A couple of days back, Paul MacLean from Yog-Sothoth.com wrote me an email and asked if I would like a courtesy copy of the “Lovecraftian Tales from the Table” DVD. And of course I said yes, and just a few days later I held this awesome DVD in hands.
I am a great Lovecraft and Call of Cthulhu fan, so I enjoy this DVD tremendeously. So, what is “Lovecraftian Tales from the Table”? First and foremost it is a DVD containing two recordings of actual roleplay sessions. The roleplaying group “The Bradford Players” lead by the aforementioned Paul MacLean (aka Paul of Cthulhu) has recorded two epic Call of Cthulhu campaigns: “The Masks of Nyarlathotep” and “Horror on the Orient Express”.
Both audio recordings are in MP3 format and are more than 60 hours long each. “Masks” is in mono, but “Horror” is in 3D Binaural Surround Sound. That means, if you listen to the “Horror” recording with headphones it sounds as it you were sitting in the middle of the room, surrounded by the Bradford players. That’s really a creepy experience in itself.
Of course I haven’t had the time to listen to the complete audio recordings. I just finished listening to the character creation episodes of both campaigns and checked out the bonus material on the disc. The quality of the recording is not comparable with a real studio recording but is good enough to understand everyone (although a few voices are a bit low in the “Masks” recording). You might have some trouble understanding every word if you are not a native speaker. The various british accents can be a bit tricky for the unwary listener. But overall it was very enjoyable to listen to the Bradford Players.
So, why should someone listen to approx. 120 hours of other people playing two CoC campaigns? That’s easy. It’s fun! And it’s interesting to get another perspective. I have played in a few gaming groups over the years, and I noticed that each group is handling certain things different than the other. For me as a player and GM it’s very exciting to learn how another group plays Call of Cthulhu. As I’ve said, I just finished listening to the Character Creation and my own CoC GM asked me NOT to listen to the “Horror” campaign, because he still wants to finish this campaign with us first.
The bonus material on this DVD is pretty impressive. There is special material for each campaign, like a discussion of the creators of the “Horror” campaign about its creation or several pieces of music that were written for the campaigns. You also get photos, handouts, notes, character sheets, player journals and many more interesting stuff. But that’s not all! As further bonus content the DVD contains a copy of the CoC Quick Start Rules, the official character sheets, the Freeport Trilogy and Cults of Freeport by Green Ronin. Both works obviously contain a lot of Lovecraftian elements. There are also several episodes of Yog Radio, three H.P.Lovecraft audiobooks (“Dagon”, “The Music of Erich Zann”, “What the Moon Brings”), video interviews with several Chaosium people (including the author of CoC, Sandy Petersen), trailers for the movies “Call of Cthulhu” and “The Whisperer in Darkness”, and even more. Wow! They even included some of the props created by the HPLHS (check my review of the Fonts & Props CD) and a couple of CoC adventures.
So, even if you are not interested in listening to those guys playing Call of Cthulhu you get a whole lot of things worth much more than the £4.99 they charge for one copy.
Ok, some technical details. The “Lovecraftian Tales from the Table” DVD is a data DVD that means you need a PC with a DVD-ROM drive to run it. If you don’t have one, you’re out of luck. After you’ve put the DVD into the drive, you have to double-click start-me.html to access the beautifully made interface. If you have a recent browser with Flash installed everything should work fine. As far as I’ve seen Flash is only used for the audio player embedded into the HTML pages, so everything else should run even without Flash. But of course you can always access the files directly.
Do I think getting a copy of this DVD is worth it? Hell yeah it is! If you even remotely enjoy anything based on H.P. Lovecrafts work, you’re in for a treat. And it’s a great resource for every CoC gamemaster, especially when you are interested in running either the “Horror on the Orient Express” or “Masks of Nyarlathothep” campaigns. And if you are still not convinced, perhaps this review by Kurt Wiegel will change your mind: