Terror on the Silk Road

🏔️ From China to Tibet, experience an original journey back to the 1920s with the Cthulhu campaign Children of Fear.

Children of Fear: A Cthulhu Campaign in 1920's Asia

⚠️ Warning : In the interest of transparency to our community, we would like to point out that this article reflects our personal opinion of the game. We have not received any compensation from the game publisher. We have own and test the game independently, with no commercial connection to its publisher. The reviews presented here represent our honest and unbiased analysis of the game, based on our own experience.

While my investigators had just left the Shepheard Hotel in Cairo after a short campaign that tested their sanity (see Farce Macabre article), I had to find a new adventure for them to live. That's good news, since the new baby from EDGE: Les Enfants de la Peur has just been released. And it begins almost a year after the terrible events in Cairo, a year when my player characters can heal their wounds.

Before you start reading this article, note that I've only read the campaign, I haven't had a chance to play it yet. In fact, it was released in VF a month ago on February 23, 2024 (November 18, 2020 for the English version). There will be absolutely no spoilers in this article. However, he will give a brief summary of the campaign and talk about the atmosphere and the present material. If you don't want to completely spoil the surprise for yourself as a player, you better move on.

The writer

The campaign was written by Lynne Hardy, at least that's her name on the cover. However, we also find Caleb Cleveland as illustrator, Matt Ryan as cartographer, Nicholas Nacario as designer, and Mike Mason as creative director. The latter, as co-author of Call of Cthulhu 7th edition and Pulp Cthulhu, I imagine his work focused more on the rules than the script.

I don't know if there are many female writers for AdC scripts. We can note Janice Egan who wrote The Hallucinated Mountains, and despite what I thought, Lynn Willis who wrote The Masks of Nyarlathotep is a man. In short, I am happy to note the presence of a woman in the comprehensive writing of the campaign. The fairer sex is, in my opinion, still very rare in our favorite hobby.

We can also note the attempts at inclusion in the French version which expresses in a footnote:

In order to better take into account the treatment of genres and to ensure that the texts are equally addressed to everyone, we decided to adopt the following rules in the writing of our works:

  • The playmaker is defined masculine as neuteri.e. “the Keeper”.
  • Characters are defined in males generally usedthat is, “the researchers”.
  • The players are defined in the feminine it is generally usedi.e. “the players”.

However, even if the intention is laudable, reading it again gives me the impression of a bunch of women having fun playing men who have adventures.

But for the sake of the experiment, I decided to keep these rules for writing the article.

Anyway, let's get back to author Lynne Hardy, biomedical scientist and role-playing game enthusiast. She is of course not someone who comes out of nowhere, having been in the RPG world for over 30 years. Former editorial director of Nightfall Games, Cubicle 7 and Pelgrane Press, she also worked extensively on Achtung! Cthulhu or in the excellent Berlin the Corruptor. Today, he works as an Associate Editor on Chaosium and the upcoming Rivers of London RPG series.

An exotic countryside

The Children of Fear is a campaign that begins in September 1923. Researchers are in Beijing and are recruited to help an American archaeologist discover the ancient Silk Road and its lost treasures, such as the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas of Dunhuang.

thousand Buddhas of Dunhuang

You can imagine that this will not be a simple tourist visit for the researchers, but the beginning of a long adventure with Mythos. An adventure that will take them from China to Tibet, through northern India in the footsteps of the explorer monk Xuanzang, immortalized in the novel The Journey to the West.

The adventure unfolds in eight chapters. Three of these can be played in a different order, which will allow the keeper allowed to give players flexibility in their play selection. That is always, in my opinion, an advantage in a campaign. Mountains of Hallucinations or Terror on the Orient Express (the adaptation of which we presented to you as a board game yesterday), in its structure, leaves few options of this kind.

Children of Fear: Journey into Cold and Fear

Even if we find China like in The 5 Torments campaign, I'm much more interested in The Children of Fear which seems to me to have some form of cohesion as a whole and gives me the impression of being part of a more adventurous incredible.

Of course, portals, rituals, bestiality and other themes beloved of the AdC universe are included, and you will not be disoriented, beyond the exoticism of the decoration. In addition, you will have the choice, as a Keeper, of the origin of the plot. Do you want to involve the lore 100%, even if it means your players will encounter one great ancient or another (and therefore make them die, let's be pragmatic), or be more grounded and just stay occult based , that's all You choose.

Another setting for Guardian is very interesting, as the campaign is just as compatible with 7th edition as it is with Pulp Cthulhu, with tips on how to adapt it to suit your base game.

As usual, the campaign is detailed and you have access to loads of maps, clues and other printable game material. Indeed, once you purchase the book, you have access to the PDF version through DriveThruRPG. And that's always a plus for me, to be able to offer something like that to my players. However, adding one or two real, good quality maps to the book, like Farce Macabre, would be really nice. The book sells for 53 euros for 382 pages compared to 40 euros and 160 pages for the script by Alex de la Iglesia. But I probably doubt it, because I really do have what it takes to start a great campaign.

There's also a very handy glossary of all Asian cultural words, as well as a list of works (books, movies, music, etc.) to inspire you when creating your campaign. As your researchers travel to countries they are not necessarily familiar with, handy little What Your Researcher Knows sheets are provided. You'll also find a summary of travel times and other travel durations between this or that destination, and that's not really a bad thing, as travel is almost ubiquitous in the countryside!

However, a small warning, which appears on the back cover as well as the first pages: some parts of the campaign contain adult themes and suitable for a mature audience. And to be transparent with you, these are topics related to sex and cannibalism. It is up to the goalkeeper to see how he wants to incorporate it or not into the campaign or how to present it to his players. In my opinion, all of this is largely possible to transform and avoid if that is the guardian's desire.

To conclude

I'm really looking forward to starting this campaign with my players and their researchers. However, I think it is aimed at an intermediate to advanced level goalkeeper. Some sandbox, some corridor, there should be something for everyone. However, I encourage beginners to have a stable group, ready to start a large number of sessions. It's the kind of campaign that's a shame to end in the middle (a bit like all campaigns, you'll tell me…).

Fans of legends, adventures and myths will be delighted. For less than sixty euros, I can only encourage goalkeepers to get it. Even if it seems less “epic” than the legendary AdC campaigns, I am convinced that with good preparation, our researchers and players will not be disappointed. Because that's where the success of the campaign lies: the atmosphere you put into it, more Pulp, more AdC… It's up to you.

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Article written and video produced by SuperDuck™, member of Team Gus&Co. Youtuber and director, a real jack of all trades. Between theater, music and film, his YouTube channel specializes in pop culture and other topics that smack of nostalgia and adventure.

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