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Esoteric Enterprises - Complete


Welcome to the GM's Day sale! From now through March 10th, this title has been marked down by up to 40%! For more values, visit our GM's Day sale page.

Picture the adventuring party of most old-school games. A band of thugs, occultists, criminals, weirdos and outcasts who, rather than settle into normal society, risk everything exploring the dark, dangerous places of the world. Perhaps they will become rich and powerful, perhaps they die unceremoniously.

Keep this same adventuring party, and picture their equivallent in the modern day. A world with police, the internet, chain stores... The same band of thugs, occultists, criminals, weirdos and outcasts drift into the underworlds of organised crime and the esoteric.

This, then, is the premise of Esoteric Enterprises: the occult exists in a dangerous black market, where organised criminals traffic in magical grimoires and relics alongside narcotics and weapons. Hidden from the public eye, various gangs, cults and covens struggle for influence and resources in the dark tunnels beneath every city. And beneath that, stranger things lurk; inhuman creatures turn their cold gaze on the mortals who intrude on their subterranean realm.

Welcome to the Occult Underworld

This book details all the rules you'll need to play games as an occult or criminal gang in the undercity. They're based on the standard framework seen in most old-school games, adapted to work in a modern-day urban fantasy setting. 

Character creation is quick and streamlined. Characters are members of the occult or criminal underworlds, and might be magicians, mad scientists, cultists, urban explorers, career criminals or even inhuman monsters. Spells, equipment and character perks are all tailored to suit an urban fantasy setting.

Combat is fast and brutal, with dirty fighting emphasised and the potential to suffer horrible injuries. Away from combat, there are subsystems for interacting with various underground contacts, medical and magical experiments, exploring the undercity, and common criminal activity. Since the game uses treasure-for-XP, wealth and status are abstracted into being a function of character level.

Magic is rendered a risky enterprise. Magicians either cast previously memorized spells (in the case of occultists) or pray to a patron to grant them power (in the case of mystics). While a careful occultist can avoid disaster by limiting their activity, a mystic's magic is always at the whims of their patron, and every spell cast might result in complications. And, of course, the temptation to experiment with magic is always there, with consequences that can range from the surreal to the apocalyptic. 

The Spook class, meanwhile, covers all non-human PCs. Each such spook is a unique creature, combining their basic nature (such as undead, ghostly, or artificial beings) with a selection of minor powers (such as blood-drinking, hypnosis or resistance to pain) to reflect the creature's capabilities.

The greater part of the book, however, is made up of tools and resources for the GM. This begins with a short section of GMing advice, describing the game's intended playstyle and giving tips for managing scenes, handling darker content and using randomness to create emergant narratives.

After this, the meat of the GM's section deals with actually creating and running a setting for the game. There are systems to create a network of different underworld factions, tracking their relationships with one another and events in the underworld. Likewise, there are methods to track the attention PCs are drawing from the police, as well as their alliances, rivalries, and grudges with other players in the underworld. 

Likewise, a system is given for creating the undercity that PCs explore - essentially a small megadungeon beneath their home town - along with the various hazards, treasures and terrain features to be found underground. 

Lastly, an extensive bestiary is given, ranging from law enforcement, to career criminals, to various occult weirdos, to the incredibly strange creatures found deep underground; over 200 different NPCs and monsters, many of them modular and customizable.  

 The whole thing is designed so that a GM familiar with the material can randomly generate an entire setting from scratch in a few hours, and with proactive players the game can be run with very little prep between sessions. The whole thing can be played straight out of the book.

Plus, the whole thing is lavishly illustrated with full colour photographs. Seriously, the book's very pretty as well as being packed with content.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (6)
Discussions (28)
Customer avatar
Ernest C January 12, 2024 5:28 am UTC
POD please <3
Customer avatar
Emily A January 14, 2024 11:33 am UTC
The print version is via Soul Muppet, who handles the physical product.
Customer avatar
Eloy M June 28, 2023 9:58 pm UTC
Are there rules for multiclassing?
Customer avatar
glenn M January 10, 2023 10:28 pm UTC
please make this POD thanks a bunch :)
Customer avatar
John R December 14, 2022 12:54 am UTC
I check in on this every few months to see if you've made it POD. I would literally beg you to do so. White Wolves and Winter Snow was brilliant. This sounds equally amazing.
Customer avatar
Fredrick R August 04, 2022 6:58 pm UTC
Please consider making this Print on Demand. Thank You.
Customer avatar
Nathan T January 31, 2022 10:08 pm UTC
If you don't want to do another print run, would you at least consider making this a Print on Demand? I would like to buy it but need it in physical.
Customer avatar
Jeff S December 06, 2021 10:44 pm UTC
Hoping for an update with bookmarks someday? Only complaint with this so far in my read-thru, looks like a good OSR modern horror/fantasy ruleset.
Customer avatar
Horia M May 09, 2021 6:58 am UTC
Rules question: when the rules refer to "taking damage", do they mean losing Grit or Flesh points, when not specified? What is the default?
Absolutely loving the game otherwise!
Customer avatar
Brian C September 17, 2021 11:24 pm UTC
Hi Horia - fellow Esoteric Enterprises fan here - I believe 'taking damage' when referenced without further qualifiers means points of damage first come off of Grit points, then eat into Flesh points when the Grit is used up. Some attacks bypass Grit entirely and go directly to Flesh damage, and I believe those instances are specifically called out in the text as going straight-to-Flesh. This is my interpretation. Hope this helps!
Customer avatar
Horia M September 22, 2021 9:24 pm UTC
Thanks, chief!
Customer avatar
Neil S March 31, 2021 11:35 pm UTC

Customer avatar
Patrick Y October 23, 2020 1:57 pm UTC
Brilliant ideas, but reading wall-of-text is too painful. Please fix the layout (indented or separated paragraphs), then print more, or PoD.
Customer avatar
John K October 21, 2020 10:43 pm UTC
Not buying it until you fix the layout. It’s unreadable
Customer avatar
William A October 20, 2020 8:51 pm UTC
Customer avatar
Stacie W September 28, 2020 3:44 pm UTC
Will there be another print run?
Customer avatar
David J August 16, 2020 1:55 pm UTC
Another whinge for PoD....pleeeeeeeease. :)
Customer avatar
Neil S February 19, 2020 3:51 am UTC
Any more thoughts for POD
Customer avatar
Nicolas B January 22, 2020 10:11 am UTC
Adding my vote for POD or a second print run.
Customer avatar
Patrick S March 27, 2020 9:11 am UTC
Yes, please
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File Last Updated:
December 16, 2019
This title was added to our catalog on December 16, 2019.