Review: Arkham Investigator's Wallet (2023)

In which I take a detailed look at a fabulous collection of prop documents for 1920s investigative games... and delve into unboxing videos?

Review: Arkham Investigator's Wallet (2023)
HT: — a beautiful wallet!

From the creative wizards at HPLHS, this little gem of a product is a real leather wallet stuffed to the gills with meticulously crafted, period props that might be found in any 1920’s investigator’s possession. More than 40 beautiful items are included, from prop money (both coinage and paper) and bus transfer slips to business cards, membership cards, a newspaper clipping, a couple of photographs, and so on and so forth—and purchase comes with a link to download PDFs that will let you make new copies of anything you need to hack or modify for your own game, or have otherwise inadvertently destroyed in the course of integrating into your game.

One of the most delightful aspects of the Call of Cthulhu gaming scene (and here I’m including any sort of Lovecraftian-adjacent investigative game, be that Trail of Cthulhu, Yellow King RPG, or something else) is the community’s commitment to lavish props and other “stage decoration” that can really help immerse your players in the setting. The HPLHS is a constant source of inspiration, and sets like this really set the mind aflame with possibility. Their typefaces, paper selection, sizing... everything is just <chef's kiss> on point.

I have over the years run a pair of very long, prop-heavy games and used a number of HPLHS’ PDF documents and vintage typefaces as the basis for my own designs. That’s something I should touch on here—for me the joy in owning and going through their prop collections is in finding stuff I can borrow, remix, hack, etc. to fit my own stories. I’m almost never running games “stock” from a book, so anything that isn’t truly generic would probably need some modification in order to be directly useful to me. I think this collection, as with their previous collections, is still good value for money, though! They are wonderful templates to start from—and present all kinds of items you might not have thought of, and examples of the right type of papers, typefaces, and card-stock to really kick your own creations up a notch.

This is an A+ effort in my book.

The props I made for the intro chapter of Eternal Lies... many HPLHS docs used as templates!

I tried a little something new to me with this—I recorded an “unboxing” video! It is my first one and therefore not terribly good, and I say some demonstrably false things just on account of rambling in front of an open mic. But I enjoyed it and I might do more, see if it is something I could get better at :) — such as learning to keep the product in frame. In the meantime, here's the embed:

Oh! The prop set comes with a little scenario for Call of Cthulhu that makes use of the wallet and many of the included props in a little demonstration scenario that sees the investigators delving into a little Yithian mystery. It’s a solid enough scenario, quite generous as a free inclusion, and while it’s nothing to write home about it does give aspiring or improving GMs Keepers some tips and role-modeling about how to make use of these cool vintage items!

On that basis, the scenario gets a B+ for me.