Berlin - im Herzen der grossen Stadt
Berlin - im Herzen der grossen Stadt Capsule Review by Jürgen Hubert on 04/12/02
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
New York? London? Paris? Forget all of those - if you want to see some real action, visit Berlin of the 1920's! Get involved in fights with revolutionaries, criminals, police, movie-star agents, Mythos cultists - and if you are really brave, Nazis...
Product: Berlin - im Herzen der grossen Stadt
Author: Wolfgang Schiemichen, Nathanael Busch, Jakob Schmidt, Jan Christoph Steines
Company/Publisher: Pegasus Press
Line: Call of Cthulhu
Page count: 192
Year published: 2002
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Jürgen Hubert on 04/12/02
Genre tags: Historical Horror
As the 2nd Edition of GURPS Horror pointed out, the Weimar Republic - Germany in the 1920s - make a swell background for any kind of horror campaign. High glamor existed side by side with desperate powerty, and high culture and artism with brutal street battles and political instability. And the feeling of doom that is so vital for horror adventures is easy to evoke, as the players will be all too aware that sometime soon the Nazis are going to take over and plunge Europe into an abyss of war and genocide.
With this in mind, it seemed natural that Pegasus
Press, the German publisher of Call of Cthulhu, would take a look at the
shiny but rotten core of the Republik.And
with Berlin - Im Herzen der grossen Stadt, they did just that.
Combining a sourcebook of the city of Berlin with two adventures that
take place there at least a part of the time, this book gives you all
you need to run a campaign in the city's Golden Twenties - which
truthfully weren't all that golden...
Golden glänzt Berlin (Golden Shines Berlin)This chapter gives you the basics of the city. Kleiner Bummel durch Berlin details Berlin's various neighborhoods - and as the city had just incorporated many surrounding towns and communities, these neighborhoods are diverse indeed. From the urban Mitte to the high industrial Moabit, from the prestigeus Charlottenburg
to the workers' barracks in Wedding,
from the rural Zehlendorf to
the airport in Tempelhof,
Berlin is not one town, but many. Vom
Leben in der Stadt covers the city's entertainment industry, from
theatres, varieties, to the movie industry that could give Hollywood a
run for its money (No, really. Those were the days...). Berufsleben und Einkommen in Berlin um 1925
how the various investigator occupations fit into the city, and what
they usually earn. Nach Wissen Suchende covers the major universities,
libraries, and museums of Berlin - always a major point of interest of
the average investigator...
Der tanzende Faun (The Dancing Faun)In this adventure, the investigators are looking for Love. Well, sort of...
After a fateful evening in one of the many nightclubs of Berlin, the investigators get involved with a beautiful young actress, and the people who surround her. Gradually, they sink into a morass of madness and murder, and will likely have many memorable encounters with many Berliners, ranging from the police to the criminal underworld. They might participate in the biggest movie production of the decade (well, they and 35,000 other people), and learn more about Berlin's thriving porn movie producers than they really wanted. Once they have some measure of understanding about what the hell is going on, they can travel to the grand finale to another European country - which is currently in the process of being taken over by fascists. (Ah, to be American and having only the Prohibition to worry about...)
This adventure looks like it can be a lot of fun - with the right players. As you might gather from the comments above, this isn't the right adventure to run if your players get nervous at the mere mentioning of the word "sex". It is also neccessary that at least some of the players are willing to take cues from the keeper, instead of insisting that they play their character exactly as they imagine it...
Jahrhundertsommer (The Summer of the Century)It is the summer of 1925, and Berlin is suffering from a heat wave. A perfect time to go for a swim, but unfortunately, the investigators won't have the time for that as they have to find a kidnapper and his victim. But who are these other stange people the investigators keep on bumping into?
As they puzzle out the clues on their way and learn that the stakes are far bigger than they had imagined, they will have to face some deadly and otherworldly foes. Can they stop them in time - or will the Jahrhundertsommer last forever?
The better part of the adventure is mostly investigative, and in fact I would recommend against running this adventure with players who don't pay enough attention to the game - if they miss too many clues, it will require some heavy GM fudging to bring them back on track.
There's only one minor problem I have with the
adventure: If the PCs fail to reach their goal, the text recommends a
cheap cop-out that will make most of their efforts pointless. Sure,
they might have saved one life with their efforts, but that's nothing
when compared to the many lives their failure would "realistically"
cost. Personally, I'd let the PCs feel the consequences of their
(in-)actions, even if any future campaigns would realistically slip
into the realm of Alternate Histories...
ConclusionAll in all, I was very satisfied with this purchase, and I am looking forward to future Pegasus Press releases if they can maintain the same standard of quality. The Berlin gazetteer serves its purpose very well, and the adventures leave little to be desired (even though I would have liked at least one adventure that doesn't only start in Berlin, but also ends there...). I can recommend this to anyone who can read German and is interested in Call of Cthulhu. And for those who can't read German, never fear - I hear there's a translation in the making...