Review of The Black Seal #1
Brichester University Press, 2002
By various authors
Ever since the release of "The Unspeakable Oath 16-17", there has been a great lack of released material for Delta Green, much less anything pertaining to Cthulhu in the present day. Thankfully, Brichester University Press has decided to fill the void left by Tynes-Cowan Corporation, and began publishing "The Black Seal" last year. How does it fare?
I should note up front that this magazine is specialized in two ways- first, it deals only with topics and subject matter pertaining to Cthulhu Now and Delta Green. No articles about the 1920's, Gaslight, or any other era are covered. Second, since this is a publication coming out of the UK, it has a decidedly England-centric focus. But don't let either of these points stop you from at least checking out the magazine, as it has a wealth of information for any player or Keeper.
The magazine itself sports a full color cover, and is black and white throughout. At a hefty 83 pages, it's no lightweight, and one glance at the Table of Contents will give you an idea of how much information they crammed into this thing; no less than 18 entries in the ToC. The layout of the book is nice and clean, though there were a few times where the font face changed between articles, and it threw me off a bit. The interior artwork mostly consists of line art that varied from decent to pretty good, but nothing that knocked my socks off. One nice touch to the art was the use of photos for items listed in the Green Box article. Gives a good sprinkle of realism.
The articles therein are varied, and cover a broad range of topics. "Unusual Suspects", for instance, profiles two different characters that a Keeper might want to use; one, an occultist veteran adventurer named Sermon Grant, and the other, a stock broker called Michael Scrimgoer. A piece entitled "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" covers acquiring illegal arms in Britain. "The Further Files of Prof. Grant Emerson" should sound familiar to any Delta Green player, and another one of his autopsy reports is included. One of the highlights of the magazine is called "A Landscape of Barrows and Stones", which focuses on stone circles and standing stones (you know, like Stonehenge), and how they tie in to the Cthulhu Mythos.
There's a lot more material than i'm listing here. I'm really only scratching the surface, but it's pretty much all uniformly great stuff. The only few gripes i can up with are 1) the editing on some of the articles can be tighter, 2) i'd like to see some better artwork and layout- most of it is rather plain, and 3) expand on the Reviews section. Only two items were detailed. Perhaps it's for a lack of books focusing on Britain- i'm not sure.
But for a first issue, this is a damn good start, and i greatly look forward to the next installment of The Black Seal. For further information, you can visit their website at www.theblackseal.org.
Rating: 7 Sanity Points