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Deus Vult
[978-1-907218-49-1]
$34.99 $20.99
Publisher: Mongoose
by Berin K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/17/2010 21:53:15
Deus Vult is a pseudo-historical medieval-era game where you play a member of a secret society, protecting the Church from supernatural threats. You can be anything from a member of the clergy or a witchhunter to a thief or a whore; all of these are merely cover identities, allowing you to operate in the service of the Order. Anything your character does in the service of the Order will be forgiven, a sort of "License to Sin", but with the same sorts of limitations and restrictions as James Bond's license to kill.

The game uses as lightly modified version of the RuneQuest system.There are a couple of skill tweaks, and professions are adapted to suit the setting.There are past event tables, determining your character's early experiences with the supernatural and possibly explaining how they came to be recruited by the Order. There are tables to determine the connections you've made during your time with the Order, which makes perfect sense because serving in a secret society one is bound to make contacts, allies, and enemies. This is very much a medieval spy game, and any doubts you may have will be dispelled when you get to the section on "wondrous devices". Both DaVinci and Q would be envious.

The background contains a lot of color. In addition to the abbey that serves as the Order's headquarters (or, at least, the part of the Order your character knows about), there are prayers, and long passes from the (fictional) Lost Gospel of Thomas, which serves as the Order's guidebook. The "secret history" history is pitch-perfect, taking just enough real history and using the structure of actual monastic orders to create verisimilitude. You get a map of the abbey, and fully fleshed-out non-player characters who inhabit the abbey and act as the characters' superiors, allies, and sometimes enemies, There are sections on the Church as it exists in this world, cults and heretics, and a fully-stocked bestiary.

The gamemaster's section provides good inspiration, citing the works of Umberto Eco, roleplaying games as disparate as Call of Cthulhu, Ars Magica, and Dogs in the Vineyard. This setting is essentially all of those things put into a blender, carefully sifted to keep the best, most compatible bits. There's a random adventure generator at the end that's pretty solid, and will at least give you a framework for a good story.

Deus Vult is a good, solid setting that manages to keep the potential for excitement and intrigue without going too far over the top and becoming lurid or pulpish. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I appreciate that Mongoose took a different tack and shot for pseudo-historical realism instead.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Deus Vult
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