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Like the expanded edition of Mercenary Breed, another of Mystical Throne Entertainment’s mini settings, this new iteration of Judgment Day is a refined and improved version of an already cool product. I reviewed the original release of Judgment Day previously so I won’t bother rehashing what I already wrote. What I will do is talk about what’s new in this expanded edition.
Beyond the additional new content, which I’ll discuss in a minute, the greatest improvement in this expanded release is a seemingly intangible thing – focus. The original book had a lot of great material for incorporating inquisitional organizations into a setting. The information as presented was well done but it lacked a unique sense of character – which is where this expanded edition comes in. Probably the most obvious improvement is the art. Everything from the excellent new cover to the B&W interior art evokes a unique horror element that wasn’t present in the original release. While the Inquisition is still the structural framework for games in Judgment Day, the presentation has taken on a decidedly darker lovecraftian feel which is exactly what this book needed. The original release mentioned the Cthulhu Mythos in passing but there’s something to be said for the stylistic consistency the expanded edition brings to the table. In addition to the art, the presentation has been tweaked to make this book feel less like an off shoot of MTE’s Savage Insider and more like its own product (like what was done with Mercenary Breed).
Content wise there are quite a few updates and changes. Much of the text has been reworked and rewritten and organizational structure is much improved. Also of note is a new section titled “Inquisitor’s Retinue” that lists options for characters being recruited for inquisitional jobs or missions. The section is of particular interest to me because it mentions supernatural recruits, which is an option that was not available in the first release – its inclusion here is very welcome.
The book also has an expanded bestiary that is organized by target type. There are sections on aliens, beasts, demons, dragons, ghosts, vampires and witches. This is an awesome addition since I lamented the fact that monsters, like were-tigers, were mentioned in the first book but not included in the bestiary. That omission has been rectified in spades in this new expanded edition and MTE has done a great job of making sure you’ll have plenty of nasties for your players to hunt (or be eaten by….).
Another area that has been reworked is the adventure generator. While Judgment Day includes a light weight Dresden-esque modern horror setting to use right out of the box, the book truly shines as a toolkit for building your own game setting. Aaron T. Huss, the mastermind behind MTE’s books, has retooled the adventure generator so that you can randomly build an adventure with a deck of cards. It’s important to note that this system is designed to provide a general framework and inspire creativity. It is not realistic to expect the tables to give you a fully fleshed out ready to go game. Just to illustrate – and because it’s fun! – let’s quickly use the tables to come up with a game idea.
Card 1- Genre Element and Era – 2 of Hearts: Post Apocalyptic, Ancient Egypt ….. cool!
Card 2 – Adventure Type and Purpose – Ace of Spades: Eliminate threat at all costs, Unknown Creature Sighting
Card 3 – Choose Your Antagonist – 3 of Clubs: Bargest
Card 4 – Creating Cults – Cults Location and Purpose – Queen of Hearts: Cult in urban area, Purpose is to Summon
Next I rolled dice on the 4 cult tables (Animals, Celestial Bodies, Colors and Misc.) to get some ideas about what kind of cult they are. I end up with Eagle, Planet, Blue, Burning
Using the elements above as inspiration I begin writing my adventure:
Famine to Feast…… For the Beast….. For the Beast
The city of Giza is the center of civilization. The untimely death of the Pharaoh has left the city at the mercy of several cults vying for power and control. In the midst of this political upheaval a vile inky black cloud darkens the sky. At first the populace is able to hold their fear at bay. Eventually, as weeks pass and the darkness persists, chaos erupts. Thousands are killed in the panic that follows. It becomes increasingly difficult to survive outside the city walls and news of the outside world is soon completely cut off. Those who remain within the city rally behind the leaders of one cult or another as each group explains away the darkness as punishment for trespasses committed by an opposing sect. Some of the more sinister groups start to call upon dark forces best left unnamed in a desperate attempt to wrest control of Giza from the opposition. One such cult, The Cerulean Flame, has started performing putrid rituals involving human sacrifice. They have summoned the Shadow of Anubis to seek out and feast upon their enemies. Unfortunately, the Shadow isn’t as particular about who its meals are as the Brothers of the Flame had hoped, and many of their own members have been slain and eaten. With each day that passes the carnage is greater and greater. To make matters worse, the Shadow of Anubis grows stronger with each feeding. It’s only a matter of time before the food runs out in Giza and the beast hunts abroad.
The pc’s are part of a group of hunters overseen by the Magi of Ra – a reclusive sect of seers who live in the deep desert. The magi are wise beyond years and have tasked themselves with seeking out and destroying evil in the world. Recently, the Magi have received news that a massive volcanic eruption has clouded much of the desert in the north in blackness for several weeks. There has been word that the city of Giza has fallen into chaos and that a cult within the city has summoned the Shadow of Anubis. The Magi know that the Shadow is insatiable and must be stopped at all costs. The pc’s are sent into the blackness of the north with instructions to kill the foul beast. They are warned that The Shadow of Anubis isn’t the only danger in the city. The cults within Giza are not to be trifled with. The Cerulean Flame literally has eyes everywhere. They have ensorceled desert eagles, identified by their stained blue crests, that watch over the city and report back to them. etc. etc. etc….
At this point one could flesh out a couple more cults and important npc’s and work on maps and descriptions of important locales. Again, the tables won’t give you a complete setting or adventure, but they are fantastic sources of inspiration!
This is a great expansion on the previous book. MTE has done a fantastic job of refining their output and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Judgment Day in the future. Everything about this release is improved (there’s a map in the included adventure!). That’s impressive considering that the original book was already a fine addition to the Savage Worlds product line. It’s also worth mentioning that if you already purchased the first release of Judgment Day you can contact MTE and get a discount code for the expanded edition. As I said in my previous review, it’s a fun read and there’s plenty here whether you want to use it in its entirety or just borrow bits and pieces.
[5 of 5 Stars!]