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Valkyrie Magazine and RPGnet are happy to provide this review.

The King of Chicago and The Secret of Marseilles
Call of Cthulhu
Chaosium Inc.
[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 local colour.

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 prices.

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

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