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Randy Angle - Gruesome Ghoulies (9/28/20)
James Wallis - Alas Vegas (2/13/13)
Gareth Hanrahan - The Laundry RPG (5/17/10)
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Stan! (11/7/08)
Brendan LaSalle - Pandahead Productions (audio; 9/28/07)
Richard Garfield (10/12/04)

Random Encounter: Harley Stroh


Harley Stroh of Goodman Games
on the Age of Cthulhu line

Tell us about the upcoming Age of Cthulhu product line. What can we expect?

The early 1900s were an interesting time. Strange, inexplicable events took place across the globe. The Age of Cthulhu series mines these actual, historical events and recasts them in light of Lovecraft's mythos. The results are Cthulhu adventures, set in exotic locations throughout the world. 

The line will launch in December with an adventure of yours, Death in Luxor. What can you tell us about it?

In 1919, the University of Chicago founded the Oriental Institute, dedicated to the study of the ancient Near East. One of their branches was Chicago House, in Luxor, where researchers documented Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramesses III. The temple is unique because it is the best known source documenting Ramesses' defeat of the "Sea People." Ancient inscriptions describe the Sea People as:

"the unruly Great Green whom no one had ever known how to combat, came boldly from the midst of the sea, none being able to withstand them."

A few years following the defeat of the Sea People, the volcano Hekla erupts. The volume of ash and volcanic rock created a seemingly endless winter for much of the northern hemisphere, as well as famine and perhaps the end of Ramesses' reign.

Now so far our story is historically accurate. It's small step to place the "Great Green," the "Sea Peoples," and the devastating eruption of an Icelandic volcano in Lovecraft's mythos. In Death in Luxor, the investigators are given the chance to solve this ancient mystery, and the cosmic repercussions echoing from Ramesses' war.   

Goodman Games is specifically going after unexplored parts of the 1920s world. What other dark corners of the Mythos will we learn about?

And spoil the fun? Suffice it to say the world of the 1920s was one of shrinking frontiers, where every new expedition brought about discoveries that fundamentally changed the way we thought about humanity. Again, it is a short step from there into the world wrought by Lovecraft. Horror, true existential horror, is always just one scientific discovery away.   

Will the Age of Cthulhu adventures bring anything new to the party, rules-wise?

When writing Death in Luxor we got back to basics, specifically the Basic Roleplaying system. While I did add an optional mechanic to make some skill checks more challenging than others, there isn't much need to tinker with a classic. It's harsh, and bleak, and correlates incredibly well with the genre. 

Call of Cthulhu is unique as an RPG in that it taps into real fears. The thrill of CoC, for me, comes being forced to ask - in the light of an uncaring universe that is  indifferent to morals or mores - what will you stand up for? Faced with a truth that renders society's constructs obsolete, will you run wild in the streets, reveling in the chaos and destruction, or will you stand for something greater? The Investigator serves as a mental buffer, so it isn't really me dealing with these questions. After all, it's only a game right? 

Will there be anything special for Keepers? Anything to increase ease of use, or speed up gameplay?

It's a lean system already, so I'm not sure you can get much faster gameplay without losing the suspense of disbelief. What the adventure does bring, though, is some of the best handouts I've ever seen. They are integral to the adventure - since it is an investigation, not a hack-n-slash crawl - and they came out great.

Which other authors will contribute to the Age of Cthulhu line? What sanitorium did they escape from?

It seems that every writer, deep inside, wants to be a Cthulhu writer, so the madmen have come out of the woodwork. Our first batch of writers were corralled and locked kept up somewhere in the rough side of New Jersey, but Joseph [Goodman] and I are have been too frightened to actually visit. We get billed for the food and water, and so long as the manuscripts come in on time, no one asks too many questions.    

Any plans in the works to publish Cthulhu adventures for eras other than the 1920s?

Nothing in the works yet. The stars are right for the 1920s and we'll take it from there. 

Is there a lot of crossover interest between Goodman Games products and Call of Cthulhu?

Some of our oldest, hardcore fans made their love for Call of Cthulhu abundantly clear when we announced Age of Cthulhu. Like with writers, it seems that ever gamer secretly is a Cthulhu gamer.

  See OgreCave's review of Death in Luxor for more details.

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