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The Everlasting: Remember Love
by Rod S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/18/2010 16:38:42
The comic is drawn in a manga-like format. However, the art in this comic could have been drawn a little better for the price. The story is good; not horrible, but not that great. It might be worth checking out if you have the money to spare and like love stories and stories of immortal heroes trying to free their love from eternal damnation; otherwise, go ahead and purchase something else.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Everlasting: Remember Love
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Book of the Fantastical
by Ron M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2009 12:22:17
The Everlasting: Book of the Fantastical
From: Visionary Entertainment, Inc.
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Everlasting: Book of the Fantastical is a new Foundation Book from Visionary Entertainment, Inc.

Whereas the first three books of The Everlasting were published in 1994, the final foundation book took 9 years to publish, and it marks the resurgence of this game.  The Book of the Fantastical is slightly different in format and content but is basically the same kind of book as the others. It opens with a note about the content, in fact, noting there was an over-abundance of it, and the remaining material would be available on the web site. This books simply seems more robust than its predecessors. Unlike the books prior that covered races of The Everlasting, Book of the Fantastical covers a whole genre. Most of the other races were horror based, while this book brings in a new level of roleplay, separating the game itself further from the White-Wolf-wanna-be I thought it was at first. 

Content: This book is no different than the others - containing much of the common text the others had. The biggest difference is the gentes and the background. See my review of the first book - Book of the Unliving - for details of the common core material.
From the page # 19: “ damnant quod non intelligunt (They condemn what they do not understand.) - Latin Proverb”At the heart of the Book of the Fantastical are the realms of fantasy and magick. Opening this book, you enter the realm of fantasy that lies behind or beneath our own. The primary races available are Dragons, Elves, and Faeries. Also included are Dwarves and Orcs, and it covers worlds of the fantastical: Astral Aethyrs, Dragonhome, Agartha, and Faerylands. After browsing through the book initially, I decided to find out what The Everlasting did differently with these fantasy-regulars to separate them from other fantasy based games.

One of the interesting aspects throughout the books is the integration of other modern legends and myth into the standard fantasy-genre. Things like the lost technology and knowledge of the nephilim, the sciences and arts of Solomon, UFOs and greys, sea serpants, the Voynich Manuscript and crop-circles are all integrated into these books. This is an interesting take.

From the page # 95: “ Do you believe in sea serpents?”

Dragons are the genos that would probably attract the most attention considering the fact that most Everlasting adventures either start out or involve in some way the mortal world. To travel in the mortal world, dragons can shape-shift to human normal forms. The ability to play dragons is definitely a good step into making Everlasting-fantasy different. However, my first worry would be balance, and I would recommend to GMs that allow dragons as protagonists to be very attentive to balance. 


Dragons in The Everlasting  are the ancient reptilian beast of legend and more. The history of Everlasting-draconis explains them as elemental progenitor creatures that dominated our world long before the 'Reign of Man.' Dragons are broken down into 'stirpes' or sub-races, like red (fire), sea (water), black (darkness), and chromatic (light). Each sub-type is described thoroughly, with notes on habitat, true form, and general abilities and habits.  Interesting aspects of the Draconic race are Dragonsleep (a healing sleep), Dragon "Soul Burning" (life points can be burned for magic), their treasure horde, and Dracomorphics (their shape-shifting ability).  Dragons can shapeshift into three different forms - true dragon form, half-dragon-form and human form. Each form has their own abilities and aspect modiferes. 


Dragons also have their own Torment, and it is Furor. Because of an ancient betrayal and savage war, there burns inside each dragon a hatred of all mortals and the desire to subjugate them once again This anger can be engulfing. This anger threatens to this day to open up into a Dragon war, but more level-heads within the dragon society have met to try to agree to channel this rage at a new threat - the daimons and the leviathans. Dragons also have their own inheritances or preternaturae (magickal abilities) based on their elemental nature.
From the page # 129: “ Do you believe in divergently evolved humanoids?”Elves in The Everlasting are the results of cross breeding a pre-human super-race called Adapan and the fey folk. The Beautiful People or Avlari that arose now span the mortal world as well as many other worlds within the Reverie. Further mating with humans created more varieties of elves, which in turn formed the many Elven Nations. There are seven elven nations including the Valmori (wood elves), Xeysori (city elves) and Aedrith (gray elves).
The Torment of elves is called the Yearning. This yearning stems from their long life and an eventual yearning for a release for the concerns of everyday life. The preternaturae of the elves is called Wyrd but it only supplies a short handful of preternaturae. It encourages the player to create other wyrds using the Codex of Imortality guidelines (reviewed later). Also included is a brief mention of half-elves and how they are treated by elven society. There was not anything in the Elf chapter that surprised me or differentiated elves from the usual fantasy based elves in other games, however.

From the page #153 :“ Do you believe in Fairy Tales? ”

Not many fantasy games include faires as a core race. I played Perils and Powers (Avalon Hill RPG) years ago, and one of the races was faerie. The challenge is to make them interesting to the players, separating them from the Tinker-Bell-like image that they have. The best way to interpret the way The Everlasting does it is to say that it is a catch-all race for everything else they could think of. "They are like aliens, spirits, and ancient gods all rolled up into one," (pg153). They are also called Fey (which I am used to called elves). They are an extremely diverse gentes, with a wide of variety of types but all seem to be tied to the mysteries of nature.

There are three physical types of fey - Ferrishyn (little people - true faerie), Sidhe (Highborn - humans that have given themselves over to the fayerie) and Elves (detailed earlier - half-human, half-fey). These lineages are further broken down into faerie races or Tuathas. Included in all these are creatures like goblins, sprites, orcs, animal folk, gremlins, bogies, brownies, greys (of UFO mythology) and even Santa's Helpers (in the realm of Imagination).

Also included in this chapter are common fey ethics and cultural norms. Although very diverse, the fey tend to have certain things common. Certain fey called Reivers are prone to do something called Spellweavering which is interestingly linked to the myth of crop-circles. They 'retrieve' the lands needed for the Faerylands continued existence. The faerie preternaturae is called glamoury, and a short list of abilities are listed. Their torment is called fayerie, which represents their connection to the Great Beyond. As the faerie grows stronger, so does its tie to the mysterious powers of nature that created it, eventually leaving their 3-dimnsional existence forever.
Book Three further expands the fantasy realm of The Everlasting with the addition of dwarves and orcs. Both are detailed in a similar manner as the other races including rules to play them as protagonists. It also explores more dimensions of the reverie, like the Agartha (other physical real worlds) which includes the Faerylands and all its many kingdoms like Avalon, Kingdoms of Dwarves, and the Empire of the Goblins. It virtually creates a parallel fantasy universe for the players to explore in general details.

System: Additional things to the system are more paths of magick, including Bardic Magick, magick of the dragons, spellweaving, and urban elf technomancy. A short list of powers are given for each.  

In conclusion, the final book of The Everlasting took a while to be completed, but they did well. It is definitely not just another Everlasting foundation book because it adds so much more. It applies different takes on many different fantasy axioms while still preserving some of the basic ideas of fantasy that all have come to love and expect. I like the subtle insertions of other mythologies into fantasy and sometimes the crossovers into sci-fi mythology like greys and UFOs. It is a rich book with lots of opportunity to roleplay. The quality of art did not follow-through in the new book from the old, but I can look past that. There are some formatting and editing problems I spotted as well, but again, I can look past that as well.  

Much of The Everlasting reminds me of a game called Dark Conspiracy (DC). This makes it slightly different in that you play the monsters and minions where in DC you played humans (mostly). I like the way all the books combine mythologies and tweaks them in different ways to make a rich universe. A lot of heart and passion for gaming went into the foundation books. It is a good system and a world with lots of variety and depth. I would recommend getting all four books and creating a diverse party and exploring the many worlds of The Everlasting if you are looking for a new game to play.


For more details on Visionary Entertainment, Inc. and their new Foundation Book “The Everlasting: Book of the Fantastical” check them out at their website http://www.visionaryentertainment.com and at all of your local game stores.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Fantastical
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Book of the Spirits
by Ron M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2009 12:20:38
The Everlasting: Book of the Spirits
From: Visionary Entertainment, Inc.
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Everlasting: Book of the Spirits is a new Foundation Book from Visionary Entertainment, Inc..

By now, after reading through three books including this one, I feel so engulfed in this amazing world. The Book of the Spirits is the next venture into the worlds and beings of the Everlasting. In general, it is like the other books in the series - a stand-alone roleplaying game book complete with the same rules and background. This particular book delves into the worlds of the spirits, as its name implies - from gargoyles to possessed, from djinn to the great old ones. Although I thought the subject of spirits were covered in The Book of the Unliving with the genos Dead Souls, apparently those at Visionary Entertainment felt that more spirits needed to be explored.

From page 5: “ Spirits in quick glimpses and behind half-dreams, welcome to the Secret World. - SCB ”

Content: The core content that covers the Everlasting universe is the same text, reformatted. From the orientation of the Secret World to the text on legend-making, it was all the same. The major difference in this book is the genos that is described.

The primary supernatural species in this book are Gargoyles (demonic-like beings of good that "devour sin"), Manitous (totem spirits) and The Possessed (dream entities that possess and corrupt mortals). These are the primary ones because they are presented in the most detail and are meant to be character races. The books also contains sections on Astral Spirits, Dream Spirits, Djinn, Somnomancers (wizards of the Dreamworlds), and Leviathans (great old ones).

Before I get into each genos, however, I want to mention something I found strange. For every book, thus far, there is a page at the beginning of every chapter that I would call 'fluff' - introductory text that prepares you for the chapter to come. This protagonist creation chapter of The Book of Spirits, however, has something interesting and something I found somewhat out of place - a short lesson of the basics of numerology. Why? It is interesting and not overly new age that I object but I just found it odd.

Chapter Four starts with a section on the history of gargoyles, from its origins in the name to their original stone purposes. Bound by an ancient curse, gargoyles are "sin eaters," meaning they are attracted to and feed on evildoer's sin. While the vampires are after blood, the gargoyle seeks out sin and not only feeds, but sometimes carries out a punishment for the sin. They are truly living stone of some kind, but the type can vary from alabaster to jade, from marble to granite. They are beings of good and light, stemming from the Astral plane but now imprisoned in the stone bodies. Their torment is the Abyss as they slowly are taken over by the sin they feed on. Gargoyles have their own form of martial arts called Karafan which utilizes their unique nature in hand-to-hand combat. Also in Chapter Five is another character option related to Gargoyles called the Sacred Ones - humans that are so great and have such a strong destiny, gargoyles are driven to protect and guide them.  

Chapter Five covers Manitous or animal spirits and lords of nature. They are humans possessed by animal spirits or totems. Two spirits embodied in one flesh, they collectively are the manitou. They are able to shape shift to the totem animal and the instincts and abilities of the totem are manifested in the host. The chapter explains in detail how a manitou comes into being - through a process called the Joining or Enspiritment, as well as what happens when one dies. The torment of a manitou is animalism where the host slowly becomes more and more like the animal spirit and less human. This chapter does present a rather lengthy list of totem choices for characters to play.
Chapter Six covers the dark species known as the Possessed. However, it takes an interesting and interestingly original approach to the concept, allowing it to be different from other entities like Dead Souls or Ghosts. In this universe, the Possessed are actually human hosts to imprisoned ethereal creatures from the Dreamworlds (a plane like H.P. Lovecraft's Deamlands). These creatures are called Ochelum. There are evil and good ochelum. All are bound to this earth by earthly amulets called soul-prisons. The torment of the Possessed is corruption - madness eventually overtakes those who are possessed.

The chapter on the Possessed also take it a step further and link ochelum to sandmen myths and legends. It then details some aspects of the Dreamworlds including moon cheese, the cats of the Dreamworlds as well as other denizens, and the somnonancer. Somnonancers are "waking worlders" who have gained complete dream control. 

From the back page #193: “ Do you believe in the Great Old Ones?”

Much of The Book of the Spirits is strongly influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft (HPL) and the Cthulhu mythos. Of course the Great Old Ones (see below) are a direct influence but also the sections of the Dreamworlds and its nature (much like the Dreamlands, in some ways). It was influenced so much, they acknowledged it in a nod to Chaosium and their game Call of Cthulhu on page 196.

Chapter Seven: The Abominations is the chapter that is most influenced by HPL. Within these pages are the most vile and dark creatures of the spirit worlds. If not directly borrowed from the Cthulhu Mythos, there are several creatures that are similar. These are of course presented as NPC creatures and races and not something players can play.

The last chapter of genets or species is about the djinn - mysteries creatures of half-earthly and half-spiritual beings. Based in the Arabic mythical race, these creatures once ruled an ancient half-earthly/half-astral kingdom called Ubar. They are also known as "neutral angels" with great power. The text details a mysterious society of these creatures with a long history and dark secrets. They draw their power from something called the Smokeless Flame or Thal. It is their life force and energy. They are primarily dwellers of the Reverie and look like humans when in the real world. The have multiple forms and their society is divided into many tribes. There is an interesting link to something called the Elder Lords, the Necronomicon, and the djinn. There is also interesting history between the djinn and King Solomon. The djinn are rich with vast history.

The rest of the book is like the other books, covering the other races in The Everlasting, describing the general concepts of the game universe like the Reverie, Magick, and detailing some advanced guidelines. I ask you to reference my review of The Everlasting: Book of the Unliving for details on this. It does add a few sections on other worlds related to the species in this book - including the Doomlands and the Dreamworlds. In the Advanced Guidelines Chapter, there is a short section on djinn magick, giving you an option to create your own magick spells.  

One of the things I have failed to mention is that in all the books there is a race mentioned in the sections entitled The Other Everlasting that is not actually covered in any of the four core books. I only noticed this after going through all four books thoroughly. I had seen it while reading through the first two and thought it would be covered elsewhere, but it apparently is not covered until the Magician's Companion. Osirians are a special race apparently cloaked in mystery. They are souls that transmigrate over humans lives, living, dying and being reborn, benefiting from the knowledge of many past lives.  

Layout: The layout has its own uniqueness about it, stylish and appropriate for the subject matter. The art is on par with the other books, ranging from really impressive to so-so.

System: Nothing new is added to the system except more magic options. The magic system is so open-ended, however, that almost anything can be added to the magic system.

In conclusion, the folks at Visionary did it again. Well done. Probably the coolest thing about this that separates it from games like White Wolf is that it encourages you to form mixed parties. Where in White Wolf, all I see is parties of Vampires or Werewolves, this gives the players a wide variety of species to choose from, especially if you get all four books. Each species has their pro and cons and seem well balanced. In my opinion, this game is by far one of the best alternatives to White Wolf. Book of the Spirits definitely adds more uniqueness to the game universe and more variety for players to choose from. The depth of all the books is fantastic and well-thought out. I compliment the authors once again.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Spirits
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Book of the Light
by Ron M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2009 12:19:02
The Everlasting: Book of the Light
From: Visionary Entertainment, Inc.
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Everlasting: Book of the Light is a new Foundation Book from Visionary Entertainment, Inc..

The Book of the Light is the second book in the four book series of The Everlasting role playing game by Foundation books. Much of what is contained in it is also contained in the previous book, The Book of the Unliving. This review will focus on the differences. To get comments on the core concept and rules of The Everlasting as a role playing game, see my review on The Book of the Unliving. 
Given my preconceptions of The Everlasting RPG from the previous review and how they were proven wrong, I looked forward to delving further into the worlds of The Everlasting. The Book of the Light presents new player character options for people interested in playing less dark creatures than given in The book of the Unliving.

From the page 5: “ Walk in the Light and Guard against the Shadows. - SCB”

Content: The core content that covers the Everlasting universe is the same text as the first book, just reformatted. From the orientation of the Secret World to the text on legend-making, it was all the same. The major difference in this book are the genets it deals with.
The primary supernatural species in this book are Angels (your standard celestial beings), Daevas (demi-god heroes) and Questers (holy knights whose lives have been sustained by a holy quest.)

Angels are divided into orders - seraphim, cherubim, merkabah, and others to a total of nine different orders. Each have their own characteristics, divine purpose and other features. The Torment of the Angel is imperfection - the more one has, the further away from God the angel is. The detailed section on angels has some interesting 'nuggets' like the effects of imperfection, the Divine Voice as guidance to angels, and the powers of halos. A tenth 'order' is the possibility of half-angels, as explained in this section. This chapter is rich with angelic mythology and legend, including a piece on celestial engineering, angelic mathematics, called Sephirot, and angelic magicks.  

From the page 172: " It was about thirty years after parting ... that I realized that I wasn't getting any older. - Percy, Reunion by Brian M. Thomsen ”

Daevas are basically, as I said, demigods - humans so heroic they have been granted immortality as well as other powers and abilities by a ancient god. They are the embodiment of the mythic hero. Portions of their description are reminiscent of the Highlander immortal race, especially in the case of their true death and the release of their energies through their Ananda. The Torment of a daeva is doom or the constant pull of destiny to a certain course of action. Daevas are divided up by households, each connected to one ancient mythology or another. Each is culturally different and have their own characteristics, rituals and practices.

 Questers are humans that are driven by some great, but possibly unattainable, goal that sustains their life beyond normal length. This goal is usually some holy quest like, of course, the Quest for the Grail. Doubt is the torment of the quester, representing the level of dedication to their quest. This section does focus strongly on the grail quest; however, it does supply other ideas for holy quests - like dragon slaying or prevention of an evil. There are also evil questers, seeking out some dark quest or to stop other questers from reaching their goals. There is a very detailed and excellent section on chivalry including the ten rules of chivalry. Also included is a three page summary of the Arthurian legend and the Holy Grail.  

Also included in this book are the evil side of the Light - Demons (fallen angels of evil) and the Wer (werewolves), both of which can be played as protagonists or player characters. I assume, however, that the author intends on both to be NPC races primarily because neither are explored to the depth that the other genets are. Big werewolf fans will be somewhat disappointed because they are not given the depth that fans of WoD werewolf were. The only kind available is a werewolf, so no possibility of a were-bear or were-rat. It goes into reasonable depth about the changing virus, Lycanthropy, however.

The remainder of the book is similar to the others. It generally covers the other Everlasting races as well as summarizes the worlds of the Light including the Reverie, the Astral plane and the Netherworlds. Other worlds are covered in the previous sections including the Seven Heavens, New Camelot and the Wer communes.

The fourth and final section advances some rules, adds in more detail for combat and magick, and gives some guidelines for freeform gaming and live-action roleplaying of Everlasting. It also includes the same new age aspects and concepts I mentioned in my review of The Book of the Unliving. Refer to that for my comments on those subjects.

System: The book adds nothing new to the system other than specific supernatural abilities, magicks and traits of the individual races.
Layout: The Book of Light, like The Book of the Unliving, is a sharp looking book. Once again it has an array of public-domain renaissance-era art and card art from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck which adds to its ambience. It also has some original art that range from really impressive to decent, like its predecessor. It shows a lot of thought and passion was put into the art design and overall look of the rulebook. It conveys a feeling of ancient mystery and dark adventure. The cover art is very attractive and dynamic. The color use is brilliant and inspiring. 

In conclusion, once again, they have put together a very in-depth and detailed book for their rich gaming universe. I do feel it lacks some detail in certain areas like the Wer, only because I know a lot of werewolf fans that would want more detail. But the rest is fantastically presented, powerfully detailed and well organized. Even though portions of the book are repeated from its predecessor, it was still reformatted to fit the overall layout of the book, which is significantly different from it's "darker brother." Even though it includes werewolves, this book is somewhat of a departure from the WoD-feel of the universe and makes it easier to deal with for those people who did not like WoD.

For more details on Visionary Entertainment, Inc. and their new Foundation Book “The Everlasting: Book of the Light” check them out at their website http://www.visionaryentertainment.com and at all of your local game stores.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Light
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Book of the Unliving
by Ron M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2009 12:17:10
The Everlasting: Book of the Unliving
From: Visionary Entertainment
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Everlasting: Book of the Unliving is a Foundation Book from Visionary Entertainment. 

Every November, I am the gaming coordinator for a small local gaming con here in the Carolinas called MACE. This year at MACE, a company called Visionary Entertainment attended and had heard that I occasionally write game reviews for GR as well as Nth Degree Magazine. By the end of the con, I had six Everlasting rule books in my lap, with someone asking me to review them. I have to be honest - I was not overly excited about reviewing them. The primary reason is that the author of the game is a former White-Wolfer, and I am not a huge fan of White Wolf games. So this game initially came across to me as a World-of-Darkness-wannabe.  

I have to say, after reading into the background and the system, I was wrong on many levels. I was also right in a few areas.
It was interesting to first find out that this game has been out for a while. The copyright for The Book of the Unliving is 1994, and it apparently has had a strong resurgence because the most recent books have been released in 2003 and 2004. So this is not a new game, but a game worth noting regardless.

From the page 15: “ Do you believe in the supernatural? ”

The Everlasting: Book of the Unliving is one of the four foundation (core) rule books for The Everlasting role playing game. Reviews of the other three are forthcoming along with the two sourcebooks recently released. Each foundation book is a core rule book in and of itself, and the others are only needed if the players want to play the other supernatural beings or genets (plural for genos) available in The Everlasting universe. Each book explores an aspect of the universe. The other books are The Book of the Spirits, The Book of the Light, and The Book of the Fantastical.

Content: The Book of the Unliving, as the name implies, explores the world of the undead. This is where I get the World of Darkness (WoD) feel to the game. However, this is also where it ends. Yep, there are Vampires, but there is also so much more. Contained within this book, along with the rules to play, is a rich mysterious background of the Secret World and the dimensions within. The Secret World is a supernatural world of several dimensions and plains of existence, overlaying our real world. Very few mortals are aware of it and fewer interact with it. Supernatural creatures occasionally interact with it, while at the same time living within our modern world, some leading normal everyday lives.

The first few sections describe the type of role playing game The Everlasting is. It claims to be an interactive legend-making experience. The whole concept of "legend-making" and that role playing The Everlasting is a "higher plain of consciousness" (pg 20) is where I get turned off somewhat. It is a little too touchie-feelie for me. It is a game - nothing more. Sure, I appreciate the "art " of role playing a storyline, but it is still a game. This is what turned me off from World of Darkness - this sense that it is a more mature and better way to game when in reality, it is just another role playing game (RPGs). One of the primary books the author sites is The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, which is a classic cross-cultural study of the hero's journey which is said to have inspired George Lucas's Star Wars saga.

The Everlasting does, however, make an attempt to be different from other RPGs. One aspect is the concept of a "guide." Initially, I thought it was their word for gamemaster, but upon reading further, I realized it is more than that. The Everlasting encourages the group to share the role of guide. One person can act as the primary plot guide, while another person can control certain NPCs and another may control combat situations. It is one of their many efforts to change the standard dynamic of role playing, and I can see the pros and cons of this approach. On one side, I am not, however, 100% convinced long-time GMs would embrace the idea wholeheartedly, and I feel many would revert back to the standard way of role playing. On the other side, I can see this method developing interesting stories and adventures. I can also see the benefit of transferring the power of plot development between participants - there are some days I just run out of plot ideas and would love it if someone else came up with it.

Another concept it introduces is Protagonists as Communal Property. In essence, the characters of a party are the property of the party and can be played by anyone. So, a character may be played by a different player each session. An interesting idea, but my players had a hard time wrapping their minds around it. It could create interesting stories, but in the end, there is nothing in the game one can claim as their own, and I do not think that would be attractive to many players. One could argue, however, that the party ends up owning the legend they create and this kind of gaming takes the focus off the character and more on the story. It all depends on your GMing style, in the end. I feel that the character's role in the story is as important as the story, and it is hard to stay focused on that when the player is changing from one game to another.

In the end, these approaches are more or less optional because The Everlasting can be played like a regular RPG. However, I am sure the author would say that if you do, you are missing out on the true essence of legend-making.

Towards the end, the book gets further into the concept of legend-making, personal mythologies and several other "high consciousness" concepts that take this way out of the realm of "just a game." It includes the encouragement of rituals in your game sessions for opening and closing ceremonies, exploring ones personal mythology, achieving altered stages of consciousness while gaming, and dream control. They have asked up-front to approach this game with an open mind, and I feel that I have. However, I personally have a strong objection to this kind of new age notions invading my hobby, so I will leave that to the reader to explore. It is one thing to apply it to the game universe and it is a totally different thing to try to apply it in real life. It is almost like they are trying to turn your game session into a religious experience. It is a game! Just a game! This is the kind of stuff that some less-informed Christians like to pounce on, calling gaming evil and corrupting.  

I should note that the author appears to have a Christian background because he thanks God and the Bible in his dedications and special thanks. I do not think it was the authors intention to offend or create controversy. I do believe the author is extremely passionate about his gaming and what he would like his readers to get out of it. The book does include a strong warning stating that the game "is an experience in make-believe" and the "whole purpose is to have fun." I just feel that his notions of having fun expand out of the game-sense further than I would like, bridging in certain new age notions that some would object to and would say have no place in gaming. This is of course my opinion and may not be shared by everyone.

The background of the universe is rich and full of opportunities for adventure and "legend-making."  As mentioned above, it's called the Secret World and has many 'onion layers' of existence. The onion is called the Reverie. The layers are dimension like the Astral plane and the Dreamworlds. There are several sub-realms loosely defined that can be explored including the Collective, Menagerie, and the Netherworlds. In general, however, the majority of the action and adventuring occurs in the modern day on Earth.  

At the heart of the background is the Death Knell - an event that has brought on war and demonic terror to the many plains of the Reverie. This event threatens not only the supernatural world but the mortal world as well, so it is usually up to the players to stop the evil plots the Death Knell and its demons create. On the other hand, they could play creatures working towards this apocalyptic end. It is up to the group.

From the page 62:“ After all, neither honor nor love have any meaning in the world I come from. ...” - Vampire Hunter D

Players choose from gentes or supernatural beings. Each foundation book supplies several gentes as well as other beings that are strictly for use as NPCs. In The Book of the Unliving,  the primary gentes available are Vampires, Ghuls, and Revenants.  

Vampires are what you would expect - more like the legendary creatures than the World of Darkness version. They are divided out into bloodlines, including some more well-known lines like Dracula and the queen of the White Worm. Many of the vampire lines are from cultures that had vampire-like creatures, and their bloodlines are inspired by these legends.

Ghuls are not the ghouls of World of Darkness - those would be a type of vampire called Dhampir. Ghuls in The Everlasting are more like the Lovecraftian ghouls - creatures that feed on the dead. They have expanded the mythos of the ghoul to many different types, including those that can walk normally amongst us. They base the origins of the ghoulish races on an elixir called Anecro - the elixir of immortality.  
Revenants are the dead who walk the Earth in a shroud of illusion, sucking the lifeforce out of mortals. In many ways, they are like vampires, but they are not. Revanents can hide their decaying self and walk among mortals freely. They do not feed on blood, they feed on the raw energies of life. This usually puts them at odds with the Vampires.

There are also two dark gentes players could look into - Dead Souls (ghosts) and Reanimates. Both are described in the third sub-section of the book called Dark Immortality. Although dark, they are not necessarily the bad guys - just creatures harder to role play in the everyday modern world and so considered more monstrous than the primary three. Dead souls vary in existence and form, ranging from shades and phantoms to the ankou or grim reaper. Reanimates are like your stereotypical Frankenstein's monster - pieced together and reanimated bodies. These are creatures that did not choose to come back to life, but were forced to by some other person like a mad scientist or magician. 

Each genos has its own breakdown of factions, sub-types, torment, culture, magick, weaknesses and special abilities. Torment is a measure of how far along the monstrous path the character is. An example of torment is the Ghul Torment of Degeneration representing the mental devolution and the physical deterioration of the character. All of these are defined in full chapters dedicated to each genos.
The remaining sections do cover briefly the other gentes available including elves, dragons, gargoyles and manitous, but not enough really play them as characters. They are covered in more detail in their own respective books. It also covers the realms of the unliving, including the Underworld and the subterranean worlds of the ghuls.

The final section contains expanded combat and character rules as well as Guide advice in creating plots and adventures. One interesting gem from this is integrating emotion into the system to gain bonuses and penalties. It also lays out the Magick system for The Everlasting and supplies a few sample spells. It ends with a sample adventure or Odyssey as well as several adventure seeds. The short adventure is very general and vague, leaving much of the details to the Guide, but it creates an interesting plot to start the group on.

From the page 55:“ There are no 'rules' in The Everlasting, only guidelines.”

System: 

Character Generation: There are three methods of character generation - point-allocation, random card-draw, and random dice-roll. This again is indicative of the flexibility and broad appeal this game will have to gamers. It has an interesting approach to Aspects (base ability scores), Aptitudes and Skills. In the basic dice or card system, the Ability defines the number of dice rolled or cards drawn, and the Aptitude or Skill subtracts from the difficulty value. It's an interesting balance to allow the raw character ability scores to effect the situation as much as the focused skills. It is a character concept based system, with a 20-question system that helps you flesh out the history, motivation and overall story of the character. It encourages a lot of thought invested in the character and encourages a good knowledge of history to flesh out your immortal character. It is amazing how many in-depth character background stories one can get out of something as 'mundane' as history.

Game Mechanic: The approach to the game system is unique and very flexible for many types of gamers. It supplies the reader with two simple ways of playing - dice or cards. The author is one of those types of game designers that approach a system from the point of view that it is a necessary evil, which is why he supplies several different methods to resolving tasks, etc. In fact, he states upfront that there are no rules, just guidelines. I feel that this point of view is a carry-over from the WoD philosophy and can either attract players or turn off players. I am a game-player and I like some structure in my games. I like to know I am playing a game, and so I like to have rules to guide me through it. I do not consider myself a rules-lawyer however, because I've been known to bend the rules as a GM when necessary.
Dice: The core die is d12 , with difficulties ranging from 0 through 13. This system is similar to the White Wolf's WoD in that each die is compared to the difficulty, and successes are counted. D12 dice are reserved for supernaturals. Mortals role d8 and mortals with supernatural powers role d10, so some things supernaturals can do, mortals can not. I liked this system. Optionally, towards the end of the Guidelines chapter, the author provides percentile dice system for The Everlasting,  for those that prefer the bell-curve of the percentage system. The only drawback to the percentage system is that it is a completely different system from the core systems (d12 dice and cards), so some conversion needs to be done as one reads.

Cards: The cards system also has two options: regular playing cards or Tarot. This is refreshing, although not entirely unique. It still works much like dice, comparing the value to a DC. Face cards have values. The duel system between cards and dice is handled well within the text because they are so similar.    

Combat System: The combat system is simple but surprisingly robust compared to other systems of this nature. Many games like this (that treat rules as a necessary evil) usually put combat in a very abstract and boring system but The Everlasting tries not to do that while still not being bogged down by some of the more clunky details that other combat systems tend to have. Based on a simple system of ten actions within a 12 second round, each player based on his Speed score, can do a certain amount of actions within that round. Some things take multiple actions, and thus take longer in a round. Actions are declared at the beginning of a round and can not be changed mid-round. In an attack, both attacker and defender make a roll (or draw cards). The number of times the attacker's successes exceeds his opponent's successes acts as a modifier to the base damage of the weapon used. The defender does get a resistance roll/draw to resist the damage. Every character has Life Points, which is what the damage is applied to.

Magick System: The Magic system is similar to the skills system with some complexity added to it. Difficulty is based on effect, target and magnitude. There are also forms of magick - spontaneous, spells and rituals. I found it interesting that added spontaneous. The system encourages the players to create their own spells through a system of turning a spontaneous effect into a permanent learned spell. I found that unique and interesting. It seems simple enough, but I would have to see it in practice.

Layout: The Book of Unliving  is a sharp looking book from cover to cover. With its very liberal use of public domain renaissance-era art and card art from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck and a smattering of original art that ranges from really impressive to decent, it shows a lot of thought and passion was put into the art design and overall look of the rulebook. It conveys a feeling of ancient mystery and dark adventure. The cover art is very attractive and dynamic. The color use is powerful and inspiring. Everyone that I talked to about the books at MACE said they liked the cover art. 

The occasional quotes from random resources are impressive. From Joseph Campbell to Bram Stoker; from Plato to Queensryche (80s metal band), it added further flavor to a rich modern fantasy world.

In conclusion, I am torn over The Everlasting based on the first book, Book of the Unliving. The game itself, the core universe, and the opportunities for adventure and story-making all fascinate me and inspire me to at least play a game or two. I find the unique ways they try to change the gaming group dynamic inspiring and interesting and may even be worth a try with the right group of gamers.  I initially approached this game with a negative view because of who the author was and the overall look of the game, but found that I actually like the game, its system and its universe. I found it inspiring and already have some ideas for possible campaigns. It was a pleasant surprise to be proven wrong on my initial assessment.  

However, the sections that include the new age concepts and touchie-feelie aspects almost turn me off from the game, but I am glad they are presented in an optional way. I have already stated my feelings on the new ages concepts introduced in the text. I felt it was a step too far into making role playing more than a game. I do feel this is a game for more mature role players and I do not see myself buying this for someone like my 14 year old step-son. If I had read these sections alone, I do not think I would have reviewed these books or would have bought them. I am glad I read more than this, but it is this type of subject matter that gives gaming its stigma.  

Overall, however, it is a very good game with a solid game system(s) and deep background. I would recommend it to my more mature gamer friends with a wholehearted recommendation of the game itself, but a short forewarning about some of the sections I object to. There is one thing that this and all the books are - thorough and detailed. From the sidebars on some pages defining lexicons and special terms to the details on each genos, it leaves very little out. It is an engulfing world that leaves very little room for questions or confusion. It is a flowing and engulfing world with lots of room to explore, however, with its own mythos and feel.

An extra bonus is given to the writers for a quality index in the back. 

For more details on Visionary Entertainment and their Foundation Book “The Everlasting: Book of the Unliving” check them out at their website http://www.visionaryentertainment.com and at all of your local game stores.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Unliving
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Codex of the Immortals
by Ron M. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/10/2009 12:13:39
The Everlasting: The Codex of the Immortals
From: Visionary Entertainment Studio
Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Everlasting: The Codex of the Immortals is a new RPG Supplement from Visionary Entertainment Studio.

Delving back into the remaining books I have left from Visionary, I now tackle The Codex of the Immortals. A smaller book (6"x9"), it is a supplement recently put out for The Everlasting Role Playing Game (RPG). The Codex, as the back explains, provides players with tools they need to further develop their characters for The Everlasting RPG. It contains expanded information about what it means to be one of The Everlasting (characters in the The Everlasting RPG) and guidelines to help develop backgrounds for protagonists. It also contains more information about the history of The Secret World and the Fall of the Dragons, the rise of the merodachs and the Azhi Dehaka, The Death Knell and the coming of the daimons.

More specifically, The Codex has guidelines on fellowships, mentors, apprentices, honor duels, and dominions and over a hundred distinctions for players to use to further define and mold their characters. Also included are guidelines on creating custom powers.

From page #3:
“The secret world, a daydream shadow of our reality, is waiting for you.”The Codex  is a very compact book with a lot of information throughout. There are four major chapters and an index. The chapters are 1: Everlasting Society, 2: Advanced Protagonists, 3: Character Distinctions and 4: Preternatureae.  

Chapter 1: Everlasting Society contains an in-depth look at the society and history of the Everlasting. From the early years of Dragons to their eventual betrayal by pre-humans that immortals called the merodach; from the growth of mortal man and his sciences to the Death Knell (the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima). Also included is a timeline that goes as far back as 400 million BC when the first Dragons appeared. 

The remaining portions of the chapter is a conglomeration of subjects all relating back to life as an eldritch and all that it entails, inside and outside the mortal world. It starts out with a short piece on Fellowships (player parties) and why they form, and then a discussion on Dominions and the shared dominions of Earth known as mortal cities. The Wisdom of the Ancients is the commandments of the Everlasting, defining certain rules that all within eldritch society should follow. These include Observe the right of dominion, Do not rule over mortals, and Embrace the age in which you live.

It is also in Chapter 1 that you find the section on Apprentices. Many times, a new immortal needs a mentor to ease him into his new Everlasting life. Many of the eldritch societies allow for apprenticeships to help the new immortal deal with living longer than his mortal loved ones, keeping his nature secret, and learning the Wisdom of the Ancients. Like MacLeod was the Ramirez in Highlander, every new immortal needs their guide.

Chapter 1 ends with several short sections on the Mortal Identity that some Everlasting must take to walk among them, the subject of Sanctuaries and Sanctums of the eldritch, etiquette and honor among the eldritch, and several disjointed pieces on living an immortal life including notes on Soul-Bond (a metaphysical link between all eldritch) and Psychic Resonances - two aspects of immortals. There are also sections on fertility, family, love and romance among the eldritch.

From the back cover:
“Unlock the Key to Your Destiny”

Chapter 2: Advanced Protagonists introduces the reader to new aspects of characters. Several new options are presented. This chapter starts out like the book - a conglomeration of loosely related subjects. It opens with short sections on Unusual Characters (young characters and playing yourself), Off-the-Scale score, Everyman Skills, and Skill Specializations. It seems to jump all over the place, but at least focuses on further fleshing out the character. 

The bulk of Chapter 2, however, is taken up with Ability Descriptions - uncommon ways to apply an ability to an aspect. This truly illustrates the flexibility of the Everlasting system and one characteristic I like about it. For roughly 24 pages, the authors expands on abilities and aspects in many unique ways.

Chapter 3: Character Distinctions expands on the concept of Distinctions. The one thing I have always said - if you have a classless system, you better have a good advantage and disadvantage system. Everlasting had a unique approach to this, and this book expands on it further. There are nine distinctions ranging from Biography and Resources to Psyche and Supernature. Herein lies the meat and potatoes of the character and the game. This chapter adds the gravy with some really cool options.

Chapter 4: Preternatureae takes up the remainder of the book, which is close to half. Preternaturae are the supernatural powers the eldritch have. These powers are divided out among 30 categories.  The Foundation books supply a few initial preternaturae for all the gentes, as well as a limited number of additional preternaturae abilities that characters can buy with experience as they play. This section supplies a huge number of additional preternaturae for the players to choose from. This almost makes the book a necessity for those that like to further differentiate their characters. Comparatively, some are a little more expensive then the preternaturaes seen thus far, and they range from the not-so-original abilities to the down-right interesting.  

In conclusion, I would say that this book completes the game thoroughly. Although it starts out like a strange conglomeration of notes and essays, the final chapters make the book worth the money. It is a smaller book than the Foundation books in pages and page size, and the layout is not quite as artistic as the original foundation books, but you would not buy this for the layout. If you are really into The Everlasting and in need of more expansion and differentiation of your characters, this book is a necessity.

For more details on Visionary Entertainment Studio and their new RPG Supplement “The Everlasting: The Codex of the Immortals” check them out at their website http://www.visionaryentertainment.com and at all of your local game stores.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Codex of the Immortals
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Book of the Unliving
by Gin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/04/2007 00:00:00
I just got it a few minutes ago. I won't go into long details -- the web page about sums it up on the content of the book and the material is quite good. If you're accustomed to RPGs where the undead seem to exist just to feed and lie in wait for the heroes, you're in for surprise.


LIKED: Great material, very evocative atmosphere to both the game and the writing.

DISLIKED: Terrible scan. I'm glad I caught this on a good sale. Buy it in print from an rpg shop.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Unliving
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The Everlasting: Remember Love
by Gemma R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/26/2006 14:35:02
I have to say that I'm really not a fan of the "roleplay games turned into Manga" genre. While it's something that may work well for innately comic-genre games like Exalted or BESM, outside that, it's not something I really understand, and even inside that it's usually not something I'd buy.

Having said that, I really liked a lot of the illustrations in this and it had some very strong moments.

I think the speech/thought/narration bubbles and some typeface need some work as they do tend to make it look a little unprofessional.

Although I don't really feel it captures the atmosphere of 'The Everlasting' in any way, I don't doubt that a lot of people will find this kind of thing very appealing. It's snappy, it moves nice and quickly, and it doesn't try and tie everything up right there and then.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Everlasting: Remember Love
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The Everlasting: Remember Love
by Jonathan P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2006 01:22:47
Perturbed that I spent $5 for this. Black and white artwork that often looks like little more than pencil sketches. This might have been intentional, but it doesn't work. It just looks amateurish. Manga techniques are used haphazardly. Computerized lettering, sometimes faded like a bad scan, mis-sized for the speech baloons. Storyline strikes me as little more than an Everlasting adventure turned into a comic book. This might be good or bad, depending on your point of view, but it is definitely not worth paying $5.00, and no way is it worth $9.95. $2.50 at most, most likely should be posted for free on the company website. Very disappointed.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Light
by Gemma R. Date Added: 09/01/2005 16:09:49
Easily the best of the four Everlasting core books. Easily.
From someone who's spent the last 12 years playing White Wolf games, I have to say, I've found The Everlasting the only game that I can really really get my teeth into and fall in love with. I simply never get tired of playing it.
The godlings in the book, the Daevas, are not only the best creature in the Everlasting, but in any roleplaying game I've ever played. I cannot sing their praises enough.
The game adapts itself so well to so many different situations, it's versitile enough to run a game set in any time or place with very little hassle.
I have to say, hands down, this is my favourite roleplaying book ever.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Light
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Book of the Unliving
by Gemma R. Date Added: 09/01/2005 16:06:24
A great introduction to the world of The Everlasting. Because the book's presented in a modular format, with a chapter for Vampires, one for Ghuls and one for Revenants, you can run a full campaign based around just one type of creature, or run games that cross over all three.
A really welcome break from the molopoly White Wolf seems to have on dark urban fantasy and the best of the four core books if you're looking for a good place to start because it allows you to play things you're already going to be well familiar with.
Personally, I really loved the two types of non-player character in the book, Dead Souls and Reanimates. The Reanimates chapter especially is very new and unusual and has some fantstic potential.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of the Unliving
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