Review of the Call of Cthulhu scenario Blackwater Creek, written by Scott Dorward for the Call of Cthulhu Keeper Screen.

Image Credit Davide L Marescotti for “Casi Irrisolti,” Italian version of Blackwater Creek and Missed Dues

Blackwater Creek Review – Call of Cthulhu (Keeper Screen)

Review of the Call of Cthulhu scenario Blackwater Creek, written by Scott Dorward for Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Keeper Screen. Text review on  Keeper Screen on DriveThruRPG: On Chaosium: On Amazon: Thank you to Cryochamber for use of their album, Cthulhu. 


Small town horror with a near-perfect mix of investigation, action, paranoia, and body horror in a sandbox with enough freedom to give players agency but limited enough to be manageable for a new Keeper.

Spoiler-lite for Players and Keepers:

Blackwater Creek, written by Scott Dorward, is one of the two scenarios included in the Keeper Screen for Call of Cthulhu Seventh Edition. As one of the first scenarios someone new to CoC 7e may come across, Blackwater Creek is one of the most well know and well regarded of the newer scenarios. And for good reason. While simple enough and including ample suggestions and explanations aimed at new Keepers, it has enough depth and flexibility (as well as morbidity) to appeal to Keepers and players of any experience level. It really is one of the best offerings seventh edition has for this kind of mid-length scenario.

The scenario covers a healthy 35 monochromatic pages including stats, handouts, and maps, with an additional 15 pages for 6 pregenerated investigators. Black-and-white insert art is sprinkled throughout to break up longer spiels of text, and while simple, does a fine enough job illustrating the grody inhabitants of Blackwater Creek. The handouts and maps are likewise not flashy, but perfectly serviceable. The only downside is that the maps are Keeper-aiming with all locations noted and named, making it unsuitable for players. Luckily there are plenty of community edited player-facing maps out there by now.

There are two introductions into the scenario, depending on the type of investigator. The more common one is a group of mixed professions hired by the Miskatonic University, allowing most types of investigator to fit in. The second method is for a group of criminals. Depending on the introduction and investigator types, the scenario can change dramatically, with the most notable difference being run time. While it is of course entirely possible for either group to take as long as short of a time as they can manage, the Miskatonic group is generally more likely to have a longer and more investigative go of the scenario than the criminals, who have a greater chance of taking more violent and direct path. It’s also worth noting that the scenario’s pregenerated investigators are all for the criminal route, and while that isn’t too much of an issue, as the Miskatonic group can really be of any profession, it would have been nice to have some premade backgrounds that directly connect with NPCs for the Miskatonic group to choose from.

My group went with the Miskatonic route and took a solid six hours to work through the scenario, covering every location available and taking time for extra roleplaying. They did have an opportunity to cut things short about four hours in, and I expect many groups will have the same decision, allowing them to bypass (or miss out) on a chunk of the content available. It is also entirely possible, and indeed likely, that groups could add on another handful of hours depending on how they resolve the situation they find themselves in, as the scenario’s resolution has a few blank spots that aren’t delved into by the text and could be expanded upon.

Even with the blunter criminal path, Blackwater Creek has a nicely balanced amount of investigation and action. Players can do dusty library research, pry information out of cooperative and less-than cooperative NPCs, find physical clues and evidence, and face horrors both human and very much inhuman. As a sandbox, the players are given complete freedom in how to approach and deal with challenges they’ll face in Blackwater Creek, ensuring every group will have a unique experience with the scenario.

Blackwater Creek is a near-perfect mid-length scenario, giving players and Keepers a taste of almost everything Call of Cthulhu has to offer, and all with the trademark nastiness of Dorward’s work.

Blackwater Creek is included in the Keeper Screen, available digitally on DriveThruRPG, or physically from Chaosium’s store, Amazon, or your friendly (and cool enough to stock Chaosium products) local game store.

Before you go, maybe you would be interested in some of the below reviews or replays?
MJRRPG scenarios, Chaosium-released scenarios, Miskatonic Repository scenarios, Japanese scenarios




Spoilers Call of Cthulhu




Blackwater Creek is a surprisingly simple scenario to run, made easier with plenty of Keeper’s notes scattered through the pages. Both the Miskatonic and bootlegger paths have essentially the same opening objective but worded differently, and both can lead to a second larger objective, though the Miskatonic group is more likely to feel compelled to handle it. The only large complication that isn’t handled in the scenario text is an extended ending, or if the ‘final’ locations are reversed (as happened in my run). I’ll give my ideas for that at the end.

The Miskatonic group is tasked with finding a missing Professor Henry Roades and his wife Abigail who had been on a dig near the village of Blackwater Creek. The bootleggers are meanwhile tasked with finding and confronting some moonshiners near the village. It just so happened those moonshiners are holding Professor Roades captive. Abigail Roades, on the other hand, has been consumed into a horrific fungus monster, a fragment of Shub-Niggurath called the ‘Mother’s Womb,’ hold up in a cave in the hills, spilling out horrific tainted water down the creek, which the moonshiners use in their produce, and has infected the denizens of Blackwater Creek, twisting their bodies and minds and connecting them telepathically with the Mother. The investigators will need to deal with the those infected by the Mother’s Gift, and if they so desire, destroy whatever is left of Abigail and the Mother to stop the spread of the taint.

As a sandbox scenario, the party can visit various locations in whatever order they see fit, though there are two main paths they are likely to follow. One is to first find their way to the moonshiners and the captive Henry Roades, who could then point the party towards the cave and Abigail. Another way is if they poke around the Roades’ dig sites, and instead of trying to find the clearly abducted Henry, follow the creak up into the hills. There they’ll run into the cave and Abigail, potentially dynamiting her and ending the Mother before they find Henry.

The scenario text doesn’t give a clear answer as to what happens to all those infected with the Mother’s Gift if the Mother is destroyed. It seems likely that anyone who has reached stage 7 (losing all sense of self and physical form, consumed entirely by the Mother) will perish immediately or soon after, and I doubt anyone in stage 6 would be capable of returning to normal society, given the tendrils and hooves, but they may still be able to survive without the Mother’s voice.

In my run the group did find and dispatch the Mother/Abigail first, then returned to find Henry. The townsfolk, cut off from the Mother’s voice, were then dazed and grieving for the loss of their god, but were wrangled into a rabid mob by the fully insane sheriff now intent on killing the investigators. Many of the villagers could be persuaded to give up though, and once the sheriff was killed the rest of his hangers-on fled.

Brendan Carmody, one of the moonshiners who had reached stage 7 of the Mother’s Gift, was now unravelling completely both physically and mentally, but still had control over swarms of rodents and insects. I was prepared to have him make one last all out attack on the party when they arrived at his farm, but one of the investigators, a psychologist, tried to convince the blubbering Brendan that he had no reason to go on now that his mother was gone. This sounded neat, so with a good roll and some Luck spending, I had Brendan take the investigator’s words to heart, and so consumed himself with his own swarm of pests.

Finally, Henry Roades was a gibbering mess, having lost both his wife and the half-motherly half-godly voice she had been whispering in his mind. I felt only an Extreme success of some sort could convince him to go on living and deal with his loss, mental, emotional, and physical, as his body had heavily corrupted by then. No such success followed, and so he begged for death. The investigators complied.

One other very minor point of confusion early on in the scenario was from which direction the party arrives in Blackwater Creek. There is a road from the west and a road from the east. I thought Arkham was east of Blackwater Creek, so I had the group drive in from that direction, but this proved slightly awkward. The party should run across a veterinarian on his way back to Dunwich who can give some hints early on, but Dunwich is west of Blackwater Creek… I also think it is ideal to have the party meet a homeless man who lives by a bridge and one of the dig sites just west of the village, but again if the party arrives from the east, they won’t meet him until they pass through the village. Arriving from the west seems to be the intended direction given the scenario text’s order, so it’s easy enough to just say the road to Blackwater Creek loops around through Dunwich, and the eastern road leads off further into farmland (I may have misread and that is plainly written somewhere).

This is a minor point, and besides that and the potentially open ending, Blackwater Creek is very easy to run. It’s a great introduction to sandbox scenarios in general, with few moving points to worry about, letting a Keeper focus completely on the players’ actions without juggling timetables or moving NPCs.

It’s also disgusting.

Blackwater Creek is an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a mid-length sandbox scenario for any experience level of players, and especially for any Keepers that enjoy body-horror.

Again, Blackwater Creek is included in the Keeper Screen, available digitally on DriveThruRPG, or physically from Chaosium’s store, Amazon, or your friendly local game store.

Before you go, maybe you would be interested in some of the below reviews or replays?
MJRRPG scenarios, Chaosium-released scenarios, Miskatonic Repository scenarios, Japanese scenarios

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