A solo play Call of Cthulhu mini campaign. No Keeper is needed as you guide yourself through the adventure.
Alone Against The Dark is an adventure for one player, set in the fall of 1931. Your goal is to solve strange disappearances and to forestall a calamity about to beset the world. You will journey from New York City to Greece, Egypt, Germany, and Antarctica.
Beginning with the theft of a priceless relic, four friends are drawn one by one into a dark web of mystery and horror. As the darkness grows, only you can hold out against the dying of the light. The fate of the world is in your hands.
As Louis Grunewald, a quiet linguistics professor from the Miskatonic University, you will confound the forces of darkness before time runs out—but should Professor Grunewald be eliminated for some reason, you can successively assume the identity of a new investigator. There are four ready-made investigators provided for this purpose, enabling you to take on differing roles as circumstances change in your search for the truth: Louis Grunewald, a linguistics professor from the Miskatonic University, Lydia Lau, a story-seeking reporter for the New York Sun, Devon Wilson, a sailor on leave from the US Navy, and Ernest Holt, a wealthy industrialist.
This adventure is guaranteed dangerous. But, no matter how skillfully you avoid death or madness, your investigators will fail if they do not prevent the turning of the world and the freeing of the City of the Old Ones from the ice.
Armed with a copy of the Call of Cthulhu Keepers Rulebook, a pencil, and some roleplaying dice you are all set for the twists and turns of this epic world spanning adventure. Sit back, get comfy, and prepare to be Alone Against The Dark!
First released over thirty years ago, this new edition has been completely revised and updated for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, with new illustrations and player aids.
What the Critics Say
"…a high-octane, globe-spanning adventure that promotes its relentlessness from the get go… a demanding, entertaining adventure, made even more desirable by its extremely low price."—Antonios S. Review, RPG.Net.
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Physical Product Settings
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Has Inventory: [Y]
United States: [Y]
United Kingdom: [Y]
Is PDF Available: [Y]
PDF Product Name: [RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha - PDF]
PDF Product Link: [/call-of-cthulhu-keeper-rulebook-7th-ed-hardcover/]
Has Physical Product: [Y]
Is Physical Available: [Y]
Physical Product Name: [Alone Against the Dark]
Physical Product Link: [/alone-against-the-dark/]
- 7th Edition
- Page Count:
- Black and White PDF
- Matthew J. Costello, Mike Mason
- Cover Artist:
- Petr Štovik
- Interior Art:
- Jonathan Wyke, Löic Muzy
- Dean Engelhardt
- Nicholas Nacario
- Character Sheet:
- Dean Engelhardt
Great to see Alone against the Dark make a return and updated for the &th Ed rules. It is a classic scenario that follows the formula of pre made investigators with the option of creating your own from scratch if you wish.
Each section is numbered and skill checks and decisions could take you where you may or may not want to tread as per classic UK gamebooks of the eighties, with the added complexities of the CoC system.
Highly recommended if you have no group to play with or if you just want to test out the mechanics of the system for yourself. Mr Mason has done a great job of editiong and updating the adventure.
~Please reprint classics such as Alone against the Wendigo and Halloween too, I will buy PDF and Hard copies as per the others!!
I purchased the PDF and printed it immediately because I do not have a Call of Cthulhu game group. I enjoyed Alone Against the Flames but was clamoring for something a bit more involved. I want to rate the quality of the scenario itself three stars, but I'm giving it a one star boost simply because the product exists. Quality products of this nature are very rare in the industry, I am sure because they take a tremendous amount of added time to design, write, and edit.
There is a lot to like here. Probably the most important aspect is that, yes the PDF is linked so that you don't have to spend time flipping pages if you want to do it electronically. I've found about a dozen or so links that don't work and will eventually go back and find them. I should have written them down as I went. But with 550+ entries, I'd say that's a pretty low failure rate.
The handouts are both nicely designed and useful. You really need to print them out.
Handouts, of course, relate to clues, and I feel the narrative does a good job of presenting a wide variety of information freely and a wide variety with skill roles. There is a nice array of red herrings and at some points things were referenced that I hadn't come across at all, revealing the richness of the investigative base. One last thing that I will say, trying not to spoil, is that there is a very obvious triangle puzzle that you start out cutting out at the start of the game (so it isn't really a spoiler). This puzzle is the true set piece of the adventure and I found it to be very well designed. There were points where I thought I had it figured out, but the clues related to it were just vague enough to invite missteps.
I'm a big fan of customizing the characters with 150 skill points. This brings with it critical decisions at the beginning of the game that are basically life and death. The first PC is very clearly designed to start you off strong. If you are thinking about "The Holy Trinity of CoC" skills, read the scenario intro carefully, because one of them is not suggested and isn't used. I think this is important because 150 skill points really isn't a lot given the breadth of skills required in the scenario. I don't see how someone could possibly complete this scenario with just the starting character without foreknowledge of the narrative or extreme Luck (pun unintended). I mean, if it wasn't difficult, it wouldn't be CoC. But there is such a thing as the right "kind" of difficulty, and I will discuss this below.
Part of what made this a day-one purchase for me is the record-keeping. This may sound strange to some gamers, because they may ask themselves, "Why would I want to keep track of days and hours?" Well, it adds to the immersion. There is a downside to this that I will get to in the "not so good." I enjoy having to manage variables. You need to manage your food consumption, your sleep, and your time. Compound this with the fact that you really don't know how much time you have to accomplish your overall task (or what that really is) and you really are in the head of a person who is investigating.
There are deadly aspects of the scenario that are somewhat predictable and sometimes surprises. That is an overall strength.
On to the not so good:
I think that 90% of the design intent of the mechanics of how the scenario should work are laid out in the instructions. I had a very brief exchange with Mike Mason about this on the basicroleplaying.org boards. Mike seems to think everything you need is in there. I think it is a bit buried and unclear in the starting text. I do not think the intro text does a good enough job of explaining the extent of the immersion of the record keeping. For the sake of simplicity, the scenario establishes a generic one hour travel time between any location within a city and one hour to accomplish something at that location, unless an entry instructs otherwise. I understand the need for simplicity for the management of this, but it can become unrealistic (and against the spirit of the narrative IMO) in parts. Examples are "short" errands and "short" conversations. If I'm in Arkham, MA and want to eat lunch and go to the bank, I have to spend four hours doing that. I find that pretty unrealistic. New York? Totally agree. I don't think it would have been too much of a stretch to halve the travel time in Arkham and track half hours. Short conversations are another example. I spend an hour listening to a person say one sentence? I see the argument that there is more to it than that. That maybe that hour is spent finding the person, introductions, talking to administrative assistants, whatever. I get that. But as a ROLE-PLAYER, that kind of hyper-restrictive parameter is frustrating to someone who can think of more efficient ways to do things. In that regard, maybe house-ruling is necessary. The reason why I am reticent to do that is that I could see how the entire narrative could suddenly become way too easy with an alteration of time. Without hearing from the original design intent it is difficult to know. My advice to anyone playing the game: never eat "lunch." You'll understand why when you start. So, its "realistic", except when its not. I'm not sure that, given that there is no Keeper, this concern is anything but idealistic.
The scenario has a fairly nice combination of skill roles versus information freely given. This is good, but there is a downside. There are certain skills that are absolutely critical in certain circumstances or your investigator will die. Many would argue that this is inherent to CoC. Historically, that is true, but not all CoC gamers like this style of gaming. This adventure, written in the past, is simultaneously visionary and old school. The scenario has a lot of "gotcha" moments interspersed throughout that require a critical skill role or there will be character death or there is no choice at all. This is what "Choose Your Own Adventure" has always had, but the difference here is in the length. You invest a LOT of time in getting to certain places in a globe-spanning campaign. CYOA books were 100-150 pages with huge type and I don't remember starting over being a monumental task. There was a point in the scenario that I lost two characters in the exact same spot despite doing something logical and different the second time. I basically heard The Simpson's Nelson "Ha ha!"-ing me. Finding the balance between what is "fun frustration" and what is not can be tricky. For example, I died on a specific skill roll. So, I drew up a new investigator with that skill, right? Yep. Went back. Made that skill roll. Immediately killed by the NEXT skill that I didn't know that I needed too. And it was not something you would expect to need from the location. That's a design flaw because there is only so much that those kind of "gotchas" can work without losing the player, and they especially don't if they are stacked up next to each other. I don't know, is it fun for you to get your character killed at a place, spend an hour in kitting out a new one and travelling back across the world and immediately getting killed again with minimal progress for a different reason? Rinse, repeat? It's very Gygaxian and Gygax is not someone who Keepers should be emulating unless you KNOW that players like that. This isn't a video game, but since Choose Your Own Adventure non-Keeper games play like them, it is important to recognize that there is a reason why video games have "save points" that don't require you to start the game over. Imagine Resident Evil 1 where, when you die in the lab, you had to start at the front of the mansion every time you died. That's what this can be like at parts. The narrative establishes that you are corresponding with the "next" investigator, but the deaths were happening where it would be IMPOSSIBLE to correspond.
Sanity is used a lot less than physical harm in the game. There is one critical point where I don't understand, by the letter of the rules, how it is possible to get past a point without getting temporary insanity that wouldn't also result in death. I also don't see how this specific encounter isn't absolutely necessary for the narrative to continue, from a character knowledge perspective because it would be impossible to communicate what happened to the other characters. I'm not sure if this is narrative oversight or a misunderstanding on my part that I'm "supposed to assume" that other characters would know where to go. Because, from my perspective, it just looks like a permanent Sanity/Health meat grinder. This happens later in the narrative, but I still found myself frustrated from a game-design perspective.
So, overall? For the price it is definitely worth it and you should buy this if you are a solo CoC gamer/collector or if you loved CYOA back in the day. My perceived flaws may not be flaws for you and even if they are, they can be easily house-ruled to increase enjoyment. I certainly am glad I purchased the product. It is very reasonably priced for what it is. The fact that it even exists and that Chaosium took the time to update it to 7th is worth the extra star, in my opinion.
The idea of being able to play an engaging solo adventure it's very good. And I must said that the setting, the characters and the story are really compelling. But there are some major issues in the usability of the material that made the experience a little frustrating. The descriptions of each chapter are very short due to the nature of the module, but in many points they feel like rushed. Also there are some major continuity problems, like being sent to a location at sunset and then suddenly find yourself at night time with no explanation. In another instance no indication of how long a specific flight will take. Another frustrating bit is in Egypt where apparently you can go freely go to any location by taxi in one hour, but in reality there is one that you should be able to reach only by car and in 48 hours! But you realise it only when you get there. That ruined the atmosphere a lot, forcing me to back track and to work it out by myself. Given that the story is pretty much straight forward and there are not many decision or routes that you can take I would expect a better degree of details. Still think it was worth a try but I would like a new version after some serious play test fixing all this little bugs that undermine the overall experience.
This is a Choose Your Own Adventure style book where you use a series of provided Call of Cthulhu characters and make rolls, etc and go from one numbered entry to anotherr. If you saw "solo game" and thought it was something you could run for one Player as a Keeper, it's not laid out for that.