The Unspeakable Oath is a magazine focused on the Call of Cthulhu RPG. It’s been around since the early 90s, but there was a long hiatus. Now fully resurrected by Arc Dream Publishing, the 21st issue came out this month. If you play CoC or one of its variants (or any horror RPG, really), this bundle of horrors will drive you mad.
Arc Dream (publisher of Wild Talents, This Favored Land and Delta Green, among other games) has been putting out The Unspeakable Oath on an irregular schedule. Oath has deep roots that extend into Arc Dream’s past and an older company called Pagan Publishing (the details can be found in Oath #18). The odd schedule (it’s been a year since issue 20) is completely understandable — putting out a magazine is a hillclimb these days, and let’s be honest, this is about as niche as niche gets. Unspeakable Oath is surely a labor of love.
But if you happen to be in that particular niche — one inhabited by horror fans, Lovecraft aficionados, old-school Chaosium RPGers, or new fans of Delta Green and other modern Cthulhu RPGs — then you are going to love this magazine.
It’s packed with weird and horrific materials for Lovecraftian adventures. Many of the articles are system-neutral, so you can use them with whatever RPG you happen to prefer, and one short adventure uses an ingenious system of icons to denote rules for a variety of systems. There are lots of short pieces detailing odd bits of mythos paraphernalia, creepy books and evil artifacts. I love the books — Lovecraft loved creating fictional tomes supposedly packed with arcane, forbidden knowledge. Adding some more modern variants can keep Cthulhu campaigns set in latter day eras humming. My favorite is “Saucer Attack 1928!” which ties the events of The Dunwich Horror to the UFO craze.
There’s one full-length adventure for CoC, “The Man With a Thousand Faces.” In it, the investigators must track down a renowned actor who’s gone missing and possibly barking mad. What otherwordly influence has come into play? They’ll probably find out when they attempt to infiltrate the actor’s lushly overgrown estate and mansion. The story behind the adventure is creepy as hell, and I love that it’s a bizarre tribute to Lon Chaney, Sr., the Silent Era star known as “The Man of a Thousand Faces.”
There’s also a lengthy section of reviews of Lovecraft-related books and games, and even a Lovecraftian “playset” for the Fiasco RPG. I don’t know anything about Fiasco other than it seems very popular among some game groups, but it’s cool to see so many diverse game system accommodated in Oath.
Anyway, if you’re into this stuff, I can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t go get the PDF version of The Unspeakable Oath #21 right now, unless it’s because you’re waiting to order the print version, which will be out after Gen Con.