Hideous Creatures: Hounds of Tindalos (Trail of Cthulhu)
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
Page Count: 10
Release Date: 05/30/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
Hounds of Tindalos is the second in the Hideous Creatures series in which Trail of Cthulhu scribe Ken Hite tries to breathe new life into classic (but maybe tired) Lovecraftian adversaries. The previous release, Deep Ones was…mediocre. There weren’t a lot of new ideas in the piece and the content was very hit or miss. It was a good attempt at starting to talk about Deep Ones, but it wasn’t something I could recommend. Unfortunately while Hounds of Tindalos is a little better, there’s still not enough content for the asking price (only seven of the ten pages have content) and again, most of the ideas aren’t new or all that original, but this does generate some interesting talking points which any Cthulhu-oriented game system can take advantage of.
The first section is some optional descriptions for Hounds of Tindalos, such as providing them with motivation or giving them predatory characteristics of non-canine animals, such as sharks or tigers. I like the predatory aspect as good descriptions from a Keeper makes a creature seem more loathsome and frightening. Meanwhile, I don’t like the idea of trying to lock down the motivation for these aliens creatures. In providing a discernible raison d’etre, you make the Hounds less foreboding or frightening. These are alien beings beyond our comprehension; leave them that way.
From there the piece goes into a Trail of Cthulhu stat block and special abilities that a Hound might have. This is nicely done and these new abilities will keep players on their toes. Unfortunately this is followed by “Variations,” which is yet another misguided attempt to shoehorn the Hounds of Tindalos into a predictable understandable creature with motivations and behaviors that can be discovered and even predicted. Most of the ideas here aren’t very good and feel like things were just thrown at the wall to see what sticks. There’s nothing in “Variations” I found very appealing or even mildly interesting.
“Mythic Echoes” is the attempt to fit a Lovecraftian creature into folkloric creatures of various cultures. Much like with Deep Ones, I applaud the attempt, but not the result. After starting off the piece by admonishing players not to think of or treat the Hounds of Tindalos like dogs, that’s that is done here. Worse, the folklore pieces are too brief/shallow to be of any use and some are a bit erroneous, to put it nicely. This section ends up coming off as, “Look at all the mythological dogs I can name” rather than being of anything truly useful to a Keeper. Worse yet those that would fine this interesting are more than likely well versed in folklore and mythology enough to realize that these descriptors are all too brief for any real use. As such, what’s the point?
The next section is “Investigations,” and I rather liked this. It’s a wide range of ways that skills in Trail of Cthulhu can be used to generate clues about the Hounds to prevent players getting stuck. These are all really well done and fun to read.
After that we have four adventure seeds followed by a short bibliography. “Fugue in the Key of Dee” is a bit dull and convoluted while “Don’t Mess With Tindalos” has potential to be either very memorable or a complete train wreck, depending on the Keeper running it. “The Dunne-ish Horror” is a WONDERFUL example of how to use the Hounds of Tindalos, while “Every Dog Has Its Day” isn’t so much an adventure seed as two paragraphs that aren’t necessarily connected and that neither of which uses a Hound correctly. So again, hit or miss, which really sums up the entire Hounds of Tindalos piece and the Hideous Creatures series in general.
We’re two in and so far, the Hideous Creatures series fails to impress. Both pieces have some good ideas in them, but the mediocre or crap bogs the quality pieces down. With the first pieces, I thought the problem was that there wasn’t enough space to flesh out the ideas and so everything was being half-assed or forced to be more vague than desired due to a lack of space. Now I’m starting to think the opposite is true and there simply isn’t enough quality thoughts to fill up the seven pages of these articles so padding of any kind is being added. I’d like these articles a lot more if they didn’t feel like word vomit and were more in-depth commentary or detailed ideas on a few pieces instead of short bullet points or underdeveloped paragraphs. Hopefully the third time will be the charm, but honestly, so far, you can spend your three dollars on better pieces.