Review: Arc Dream Publishing – The Unspeakable Oath 18 (Call of Cthulhu)


The Unspeakable Oath 18
The Unspeakable Oath 18 is a horror magazine dedicated to Call of Cthulhu written by Richard Becker, Monte Cook, Adam Gauntlet, Nick Grant, Dan Harms, Pat Harrigan, James Haughton, George Holochwost, Shane Ivey, Matthew Pook, Brian Sammons, C.A. Suleiman, and John Scott Tynes and published by Arc Dream Publishing.
By Aaron T. Huss

Issue 18 marks the revitalization of The Unspeakable Oath, originally published by Pagan Publishing throughout the 1990’s. It is a magazine dedicated to role-playing in the world of the Cthulhu Mythos with a primary concentration on the tried and true Call of Cthulhu. Issue 18 is a mixture of scenarios, scenario seeds, and source material with a focus on using it in your scenarios. This magazine is awesome, and after reading one issue, you will probably be hooked for future issues.

CONTENT

The Unspeakable Oath Issue 18 contains four main article types (all designed for Call of Cthulhu): Tales of Terror, Arcane Artifacts, Mysterious Manuscripts, and Feature Articles. Outside of the reviews, this entire issue is dedicated to Call of Cthulhu while subsequent issues look at other RPGs.

Tales or Terror are quick, simple narratives with three possible scenario hooks for incorporation into your own game. They are present just enough material to get your own scenario started while remaining vague enough to fill in the remaining details. Four total Tales of Terror are provided in the magazine, each around 2 pages.

Arcane Artifacts are fully fleshed-out artifacts for a variety of possibilities. While scenario seeds are not directly pointed out, it is easy enough to read between the lines and farm the high amount of detail to create your own great scenarios incorporating that artifact. There are two Arcane Artifacts at 1 – 2 pages each.

Mysterious Manuscript is a tome-like item that can be used to increase one’s Mythos knowledge. This particular one is an audio of number and other coded transmissions a la those from the Cold War that supposedly translate into supernatural things.

Feature Articles are the pillar pieces for the magazine. Dog Will Hunt is a very detailed investigation into the bayou in Louisiana. Black Sunday takes the occurrence of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s and turns it into a sourcebook. The Chapel of Contemplation is a detailed cult with information full details on how to incorporate them into a scenario. Finally, Tales of Nephran-Ka is a sourcebook providing Mythos and Call of Cthulhu information for incorporating Nephran-Ka.

Near the beginning and end of the magazine are a series of product reviews not to be over-looked. You will find some great products here, covering several aspects of the Cthulhu Mythos.

OVERALL

The Unspeakable Oath is a HUGE value for what you pay. For only $9.99 print or $5.24 PDF, you get two fully-developed scenarios (one is an actual scenario while the other is a developed cult with scenario basics), two fully-developed scenario frameworks, and a host of quick presentations that provide scenario hooks and potential plot points. Not only do you get a lot of Call of Cthulhu content for such a great price, but you get a real variety of content that can be used in a number of ways. This is a truly excellent way to support a game system, providing the players and Keepers with hours and hours of horror investigation.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The Unspeakable Oath is a wonderfully put-together magazine with a great layout and format, albeit with a lot of spacing between paragraphs. There are lots of great illustrations and I even enjoy seeing the advertisements. Understanding that some people are annoyed by advertisement, I find them very helpful to see what products are out there and who publishes them. This is backed-up by the contained reviews as well.

Storyline: 10 out of 10
All four feature articles contain some type of storyline, especially the scenario. Each storyline is extremely well-developed for use within an investigation-styled game considering its presentation and development. These feature articles are augmented by a host of smaller pieces that can be added to many games’ storyline, offering alternate avenues for the investigators to explore; possibly taking the scenario in a different direction.

Desire to Play/Use: 10 out of 10
Considering the number of possible scenarios that can be created with the various pieces in addition to the fully-developed scenario, Keepers should be able to find at least one if not a handful of things to throw at their players. The content is developed in a way that makes it a very valuable product in terms of usability and desirability. And even if the included scenario is not used, one could easily combine various bits-and-pieces from the magazine to construct their own scenario.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Any lover of Call of Cthulhu should consider The Unspeakable Oath (issue 18 and others), especially Keepers. There is so much inside these pages that you can’t help but find something very useful, and at such a great price. After reading one issue, there’s a chance you’ll get completely hooked on it and want more.

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