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Fae Noir $9.95
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Fae Noir
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Fae Noir
Publisher: Green Fairy Games
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/17/2019 11:55:10

Fae Noir (originally published in 2005) is an example of a very simple urban fantasy game executed in a very straightforward way. As such, it's definitely worth your time.

In the world of Fae Noir, after three hundred years of exile, the world of Faery returns to Earth in the midst of World War I, somewhat naively picking their promises and treaties back up as if they had never left, which embroiled them immediately in the battlefield. Now that the war is over (the game is set between 1922 and 1925, depending on how well established and well known you want Faery to be in the world's mind), faeries are slipping into the cracks in the underclass of human cities. And there, at least in the fictional 1920s, they will be dealing with gangsters, speakeasies, flappers, and tommy guns.

The book does a solid job of saying that racial prejudice and segregation are dramatic in America, mentions the rise of the "new" KKK in that time period, but also doesn't overlook the remarkable cultural and political developments black Americans advanced in this time period. The historical overview (plus fairies) is readable, short and understandable. The one element of the game world that doesn't seem well-turned is the "Faith" section. It makes sense that with the resurgence of Faery into the world that the magic they use might return with them. But why would the Christian faith (for example) suddenly be invested with magical power? Also, it seems a little bit pat to simply shrug your shoulders at the relationship between faiths and the Faery when the last time they were around in human history was in the 15th century of Christianity and the 10th of Islam, and the early practices of both faiths were very concerned with magical entities like the ones depicted here. Can I turn away faery magic with the power of the baby Jesus in this game? Well, maybe, but the subject is underexamined. It honestly would make more sense to leave it out all together. Nevertheless, the world is overall presented with a well-considered level of detail and gives a good cultural and politlcal overview of the 1920s plus just the smidgen of alternate history that has occurred thus far.

The system is a die pool system in which players roll a number of d8s and count up how many successes (typically with a target number of 6 or better) they have rolled to determine the effect.

However, the book doesn't have a lot to say about how GMs or players should actually play the game. In this game, we are humans and faery, and we're involved in noir shenanigans, but how do we do that? Who's the opposition? The game doesn't give us much of an answer to anyone trying to figure out what it actually is, what procedures should be used when in order to make a memorable experience. And, perhaps because of its age, it lacks bookmarks and hyperlinks which would help navigate it. As a result, I have to mark it down just a little despite it being in one of my favorite genres of all time, the historical fantasy. Although it might benefit from a second edition, Fae Noir is certainly worth checking out.

[3 of 5 Stars!]
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