Lovecraft Fantasy Gaming Toolkit by Perry Fehr, David Pryzbyla and Stefen Styrsky is a role playing game supplement published by Purple Duck Games for use with the Pathfinder role playing game from Paizo Publishing. As such, much of the supplement is Open Game Content and covered by the Open Game License.
The supplement is a 70 page PDF available from RPGNow. When purchased, it was at the discounted price of $2.50; the normal price is $5. It is also available as a print on demand colour softcover for $14.99 plus delivery; the version reviewed is the PDF. Of the 70 pages, there is one page cover - largely purple with a simple line symbol on it - two pages are front matter and Table of Contents, there is one blank page at the end and two pages are the Open Game License.
The book is not divided into typical chapters, but is divided into a number of different parts.
The Setting covers religion and details several settlements, from hamlets to cities, which have been designed using the core Pathfinder game rules. The settlements covered are from The Boroughs of Dunmark from Purple Duck Games' Lands of Porphyra setting. There are some additional, new, rules for settlements handled in the same manner as the core rules, that are used in the descriptions.
Core Races is the main races that would be found in a Lovecraftian fantasy setting. Humans are the major race, but others are elves, half-elves, dwarves, gnomes, half-orcs and halflings. The races have some adjustments from their standard abilities.
Other Races is a very brief outline of some other, suitable, races that could be found.
Adventure Ideas is, as the name says, a number of different Lovecraftian adventure ideas that could be used.
Themes to Remember is how to handle and what to remember in a Lovecraft-inspired setting, so that it doesn't degenerate into a typical fantasy high-magic, high-power setting.
Credit: Mark Gedak/Purple Duck GamesCharacter Archetypes provides a number of different archetypes that have tailored for the Lovecraftian world. for characters and non player characters. These have the stats for example characters included. Some Bloodlines are also covered.
Character Options has new feats, options and character traits.
Magical Books and Items primarily covers various Mythos books, and translated their effects into the Pathfinder rules. There are several example magical items, and some suggestions on handling magical items in general. In a Lovecraftian world, magical items are likely to be rare and probably named.
Spells lists the spells that a Lovecraftian caster would have access to. The range of magic available is much more limited. The spells are drawn from multiple books.
Monstrous Things considers a variety of existing monster types and how they would be suitable for the setting. There are also a number of new monsters and monster templates.
Ultimate Evil has details of the avatars of some of the Cthulhu Mythos powers and stats for various Great Old Ones, and suggestions for others, and how the stats given can be adjusted.
The Sinister Circus is an adventure in the Lovecraftian style.
Bibliography lists various recommended books by H. P. Lovecraft and other Mythos authors, possibly for those unfamiliar with the setting.
Lovecraft Fantasy Gaming Toolkit in Review
The PDF originally lacked any bookmarks, making it harder to navigate, but it was later updated with a comprehensive set, making navigation much easier, and the Table of Contents is adequate. It could possibly have done with a bit more proofreading. There are only the occasional illustration, and a map for the adventure, but there are many quotes from Lovecraft's stories.
The aim of this supplement is to convert Lovecraft's work into something suitable for a fantasy game, rather than the more typical Call of Cthulhu-based games. In a typical fantasy setting, players often have enough power to challenge the monsters that would be encountered in Lovecraft's work with at least a reasonable chance of victory, even such as the Great Old Ones like Cthulhu himself. With this, the genre loses the despairing edge of striving against forces well beyond human understanding that is often seen, and becomes a typical fantasy game.
There is a bit of a copyright question with regards to some of the material used. H. P. Lovecraft's own work is in the public domain in the EU - and a bit of a mess otherwise - but this supplement references material from other authors, and most of that is not public domain. Some of this material was extensively used in what was effectively a shared universe in Lovecraft's lifetime, which largely defeats copyright claims as other authors using the work was accepted, but other material was not. There may well be material used in this book that shouldn't have been.
There are references to a substantial number of other Pathfinder supplements, both from Paizo Publishing and from third parties, as well as various d20/OGL supplements from other publishers. Consequently, this supplement does not work that well by itself; either those supplements will be needed, or similar material from other works.
The Toolkit should be easily adaptable to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 and other related systems, as well as Pathfinder, and with a bit of work to other D&D and Old School systems. It doesn't' work so well if it's being used in such as a Call of Cthulhu campaign, but then it isn't supposed to - the aim is to translate Lovecraft's work and feel into other, traditional fantasy, game systems, and it does a decent job of that.
Although the supplement is largely generic as regarding setting, even though the selected settlements are based in a specific game world, they could easily be dropped into others, it may not work so well if an attempt is made to use it in a traditional high magic setting. Even Paizo's own Golarion setting, which does incorporate elements of Lovecraft into its design, does not really embody the sense of futility and striving against cosmic horrors from beyond space time that Lovecraft's work does. Still, the Lovecraft Fantasy Gaming Toolkit is a useful tool for incorporating elements of Lovecraftian horror into a more traditional fantasy setting, and elements can be picked and chosen if desired, and provides a different way of approaching the Cthulhu Mythos from the norm.