Skin Deep: An Epic Mythos Adventure


Designer: David N. Ross and Sandy Petersen

Artist: Graey Ebb, et al.

Publisher: Petersen Games

Year Published: 2021

No. of Players: 5–6

Ages: 12+

Playing Time: RPG

Main mechanic / Theme: DnD 5e / Cthulhu Fantasy Horror

Murders need to be investigated while there is threat of war.

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While the trained troops are away protecting the city from a possible war two high profile individuals have been murdered. The magistrate needs someone to investigate before more murders happen and to help deter the possible war. You and your comrades are the ones chosen to find out what is happening and help put an end to it. And, yes, of course, you will get paid for your help.

Skin Deep: An Epic Mythos Adventure is the sixth in the series of Cthulhu Mythos Sagas released by Petersen Games. I received a copy of the campaign book, taking characters from first to fourteenth level, From the publisher for review purposes.

sand dweller


Like the other adventures in the Cthulhu Mythos Sagas, and what Sandy Petersen is best known for, Skin Deep takes on another element of H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos. This time the adventure centers around a lesser-known creature of the mythos, the sand-dwellers.

The adventures are broken into chapter as part of four acts. Here is some basic information to whet your thoughts without giving details away.


Adventure Plot:

Act One: Murder in the Dark (levels 1 –3)

The city of Harge is threatened with war by the neighboring city of Odran. The city guards are off in the garrison to protect the border between the two states and more trouble is brewing within the city—two prominent people have been murdered. The party is hired to investigate the murders and there is pressure to get to the answers fast. The second murder was the visiting diplomat from the city of Ordan.

The investigation leads them to the opposing city and a larger conspiracy to get the neighbors embroiled in a war. The party is put in a position to save the people of both sides.

The party learns about the underlying force behind the need for war and need to save as many of the Ordan populace as possible before an evil ceremony takes place.


Act Two: The Violet Dimension (levels 4–6)

In the home dimension of the sand-dwellers the party must find the items powering the portal connecting this dimension with the prime material.

The party must make a deal with other denizens of the violet dimension to gain the means of returning home.

After gaining the knowledge of what they need to do to return, they must get to the right place to use what they have learned.


Act Three: Rise of Revolution (levels 7–10)

What has happened to their home city of Harge since they left? The party finds the war has overtaken the city and the forces are moving on to another target, the city of Tsang. The party can help, and gain help from the survivors of the war and lead them on.

In the city of Tsang, the party finds a portion of the defending troops have already been replaced by sand-dwellers. The battle continues.

There are also ruins to explore that may provide more information and supplies that can help the cause against the sand-dwellers.

There is more to the city and the party must negotiate the politics and rumors to save the people.


Act 4: Humanity Besieged (levels 11–14)

The party helps in the defense of the last city as it is under siege. How much of the city can be saved by their actions?

When help arrives, it is outside the city being pursued by the sand-dwellers. There is something within the leadership of the city the party must confront to help them all.

The source of the sand-dweller’s power is identified, and the party must journey back to the violet dimension to destroy it.

Returning to the city the party engages the army of the sand-dwellers for the final conflict.



There is enough information to run Skin Deep as a stand-alone campaign. However, if you would like to broaden this into your own world, or a world setting you are using, there is not so much information where this cannot be transplanted into another setting. There are only a few key locations that need to be used like someplace near a desert for the sand-dwellers to be applicable.



The art in Skin Deep is right up to what is expected from a Petersen Games work. As a horror fan, I find the team at Petersen Games continually captures so much of the feel from the stories from the literary works of the Cthulhu mythology. They take it a step further in being able to make the monsters fit into the world setting they have created for the fantasy adventures the company creates. Skin Deep has the work of 11 artists working together to create these great works.


The Book:

The layout of the almost 300-page book is easy to read and follow. There is information about the Lovecraftian inspiration for the monsters and the adventure at the beginning. For those who are new to the Cthulhu Mythos Sagas, there is information about them and how to utilize the adventure for greater fun and satisfaction.

The acts and chapters have background information and a synopsis for helping the dungeon master in preparing and running the adventures. There is flexibility given to the events as they are presented so the storyline can play out in a differently depending on how the players actions succeed.

The end of the book also has an appendix for each act’s encounters and interesting items. People and items encountered in different parts of the adventure have multiple entries. This makes it easier to locate each of them and those that need to be scaled as the adventure continues is done.


Final Thoughts:

Skin Deep is another success in the adventures written for the Cthulhu Mythos Sagas.

David N. Ross and Sandy Petersen cowrote the adventure and were able to combine the elements of Cthulhu within the game framework. It was fun to read and experience.

There were 11 artists involved on this project and it all fits together. Readers who enjoy works of horror can enjoy looking at the art included without diving into the words (they do enhance each other).

I recommend Skin Deep to gamers who have played any of the other Cthulhu Mythos Sagas and enjoyed them and others who enjoy horror and want to be involved in the story as it builds.


About the Author

Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job wouldn't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at