Demon Codex Spectrals is the newest sourcebook for Third Eye Games’ Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. API is a modern setting in which the world is full of ‘demon’ races policed by the company, API. The setting ends up being a mixture of Men in Black and the World of Darkness. Demon Codex Spectrals is the second racial sourcebook in the API series. Spectrals are the ‘ghosts’ of the setting, and are a playable race.
The Book Itself
Spectrals is a 90 paged pdf, and soon to be softcover, book with a black and white interior. The cover uses the same theme as other API books with two exceptions. First, the usual burning cityscape is now a burning cemetery. Second, the cover has more color to it as it now sports three demons on the front in full color. Previous covers have only had black, white, and the oranges and reds of flame and blood. Hopefully future books from 3EGs will continue have show higher productions levels, especially with the artists their products feature.
Pre-Chapters (Pages 3-9)
The book begins with a three page fiction piece. This story focuses on a Spectral’s life, death, and re-birth into a new body. The story is an excellent piece in kick-starting the reader’s imagination on how Spectrals work and could become a part of API’s payroll. After the story is a title page and table of contents.
Chapter One: Life After Death (Pages 10-24)
Chapter one reads like the beginning of a documentary. It is the perfect first chapter in the way it sets the tone for Spectrals in the API setting. Spectrals are those humans, and occasional other Earth born demon races, which have died and for whatever reason not taken the Bright Lights to what lays beyond. An interesting reason the Spectral may still be around is that sometimes another Spectral steals their Bright Lights ‘door’ before the Spectral can pass through. This poses a lot of questions as to where it leads, what creates it, and if it can be used by any Spectral does this mean it is not created for a specific user?
For the most part Spectrals seem to follow the same idea as presented in the movie Ghost. Spectrals can learn to affect the corporeal world through certain abilities such as learning to touch things for a short time, become visible, or even to inhabit a new physical host. This chapter teaches that though Spectrals may seem invincible as well as intangible, they all have heightened fears of being utterly destroyed or fading away. Spectrals must also be wary of Exorcists, Necromancers, Spirit Eaters, a demon race known as The Radiants, and the newest enemy, technology.
Okay, it is time I let the truth be known. Spectrals are my least favorite demon race in the entirety of the current API setting. It is not that the idea of the race is bad. It is that the race is very easily abused by players. In a game where lethal combat is a common occurrence allowing a player to be an intangible, invisible, and almost invincible race is a recipe for disaster. It requires a very mature player to handle without disrupting play. At least that’s what I think. But let me get back on track. Even though I feel this way about Spectrals, this first chapter is easily the best first (or any for that matter) chapter of any of the API books so far. I feel that I understand Spectrals much more than I did previously, and I can see the possibilities of playing a Spectral in API in a ‘brighter light.’
Chapter Two: Ghosts Are Good Company (Pages 25-38)
I find that chapter two could have easily been a continuation of the last one. It is not necessarily a bad thing it just seems odd to have broke it into two chapters. In this section we learn about how Spectrals are used within the company of API. The lowest are used in the mail room to run the repetitive work of moving packages and letters back and forth to their appropriate places. What may surprise many is that the Global CEO and head of the US branch of API is a Spectral who refuses to relinquish control. The chapter also has optional rules for Spectrals from demon races. I like the idea that Spectrals only come from those races born in the dimension natively.
Chapter Three: Who Ya Gonna Call? (Pages 26-52)
Chapter three presents us with a number of new groups and organizations within the API setting. These groups are:
The Caballistas - A group of voodoo priest, Catholic priests, and drug runners of the Caribbean. API’s agents assigned to infiltrate or oppose the Caballistas have either disappeared or been killed. API has resorted to sending more militant agents after them now.
King James Court - One of the, if not THE, most powerful groups of Spectrals on Earth. King James rules over this large group of Spectrals in Europe, and for some strange reason even Spirit Eaters are denied existence in the King’s territories. Too bad many of the Spectrals do not want to be a part of this ‘kingdom’, but they are powerless to leave the King’s influence.
Council of Paracelus - Four sects that each control over one of the elements. They consist of only Evolved Spectrals (think super Spectrals.) They leaders of the sects are known as Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, and Raphael.
The Upward Spiral - Spectrals who seek out the dredges of society in an attempt to steal their Bright Lights.
Kellwood Forest - A forest that contains a Spectral turned Spirit Eater with a hunger for ghosts’ souls.
Spirit Stalkers - A ghost hunter whose last choice to prove their existence was to film his suicide. Now he has learned how to use his cameras to provide a Ghost Hunting show from beyond.
Chapter Four: You Can’t Take It With You (Pages 53-75)
This chapter includes ideas on how to role-play Spectrals, and is the chapter that gives us new rules, equipment, and new demon races. Rules-wise we are given a few more gifts and drawbacks along with a new path of magic known as the Path of Radiance used by the Radiant demon race. There is lots of new equipment all of which is geared towards API interacting with Spectrals. There are also new spirit evolutions for Spectrals to follow into such as the poltergeist and circuit jockey. These evolutions allow players to customize their PCs allowing for Spectrals to head in very different directions from each other. Antagonist write-ups are also provided for things such as Necromancers and Spirit Eaters.
Finally, we are treated to some new demon races. The first are Walkers, or as most people would know them, Zombies. They are Spectrals who have refused to leave their bodies. Walkers are an exciting addition for me personally as they allow dead PCs without the fear of abuse from a player like with a normal Spectral. Next are the Radiants who eat souls and resemble humanoid spiders. I feel Radiants could use an entire sourcebook of their own. There is an interesting story here that I want to know more of. Last, we have Deathwishers which resemble scorpions that can latch onto a person’s chest and take control of his mind and body. The picture in the book for the Deathwishers looks like a poor man’s Venom from Spider-man!
Adventure: ‘Ghost Road’, Index, and Ads (76-90)
I don’t like going into too much detail when it comes to adventures in my reviews. I will say that Ghost Road is a quick adventure about a haunted stretch of highway in the Cumberland Gap. The players are sent there to investigate several mysterious deaths along the stretch. The adventure seems to be a good overview of ideas with lots of room for GM alteration. The book finishes with an index and several ads for 3EG’s products and some other RPGs.
Spectrals and Lochs were my least favorite demons from the core book and are so far the only two with sourcebooks. And while Spectrals may not have made me a huge fan of them the way DC Lochs did for me with Lochs, the book makes me like them infinitely more than I previously did. It makes me feel they have a much bigger role in the setting than I felt from the core book alone. The first chapter of this book is written in such a way as to make you feel as if an expert in all things Spectral is beginning his lecture on their existence.
Style I am giving a 4. There seems to be more art in this book, and 3EG’s has some truly remarkable talent. I am just waiting for the day I get to see these artists in a full color glossy paged book.
Substance is getting a 5. The book stands up to the usual 3EG standards in the amount of useful and fun information crammed into the book. 3EG’s has a habit of the more they write the more you want. Each sourcebook introduces new ideas that make the reader want more. I want a Radiant Dimension sourcebook!