I run Call of Cthulhu, Realms of Cthulhu, Delta Green and would like to play Trail of Cthulhu but cannot find someone who will GM it. The mixed curse of the control freak in the RPG world: four times more people want to play as want to run games. 8o/
This book describes a new descriptive/narrative magic system specifically for use with Trail of Cthulhu.
The examples in the book are wonderfully evocative (ahahahahaha!) but getting players to show the same levels of inspired improvisational roleplaying could be a showstopper.
In order to even try the players will need a good command of the Trail of Cthulhu mechanics - so they can forget them, triggering mechanical effects by narrative roleplaying.
That sounds dumb, but if you've read the Trail of Cthulhu rules and played a game or two you'll know that until everyone understands how the rules work they won't happen seamlessly behind the scenery-chewing. Trail of Cthulhu is primarily a game for Role Players which can accommodate mechanical players at the cost of everyone's immersion.
I was impressed by the way the example narratives in Rough Magicks included one in which there was an unspoken question from the GM which got answered *in character*.
Basically, the way this new system works is to narratively invoke skill-based "spells" that one drags out of one's backstory. I can't really summarize the process adequately without underselling it and I don't want to do that because the idea behind what this book is about is a clever one that if you can get it for under ten bucks is not going to represent a waste of your money.
But I'll try a bit of stream-of-consciousness improv to help explain what I'm blithering about:
"Right. I'm cornered in the blind alley with at most two minutes before the cultists find me. I look for some spiders, any sort will do but the bigger the better. Once I've found one I unfold my jackknife and carve the Rune of Borrowing into each palm with the blade, as taught to me by that confounded witch doctor I spent so much time with after breaking my leg when I bailed out of the old Electra during that idiotic Amazon Expedition. That's how I ended up maimed. I traded my pinkie fingers for the knowledge. Once the blood is flowing freely I take the spider and wipe it carefully over the blood on both hands, then I eat it. Beastly business, but provided I can keep it down I should be able to grip the bricks easily and CLIMB to the roof. How long does it last? How should I know? If I fall, not long enough! At least the spiders are smaller than my hand this time!"
The key being entertaining narrative, "plausible" story and benefit, and indication of the skill with which I intend to conjure. As you can see, I think the idea is fun (I was going to write "has legs" but that would be a pun too far).
The material will also be useful for non Trail of Cthulhu GMs looking for ideas to change up their other Cosmic Horror games, though naturally the ideas will have to be substantially reworked in that event. The book made me think about how game mechanics interact with roleplaying in all my games, not just Trail of Cthulhu.
Definitely worth the asking price.