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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition Screen
by Paul S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2014 10:45:50
I've been into RPGs for 30+ years. This is an absolutely stellar horrific setting and a seamless system for said setting. You can lose yourself in the endless pages of supernatural lore and cryptic hints as well as spend rewarding gaming sessions looking into the darkness of all our souls and playing that out safely. What a treat this has been.

Print on demand was something I was biased against until I received my copy of V20. If you can't get a product from your local game store/club then this is the way to go. Period. I sat on the fence wondering if I would ever buy this (and W20 and Hunters Hunted II and Book of the Wyrm) so I'm saying if you're on that fence too, you won't be disappointed.

A big thanks to Onyx Path and RPGNOW/DriveThru for keeping this genre and timeless game alive.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition Screen
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W20 Book of the Wyrm
by Jason R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/28/2014 10:44:10
All in all I liked the content, I am just disappointed by the items that were edited out like the Vhujunka.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
W20 Book of the Wyrm
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Ready Made Characters (Geist: the Sin-Eaters)
by Felipe N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/22/2014 07:22:01
Probably the best Ready Made Characters I've read. The krewe has a very nice theme to it, and as a wandering krewe can either be the player characters or NPCS you can drop on your chronicle. They are very distinct from each other and all have interesting plot hooks.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ready Made Characters (Geist: the Sin-Eaters)
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V20 Companion
by Douglas S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/21/2014 05:43:41
By chapter:
1) Titles add names to Status levels, some interesting fluff, but without any gravitas.
2) Boons tells a lot, and says little. I am at least glad that the author didnt have his way to mechanize the whole concept with charts.
3) Kindred and Technology is what put me off the most, discussing at length how people who try to live a secret and nightly life can co-exist with modern technology. But authors failed to think of them as vampires, mystical creatures who may have intelligence and knowledge far surpassing our own. Failed to consider that today's safest secrecy method is NOT going digital at all - even written records should be considered a breach of masquerade.
4) A World of Darkness - briefly mentions a dozen or such locations. Good seeds, but way too little, and nothing innovative or surprising there.

Overview:
Merits: a few titles and locations with potential.
Flaws: Dry. Shallow. Unimaginative. Dropping names in examples is not an all solving tool for drama and mood.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
V20 Companion
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Demon: Interface
by Michael B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/19/2014 06:48:37
Interface has some wonderful pieces, but you'll have to endure a few mediocre ones before you reach them.
Each comes with a few pieces of Crunch connected in one way or another to the story.
Interface's main flaw is that without intimate knowledge of the Demon the Descent game, most of the stories are incomprehensible. Identities swap, overlap and over-wright one another in a way that can be confusing even if you know how Demons can take and drop cover, but may be completely surrealistic to people who are not in the know.

A short synopsis of the stories and my opinion on each:

The Principal - A demon in cover as a suburban wife faces an angelic threat.
I didn't really like this one. It has some good scenes of paranoia superimposed on pastoral suburbia. And an interesting example of cover erosion. But the twist is one of those you can never see coming, and it's not really worth the obfuscation.

Long Road to Caanan - Integration and temptation set against the gay-beats scene of 60's Greenwich Village.
An interesting examination of the intersection between social integration and integration with the God-Machine. How a cover can change the way a demon sees his relationship with the world. But sadly without the Crunch section explaining the underlying themes, the story is pretty opaque.

Time to Go - A saboteur operating against the God-Machine under a military cover in 2006's Kuwait.
Despite the setting, this one is pretty straight-forward. Demon on a mission vs agents of the God-machine. There's really very little to the story beyond that. It works.

Fifth - A flight, a heist and a monumental secret.
I didn't like this one. It has some excellent scenes of cover interaction with humans and Demons interacting under cover. But the whole plot hinges on a revelation that is explained satisfactorily only in the Crunch. And while it is an interesting idea to bring to a chronicle, the story itself doesn't anything interesting with it.

Unicorn Crossing - A computer game programmer caught in the machinations of the God-Machine.
The imagery in this story is creepy in a good way. But the plot didn't really grab me. It seems ludicrous to imagine that what goes on in the story stays under the radar. Plus, the whole "computer game that sucks your soul" shtick is such a horrible cliche. Thankfully, that aspect of the story is more part of the Crunch then the story itself.

Thnetosis - Human friendship, Demons under cover and unusual sacrifices.
I really liked this one. Its simple and it works. There's some unusual example of humans reacting to Demonic revelation and a new twist of patchwork covers.

Dear Marjorie - A 18th(?) century watchmaker caught in the machination of the God-Machine and the Demons fighting against it. in the 21st century.
This, for me is the best story in the collection. Told in unsent letters and pieces of third person accounts. It manages to capture the mix of awe, fascination, terror and helplessness that a normal human experiences when caught between angels and demons. The facility chain it depicts is exactly the kind of weird locomotion of assets the God-Machine might build. And beyond all the well built plot, it managed to stir me emotionally. The use of Seattle's splintered time-lines still hasn't out staid it's welcome.

Retirement - A former saboteur forced to break a promise to locate a former colleague.
Another good story. It manages to convey quite well the connections a Demon might form with his cover, overtime. And the constant game of trust and mistrust between Demons and their enemies. It's not very complicated and works very well.

Overall, I liked Interface. The crunch sections are a good way to bridge the gap between the fiction and the game it tries to emulate. And the fiction itself does a good job of depicting some of the ways Demon characters might live and act. But I clearly enjoyed the last three stories more then the others.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Demon: Interface
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Book of the Deceived
by william p. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2014 17:37:01
Even if you have minimal to zero interest in the Deceived as antagonists or player characters this book is worth purchasing. It contains a huge amount of delicious, well written setting material about the Mummy: the Curse setting in general, and about the Shan'iatu and the Nameless Empire in particular.

It also contains numerous powers that are usable by any mummy, and an excellent continuation to the pre-made adventure from Guildhalls of the Deathless.

The art quality is some of the best I've ever seen from a White Wolf/Onyx Path product, and for RPG artwork in general.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Deceived
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Book of the Deceived
by Sean C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/14/2014 17:11:29
Not at all what I expected from the Lost Guild...and yet it's really awesome. I really enjoy the unique narrative told here, and the outlook is decidedly dark.

The only issue I have is that some of the explanations feel a bit disconnected. There's a lot being told through narrative (which is awesome), but not a lot of explination of what all these things actually are. It helps build mystery, but some of the terms come at you quick and without warning. Unlike a lot of OP products, there isn't a glossary for reference to the terms. While a lot are shared with Mummy: the Curse, enough are new that it might have been a good idea.

That said, richly dark atmosphere, decidedly unique antagonists or players, and a revelation of a mystery that's been on my mind since Mummy hit. I definitely suggest it for any Mummy game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
W20 Book of the Wyrm
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/12/2014 17:25:19
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/10/21/tabletop-review-book-of-
-the-wyrm-werewolf-the-apocalypse-20th-anniversary-edition/<-
br />
Onyx Path Publishing has come a long way with their Kickstarter efforts. Book of the Wyrm is actually their 11th Kickstarter campaign (The 12th, Deluxe Vampire: The Dark Ages 20th Anniversary Edition is going on now!) and the third for Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition. What makes Book of the Wyrm so interesting is not that the entire book is about the Wyrm, its troops and what it looks to accomplish in bringing about the Apocalypse, but the fact that it came out in October of 2014, three months before the original listed delivery date. This make Book of the Wyrm one of the rare Kickstarter projects to not only come out on time, but beat the delivery date. That’s pretty impressive, and it shows that OPP really has mastered crowdfunding better than any other publisher out there.

Before we get into the Introduction, four chapters and the Appendices, I do want to take a moment to applaud the amazing artwork in this book. Unlike a lot of art we have seen in the 20AE line, the art in Book of the Wyrm is extremely horrific. It’s really well done. I can’t say beautiful, since much of the new art has gore, tentacles and tumours, but it’s really impressive and high quality. At times the art reminds me of something you’d see in Lamentations of the Flame Princess or the old Black Dog label White Wolf used to have for releases like HoL and Clanbook: Tzimisce. This is rather appropriate, as Black Dog Game Factory is actually IN Book of the Wyrm as one of the corporate subsidiaries of Pentex, the main corporate empire of the Wyrm. So the art is not for the faint of heart or young children, but anyone even THINKING of buying Book of the Wyrm is a longtime fan of Werewolf: The Apocalypse and will know that going in to this. Still, just a warning for those of you reading this review who are unfamiliar with the brand. Fantastic art, but very creepy and/or squick-y.

“The Wyrm’s Call” is the Introduction for Book of the Wyrm and right off the bat, you should realize this is not going to be newcomer friendly. It references previous W:tA and W20 releases and makes no attempt to explain mechanics or specific game terminology/jargon. Of course, it shouldn’t have to. It’s clearly a sourcebook, not a core rulebook. You will need W20 in order to make sense of Book of the Wyrm if you’re not already familiar with Werewolf: the Apocalypse, so go read (or preferably purchase) the 20AE already. It’s exceptionally well done, and Book of the Wyrm will make a lot more sense after you flip through the hundreds of pages that will explain the Garou, gifts, and mechanics.

“The Wyrm’s Call” makes it clear that this book is all about the evil, chaotic, psychotic and monstrous nature of the Wyrm. This is not a happy book to read. It’s a book about what how the bad guys of Werewolf: the Apoclaypse think, plan, breed and plot. There are a lot of potential triggers in here, from cannibalism to necrophilia. Child abuse? Rape? Extreme violence and gore? Expect that and more from Book of the Wyrm. That’s why the Introduction pretty much is the equivalent of someone jumping up and down with their arms waving saying, “Hey! Don’t come over here unless you have a cast iron stomach.” The OPP team is perhaps the most PC group of writers and developers in the tabletop industry right now, which means as much as they enjoy tackling the sadistic and horrific nature of the Wyrm in extreme detail, they also don’t want their customers to have traumatic flashbacks to something that might have happened to them, or even feel uncomfortable reading their book. Hence the warnings. So now you’re warned by me too. If you are easily offended, grossed out or have things that can really make you feel uncomfortable, know you’re probably not the target audience for Book of the Wyrm. Also, if you are able to enjoy Book of the Wyrm for what it is and want to use it in your Werewolf: The Apocalypse game, don’t be a dick and throw in bits you know your players will be uncomfortable with by using, “Well it’s canon in this book” as an excuse. Don’t drive people away from our hobby. Anyway, kudos to OPP for include some warnings about the book’s material and for using the Introduction to highlight what each chapter of the book will be about.

Chapter One: Lore of the Wyrm gives you an overview of how the conflict between the Wyrm, Weaver and Wyld began. You see how the Wyrm went insane and became the source of corruption, pollution and chaos in our world. Once there was balance between the Triat. Now there is only war. Like Warhammer 40K, if all the Space Marines were Space Wolves. Anyway, Chapter One not only gives you a look at the history of the conflict, but how the Wyrm itself has broken apart and created a twisted hierarchy within its remnants as well as dark mirror version of the Triat. Yes, the book continually uses Triat instead of Triad. It’s a specific W:TA term, not a repeated misspelling, for those new to the game. You’ll learn about the three core pieces of the Wyrm in its new Triat: Beast-of-War, Eater-of-Souls and the Defiler. There’s also a long list of Urge Wyrms (Negative Emotions) and their Avatars, the four Elemental Wyrms (Smog, Toxin, Sludge and Balefire) and how the Wyrm interacts with the Spirit Realm of the Umbra. The chapter ends with an extremely long in-depth look at the pemi-plane of Malfeas, which is the realm which the Wyrm calls home. It’s eleven pages of pure description, showcasing different duchies the land is divided into, along with showcasing how extremely messed up Malfeas is. Definitely worth reading, and it will really give you a great idea of how the Wyrm is actually quite orderly in its chaos and corruption. Well done.

“Chapter Two: Pawns & Puppets” is exactly what you expect it to be. Here you get a look at the corporations, factions, allies, servants and unwitting dupes of the Wyrm. This chapter primarily focuses on Pentex, which is perhaps the most common way that PCs encounter the Wyrm in a game of W:TA. You get a look at Pentex’s structure, how it weathered the recent economic downturn, a whole list of subsidiaries and crazy products they put out and, of course, the people that run the corporation. It’s a fascinating and fun look, because Pentex has always been where OPP (and White Wolf before them) have let their imaginations run wild with dark satiric material. There are looks at the Occupy effort and how the Wyrm corrupted that, how Pentex influences video games, movies, fast food, and even the World of Darkness’ version of Anonymous. Perhaps the most entertaining part is the entry for Black Dog, where OPP mocks its own product line as well as the entire tabletop industry as a whole. World of Darkness products aren’t usually known for being laugh out loud funny, but you’ll definitely do so here. However, once the mirth has died down, you realize what a source of horror and pure eeeeevil (Indeed!) these bits of comedy relief can be when taken seriously in the actual game world. Still, it’s nice to see that the OGL of the 3.0 era is given a wonderful send-up as pure malevolence here.

Besides Black Dog, you’ll also see companies like Endron Oil, Magadon Pharmaceuticals and Sunburst Computers. Really though, a lot of readers, especially Kickstarter backers, will be reading this chapter for a look at the Board of Directors. Part of the crowd funding effort involves nominating and voting for new board members, and here you get to see the result. You’ll learn about the core board members and the specific machinations and goals they have in place. Each one is a work of art, if you consider art a toxic waste dump where your soul once used to reside. Truly, it is a lot of fun to see the Board of Directors given names, backgrounds and history. It helps a Storyteller make better use of them, as well as let them come to life in his or her Chronicle. The look at the new board members and the entire election process is a lot of fun too. More than any other book in the 20AE line for the Classic World of Darkness, you can really see and feel how much fun the authors had putting the Book of the Wyrm together.

Of course, the chapter isn’t ALL Pentex. You also get a list of cults devoted to the Wyrm, along with who is in them and what their particular goals are. These cults range from a twisted take on P.E.T.A. to a small town’s city council. Everything in this chapter highlights how diverse and cutting edge the Wyrm is compared to the Garou, which are small in number and are often more anachronistic than some ancient Kindred. By the time you are done chapter two, you really do see how the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of the Garou losing. It might fill you with a bit of sadness and hopelessness… which is exactly what the Wyrm wants you to feel.

“Chapter Three: The Never-Ending Dance” is all about the Black Spiral Dancers. You might want to read this chapter in conjunction with Clanbook: White Howlers just so you can see the complete history of the Wyrm’s werewolves and how they turned into the servants of corruption that they once fought so valiantly against. You see firsthand why the White Howlers went down into the Black Spiral, how they changed and why they now serve the Wyrm willingly. You see the war from the Black Spiral Dancers’ perspective and how they’ve already won. They’re just trying to prove to the Garou (which they really hate) that the war has been over for a long time and that they just refuse to accept their crushing defeat. It’s an interesting read, and it really lets you see the perverse mindset of a tribe that lies to themselves constantly in order to keep the tiniest bit of sanity that still remains within them.

You’ll get a look at the BSD’s twisted version of the Garou litany, see how the tribe treats and raises its Kinfolk and even how packs are organized. There are lists of dens and specific BSD’s of note that you can throw into your Chronicle if you are an enterprising sort of Storyteller. Perhaps most interesting is the section that shows what the Black Spiral Dancers think of each specific tribe – who is the most dangerous, the most easy to corrupt, their greatest enemies and what they feel to be each group’s weaknesses. Even better, there is a piece showcasing how the BSD and Wyrm corrupt Garou from each tribe to get them to fall and dance the Spiral themselves. Great stuff. The chapter concludes with lists of Gifts, Rites and Totems specific to the Black Spiral Dancers.

“Chapter Four: Feeling the Touch” covers everything else. As it takes up a fourth of the book with fifty-plus pages of content and art, you might find this is where you will spend most of your time when using Book of the Wyrm in an actual game. Within this chapter you’ll get a good long look at various breed of Fomori, and even what happens when they try to possess supernatural creatures like vampires, Garou, mages and Changelings. There is also a section on Banes and another on truly bizarre Wyrm spawnings. Perhaps the most interesting section in this chapter are what happens when other Changing Breeds such as Wererats, Werespiders, Weresharks and the like fall to the Wyrm and become its servants. Each Changing Breed gets several pages devoted to their Wyrm counterpart, and each one is extremely twisted. There are also several “Mockery Breeds” which are Pentex’s scientific experiment attempts to create its own wereanimals. There are the War Wolves, Anurana (toads), Samsa (Cockroaches that are all but impossible to kill but also terrified of everything and extremely paranoid) Kersai (Rhinos) and Yeren (great white apes). Each tribe is as screwed up as you can imagine, but the Samsa and Anurana seem like they can be potential converts to Gaia. Perhaps in your campaign they will!

Besides all these potential antagonists and cannon fodder, the chapter ends with a small section on Taints. How one becomes Tainted, the difference between physical and mental Taints, along with information on the Path of Corruption. It’s worth noting that this chapter ends with “Redemption for the Corrupted,” which means the book itself ends with a light at the end of a long tunnel of darkness. It’s this same little gasp of hope that will lead the reader to believe the Wyrm is not as all-powerful and unstoppable as it (and this book) would like to believe, as well as mirrors that bit of hope that keeps the Garou fighting for Gaia, even in the face of certain defeat. Perhaps this wasn’t intentional, but the critic in me likes the analogous poetry in it.

The last few pages of the book are the Appendix. Entitled, “Rotten Baubles,” this is a potpourri of various odds and ends. Fetishes and Equipment? It’s here. Some example Tainted products, like Lycanthrope: The Rapture 17th Anniversary Edition? It’s in here. Some Tainted alcohol or especially evil vehicles? Here you go. After that, it’s THIRTEEN PAGES of Kickstarter backer thank yous and the book is done. Huzzah!

So there you go. Book of the Wyrm is easily the best release for W20 besides the core rulebook so far, and it’s also the best release by Onyx Path Publishing this year. I loved nearly every page of the book and was thoroughly impressed by the time I was done with it. If you’re a fan of Werewolf: The Apocalypse or the Classic World of Darkness in general, this is a definite must-buy when it becomes available to the general public. It’s fantastic.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
W20 Book of the Wyrm
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Book of the Deceived
by Felipe N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/11/2014 08:06:41
This book is pure gold! It has everything you need to use the Deceived as antagonists or play them. It's very much in the vein of Belial's Brood, making the Akhem-Urtu really interisting and intriguing antagonists, with plenty of internal variation. The Utterances,Affinities and the Seba(Deceived relics) are great. This book answers a lot of questions regarding the nature of the Nameless Empires and cast some more answers. It is very dark and creepy mood, the perfect word to describe the Deceived and the mood of this book is Dark Stars, is a great addiction to the Mummy line and the World of Darkness in general.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Deceived
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Book of the Deceived
by Colin W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2014 13:52:43
This book wildly exceeded my expectations. I am running and Mummy game and was looking forward to some more information about the Sixth Guild, the antagonistic counterpart faction in the gameline. I was expecting something like Guildhalls of the Deathless: something comprehensive that expands on things that we already know for a fuller game experience. However, this book is much more like Left-Hand Path or VII from other gamelines. It brings the world of Mummy: the Curse to brand new places and builds on the story in incredible ways. If you are a Storyteller thinking of running Mummy, this book is an awesome edition to your game that will give you some fantastic villains, or a great twist for new protagonists! If you're a player... well, so long as you can keep your player knowledge separate then this book will give you a much richer view of the world of the Shan'iatu and Judges. Plus, you might talk your Storyteller into letting you play one of the Deceived!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tribebook: White Howlers
by Chris G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/05/2014 20:57:58
I suppose I should start with a few things people not too familiar with the White Howlers and Werewolf: the Apocalypse. The Howlers were one of the sixteen werewolf Tribes in the game, originating from the ancient tribes of Northern Britain and Scotland, the Picts as they're commonly known today. Unfortunately the Howlers were the first of three Tribes that went extinct. Worse, while the other two Tribes died out the Howlers fell to the Wyrm, becoming the first Black Spiral Dancers. However over the course of WtA, who the Howlers were and the hows and whys of their fall has differed from book to book.

But those accounts were always by others, never the words of the Howlers themselves. Until now. Now we have the White Howlers in their own words.

Anyway, the White Howlers Tribebooks is laid out in typical WW/OPP fashion, opening fiction, Introduction, Chapters and Appendix. In this case the opening fiction is a comic revolving another a trio of Howlers and the dire signs they encounter. And again the Introduction is standard fare, discussing what's in the book and all that, ending with a thank you from the author, Jess Hartley, to all the W20 KS backers who made this book possible.

Chapter One and Two discuss the history and culture of the While Howlers respectively. It's told entirely in-person from Morag 'Memory of Stone', a Galliard of the White Howlers, on their final night she's been instructed by their Tribal Totem to speak all she knows about her people while they prepare for their doomed march into Malfeas, the lair of the Wyrm. Surprisingly while the history chapter talks about the Ice Age, or the Great Winter as they refer to it, the two major moments of Garou ancient history, the Impergium and the War of Rage are virtually ignored. In fact of the two, the Impergium is mentioned indirectly and only in passing. It would have been interesting to hear their stances on it. Aside from that one issue the history and culture chapters are great.

The history is largely divided between the vaguer pre-Roman Empire time period and after the Romans arrived in England and started making a mess of things for the Howlers. The former feels very epic and larger than life, giving the feel that the White Howlers did indeed have a long, rich history before the Fall came. The latter is much more detailed as it is the 'modern' setting for the book, the coming of the Romans to England and the downward spiral of the Howlers as they tried to drive them off. Reading through it and knowing that it will only get worse for them made it especially grim and sad. It actually reminds me a bit of the modern day setting for WtA, the Howlers fighting a losing battle against the Roman invaders who are ruining and corrupting their lands.

The culture chapter discusses things like the Kinfolk tribes of the Howlers, their views on the Breeds and Auspices, the Tribal camps and their views on the few other Tribes they had made contact with as well as the Litany.

Chapter Three is a discussion on the Pictish people and what life would have been like for them back then. They freely admit that there is precious little in the way records about them, the most they do have being Roman records. So again they set the book during the Roman reign in Britain to maximize what they do have. But there is a sense that the author did her homework on the historical material. Obviously she's not history professor or anything like that but its clear she made the effort to research what she could on the Picts and what their lives were probably like. I'm not a historian of Iron Age Britain either so I can't say how accurate the material is but it does a solid job at building the setting as well as painting the Howlers and their Kinfolk as more than just half-naked, woad-covered, kilt-wearing* wild men and barbarians.

*The book even acknowledges that the first recorded kilts didn't show up until the 1500's, over a thousand years after the Howlers fell.

This chapter also has the possibilities on bringing the White Howlers into the modern day. Unfortunately it is short, amounting to little more than three different ways, Spontaneous Rebirth, the Great Quest and Never Fell, discussed in what amounts to less than a page. Given that one of the selling points on the back of the book is "Ideas for using the White Howlers in a story set in the modern nights" this feels rather sparse. I wasn't expecting a whole chapter around modern White Howlers, as awesome as that could be, but it could have been a bit more there.

Chapter Four is all about the Gifts, Rites, Merits and Flaws, Fetishes, Talens and Totems of the Tribe. They're all pretty interesting and some of them I would like to try out in future, particularly those Gifts, Rites, Merits, Fetishes and Talens tied to ghosts and the dead. And not only do they give us the Lion, the Tribal Totem of the Howlers, but the other major totems of the Tribe and what happened to them after the Howlers fell.

Finally we have the two appendices, sample characters and legendary Howlers. The sample characters are all, again characters during the last age of the White Howlers. Its a standard spread, featuring five characters of each Breed and Auspice. Nothing out of the ordinary for a Tribebook. Though it is kind of strange to see Iron Age characters written up on character sheets with Science and Technology Knowledge Skills on them.

The NPC section is a mixed bag. One hand you get a Howler legend that disappeared during the Great Winter, a recent war leader who's been waging war on the Romans for years and Morag herself and they're interesting enough. But they're all we get which is disappointing. I would have liked to have seen a couple more characters such as the three Garou in the opening comic.

All and all a pretty good supplement for WtA with plenty for stuff for WtA Storytellers and Players to mine for their games. There aren't really any problems with the book save that there could have been more but what is present is quite excellent.

Is it worth picking up? If you're a WtA fan, definitely. Even if you never use the Iron Age setting in the book, there are ideas in the book that could be useful in your games. If you're not... well you probably won't find the Tribebook as useful but there are aspects of it that can be harvested for non-Werewolf Old World of Darkness and New World of Darkness games.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tribebook: White Howlers
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Tribebook: White Howlers
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/05/2014 15:08:22
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/09/30/tabletop-review-tribebo-
ok-white-howlers-werewolf-the-apocalypse-20th-anniversary-ed-
ition/

Before they were the Black Spiral Dancers, before they were devoted servants of the Wyrm, before they were the arch enemy of the Garou Nation – they were the White Howlers. Although long extinct or transformed by the Labyrinth, the White Howlers were once one of Gaia’s fiercest defenders. Thanks to Kickstarter backers of the Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition, the story of the White Howlers before their fall from grace can finally be told, thanks to this stretch goal. At some point it will be available to all fans of W:TA/W20, but for now this supplement is only available to Kickstarter backers as a freebie thank you for their collective crowdfunding efforts.

If you’ve never read a Tribebook for Werewolf: The Apocalypse, think of it as a supplement that is 100% focused on a specific sect of Garou. In this case, the White Howlers. Much like the Croaton and the Bunyip, because the Howlers had all died out around 200 BC, they never got their Tribebook, with White Wolf focusing on the surviving Garou tribes. The White Wolf version of Werewolf: The Apocalypse dangled historical remnants of these tribes in our face, but never really fleshed them out. With Tribebook: White Howlers however, you get to see how the White Howlers lived and “died” – and more importantly – WHY. The book basically teaches that even the bravest and most determined Garou can fall to the power and horror of the Wyrm, and that not every story has a happy ending. Moreover, it shows that the Garou Nation is often its own worst enemy – even moreso than the Wyrm and Weaver, which it constantly opposes. By the end of the book you get a really good sense of who the White Howlers were, why they became the Black Spiral Dancers and you even feel a little sorry for them in the end.

The book starts off with an eight page comic strip about the White Howlers. I always love the W:TA comics and this was no exception. It’s a very striking intro to the book and really sets the tone for the entire piece. After that you get an Intro section talking about what the book will contain and a thank you to Kickstarter backers. It’s pretty standard introduction stuff and you can skip it. It’s basically filler.

Chapter One is “History,” and it’s a very unique read. It’s told from the perspective of a White Howler Metis bard named Morag as she puts the lineage and history of the tribe to verse on the very eve of entering the Black Labyrinth. Asked by Lion, the tribe’s totem (who perhaps knew what was coming) to put the tribe’s history to pen (although the Picts didn’t have a recorded written language, which the book makes mention of in Chapter Three, but hey, it’s a game – not a history book). It’s an interesting, albeit a bit dull and dry read as you learn about the Howlers, the Picts, ancient Caledonia and the Ice Age that caused the Howlers to venture forth from their homeland in search of warmth and sustenance. You learn about their encounters with the first Garou tribe they encounter other than their own (Fianna), their war with the Romans, their ongoing conflict with the Wyrm and eventually, their discovery of the Black Pit which would lead to their transformation into the Black Spiral Dancers. It’s an informative read, but the author (or perhaps the character) isn’t a very convincing storyteller (no pun intended). I went into this excited for a really interesting read about a tribe that had such potential storywise and came away a bit bored and disappointed. W:TA fans have been waiting for this book for roughly two decades, and “History” might have been the least interesting read I’ve had from a Classic World of Darkness book in a while. I’m glad they finally made this Tribebook, but I don’t think this was the writer, author or voice for the piece. It just came off a bit flat and “Ben Stein-y” in tone.

Chapter Two is “Culture,” and it continues the trend of Morag talking about the Howlers’ history and way of life. Here you get a look at specific Kinfolk groups, breeds, moon aspects and camps within the Howlers. Again, a great idea and something I’ve been looking forward to for decades, but the end result fell more than a little flat. Again, it wasn’t compelling reading. The writing felt forced and the narrative was really lacking in style. Great direction and ideas, but again, I found myself really bored with this Tribebook, which was a huge disappointment to me as the Tribebooks are my favorite releases for Werewolf: The Apocalypse. It wasn’t for a lack of substance, but rather the way in which it was presented. Maybe it was the voice of the character, or maybe the author needed better direction in how to provide a narrative – I’m not sure. All I do know is I’m glad I got this for free, because the quality in these two chapters just wasn’t there.

Thankfully things really pick up with Chapter Three, “The White Howler’s World.” Here we lose Morag as a narrator and go into a more traditional style RPG book where the author talks to the reader instead of a character to someone else not fully defined. That’s not to say there is something wrong with the usual White Wolf/Onyx Path way of having a character narrate some of the book, but it just didn’t work at all with this Tribebook. Anyway, Chapter Three is the longest chapter in the Tribebook and it’s awesome. Here the book flat out talks about the trouble that comes with writing a book for a tribe and its Kin when both died out about two thousand years ago. This is especially true for the Picts, who left little to no pieces of their culture behind. No written history, a shambles of an oral history and most information that we have about the Picts comes from heavily biased or uninformed Roman commentary. This makes a book about the White Howlers and/or their Kinfolk especially hard to write, so one has to be forgiving of the previous chapters, as any author assigned this topic was in for a pretty big handicap.

This chapter talks about how any use of the White Howlers will most likely take place during the Iron Age, or more specifically between 200 B.C.E. and 200 C.E. (bad author form here using B.C. and A.D.). Most gamers don’t know much about this time period, or Caledonia, so any attempt to do a historical campaign might come off cheesy or fall flat because of this. That’s why this chapter tries to give you all sorts of quasi-historical information about the region and people, so that your Storyteller can make an adventure or campaign around this time period and era feel more realistic and believable. Well, as believable as a game featuring werewolf protagonists can be. The chapter breaks down all sorts of aspects to be used by the Storyteller and players. Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, cooking, metalworking, architecture, clothes, weapons, burial customs and more are all covered in this chapter. By reading Chapter Three thoroughly, a good Storyteller should be able to really flesh out an Iron Age White Howlers adventure.

Of special interest is the section on modern era White Howlers. Sure, it’s technically impossible with how W:TA is written, but it’s your game and you can bend or even outright break the rules if it is to you and your players’ liking, so OPP has given you some ways here. A White Howler could be born to two Kinfolk who have slipped through the cracks somehow. You could also bring them back metaphorically by restoring Lion to full Tribal Totem status. The final example given is by having an alternate history where the Howlers never fell. It was some other Garou tribe that became the Black Spiral Dancers. Perhaps the Dancers are merely a dark reflection of the Garou and have always existed. Some very interesting and fun options are provided here.

The chapter ends with a look at the White Howlers relationship with other tribes, as well as some further historical based reading to help make a game set in the Iron Age and/or Caledonia come alive. This is a really great chapter that more than makes up for the previous two. This is well worth reading, even if you don’t care about the White Howlers, as the Iron Age era information is really helpful. It’s also useful for Roman era oriented games like Weird Wars Rome or Cthulhu Invictus.

The final chapter in Tribebook: White Howlers is “Powers,” and this is where all the mechanics, stats and abilities are kept. There are new Rites, Gifts and Rituals for the White Howlers to be found here. Some are completely brand new, while some are slight variants on versions possessed by other tribes. There are a lot of new Merits and Flaws along with White Howler Fetishes and Talens. There’s a ton of great content here, which any W:TA fan can make use of. The Totems are a lot of fun as well. Of course, Lion is here, but there are some other options like Elk, Kelpie and even Green Dragon!

The book then closes with two Appendices. The first is “Sample Characters,” which gives you five pregenerated White Howlers to use as PCs or NPCs. The second Appendix, “White Howler Legends,” gives you examples of three famous White Howlers from lore, including Morag, who narrated the first two chapters. Morag is also the only White Howler with any stats provided. “Sample Characters” is a lot of fun to read, even if you don’t use it, while “White Howler Legends” is a bit of a disappointment, as there is only one character stated out and the bios are too sparse to be of any real interest.

Overall, Tribebook: White Howlers doesn’t live up to the hype Werewolf: The Apcoalypse fans have made for it over the past two decades of clamoring for it to exist. Of course, after all this waiting, what book really could live up to all the expectations gamers have put on this thing? In the end, you had two chapters that weren’t very good and two that were excellent, so the book is a thumbs in the middle for me. Half of it really needed to be done with a better narrative and/or voice, while the other two chapters were just what the White Howlers needed. I’m glad I got this Tribebook for free as a W20 Kickstarter backer, but I’m not sure how I would react had I actually paid money for this. It would probably come down to the price point OPP eventually saddles this book with. For five bucks or less, definitely get this as a digital copy. Over five bucks, think long and hard about it, as the book is really only worth getting at that price if you’re a completionist or huge Black Spiral Dancer fan.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Idigam Chronicle Anthology
by Zachary B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/30/2014 16:28:08
I think this Anthology is pretty good all told. I'm not sure I'd show it to someone who wasn't in the know with regard to WtF.

I tried thinking, after I read this, why it wasn't perfect. Sure, the use of Proper RPG Nouns without surrounding context drove me crazy. Then most stories are about the hunt. The Wolf Must Hunt. And there is so much to hunt. I guess contextually what I didn't like was that each story was just so full of death to the degree where it's like "oh so, if each hunt a few werewolves die, how are there any werewolves alive at all?" And, I tell myself that these are momentous stories.

"Desert Dreaming Hunt" was probably one of the best. It did a great job explaining a small sliver of the spirit world, as did "Last Rites". I also really enjoyed "The Worst Kind of Enemy", especially that it was territory and not just "vs. Pure". Lots of clever writing were WtF fans can see a bit beyond and "get it."

For a WtF fan it is definitely worth the cost to get some glimpses of the Forsaken's world.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Idigam Chronicle Anthology
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Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle
by Harry H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/30/2014 16:21:31
A really well written, well designed game. I have gotten a few people into role-playing and world of darkness by using this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle
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Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle
by Martin P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/21/2014 00:04:32
This is a very good book probably my new favorite and definitely the trump of the 2nd ed NWoD splats at this time (end of 2014, so there's only demon and vampire, but meh). It holds a much needed update to vampire, it is more or less self-contiained with a few minor exceptions, and it is in general a very interesting read.


Now, on the downside, here are a few things you should consider. Please note that while the below list is "long" I do not believe any of these things are so bad as to make the book itself bad, but if you are particularly bothered by any of the below you should probably think carefully before buying the book so as to avoid being disappointed later on. (and yes, I have been Very nitpicky with this part)

First off, this is not a very well ordered book. The way it's laid out is confusing, it lacks an index (but has bookmarks, a minor balm for the issue) which makes the layout issue a bit more troublesome.

It is also lacking entirely in animals, despite the fact that one of the powers, Protean, actually relies on them for shape-shifting, something which also limits your choices of Ghouls (servants) and so on.
This issue CAN be gotten around by looking online for some fan-made animals of course, or just writing up a few yourself.

Then at last (and least, to my mind) we have language use. This is not an entirely "clean" book. It is not by any stretch dirty but you should, if you are particularly sensitive, keep this in mind.

At this time the book costs $19.99 and I, personally, would consider it well worth that price.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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