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Werewolf the Savage Age: Volume 1
by Jakob A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2019 17:38:03

Let me begin by saying this: This is what I wanted Shattered Dreams to be. Not only does it wonderfully present the possibilities for a campaign in a time-period that I believe is seriously underrated, it also fixes a lot of the problems that I have had with the Lost Breeds in WtA lore.

Welcome to the Savage Age! The book opens with a short story connected to the Kitsune, or rather to their progenitor Fox. I might have prefered a story focusing more heavily on some actual heroe of the time the book is set during, but it is still good writing. Next we get an introduction to the setting that really tries to sell it to the reader. For me being a huge stone age fan as it is it only makes me happy to see someone describe the potentiall of this time so passionately. All well and good, lets get into the meat of the book!

Accounting for the Dead This is the big section of the book, covering a number of Lost Breeds of Fera along with one brand new created specifically for this book! These are:

Khara: These Bastet of sabertooth stock have already been covered by the writers in their book "Tribebook: Khara". This section is a summarization of some of the information from that book along with some additional information and Gifts. I will say more about the Khara in my review for that book later, but all in all, a good write-up for an interesting Breed.

Apis: Now this is probably my favourite part of the book! The were-aurochs have always been the Changing Breed I have disliked the most. They just seemed like something created to be a sad story about how Garou are arrogant, destructive brutes, instead of being a well-thought out Breed with a legitimate purpose amongst the Fera. Not so here. Here the Apis are given the justice they deserve, becoming visionaries and bringers of change. Their gifts reflect this with a lot of focus on social interactions, as well as some pretty nice combat gifts. I cannot stress how much I love these new Apis and really hope I will get a chance to play one of them in a game.

Grondr: The boar-changers are an interesting concept that are framed in this book as the original main Wyrm-hunters of Gaia. Their culture, society and history is given more depth here, along with some nice gifts to build a concept that is equal parts brutal fighter as it is cunning cleanser of wyrm-taint and even a little bit of a trickster.

Anupu-Ba-El: This is the new Changing Breed presented in the book. The Anupu-Ba-El are jackal-shifters, here portrayed as the ancestors of the Silent Strider tribe, whom during the War of Rage choose to join with the original wolf-shifters as the "Garou Nation". I love this concept of the Garou having a multi-species origin. It makes the great variety of garou tribes seem more plausible and makes the War of Rage a more nuanced story. I also like the concept of the Anupu-Ba-El as keepers of the spiritual balance of the world, with a gradual shift over time to focus on Death and the spirits of the departed. Their gifts suits them perfectly as proto-Silent Striders and as shamans.

Neanderthals: This section made me very curious when I saw it. I will admit that these cousins/ancestors of ours have a very special place in my heart and have for a very long time captured my imagination. It made me very frustrated in the Shattered Dreams book that the neanerthals were given so little thought, with the section regarding them seemingly only consisting of the writer reading J. Aules Clan of the Cave Bear and copying everything said about the neanderthals there into the book (while Aule is a great author, her first book is several decades old and lots of new information has emerged about these humans since then). Not so the Savage Age! Here these ancient humans are presented properly, going into detail about how to play a neanderthal character and how they relate to the different Fera. I love that the neanderthals have been given their own gifts, setting them apart from Homo sapiens characters. While some of the information given about them might be debated, it has more to do with what current theories you choose to follow, rather than out-dated information (as with Shattered Dreams). All in all, a great section!

Playing in the Savage Age Here the reader is given a more thorough presentation of the setting, with everything from Palao-ecology, human cultures, languages to a small bestiary of different animals to appear in your game. It also contains how to create a character in the setting, with new abilities and also a nice system with specializations depending on what breed you pick (Beast, Metis, Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals). All in all, a very nice introduction that will hopefully inspire both players and game-masters alike!

And that is all! I cannot stress how much I recommend this book to anyone who likes Werewolf the Apocalypse and is interested in a game set during the Stone Age. You will not be disappointed! The only real down-side to this book is that it is too short. I can only hope that with the sales from it the writers will be encouraged to continue this series, as from what I have heard there is even more to come!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Werewolf the Savage Age: Volume 1
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Technocracy Assembled 2
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2019 20:46:43

Syndicate 4/5

Though I haven't yet read the Technocracy: Void Engineers, this is my favorite of the first edition Convention Books. The Syndicate is presented clearly, with the reasoning behind what they do and why they can't push to do more (such as abolish money and make everything free). It does a far better job pushing the Syndicate as a "good" guy than Iteration X, Progenitors and NWO did, though a big part of that might be that all three of those books praise the Nazis in some way, while this one takes credit for the one thing that Hitler did right (rebuilding the German economy) and then tries to take credit for undermining him, rather than saying things like that the camps were a great success for medical research.

It's still a first edition Technocracy book, though clearly by this point, the 2nd edition view of the Technocracy had started to take over, though it was still two years before Guite to the Technocracy was published. So it has some issues, like making the Syndicate and New World Order have a bit too much overlap (this isn't quite solved in Revised, though giving the Syndicate Primal Utility and REALLY tying them to their paradigm of the Bottom Line helped a lot).

Oh, and of course, this is in small ways a crossover book with Werewolf: the Apocalypse.

Void Engineers 5/5

I honestly love this book. From the framing narrative of a Void Engineer giving their history to a bunch of Reality Deviants (one of each of the major types, in fact) including the reveal at the end bringing the whole thing into question and giving rise to a major chunk of the Nephandic Infiltration metaplot for the Technocracy. It's really a modern Convention Book with a nuanced view of the Technocracy and one that clearly internally, at least, has them as the heroes.

It contains decent mechanics for Voidships, and seems to be the place where the exploration of the galaxy is farthest along (at least, I don't believe later books suggest that they've gotten as far as this one claims they have.) In fact, if there's a flaw, it's because them having significant extrasolar exploration is a bit beyond belief, though they justify it by Kepler and Einstein having worked together to find a hole in Relativity (Newton, also a Void Engineer apparently, had been killed a few decades earlier).

Overall, it's a very good book, with lots of useful procedures and devices, a solid narrative, and it makes it clear that Void Engineers are more complex antagonists who are more tolerant of Earthly relatiy deviants, simply because out in teh void, anything vaguely human is more friend than the natives are.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy Assembled 2
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Technocracy: Void Engineers
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2019 20:46:38

I honestly love this book. From the framing narrative of a Void Engineer giving their history to a bunch of Reality Deviants (one of each of the major types, in fact) including the reveal at the end bringing the whole thing into question and giving rise to a major chunk of the Nephandic Infiltration metaplot for the Technocracy. It's really a modern Convention Book with a nuanced view of the Technocracy and one that clearly internally, at least, has them as the heroes.

It contains decent mechanics for Voidships, and seems to be the place where the exploration of the galaxy is farthest along (at least, I don't believe later books suggest that they've gotten as far as this one claims they have.) In fact, if there's a flaw, it's because them having significant extrasolar exploration is a bit beyond belief, though they justify it by Kepler and Einstein having worked together to find a hole in Relativity (Newton, also a Void Engineer apparently, had been killed a few decades earlier).

Overall, it's a very good book, with lots of useful procedures and devices, a solid narrative, and it makes it clear that Void Engineers are more complex antagonists who are more tolerant of Earthly relatiy deviants, simply because out in teh void, anything vaguely human is more friend than the natives are.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: Void Engineers
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Technocracy: Syndicate
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2019 02:43:20

Though I haven't yet read the Technocracy: Void Engineers, this is my favorite of the first edition Convention Books. The Syndicate is presented clearly, with the reasoning behind what they do and why they can't push to do more (such as abolish money and make everything free). It does a far better job pushing the Syndicate as a "good" guy than Iteration X, Progenitors and NWO did, though a big part of that might be that all three of those books praise the Nazis in some way, while this one takes credit for the one thing that Hitler did right (rebuilding the German economy) and then tries to take credit for undermining him, rather than saying things like that the camps were a great success for medical research.

It's still a first edition Technocracy book, though clearly by this point, the 2nd edition view of the Technocracy had started to take over, though it was still two years before Guite to the Technocracy was published. So it has some issues, like making the Syndicate and New World Order have a bit too much overlap (this isn't quite solved in Revised, though giving the Syndicate Primal Utility and REALLY tying them to their paradigm of the Bottom Line helped a lot).

Oh, and of course, this is in small ways a crossover book with Werewolf: the Apocalypse.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: Syndicate
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Hail Satan!
by Sensible C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/11/2019 22:55:00

SensibleCenobite's overall opinion of Hail Satan: A+/D+. Since we're in a cancel culture where Victorian commie mommies need to silence everyone, I'm going to give this product an A+. I honestly should give this a D+/C- {Even though I liked it}, since it's a bit vulgar in a childish way, but hey, that's freedom of speech now isn't it, and the Black Dog Studio warning label is on the front cover. I only paid fifty cents for this product and now it's one dollar, so it's worth a quick read to remind yourself you could at least do an equivalent job or better. This product is for you if you ever wanted to play a coterie of Baali vampires {Demon worshipers} that are still anti heroes at the end of the day. The coterie makes a deal with a demon to get revenge on their sire, and the demon agrees to give them their souls back if they kill their sire, the demon's old servant, in one weeks time. The players are given many options for their start rides {Something I don't see often}, such as a moldy RV, a bunch of motorcycles, or a haunted VW bus that gets repaired by undead hippies {My favorite}. I like how Sebastian gives us three main locations that the coterie must go to in any order to defeat a piece of the main boss {Satanic convent, motel forgotten by God, and Lucifer's Summer camp}. The Satanic convent may be a little over the top for some groups since it potentially involves the sacrifice of sixty six children, but remember that the coterie is there to stop them, not join in for fun {I hope}. Sebastian was even nice enough to throw in a decent list of random encounters, which are so underrated in modern RPGs from what I've gathered on the interwebs. Overall this is a very short product to work with {Eight pages}, but any Storyteller worth their salt should be able to beef it up where needed, and tone down some of the vulgarities if it's over the top for them. However, since players ruin campaigns in twenty minutes or less, maybe it's a good thing there's less to ruin. Some of my best missions/games were run from a few paragraphs out of a mission compilation book.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hail Satan!
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Technocracy Assembled 1
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2019 12:52:28

Here are my reviews of the individual parts:

Progenitors 2/5

This book is...confused. It wants to simultaneously leave things to the interpretation of the ST by saying "maybe this is a Progenitor scheme!" but having the PROGENITORS say that is quite odd. The in character sections should know, or at least think they know, if their own organization was involved in large scale actions. It also has the nonsensical idea that the Progenitors are somehow killing Avatars on a mass scale, which would mean no more Progenitors.

The book has some good parts, the story that the basics of the Progenitors are conveyed through are the notes of a student, though a super-unsympathetic one, who seems on the verge of going MRA terrorist by the middle.

In general, it's an ok book, but it shows badly how early in Mage it was written, before much of the setting and details had been nailed down properly, and while it did some of the lifting to make the Technocracy more than a one-note black hat, it left a LOT of work to be done.

Iteration X 3/5

This is a difficult book to review for me. On the one hand, I hate it. On the either, it is a well written book that is just part of first edition where the Technocracy is an irredeemable villain rather than a potentially valid antagonist.

It is told from the point of view of a recent recruit, who was given advanced prosthetics that were necessary due to thalidomide. He breaks conditioning for long enough to describe how terrible Iteration X is, and it's bad down to explicit comparisons with Nazis. The book gives a general overview including introducing the Artificers who are prominent when Sorcerer 's crusade is written. They effects and wonders are some of the most interesting parts of the book, along with the running theme that the Dreamspeakers are the biggest rival of the Convention, due to being the two oldest groups focusing on the spirit world and on tool use. It also introduced the Computer explicitly as a spirit that has some goal in Reality and is using Iteration X to achieve it.

Overall a solid book, but not great in many places if you prefer a sympathetic Technocracy.

NWO 3/5

This book fits into the cycle of first edition Technocracy books, and continues many of the trends that I dislike about early Mage. It depicts the New World Order, marking another Convention that is explicitly tied to the Nazis (through their "One World, One Truth, One Reality" slogan being similar to "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer" as well as the Nazis speaking of a "New World Order" they would establish) and generally is fine for a purely antagonist oriented book, but is badly unsatisfying in the modern era with a complex Technocracy. It does have the advantage of pointing out some debates within the the Convention, and foresaw the somewhat "post-truth" era that we find ourselves in today.

Overall, it's a decent book, but best acquired in a bundle or in Technocracy Assembled, and not as essential as the longer, more detailed and more nuanced Revised book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy Assembled 1
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Technocracy: N.W.O.
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/10/2019 12:52:25

This book fits into the cycle of first edition Technocracy books, and continues many of the trends that I dislike about early Mage. It depicts the New World Order, marking another Convention that is explicitly tied to the Nazis (through their "One World, One Truth, One Reality" slogan being similar to "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer" as well as the Nazis speaking of a "New World Order" they would establish) and generally is fine for a purely antagonist oriented book, but is badly unsatisfying in the modern era with a complex Technocracy. It does have the advantage of pointing out some debates within the the Convention, and foresaw the somewhat "post-truth" era that we find ourselves in today.

Overall, it's a decent book, but best acquired in a bundle or in Technocracy Assembled, and not as essential as the longer, more detailed and more nuanced Revised book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: N.W.O.
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Beautiful Spiders
by John S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/09/2019 03:00:21

An enjoyable and interesting delve into the world of the secretive (and quite disturbing) House DuVayne, a revenant family serving the tremere clan. You can find my full review HERE



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Beautiful Spiders
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Technocracy: Progenitors
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/08/2019 22:10:28

This book is...confused. It wants to simultaneously leave things to the interpretation of the ST by saying "maybe this is a Progenitor scheme!" but having the PROGENITORS say that is quite odd. The in character sections should know, or at least think they know, if their own organization was involved in large scale actions. It also has the nonsensical idea that the Progenitors are somehow killing Avatars on a mass scale, which would mean no more Progenitors.

The book has some good parts, the story that the basics of the Progenitors are conveyed through are the notes of a student, though a super-unsympathetic one, who seems on the verge of going MRA terrorist by the middle.

In general, it's an ok book, but it shows badly how early in Mage it was written, before much of the setting and details had been nailed down properly, and while it did some of the lifting to make the Technocracy more than a one-note black hat, it left a LOT of work to be done.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: Progenitors
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SotM's Guide to Coteries VOL.1 Impostors
by Steven O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/07/2019 16:11:21

This is a great resource for templates and ideas for some really good stories and narratives. I'd definitely recommend it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SotM's Guide to Coteries VOL.1 Impostors
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SotM's Guide to Coteries VOL.1 Impostors
by Fabricio P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2019 12:45:50

Whether you're looking for premade characters for an introductory one-shot, a coterie of SPCs to use as rival to your players, or inspiration to make your next character, this small booklet is an invaluable resource.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Phoenix Rising
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/05/2019 16:08:14

This product has a lot of potential, and I would love to see it expanded. It talks about some circumstances under which a new Horizon council could be formed, and what that would mean for Tradition mages, Technocrats and Disparates. It's well done, with good art (though the layout is just slightly off in a few ways) but the biggest thing it did was leave me wanting more, coming off as more of a sketch than anything else, though it never claims to be more, being a "jumpstart."



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Phoenix Rising
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Sorcerer's Companion
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2019 20:18:50

While this is overall a solid book, it fails somewhat at the goal of updating Sorcerer to 20th Anniversary Edition. It handwaves many of the difficulties, such as the different abilities that are standard across editions, with a brief summary and several options, whereas what it could really use would be a table of updated dicepools, or the like (which would also be a handy reference for players).

That said, as an expansion for Sorcerer Revised, the Companion is an excellent book, adding/updating a few paths and presenting a wide range of rituals. I have slightly mixed feelings regarding the new Sorcerous Societies, particularly the discussion with Changeling seems to lean on Changeling: the Dreaming 2nd Edition rather than the updated C20 banality rules, as an example.

However, if looking for flavor for sorcerers and especially if playing or STing for them in Revised, the Companion is an excellent book that adds a lot of options and flavor to the experience.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sorcerer's Companion
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The Hallean Effect
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2019 15:46:58

I have mixed feelings about this product. On the one hand, it is profesionally put together, it has relatively few typos and grammatical errors, it explains plot, setting and systems in a coherent and reasonable way, all of which are big positives for me. The story is fairly straightforward and though the mechanics talk about all of the bad things that will happen to PCs who throw magic around willy-nilly and accrue paradox, it actually seems like the only reason mages are needed is to be able to resist the Quiet and know what they're up against, and that's fine and allows the story to be used with a mixed group for those who engage in Troupe Play.

The downsides, though, are that there are a few awkward layout spots, a couple of grammatical errors, and one piece of advice that I can't endorse: ignoring player actions. I'm strongly against this, and if you want to have the PCs integrated into a Quiet without realizing it, the best way to do so is to let them do as they want, but describe a world that is different from what's actually there and happening. Letting players say "I do X" and then just ignoring them is a risky thing, and could work with some groups, but certainly not with all of them.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Hallean Effect
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Creator Reply:
Fair assessment, for sure! I do look back and see that I wish I would have phrased the bit about "ignoring players" more positively. One of those quirky situations where I let past successful storytelling styles creep into writing in too conversational of a tone. Thanks!
Halls of the Arcanum
by Terry R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2019 12:39:44

I reviewed this as part of Mage the Podcast, list to it here.

Halls of the Arcanum depicts the workings of the Arcanum, a scholarly organization in the World of Darkness that seeks to uncover what is hidden. Halls offers a different take on The World of Darkness more as a place of danger and of things not illuminated rather than simply a gritty world of despair with the odds against you. The odds are against the Arcanum as they have no supernatural resources and the agents they’re working against are quite cunning but they have patience and scholarship which is often in short supply in the dire circumstances of some builds of the World of Darkness.

The book has that aged much more gracefully than at first I had figured. With the exception of the progress of computers, much of the book holds. The NPCs and templates could be used with little difficulty and the maps and schematics are still useful as are the lists. This book is largely about Sleepers and their attempts to unravel the World of Darkness but with varying degrees of success. Chapter houses are spread across the globe offering a lot of ability integrate local lore as well as lodges which are kind of frontline assemblages to research odd happenings. The book goes into these topics in some detail and does a good job of reminding the reader of how big the World of Darkness can be. Rather than just referring to Shangri-La, the book references a half dozen hidden cities. Instead of listing just a yeti as a cryptid, it again lists a dozen. Instead of just listing the five main lines in WoD, the book lists fourteen types of odd occurrences. While this book is geared towards mortals, there’s nothing preventing mages from investigating the same things.

The book also outlined internal politics within the organization and did so in vague terms at first and then in detail in the Storyteller Chapter. Rather than just saying “this is what’s going on” the book provides four options of what’s going on. It’s quite pleasing to have thoroughness plus ambiguity within a tome.

The only two sections that I felt ran flat were in regards to numena where I figured they would be all up in testing and developing that kind of power. Also, the question of accumulating information and where it goes brought up questions. It’s suggested that the group sometimes makes discoveries. Besides its in-house journal, when will this information be shared if ever?



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Halls of the Arcanum
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