generic "Apparent Natural Death" form for use as a player handout.
The section on alien races discusses the psychology, goals, and modus operandis of the fungal Mi-Go, the mind-melding Shan, and other intelligent, slimy horrors. If you were wondering how to describe a Mi-Go Death Orgy, you need look no further. In future editions, though, I'd really like to see a timeline charting the rise and fall of various races. The premise at the crux of Call of Cthulhu is that Earth's pre-history was dominated by a variety of non-human races, and having an easy way to keep straight when they all thrived and declined would be convenient.
Mysterious places like Atlantis, Kadath in the Cold Waste, the Plateau of Leng, and the star systems from which some of the Mythos beings hale receive their own chapter. Although the descriptions tend to be tantalizing yet brief, this chapter provides a lot of basis material for campaigns oriented toward archaeology and exploration.
Finally, the chapter on investigator skills offers a few new mechanics and expands on many of the skill descriptions. Many skills have uses not immediately apparent to Keepers or Investigators, and these are detailed here. I liked the new optional rule for Brainstorming, which allows a group of clever Investigators to pool semi-related skills to attempt an action for which none of them possess the specific skill required.
Even if you don't run a regular Call of Cthulhu campaign, this book comes in handy as a reference to Mythos items and creatures. I've met more than a few gamemasters who enjoy throwing the occasional Mythos crossover into games other than Call of Cthulhu. For the GM contemplating a crossover adventure, this is an essential book. Your AD&D or Vampire players are not going to be impressed by a bunch of Deep Ones attacking them, but if you toss the Sedefkar Simulacrum or material out of The Revelations of Glaaki at them, they'll be thinking they never had it so good going up against Drow elves and rampaging Sabbat packs.
If you do run Call of Cthulhu, whether it's straight-up Cthulhu or a licensed setting such as Delta Green, you need this book. Despite minor flaws, The Keeper's Companion, Volume 1 is a marked improvement over previous editions, and it fleshes out many subjects that could not be fully developed in the main rule book. I highly recommend this supplement to all Keepers."