Call of Cthulhu – Arkham Supplement Review

Call of Cthulhu ArkhamAs a Keeper of Arcane Lore (game master for Call of Cthulhu), I have ran more scenarios from the beloved RPG system than I can recall. While the setting is rich with locations both real and fictional, there has always been one town that keeps calling my players and me back with its siren’s song: Arkham. Finally, we have a revised and expanded Arkham supplement for 7th edition Call of Cthulhu that will allow Keepers to implement and flesh out the town that so many adventuring parties visit, and that some never leave.

Book Overview:

The book is broken down into five chapters, each dealing with a plethora of content. Chapter 1 gives Keepers an overview and history of Arkham. Chapter 2 specifically deals with Arkham investigators giving new background options centered around Arkham, new skills and focuses, and outlining reputation and clubs that investigators can join. Chapter 3 explores Arkham miscellany such as how to find help in Arkham, how to get around, rumors and gossip tables, and an outline of the secretive Arkham Coven. Chapter 4 is the bulk of the book and goes over the different neighborhoods in extreme detail, giving maps, points of interest, NPCs, and notable features. Chapter 5 is the appendices giving Keepers further background knowledge with a chronology and game aid tables. All this and more is bursting out of the 265-page tome.

Call of Cthulhu Arkham Pages
Amazing artwork alongside descriptions of different neighborhoods.

Inside the Book:

Chapter 1 goes into a history lesson of Arkham all the way back to its native peoples through the early 20th century. This includes detailed explanations of the weather, government, business practices, and suggestions on how Keepers should have law enforcement respond to different scenarios.

Call of Cthulhu Arkham Pages
The reputation table.

The second chapter allows Keepers to integrate some new material regarding player characters. One of the best is the new significant people and location tables. I have had so many players choose to be characters from Arkham and these tables help flesh out those characters in a more specific context than the general tables in the Investigators Handbook. Some new focuses make an appearance such as Navigate (Arkham) and History (Arkham). The two new skills included are Religion and the extremely helpful Reassure skill, allowing characters to attempt to immediately heal 2 sanity points on an ally. The last section of this chapter deals with reputations and clubs, societies, and organizations that the investigators can take part in and how their actions can affect their reputations around town.

Chapter 3 details the more logistical side of Arkham, such as how long it takes to get around town, where the bus lines run, where to find medical attention, where to find weapons, and more. This chapter also contains a rumor and gossip table, giving some interesting plot hooks and possible adventure seeds. The last part of this chapter fleshes out the Arkham Coven lead by the nefarious Keziah Mason (who gets a formidable profile later in the book). This is the perfect section to build out a shadowy background enemy that can be operating in the shadows while investigators deal with the problems at hand.

Call of Cthulhu Arkham Newspaper
Top tier prop newspaper for your players.

Chapter 4 makes up the bulk of the book but is what truly makes the areas of Arkham feel more alive for players. Each Arkham neighborhood is detailed with maps and a numbering system describing each area of importance as well as the NPCs that will be encountered in those sections. Each location in each neighborhood has detailed notes and characters for that location, including Pulp Cthulhu adjustments if needed. Some detailed maps are further provided for important locals such as Pickering Psychopathic Hospital. Utilizing these locations while investigators explore Arkham can lead to multiple adventure seeds and create a true sandbox feel to the town.

The last chapter is short but provides you with a spot where all your game aids and tables can be located. Though not specifically in this chapter, the provided aids include a player and Keeper map of Arkham as well as a newspaper prop, all of extremely impressive quality.

Final Thoughts:

If you are a Keeper for Call of Cthulhu you need to add the Arkham book immediately to your collection, by yesterday preferably. This takes all the ad hoc generative play that you may be doing for characters in residence at Arkham and not only makes it easier for you, but also fleshes the town out into a living world to whatever degree you need for your game. Investigators exploring the different shops? Then start using the NPCs at the docks doing deliveries to drop an adventure hook. Need some constructive filler time in between campaigns? This allows characters to go to different clubs or classes to improve their skills alongside the living, breathing folks that live in Arkham. I honestly wish I had this book to set up my in-game universe for my player group years ago. You absolutely cannot miss this supplement. Another truly high-quality book that Chaosium is known for.

Final Score: 5 Stars – An essential supplement for any Keeper of Arcane Lore.

5 StarsHits:
• Detailed breakdown of every Arkham area to include maps and NPCs.
• Where to find anything and everything in Arkham.
• New investigator options.
• Details on the Arkham Coven to create a great shadowy society.

• No intro scenarios included.

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