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The Art of Conan Sourcebook
by Jacob S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2021 22:05:33

The Art of Conan Sourcebook is absolutely incredible. I don't play the role playing game, but I have an appreciation of Conan. This book gathers together all of the art work form their RPG and supplements and places it in one book full of just art with a few paragraphs of descritptions here and there to set the scene. Overall, an incredible book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Art of Conan Sourcebook
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Achtung! Cthulhu: Tales From The Crucible
by CD F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2021 18:53:36

I like how this comes with a way to translate much of this to 6th and 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu. This game has great ideas you can use in other horror RPGs. YouTube's "Game Geeks RPG" Game Master Kurt Wiegel brought up in one of his review of "Pulp Cthulhu" that Actung! Cthulhu as already doing what "Pulp Cthulhu" tries to do for the Mythos.

Also you get to fight Nazis and isn't that always a good thing?



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu: Tales From The Crucible
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Achtung! Cthulhu - Zero Point - Code of Honour
by CD F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/09/2021 08:47:44

I loved the use of WW II spy history in Istanbul. The writing was magnificient and the diverse cast of NPCs diverting to my players and to me as a Keeper. The maps gave enough detail to evoke the city but not confuse with the obvious amount of detail that exists in reality. Istanbul was neutral in WW II but not on the sidelines when it came to spycraft and intrigue. This book uses both!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Achtung! Cthulhu - Zero Point - Code of Honour
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Odyssey of the Dragonlords Adventure Book
by wahaj s. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/31/2020 16:47:56

Odyssey of the Dragonlords is argueable a better adventure than as any of Official published 5e Adventure published by Wotc. The Art and Maps in the book are also top tier. The Book also offers various other content that help further develop the setting like, 10 new Subclasses (1 or each class), the Epic path systems and a Fame system.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords is well organized Adventure with a new setting that is inspired by Greek mythology. The Story consists of a classic show down between the he powers of evil and good with a greek twist of goodly boons, intervention and greek tradegy and sacrafice.While classically inspireded by heroic fantasy the story doesn't get cliche infact is offers but refreshing twist.

Arcanum Worlds set a tread i would love other companies to follow, that being rather just createing a D&D setting they also createing a full adventure that is set inside the world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Odyssey of the Dragonlords Adventure Book
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Star Trek Adventures: A Forest Apart
by Jason K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2020 10:52:35

A dying species of star-flung sentient trees, ravenous drug-addicted insects, and a prehistoric people who hold dear ancient stories of reunion, this STA episode eschews most combat and instead really leverages the skills of science and medical officers. For that reason it's one of my favorite published adventures. Players can certainly phaser their way through this, but it would be their loss because the true reward is using science-based and interpersonal skills to win the day in classic Star Trek fashion. If you are looking for an STA episode that leans away from combat, this is a great one to pick.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: A Forest Apart
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Liminal
by John L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/08/2020 01:47:31

I love almost everything about this game. The setting is exactly what I want from an urban fantasy game. ...and I mean exactly. There are just the right number and type and nature of factions, the way magic and shapeshifting and fairies and ghosts work... it's all perfect. The art is high quality, evocative, and fits the setting perfectly. The way character types and abilities are balanced against each other is perfect. But the core game mechanic and skill list is incredibly lackluster. It's not bad, but it's definitely not good.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Liminal
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Star Trek Adventures: The Klingon Empire Gamemaster Toolkit
by Ben S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/05/2020 08:10:03

For a GM running a Klingon based game, especially with players new to the system, this is a great resource to have on hand. The tasks for each station are broken down in an easily understandable format so every player can quickly decide on their actions without time wasted fumbling through a rulebook. A GMs screen full of useful information is a great aid as well for GMs like me who like their information concise and easy to find.

Also included are helpful maps (One in the original Klingon) as well as a short Klingon centric adventure that isn't just flying around and blowing things up, although as Klingons, you're always welcome to do that too!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: The Klingon Empire Gamemaster Toolkit
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The Monsters: A Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition Quickstart
by Iv R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/01/2020 17:31:36

I actually liked that the rules are mixed with the story. The adventure makes it clear when you are expected to use some mechanics as both Storyteller and player. However the story in itself is not particularly good; at one point the adventure expects the players to act very linearly, even giving handouts of what players are expected to do.

The characters are good and everything about it was pretty clear for me and the players, but that single linear part took me out of the experience+



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Monsters: A Vampire: the Masquerade 5th Edition Quickstart
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Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook
by William B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2020 15:34:04

This is the best Star Trek game to date....the artwork and layout of the books alone is worth the buy !!

This game captures the feeling of Star trek !!

The online support is amazing, there is also a free character generator on their homepage, a real boost for the struggeling GM !!

5 stars and two thumbs up !!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Core Rulebook
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Star Trek Adventures: The Klingon Empire Gamemaster Toolkit
by kristine y. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2020 12:46:14

This is a very helpful gm screen if you are going to run any star trek rpg game but will very helpful with running a Klingon focused game. The kit comes with several game hand outs focused on different ship positions and what a pc can do in each ship position game mechanic wise. These can be used in any time period. The cover art is up to the normal standards of other star trek products. The gm screen is well organized and easy to read. The font style and page layout is easy to read and easy on the printer if you print any pages out. There is alot of yellow and gold usage which for some in my group was a little difficult for them to read. Page backgrounds were white so its easy on the print cartiage.
The kit comes with two maps of the empire. both are full color. The first is a map of the full empire as of 2371. All of the lettering is in Klingon only with no other governemnts on it but the second map as reference you which areas the UFP ad Romulans are. The second map is from a old star trek book called star charts I think. This map covers only the part of the empire bording the UPF and Romulans. The star systems are all labeld in english an well detailed. The maps are both very good and helpful. A few things would have made the maps more useful. First, if the first map of the empire also included the systems names not only in Klingon but also in english though emerson might have been lost. Second, if the second map also included the chart pages for the rest of the empire away from the UFP border. Third, if the area for the living campaign had been on the map. If it is I missed it. Is this product worth getting? The ship position pages and the gm screen are very easy to use and are well done. The maps are excellent despite what I said. The new corebook might address the issues I have mentioned but my copy is not here yet. The adventure is good and not a klingons shoot first and shoot again mission. Yes I think this kit is worth buying and would recommend it .



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: The Klingon Empire Gamemaster Toolkit
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Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition Core Book Savage Worlds Edition
by Dillard R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/22/2020 14:11:51

Let's call this an exploration of the earlier version of 2d20 and what looks to be the Modiphius model for producing games.

Mutant Chronicles seems to be an excellent predictor of how Modiphius views its creative properties. Namely "milk them of all the short term monetary value don't spend anything time wise beyond short term gains".

Now I say this having bought Mutant Chronicles 3d ed. and this product. I have watched the reddit pages on the other games and veiwed with disappointment in various industry forums as the story has repeated itself over and over with John Carter, Conan, ad nauseum...

Take the 12 page conversion book for Savage Worlds. 2 pages of splash and then note after note of how to convert this or that. Sounds good except when you realize that this is supposed to be converting the almost a 500 page MC3. You can't even come close and it looks like a half hearted try.

Many of the conversions are undercut by the examples given in the document. Take armor for instance. The write up suggests that you convert armor on a 1:2 basis. Yet in the example it shows a 1:1.5 basis. At the same time it gives an example of power armor without any strength bonuses?!?

SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess) seems to be the order of the day when converting characters as well. Looking at Sister Eve and that conversion makes me wish that some time would have been spent in the SW core book doing a better job of converting system to system. Chronicle Points, Momentum spends all need a lot more love translating into SW rules.

I give this an average rating because the very idea of translating Mutant Chronicles for SW is such a great idea. I just wish that we'd have gotten something more thorough. (The writers were operating at a disadvantage as I think the MC3 had some gaps already before they tried the conversion).



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition Core Book Savage Worlds Edition
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Star Trek Adventures: Back to Reality Supplement
by Ben S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/14/2020 04:47:03

Who doesn't love alternate universe Star Trek Adventures? This was a solid and interesting mission with a good deal of open ended plot ideas that could lead to a larger campaign if wished. It had a strong Star Trek feel with moral choices and the Prime Directive potentially at odds with one another. Designed for Next Generation era adventuring there are also ideas on how to use it with crews from other time periods. All in all, this is a great mission supplement for any Star Trek fans.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Star Trek Adventures: Back to Reality Supplement
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Star Trek Adventures: Back to Reality Supplement
by Jason K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2020 06:58:41

This is one of my favorite published missions. The challenges are worthy and the mystery is fun. Depending on how far the GM/players want to lean in the "big reveal," there could be some pretty sizable moral choices. This is a good one in the tradition of Star Trek's more memorable episodes.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Odyssey of the Dragonlords: Player's Guide
by Timothy R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/12/2020 08:31:51

A gorgeous release. Very interesting content. I look forward to playing in this in an upcoming campaign schediled for the New Year of 2021.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Odyssey of the Dragonlords: Player's Guide
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Black Void: Core Book
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/12/2020 05:52:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The Black Void’s core book is a massive tome of 404 pages if you take away editorial, front cover, ToC, backer lists, character sheet, (brief) glossary, index, etc., so quite a lot to digest.

I have received a print copy of this tome for the purpose of a fair and unbiased review; this has been simmering on my backburner for quite a while.

You can think of this book as pretty much two in one: Approximately the first half of the book is devoted to the rules, while the second half, the GM-chapter, is essentially the setting, including NPCs, bestiary, etc.; Personally, I’d have preferred them to be split in the middle, as I enjoy handing books to my players, but that just as an aside.

Before we dive into the analysis, how would I describe it? Well, picture this: Babylon’s in full swing, seen through a lens of Clark Ashton Smith. Suddenly, tendrils of black grasp everyone, and humanity ends up stranded in a strange, uncaring and far-off cosmos, and pretty much at the bottom of the social hierarchies. The cosmology knows three primary components: The cosmos is the vast expanse of space we know; the void lies beyond it, and is the home of the truly esoteric and strange creatures, but not necessarily in a Lovecraftian vein; instead, it also is the origin of beings we associate with real world mythology like the Lammasu, the asura, deva, etc. The interesting twist here, ultimately, is that the creatures from the esoteric realms might be more familiar than anything else, inverting the premise of fantasy as we know it in pretty much every game. Cosmos and void are separated by the Veil, which reminded me in its function of games like Esoterrorists and Bloodlines & Black Magic.

The assumed story-hub would be Llyhn, the eternal city, situated at a crossroads of sorts where the veil is thin, and where the trade-routes converge; the city is rules from vast towers by unseen rulers who generally do not directly interfere, and as such, the core playing tenet might remind you of a twist on Planescape’s Sigil, or the fantastic City of 7 Seraphs by Lost Spheres Publishing; that’s a good thing. We add a sprinkling of spelljamming, for the Void allows for planetary travel…but all of these decidedly high-fantasy concepts are presented in a way I have not seen before: Black Void has a distinct focus on dark fantasy, some might say horror – the in-character/flavor pieces throughout the book illustrate rather well how the world can be considered to be dark…but I probably wouldn’t use the word “grimdark” for it.

You see, in many ways, the core tenet of the game is that of a humanist fable: What would happen if humanity had been thrust into a thoroughly alien and indifferent environment where we are not the apex predators and dominant species? The world presented by Black Void assumes that there are quite a few massive civilizations out there, but for those Mesopotamian stragglers stranded in Llyhn, survival within a social hierarchy that is rigged against them is actually a struggle. Instead of the cosmicism of a vast pantheon of ancient gods trampling us like gnats, the horror in this setting stems more from the experience of living in a society that is at once alien and indifferent. It is effective because it is NOT simply an array of horrors and inevitable madness. As such, I do think that the dark fantasy label, with a definite weird fiction angle best encompasses what this is about. However, my first association when I put down this book for the first time was a different one: I thought: “Okay, so this is a Babylonian Tékumel with a dark fantasy/horror-focus!”

In case you wondered with the whole Babylon angle: Yes, sexuality, slavery and similar mature themes are included, but in a rather tasteful, mature manner, and the presentation is not explicit. For European sensibilities, this is pretty much PG-13, though some people from the US might situate this differently. That being said, like in every horror/dark fantasy game worth the moniker, I wouldn’t recommend it to the professionally offended, so if anything darker than Equestria Girls triggers you (no jab vs. Bronies intended! I think the series can rock hard!), I’d suggest going for a different game.

Okay, this basic premise out of the way, what about the game-engine aspects? How can one situate Black Void regarding its mechanics? Well, here things become more difficult to answer. In how the mechanics feel, I’d suggest probably likening this to WFRP or Storyteller – the Black Void has a pretty simple basic resolution mechanic, wherein you roll a d12 and various modifiers against a target value, with a natural 1 a failure, and a 12 “exploding” in certain instances, i.e. you get to roll again and add it to the result.

Character creation is based on point-buy, with 3 suggested point-ranges for different power-levels provided. The game knows 8 so-called “traits”, which are essentially the game’s ability scores: Agility, Awareness, Stamina, Strength, Intellect, Persuasion, Presence, Willpower. These range from a rating of 0 to 12, with modifiers ranging from -3 to +9, though it should be noted that humans have at least 1 in each score. For every 3 you have in a trait, you can select a talent, which are listed by trait.

Which brings me to a huge pet-peeve of mine: Like most roleplaying games, this begins with character creation, and throws you in on the deep end. While the book does explain the basics of a roleplaying game, it does not explain the basics of its mechanics in an adequate manner before prompting you to create a character. I HATE this tendency with a fiery passion. Why do I have to skip ahead to the “Playing the Game”-chapter (Chapter 3 in this book) and read that first? I can’t make an informed choice in character creation if I don’t understand how the game works.

To illustrate this: The talent Ambidexterity notes that it reduces the penalties for dual-wielding to 0/-3. Okay, at this point, we have no ideas how fighting, let alone regular dual-wielding, works. (You get essentially an extra attack per turn – main hand -3, off hand -6, and the penalties are applied to the action AND the initiative!) You can’t make an informed choice when you don’t know how to play the game. And this is all the more galling when you realize that the action-based gameplay actually has some neat depth and breadth to offer and is explained in a tight manner. Why not start with that, and instead erect this arbitrary difficulty/confusion wall at the start? On another note, since we’re talking about initiative: If you roll a 12 on initiative, you get an additional action during the first round at -6; I assume that this happens regardless of modifiers, and stacks with e.g. dual-wielding, but couldn’t find clarification on that particular scenario.

But I digress. Actions are defined in a clear and concise manner: Some might require sequential successes; some might be contested, and cooperative. The game differentiates between resisted (passive) vs. opposed (active) actions, and an easy chart helps Arbiters (the term used for the GM) and player alike gain a good idea of positive and negative modifiers applied to actions.

The character creation includes a whole lot of means to tweak your character, offering wide and diverse choices that are meaningful: You are human, but you may be a half-blood, or a voidmarked; if you are a pureblood, you are human as we know it; otherwise, you might have attributes; voidmarked can have esoteric attributes, like being ageless…they can be considered to be the somewhat unearthly planetouched of the setting. All of these, however, draw upon the point budget. Beyond traits and homeworld, you can spend points on safe places to stay, connections, loyal allies, etc. – in that manner, the game reminded me of Shadowrun. Magic is generally used via Willpower (Furor – emotional casters) and Intellect (Gnostics – studied spellcasting) and organized in spheres. There also are blood rituals, but more on magic later.

Skills range from 0 (untrained, -3) to 12 (+9), and are associated with one of more traits: Acrobatics might be associated with Agility, Stamina or Strength, for example, depending on what you do. Your point budget also is used to determine your caste, for Llyhn has a rigid caste society, and humans are at the bottom of the barrel…and thus, even if you spend some serious points, you won’t start at the highest echelons…but everything’s better than being casteless...or a Kalbi (which literally translates to “dog”). Anyhow, there are two things that you can’t start investing in – Enlightenment and Wastah. Enlightenment is your cosmic understanding and can only be attained in play via interaction with entities from the void or the void itself; Wastah is the social clout/charisma/bearing of the individual.

The book contains a massive array of items, services and goods, and here, we get additional options, for there are different quality levels (illustrated lavishly), but here is a good place to note once more how the sequence of rules-presentation is needlessly obtuse. I consider myself to be an experienced roleplayer, but when I read the following in the drug section, I was puzzled: “Refined varieties may induce stupor. Stamina Roll [7]: Delirium effect < 7.” Note that, at this point, Delirium had not yet been defined; once you’ve read the book, this makes sense, but the like is not always the case. Terrible quality weapons, for example, note that they have a -1 to attack, damage and speed rolls. I am pretty sure that should be initiative or Agility. That sort of thing is jarring, since the game, as a whole, does a surprisingly great job at delivering the degree of customization I enjoy, so if you’re coming from PFRPG or 5e, you will have enough meaningful choices to fiddle with from the get-go. The breadth and depth is here, and in some aspects transcends those games. Want poison grooves, wave pattern blades? Not only can you have such weapons, these modifications actually have RELEVANT effects in-game. For a tinkerer like yours truly, this is frickin’ amazing. This amount of differentiation also extends to armors, fyi: They offer a variety of options to customize them, and act as essentially damage reduction. Weapons have a size, armor a bulk – these denote the minimum Strength required to sue them sans penalty – otherwise, you suffer a penalty for every point by which you fail to meet the prerequisite.

Surprising for a game with tables for exceptional hits and yes, health levels, the Black Void’s combats run in a relatively smooth and quick manner. The game has derived statistics like Health and Sanity, which pretty much do what you’d expect them to, the latter being harder to replenish…but you can essentially spend Experience Points to regain Stamina, so this is no game of uncontrolled escalation down the insanity rabbit hole. (And before you ask: Yep, fear, madness and delirium are presented in the sanity chapter…once more much later than where the concepts are first mentioned. Some internal cross-referencing “For delirium, see pg XX” or better sequence of presentation would have been prudent.)

While we’re talking about combat: I genuinely LOVE the action engine presented: There is differentiation between regular movement, running and sprinting, and a whole array of options: Parrying, blocking, aiming, called shots, grapples, and so much more – all available. A handy table lists the base combat actions with a handy shorthand table for your convenience, and with essentially attacks of opportunity (here called “attack opportunity”), the game runs surprisingly tactical combats….to a degree. You see, my main gripe with Black Void as a system comes from it feeling somewhat indecisive of what it actually wants to be. We have all these cool, tactical combat actions and concrete ranges for ranged weapons (yes, with increments), and guess what? The game tells you that it assumes “theater of the mind” for combat. Yeah, I have almost 20 years of in-depth experience with such games, and rest assured, that playstyle is great for more rules-lite games, but as soon as you add attack opportunities and components based on concrete tactical placement of individuals, things get messy in theater of the mind. FAST.

And this strange inconsistence can also be found in other aspects, most notably those associated with the voidmarked and magic: The esoteric attribute Daimonic Discord, for example, has this text:

“The character is able to twist other people’s spoken communication so that listeners will hear something different than what is actually being said. The player nominates a target within hearing distance. The character must be able to understand the conversation to twist the words. The conversation can be twisted as much as the player wishes, but the more the message is distorted, the less believable it becomes. A minor tweak, such as replacing a few names or details in a conversation would go unnoticed while making someone appear to say the opposite of what they actually are is conspicuous and would likely be noticed.”

That is the entire text provided regarding rules. Now, don’t get me wrong: I can really appreciate the ability; I picked it out since it’d be one I’d definitely take for my own PC. But notice something? We don’t get information on whether this can easily be done in combat; it doesn’t seem to be a resisted or opposed action. It just WORKS. And it has no limits. All details are left up to the arbiter. And there are quite a few instances in the book where these very narrative components suddenly pop up in a game that is otherwise rather meticulous regarding the precision of concrete rules to resolve its gameplay. For a while, I figured that this was intentional, mirroring cosmos vs. void: You know, concrete rules for the cosmos parts, while void-related stuff gets the more abstract, narrative tricks. And I think this actually is the rationale. But I maintain it doesn’t work well. In direct comparison, abilities like Daimonic Discord are ridiculously powerful in the hands of a half-way smart character (or NPC) – no limit, no concrete boundaries. It also creates this disjoint and underlines the fact that the game’s system is slightly confused regarding what it wants to be – a complex, tactical game, or a more narrative experience?

So yeah, as far as I’m concerned, the rules get a TON of things right; the core engine presented is GREAT. But in the details, this could most assuredly have used a capable and strict rules-editor to put the wishy-washy outliers in a proper, hard-coded context. Particularly since the (rather subdued) magical options actually tend to be codified in a precise manner, with ranges, etc. The system as a whole is presented in a concise manner that is rewarding to play, flawed in some details though it may be.

Anyhow, regardless of whether you want to actually use the game as presented or not, I do maintain that this tome has got something seriously amazing going on for it: The setting. From the bird-like Ka’alum to the shirr, who move on muscular-contractions, gliding over the ground, to the fauna presented, the second half of this book breathes wonder and excitement: Mysteries abound, the cosmopolis’ politics are diverse, and I have rarely read a setting that felt so fresh to me; indeed, not since I first read “Empire of the Petal Throne” have I had a similar experience of a fantasy not indebted to Lovecraft or Tolkien; and apart from City of 7 Seraphs, I would be hard-pressed to name a setting that is so fantastic.

But this? It’s also horrific and decadent, and if you know me, then you pretty much realize by now that this makes the campaign setting a homerun for me. This fantasy manages to feel both ancient and novel. Additionally, the underdog situation humanity finds itself in adds a great angle: In many ways, the whole system is constructed to make it very easy to ask questions of what it actually means to be human, of what one would do to thrive or survive. This reminded me of Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020/RED in quite a few of its underlying themes, save that is presents these notions in a holistic, fantastic vision. In its themes and how the game is set up, the Black Void has more in common with those games, than with the D&D-based reference settings like Planescape or Spelljammer. And yes, this is dark fantasy. However, there is a reason for my Tékumel-comparison. This may be a dark setting, one that may seem nihilistic at first glance – but I’d argue that it really, really is not actually nihilistic or grimdark. Why? For every horrifying and disturbing concept presented, for every hopeless struggle, the book also provides something downright stunning and taps into that same wondrous feeling of jamias-vu Tékumel does. Heck, even the Void and the things, planes and creatures related to it are actually not (all) tentacled, sanity-blasting monstrosities. In what might eb the best meta-twist I’ve seen in a setting for quite a while, these aspects may well be the ones you consider to be more familiar, less weird, than those encountered within the “regular” confines of the setting. You might not notice consciously, but your brain will.

It’s been quite a while since I couldn’t put down a campaign setting’s information, since it captivated me to this degree. As far as the setting is concerned, this is a resounding success and amazing vision.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level; in some instances, the rules language felt more verbose than it needed to be, and I have encountered a couple of instances where the verbiage is less precise than it should be; on a formal level, I e.g. noticed minor glitches like a whole paragraph in italics, when only the play-example should have been in italics. I can’t help but feel that the book would have benefited from establishing some formatting conventions with italics, bold text etc. to make parsing of rules-language more effective. Layout adheres toa 3-column standard, and is per se gorgeous; the backgrounds etc. make this book beautiful to look at; however, from an information-design perspective, the book is rather inconvenient in its organization and lack of cross-referencing. The artworks of the book are DECADENT. The tome is littered with top-tier, stunning artworks ranging from glorious full-color to some b/w-pieces; most weapons and armors get their own artworks, for example; the majority of the artworks are full-color. The hardcover is a massive, really neat offset-printed book with sturdy binding; it’s beautiful. That being said, I think that some artworks are a tad bit too dark on the matte paper; I can’t help but feel that the book was intended to be printed on glossy paper at one point; the artworks are stunning, but their details sometimes become slightly indistinct on the matte paper. That is me nitpicking at the highest level, though—this book has one of the best art-directions I have seen.

Christoffer S. Sevaldsen, with contributions from Yadin Flammer, Cameron Day, Killian DeVriendt, Bryan j. McLean, Luke Maton, Gabriel Norwood, Predrag Filipovic, Dan Cross and Jon Creffield, has crafted a singular, distinct vision. The game system here manages to present a complex, rewarding engine that is not just a derivative of a d20-engine or similar game, and that shows off VERY well what kind of tactical depth you can achieve without increasing the complexity of the rules unduly. The system is very close to being a stunning, resounding success. However, its sequence of presentation is obtuse, its lack of cross-referencing annoying, and the instances where the book labors under the delusion of being a primarily narrative-driven game, when its complex engine makes pretty clear that it works much better with a battle-map, is jarring. All of these could have been easily caught and fixed. So yeah, as a system, it is one that has a ton of potential, but also plenty of stumbling stones, and here, “esoteric”, one of the buzzwords associated with this game, is not a positive descriptor. And yes, I am hard on this game – not out of spite, but because this gets everything I look for in a game ALMOST perfectly right.

The setting, in one word, is STUNNING.

I love it. I love its complexity, its daring, its distinct vision. I love how it flips familiar and unknown, I love its obvious humanist concepts; it love how it plays with feelings of estrangement and wonder, with the horrors of the conditio humana in an inhumane world. I seriously think that this book is worth its asking price even if you’re just looking for ideas or a genuinely fresh and exciting setting. And frankly, the setting is actually good enough to deal with the minor hiccups of the system.

But I can’t rate the two components divorced from each other. I have to rate this book as a whole. (Yep, that’s another reason I bemoaned it not being two books…) And that’s hard. You see, for the rules-section, with its inconvenient presentation-sequence, I’d probably settle on something in the 3.5 star vicinity; for the setting, I’d give this 5 stars and slap my seal of approval faster on this than you can say “blood ritual table.”

This book is not perfect, but oh boy is it exciting. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, and while I’d love to, I can’t round up. This, however, does get my seal of approval and a heartfelt recommendation for anyone looking for something novel, both in setting and mechanics.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Black Void: Core Book
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