After reading an excellent article about mystery adventure design, wherein the author credits Masks of Nyarlathotep for giving him the idea for the article, I decided to pick up the 2010 re-release of this adventure.
While I haven’t read the adventure cover-to-cover yet — Masks of Nyarlathotep being nearly 250 pages in length is a campaign rather than an adventure — I have been absolutely impressed with what I’ve found.
It begins with a narrative about an evil plot — a timeline of what will happen IF no one intervenes. This gives the GM an ongoing timeline of events that can or will happen during the course of the campaign.
(I’m really trying not to talk about the details of the adventure so as not to spoil it.)
Subsequent chapters detail the various locations where portions of the evil plot are happening, the clues that can be found that will lead to the other locations and dozens of props and player handouts.
For those GMs with a knack for crafting, you’ll have the opportunity to build your own matchbooks, business cards, etc.
Rather than having a linear structure, Masks is built to allow the party to follow any clue they want and go in any direction they like.
This is exactly the kind of adventure I’d like to play — one that spans dozens of sessions, hopping the globe, uncovering clues, following them correctly to more clues, or wrongly to frustrating dead ends.
It also stands as a text book example of good adventure design, which is why I bought it in the first place.