"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022


MY FATHER LIKED TO ASSIGN BOOKS for me to read. Then he would quiz me about them at the dinner table. One of my clearest memories is of Jame Joyce's Ulysses, which being a mythology nut I clicked with long before my father thought I would. "What do you think about the title?" He asked me. "Ulysses is the Latin name for Odysseus. He is basically saying that any man who leaves his wife to go to work every day and manages to come home to her has experienced the Odyssey for himself."

I don't recall getting any bonus allowance but I should have for that answer. Yes, I am being facetious, but the point here is that heroquesting is easier than you think.


"Heroquesting" is a magical and religious practice in Greg Stafford's fantasy world, Glorantha. I've written about it extensively both in Six Seasons in Sartar, The Company of the Dragon, and as part of the Chaosium team for an upcoming release. It is, basically, a "vision quest" yet also the same thing that the ancient Greeks invented drama for. The idea is a simple one, if you can think like a Traditional person. The problem is, most of us have never been taught to. Quite the opposite really.

In a nutshell: there is the mortal world inside of Time and the immortal world outside of It. Why does it rain? In the mortal world water evaporated into the atmosphere condenses back into water and raindrops form. But this is the effect, not the cause. No. Let me tell you a story. 

Once, the Blue Dragon Vritra swallowed all the waters of the world. Indra, chief of the gods, had the smith god Tvashtr create the "thunderbolt" (Vajrayudha) for him. With it he slays Vritra and releases all the waters of the world from the "blue" sky. In doing so Indra makes himself both the storm and rain god.

Now. In the Traditional perspective, both things could be true. Here inside of Time, water condenses and rains back to Earth. But outside of Time, all this happens because Indra fought Vritra. It formed a pattern, a fact. 

And let me stop you before you utter those poisonous words "that is just a myth." You have, as a victim of the Post-Modern world, been taught that only one thing can be true. In ancient India, they were wiser. They also told a story about Indra and rain that had nothing to do with Vritra.

In this tale, a sage is meditating under a tree. Understand, in ancient India, there is nothing more dangerous than pissing off a sage, because they practice austerities, acts of sacrifice that earn them enlightenment and magical powers. Well, the part I have left out so far is that elephants--the sacred mount of Indra--once had wings. They lived in the sky. One elephant alighted on a branch in the tree over the sage's head, and depending on which version you hear, either the branch broke and the elephant's fall disturbed the meditating sage or (more colorfully) the elephant relieved himself and the sage became covered in elephant dung. Ladies and gentlefolk, if you have seen elephant dung, you will understand the sage's displeasure.

So the sage, quite angry, full of Rune points from his many sacrifices, lets the elephant have it. He curses the elephant and all his descendants to never fly again. This leads however to the widespread Indian belief that elephants bring rain. Why? Allow me to paint a picture...elephants are big, gray, thundering, and shoot water from their trunks. Basically, they are clouds. The idea goes that the sky elephants like to visit their terrestrial kin and bring the rain with them.

So, you that is just a myth crowd, the Indians had two stories about Indra and rain. They considered both true, and at the same time their philosophers knew perfectly well rain occurred because water evaporated, rose up, cooled and condensed, and came down. These people were not stupid. We get chess and the concept of Zero from them. But all of these things could be true. All of these things were true. Because condensation is a fact of the mortal world. Flying elephants and Vritra are facts of the immortal world. Facts of the immortal world are called Myths, meaning a story that is true, but we are only capable of grasping a fraction of. Myths can contradict themselves because each is a facet of the Truth.

Glorantha assumes the Traditional viewpoint is the correct one (except for some of those nasty Malkioni, the Westerners who deny the reality of Other People's Truths and assume they know the One True Way).(1) As a consequence the peoples of Glorantha have a wide variety of myths. Heroquests are when you leave the mortal world, enter the immortal, and experience the truth of it for yourself. 

This brings us back to vision quests and Greek drama. These were both attempts to leave the mortal world and interact with the deeper, richer, immortal one. Playing RuneQuest is another form, leave the round mortal world for the flat immortal one. So at last, we return to James Joyce.

Heroquesting is easier than you think.

People new to RuneQuest often have a lot of trouble with the concept. "Cross over? Cross over to where?" "What does it look like?" "What are the game mechanics?" "What do we do there?" Well I have answered these. Simon Phipp has answered these. Chaosium will soon give a definitive answer to these. But if you are asking "what is heroquesting?" and you expect a rules answer, you are never going to get there.

Heroquesting is a perception. It is the sheer acceptance that everything mundane is also sacred and magical. That everything local is also infinite. That your experiences are the experiences of heroes and gods. That the simple act of going to work and coming home to your wife everyday is the Odyssey.

It is my habit to write in the mornings and then take a walk. Bear with me here.

I live in Tokyo, one of the most urbanized places in the world. Across the street, however, is a river, and across that river is a large park stretching for kilometers along the water. My walks there are heroquests.

1. At a sacred time (my afternoon break) I go to a sacred place (the edge of the bridge). 

2. Before I go I prepare myself. Soma is hard to get these days so I settle with the traditional Orlanthi Widebrew: I have a libation before I set out. This is my entheogen.

3. Fortified I "cross over" (the bridge) to the "Other Side" (in this case of the river. 

4. I follow a Path. This is a path laid out by those who came before me. In this case, a literal one, but in Glorantha, a story or Myth.

5. Now the trick on any sacred journey like this one is to experience it as the immortal world, not the mundane. Everything that happens is part of the Myth. It is all pregnant with meaning. Today, as soon as I had "crossed over" I was set upon by Heler, the God of Rain.

6. Now I was armed against their attack (Heler is non-binary). Having consulted sages beforehand (the weather channel) I knew he was lurking. I had the Sacred Shade Maker and Rain Shield (an umbrella).

7. Still, Heler was right wroth (okay, I am straying into Pendragon territory with the vocabulary there). So I sought shelter amongst the daughters of Aldrya (I hid under trees).

8. I was not alone long in my shelter. Grandmother Mortal (random Japanese pensioner) emerged from the woods to join me. She was not armed against Heler.

9. We spoke awhile shielded by the daughters of Aldrya. I soon realized this was the climax of the heroquest, the supreme test. So I insisted she take my Sacred Shade Maker and Rain Shield. I knew, of course, that all heroquests require a sacrifice after all. 

10. Let before I left, she bestowed upon me a Boon. Grandmother Mortal instructed me on Fate.  "I thought I would be soaked and get pneumonia tonight, but then I ran into a kind young man who helped me. This is what my grandmother taught me. If you have faith in things they usually turn out right." With this Boon I undertook the Return and faced the fury of Heler alone.

11. Finally, the most important part of any heroquest, I came back to share the story with my Tribe.

So you see, when you sit down to write or run a heroquest at your table, don't get hung up on The Myth. There is never The Myth. There are infinite ones. Don't get caught up on the details of the Hero Plane or the gods encountered or the stages of Campbell's bloody Hero's Journey. Like Joyce, just have them go out the door but make the experience mythic. They are already on a flat world shaped by the gods, draw attention to that, make it feel myth, and understand that anything undertaken during the quest has Mythic Import.

Do that, and you have a heroquest.      

(1) Usually I avoid footnotes, but this one is too good to resist. Greg Stafford's cultures all derive from various global myth-types. Orlanthi mythology is built on the old Indo-European model, for example. But the Malkioni, with their One God and their humanistic materialism and their science and their colonialism, are clearly Western mythology...basically Greg's way of saying that our absolute assurance that elephants never flew and Vritra is just a myth is itself just a myth. The God Learners were reductionists like Marx or Fraiser or Freud who thought they could reduce global mythologies to a single theory, and the world destroyed them for it. And like the God Learners, our empire is being threatened by the seas rising from the consequences of our arrogance.



Sunday, August 28, 2022


“I see. I look foul and feel fair. Is that it?”

- Strider, The Fellowship of the Ring

GREG STAFFORD's "GLORANTHA" is a flat world floating on a cosmic ocean. The sky is a dome. Metal comes from the bones of dead gods. Elves are sentient trees. Giant babies float down river on ark-sized cradles, and once my player character was hired by a talking fish. Yet with all this wonderful madness, the one element of Glorantha that is certain to generate controversy and complaints are the Ducks.

"Durluz," if you're nasty.

Ducks have been there from the beginning. "This is a race," RuneQuest informed us in 1978, "cursed by the gods during the Great Darkness...(i)t is unknown whether they were originally human and became feathered and web-footed, or originally ducks cursed with flightlessness and intelligence." Hardly comical, they are a cynical and grim race who manage to survive on the edge of Delecti the Necromancer's marsh. Hunted and hated, it is seldom wise to piss one of the little buggers off.

I am firmly in the camp that loves the Durulz, and when the AD&D crowd used to sneer at our Gloranthan Ducks back in high school I sneered right back at their hairy-footed halflings. I am loud and proud in my Duck defense. And thank the gods that I am clearly not alone. Authors Drew Baker (Highways and Byways, Return to the Big Rubble, Gloranthan Family Backgrounds, etc)  and Neil Gibson (Legion) have joined forces on not one, not two, but four Duck-tastic Jonstown Compendium releases (the fourth as of this writing is not yet released) detailing the race. With a wink and a nod to the classic Gloranthan Trollpak they are calling the line DuckPac. 

DuckPac has been released separately, but I suspect we might get a bundle down the road (this has been the pattern with Baker's releases). I will talk about the three titles currently available here.

Book 1: Myths, Legends, & Lore is pretty much as the title says, a 52-page PDF  introducing the Durulz of Dragon Pass. The real meat of the book begins on page 12, where the Ducks tell us their origins, how they came to be named, all about their culture and lifestyle, then about their anatomy. 

There is then a long and frankly moving section on the "Duck Hunts," one of the darkest chapters of their recent history. This is where the Duke paradox (see, I resisted the urge to say "pair of ducks" there) is truly highlighted. Our first instinct is to see them as comical, but in reality, Glorantha uses the Ducks to explore some very dark territory indeed. The "Duck Hunts" are nothing less than a pogrom, an attempt at genocide that mirrors some of the least savory chapters of terrestrial history. The treatment the authors give it here is grim--this is not a book for kids--but masterfully illustrates why the Ducks are far more than a punch line. They are, in fact, the underdog and a very persecuted minority. The secton on the "Duck Hunts" drives that home beautifully.

The book finishes out with a gazetteer of Durulz lands, complete with a map (see below). 

Book 2: Duck Adventurers is 90 pages on creating Duck player characters. This book mirrors the "Adventurers" chapter of the core RuneQuest rules and like them, includes several pregenerated characters. They start with Homeland and then go into Family History, which includes a section on the infamous "Duck Hunts," a generational trauma that will likely color your character's perceptions and feelings. Rune affinities follow, as do Characteristics, Occupations, and Cults. There are not a lot of surprises here. Occupations are familiar to us from the core rules but rewritten with a Duck focus (and we do have the new Occupation "Kafari," Ducks who master the business of river trade). There is a Duck name generator, the return of the "What the Such-and-Such Tells Me," a popular RQ/Glorantha tool that has an elder of the culture answering questions for younger members, and a terrific end section on playing Ducks. This includes a new table of Duck-sized weapons, a discussion of Duck movement rates, how to address the stereotypical "cowardice" of Duck characters, and a surprisingly detailed section on underwater combat. Then, if this was not enough, a terrific section of Duck specific items and artifacts. We finish with pregenerated characters and a sample Duck settlement.

Now, before we get on to book three, we need to talk about art and layout.

I've been saying in several of these reviews that it is really getting harder to tell what is a Chaosium product and what is a Jonstown Compendium product these days. DuckPac exemplifies this. With art credits going to Drew Baker, Neil Gibson, Tania Rodriguez, Rick Hershey, Lee O'Connor, Dominic Reardon, John Spelling & Forge Studios, these are the best looking Ducks I have seen in 40 years of playing RuneQuest. The tables, the maps, the diagrams, all are top notch. See for yourself:

Click to enlarge

With Book 3: Redfeather Dreaming we have a 133-page soloquest, a tradition I know I am not alone in being delighted to see revived for RuneQuest. Obviously this is the book I can say the least about, but it consists of more than 300 scenes or "story fragments" that have a high degree of replayability and could easily be adapted for a GM to run for a player. 

While the Ducks have had a sourcebook before (Mongoose published a Duck book for their version of the game), this is the first time we have ever seen anything worthy of the classic TrollPak. DuckPac is brilliant, a cohesive, sensitive, and sometimes tongue-in-cheek examination of what arguably is Glorantha's most iconic species. It's a "must have." 

Friday, August 12, 2022


The wind told me once that everybody gets to play a game of Nobilis before they die. Maybe it’s in their secret dreams. Maybe it’s in real life. But everybody gets to experience the world of the Nobilis once—to leave behind the dead world where things don’t talk to you and nobody knows the purpose of the world, for at least one night, and see the truth...

Nobilis, p. 7

When all else fails, start with a Kenneth Hite quote:

Imagine Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Clive Barker's Hellraiser on an absinthe bender, with flowers. That's Nobilis.

Hite wrote that twenty years ago, but it still is the best summary of the game I can think of. Nobilis is about mere mortals who have a god bury a piece of its soul inside them, transforming them into quasi-divine beings connected to one of the fundamental building blocks of creation. Whatever you were before, now you are Gravity, or Longing, or Autumn, or War. You are a "Noble" or "Nobilis," the heart and mind of the Estate stuck inside you. Your job is to govern it, to protect it, to serve it.

This is not just a superpower. Sure, the Power of Architecture can conjure buildings up from the dust, plant blueprints in an architect's mind, or create a secret floor in that skyscraper that no one else can find, but it's deeper than that. When the newlywed couple in Boise remodels their kitchen, you feel the tickle as they apply paint to the walls. When that earthquake in Japan levels a village, you feel the sting of every collapsed wall. You are Architecture, from that tree house in Oregon to the silver palaces in Heaven. The very concept lives inside you.

And this is why a god handed the Estate to you. See, the world is not what we think it is. Earth is just one of a billion worlds hanging in the branches of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. That Tree is surrounded by a wall of blue flame and beyond it...is Nothing. The Void. That is where they come from, the Excrucians. Appearing as impossibly beautiful men and women, mounted on pale horses and with black eyes filled with falling stars, they are the emissaries of oblivion. They have come to erase the cosmos one concept at a time. The "gods" (more accurately the Ymerae or Imperators) are at war with these Excrucians for the fate of all existence. To keep the Estates an Imperator embodies safe, they create Nobles. For example, when Baraqiel the Imperator of Thunder, Terror, and Reversals went to war, it likely created three Nobles: Thunder, Terror, and Reversals. As Baraqiel fights the Excrucians, those Nobles govern and maintain the Estates. If Baraqiel falls, those Estates are not erased from existence, but remain alive so long as the Nobles do.

Imagine the Imperators as crystal snakes: blue crystal, green crystal, red crystal— every color in the world. Where do the snakes come from? They create themselves, pulling themselves by force of will from nothingness. The snakes writhe one about another, a blind, squirming, undulating mass. From above, there shines a light.
It passes through the crystal snakes and forms a pattern of shifting, mixed, twisted colors on the void. 
That is Creation.

Nobilis, p.  17

So what do they do, these Nobles? 

Aside from defending and furthering their Estates (the Power of War, for example, runs around the globe or sends agents to undermine peace treaties and ignite conflicts), a Noble works with their siblings to run their Imperator's chancel. The chancel is a sort of "pocket dimension," the seat of the Imperator's power, and the Imperator's Nobles must run it together. In the example above, Baraqiel's Nobles (each a player character) work together as a kind of Noble family to rule the chancel. Chancels might appear as anything--a Renaissance Italian city, a castle in the clouds, a fortress on the back of a giant turtle--but they are usually inhabited by subjects and worshippers of the Imperator and need to be managed just like any mortal realm. Side note, the players will create the chancel, and their Imperator, as part of the character creation process.

Aside from Estate management and chancel governance, the Nobles thwart the machinations of the Excrucians and their agents, navigate Noble politics, and explore the Mythic Realms. They also pursue their own "projects." Perhaps the Power of Architecture wants to push 21st century humanity to create the first Arcology (a joint venture, perhaps, with the Power of Ecology?). Perhaps the Power of Reassurance wants to ensure no child ever again fears the monster in the closet or hidden under the bed. 

How do they do any of this? Let's talk system.

In the First Age, we lived in harmony.
In the Second Age, we were at war.
It was not until this, the Third Age, the Age of Pain, the
Age of the Excrucian War, that anyone seriously considered the possibility that the world itself could die; but now we know it likely will.

Nobilis, p. 154

Nobilis eschews dice. Play is driven by resource management and improvisation.

At its core, all characters have various statistics rated 0 to 5. When tested, they use the appropriate trait and compare it to a difficulty between 0 and 9. If the trait is equal to or higher than the difficulty, the character succeeds.

In addition to these traits, characters will have a pool of points available to them that they can add to these traits to beat higher difficulties. If a character with a trait of 1 is facing a difficulty of 5, they spend 4 points from their pool. 

There is a catch. These points must be spent in the following increments: 1, 2, 4, or 8. If the difficulty above was 6 rather than 5, the character would need to spend the full 8 points.

In any contest between two characters, the higher total wins.

Now, what these traits are, and what pools you can use to augment them, will vary based on the kind of character you are playing at the time. Yes, you heard me right: "at the time." There will be times when you are playing your Noble and other times when you might be playing one of your Noble's human (or inhuman) agents. 

Mortals, for example, have Passions and Skills they use in tests, augmented by a pool called Will. Two characters get into a brawl in an alleyway. One has the skill "Boxing 3" and the other has the Passion "Win at any cost 2." Boxing will win the challenge unless the other character spends Will, and Boxing could also spend Will to come out on top. Other factors come into play, though, including situational ones. "Win at any cost" looks at her GM and asks "we are in an alley, is there a bottle I can break and use as a weapon?" The GM might say "yes" and her character now gets a +1 or +2 boost. Or, her opponent might have "Cool," a catch-all defense trait that subtracts from opponents' attacks.

Nobles are of course more complicated. The game is about them, after all.

Nobles have four core traits. Aspect is body and mind, and as a sign of their power, the scale is utterly different than what a mortal has to work with. A mortal might face a difficulty of 9 to perform like an Olympic athlete. A Noble faces a difficulty of 2 or 3. Past 5 they perform physical and mental feats no human could dream of. At difficulty 6 a Noble could defeat 500 armed men armed with only his bare hands, or at 7 drink one of the Great Lakes dry. 

Domain and Persona both govern use of the Noble's estate. Domain governs the Estate itself, the "substance" of it, while Persona governs how the Estate interacts with the world. The Power of Fire could use Domain to cause a mortal to spontaneously combust, but Persona could make a mortal more fiery tempered.

Treasures governs a Noble's Anchors. These might be NPC servants, mundane objects, or at higher levels magical objects or wondrous beings. In Neil Gaiman's Sandman, for example, Dream's helm, bag of sand, and ruby amulet were all Anchors.

Each of these comes with a pool of 5 points to spend on that trait alone. These pools can be increased with character points or later over the course of the game.

Nobles will have both Bonds and Afflictions, flaws or vulnerabilities that help characters replenish their point pools (humans can replenish Will similarly or through sleep). Bonds are triggered by the player, while Afflictions are the province of the GM.

They rode into the world at the beginning of the Age of Pain. They rode pale horses and carried these horrible weapons—these soul-cutting atrocities that can destroy even nominally immortal things. They broke down the gates of Heaven and slaughtered amongst the Angels before the Angels gathered and threw them back, and since that time, their assault has not relented, but rather only dispersed, with the Imperator-Excrucian War being waged at any given time on dozens of the endless worlds upon the Ash and occasionally slipping upwards to Heaven, downwards into Hell or sideways onto the trunk of the World Ash itself.

Nobilis, p. 160

So what is different about this, the 2022 Rerelease?

Visually, in terms of layout, graphic design, and tone this is a return to the 2nd edition, the Great White Book. At the same time it has all the innovations of the 3rd. The setting is more clearly defined and explained, the material is more approachable. There is a terrific "lifepath" system (totally optional) that guides bewildered new players through the maze of Noble character design, and the rules for mortals are a terrific innovation. I had serious reservations--the 2nd edition sits high in my pantheon of the greatest games ever--but the 2022 Rerelease supplants it hands down.

Author Jenna Katerin Moran's prose (the 1st and 2nd editions were written under the name R. Sean Borgstrom) has never been better. One does not often read games for pleasure but Nobilis is hours of pure delight: 

You can survive anything. You don’t need air. You probably don’t even care whether you have air. You don’t need food or water. You can handle being thrown in a giant blender. Maybe the blades break on your legs, maybe you reflexively turn into protoplasm and reform, maybe you emerge on the other side with a torn sleeve and a dramatic nick on your cheek. It’s just being thrown in a giant blender, so, you know, whatever. There’s no point stabbing you. There’s no point nuking you. If someone throws you out of an airplane without a parachute you are going to be upset about possibly missing your connecting flight.

from the "Active Immortality" Gift, p. 128

All in all this is a masterpiece edition of the game. Go. Go and buy it now (as off this writing it is available at a sale price).

Thursday, August 4, 2022


IT IS GENERALLY AGREED that 1979's Alien is essentially H. P. Lovecraft in space. It's not a perfect match--HPL was not big on working class heroes and no one delivers long monologues on the insignificance of humanity or the benefits of ignorance--but hey, one of the survivors is a cat, and that he would have approved of. The gist of the film is a group of people are out traveling the space lanes when they run into something, well, alien. Not Star Trek or Star Wars alien, no, this is the kind of alien that the more you think about facehuggers the longer you are put off wanting sex. The kind of alien that you cannot wrap your brain around. The kind of alien that is inimical to humanity.

Now I mention Alien because the crew of the USCSS Nostromo are just hard-working folks out there in the middle of nowhere doing their jobs, people trying to put food on the table. They weren't asking for any of this. They are not big bad space marines out on a bug hunt (Aliens), psychopathic inmates (Alien 3), or military doctors looking for the ultimate biological weapon (Alien Resurrection). The Nostromo crew are just operating a space tug, bringing cargo from point A to point B. Basically, they are space truckers on a long, desert highway. Or, if you think about it, cowboys out on the range.

2017's Down Darker Trails brought Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu to the 19th century American West, but Trails paints with broad strokes, covering the entirety of the "Old West" setting. What John LeMaire's Get Along, Little Dogies--a new supplement for Down Darker Trails available from the Miskatonic Respository--does is to focus on one aspect of that setting. It is 134 pages zeroing in on the "cattle drive." In other words--and I swear this is the last time I will beat the Alien analogy like a dead horse--John is concentrating on the helplessness, the isolation, of crossing a wide, empty expanse and encountering the Mythos far from the streets of Kansas City or Tombstone.

Out on the range, no one can hear you scream.

If I lost you back there, let me explain. The Miskatonic Repository is the Call of Cthulhu equivalent of the Jonstown Compendium for RuneQuest. It is Chaosium's community content program for its immensely popular and venerable game of cosmic horror. 

"Community content" is a slur in some circles, but those circles are continually getting smaller. With ENNIE award wins and bestselling titles, venues like Miskatonic and Jonstown are increasingly holding their own. As pointed out by Chaosium's own community ambassador Nick Brooke recently, they allow authors to do the kinds of projects that a publisher like Chaosium can't, either taking their games is bold new directions or diving deep into specific aspects of their settings. The latter is what John has done for Down Darker Trails.


In Part 1 Get Along, Little Dogies starts by giving you the reality. John provides a history of cattle drives in the American West and a discussion of their difficulty and necessity. There are in-depth explanations of where and when these drives happened, the various roles people played in them, and what it was actually like to be out there on the trail. All the terminology is there, the little details, and the author has to be commended for his exhaustive research. Useful spotlight rules are included, like a full page on lariat usage. 

Chapter 4 presents a number of episodes, "mini-scenarios" like "Gathering Lost Cattle," "River Crossing," and "Stampede" that turn the realities of the cattle drive into gamable challenges to play out at your table. Reading this chapter I kept thinking how much fun it would be to spend an evening just roleplaying a cattle drive sans the Mythos. 

But that isn't really what we are here for, and it is in Part 2 we are presented with a 40-page scenario that shows the Mythos colliding with characters just out there doing the job. Playable in a single session, "Get Them Dogies Rollin'" could easily be expanded with the episodes mentioned above, and could serve as a terrific springboard into a greater Down Darker Trails campaign. 

Obviously I am going to get necessarily vague here to avoid spoilers, but I will say the scenario is a memorable one, both for the uniqueness of the situation and setting and the way John has woven those all-too-familiar Lovecraftian tropes into the mix. The story provides a number of challenges both real and Cthulhian, and an escalating sense of dread.

The book rounds out with tons of NPC statistics, as well as stats for cattle, horses, and the scenario's new creatures. A few premade settings are offered to launch the story, a mix of believable historical ones and...well shall we say a "darker" option.

Get Along, Little Dogies holds its own nicely against any 7th edition Call of Cthulhu title, and that is a remarkable achievement for a one-man operation. It looks and feels like a 7e title should (and given the praise I have lavished on 7e products here that is saying something). Full of maps, detailed statistics, and a plethora of character hand-outs it is clear that the author has put the work in. There is art on nearly every page, a mixture of period pieces and the author's own work. If you like Down Darker Trails you are going to want Get Along, Little Dogies. It is a terrific expansion full of ideas to be mined. As mentioned its core concept--you out there in the desert, in the darkness, isolated and alone--ratchets up the horror. Yet even Basic Roleplaying players interested in historical roleplaying (or players of a game like Deadlands for that matter) will not be disappointed by this title. The author has clearly already put in the blood, sweat, and tears of research so you don't have to.