A couple of weeks ago, I was at GenCon. While wandering through the exhibit hall, I sauntered by the Chaosium booth a bit more times that I’d like to admit. I chatted with the owners and picked up a campaign supplement and two scenarios. One of these scenarios was Alone Against the Flames. It’s the only single player scenario I’ve seen, so naturally I had to pick it up.
Alone Against the Flames is pretty unique. It’s a solo introductory scenario for the 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu. To me, what makes this solo game work is that it reads and plays like a choose your own adventure book. The game is set, like most Call of Cthulhu scenarios, in the 1920s, around the same time H.P. Lovecraft was alive. Since this is a solo adventure, all the player needs is a blank character sheet, a writing device, a set of dice, and the quick start rules. The quick start rules are available for free on Chaosium’s website. Chaosium also provides free character sheets, both printable and digital, right here.
Playing through the scenario is straight forward. You start at section one and follow the instructions as written. There are 270 different sections of text, each numbered. Sometimes you are told to go to a specific section, other times you have options based on your choices. If you play with the digital version of the scenario, each section has a clickable hyperlink to make jumping through the text easy. At various times during the start of the adventure, you’re instructed to fill out the character sheet. There are a few professions to choose from, which provide the point amounts to put into your stats, along with the other aspects of your character sheet. The text gives easy to follow step by step instructions of how to fill out a character sheet. This is a great tool for new players. At times during the different sections, you’re also instructed to make dice rolls and make different choices for how you interact with NPCs and the environment. The entire experience feels like a normal Call of Cthulhu game. For me the atmosphere of a regular game is hard to duplicate, and this scenario does it quite well.
All in all, I thought that the adventure was awesome. There are a ton of different ways to complete the scenario and it can be played through quickly. My only real complaint is that I did feel a bit limited in terms of creativity when creating my character. I’m used to being able to create a character that could have any profession while this scenario has only a few to choose from. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing. This is a campaign designed to teach new players the Call of Cthulhu mechanics. For those who are already familiar with the game, it’s a fun little scenario to help you get rid of that itch when you can’t find someone to play with. At the end of the day, Alone Against the Flames is an incredibly fantastic and unique scenario for those looking to get into the Call of Cthulhu RPG. It is a great resource for new players interested in the Call of Cthulhu system and also for veteran investigators. I suggest you swing over to Chaosium and pick it up right now in hardcopy or digital format.