Black Goat of New Orleans (Call of Cthulhu)
Publisher: Golden Goblin Press/New Orleans Mythos
Cost: Free (To Kickstarter Backers)/$500 (everyone else)
Page Count: 29
Release Date: 08/19/2014
Get it Here:Golden Goblin Press
Back in June I reviewed Tales of the Crescent City: Adventures in Jazz-Era New Orleans from Golden Goblin Press. This collection of adventures for Call of Cthulhu, Sixth Edition was well received by fans of the game, including myself. This crowdfunding success isn’t done yet though, as one of the campaign’s stretch goals was released on August 19th. Black Goat of New Orleans is the first release from New Orleans Mythos, a new little CoC third party publisher. New Orleans Mythos did contribute to the Tales of the Crescent City book in the dramaturgy department, but this is their first adventure release, so I want to plug it and the company, as both are relatively new. Of course, currently the only way to get Black Goat of New Orleans is if you were a backer of Tales of the Crescent City… unless you want to pay $500. I do feel that is a bit extreme, and much like The Owlglass, I do wish this was available to the general public at a more reasonable cost. By all means, give the Kickstarter backers the piece for free, but also let the general public have a chance to enjoy it as well. After all, only 700 people backed TotCC, and if we want New Orleans Mythos to start off on the right foot, this needs to get into the hands of as many people as possible.
The first thing you’ll notice about Black Goat of New Orleans is that, aside from the front cover, the entire PDF is done with a forced two page spread. This means you have to view two pages at once, no matter how you have your PDF reader set up, making the piece really annoying to read on anything but a computer screen. On my e-reader or a phone? I had to constantly resize this thing to flip through it. It also makes printing this adventure off (especially the handouts) a real bitch. Why they went this way, when it’s obvious that the release was meant to be done with a one page view as the pages are portrait instead of landscape, is unexplainable. I’d say this could just be chalked up to a rookie mistake, but GGP should have caught this for them, especially since they handed it out to Kickstarter backers. It’s a very easy fix to make, so maybe they’ll go ahead and tweak this in the future.
Aside from the formatting issue, the adventure is pretty good. The cover, art and handouts are all high quality and make this adventure a lot of fun to both read and play. There are seven handouts in all, ranging from the usual documents and newspaper articles to some very creepy art. These are as good as the stuff you generally see from The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, so I can’t wait until New Orleans Mythos starts producing physical replicas (if they ever do). I also like that the “pages” of the PDF are yellowed to look like an old weathered book. It’s a small touch, but it really shows a dedication to the craft.
The adventure itself takes place in 1928 and, as you might expect, occurs in the city of New Orleans. Although the piece starts off with something as innocuous as a football game between LSU (Boo) and Tulane (YAY!), it doesn’t take long for the Mythos to rear its ugly head(s). A routine play on the field ends in death for one player and a sort of catatonia for another. As the Investigators begin to look into the affair, they discover all sorts of grisly details, from a stolen cadaver to the revelation than a certain New Orleans urban legend is in fact real and out to do some harm. At least one Investigator will begin to be plagued by unusual dreams as they investigate everything from an art museum to a spooky cemetery. Eventually the piece climaxes with a knock-down drag out fight against the big bad boss and its monstrous underlings, although clever players may be able to prevent the climax from occurring by nipping the problem in the bud early. I really liked that there was an early ending of sorts, allowing players looking for a more intellectual and far less physical approach to “beat” the adventure. A lot of CoC adventures, especially ones released in the past few years, have been lacking this, which flies a bit in the face of actual Lovecraftian storytelling. It’s great to see both options included, as that way everyone wins, and the Keeper has less scrambling to do in case players go off-rails. It’s also worth noting that you might think you know what the Mythos creature du jour is from the title of the piece, but you’d be wrong.
Black Goat of New Orleans is a short adventure and you should have no problem completing it in a single session… or two, if your players like to get sidetracked or socialize more than they actual play. It’s a very straightforward piece, and although it progresses linearly, there is enough room for players to explore and not feel as if the piece is on-rails. It’s what you would expect for a first time adventure from a new publisher. New Orleans Mythos played it safe by presenting a standard style adventure with a nice blend of investigator and violence. The adventure stands out due to its high production values and somewhat original monsters. By no means is Black Goat of New Orleans going to revolutionize how you play Call of Cthulhu, but it’s a fine first release from a new company, and it definitely has me excited to see what the future holds for its publisher. Again, if you weren’t a Kickstarter backer, this release is currently out of reach for you, but perhaps if you cajole Golden Goblin Press enough, they might release it as something you can download (for a smaller fee than $500) from their website. I really do feel that Black Goat of New Orleans is a piece that deserves to find a wider audience, and this is really the only way it’s going to happen for the time being. Here’s hoping if that does happen, you get a single page view of the adventure instead of the forced dual page spread that will occur no matter what device you view it on or how you tweak your Acrobat settings.