Monday, June 17, 2013

We Are Living in a Golden Age

"Look, you." (Art by genocyber.)
I have a very clear memory of my first encounter with Masks of Nyarlathotep, the granddaddy of all Call of Cthulhu adventures and one of the all-time classic RPG campaigns, period.

I had, of course, heard about it, knew of its reputation, wanted to play it. So, on a jaunt to one of my city's game stores, I pointed it out on the shelf to my buddy Alex, an avid Keeper. The store manager saw us eyeballing it and came over.

"Great, great campaign. Highly recommended," he said. "There are a few pitfalls and things you should be aware of if you're going to run it, though. Which one of you is thinking of running it?" he asked. Alex raised his hand. The manager looked at me and my other friend who was with us. It was a small store. "Step outside with me," he told Alex.

He then proceded to have a 15-minute discussion out on the sidewalk, going over the campaign point by point, sharing all his collected wisdom so that Alex might avoid the mistakes the manager had made when he ran it.

I bring up this hoary gaming memory because, as of yesterday, the folks over at have released the long-awaited Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion. For free. This is basically like a dozen veteran Keepers taking you outside for a 15-minute discussion of how best to run Masks, but you also get handed a dossier full of deluxe handouts, maps, new side-adventures, expanded historical and background information, etc. Totaling over 500 pages. Again: all for free.

I've been waiting for the Companion to see the light of day ever since I first heard about it some five years ago. This year also sees the rerelease of Horror on the Orient Express and a deluxe 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu, both thanks to the auspices of Kickstarter. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm gaming more than ever thanks to the maturation of web chat and social networking technology. I am spoiled for choice in what to run.

It's been said by others before, but it's worth reiterating. The tabletop RPG industry might be facing an uncertain future (along with the rest of the publishing world), but the hobby, I believe, is truly experiencing a new golden age.
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