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Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Masks of Nyarlathotep

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shoggothsean

You know the motto of the HPLHS is "Ludo Fore Putavimus" - we thought it would be fun. Good luck with the decoding!

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CTPhipps

Finished.

 

I really loved it right up until the end where I thought it got too dark (too dark for Lovecraft? Yes, when it's PULP RADIO).

 

Still, overall a very awesome experience.

 

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willmize

You people really need to quit making me want to spend my money!

Not cool, man! Not cool!

 

- Bill

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Denis
7 hours ago, willmize said:

You people really need to quit making me want to spend my money!

 

As my daughter would say: "I feel you!!" ;) 

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Maccabeus
20 hours ago, Denis said:

I just received my Dark Adventure Decoder badge, and I must say I'm having way too much fun with it! I'll have to re-listen to the chapters I already listened to in order to get the clues. There goes another evening! :) 

 

My curiosity has gotten in the way and I've gone the other route. I'm still in Ch 4 because I stop listening until I've solved the coded message for that section. After I've solved them all, I'll be able to go back through and listen for enjoyment without distraction. 

 

Chances are it'll take you more than a single evening to solve (or even detect) the coded messages. Some of them are fiendishly difficult even with the proper key sequence. 

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CTPhipps

https://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/2019/02/masks-of-nyarlathotep-radio-play-review.html

 

MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP remains one of the greatest RPG supplements of all time. It was created in 1984 by Larry DiTillio and Lynn Willis before being updated in 2018 by Mike Mason, Lynne Hardy, Paul Fricker, and Scott Dorward. Its premise is simple: nasty no-goodnik cultists are going to destroy the world and the Investigators have to go on a globe-trotting adventure to stop them.

 

The campaign was famous because it incorporated multiple elements that made it enjoyable as well as flexible in a time when most modules consisted of, "go to Dungeon, kill everyone inside the Dungeon." While it followed the Shadows of Yog-Sothoth game that tried something similar, most people genuinely agree that Masks was the superior of the modules.

 

The original campaign was not without its flaws. Much like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, it was a story that took a somewhat too stereotypical view of Native peoples in order to facilitate its Pulp feel. It also was a work that presumed the Investigators would be white male protagonists given the story substantially changes if it's 1920s men of color or women running around shooting up the place.

 

The campaign also had the flaw of being something of a meatgrinder with stories of whole parties being wiped out a not-uncommon occurence for Keepers. Generally, the ideal Call of Cthulhu game is player characters investigating sinister goings on, finding a monster, and hopefully having deduced its weakness before using it. Masks of Nyarlathotep is a story best served with Thompson Machine Guns, two fists, and plenty of dynamite.

 

As such, I was very excited about hearing that the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society was going to do an adaptation of the campaign to their Dark Adventure Radio series. The premise of them are that HPL didn't remain a obscure but beloved magazine author but was adapted to radio like the Shadow and Superman. The radio plays are deliberately Pulpy (I'm going to overuse that word but it's the best one for it) with dramatic cliffhangers, deliberately ridiculous commercials (asbestos teddy bears!), and overacting. It's very enjoyable and fits the style of the Call of Cthulhu games greatly. It makes me wish they'd adapt other campaigns like the Horror of the Orient Express.

 

The radio play is adapted from the 7th Edition rewrite of the module and benefits from having a slightly-more self-aware narrative that acknowledges the racism, sexism, and imperialism of the time. It's mostly done in a cheeky and humorous style with the assumption being the characters know that colonialism and misogyny is bad.

Hazel Kalifan, one of the protagonists, is a real "Annie Oakley type" and does more as the central heroine to make a statement than any direct statements by the narrative. I'm also fond of her supporting cast in elderly Suffragist Victoria Woodhull, Zeke the two fisted adventurer who would have been the star decades ago, and Cecil the insurance investigator.

 

Overall, the story is enjoyable from beginning to end but does suffer a little bit toward the end. The problem boils down to tonal imbalance and mood whiplash. Basically, the story can't quite decide if it's a rollicking Pulp adventure or a somber horror story that not everyone is expected to live through. It's actually true to the original campaign in that respect but the "Kill Em All" heavy body-count by the end (no spoilers on who makes it through and who doesn't) leaves the ending feeling less triumphant than the climax should be. Mind you, I only played Masks of Nyarlathotep with Pulp Cthulhu rules and heavy modification so maybe my expectations of the story were different.

 

In conclusion, MASKS OF NYARLATHOTEP is an amazing radio play that I encourage everyone to shell out the 30 bucks I paid for the mp3 for. It's about six to seven hours long and is about the length of a decent-sized audiobook. There's a more expensive version that comes with a lot of props for the adventure but I didn't really see the need for that. I'm sure there's plenty of Call of Cthulhu collectors that would enjoy that.

 

8.5/10

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shoggothsean

Just an update from the team here at the HPLHS. We have now shipped ALL copies that have been ordered of our Standard and Deluxe Editions of Dark Adventure Radio Theatre: Masks of Nyarlathotep. We've solved packaging of the Super Deluxe Edition and those will begin shipping out next week. We thank you for your patience. If you think we should have sent you something and we haven't, please contact us via our website and we'll see what's up. Beyond that, we hope you all enjoy the show, the props, the game, etc...

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shoggothsean

As foretold in ancient prophecies, our Super Deluxe Masks of Nyarlathotep Edition has indeed begun shipping. We will hope to ship all preorders out during the month of March. It's a big box (15x15x20 inches) that weighs 28lbs.

 

IMG_1265.JPG

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Beagle

Very enjoyable. 

 

Oddly enough I thought the quality of each chapter corresponded with the quality of each chapter as I'd rank them in the campaign books. So Egypt was my favourite, followed by New York and England, Kenya, China then Australia 

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airboy

I've listened to the Audio Play twice.  I've read every edition of Masks and the Companion.  I've also GMed Call of Cthulhu and designed scenarios.  I consider myself close to an "expert" in knowledge.  My wife has played Call of Cthulhu maybe twice more than 25 years ago, never read Masks, and has not read any Lovecraft for 30 years.  

 

We both enjoyed it quite a bit.  I bought the MP3 download.  I think the game props are a different product entirely.

 

I've written a 1,100+ word review that is very light on spoilers.  The full review is at my game blog:

https://averysgameblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/dark-adventure-radio-theaters-masks-of-nyarlathotep-a-review/

 

The review considers this from the perspective of a "Masks Expert" and a "Lovecraft Novice."  

 

My primary criticism is it is pretty pricey: $35 for a 7 hour program.  The USA price is higher than most audiobooks that will run roughly twice the program length.  I thought it was worth it and do not regret my purchase - but it is pricey.  

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shoggothsean

Avery, thanks for taking the time to write up such a thorough review of our DART Masks show. While I appreciate your concern that the show might seem pricey when compared to other audiobooks, I'd suggest that DART shows are very different beasts than most audiobooks. Most audiobooks feature an author's original text - the narrator reads what the author wrote. Maybe there's a few seconds of music at the beginning and the end. If the audiobook is long, it's because the book is long.

 

All DART shows are based on original dramatic scripts. It took months of work to distill Chaosium's sprawling game into a cohesive dramatic narrative with scripted dialogue. The script is then performed by a cast of professional actors. The cast of Masks included 35 actors. On an audiobook, an editor cleans up mistakes by the reader. The sound editing for Masks is comparable to the job of sound editing of 4 or 5 feature films. On top of that, the show is filled with sound effects and an original orchestral score written just for the production.

 

So, yes, a DART show is more expensive than an audiobook of the same length. Most of our fans seem to find our shows provide an excellent value. And while our props were not of interest to you, the vast majority of DART customers order versions of our shows that come with physical props.

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airboy
1 hour ago, shoggothsean said:

Avery, thanks for taking the time to write up such a thorough review of our DART Masks show...

 

Thanks for the additional information on the scripting and editing.  The end product reflects the attention to detail.

 

I'm sure your sales information on purchase with/without props for the CD is accurate.  However, if you are planning to run Masks as a Call of Cthulhu game I recommend the big $129 package of props instead of the smaller package which comes with the CD.  IMHO: the Props and the Audio Play are different, but complementary products.

 

My wife and I enjoyed the program and thought it was worth the price.  

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PoC

The HPLHS have a Spring Sale on, until the 22nd April. I imagine 20% off the Super Deluxe edition would be quite a saving...

 

HPLHS Spring Sale, April 2019.

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