On Clues – Missed, but not Lost

Keepers planning their MoN campaign will frequently hear this valuable pearl: “Let them miss clues.” From the launch, you and your players will be afloat in a sea of intertwined leads, locations, and characters. With everyone immersed in the sprawling campaign world, players often find distractions from the campaign’s prescribed investigative threads. If your players overlook an important clue in the designated location, you should adhere to the aforementioned advice—do not force-feed them clues. While MoN may be a well-structured campaign, it should not function as an exercise in long-form railroading. Redirecting investigators back to missed clues compromises player agency and disrupts the game flow. With all that said, we would like to add a

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Trimming & Refining Australia

Excluded from the early releases of Masks of Nyarlathotep, the Australia chapter finally saw publication in 1996, and, in many respects, still feels slightly perfunctory and out of place. For one, it lacks the geographic constraints imposed in the other chapters and spans an entire vast continent. While the scale of the search adds to the global flavor of the campaign and helps create late-game pressure by adding in lots of travel time, it also dilutes some of the excitement.  The cursory detail provided in the relatively brief descriptions of each location lacks the flavor and drama present in other chapters.  The chapter’s true heart lies beneath the parched earth of the sparsely populated Australian

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The Long Run: Reboots, Retcons, and Resets

This is a follow-up to an earlier post, found here, which is spoiler-free. Be advised, the post below does contain some MoN spoilers. The Even with the best intentions and committed gaming crews, big campaigns falter. If you find yourself in such a situation and wish to continue playing, do not despair! There are potential solutions to reignite the adventure. It may not be a perfect, uninterrupted playthrough, but it’s still an amazing journey.  TPK Retcons: The history of MoN is littered with dead investigators, and TPKs account for many an arrested campaign. The introduction of Pulp Rules and modifications to the latest edition have toned down the death and destruction, but these things still

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The Long Run: On Getting MoN “Wrong”

“I’m going to finish this, even if it means I’m playing by myself.” -Keeper Dave (esteemed co-host of the MU Podcast) Disclaimer: This is not really an admonishment or castigation of others. In truth, it’s more of a conversation with myself. While the principal subject matter is MoN, this discussion applies to any long-form TTRPG campaign, creative project, or sustained effort.  Conventional internet wisdom cautions prospective Keepers to steer clear of MoN if they cannot guarantee dedicated time, committed players, and willingness to read the campaign at least once before launching the adventure. Being a fool, I openly refute these limiting precepts. I’ve previously suggested an alternative to the prescribed cover-to-cover study, so I will

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Mythos Tomes – True Magick

Location:  Stored in Ho Fang’s booby-trapped teak cabinet in the Shrine to the Bloated Woman (China) Alternative Location: On the desk in Carl Stanford’s room (China) Physical Description:  Bound in fine red Chinese silks depicting various Mythos creatures and symbols Author:  Theophilus Wenn, 17th-century Hermetic philosopher, produced no additional works believed to be a pseudonym, possibly Arthur Dee (eldest son of John Dee) or Elias Ashmole Publication History: Only a single copy exists, last recorded in the possession of the early 19th-century bookseller and American wizard John George Hohman. Records reveal it seemed to be a small and crumbling manuscript bound in disintegrating leather. According to scholars, medieval records from the University of Salamanca detail

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Adding “The Vanishing Conjurer” to Your Campaign

Warning: Vanishing Conjurer Spoilers Below Presented as an introductory-level investigation, The Vanishing Conjurer is suggested as an “intermission” in the Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign during the England Chapter. The Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion also notes it as a suitable sidetrack adventure. We thoroughly enjoyed this scenario as a one-shot featuring a stage magic act, but we also incorporated elements and easter eggs tying it to our larger Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign. In particular, we used it as an opportunity to introduce our players to both Mickey Mahoney and Carl Stanford, as well as foreshadow the importance of the Order of the Bloated Woman. In this post, we share our experience in running this scenario as

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Scenario Remix – The Vanishing Conjurer

    WARNING: Vanishing Conjurer Spoilers Below Stage magic and the Cthulhu Mythos pair beautifully. Lovecraft himself collaborated and ghostwrote for Harry Houdini. Over the decades, several scenarios have capitalized on this thematic association, including the two-pack of adventures from Games Workshop published in 1986 featuring The Statue of the Sorcerer and The Vanishing Conjurer. Other notables include The House of Memphis in Mansions of Madness, volume 1, and Miskatonic Repository offerings, Death is the Final Escape and The Maw. Of these, our personal favorite is The Vanishing Conjurer by Mike Lewis and Simon Price, which features evocative cover art by Lee Gibbons, a promising hook, and a novel roleplaying opportunity baked into the scenario. As

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Adding “Swamp Song” to Your Campaign

The latest edition of MoN includes the Peru Prologue to introduce Jackson Elias before his inevitable demise at the Chelsea Hotel. This addition helps form a bond between the investigators and their ill-fated quest-giver. Our Miskatonic Repository scenario, Swamp Song, aims to deepen this Peruvian connection and offer the investigators a chance to save Elias’ bacon at least once. The scenario contents also aim to foreshadow, provide resources, and lay some groundwork for future campaign events without altering the plot. Here, we intend to elaborate on our goals and provide some notes on integrating Swamp Song into your MoN campaign, even if you’ve already moved beyond New York! WARNING: SWAMP SONG SPOILERS BELOW Timing: The

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Returning to the 4th Edition, part 2

We return to our review of the fourth edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep to survey the Kenya, Australia, and China chapters. As the campaign moves further away from America, a lot of the poorly-aged choices and depictions become more apparent. The intent is not to belabor them in great detail but point out some of the more salient decisions made in the latest version. Once again, we engage the older edition with an open mind and an eye for discarded components that could be re-incorporated or further modified to augment your campaign.  Kenya: “Expect massive Sanity loss in this chapter. Don’t be squeamish in applying it.” Previously Kenya served as a near-direct path to a

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Returning to the 4th Edition, part 1

The creative team behind the latest edition of Masks of Nyarlathotep brought some great changes and a wealth of useful information to Keepers tackling this epic adventure. This version is far and away the best version of this campaign, but it stands atop four phenomenal earlier editions. In this process of growth, some interesting pieces of the campaign fell away. Some things changed for the sake of balance, consistency, and inclusion. We particularly appreciate the presence of Zahra Shafik over Tewfik al-Sayed.  Others alterations stand out as creative choices. A few, surprisingly represent a loss of granularity, for better or worse. We will tour some of the smaller differences between the fourth and fifth editions

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