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Overall, Canis Mysterium is not a great scenario, serviceable perhaps, but certainly not exceptional. Ghouls are passe in scenarios, and while the ghoul in this one is not at the fore of the scenario, simply having one after so much hints of ghouls is a disappointment. The true villain of the piece – the cemetery caretaker with a score to settle – is a rather one-note villain. He hates the town and the town hates him, apparently with good reason. I was particularly surprised that the scenario made no allowance for the investigators being in town should the caretaker’s scheme comes to fruition, instead leaving that for a handout – a handout which rather blithely glosses over a catastrophe that would attract national attention.
From my point of view as the editor of the Arkham Gazette [a publication from Sentinel Hill Press – Ed.], there are a few elements of the scenario that frustrated me. While I understand the geography of Lovecraft Country is intentionally vague, even a cursory review would tell you that between Deans' Corners and Dunwich is sparsely inhabited hills and farmlands; Lovecraft himself described the trip between the two, should you miss your turn on the Aylesbury Pike. Speaking of the Pike, it is described as a rutted dirt road, which certainly does not jibe with the source material or RPG products (or historically, unless it had been abandoned). Coldwater Falls itself is very roughly sketched – there is no map – and isn’t particularly distinguished or vivid a setting though i suspect with some work it might make a reasonable addition to the secondary locations of Lovecraft Country.
A minor point but I feel obliged to raise it- the author frequently refers to The Compact Arkham Unveiled for readers to refer to with questions about Arkham. I’m surprised Chaosium didn’t update that reference to their most recent printing of Arkham, HP Lovecraft’s Arkham (2003). I don’t know what that suggests about the editing process.
Finally I must confess that I found most of the artwork to be amateurish and unappealing. I suspect that the artist might have been aiming for something in the style of woodblock illustration, but the overall effect does not impress. The cover is adequate but not inspiring and gives away a bit of background plot and further hits one over the head that there are ghouls in the offing.
Considering the price, the generally pedestrian scenario, and the off-putting artwork, I say that this one is for the completists only. There has a been a large output of great Call of Cthulhu and Lovecraftian RPG material this year that you will likely enjoy more.