RPG Review: Mansions of Madness scenario book for Call of Cthulhu


Mansions of Madness is a book of six scenarios for Call of Cthulhu.
Published by Chaosium, 160pp, 1990 (updated 2007 for the 6th Edition of the Call of Cthulhu Game)
TLDR: 4 out of 5 ("Great Supplment")

This one has been around for a while and is considered one of their best.

The book contains the following scenarios:

1. Mister Corbitt which draws the players into exploring Mr Corbitt's creepy house. It has one of the best openings I've seen in a while - the PCs are visiting a friend, and while they are in her living room listening to her drone on about her ailments, they can see the mild-mannered neighbor across the street drag what appears to be a body in a rug out of his house and hoist it into his car.

I loved this scenario!

2. The Plantatiom draws the characters to a plantation in South Carolina, ostensibly to prevent a ritual sacrifice. However, they end up serving one of the elder gods, and everything goes sideways.

This scenario was a little convoluted for me, but I can see it potentially playing well enough. By convoluted, I mean that the cultists in this scenario think they are serving one being, but are pretending to serve a second, but in reality are serving a third, unbeknownst to them.

3. The Crack'd and Crook'd Manse is another creepy house exploration in the vein of Mr Corbitt, but without the cool beginning. Still, it's very well executed and considered by those who have played the scenarios in the book to be one of the best.

Another great scenario, in by opinion.

4. The Sanatorium is a fairly simple scenario in which the characters are invited to an island sanatorium to review the psychologist's recent theories. But when they get there, not all is as it seems, and something has clearly gone wrong. The insane are loose on the island and their host is nowhere to be found. Their boat ride back has disappeared. An axe murderer seems to be on the loose and the insane are in charge. Also, there's an inhuman being at large.

This one is great fun and concisely written. Also considered a classic.

5. Mansion of Madness is another convoluted scenario. In this one, someone has disappeared and something been stolen, and both mysteries point to the same place - a mysterious mansion. Only once you've gone to that mansion and lived through the climax, you discover the the thing that was stolen has now been stolen again by someone else, so you then have to go to another mysterious mansion and have a different (but similar) climax.

I felt this one went on just a little too long, and the two climaxes were too similar. It's not terrible, but not one of the better entries.

6. The Old Damned House is really interesting, and also cleverly written, I think. In this one, the PCs are asked to investigate the disappearance of some pearls from a creepy old mansion - but in this case, the mansion has a creepy old family living in it, and instead of some soul-sucking monster, the PCs have to deal with the (generally) well-meaning but seriously odd family members.

This one seems like a lot of fun - especially for a GM who likes character acting! Also, this scenario is a good model for how to provide clues in CoC, providing many avenues to the same clues.


Overall, I though this was a great set of scenarios, and well worth having in your library. Even the two weaker scenarios (The Plantation and Mansion of Madness) are perfectly serviceable - just a little overwrought for my taste. I give it 4 our of 5 stars - a great supplement, but a little short of 'Wow!.

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