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Games of Divinity
by Brian P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 15:25:17

Much like Scavenger Sons, Games of Divinity was one of the books that really defined how Exalted was different than other games. It's not just that it had a vibrant spiritual ecology, though that was a major part of it--it's true that animism has always been missing from D&D other than incorporeal undead, but plenty of games like Glorantha or, indeed, other White Wolf games like Mage: the Ascension had a vibrant spirit world. It's that the spirit world was so petty.

Back when the Primordials ruled and dinosaurs walked the earth, Creation was run by the Celestial Bureaucracy in which everyone had their place and performed their function or else. After the Primordial War, the gods gave over rule of Creation to the Exalted and some them relaxed into playing the titular Games of Divinity, but everything still worked. Then the Solar Exalted were overthrown and things have steadily gotten worse. Many of the gods now require bribes to perform their duties, or can be bribed to favor certain groups or oppose others. The censors who used to regulate the Celestial Bureaucracy are mostly jaded and corrupt themselves, with those censors who still uphold their office thought of as naive and overly idealistic by their fellow gods. In some places like Great Forks or Whitewall, gods even openly rule over mortals in a violation of all principles of divine behavior, and yet no censure comes from the Celestial Incarna. They are too busy playing the Games of Divinity in the Jade Pleasure Dome. There's no transcendence here, only power.

This setup is a bit depressing, but it reinforces one of Exalted's central themes--power without restraint always goes wrong. Once the most powerful gods were free to control their destinies, they went into the Jade Pleasure Dome and spent all day playing the Games. Once the rest of the gods were no longer restrained by the Exalted, they abandoned every duty they could get away with. And of course, the Solar Exalted's excesses brought the First Age down in ruin. In each case, trying to solve the problem with violence just ended up making things worse in the long wrong. Violence is easy but lessens the world, so will your character try for a better solution?

Elementals are less thematic, but provide a good background to the world. They naturally arise from ambient Essence and are naturally material, so they're a great catch-all category for weird one-off monsters and inhabitants of hidden valleys that show in sword and sorcery fiction. Some of them are intelligent and some are basically supernatural animals, and some of them set up supernatural spirit courts in imitation of the gods. These courts are full of byzantine rules and elaborate pomp and ceremony, because that's what being important involves, and even in the absence of duties the courts continue because bureaucracy has its own inertia.

I was a bit surprised to see that a lot of the trends fans decried in later Exalted had their start here rather than later on. The most blatant was the unimportance of Dragon-Blooded to the spiritual order:

Today, many gods see the Dragon-Blooded as nothing more than a more dangerous and longer-lived form of mortal

which later contributed to a fan conception that only Solar-equivalents were "real" Exalts and Dragon-Blooded might as well not even be in the game, but there's also the pointless elemental spirit courts and divine disdain for elementals. With all the praise for Games of Divinity--and it is a good book--this was unexpected and a bit unwelcome.

All of that was forgotten when I got to the Demons chapter, though. I've heard Malfeas described as the best hell in gaming, and I'm willing to endorse that. The twisted body of one of the fallen Primordials, enclosed by another Primordial, and with all of his siblings entrapped within. While the gods are just people with power and tend to have mortal viewpoints, the Primordials are worlds unto themselves. Each of them has many forms, which they can adopt simultaneously, and it's possible for Malfeas the man to stand in a square of Malfeas the city and dance in the light of the mad green sun, Ligier, his fetich soul. The Primordials are too large for one soul to contain them, and each of them is its own spiritual ecology--they have multiple souls, each of which has seven souls of their own, and each of which has spawned entire races of children, creations, and servants.

The demons are more interesting than the gods, honestly. From Makarios, the Sigil's Dreamer, who turns the dreams of mortals into fine trade goods; to Zsofika, the Kite Flute, who chooses a target of her hunt after being summoned, always moving just slightly faster than them, and will only do her summoner's bidding after her prey is dead; to Gervasin, the Grieving Lord, a spear that binds to his wielder and drives them to death and beyond, but has fallen in love and now finds little joy in life. And these are just the demons of the second circle, the citizens of the Demon City, not the greater demons of whom they form the component souls. There's enough to form a game around each demon's plots all on its own.

Also, there's a mention of the Infernal Exalted who are owned "body and soul" by the yozis. If only they had stayed that way.

In several of the most popular RPGs, gods and demons are just around to worship and gain superpowers from or to fill out the higher-tier enemy rosters. In Exalted, they're people. Weird people, who have magical powers and weird quirks--but then again, that's true of the Exalted too. I wasn't a big fan of the comics in the Exalted 2e corebook, but I did love the tone set by the opening comic, where the Solars fight the local river god after he's flooding the river only to learn that the flooding is because he's sad that the maidens who traditionally came and sang to him haven't been showing up because of local bandits. That's a deity that provides immediate game possibilities, and this book is full of those kind of interactions.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Games of Divinity
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Changeling: The Lost
by Katarzyna K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/11/2017 08:46:39

I'm a little disappointed. I knew that standard hardcover isn't premium quality, but still... Pages made of the same paper I have in my printer and glued, shiny cover aren't worth 35$.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
Changeling: The Lost
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Mage The Awakening Tarot
by Kent F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/02/2017 10:19:21

What a fantastic deck! I collect tarot decks, and this is now one of my favorites: great artwork and interesting takes on the traditional Rider-Waite illustrations (some fairly similar but with modern-day elements, and some quite different) .The companion guide book (PDF) has excellent ideas for ways to use the cards in-game - ideas that can easily be adapted to systems other than Mage: the Awakening.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage The Awakening Tarot
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Nightmare on Hill Manor
by Rheannon M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2017 14:21:19

This is a fun, disturbing introduction to the World of Darkness for mortals (including fledgling Hunters). There is a lot to play with as a storyteller to set a mood/theme appropriate to your group with some potential encounters that are more gore and others that are more spooky not gross. I used this free story as an introduction for my Hunter players who (along with their characters) have not yet faced the unknown in the new chronicles of darkness setting. It worked really well for that as it is challenging but gives them plenty of room to try out skills and learn the ropes. It played in about 4 solid hours (although I could see some groups taking a bit longer if they were more meandering/explorer types) so it definitely works as a one short or short arc. Definitely has quality despite the price!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Nightmare on Hill Manor
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Alien Hunger
by Todd R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/26/2017 15:20:51

Alien Hunger is, without a doubt, my favorite published adventure for Vampire: The Masquerade, and the one I have run more than any other. It's also one of the oldest, published back in 1991, and one of the first supplements ever published for the game. Which might be why I like it so; there's a sense of chaos and experimentation in many of the earlier supplements that is invigorating.

It's a different kind of Vampire adventure than most of what White Wolf published (even contemporaries like Ashes to Ashes). It's more immediate, local, and personal, at least compared to the more dramatic epics. The players aren't dealing with a massive change to Kindred history, or even alterations to a city. Instead, the adventure is about them, how the change into vampires affects them, and destroys them, and ultimately what they decide to do with these changes. As such, it's only really appropriate for a new Chronicle, and I find the less experience with both roleplaying in general and Vampire in particular, the better the experience will be for the players. Though I'll go more into what I mean by that later.

I can't really talk about Alien Hunger without getting too deep into the "plot" of the adventure, such as it is. So, here's spoilers for a 25 year old adventure. At the beginning, the players either create mortal characters, or choose one of the pre-generated ones. The only restriction is that they all must live in Denver, know each other in some fashion, and have a general liking to each other. They're co-workers and acquaintances, not necessarily friends. For example, all the pre-gens are connected via community theater, so they're all members of the same social group. One night, a stranger kidnaps each of the characters. Hours later they awaken, changed, and locked in the basement of a burning building with a few mortals.

Their "sire" (for lack of a better term) is an Elder who has been researching a cure for vampirism, and believes he has finally found it. Now ready for more advanced trials, he has grabbed the characters to test his theory. The plan was to turn them (through a special technique), make sure they were vampires, and then administer the cure. In theory, no one should have remembered anything, but local Kindred intervened, slew the Elder and set fire to his haven.

As ever, it's more complicated than that, but that's the basics.

The players have an obvious and immediate goal, to get the hell out of the building. It's tricky, but there are ways. The bigger issue is how do they handle the mortals? Do they frenzy and slay them? Do they reveal what they are? Will they even figure it out before it's too late?

Once out, they need to deal with the changes they've gone through. In fact, once they're out, the adventure opens up. The players can, more or less, do whatever the hell they want. There are certain plot threads, of course, that they'll need to deal with in some form sooner or later. First, understanding what they are, what they can and can't do, and what, if any, precautions they need to take. This is exacerbated by a police detective who just knows there's something fishy about the characters. Secondly, the Kindred of Denver. While they had no idea what their creator was up to that night, they have little patience for these strange outsiders and their seeming deliberate actions that threaten their community. After all, the players are going to screw up, somehow and in someway, which the locals will view as a threat. Finally, there's the question of what happened to them, why, and if there's anyway to undue it.

I think it is this structure that makes me so love this adventure. The various threads do follow each each logically--the cop and dealing with changes would come first. After all, the Kindred of Denver don't even know the players exist at first. Then, once they begin hunting the coterie, survival becomes the focus. Only once both of these are settled can the players comfortably deal with the greater questions. But, it doesn't HAVE to be this way. In one play through, the players never really dealt with the police, instead going "off the grid" and being on the run the entire game. In another, the war with the other Kindred continued even after the had resolved the question of their origin. Each time I've run it, the game has gone south in its own unusual fashion.

This is the kind of structure I use for my own games; create a situation and let the players respond to it as they see fit. There are no "scenes" or chapters, the story unfolds as it will based on the characters actions. It's a style that I wish more Vampire adventures adhered to. For some groups, the struggle with the law and their own changes will predominate. Others will resolve this quickly but will go to war with the other vampires. Its entirely up to them, which makes for an incredible experience.

Of course, there are some flaws in Alien Hunger. First off, it's pitched as "Jump Start" for Vampire. But, the very nature of their embrace makes for an odd and unusual setup for a Chronicle. Since they are created as lab experiments, the ties of sire and Clan, and the benefits and consequences of these relationships are entirely lacking not only for this story, but for any that come after. While the coterie will have a strong reason to be together, at least initially, it also makes it damn difficult to replace characters or add new players to the game later.

It also doesn't work well for veterans, of either Vampire or gaming in general. This is not because they know the "rules"--understanding disciplines and blood use, or knowing about how the city has a "Prince" isn't the issue. The problem is that if you think like a "gamer" you are going to have a VERY tough time with this adventure. Veterans often think "well, we can just kill this cop," whereas new players often never even think that, understanding that killing cops is a bad thing. Particularly if you're trying to not draw attention to yourself. Likewise, veterans often assume that any enemy vampire presented in the game most be "level appropriate" and will often choose to stand and fight when they should run. Alien Hunger isn't intended to be a blood bath, but approaching it like a game can have disastrous consequences.

Finally, while Alien Hunger provides an excellent setup for the coterie to form initially, it is terrible at keeping them together, making it as best a crap shoot as a basis for an ongoing Chronicle. In fact, I've never seen a coterie survive the story. Not the characters--again, it's not a blood bath. But the coterie has fallen apart every time I've run this story. This might be a negative to some Storytellers, but to me it's an amazing positive.

By the end of the story, the characters have been through hell. Death, damnation, murder, violence, and paranoia have been their companions for days or weeks, and they are irrevocably changed from who and what they were. As they find the final clues and uncover the lab work of their creator, they are presented with a number of choices. Risk the cure? Destroy it? Turn it over to other vampires? Ignore it? More critically, there are broader questions of what they've become, how they feel about being vampires, what they want going forward, and what they have done to survive up to this point.

Every time, it's these questions that tear the group apart. Morality, ethics, Humanity, acceptance or rejection of others of their kind and what they have become. Questions for which there are no "right" answers, but merely each individual characters point of view. I've seen betrayals and lies and hour long debates about things that really matter tear the coterie apart. Not the group, not the players, but the characters.

It's an amazing thing to witness. I generally dislike "inter-party conflict," that tiresome trope of players backstabbing others because "it's what my character would do" over some slight, real or imagined, or some insane theory, or just because of "lolz." But this kind of conflict? Arguing about philosophy and morality and right and wrong, and the group falling apart over those who embrace being vampires and the power they have over those who are terrified and reject their existence? The kind of conflict where after the game, everyone has had a great time, and feel more alive and engaged than they did before the game started? The kind of conflict that makes the story powerful and memorable, and might even leave a player with a new perspective on things in the real world? Yeah, this is why I love Vampire and why, when it works, there is no other game like it.

As such, I feel that Alien Hunger works best as a "one-shot." Approach it as a closed story, a brief diversion from your other games that might last a session or three (I generally find it lasts 2-4 sessions, but this is up to each group). If everyone has fun, then continue the game (if the coterie survives) or start a more conventional Vampire game as a follow up.

So, if you have a group of people who have never tried roleplaying before, and they're into vampires and horror and all that junk that we love, run Alien Hunger. It can be an amazing experience for everyone. If you're players are really into Vampire and/or want to do something epic and "badass," well, there are other adventures that will better suit their needs. At the very least, any Storyteller can learn a thing or two by reading it, just to get a different perspective on what Vampire can do.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Alien Hunger
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Silver Age Sentinels Standard Tri-Stat Edition
by Yann E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2017 04:46:37

Le seul jeu de rôle de super-héros créé par la défunte Guardians of Order et co-écrit par Steve Kenson lui-même qui est ensuite devenu célèbre pour son jeu Mutants & Masterminds.

Le système est une version un peu plus technique du Tri-Stat utilisé dans BESM et il n'y a pas vraiment de garde fou concernant la construction des super-pouvoirs, un MJ vigilant est donc recommandé. Le systeme se veut simple mais ne l'est pas tout à fait une fois la couche super-héroïque ajoutée, mais il fonctionne tout de meme et met l'accent sur l'histoire et le roleplay.

Deux bémols : le PDF n'est pas indexé et il fait 300 pages donc pour chercher, ce n'est pas évident. Le fait d'utiliser des points de vie n'est peut-être pas le plus adapté à un jeu de super-héros.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Silver Age Sentinels Standard Tri-Stat Edition
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Clan Novel Saga Complete
by Brandon L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2017 03:49:04

Such a great story. Hard to find hard copies of this series anywhere these days



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clan Novel Saga Complete
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Wind from the East
by Zachary B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2017 20:57:03

This book is probably one of the worst scanned images I've seen in a hot minute from the White Wolf books. There are pages that are not even close to alined. I'm not expecting perfection since it isn't an electronic image (though everything else basically from this line is), but this one is pretty bad. I could spend 15 minutes in a pdf editor and clean this thing up significantly (and I did). I hope this gets fixed.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Wind from the East
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Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade
by Esteban M. V. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2017 00:20:20

The quality of the scan is ATROUCIOUS. ONLY buy IF you need a quick reference DESPERATELY. The text is searchable. (most of it) It is INCREDIBLE that the pirated versions swiming in the web look better than this.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade
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Dark Ages: Fae
by Esteban M. V. Date Added: 12/24/2016 01:22:41

I am disappointed and will ask for a refund. This is a high quality looking pdf. HOWEVER it's not even indexed, or have bookmarks. I buy PDFs to have quick references during my sessions, but when the paid, original, licenced version is the same or worse quality than a pirated version... You start wondering why do you support this product in the first place.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Ages: Fae
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Dark Ages: Werewolf
by Esteban M. V. Date Added: 12/24/2016 01:14:14

I am disappointed and will ask for a refund. This is a scan of the book. And it was VERY poorly scanned. You can see scratches, folds and the quality is AWFUL. Not only that that but it's not even indexed... A friend of mine haves a pirated pdf, and it's quality s so much better...



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
Dark Ages: Werewolf
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Hunter Horror Recognition Guide
by Maths E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2016 18:13:39

The title is rather misleading, It´s not much of a guide more a collection of short encounters/stories from a hunter cell. I did purchase it hoping for a comprehensive creatures guide and was rather dissapointed, there are bits and pieces strewn through the pages regarding hunter tactics and lore that isn´t individual accounts up for odd interpretation. The rest of the content feels more or less like flavour text. There are definetely some people who would enjoy and benefit greatly of some mood setting stories but i´m sadly not one of them. The scanning was readable but not as clear as i wouldv´e liked.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hunter Horror Recognition Guide
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Clanbook: Tzimisce - Revised Edition
by Maths E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/13/2016 18:06:13

Great book, thouroghly covers the history of clan tzimisce. I specifically loved all the examples of odd encounters with different cainites of this clan, it´s inspiringly gruesome. The scanning was crisp and easy to read. Really enjoyed this product. The added disciplins and game mechanics can both be used for the RP and for the Larp METs version, which is great.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clanbook: Tzimisce - Revised Edition
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Imperial Mysteries
by Timothy W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/10/2016 15:45:33

There were several good things about this product. It provides options for truly earth-shattering play, and there were some interesting concepts and well written descriptions in chapters one and two .

However, there were also several things about this product that could have been far better. First, this product is really best suited for very small groups with one or two players along with the story teller. The system does not support group play (where group is even 3 players with the story teller) well at all. It gives reasons why archmages do not gather and why they are likely to work at somewhat cross purposes even when nominally allies.

Moreover, the Imperium System provided in the final Appendix is deeply flawed and difficult to make work. To be fair, it states that these are optional rules in a game where all rules are optional. But they are nearly unworkable. The rules state that the Pax Arcana does not apply to Imperium, but these are precisely the things that it seems the Pax Arcana should apply to. More than that, they are exactly the kinds of things you would expect to gain notice from the Exarchs themselves who would move to stop them decisively.

This book is also deeply lacking. In a book that deals with powers that whose mere possession may breed hubris, it only very briefly touches on sins against wisdom (and one of those is not given any explanation). In particularly, it does not discuss the affects of pursuing Imperium on wisdom even though some of the suggested possible goals for Imperium seems like Sins against Wisdom 1. It does provide some example spells for spheres above rank 5, but far too few for my taste when those seem like they should be a major focus and where each rank should last for a substantial amount of time. It gives very short shrift to discussing how an archmage might create artifacts and the type they might create, though that is mentioned in other books repeatedly as something significant archmages do. It also only lightly touches on the kinds of favors an archmage may want from lesser mages and vice versa, though that is an excellent way to introduce archmages to a game. And for a supplement about archmages, it gives few suggestions as to how to create archmage characters for players.

Given what it lacks and the problems with the content that that it does have, I suggest story tellers wishing to play with archmages would be better off creating the rules out of whole cloth rather than even looking to this for inspiration. To be fair, it is a very affordable game book, but I would prefer to pay substnatially more for a higher quality product.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Imperial Mysteries
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Clanbook: Tremere - 1st Edition (WW2057)
by Lance L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/09/2016 12:21:45

My all time favorite clan book and one of the best IMO that White Wolf ever wrote... thank you DriveThruRPG for making it possible to get the PDF version. Very convienient when I want to look something up at a LARP or other game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Clanbook: Tremere - 1st Edition (WW2057)
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