Back to Basics: Upgrades for “In The Shadows”

Back when I first created the Cthulhu Reborn blog, its stated purpose was to create freebie stuff that helped to rescue scenarios from undeserved obscurity. I’m very conscious of the fact that it’s been quite a while since I’ve had time to make good on that worthy “mission statement” … so I figure it’s high time that I fix that situation.

While most of the work that I’ve done so far has involved taking scenarios that had been released by their authors as text-only adventures (often copright-free). This time around I thought I’d try a different tactic … finding a published book that, for whatever reason, is undeservedly obscure because it is lacking in some nifty handouts and creating some new designs to make the published material more accessible to Keepers and players alike.

It wasn’t too hard to find a good candidate … “In The Shadows,” Chaosium’s 1995 book of scenarios by Gary Sumpter. Why is this book such a good candidate? Well, because when it was first published it seemed like it was trying very VERY hard to be a great little package of diverse scenarios, each supported by extensive and deluxe handouts. Indeed on the surface of it, these scenarios might have some of the largest count of handouts Chaosium ever created for standalone scenarios (Scenario#1 has 24 handouts!). So … why aren’t these scenarios better known as great examples of handout-fuelled tabletop fun? Well, perhaps because the production process at Chaosium seemed to have had a few gremlins when it comes to the way the handouts were printed. For whatever reason, pretty much *all* of the books 40 handouts are barely readable — mostly because of heavy mottled grey texture that runs across all of them. This is a real shame because, as written, the handouts are quite crucial to running the scenarios.

Shadows - Shadow Papers 02 - Telegram

So, what I have done to try to make this book more useful … well obviously there’s nothing much I can do to fix the original handouts. But with a bit of squinting (ok, a LOT of squinting) I was able to figure out the text that appears on them, and from that I have been able to re-enginer a brand new suite of handouts for these three scenarios.

While I was going through the process of working with these scenarios, I also jotted down some conversion notes for running them under the latest (7th) Edition of the Call of Cthulhu rules. I figured this might also help time-poor Keepers who were tempted to run one of the three scenarios.Shadows - Devil Papers 15 - Book ExtractTo take a glimpse at the replacement handouts I have created (some of which appear scattered through this page), you can visit this portfolio page which collects them all together. If you want to download the entire “Scenario Upgrade Pack” — which includes the handouts in high-res plus the 7th Edition conversion notes — scroll down to the bottom of this page.

If you don’t already own a copy of “In The Shadows” — either the printed book or the PDF — this material will be useless to you. However if you’re willing to shell out a fairly modest fee you can still buy the PDF (currently on DrivethruRPG it can be had for US$6.57). It’s probably not so easy to track down a physical copy, since the book is doubtless out of print by now.

Shadows - Devil Papers 13 - Newspaper

If you are curious about the three scenarios that make up “In The Shadows” (CHA2357), here is a bit of spoiler-free info from the CthulhuWiki page for the book:

  • “Devil’s Hole” begins with the disappearance of an old friend in Scotland. Subsequent investigation uncovers dreadful secrets about his ancestry, and his terrible fate.
  • “In the Shadows of Death” takes place in what was once the plantation country of Louisiana. Visiting a friend at his newly-inherited mansion sets the stage for a series of haunting encounters, culminating in the monstrous legacy of a blasphemous experiment.
  • “Song of the Spheres” takes place in New England, where the elderly father of a respected colleague has been inexplicably stricken mad. The investigators discover that a slighted musician and his act of supernatural revenge have far greater implications.

Each of the three scenarios has some interesting ideas, and as a package the book is quite diverse. My personal favourite is the third of the scenarios “Song of the Spheres” which features a rather unusual Mythos threat at the culmination of a plot involving crazed composers and musicians. What’s not to like?

Shadows - Song Papers 03 - Song of the Spheres

So … if you want to grab the full “Scenario Upgrade Pack” for “In The Shadows”, what should you do? Well … click the link below!

Scenario Upgrade Pack – In The Shadows [41 pages, 82MB]

As always with material released here on the Cthulhu Reborn blog, this upgrade pack is released under a Creative Commons license which means that you can do pretty much anything you want with it as long as it’s not commercial. Obviously the text of the handouts remains copyrighted by Gary Sumpter, but he has kindly agreed to these reverse-engineered versions of the Chaosium handouts being created.

Shadows - Song Papers 02 - Handwritten NoteWe hope that this set of resources encourages folks to check out this book of scenarios (or pull it off the shelf again, if it’s been sitting in your game library for 20 years gathering dust). If it encourages you to give the adventures a spin then the pack has done its job (and you will be making me, and I am sure Mr Sumpter, very happy :)). Here’s hoping your Investigators find themselves a suitably nasty demise … In The Shadows 🙂

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3 responses to “Back to Basics: Upgrades for “In The Shadows”

  • Spooky Mizu

    Thank you sooooo much for doing this. I’m anxious to dig back into “In the Shadows” now.

  • Derek

    What a great idea, and wonderful product. I had these scenarios ready to run the last time I was Keepering, but never got round to them as the campaign went in other directions. Now I’m looking at getting back to CoC, these would be a great way to do that!

  • jlv61560

    Twenty years. It’s hard to believe it’s been so long. It’s even harder to believe that it’s been thirty-five years since Call of Cthulhu first came out.

    Thanks for both taking the time to do this, and working with Gary to make it all possible!

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