Review: Bookhounds of London

Bookhounds of LondonIn early September on Facebook Ken Hite, author of this book, posted a comment that one of his newer books had already received as many reviews as this book, which about three years old.  I went to make sure I had it and more importantly could find it before posting that I’d help by reviewing it.  I don’t normally do it but Bookhounds of London is an amazing book.  At Gen Con that year I had more people that I trust tell me to get this book.  They were not wrong.  The only reason I have never used it is because it is a very specific book dealing with the Cthulhu Mythos books in London in the 1930’s.  If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, then sadly this book might not be for you.

Bookhounds of London is a source book for the game Trails of Cthulhu.  Trail of Cthulhu is an RPG that deals with the Cthulhu Mythos and focuses more on the mystery, though insanity and death are still a good part of it.  Bookhounds of London takes the normal type of Cthulhu campaign and changes it.  Instead of being investigators, the characters are Bookhounds.  They operate a bookstore in London, deal with private collectors and auctions, and deal with books that contain information man was not meant to know.  It is an interesting twist on what could be called the normal type of Cthulhu adventure.  The book can easily be used with any system.  The brilliance in this book is the writing and research that went into it.

The book starts with how to create characters.  Bookhounds differ in small ways from other investigators.  It starts with the new occupations that show the focus of this type of campaign.  One might be a Book Scout, Bookseller, Catalog Agent, Forger, or Occultist.  The book also has new abilities, like Auction and Textual analysis.  Lastly, and most importantly. are the rules for the Bookshop the players characters own or work for.  It serves as a place of business, a place to do research, a good way to get contacts, and a base of operations.  The book then goes into the book trade.  This is one of the foundations of any Bookhound campaign.  It talks about auctions, hunting for books, libraries, and of course the books themselves.

The best part of the book though is the setting.  It gives a great deal of information on London in the 1930’s.  It even has almost thirty pages of colored maps of the city and many of the buildings of the era.  It is very impressive.  The setting is done in such a way to make it useful for anyone wanting to use 1930’s London, and not just in a Mythos game.  I could easily see Pulp games or war games set in the setting and will find the information in here very useful.

Last is the adventure Whitechapel Black-Letter.  It is a simple adventure that can be done in as few as three scenes.  But the adventure has enough setting seeds and mysteries that it can easily be expanded and much of the work is done for the GM to something much more.  It gives hints to Jack the Ripper as one should guess from the title.  It is a great starting adventure for the Bookhounds type or to be used as a different kind of adventure in another Cthulhu campaign.

Bookhounds of London is an amazing book.  It and Shadows over Filmland, which I also love, really show the writing prowess Ken Hite and the quality of product Pelgrane Press creates.

Chris Gath.  I’ve been gaming since 1980 playing all kinds of games since then.  In the past year I’ve run Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classic, Paranoia, and Mini d6.  My current campaign is mini d6 and we are using that for a modern supernatural conspiracy investigative game.  On some forums I’m known as Crothian and I’ve written a few hundred reviews though I took a sabbatical from reviewing for a few years as it burnt me out.  I was also an judge for the Gen Con awards (ENnies) six times.  Jeff, the owner of this blog, is one of my players and a good friend.