*This was originally posted on the site for the British Fantasy Society.
Having quality material prepared for a gaming table is part of running a session. Maps, newspaper clippings, photos, and so on. Type 40 has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet by creating digital props for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. These are designed for the Masks of Nyarlathotep campaign and can even be enjoyed using augmented reality.
People that enjoy furnishing games with items oriented towards mood and setting will appreciate these. They are fantastic, highly detailed, scalable (with reasonable limits), and work well. The bundle looked nice individually on a computer, as well as with a phone. Using the AR ability I can “place” the prop somewhere, then walk around and examine it. If you zoom in the image cuts away revealing interior details. The ability to use these from essentially anywhere via a QR Reader is outstanding for accessibility. Regardless of whether or not these items are on a physical or virtual tabletop makes no difference. They work the same no matter what, and that is a boon, especially for people dispersed over different geographic regions.
Nevertheless, it’s easy to wonder how this could be more integrated into the game. It stands to reason that some people are more adept with certain objects than others. Consider the previous example, Device of Rods, Wheels, and Mirrors. A scientist, or a character with a science background, would likely be knowledgeable about the object in question. However, anyone that didn’t have that same sense of familiarity might be at a bit of a loss. If a character knows what questions to ask they should get more out of the investigation than someone who lacks specific knowledge. How might that gap be integrated into this kind of supplement? That’s going to be a tricky question to answer moving forward to get more out of augmented reality.
This product is ambitious, and I frankly love the integration of technology. The resources are easily available and can enhance the gaming experience. This particular collection of props works extremely well for Call of Cthulhu. Want to see for yourself? There’s a downloadable sample available. While there is room for improvement for this kind of supplement, but that likely isn’t far off. Otherwise, it’s a phenomenal product and will create an extra “wow” factor at the gaming table.