Wolf's Head Review

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2003

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

"The strength of Wolf's Head lies in its juxtaposition of everyday modern life with a magical reality"

Wolf's Head is the most recently released scenario for Principia Malefex, the mature game of modern horror role-playing, published by Ragged Angel Ltd. Wolf's Head is a slim 24-page A4-sized stapled booklet, with a colour front cover featuring the head of a wolf and a modest number of reasonably apt black and white interior illustrations. The scenario is written by Alison Whetton with artwork by Gunter Hofer.

Wolf's Head combines the seemingly mundane problems of a missing person and a broken marriage with a gentle touch of supernatural horror. The task for the PCs is to resolve the disappearance of Mark Murray, a successful manager and married man - a goal that is complicated by Murray's secret other persona as a cursed werewolf.

Essential to any published scenario are methods by which the PCs can become involved in the story. This is well handled in this adventure with multiple realistic entry points for different types of groups. While the story is clearly set in Britain, the deliberate lack of any place names would make it easy to transfer to any British location. Likewise, with only a modest amount of checking up on missing person and animal control legislation, this adventure could be trivially shifted to another country.

The dedication to detail continues with advice on how to ensure that Wolf's Head remains an investigation, which should prevent PC progress in the scenario from leaping straight to the climax. Newspaper clippings, reports from eyewitnesses, and potential "leads" for private and professional investigators all contribute to a sound problem-solving case. Likewise, the specifics of the curse, the likely behaviour of a human in werewolf form, and mechanisms to lift the curse are all logically and consistently explained. For PCs who attempt the unexpected or simply for GMs who seek to add a further twist in the tale, the author presents a number of extra tweaks and complications.

For those who want a strictly mundane adventure with no supernatural elements, a short (one page) chapter is provided on how to adapt the plot and the characters. While this can be done, the strength of Wolf's Head lies in its juxtaposition of everyday modern life with a magical reality.

The final third of Wolf's Head is devoted to appendices and the index. A five-page statistical appendix gives full Principia Malefex stats for all of the main characters and supporting NPCs. The remainder gives legal information on missing persons, useful links, and a synopsis of the medieval French lay that inspired the plot. The Index is complete, but is probably unnecessary for such a short product.

Wolf's Head, like all Principia Malefex products, is clearly a labour of love, but it is also a very professionally written adventure module. It could easily be adapted for use with other gaming systems such as Call of Cthulhu (particularly as a break from Mythos scenarios) or as welcome and much-needed support for the Shadow Chasers campaign setting featured in d20 Modern.

When advising would-be authors who wish to write commercial fantasy modules for TGC, I frequently suggest that they read specific issues of Dungeon magazine to see how it should be done. Potential horror and modern mystery scenario writers should seriously consider picking up a copy of Wolf's Head - it is truly one of the best in its class.

Editor's Note

Wolf's Head is published by Ragged Angel Ltd., and further information can be found on their website at www.malefex.co.uk