Review of Day Of the Beast

Chaosium, 1998

By Keith Herber

The Day of the Beast has come under various other versions, the first being The Fungi From Yoggoth, then later as part of Curse of Cthulhu. My review edition is the latest one, put out in ’98. This was the first long campaign I took my group through, so I have a better understanding of the book, rather than just reading it.

The plot concerns a multinational corporation (did they really have those back in the ‘20’s?) called New World Incorporated, and it’s designs to free Nyarlathotep from its desert prison within the Sphinx. The book begins by giving an overview of both the perceived history of NWI, and the real, more insidious history. A timeline is given, listing major events concerning the company, and write ups of the more important figures behind NWI are given. Also, a summary of the adventure “chapters” is laid out, giving the Keeper some idea of what’s to come, and some tips on running them.

Next comes the meat of the book, the campaign itself. There are twelve scenarios, or “chapters”, as the book refers to them, clumped into three parts (Part Four is reserved for hand-outs and the like). The first chapter is used as a vehicle to introduce the players to psychic Paul Le Mond, who ends up being a plot device later on in the campaign. Otherwise, this is a typical, if effective, haunted house scenario. The next adventure takes the adventurers to the mountains of South Dakota, where some Insects of Shaggai have infested a mining expedition, which happens to be owned by NWI. After this, the characters find themselves looking for a recently kidnapped Le Mond in New York, where it is discovered that a Yithian is planning on snatching Le Mond’s brain....

...and so on and so on. You’re starting to see the picture here. Make the characters go to a new location, find out a little more about NWI and their nefarious schemes, and throw a new type of Cthulhu baddie against them. Fire salamanders, Deep Ones, cultists, Lizardmen, mi-go, etc. and so forth. There are some harrowing moments in the campaign; the introductory adventure involving the haunted house is good, and provided my players with some genuinely creepy moments; the hunt for “Jeremy”, the child serial killer, was a fun one to run...

But overall, this was not a rewarding campaign to run, neither for players nor the Keeper. The “evil corporation that wishes to rule the world” is an old and tired plotline, and the usage of a Cthulhu Mythos Rogue’s Gallery of bad guys is a lame concept that should have been nixed at the beginning of this book’s formation. There’s a very linear feeling to the entire book; that may work for something like Horror On the Orient Express, but it doesn’t work here. Everything feels forced, and the ending is especially anti-climactic. I don’t recommend this book at all. If you wish to run a campaign of epic proportions, I highly advise the aforementioned Orient Express (if you can find it on eBay), The Complete Masks of Nyarlathotep, or Beyond The Mountains of Madness.

Rating: 5 Sanity Points