Like the rest of Postmortem Studios' "100" series of systemless adventure/plot hook compendiums, there's ideas by the metric pantload here. This one focuses on Paranoid Conspiracy Theories, distinguished from regular conspiracies like insider trading and price-fixing by the level of sheer Bond-Villain theatricality and spectacle. For each of the 100 entries within, you get a one-page write-up with the following specifics:
- A number and an easy-to-remember title, usually one with a splash of PS's traditional dry British humour and weapons-grade puns.
- A description of the Bad Men's Mad Plan, ranging from mad-science weapons causing tsunamis in the Indan Ocean to getting the Anti-Christ elected President, with stopovers along to way at famous Conspiracy landmarks like Area 51, Atlantis, Hangar 18, Dallas in 1963, Bohemian Grove, the HAARP Project, and Vatican City, just to name a few. There are Conspiratorial causes proposed for real-world events like the the death of John Lennon, flouride in the water, 9/11, and the congressionally-mandated switchover to HDTV. Many of these are intended to be low-FX so as fit into straightforward modern games without requiring the existence of aliens and demons as much as possible, but some paranormal explainations are possible as well.
- A how-to on putting the Mad Plan into action, and the kind of obstacles that would have to be overcome.
- A list of the possible Bad Men behind the Mad Plan, to be detailed further in PS's 100 Conspirators.
- 3 potential adventure hooks to get the GM started.
On the whole, I'm satisfied with this product. If you're a GM looking to run Dark*Matter D20 like I am, then this, along with 100 Horror Adventure Seeds and 100 Dark Places also from Postmortem Studios, is one the books you simply must have in your arsenal. There are only a few areas of dissatisfaction:
- I only found about 30+/- adventure ideas suitable for use in an ongoing campaign, as many of the rest require players to be part of a specific group (cops, park rangers, of agents of one of the Conspiracies themselves) or at a specific date (the Phildephia Navy Yards when the USS Eldridge disappars back during WWII, Dallas in 1963, the morning after the New World Order declares martial law.) that may be better suited for one-night-stand or Convention games with pre-generated characters. Still, between the 3 hooks for each conspiracy, I can bump that number up to over 50, which is about what I got out of the two books mentioned above,
- The list of possible culprits seems a bit vague if you don't have the 100 Conspirators book as well (which I don't). I mean, I'm as up on Conspiracy lore as the average X-Files fan, but a lot of the names put forward (like the Council of Nine and the Phoebus Cartel) leave me scratching my head. Still, you wouldn't be playing a modern Conspiracy game in the first place if you didn't know who Majestic-12, the Knights Templar, and David Ickes' Invisible Space Lizards were, so there's more than enough familiar suspects to be the Bad Man to blame the Mad Plans on,
- There's a disappointing sameness to many of the adventure seeds. For nearly every Conspiracy here, there's always one seed that is a variation on "Reporter discovers the Truth/Conspirator has attack of conscience and wants to expose the Mad Plan. The Bad Men want the reporter/whistleblower silenced. Add players and stir." Again, this could aslo be an undocumented feature rather than a bug, as it allows some of the thematically repetitive plots to be mixed together as complications, red herrings, or both.
None of those complaints outweigh the positive elements, though. Get yourself a copy of this, 100 Conspirators, 100 Dark Places, and 100 Horror Adventure seeds, dim the lights, put Mark Snow's X-Files theme on your laptop's mp3 player, and send your players into the Shadows in search of some Truths that are way Out There.
[4 of 5 Stars!]