Harlem Unbound is an RPG sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu and GUMSHOE that takes players into the exciting world of the Harlem Renaissance at its height, to face terrifying horrors from the Lovecraftian Mythos. This groundbreaking tome gives Keepers and players everything they need to bring this unique place and time to life, and engage with the people who gave it its soul.
Harlem Unbound is compatible with multiple systems for investigating the Mythos on New York City’s jazz-soaked streets using either Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu 7th edition RPG or any of the GUMSHOE powered investigative RPGs by Pelgrane Press.
New York City in the 1920s: Prohibition is in full swing, and bootleggers are living high. African Americans flee the oppressive South for greener pastures, creating a new culture in Harlem. The music of Fats Waller and Duke Ellington pours out of the city’s windows and doorways, and the sidewalks are crowded with women in stylish skirts with silk stockings, and men in white gloves and Chesterfield coats. There’s a feeling of possibility in the air, like never before. But even in this land of promise, Harlem is a powder keg. While classes and cultures collide, Lovecraftian horrors lurk beneath the streets, creeping through dark alleys and hidden doorways into the Dreamlands. What Great Old One shattered our reality? Can you hold it together and keep the Mythos at bay for one more song?
This sourcebook flips the standard Lovecraftian view of minorities on its head, putting them in the role of heroes who must struggle against cosmic horrors while also fighting for a chance at equality. By default, the protagonists of Harlem Unbound are African American, not white (which is the standard assumption found in Lovecraftian fiction). Our heroes and heroines come from all walks of life with regard to class, ethnicity, race, religion, gender and sexual orientation.
The heart of the Renaissance was a revolution aimed at changing the world through art, ideas, and the written word. It was a uniquely powerful movement against the unjust status quo, a time in history that still inspires today. The history, people and stories in this book shine the spotlight on the people of Harlem, their successes and their struggles.
The Skinny on the Goods
- Seven unique Occupations
- Five new Mythos creatures to terrify your investigators
- A bunch of ready-to-play PCs/NPCs
- A random scenario generator
- A crash course on addressing race in gaming
Introduction: A brief welcome to both the Harlem Renaissance and H.P. Lovecraft, and the first glimpse of how we're going to put them together.
History: The history of Harlem is long, and the Mythos runs through her.
Locations: Harlem is small but has a global impact, and you’ve got to know the lay of the land. The section is also sprinkled with plot hooks to jump start sessions.
People: Harlem is jam-packed with people, and it's time to meet some of them. This is another section sprinkled with plot hooks to jump start sessions.
Character Creation: Six distinctive Harlem character classes are presented for both Call of Cthulhu and GUMSHOE. The Conjure Man has awakened!
System Mechanics: Rules, tweaks and new mechanics for GUMSHOE and 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu.
Storytelling: Helping new and experienced Keepers run a game steeped in the history of racism, horror, and the celebration of life.
Harlem Hellfighters Never Die: An ancient enemy from the battlefields of World War I has returned to exact vengeance on the Hellfighters. Can you rally them to save the day, or will you join the legion of the dead?
The Contender: When former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson asks the players to investigate the death of a young fighter, the case takes them to Harlem’s lowest and highest areas in search of answers—none of which are easy, and only open the door for much harder questions.
Harlem (K)nights: An explosive campaign starter! A rabbi, a local Mafia boss, and a letter from labor activist Asa Philip Randolph set the investigators on a dangerous path. How can they hope to beat what cannot die that can eternally slumber as it stirs? Will it end in their doom?
Dreams and Broken Wings, by Alex Mayo. Clayton Morris, a promising painter and rising star in the Harlem art community, has gone missing. While many dismiss his disappearance as a harmless circumstance, some believe foul play may be afoot. Discovering the truth will take players into the heart of Harlem’s art scene and possibly into worlds beyond.