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Beast Player's Guide
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/16/2018 05:03:38

This is a fantastic book which expands on every aspect in the core game, and makes Beast a much better-rounded game. Absolutely recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beast Player's Guide
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7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
Publisher: Chaosium
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/27/2017 09:27:07

TL;DR: 7th Sea 2nd edition is a strange mix of old and new content which doesn't always work but looks promising.

When you hear 2nd edition for most games, you usually expect a rules update and maybe some small setting adjustments, but 7th sea took a much more radical path. The very land has changed, as we are introduced to a new map (with a whole new country) and briefly told of new continents. Some of it is welcome - many had ponted out in 1st edition how unlikely it was for piracy to become prevalent without a New World of sorts. Other parts are baffling - when you think Swashbuckling Europe, is Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth really one of the top ten countries to come to mind? What about, say, Portugal or the Netherlands ?

Some might point at how a version of Portugal is hinted at in the Explorers Society section - but that's only what it is, hinted at. And the reason why is sadly simple - the major part of the setting section is just a rehash of 1st edition. The authors clearly have many changes in mind - and, now that Pirate Nations has come out, we can see some of these - but weren't bother to include them in the core book. And, I'm sorry to say but this just lazy. On top of this the whole history section of the 1st edition is missing, meaning you get a partially updated, not fully explained setting. A good example is "Anno Veritas", the year 0 of the Thean Calendar, which is mentioned in the introduction - and never explained anywhere. It's easy to guess even for newcomers (it corresponds to the arrival of the First Prophet) but it's still surprising not to find it explained more clearly. I think authors should have started from scratch rather than rebuilding from an edition they're otherwise trying to distance themselves from.

It's far from all bad though - for one, the book is absolutely gorgeous. It's also more inclusive in terms of sexuality and ethnicity, and the new system looks good if a bit quirky. It's just that after a record-breaking kickstarter campaign, I expected better results. Thankfully as more supplements come out I think we will see more clearly the direction the game is intended to take.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
7th Sea Core Rulebook (Second Edition)
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Night Horrors: Conquering Heroes
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2017 18:21:01

The first full-sized sourcebook for Beast: the Primordial (after a solid Ready-made characters one), Night Horrors: Conquering Heroes is a collection of antagonists, but in classic Night Horrors fashion offers detailed, interesting elements for all of them. The book is divided in three parts: first Heroes, the titular characters who hunt Beasts (and are NOT Hunters, as a sidebar reminds us). Then Beasts, most of which have experienced the Inheritance (three types of transformation which usually turn into a Beast into something more suitable for NPCs). And finally, something entirely new - the Insatiables, a new type of creatures who hunt Beasts themselves. Each chapter is made of unique examples, all with interesting backstories and different approaches. A couple of new Heroic Gifts, Numina, and entirely new powers for the Insatiables can be found in there as well.

Beast being a new game, and one in which there is considerable freedom to create characters and antagonists, any new material helps and those many examples serve to enrich the game. I found the Heroes chapter offered different methods for them to hunt Beast, the Beast chapter made the Inheritances clearer, and the Insatiable offered an important new part of the Beast setting. Overall an excellent book which I can only recommend if you found Beast interesting.

Oh, and there's a killer clown.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Night Horrors: Conquering Heroes
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Demon: The Descent
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/04/2017 03:46:59

Having finally read the whole book, I can say with certainty that this is a great product. No this is not a book about Abrahamic demons and angels, this is definitely something different, more in the vein of theMatrix/Dark City/Inception and other sci-fi routines. The authors went for something different, and really committed to it. Reading the book gave me plenty of ideas for games and settings, which I always take as a good sign. If you're not afraid of an original take on the concept of Demon, I recommend this product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Demon: The Descent
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The Beast that Haunts the Blood: Nosferatu
Publisher: White Wolf
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/17/2016 09:00:48

This book is a work of art, a wonderful and disturbing look into the most "alien" of vampires.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Beast that Haunts the Blood: Nosferatu
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Promethean the Created 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/14/2016 09:15:59

The latest in the batch of 2nd edition Chronicles of Darkness games, Promethean: the Created isn't changed as much in this new edition, probably because it was a brand new game to start with (as opposed to Vampire: the Requiem, Werewolf: the Forsaken, and Mage: the Awakening, who all took varying amounts of inspiration from the older World of Darkness games). As such, this book doesn't dramatically alter the game, just tweaks and updates in various places.

On the Lineage front, two are added: the Unfleshed (mechanical and artificial creations) and Extempore (spontaneous Promethean). I never cared much for either before: the Unfleshed feel out of place to me, not being made of corpses, and probably deserve more extensive treatment if not a separate system to descibe them; while the Extempore always boil down to player/storyteller working them out themselves, and would be a better fit as a sidebar. But I assume others will feel differently. The five core lineages are better defined than they were before, and I appreciated in particular the reworked Tammuz.

The Refinements go from five to ten, including all the core ones and the ones published in later books, together with an entirely new one: Phosporum, the refinement of thrill-seekers and mortality. I really enjoyed this latest addition, but all together it means the book has to present seventeen spalts (seven lineages and ten refinements) which take a lot of word count, which I feel perhaps might have been used to better flesh out the rest of the setting.

Mechanics wise, the 2nd edition is as finely tuned as the other CoD games. A few specific Promethean merits were added, all Bestowments were included, and Transmutations received a major overhall, making them more flavorful than previously. I truly appreciate the efforts of the Onyx Path team to have supernatural powers differentiate from the Discipline model (the 1 to 5 dots, buy in sequence kind). Once again though, with 15 Transmutations to cover, the mechanics take a lot of space in the book.

A core promise of this new edition was to make Promethean more approachable, and in this I think the game is a success: the Pilgrimage through which Promethean go to achieve humanity is both more structured and mechanically sound, while the drawbacks are easier to manage - though still significants.

Antagonists receive their own chapter, with a welcome new addition in the form of Alchemists. Pandorans lost the Mockeries which divided them into different pseudo-lineages, perhaps more fitting in theme for divisive creatures but something I regretted. Detailed Firestorm rules are back, and so are the enigmatic qashmallim, a personal favorite.

Finally as in other CoD game a chapter covers settings from different parts of the world. Those are regrettably short, possibly to accomodate for the nomadic life of most Prometheans. But they do point at interesting variations, such as places were Wastelands don't occur as easily, or others where qashmallim appear with surprising regularity.

Overall, this book is a 4 stars for me because it didn't "wow" me in the same way the original did, and I disagreed with some of the choices which were made (the inclusion of the two additional lineages in particular). But this is still a very solid book and one that I will use in my CoD campaign.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Promethean the Created 2nd Edition
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Mage the Awakening 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/10/2016 15:27:39

A solid new edition of the third Chronicles of Darkness (aka nWoD) game. Like Werewolf: the Forsaken, and Vampire: the Requiem before it, this new edition takes what made the game different from its predecessor and pushes it even further, while making the setting as a whole more colorful and full of game possibilities. The Paths and the Orders feel much more vibrant than before, and the setting as a whole feels enriched by the detailed description of Mage Sight and how it is used to solve mysteries. The five settings offered in the book also include interesting overarching mysteries, providing good campaign fodder. My only regret is the lack of examples NPCs, which feels like something which had to be sacrificed on the altar of the word count gods. But this remains a great product, and one which I read in its entirety in a matter of days.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage the Awakening 2nd Edition
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Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/28/2014 09:27:03

An uneven book, but a much better core than the original, bland Vampire: The Requiem core. Underneath a confusing title (this should really be named Vampire: The Requiem, second edition), you will fine a refined background, an expanded system, and a focus on a specific set of antagonists (the Stryx) and campaign setting.

The book opens on the usual Introduction which is common to all White Wolf core books, with general knowledge about vampire in the game and what a RPG is. The inspirational media section drew my attention, for it is quite short and precise. It's just odd seeing a series of Vampire fiction works which doesn't include Dracula. Of note is that it does mention some other Requiem books (namely the five Clan Books, the Stryx Chronicles Anthology and Damnation City), which should give you an idea of what the authors are aligning the book with.

Chapter one opens on the first part of a fiction which runs through the book, and then opens with the Five Clans. They haven't dramatically changed, but rather refocused around their theme, and I was pleased with the result. Weaknesses (now called Clan Banes) have changed as well: the Daeva know get attached to those they feed too much from, while the Ventrue quickly grow detached from mankind. The information given here, as through the rest of the book, is very evocative, and immediately inspires stories. We are also treated to stories of some lost Clans, good fodder for stories as well.

Then follows the description of the Covenants. Here as well, there has been a lot of improvement and you get a definite feel for each of the Covenant. The Lancea Sanctum, which suffered from having been the first Covenant to receive its book in the past, felt particularly more vivid to me there. My only disappointment was VII, which is still a big mystery we're not told much about, only now vaguely tied to the Stryx. Similarly to the previous section, we get some info about some lost covenants. Interestingly, there is no mention of Belial's Brood here (possibly to avoid overlap with Stryx-possessed vampires in their antagonist role?)

The next chapter describes "the Night Society", the (un)life of a vampire from the early nights to the possible end. Here again, we get lots of concrete examples, enough to fire up the imagination. We end up with the lexicon which, THANK GOODNESS, has dropped some of the "old people slang/new people slang" which Requiem had imported from Masquerade. I'm glad I don't have to read about "Lupines" anymore.

Chapter 3 gives us the basic character creation rules of the WoD system, as updated in the God Machine Chronicle (aka nWod 2.0). The basics haven't changed much, but some new points are interesting. Vampires drop virtues and vices, and instead gain a Mask and a Dirge, what they present to the world and their true nature. A character also gets a Touchstone attached to his humanity stat - a character, or more rarely an item or location, which keeps them grounded to their human nature. The experience system is also presented, and has been reworked to key off story elements more than ever. Also interesting is that it is a linear rather than exponential system - increase Strength from 3 to 4 costs the same as increasing it from 2 to 3, which I think fits a story driven game (where we always want to see some progression happen).

We then are treated to the rules which govern undead life, some of which have changed in a way that affects the setting. The Predator's Taint is much more complex, having three different aspects. Humanity is closely tied to the Touchstones system, and also vampires now have their own specific "sins" (Finally). I really enjoyed the fact Vampires now must take Banes when decreasing in Humanity (and the Mekhet, as part of their weaknesses, are more vulnerable to them) meaning that you can have some vampires afraid of crosses and garlics, but not others. Merits have also been reworked to include many ones specific to vampires, covenants, or clans, making it much easier to customize a character with fancy abilities. Then we get Disciplines, which are still the same core ones, but have all been reworked. Almost all of them come of as being more "useful", and in particular Protean allows you to really play the shapeshifting role. We then get a much larger list of devotions than any I had seen before, once again allowing to customize a character while standing within the bounds of the main Clans and disciplines. Blood Sorcery and Theban Sorcery remain more or less the same, while the Coils of the Dragon are now on a scale of 1 to 5 - more consistant with the rest of the system, but making it harder for a Dragon to master more than 1.

We then, after being treated to pages of rules specific to vampires, find a chapter which explains the basic rules of the game - one of many questionable layout choices, which will make the book confusing for any new player. The major change here is the use of conditions, the list of which is... all the way at the end of the book. Not the most practical, again.

The next chapter covers the Stryx mentioned in the book's title (it only took 197 pages to get there!) in an extensive manner. Basic rules and a lot of sample characters provide for an extensive antagonists which will doubtlessly help readers to come up with their own ideas. The Stryx are powerful, sinister and enigmatic, a perfect foil to vampires.

The next chapter was a nice surprise, as it describes a few campaign settings based on different world locations (Athens, Beijing, Berlin, Montreal, Raleigh, Swansea, Tokyo, San Francisco). All of them have unique crises they're facing, making them a good mine for story ideas, and many have their own local covenants (some of which get some simple rules to go with it, others not). One thing that piqued my interest is the Jiang Shi, a sixth Clan of sorts with its unique bane (but no unique discipline).

Which finish on a chapter related to storytelling, which I expected to be the same bland advice we found everywhere but actually had a lot of good advice on how to use the vampire-specific system to further support the story, and ways to tweak them. It closes on an interesting "12 steps" campaign creation concept, essentially motivating the players to come up with NPC ideas and the ties between them. I'm thinking of adapting it to other games myself.

Appendix one, the living, describes some of the vampire's mortal relationships, but mainly serves as the most interesting coverage of ghouls I've ever read. Appendix 2 (finally) lists the conditions, many of which are specific to vampires or their victims.

Overall, this is a great improvement on the Requiem line. What this book is:

  • A new core book for the game
  • A strong support for one to create characters and campaigns
  • A story-axed game, with a system to support it
  • A Requiem book, moving further from Masquerade and cementing its own mythology

What it isn't:

  • A new player friendly book. The Clans ahead of the setting, the vampire rules ahead of the regular ones, the conditions at the end... this stuff is confusing.
  • A polite book. I have no issues with the c or f word in real life, but I really don't see the point of including them in a book when not in fiction.
  • A well laid out book: there is something weird and inconsistent about how the titles and columns interact, and I often have to look for where to go next.

Despite this minor flaws however, I would still recommend this book for anyone fan of vampire stories - just be prepared for a little bit of extra difficulty if you have never read anything related to Requiem, and a lot if you have never played a RPG.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Requiem 2nd Edition
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