RogerBW's Blog

The Dark Times 2 03 February 2018

The Dark Times, edited by Lee Williams, is a fanzine that follows on from Demonground and Protodimension in dealing with "the horror-conspiracy-weirdness gaming genres", beginning with Dark Conspiracy and drifting into nearby areas.

Elements (Davide Quatrini) is a short piece connecting the name "Cthulhu" with South American civilisations. It could be used as an adventure seed.

Dark Times Interviews: I.E. Lester is just that. I've never heard of Lester; apparently his first book is just out. It's mostly fairly standard stuff, though I'm surprised that the same person can enjoy Kevin J. Anderson and Eric Frank Russell.

Using Qi (Yicheng Liu) adds mystical powers to Call of Cthulhu; it's very important to the author that this is Not Magic, though he doesn't explain why this matters. If you're already running a Cthulhu game with Kung Fu and similar add-ons, it might be useful.

The Voshkod Incident (Davide Quatrini) is a short log from a lost interstellar expedition. Again, I suppose it could be used as an adventure seed, but it seems awfully like all the other "lost expedition" logs with which the genre is plentifully supplied. Spelling the name right would have helped: it's "voskhod", "восход", meaning sunrise, or general ascending-ness. (Also, calling your chief medical officer "Mrs" rather than "Dr"? No.)

Libram Memoriam (T. Mike McCurley) is a book full of magical secrets, naturally with some drawbacks. (Actually it's less cursed than these things usually are.)

The Vanishing Varigotti (Joe Klemann) is an adventure for Trail of Cthulhu, though it could be converted; it's not hard to change "[Reassurance 1 point spend]" to "if they can be calmed down a bit". A magician vanishes as the climax of his act, but doesn't reappear. There are various small infelicities (what is "a specific part of this summer season when the stars align with the Taurus Constellation" actually supposed to mean?), but there are plenty of interesting ideas to explore, and with a bit of a bashing this could be used quite easily.

Murderplot (Phil Ward), missing from the table of contents, is software to replace the Criminal Investigation Board. It's mostly an avenue to allow the GM to give hints.

A Short Guide to Australia Part 2 (Kevin O’Neill) gets away from the "Australia is really big" emphasis of the first part, and starts to add some actual gaming content – mostly suggestions on how to use those huge distances.

From the Editor’s Attic (Lee Williams) lists some gaming podcasts (including the one I co-host).

Some maps left out of issue 1 (which certainly help the big adventure there make a bit more sense) conclude the issue.

The big adventure is the main item here I'm likely to use (with modifications); the rest of the issue is mostly useful to me for getting into a horror-GM sort of mood. The Dark Times #2 is freely available from its web site.

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