During this pandemic, our gaming time with friends was impacted. Some people took their games to roleplaying gaming platforms while others took to webcam group meetings. Chaosium continued to provide their fans with another of their solo adventures. Alone Against the Tide is the fourth in the series and this one is written by Nicholas Johnson and Friends (Lynn Hardy, Mike Mason, M. Wayne Miller, and Doruk Golcu). The series’s intention is to allow fans of Call of Cthulhu to have adventures to play on their own or with a friend running it as the Keeper and someone as the Investigator. The adventure does require you own a copy of either Call of Cthulhu: Keeper Rulebook (7th Edition) or the Call of Cthulhu Starter Edition.
The 90 page PDF provides you with everything you need including two pre-generated characters; Dr. Eleanor Woods or Dr. Ellery Woods. You also have the option to create your own investigator. If you choose one of the pre-made investigators, as you play the adventure will provide you choices to flesh out your character to your liking. The adventure makes some rule changes due to the solo play format. Combat is not an opposed roll and instead is based on a static difficulty. Major Wound damage is not used. And Sanity is simplified into temporary and permanent with no use of phobias or manias. It is strongly recommended Investigators do use the optional Spending Luck (page 99 in the Keeper Rulebook) as the adventure can be unforgiving should you fail.
The moment you start your adventure you are transported to the 1920s era, which is always a fun setting for Call of Cthulhu, traveling on a ferry to the lakeshore town of Esbury. If you’re using the pre-generated characters, you’ll get your chance to round them out with additional points while on your ferry trip. As for why you’re traveling to Esbury actually depends on the profession that was assigned on your pre-generated character or what you have chosen if you built yours from scratch. Either way, you will soon learn about the death of Professor William Harris, which will primarily drive you through the story. Along the way, you’ll have the potential to meet a variety of characters including Lance Sandford, Officer Powell, Amelia Harris, Joshua, and Banyu. Your investigation may also bring you into encounter or possession of some clay cylinders, an altar, a crown, a journal, a ceremonial robe, and a strange-looking idol. What happens next is directly up to you.
When I first starting running through this adventure, I was filled with nostalgia from the Choose Your Own Adventure book series from my childhood. The scenario runs in the exact same format where you’re given two or more choices and depending on your choice brings you to a different spot in the investigation. What I truly liked is there are multiple points in the scenario where you’re allowed to return to one spot to try alternate options, which will impact how your investigation plays out. The background story is well thought out as well. I did find the NPCs to be a bit static in terms of motivations and goals. But, the big win for this book is the re-playability factor. I ran this scenario for myself three times and still never met the monster in this scenario! I even purposely tried to avoid the investigation throughout and that was probably the closest I got to encountering it. The art is very good and hones in on the 1920s era quite well. The various art sets the tone for various passages you may be reading and to help visualize them.
I feel the adventure was written fairly to be successful, just I had either some unlucky rolls (SPEND LUCK!) or not making the correct choices to get to the end result. I will definitely be giving this adventure another run-through because I found it engaging and fun, even when I failed. If you’re a Call of Cthulhu fan, buy this adventure. You’ll enjoy it! You can purchase your copy at Chaosium‘s website HERE.
Rating: 9 on a d10