Art: Divers Hands
Publisher: Chaosium Inc. MULA Monograph 0364, October 2008.
Review by: malcojones
This monograph is a collection of nine unconnected scenarios by nine different authors all entered in the 2008 Halloween Horror contest. As such (and as implied by the title) it is one of a series and therefore it is unlike the usual monograph in that Chaosium have clearly undertaken some editorial role in the selection of scenarios, their arrangement in the book and in the choices of illustration. The editorial work remains anonymous, however, and there are signs of the project being rushed through for Halloween with typos throughout and the lack of maps in most of the scenarios.
I'll deal with the scenarios individually below in enough detail that there will probably be spoilers, but this paragraph gives a general overview. Halloween is the linking theme but the scenarios span a wide variety of settings including a fantasy future, Cthulhu Invictus, Cthulhu Dark Ages and, mainly, the present taking us to Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin as well as unspecified generic mid-West USA, the UK and Japan. The focus on the contemporary is logical for horror stories, as authorities such as M.R. James and (following James) Sandy Peterson have argued. This means that, despite the number of scenarios, this collection neglects Classic 1920s and Gaslight periods. Obviously, Chaosium can't determine what is submitted to their competition, but some editorial comment in an introduction or in the blurb would help potential purchasers evaluate the product. Instead, what we get as blurb is nothing but cunningly tweaked flavour text from the first scenario.
The Beloved Dead by Sarah Newton
Cain's Clan by Ed McLinn
A Chill Down Your Spine by Harris Burkhalter
The Dragon and the Wolf by John W. Thompson
Earth: Rest Stop, Body Shop by John D. Kennedy
Longa Obscuritas by Oscar Rios
Jubai Kadain by Simon Yee
Revenge of the Hei People by Nick Davison
Who's That Knocking? by Garnett Elliot
Overall, this is not a bad collection of one-offs with some welcome support for pre-gunpowder eras. Not all the scenarios are worth your while, though YMMV, but there is enough viable material for several Halloweens here, as long as you're happy to make your own maps or wing it without.