Mysteries of Hungary
Product Code: CHA0340
Publishing Year: 2007
Cover Price: $14.00
Author(s): László Dózsa
Format: MULA Monograph
Released as PDF: yes
An understanding of the thousand-year history of Hungary is vital for a good background. During the centuries, four nations have tried to rule the area now known as Hungary. German-Roman emperors brought the Hungarian crown into their treasury. In the eleventh century their attacks stopped, due to huge casualties. In 1241 the Tartars came and burned the land, after they crushed the Royal knights near Muhi. They too were eventually defeated. The Turks, and then the Austrian Habsburg family, came to dominate the country in the sixteenth century.
Finally a new state was formed by mutual accord. It would not stand long, for the Great War began in 1914.
MYSTERIES OF HUNGARY describes the land, the history, and the people of Hungary.
- History and Legends,
- Economy and Standard of Living,
- Lake Balaton and Region,
- Adventuring in Hungary,
- Mythos in Hungary,
- Professor of Nygotha, and
- Hungary in Other Eras.
This work was written by László Dózsa, resident of the region.
Front Cover Text
History, Legends and Background for Adventuring in 1920s Hungary
Comments / Trivia
This monograph is has been roughly translated into English from Hungarian.
There is an article/review for this monograph on the site, but the content is pasted below under 'Keeper's Eyes Only'.
Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only
Players should not read any further.
Comment here to Keepers about this book. Comments on specific Scenarios and Campaigns go on their respective pages. Keep DISCUSSION on the talk page.
This monograph is a sourcebook for CoC adventuring in Hungary and includes the basics of an introductory 1920s scenario set there.
The material is neatly laid out, but is noticeably written by someone who does not use English as a first language. Illustrations are restricted to the chapter title pages. These look good and are atmospheric but on closer inspection there is at least one typo in every title page text paragraph. A map features in the imagery of the title page for Chapter 5, but not on a scale that is usable and there are no other maps.
Review of Content
A lot of historical background is provided for the nation, the capital (Budapest) and a selected region around Lake Balaton. It may be an effect of my struggling with the use of English, but I didn't feel the history was particularly clear. The massive trauma of being on the losing side in the Great War and having your empire dismembered is skipped over rather than emphasised. This is partly due to the need to focus on Hungary of its present geographical boundaries (i.e. the ones we will find on the maps we will have to look up) rather than its various earlier manifestations. The focus on the regular CoC eras also produces gaps; we are given at least an idea of the present but the communist period from the end of World War Two to the beginning of the 1990s is nearly invisible.
The mythos is inserted into Hungary's historical and geographical background with the nation treated as a blank canvas. This ignores other game writings might have been used as reference points; 'Castle Dark' in Day of the Beast is set in Transylvania which is, today, in Romania; and 'People of the Monolith' a three-page scenario with an Hungarian setting based on a R.E. Howard short story and which appears in Shadows of Yog-Sothoth. An apparent lack of familiarity with game products is the beginning of some problems here. Algernon Blackwood's 'The Willows' (HPL's favourite tale of cosmic horror) which is set in Hungary is also unreferenced.
The mythos presence includes Yithians in caves, Mi-Go mining remnants, sand dwellers and chapters of the Order of Dagon, which was founded in Hungary in 1397, apparently. You perhaps didn't know that there was a Kitab Al-Azif in multiple copies in the library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Not very convincing. Worse still is the take on Attila. The following quotation will also illustrate the slightly awkward English:
"Attila is the chosen of Cthulhu, he is one of the Great Old One's main servants on Earth. [...] Attila was in main position in Cthulhu's plans, with his death, the plans about the Great Old One's return collapsed. In fact, that's why the cult of Cthulhu isn't very common in the present era."
Judge for yourself whether this thwarted schemer acting through human agents much resembles Lovecraft's version of the foundational figure of the mythos.
Insensitivity to the mythos is one thing. Insensitivity to real world groups is another. The writer treads carefully around Hungarian Anti-Semitism but blunders by making all Gypsy communities essentially consist of thieves led by magic users. We should not perhaps take this too seriously, because it occurs in the chapter that features the sheer impossibility, on several levels, of there being four FBI agents based in 1920s Hungary.
The scenario 'Professor of Nygotha' is a strange, statistic-less affair about a sort of Hungarian ninja cult hunting down those who have inadvertently learned the spell Dismiss Nygotha in a university class. The climax separates the characters from the person they are protecting by the use of drug-soaked parquet [!] in a house they will investigate. They wake up in hospital after 'an unidentified woman has called the fireworks'. That's as much as you need to know.
To say a few more positive words, the writer likes magical artefacts and these are often interesting. The Appendix about spell duels is the most intriguing and unusual in the book.
Summary What seems to have happened here is that the author has taken what he could from CoC and inserted it into Hungarian settings for his players. The surprising familiarity of the three 'Hungarian Investigators' listed on pages 44-5 with a virtual roll-call of mythos entities suggests a long running campaign. The information provided shows an emphasis on magic items and powerful magic users suggesting a campaign style of play somewhere between pulpy and powergaming. Eventually, CoC in its Hungarian guise eventually gets exported back to the centre, and this largely redundant monograph is the result.
Despite such a largely negative review, with a lot more work and proper editing, there could have been a perfectly decent job made of the subject. Whether there would be a demand to justify the extra work is another issue.
The monograph line is designed to accommodate offbeat projects and the repeated blurb points out that Chaosium don't do much with the content. Unfortunately, in this instance, there has been no quality control at all. If Chaosium aren't going to do quality control on monographs, we have to do it ourselves, on sites like this.
For all practical purposes, this monograph isn't worth your money or time. It is badly written, doesn't contain the sort of material you would expect (like a map of the country or of the capital city) and what material there is flawed and unconvincing. Mysteries of Hungary simply isn't up to the standard of the majority of the other monographs published.