I suppose I should start off with a disclaimer: I do most of my reviews over at flamesrising.com (from where my free reviewer's copy originated); however, this product also comes from them. For that reason, you're reading about it here instead. The concept behind Instant Antagonists is brilliant in its simplicity. through years of gaming, I have picked up books with the purpose to mine them rather than play them. Some games have no viable playability for me, but contain something to them that I need for another setting. Every GM does this. Maybe they mine music or television for their inspirations, but all ideas have their source material.
Instant Antagonists attempts to provide this source material without any misconceptions. This series offers no statistics beyond basic descriptions of three core attributes--Body, Mind, and Spirit--and any powers the creature may have. What readers get is a handful of origins for the creature, some story seeds, and other random bits of goodness. What you build from these essential materials is up to you, you crazy would-be gods of the imagination.
The cover artwork (and only artwork) for the Succubus comes from Jeff Preston. This piece was linked to this character a year ago when Flames Rising gave thirty-one horrors to readers over the course of October. It's a great character rendition. The flames in the background make for a nice touch.
The layout, which is provided by Preston P. DuBoise, is a standard two-column layout. Some icons were used on the first few pages for added effect; however, I'd like to see bordering in this series (why not flames?). Of course, no borders means this is wonderful for a quick pre-game print job.
Jess Hartley's creation also comes from the website's 2008 October experiment. Her piece is included at the beginning of the booklet for atmosphere. From there, Hartley offers the Descriptions, Mannerisms, Powers, Attributes, Origins, and Story Seeds. It gets a little tricky in that the Origins offers three different explanations for the creature (Game Masters pick the one that works best for their campaign). Each origin though has to link up with the Descriptions given earlier. The Story Seeds sometimes link to a specific origin story, which is fine.
Hartley's writing continues to impress me, despite this being such a small project. Only one typo caught my attention. The Story Seeds have individual names. One of these is "Damned if I Do" and another is "With Great Power." What caught my eye is that "Damned if I Do" is mentioned at the very end of "With Great Power." It's a minor mistake, but one nonetheless.
All in all, I think this is a fantastic new concept for a very old idea. More creatures (and more) will come from this series, so check the trailblazing addition out today with the Selfish Succubus. She may just be that NPC antagonist you need to sex up your game. My scores for Instant Antagonists: Selfish Succubus are:
- Artwork: Five out of Five Dice (Perfect fit)
- Layout: Four out of Five Dice (I'm on the fence about the sparse look)
- Writing: Four out of Five Dice (Would have liked to see more from the author)
- Overall: Four out of Five Dice (Can't wait to see more from this line)
[4 of 5 Stars!]