Mysteries of Ireland (Call of Cthulhu)
Page Count: 107
Cost: $9.87 (PDF)/$17.95 (print)
Release Date: 07/25/2012 (PDF) 08/03/2012 (Print)
Get it Here: Chaosium.com
Mysteries of Ireland is the latest low-frills Call of Cthulhu publication known as a Monograph. Monographs are CoC supplements, adventures or texts that Chaosium publishes, but has not done any of the art, editing or layout for. Because of this the books can range from extremely high quality like Children of the Storm to subpar offerings like Ghosts in the House, you never know what you are going to get. I decided to pick this up this since I’m a big fan of Cubicle 7’s Cthulhu Britannica line. I have the core book, the Avalon one and Shadows Over Scotland, but I was surprised that they never did one for Ireland. Well, not to worry because now we have one, albeit one by a different writer.
So what do you get in Mysteries or Ireland? Well, you get a wonderfully done and extremely comprehensive look at Ireland from the year 1919 to 1930, two short but nicely done city guides to Dublin and Belfast and finally, three adventures to let your gaming crew experience the beauty and horrific monstrosities that Ireland has to offer.
Ireland is an odd choice for a CoC setting as Lovecraft only ever wrote a single story set in the country. Mysteries of Ireland acknowledges that and as such tries to bend Irish folklore to the Mythos and filling in the blanks rather than adapting Lovecraft into Irish history. It’s very well done and I enjoyed seeing things like Merrow as Irish Deep Ones, Morrigan as an aspect of Shub-Niggurath and so on. Mysteries of Ireland is very thorough in this regard and manages to preserve the Irish folk tales of yore while merging them with Lovecraftia.
Mysteries of Ireland contains a very thorough history on the Emerald Isle for the years ranging from 1919-1930. You’re given a look at post WWI life, the War of Independence from England, a look at the divide between Northern Ireland and the Republic and why it occurred, and so very much more. This book is as informative as it is educational and you’ll come away knowing a lot more about the real Ireland, which in turn, should help you to really flesh out a campaign or adventure set there, even if you’ve never stepped foot in the country.
Besides a general history of the island, you’re also given a ton of information on little things like firearm laws, technology, public houses, celebrities, holiday and even fashions for the era. This is wonderful and the historical bits alone are well worth the cover price. There’s even a comprehensive price guide for just about everything player characters will want to purchase. Whether you’re wanting to know about the old Irish Standing Stones, or how much it costs to send a telegram to the continent, this book has you covered.
Of course, as interesting as information on secret societies, the condition of asylums, ferries across the Atlantic and the like are, you probably want to know what this adds to the Call of Cthulhu game itself? Well, quite a lot actually. The book contains stats for Irish creatures unique to the region, such as Bog Wraiths and Leprechauns. You have two new Occupations for players to try out: Tinkerers (thinking Gypsies, but Irish) and Veterans of the Great War. Both have an interesting skill range and should be fun to try out. Of course there are also the three adventures that come in the book. The first two can be played in a single session while the third is much longer. Let’s take a look at each of them briefly.
“Poitin For Father Moloch” is all about a bootlegging operation gone wrong. What should have been a simple run for some potato based moonshine because an excursion into horror and senseless death. Seems the bootleggers were hiding in a cave that happened to house an ornate statue with a large and near priceless crystal. The bootleggers removed the crystal…which just so happened to belong to the Merrow (Irish Deep Ones) and now they want it back by any means necessary. Can the Investigators save the bootleggers, return the crystal and stem the wraith of the Deep Ones? Well, maybe one or two of the goals… This is a pretty fun adventure that can easily be adapted to a non-Irish setting if needed. It gives you a standard Mythos antagonist and a somewhat generic story, but with some very nice locales and a good deal of information to help the Keeper. This would honestly be a very good first adventure for some players.
“The Demon in St. Niclaus’ Church” in my favorite of the three adventures. It’s a tale that spans centuries and features one of the most gruesome ways to defeat a CoC antagonist yet. It’s not for the faint of heart and although the adventure is more gross and horrific than scary, it’s definitely a highly memorable one. In the 14th Century a group of Franciscan monks sought to summon an angel. What they brought forth instead was something alien with a taste for human flesh. What happens when the creature is set free during a routine bombing during the Irish Civil War? Your gaming group gets to find out. For a more interesting session, perhaps half the players should be Loyalists and the other half IRA, creating an adventure where both warring factions must get along to save lives and sanity alike.
The final adventure in this monograph is “Blood Fruit.” This long adventure doesn’t really feel Lovecraftian, but it is still a very unique and weird one. It involves an Irish island that has a more tropical climate that one would expect for that region of the world. It boasts a legion of ghostly children, fruit with terrible message written on the INSIDE of the skin and a hideous pact with Yig itself. The adventure is probably the hardest to set up as you’ll really have to push your players to want to investigate this mystery. It might be harder for them to figure out just what they have to do to “win” as well as it’s a bit hard to come to without some prodding from the Keeper. Finally, even after players have accomplished their main goal for the adventure, they’ll probably all die horribly Phantasy Star II style. That’s all I can say there.
All in all, Mysteries of Ireland is a great little purchase. You’ll get an amazing source book and three fun adventures, all for less than ten dollars (if you pick up the electronic copy). Sure there are a few typos and editing errors, but there aren’t that many and then, they seem to only be in the adventure. This is a Monograph after all, so it’s not as was done by a highly paid professional. They’re still less errors here than in some recent Shadowrun products I’ve reviewed recently. Honestly the only real turn-off for some Call of Cthulhu fans is that like all Monographs, Mysteries of Ireland is a low-frills product with no real art or production values, especially where compared to the higher budgeted pieces in the “Mysteries of…” line Chaosium has done itself. This is up there with Children of the Storma s one of the best Monographs Chaosium has put out and whether you’re specially looking for more content for a Cthulhu Britannica campaign or you just want a meaty sourcebook to give you ideas for new adventures, Mysteries of Ireland is one Call of Cthulhu book you don’t want to pass up.