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The Cthulhu Hack: Rhan-Tegoth
Publisher: Just Crunch Games
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:36:52
Terror through time - a Mephisto review

Rhan-Tegoth

Rhan-Tegoth is a sourcebook for Cthulhu Hack that revolves around the entity of the same name. Originally a sorcerer-king, he became an entity that exists throughout the ages after being captured by his enemies. This small book briefly introduces Ran-Tegoth's backstory and provides gameplay statistics for the entity. In addition, there are some ideas on how Ran-Tegoth's influence manifests and how the entity can be incorporated into a campaign. A few small game mechanics like a new special skill and two spells round things out.

While Rhan-Tegoth introduces a mythos entity and its various facets in just six pages, there remains the feeling that it would help to know the original story, as otherwise the introduction remains somewhat vague and not all references are clear.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Cthulhu Hack: Rhan-Tegoth
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CTHULHU: Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:36:29
Cthulhu ist erwacht - eine Mephisto Rezension

Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan

Während die meisten bisherigen Cthulhu-Publikationen historische Zeitepochen thematisieren, geht Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan einen anderen Weg. Hier wird das Setting ins Jahr 5000 verlegt, in dem die Welt zu einer „vom kosmischen Grauen überfluteten Hölle“ geworden ist. Cthulhu ist erwacht, und während bei seinem Erwachen in den 1920ern nur einige sensible Seelen an den Rand des Wahnsinns getrieben wurden, hat sein richtiges Erwachen die Welt ins Chaos gestürzt. Der Großteil der Menschheit hat sich in wahnsinnige und blutdürstige Monster verwandelt. Nur in der Region des heutigen Chinas ist ein kleines Reich übrig geblieben, dass sich vor dem Wahnsinn schützen konnte. Durch die ungewöhnliche Allianz der Todlosen mit den Schlangenmenschen – und später noch anderen Mächten – konnte der den Wahnsinn verbreitende Traum Cthulhus ausgesperrt werden. Entsprechend werden die späteren Generationen dieser Überlebenden die Traumlosen genannt, die von den Fieberträumen des Großen Alten nicht berührt wurden. Tsan Chan ist das letzte Rückzugsgebiet der Menschheit vor den unzähligen Schrecken, die nun frei über die Erde marodieren – doch die Menschen zahlen dafür einen hohen Preis. Tsan Chan ist eine drakonische Diktatur, angeführt von einer wuchernden Mythos-Mutation, im Hintergrund von den Todlosen und Schlangenmenschen geleitet. Das Leben in Tsan Chan basiert auf einem Verhaltenskodex, der nur der Weg genannt wird und von dem abzuweichen den Tod bedeutet. Während ein Großteil der technischen Errungenschaften der Menschheit lange vergangen ist, gehört Magie zum täglichen Dasein, während am Rande des Reiches die verschiedenen Feinde immer wieder versuchen, die letzte Bastion der Menschheit zu überrennen.

Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan ist eine Kombination aus Quellenband und Abenteuer. Zunächst erzählt das Buch die Ereignisse bis ins Jahr 5000, und diese Zusammenstellung erinnert ein wenig an die Frühzeit des Cthulhu-Mythos, in der sich diverse Mythos-Rassen und Kreaturen auf der Erde tummelten und Kämpfe lieferten. So sind sowohl Cthulhu und seine wahnsinnigen Anhänger als auch die Älteren Wesen, die Shoggothen, die Mi-Go, die Tcho-Tchos, die Tiefen Wesen, die Ghoule und andere Kreaturen offen auf der Erde unterwegs. Das Reich Tsan Chan wird wiederum durch eine Allianz der Todlosen mit den Schlangenmenschen beherrscht und verfügt über Adelshäuser, die durch Mythos-Mutanten geführt werden und aus deren Reihen auch die Imperatorin stammt. Das Leben in Tsan Chan ist hart und brutal und geprägt durch Misstrauen und Paranoia, um Gefahren zu erkennen und diese schnell ausradieren zu können. Das Buch nimmt sich die Zeit, nicht nur die Geschichte, sondern auch die Gesellschaft zu beschreiben und auch die verschiedenen Optionen für Spielercharaktere zu erklären. Eine regeltechnische Besonderheit ist der Weg, der die geistige Stabilität ergänzt und dabei hilft, trotz des grassierenden Wahnsinns die Spielercharaktere nicht binnen kürzester Zeit unspielbar werden zu lassen. Zudem werden einige Abenteuerideen, die sich häufig um eine Art Inquisition gegen den Mythos drehen, eingestreut.

Das Abenteuer Stillwater Rapids erscheint zunächst als Bruch, denn hier landen die Investigatoren aus der heutigen Zeit in einer sonderbaren Stadt, in der das Leben scheinbar einfacher ist, unter deren Fassade jedoch ein finsteres Geheimnis schlummert, das es zu erkunden gilt. Hier wird der Bezug zu Tsan Chan zumindest den Spielern vermutlich erst am Ende klar. Auch wenn Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan gut ausgearbeitet ist und ein an sich interessantes Setting bietet, konnte mich das Buch nicht überzeugen. Die Welt 5000 Jahre in der Zukunft, die vom Mythos überrannt ist, erscheint mir nicht als attraktives Spielsetting, insbesondere da noch mehr als bei anderen Cthulhu-Publikationen der Kampf gegen den Mythos komplett sinnlos geworden ist. Zudem ist die Welt so fremdartig, dass sie trotz der ausführlichen Ausarbeitung immer noch vage bleibt und ein wenig an ein Fantasy-Setting erinnert. Ähnlich zwiespältig ist das Abenteuer aus meiner Sicht. Die grundsätzliche Story und Idee, sowie auch deren Umsetzung sind durchaus gelungen – der Bezug zum Quellenteil ist aber so vage, dass dieser dafür gar nicht nötig gewesen wäre. Auch klärt das Abenteuer nicht wirklich auf, wie man in der fremdartigen Welt von Tsan Chan wirklich spielen soll. Wer für Cthulhu ein wirklich ungewöhnliches und explizites Mythos-Setting sucht, sollte einen Blick auf diesen Band werfen. Wer jedoch der Meinung ist, dass Cthulhu sich durch den subtilen Horror auszeichnet, der unter unserer Realität lauert, der wird mit diesem Band nicht warm werden.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
CTHULHU: Das grausame Reich Tsan Chan
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On the Wall • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:31:56
Dystopian teenage super mutants - a Mephisto review

On the wall

What would happen if a part of humanity suddenly developed superpowers - that is the question that the Fate world On the Wall takes on, based on the comic of the same name. In the world of On the Wall, these super mutants are usually not the heroes who fight some super villains in colorful capes to the cheers of the population. Instead, the sudden appearance of superpowers has led much of the people to fear these mutants, so harsh laws have been introduced to control them. A central measure is that teenagers who develop these powers must visit special schools to learn how to harness their powers. This way, their powers should be kept in check. Of course, the player characters are such teenagers, who each have a single superpower (which doesn't necessarily have to be spectacular). The game offers a mix of superhero stories, dystopian governmental control, and teenage chaos.

Accordingly, the book provides a few simple rules for playing with superpowers and briefly introduces the world - though one gets the impression that it would help to know the original comics. From my point of view, On the Wall is a fascinating take on the superpowers theme, providing an exciting twist when mixed with the dystopian elements.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
On the Wall • A World of Adventure for Fate Core
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Vaesen - Nordic Horror Roleplaying
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:25:12
Horror in idyllic Scandinavia - a Mephisto review

Vaesen Scandinavia in the 19th century is not as tranquil as one might think at first glance. Here, too, the drastic changes brought about by industrialization are intruding and disrupting the old order. But not only is society in upheaval; the supernatural beings of Scandinavia, called Vaesen, are also reacting to the changes. As ancient traditions are forgotten, and industry encroaches on nature, many of these beings feel threatened and respond aggressively accordingly. While humans and Vaesen knew how to live together for many centuries, confrontations now occur again and again. Some humans have the gift of seeing the Vaesen, who are normally invisible in their true form. This people form the Society, who wants to protect humanity from the Vaesen. From their headquarters, a castle in Uppsala, they seek out these creatures.

Vaesen is another role-playing game by Fria Ligan, based on the same rules base as Forbidden Lands. Four attributes and twelve skills define player characters. For tests, the combined value of an attribute and a skill determines the number of six-sided dice rolled. Any 6s rolled are successes, and the more successes achieved, the better. Characters are created based on ten archetypes. In addition to their game statistics, characters also need a motivation, a trauma (a bad experience that scarred them), a dark secret, and relationships with the other player characters. Depending on the chosen archetype, the resource level (the financial means) is also defined, and the different archetypes have various talents available giving them further bonuses.

Instead of hit points or damage levels, characters in Vaesen have three physical and three mental states they can check, each of which means the loss of a die. If all these conditions are checked, a character is broken and thus out of action. There is a risk of critical damage, which may become permanent at the end of the adventure if the character is particularly unlucky. However, some of these injuries can also provide special insights that improve a character. Because of the small number of conditions, fights are correspondingly dangerous and carry the risk of a character being broken quickly. Most Vaesen cannot be defeated by normal weapons either but require rituals to banish them forever. Since many of these creatures are suitably terrifying, the game also provides rules for fear, so characters often have to pass fear tests when they first encounter an enemy.

A central element of the game is the Society, a group of people with the second sight who deal with the Vaesen. Even though the Society has a long history, it has been gone for several years. The player characters are now a new generation with the Society's headquarters, but they must rediscover its knowledge for themselves. The only contact with a former member is the woman who granted them access to the castle but otherwise spends her time in an asylum.

The Society's headquarters also takes on an essential role within the game. Various resources, rooms, and upgrades can be used between adventures to restore the headquarters from its dilapidated state to its former glory. The rooms give corresponding benefits, for example, to gather knowledge or resources, heal damage or even provide equipment. Another chapter briefly and compactly introduces the mystical north. Even though Vaesen is set in the 19th century, it does not claim to depict this time historically correct. Instead, the setting should roughly provide the atmosphere without clarifying which changes happened precisely at which time. Accordingly, life in general and, above all, the city of Uppsala are portrayed briefly.

Much more space is given to the Vaesen themselves. After the brief general explanation about their origins and powers, the rulebook introduces a whole arsenal of creatures that have sprung from Norse mythology and revolve around ghosts, fairy creatures, and trolls. The emphasis here is on background rather than game statistics. As mentioned earlier, Vaesen usually cannot be defeated by brute force. Even if their abilities are predefined to a certain extent, the details are left to the game master to provide for surprises accordingly. Small adventure ideas about the Vaesen offer story hooks for the game master.

The book concludes with a chapter on game mastering, clearly structuring adventures in their flow and central conflicts. Usually, there is a primary conflict and a secondary conflict. While the primary conflict must be resolved, the secondary conflict presents an addition to the adventure. The game also works with an escalation system that allows the game master to steer the adventure towards disaster if the players do not act skillfully. Notes on atmosphere, etc., are also provided in the chapter, as well as some tips on how to present the game world. The book concludes with the adventure The dance of dreams, which confronts the players with a threatening enemy and is meant as a hook for a larger story. The adventure offers a solid introduction to the game world and should be quite challenging for beginners. In addition to the free character creation via the archetypes, the book also offers tables for creating characters by rolling on various tables for the character's life path, which determines the statistics.

Vaesen offers an exciting setting and an intriguing facet of horror that draws on the traditional mythology of Scandinavia. After all, the inspiration for this role-playing game was a book of the same name about the mythological creatures of Scandinavia. The time period of the 19th century and the idea of the Society, which has to be rebuilt by the player characters, adds to the fascinating background. The rules system is coherent. The important thing here is that the Vaesen cannot be defeated by brute force, but the players have to use investigative work to find out their weaknesses, so they have a chance to stand up against them. I enjoyed Vaesen's ideas very much. In particular, the extremely atmospheric illustrations convey perfectly the flair and the contrast between the seemingly idyllic world of Scandinavia and the ancient horror that lurks beneath.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vaesen - Nordic Horror Roleplaying
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M20 The Art of Mage: 20 Years and More
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:04:02
More than trenchcoats and katanas - a Mephisto review

The Art of Mage - 20 years and more

For the anniversary edition of Mage M20, an accompanying artbook has been published, which tries to summarize twenty years of illustration history. Satyros Phil Brucato first looks back self-critically at the beginnings of Mage and the illustration style of "Trenchcoats and Katanas." Subsequently, the reader learns a bit about the workflow in the early years, when illustrations were still sent by mail, revealing glimpses into the early years of White Wolf.

However, the central part is titled Artistic Legacies, introducing many illustrators with a background, anecdotes, and stories - and especially their artistic work for Mage. The artbook impressively shows the range the illustrators have covered and how Mage's graphic representation has changed over the years. The last chapter also presents the illustrations of Mage M20 - and proves that Mage is not just a role-playing game of the 90s. In addition, chapters are dedicated to the signature characters as well as the creation of the Mage Tarot.

I enjoyed the mixture of texts and illustrations immensely because this excursion shows impressively how the complex topics of the most multifaceted game of the World of Darkness is also reflected in an incredible spectrum of artwork. Of the World of Darkness artbooks, this is my clear favorite so far.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
M20 The Art of Mage: 20 Years and More
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The Beast Within Revised
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 13:01:48
Back to the beast within - a Mephisto review

The Beast Within - Revised Edition

The original anthology The Beast Within was published back in the early days of Vampire and originally presented 13 stories - fittingly introduced with the 13 clan illustrations. The new edition contains ten stories, two of which were not included in the original book. The setting is Vampire's version of San Francisco. The individual short stories cover very different topics: e.g., a desperate poet stumbling into the world of the kindred, a clanless vampire who is forced to search for his sire, an ancient South American vampire who awakens in a completely alien world.

The individual stories are varied and introduce interesting facets of the game world. However, San Francisco's kindred society plays only a limited role - at least in some stories. Nevertheless, this anthology is still good for learning about various aspects of the kindred of the World of Darkness - e.g., ancient vampires, the social order of clans, intrigues, and so on. From my perspective, the new edition is also an entertaining book in the world of Vampire.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Beast Within Revised
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Heroic Land-Dwellers!
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2021 12:59:46

Ordinary and not-so-ordinary heroes - a Mephisto review

Heroic Land-Dwellers!

For a quick start in They came from beneath the sea! the first sourcebook offers 16 characters, fleshed out with background and game statistics, who can face the horrors of beneath the sea as everyday heroes (or not-so-everyday heroes). There are several variants for each of the game's different archetypes: fences, KGB agents, famous adventurers, nuclear scientists, and other characters who have come into contact with the dangerous monsters and mysterious conspiracies of the game. In addition, there are entertaining short stories at the beginning and end of each book.

For gaming groups who want to hit the ground running (and/or have a high character attrition rate), the book offers a good range of coherently fleshed-out and well-illustrated pulp characters (who can also serve as non-player characters), so there should be something for everyone.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Heroic Land-Dwellers!
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Cthulhu: Geschlossene Räume
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/09/2021 13:19:22
Eingeschlossen mit dem Horror - eine Mephisto Rezension

Geschlossene Räume

Wie für Cthulhu-Abenteuerbände üblich hat auch Geschlossene Räume ein zentrales Thema, das die beiden Abenteuer in dem Band miteinander verbindet. In diesem Fall steht im Mittelpunkt die Idee, dass die Abenteuer an einem geschlossenen Ort spielen.

Le Tre Madri - Die drei Mütter der Schmerzen führt die Spielercharaktere in eine Kunstausstellung, die einzigartig ist – und finstere Ziele verfolgt. So müssen sich die Spielercharaktere Raum für Raum vorarbeiten, deren Rätsel lösen, am besten den Gesamtzusammenhang verstehen und – natürlich – am Ende auch überleben. Während das Abenteuer selbst mehr wie eine Art Baukasten funktioniert, aus dem sich die Räume relativ schematisch zusammensetzen lassen, nimmt sich die Ausarbeitung ausführlich Zeit, den Hintergrund der Mythos-Entität und der Symbolik der Ausstellung zu präsentieren.

Auch Zwanzig Räume schleudert die Spielercharaktere in ein begrenztes und gefährliches Setting. Hier finden sich die Investigatoren in einer bizarren Parallelwelt wieder, der es zu entkommen gilt. Die Spielercharaktere müssen nicht nur den Gefahren dieser Welt trotzen, sondern auch deren Aufbau verstehen, um den 20 Räumen zu entkommen. Dieses Abenteuer ist ebenfalls mehr als Baukasten zu sehen, der verschiedene Orte und Szenen beschreibt. Wie im ersten Abenteuer wird hier zunächst ausführlich erklärt, was der Hintergrund der Geschichte ist – auch wenn dieser für die Spieler lange verborgen bleibt. Die 20 Räume selbst sind jedoch in der textlichen Beschreibung relativ schematische Begegnungen.

Beiden Abenteuern ist nicht nur gemein, dass sie an einem begrenzten Ort spielen, sondern auch einen spannenden Hintergrund haben. Allerdings ist mein Eindruck, dass bei der Ausarbeitung der Spielleiter zum Spielen einige Vorbereitungen treffen muss, damit das Ganze nicht zu schematisch und im schlimmsten Fall repetitiv wirkt, weil verschiedene Räume zu ähnlich werden. Wer jedoch bereit ist, auf dieser Grundlage ein wenig Arbeit zu investieren, bekommt zwei spannende Abenteuer – die sich allerdings aufgrund ihres Hintergrunds wieder einmal mehr eher als One-Shots denn als Kampagnenabenteuer eignen.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu: Geschlossene Räume
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Cthulhu: Eiskalte Ernte
Publisher: Pegasus Press
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/09/2021 13:17:06
Der Mythos in Sowjetrussland - eine Mephisto Rezension

Eiskalte Ernte

Auch wenn Cthulhu mit der amerikanischen Ostküste der 1920er eigentlich ein Standardsetting hat, könnte man fast den Eindruck gewinnen, dass das Spiel stärker durch seine Ausnahmen definiert wird. So verschlägt es die Spieler in Eiskalte Ernte nach Zentralasien – genauer gesagt ins stalinistische Russland von 1937. Die Investigatoren sind Agenten des NKWD, des Volkskommissariats für innere Angelegenheiten, und werden zu einer kleinen, im Rahmen der Zwangskollektivierung entstandenen Siedlung ausgeschickt, um dort eine Familie zu verhaften und ins Arbeitslager zu schicken. Alternativ lautet der Auftrag, den Produktionsabfall an diesem Ort zu überprüfen.

Das Abenteuer stellt zunächst grundsätzlich Setting und Ausgangslage vor und präsentiert dann das Dorf und seine Bewohner. Zudem gibt es eine kurze Übersicht der Ereignisse. Es folgen einige Regeln, um die Investigatoren passend zu diesem Hintergrund zu erstellen (falls man nicht direkt mit den vorgefertigten Charakteren spielen will) und dann beginnt auch schon das Abenteuer. Die Besonderheit ist, dass hier stalinistische Paranoia auf cthulhoiden Horror trifft und das Abenteuer in seinem Verlauf sehr frei definiert ist. Es ist allerdings auch so angelegt, dass die Spieler vor dem Dilemma stehen, wie sie mit der Situation und ihren Befugnissen umgehen. Der Gegner, dem sie sich stellen müssen, ist durchaus gefährlich. Glücklicherweise werden aber hier nicht gleich die ganz großen Mythos-Mächte aufgefahren.

Auch wenn Eiskalte Ernte Ideen liefert, innerhalb des Settings länger zu spielen, ist es eher ein One-Shot mit einer ungewöhnlichen Ausgangslage: An sich sind die Spieler hier sowohl mit Autorität als auch mit guter Ausrüstung ausgestattet, doch ob das die Begegnung mit dem Mythos – oder auch nur ihren eigentlichen Auftrag – einfacher macht, sei dahingestellt. Wer einen Exkurs ins stalinistische Russland machen möchte, um sich dem Mythos in einem ungewöhnlichen und düster-paranoiden Setting zu stellen, ist hier genau richtig.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Cthulhu: Eiskalte Ernte
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Of Predators and Prey: The Hunters Hunted II Anthology
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/04/2021 13:46:06
Hunter or hunted? - a Mephisto review

Of Predators and Prey

Of Predators and Prey has been released as a companion short story collection to the Hunters hunted II sourcebook for Vampire V20. A total of nine stories are dedicated to the theme of vampire hunters and, as the title suggests, play with the question of who is the hunter and who is the hunted. Thus, sometimes vampires meet surprisingly well-prepared hunters, sometimes unsuspecting humans stumble into misfortune, and sometimes the line blurs as to who the real monsters are.

Thus, the stories cover a wide spectrum of hunters, sometimes ordinary humans who stumble into the vampire menace, and sometimes professionals who are totally dedicated to the hunt. Just as varied are the vampires they must face. In most of these hunts, the outcome is uncertain. The stories are varied, surprising, and exciting and offer what one expects from short stories: entertainment with a few surprises. However, those who expect greater mysteries or connections of the World of Darkness in these stories will be disappointed. With few exceptions, the hunters know so little about the World of Darkness that this background plays only a minor role. In my view, this is also consistent and does not detract from the stories. Those who expect mysteries and strong references to the setting from this book will probably be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a few vampire hunter stories that are worth reading and that also provide inspiration for hunter characters (as protagonists or as antagonists), you will get an entertaining short story collection here.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Of Predators and Prey: The Hunters Hunted II Anthology
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The Making of the Art of Children of the Revolution
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/04/2021 13:42:34
Just a making of - a Mephisto review

The Making of the Art of Children of the Revolution.

Even though the term art appears in the title, this volume is not a typical artbook, but focuses on the "making of" aspect. As such, the book is comparatively text-heavy. In addition to the sketches and stages of development to the finished results of some of the illustrations, sorted by illustrator, one finds the email conversations in the exchange between art director and illustrator.

In this respect, the book could not really appeal to me. While the sketches' development is interesting, the book focuses more on the intermediate stages than the final results. While it's interesting to get a glimpse into the discussion about the motifs, the collection of emails - in the typical colloquial form (including various typos) - may be authentic, but it couldn't captivate me. I was more convinced by the approach of other artbooks to the World of Darkness - personally, I would have liked an artbook representing the whole range of V20 much better.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Making of the Art of Children of the Revolution
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W20 Art of Werewolf the Apocalypse
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/04/2021 13:40:05
Glimpses of the Werewolf's Apocalypse - a Mephisto review

The Art of Werewolf the Apocalypse

Part of the product line of anniversary editions to the World of Darkness are several artbooks. Subtitled A Visual Guide to Werewolf 20th Anniversary Edition, this book gives an impression of the world of werewolves. Divided into six chapters, the book introduces key aspects of the Garou world: transformation, their role as defenders of Gaia, the three central powers of Wyrm, Weaver and Wyld, and the Umbra. In this book, the images are the main focus; the texts are only short explanations of the subject and the mentioning of the illustrator. Unlike other artbooks, this one is not about the process of creating the illustrations but primarily about the graphic representation of the Garou's world in selected illustrations. As expected, a wide range of styles can be found here, but what all the images have in common is that they depict the werewolves' struggle against their enemies in a very vivid way - with large, fearsome werewolves, grotesque monsters, brutal fights, and mysterious spirit worlds.

The book provides an atmospheric insight into both the wide range of illustrations and the game world. Those who already own the Werewolf Anniversary Edition books will, of course, already have the illustrations in their collection. Still, those looking for a focused look at the graphic design will get an artbook worth seeing here, with the commentary focusing on the game world rather than the artistic creation process - which, in my view, is the better approach.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
W20 Art of Werewolf the Apocalypse
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W20 Art of Changing Breeds: A Visual Guide to the Fera
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/04/2021 13:38:06
The art of Fera - a Mephisto review

The Art of Changing Breeds - A visual Guide to Fera

Several art books have been published for the World of Darkness roleplaying games' anniversary editions, each with a slightly different focus and approach. For the graphic companion book to Changing Breeds, the subtitle sums up the approach well: A visual guide to the Fera (the other shapeshifters beyond werewolves). After the introduction, the book works its way along the various Fera types, and the author, Mike Chaney, provides some insights on the choice of illustrators. In doing so, he also juxtaposes the briefing information the artists received with the results, comments on the artists' selections, provides little anecdotes and offers insights into the approach to the various Fera. Through this and some illustrations from older books, the reader also learns how the presentation has changed over the 20 years leading up to the anniversary edition. At the heart of the book, however, are the illustrations themselves. Here the reader is presented with various highlights, the signature characters, and studies of the various form that the Fera can take. In this respect, the reader actually receives a visual guide to the various Fera. Besides, sketches and preliminary designs show the path from the idea to the finished illustration and offer a glimpse behind the scenes. Although the little glimpses into the creative processes are interesting, it's the stunning illustrations that make this book. And even though Werewolf was never my favorite of the World of Darkness games, the book managed to pique my interest in the Fera.

Unlike the 'real' sourcebook, you have to do without any game information in the artbook, but you get insights into the graphic process and the illustrators' work. Graphic fans will get a nice insight here, which is worthwhile if you don't own the sourcebook itself and just want to enjoy the graphics.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
W20 Art of Changing Breeds: A Visual Guide to the Fera
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MÖRK BORG CULT: FERETORY
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/02/2021 13:23:24
More horror for Mörk Borg- a Mephisto review

Feretory

Feretory, the first expansion to Mörk Borg, once again presents itself with a cover that looks like a warning sign - and probably that's a good thing. While the first two pages provide random tables as a monster generator to describe and assign statistics to horrible monsters, it continues with a wild mix of material. Roads to Damnation allows for calculating travel times and making journeys more "interesting" with random tables. In Eat Prey Kill, rules for hunting and corresponding creatures to hunt follow. The "game" to hunt is appropriately bizarre and dangerous and doesn't whet your appetite for a roast in any way. The Death Ziggurat is a scenario for an adventure with cultists and other horrors. The second adventure, The Goblin Grinder, leads to the goblin epidemic in Galgenbeck. Since being injured by a goblin causes the victim to become a goblin themselves (unless they kill the goblin), the goblins spread like a plague - though there seems to be a cure (of course, the truth is much more terrifying). Also, there are 100 items to roll and terrible and bizarre items with The Tenebrous Reliquary d66. In The Grey Galth Inn, there are tables to roll for food and other items in a tavern (including a dangerous drinking game). At the end of the book, there are several new character types: the Cursed Skinwalker (a shapeshifter who is rarely a classic werewolf), the Pale One (an alien creature with special powers), the Dead God's Prophet (whose dead god gives him bizarre powers), and the Forlorn Philosopher (who has a special item and the new Tablets of Ochre Obscurity). At the end, there is another threat in the form of the Black Salt.

Feretory is a potpourri of wild ideas and expansions that stay true to the game's extreme style. Importantly, much of it is fan material, proofread and illustrated, but is also downloadable for free from the website. As a small addition, there is also the roleplaying game Dark Fort, which with its 4 pages was more or less the prototype for Mörk Bork. If you play Mörk Borg, you will get a fitting expansion with two adventures, four new character types, and various additional material - all in the dark, brutal and crass style that characterizes this roleplaying game.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
MÖRK BORG CULT: FERETORY
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Mörk Borg English
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/02/2021 13:16:24
Dungeons and Doom Metal? - a Mephisto review

Mörk Borg

A game like a doom metal album, a spiked flail to the face - that's how Mörk Borg describes himself on its bright yellow cover. The game promises to be light on rules and heavy on everything else. Basically, Mörk Borg is an old-school Renaissance-style roleplaying game that uses the rules of an early D&D as a starting point and presents a gritty setting on top of it. There are dice tables for all sorts of things like names, treasures, weather, etc. Characters are rolled out within a short time (which is good because they probably won't survive long). Four game statistics are determined by 3d6 and then converted into bonus values, which are factored into the roll of a d20 against a difficulty. The game master determines when a character improves - there are no formal levels, nor are there experience points. And even then, the dice decide what the improvement is. Magic exists just in the form of scrolls, but a character can use only a certain number of them per day. Besides, characters have bonus points, called omens, which they can use to maximize damage, re-roll dice, etc.

Besides the completely free character creation, there are optional character classes like Fanged Deserter, Gutterborn Scum, Esoteric Hermit, Wretched Royalty, Heretical Priest, or Occult Herbmaster. These classes have modified creation rules and quite unique features. For example, the Occult Herbmaster can create random potions every day, while the Wretched Royalty may have servants that are limited in reliability (or helpfulness).

The world of Mörk Borg is on the brink of the apocalypse prophesied by the two-headed basilisk. It is a world sinking into filth, death, and despair - full of the undead, madness, brutality, and ruin. Depending on how long you want to play, you roll different dice to see which, if any, of the dark prophecies will come true. And as soon as the seventh prophecy is fulfilled, the game ends with the end of the world...

While these are the facts, Mörk Borg's goal seems to be to overwhelm and/or shock the reader with its presentation. Typography, illustrations, and layout can best be described as creative chaos. Various font styles and garish colors clash with gritty illustrations and classic styles, and many of the motifs can only be described as blatant. Weapon statistics, for example, are explained by an illustration in which a character is hit and pierced by a good dozen weapons.

In terms of content, some monster statistics and a dungeon adventure complete the book. Also, in the adventure Rotblack Sludge or the Shadow King's Lost Heir, the characters get into a dungeon that offers enough deadly threats that there is, fortunately, no time to ask why....

Personally, I have a hard time rating the game in the end. Mörk Borg consistently and uncompromisingly goes the old-school route: virtually everything is roll out with dice, and any unnecessary rules ballast is dropped. Even if the bizarre setting is described vaguely, you still get a good impression of the degenerate game world. And the presentation is definitely impressive - though definitely not to everyone's taste. For me, Mörk Borg is more a product for collectors than a game you want to play. The authors and illustrators have taken their vision to the extreme here, which I find impressive, even if the style doesn't appeal to me personally.

If you like the gritty, exaggerated, and crass style, you'll get an impressive product here. Those who get a weird feeling just looking at the cover are probably better off just keeping the book closed.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mörk Borg English
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