I had planned a long article that covered the History of Masks of Nyarlathotep, but then I found this article on the Escapist. It covers the game, it’s creation and its creator in some detail. The main thrust is that Larry DeTillo (not really a Lovecraft fan) ended up writing this adventure because he wanted to set a COC campaign in Africa and somehow finished with a 400 page adventure.
Now, judging by a quick Amazon search, it appears that the Masks of Nyarlathotep is out of print at the moment, which is sad. It is not the first time that the rulebook has been out of print. Chaosium has struggled through the years with various financial issues and catastrophes. (Odd, given the popularity of their flagship product). I purchased a hard copy of Masks probably two or three years ago – I got tired of running the game on a tablet. So it hasn’t been out of print that long.
The Escapist article also mentions the heaps of praise and respect the campaign still receives. Seminal gaming blog Grognardia has a rather nice article entitled Retrospective: Masks of Nyarlathotep that certainly reflects my feelings on why Masks is so great.
From that post
…the whole things feels more like a pulp serial or an Indiana Jones movie than an exercise in cosmic horror. I’m willing to overlook that, since I’m not convinced that cosmic horror would actually be all that fun to play and because Masks is such a brilliant adventure in its own right, so brilliant that, it’s definitely deserving of the accolades it receives in many quarters. Is it the best adventure ever written? That’s really hard to say, since tastes — even my own — vary, but it’s without a doubt in contention for the title and well worth a look if you’ve never had the chance to do so.