It's a lonely life investigating grisly affairs and confronting unnamable horrors, and it requires all sorts of materials that can't be bought at the corner store as well as information that isn't found in mass-market publications. Sometimes it seems like an investigator is all on his or her own, with no one to turn to for advice, assistance, or just fairly priced goods of a specific nature. But if you wander down the right back alley, you may be surprised what you find.
A Peculiar Pentad presents five shops that every investigator may want, or need, to visit: a rare book store where the proprietor quotes from texts that were supposedly lost to the ages; a repair shop whose owner can get any mechanical device, no matter where or when it was made, functioning as good as new—probably better; a private social club that caters to those who have seen things no human ever should, and more.
Written by a quintet of fan-favorite and award-winning game designers including Jeff Grubb, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick, John D. Rateliff, and Thomas M. Reid, A Peculiar Pentad is the first in a series of sourcebooks designed to provide resources and inspiration to Call of Cthulhu players and Keepers alike.
This pdf consists of 60 pages. 1 page front cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page advertisement for SGG books and 1 page credits.
That leaves 56 pages product, describing/shops 5 locations ready to drop into any CoC game, including extensive notes on how to convert any of the locations to the Gaslight and Modern eras.
The pdf starts with an explanation (written by Stan!) of what this book is and suggestions on how to implement the locations presented within the book. This chapter consists of 9 pages. I found it moderately useful. Mostly for novice keepers.
After that, we get the locations. All of them have in common that they provide the BRP-stats of notable persons and feature beautiful, full-color pictures of the main persons to show to your players. Nice!
The first shop is the "Biblioporium" (by Thomas M. Reid), ye olde Cthulhu-book shop, including a proprietor associated with a secret society. 9 pages, including 6 adventure hooks.
The next is "Fixx's Fixxit" (by Jeff Grub), a clockwork/mechanic's shop/weapon dealer/delver in strange technology. 9 pages + 12 hooks organized in 4 sets of hooks.
Then, we get "Healing Herbs" (by Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel), basically your eastern+western alchemist's/shaman's store run by a strange, yet very cool couple, including extensive rules on elixirs and herbs they provide. My favorite chapter in the book, it is 10 pages long and provides 4 adventure hooks.
The last shop of the pentad is "Húbert's Fine Arts"(by John D. Rateliff), an avant-garde art gallery/dealer with a mythos twist. 10 pages + 3 detailed hooks.
Finally, we get "The Sleipnir Club" (by Jeff Quick), an upper-class investigator's club that features the coolest character in the pentad. 9 pages + 5 hooks.
The sourcebook succeeds at what it attempts and provides useful allies and places for investigators. The art is beautiful and the content top-notch. However, while I think it has been a conscious design-decision, I really think the product would have profited from maps of the stores or at least of the main rooms of the respective locations. The lack of maps costs one star and is the only major flaw of this otherwise great product.