The King of Chicago and The Secret of Marseilles
[sterling]7.95 - 64pp
The King of Chicago and The Secret of Marseilles try to bring together what
would otherwise be considered two quite different cities. The major link is
organised crime in the late 1920s and, because this is Call of Cthulhu, the
secret link is the Cthulhu Mythos.
A very brief essay on Prohibition in the United States gives the background to
the rise of organised crime and the money-rich years of the syndicates.
The King of Chicago scenario itself draws in investigators with the tired hook
of investigating a murder. Not an auspicious start, especially to a scenario
where the mythos is marginal if not actually unnecessary. The background to
Chicago, however, is welcomed and will be useful for a campaign. The
investigation goes through the usual ground - interviewing suspects,
pussy-footing around suspicious authorities and a visit to a casino, a theatre
and an illicit brewery are all on the agenda. There should be opportunities
aplenty for drive by shootings and running gun battles, it feels worthy but
dull. Shame, since such a scenario should hold full-blooded action.
The Secret of Marseilles is filled with lots of local colour, including a large
dose of local criminal slang. Once again the hook is the investigation of a
murder - this time it happens right in front of the players' eyes. Somewhat
overplayed, n'est-ce pas? There's a useful map of the Casbah area of Marseilles
along with information on the various gangs of the city - the Catalans, the
Corsicans and the Italians, with a few Turks, Arabs and Greeks thrown in for
The Mythos is a little more central to the plot of this scenario and there's a
nice variation on a somewhat over-used Mythos Race. Say no more. No names, no
pack drill, don't want to give the game away, what?
The final essay on the economy of crime covers black markets, 'grey' markets,
smuggling and there's a listing of 1920 black market weapons and their
Buy this for the background it provides. Both scenarios are well researched,
but the actual story line you have to work on is a trifle thin in both cases.
It's a case of falling between two stools: delivering a really authentic
setting of Chicago or Marseilles almost overshadows the reason why the game is
played in the first place - to kick Cthuloid ass! With the emphasis on Chicago
and Marseilles, a two page spread of thumbnail scenarios to tie in with local
history of the period would have been appreciated.
Overall: Nice try. Must try harder.
Review by Jim Johnston
Product Supplied by Hobbygames