Review: Bite Size Horror – Fever: Death Toll (Call of Cthulhu)

Fever: Death Toll
Fever: Death Toll is a historical horror scenario for Call of Cthulhu, written by G. A. Patrick and published by Bite Size Horror.
By Aaron T. Huss

Purchase Fever: Death Toll here
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Death Toll is the first of three scenarios that form the Fever mini-campaign for Call of Cthulhu. The mini-campaign is set in the western United States during the gold rush of 1849. More specifically, it focuses on the passage across a 40-mile stretch of desert in western Nevada as the California Trail drops into California and into the mountains where fortunes can be made.

This information is all provided up front and everything that comes after this is potentially spoilers.

Death Toll, and the entire Fever mini-campaign, is released via the Miskatonic Repository that allows anyone to publish content for Call of Cthulhu following some community guidelines. These types of repositories often contain an interesting mixture of products, but Death Toll does not let you down. First, it takes place in a setting that is rarely, if ever, explored; not the Wild West, but the specific time period surrounding the California Gold Rush. Second, it utilizes history to create a natural aura of horror, which I personally do frequently and find history to be very accommodating to horror, honing in on the actual trail followed by prospectors seeking their fortune and the dangers they faced crossing the Nevada desert. This was, and ultimately still is, a dangerous area to cross, especially considering in 1849 they were crossing it with horse/oxen and wagon. Right away, you know that the environment itself pushes the limits of survival. Third, Death Toll doesn’t actually create a scenario; rather it creates a series of locales and environments with associated events the characters can trigger as they move through the area.

For a small publisher using a community license, Death Toll is a good quality product. It has some very good maps, good artwork, a clean layout, and an excellent flow of content from beginning to end. This particular book provides a look at what traveling across the California Trail was like, a background story to create the conflict for the mini-campaign, a delve into the local flora and fauna, a collection of wagons and beasts of burden to choose from, a group of NPCs to fill your caravan, era-appropriate weapons, and a lot of content for the Keeper to use as necessary.

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