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Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box $5.95
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
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Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/07/2017 07:48:22

This adventure comprises the final revelation in Graham Walmsley's series of Purist adventures. This may sound a little strange, each adventure has been presented as a one-off with the recommendation that you use the pre-generated characters provided with each one (given that they will probably be mad or dead by the end of the adventure anyway). However, as a group of players (rather than as their characters) your party may play all of them and so see the underlying strands that culminate in the revelations of this adventure.

It all concerns an antique box, which the Investigators are asked to take from London to a contact up in the Lake District, a professor who studies folklore. Put it this way, this box makes Pandora's Box look like a benign ornament. After explaining the background, what there is to be discovered and the 'spine' of the adventure, we meet the pre-generated characters. You'll have to transfer them on to character sheets before distributing them to your players, but they do come with ample background material that gives them ready-made reasons to get involved. Finally before the adventure itself, there are notes on the main NPCs including their background and notes on how to role-play them to effect.

Then it's on with the adventure, detail upon detail, clue upon clue, leading the party inexorably on to their fate. At some point, probably, they will open the box. Don't push them (most Investigators will not need to be persuaded to take a peek), although there are some hints to help whet their curiosity if they seem reluctant. That's when the fun really starts. Delightful suggestions are given on how to present just how weird the contents (and their effects) are: this is something you can have a lot of fun playing out. Everything builds to a climax, out in the woods... and however the party deals with it, the ultimate ending is the same. You ought to have players, never mind their characters, freaking out.

A fitting climax to the series, with good backlinks, and an excellent adventure in its own right. There are a couple of errors a good proof-read ought to have caught, otherwise presentation is excellent, with some interesting handouts linking in the previous adventures.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Oliver K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/22/2012 05:49:20

I have to say, I really love this adventure module. It's a very nice read. The Mythos entities and the story befit each other, there's plenty to spark players' imagination, well-described. It just left me with the impression that the author had a good grasp on Lovecraftian storytelling. I certainly would like to introduce some players to this one, kudos!

In a departure from standard rules, all clues require a spend. This has one advantage - some investigators have similar skills, and no one can hog the spotlight forever given this little scenario rule. "Driving yourself crazy" is also a departure from the standard rules, and I'm not sure how that would play out - it could add to the fun or kill the entire atmosphere of the whole game. Best go with what you think suits your players, it's optional after all.

A little oddity is the selection of investigators coming with it. As this is no conversion product, but made for Trail of Cthulhu, it kind of surprised me that the investigators did not seem to match the rules. There's 3 female investigators vs. 2 male ones, which typically requires creating more investigators. The distribution of skill points seemed a bit arbitrary - the nun had the best credit rating, and almost none had their required minimum rating. Also, the naive, amiable nun was streetwise... Similarly, the alienist had no psychoanalysis skill, and also no first aid skill either (but Medicine at 4). Equipment was left out, too.

I liked the conception of the investigators, though. The descriptions were top notch, I would love to play the "synaesthetic composer" in a roleplaying game. The idea is definitely a keeper and well thought out.

So, best build your own investigators for this one (it doesn't take long, anyway), you won't regret it. Or go with the ones included, their "faults" will hardly impact gameplay, I'd guess.

The adventure module itself, the artwork, the basic concept, the ideas, the writing certainly will reward your spending, and for currently 6.95US$ (or less in a bundle) it's well worth buying.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2012 14:20:03

Graham Walmsley really knows how to take classic Lovecraftian tropes to create original and yet very "authentic" Trail of Cthulhu scenarios. The Rending Box is another investigation designed for Purist-mode adventure which highlights the horror of the setting and really pushes the characters to the edge of sanity. As such it makes a perfect one-shot adventure, and like all of Walmsley's ToC scenarios is simply a lot of fun to play if you're a fan of Lovecraft's stories and don't mind the likely outcome that their characters are unlikely to come out of the adventure unscathed. I would highly recommend this and the other adventures by Walmsley.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Flames R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/07/2011 07:15:11

Graham Walmsley’s The Rending Box is moderate-sized (30 pages with handouts) adventure for Trail of Cthulhu (though it could be modified for Call of Cthulhu with little hassle). While it isn’t an overly challenging adventure, it perhaps puts too much potence into the hands (literally) of the players. Characters will find that Pandora had it easy with her little box.

Huguenin’s artwork is appropriately gruesome for this chapter of the three-scenario Purist adventure. His cover piece is atmospheric while his interior works, such as the lovely Jakob Tulving removing his eyes so that he can see better looks like something from a 1950s pre-code horror comic book cover (that’s a compliment for those who don’t know me). I also love the detailed image of the box itself (a great handout to toss on the table before declaring “this is what will ruin your lives).

The key aspect Walmsley drives home in The Rending Box is the stability and sanity loss characters experience through the course of playing in Lovecraft’s vast sandbox. This adventure is less forgiving than the two before it, but feels most in-line. The scenario provides a slow decent towards an understanding of the Mythos that cannot be undone. One of the beauties of the adventure is how the author twists each drive towards rationalization, which leads towards desolation.

Excellent ideas on running madness are peppered throughout the book, many of which are thick with inspiration.

The biggest hurdle for this game would be the players. Most players familiar with sanity loss hijinks may not play the adventure as true to form. Kudos to the gaming group that holds to character well enough to make this adventure shine (because it will). I’d recommend this for a group less familiar with the material who just want to have a good scare. It’s got all the required elements for a good one:

  1. Insanity? Check.
  2. Cultists? Check.
  3. Something for the Cultists to worship? Check.
  4. Pointlessness, bordering on the absurd? Play the game.

I think what I enjoyed most about this adventure is that it made a tried and true formula an interesting read. With nearly 30 years of RPG adventures on this subject alone, I consider it quite an achievement. My scores for The Rending Box are:

Writing: Five out of Five Dice (a solid story with a familiar formula) Artwork: Five out of Five Dice (Great. Creepy. Perfect.) Overall: Five out of Five Dice

Review by Todd Cash

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Trail of Cthulhu: The Rending Box
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Gokce M. A. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/29/2011 01:54:57

From hands of Graham Walmsley, this adventure is a good piece of Lovecraftian Horror. If you played adventures before, this holds one or two surprises for you, I hope you kept that campaign notes. The mystery unweaves as Investigators find clues and are driven into madness. If whole series was a novel, It would be a good example of Lovecraftian Horror.

(Maybe it is, you know. Stealing Cthulhu was a good reading. No wonder he get a really good kick-start(er))

There is almost everything a Narrator wants, and there is nothing unwanted. Maybe some grotesque descriptions could help but usually, from my experiences, Narrators don't like them too much. Usually, they use their own depictions so I don't think this should be considered as minus. There is personality notes for each important NPCs that investigators may interact and from nature of Trail of Cthulhu System there is a lot of clues for them to solve.

Just turn off the lights, lit candles, put a soft but gothic music in low voice to background and start your investigation.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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