Hideous Creatures: Mi-Go (Trail of Cthulhu)
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
Page Count: 11
Release Date: 09/13/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
If there’s one good thing I can say about author Ken Hite, it’s that he’s not afraid to reinvent the wheel. This is especially true with Lovecraft/Cthulhu Mythos creations as even if you’re not a fan of his writing style or mechanics, you can really feel the love for these hideous beasties come through and you can’t help but respect him for that.
One of Ken’s latest efforts has been the Hideous Creatures series for Trail of Cthulhu. These small supplements are meant to help your DM/GM/Keeper/whatever you want to call it come up with some fresh ideas for Cthulhu Mythos creatures that have become overused and stale over the years. After all, Mythos oriented games are meant to be horrifying and frightening, but when players know what to expect or worse, crack trope based jokes about their would-be antagonist, much of the mood is lost. I applaud Ken for really trying to bring spooky cosmic terror back to these Lovecraftian races, but the end result of the Hideous Creatures line has been less than stellar so far.
As you’ve seen in my reviews of Deep Ones and Hounds of Tindalos, the quality of these supplements have been all over the place. The bad news is the previous pieces weren’t very good but the good news is that each one has been better than the last. This is true of the latest Hideous Creatures release in Mi-Go in that it is the best of the series so far, which leads me to believe it just took Ken a bit to find his groove. Sure Mi-Go has room for improvement, but considering the first two releases in the Hideous Creatures series were mediocre and/or underwhelming, I’m just happy to see some noticeable improvement in the line.
Hideous Creatures: Mi-Go spans eleven pages, but only eight of the pages have content on them. The first three are a tremendous cover, a title page, and an introduction slash table of contents piece. That’s not too big a deal until you realize that roughly 25% of the piece lacks any content. Ouch. On the positive even though this is a Trail of Cthulhu release, only two pages and one scenario are devoted to ToC content, so you could conceivably use this with other Mythos related systems like Call of Cthulhu, Age of Cthulhu and Realms of Cthulhu. Probably not CthulhuTech though…
The first section is simply “The Mi-Go” and it gives both a description of what the Fungi From Yuggoth look like, but also various ways to change their appearance and a whole host of motivations for them. After all, why are the mi-go so into putting human brains inside a jar? I like the attempt at explaining why this alien race from beyond time and space do what they do, but at the same time, explaining their actions and motivations also takes away from the alien horror and makes the creatures more humdrum – which is the opposite of what the Hideous Creatures pieces are meant to do. This section also gives Trail of Cthulhu stats for the Mi-Go along with weapons and potential powers and/or weaknesses. This section is by far leaps and bounds better than the Deep Ones or Hounds of Tindalos versions.
“Variations” plucks some aspects of the Mi-Go from various writers and sources. Some pieces are contradictory, but the idea is to pick and choose, not take everything from here and try to make the puzzle pieces fit. There’s a lot of potential here, but the Keeper has to put a little effort in to make things work. “Mythic Echoes” is the attempt to shoehorn a Lovecraftian creature into various myths from around the world. The Deep Ones version of this was terrible and the HoT was slightly better. Once again, this is the weakest section of Hideous Creatures with Ken either getting things wrong or making things up/drastically changing the legends to get them to fit with the Mi-Go. This section would be better off with a little more research, explaining the real legend and how one might make the Mi-Go fit into it, or just excising it altogether. Let’s just say folklore is NOT Ken’s best area.
“Investigations” is always a highlight of these pieces and it remains with the Mi-Go version. Here you are given a list of information or insights that can be gleamed by particular skills an Investigator might have. Then we have “Scenario Seeds.” There are only two this time, one of which is a direct continuation of something found in the core Trail of Cthulhu rulebook, which means you might have already finished that potential storyline off long before this was released. I can’t say either scenario is very good, and I wouldn’t use either. It also doesn’t help both play off some extremely common Mi-Go tropes and clichés, which once again is what the Hideous Creatures releases are meant to combat. Finally, we have a very nicely done “Bibliography”, listing some fine fiction to read to help you better design your Mi-Go related encounters.
All in all, this third Hideous Creatures release is a further step in the right direction as each one of these pieces is better than the preceding ones. However, what’s here still isn’t very useful and doesn’t quite achieve its goal of revitalizing a Lovecraftian creation. If anything, the piece does the opposite by relying too much on what has been done before and also basically saying, “Just rip-off X-Files and use Mi-Go as the aliens instead!” which is just tacky and lazy to me. I can’t say what is here is worth three dollars, but at least the pieces are getting better and that’s one positive worth focusing on. Maybe the fourth time will be the charm?