Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Writing * Poetry * Dark Fiction * Weird * Fantastic * Horror * Fantasy * Science Fiction * Literature

A review of Dead Light and Other Dark Turns, by Alan Bligh, Matt Sanderson, Lynne Hardy and Mike Mason

If you’re driving in backwoods America, don’t stop for anything. That’s the lesson of Dead Light and Other Dark Turns, Chaosium’s latest scenario book for the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition rules. Alan Bligh and Mike Mason’s Dead Light should already be familiar to many of Call of Cthulhu aficionados as it was first published in 2014. The original edition appeared in dual-statted form to allow players to have a taste of the new 7th edition rules in progress. This new version fine-tunes and fully reskins the scenario for 7th edition, while also updating the materials to the current Chaosium style and level of quality with brand new artwork. It also includes a brand new scenario in the shape of Matthew Sanderson’s Saturnine Chalice. The old edition was just 32 pages: the new one is 90 pages, including extensive handouts.  The scenarios are written for classic era 1920s CoC, and unfold in typical Lovecraft country, but could be rejigged for other periods and locations with relatively little effort.

Back at its first release, Dead Light was hailed by at least one reviewer as: “the best title released by Chaosium in years.” Since then, Chaosium has arguably upped its game and has been churning out high quality work in spades, but Dead Light especially has an original and unusual nemesis whose characteristics help add a nasty tinge of moral squalor to the cosmic horror. Saturnine Chalice may seem a little more familiar in its choice of threats, at least on the surface, but the clue trail is (optionally) puzzle-based, which makes for a different slant on typical gameplay, and the unfolding mystery is rich in head-fuckery. There are also shorter seeds for road trip encounters and adventures at the end of the book.

This is definitely a worthwhile addition to the roster of 7th edition CoC scenarios available, especially for shorter more stand-alone adventures. At the inconsequential price that Chaosium is asking for it, it’s a steal even for owners of the original Dead Light. Recommended for Call of Cthulhu players old and new.

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