There are surprisingly few things from beyond the realms of our reality in The First Book of Things. For a book which includes monsters to be used in Call of Cthulu games, this is a bit surprising. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of things in the book that will horrify players and characters and send the latter beyond the realms of sanity, though. There just don’t seem to be many linked with the Mythos.
What are very common in the book are monsters who masquerade as people and zombies. In fact, there are a surprising variety of zombies provided. A significant number of monsters in the supplement slay people and use their corpses as undead servitors in some way or another. Just as many kill people then masquerade as their victims so that they can make prey of the victim’s friends and family. While monsters running around in the skins of people and slowly picking off their friends feels very much like a Lovecraftian plot, the plethora of zombies feel a little like capitalizing on the zompocalypse fad.
There are some creatures that diverge notably from either of these trends though, and they end up being some of the most interesting in the book. The most interesting in my opinion was the Wrong, a sort of Man-Thing/Swamp Thing mash up.
Increasing the horrific tone of the supplement, all too many of the monsters given require a living person to be sacrificed in some horrific manner to create them. Often, the victim of these rituals is not even given the peace of travelling on to their final reward when they are killed. Instead, they are kept in some torturous state until an intrepid adventurer comes along and provides them with the sweet release of death.
Also increasing the bleak tone of the monsters given, many of them seem completely overwhelming. As already mentioned, a number of the monsters are zombies and there are other undead creatures presented as well and these creatures are invariably difficult to truly kill, despite what The Walking Dead or any of the plethora of other zombie stories floating around now might make you think. Other creatures are armored or otherwise immune to damage in some way while others still simply have such overwhelming abilities that their opponents are dead before they even get a chance to defend themselves.
The supplement itself pulls no punches. There is no long introduction or in depth discussion of the uses of these monsters or how to use them in a game. Instead, by the second page, the reader is faced with the first of these horrific creatures. Likewise, the monsters, items and spells go right up to the last page, meaning there isn’t much space wasted.
The spells and equipment that are included in The First Book of Things all revolve around the creatures presented in the earlier section of the supplement. Many of the creatures in the supplement are either summoned or created with a spell and these unique spells and the rules involving them are provided so the creatures can be used properly.
I have not read all the monographs from the Call of Cthulu game, but many of the items in this supplement are reprints from some of the supplements that I have read. I suspect that all of them have been printed in another supplement. Still, it is nice to have them all collected in one place and for game masters who are looking for new opponents to throw at their players, it is much better to have them consolidated like this than to force a person to buy all the other supplements.
The First Book of Things is full of useful monsters for any Call of Cthulu game master. There are all manner of things in this book that will tear apart the bodies of a group of investigators’ and destroy their minds and souls. And all the spells and equipment needed to support the creatures is provided as well.