I was looking for a new horror game this Halloween, and this game was it! Set in the fictional gothic city of Harrowmire, When the Moon Hangs Low has an interesting premise: people exposed to the supernatural Darkness and survive (i.e. the PCs) can become Marked. The Mark, of which 6 are desribed in the book, comes with both a Boon and a Curse. The Boons range from enhanced senses to being able to see ghosts to regeneration, but each is tied to a specific Curse that affects the character as well. These may be an extreme gnawing hunger for raw flesh to becoming infested with a swarm of vermin and insects that call your body home! Each curse has 5 steps: Nascent, Touched, Embraced, Consumed, and Lost. The character can recover from the first several steps of the Curse during downtime and with specific methods described for each Curse, but if they become Lost, they turn into an inhuman creature under the GMs control. Each Mark is very evocative, with hints on how normal folks may react to witnessing it and how it may progressively warp the character's mind. In fact, I love the Marks enough that I wish there were more to choose from to expand the replayability of the game. However, there are also 21 skills, 25 edges, over 20 different weapons, and a host of other adventuring gear to round out a character.
One minor complaint I have about the book is that there is only 1 generic Monster stat block for this Lost PC (called a "Consumed Hunter") and while it mentions that they should also have all the abilities from 1 Curse, each Curse feels to me like it results in a very different kind of creature in the end. It may become a creature of darkness that drains the life from all living creatures in range, or it may be a kind of Rat-King with an army of soldiers and spys under its control. I really wish the author had provided at least 1 specific example of each type of Lost adventurer to show how different the results of the Curses can be.
The description of the setting of Harrowmire is great, telling how and why the city changed and evolved over time. It started as a poor backwater town and became a boom town with the accidental discovery of an ancient crypt full of bured riches and artifacts, to eventully becoming ground zero for the Sorrow Plague and being quarantined. A map of the city is provided, along with desriptions of important NPCs in each section, and several Factions that have competing interests in the area (and 4 specific ways to gain Influence with each Faction).
The rules for When the Moon Hangs Low consists of a unique dice pool system where you roll a number of d6's equal to your relevant stat, and the number you are trying to roll is determined by whether the skill is Untrained, Trained, or Mastered. Combat is fairly simple. Each participant gets 1 Primary action and 1 Secondary action on their turn, with several pages of additional options to use, from 2 weapon fighting to jury-rigging items. There are even several random tables of Contracts, Complications, Dark Secrets, Weird Events, and Loot, as well as a 5 page sample adventure in the back of the book.
Altogether, I feel this game really gives a ton of interesting ideas to explore and expand upon and leaves you wanting more! I don't know if anything is being planned, but I'd love to see an expansion that includes more Marks, new antagonists, and maybe explores the secrets of the Undergod's Necropolis!