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Weighing the Cost
by Sebastian F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2019 21:25:37

I enjoyed reading this story, and I would definitely use this in one of my games. It is rare for me to use a prepared story as it is written, normally preferring to chop bits out or add bits in to fit "my style" of playing. This story would need no such modification.

I really appreciated the focus on normal people in normal situations. Mage can be about very magical, wondrous topics, but there really needs to be room for personal and relatable stories we can all identify with. This story provides exactly that. The characters are all believable, the situation does not break suspension of disbelief (I know...this is Mage, but some scenarios can be pretty "out there"), and it can be used to remind players about consequences of their characters' actions.

On another note, I am also creating some Community Content for Mage. I bought this to get another author's take on structuring a Mage story and its many components. I was not disappointed in this aspect, either. Surely, this will serve as a bit of inspiration. Satisfying stories do not always need complex plots, impossible mystery, and so on. This product proves a simple story with heart is still a very good story.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weighing the Cost
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Creator Reply:
Thank you so very much for this review. I truly appreciate your kind words and look forward to seeing your work on the Vault! Thanks, Travis
Bordeaux by Night - Players Guide
by John M. S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/21/2019 18:28:58

This is a detailed sourcebook that, as a storyteller, I feel I could use to run a short stopover game where players in a french campaign make a stop for a short time in Bordeaux before moving on. As it is a player's guide, it alone isn't necessarily enough for a storyteller to run an off the shelf sort of game as only the public face of the NPCs is covered. That being said it is a good resource for players and will make a good companion to the Storyteller's Handbook for Bordeaux when it comes out. I have a much more detailed review HERE



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Bordeaux by Night - Players Guide
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Ephemeral Influence
by Justin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/20/2019 14:49:23

One of the things a lot of people have had trouble with in Chronicles is the Influence system. While assorted books get into the basics of what dot of an Influence can do, they're meant to be mostly plot devices. This doesn't help some of the more mechanically-minded storytellers, or players (as PCs are capable of getting Influences).

Ephemeral Influence breaks down the mechanics, still leaving some open to plot device but giving you a sturdy framework to build off of. It starts with breaking down each dot, similar to how Mage has its Practices, it offers you some rules capable at each dot of Influence. Then it goes into specific Influences, covering Air, Authority, Death, Dogs, Disease, Earth, Electricity, Emotions, Fear, Fire, Information, Location, Time, Vice, and Water. Each Influence has many individual powers beneath it, offering rules and Tilt suggestions for them, including multiple options at different dot levels. There's a wide variety of powers here, and they're under suitably generic Influences that a ST should be able to convert them for more specific needs (Air to Smoke, Water and Earth to Mud, Water to Blood, Dog to basically any other animal). Each Influence has between 13 and 15 powers.

And while that makes up the bulk of the book, that isn't it. The last chapter offers ideas and mechanics for how some other gamelines can gain Influences (the Mortal section references some other books, mostly fanmade: Hurt Locker, Borrowed Power, and Second Sight: Third Eye, though it offers mechanics of its own). For Vampire there's an update to Blood Tenebrous, the spirit-affecting Discipline from first edition's Book of Spirits. There's a new Rite and Emotion Gift for Werewolves (that offers for the most part Influences over emotions). A spell for Mage that allows for a sort of 'reverse claiming' allowing mages to put spirits and their abilities at the disposal of another. All use the second edition rules.

It's a pretty good book. If you've ever had issues with figuring out mechanics for Influence, I can't recommend it more.

The only complaint I have is pretty minor, in that the Honor Facet of the Gift should probably allow for targeting packmates, given the Essence cost. And Dalu is misspelled.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ephemeral Influence
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Creator Reply:
The typo I'll mark down and update shortly. As for the Gift, I didn't want to double up on Fearless Hunter (Inspiration); I'd personally allow a character with Fearless Hunter to gain the bonus to the Clash of Wills granted by Neutral Observer, which would then effectively wipe the effect away from pack-mates suffering from it. Still, I can see that not always working, especially with mundane conditions/tilts. When I make the update, I'll ponder a more costly activation option that will affect packmatess as well. Fearless Hunter could then perhaps be more of a shielding, while this Facet is more for removing such problems after the fact.
Cambridge Art Pack
by DSC T. G. C. .. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2019 18:04:50

Amazing black and white art work by Scott Metzger.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cambridge Art Pack
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MrGone's Bloodline Cambridge Character Sheets
by DSC T. G. C. .. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2019 18:01:20

Another amazing character sheet by Mr Gone.

Strongely recommend that everyone uses his products.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
MrGone's Bloodline Cambridge Character Sheets
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Cambridge Security
by DSC T. G. C. .. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2019 17:59:12

Cambridge Security is a follow up book to Bloodline Cambridge, though that book isn't really needed to make use of Cambridge Security. The book details the founding of Cambridge Security, a company that provides security services thoughout the world of darkness while fighting a secret war against the forces of evil. Although the mudane actions of the company are glossed over, the details of their covert operations division Black Aegis is well presented. The best part of the book is the vast number of characters detailed in the book.

The Tabletop Gaming Cclub recommends this book be part of every storytellers library.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cambridge Security
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The Art of Mage the Ascension
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2019 17:39:33

This book is exactly what it says: the art of Mage: the Ascension. Overall, it has a decent selection of pieces (taste varies, of course, I would pick different ones most likely, but the choices were generally good and from a proper variety of Mage artists. The text included was generally ok, nothing particularly special, though there were a few weird layout quirks (extra spacing in words) and the section on the Mage Tarot was a bit of a mess, despite being simple (withthe Traditions and Nephandi established as corresponding to Rods/Questing and Cups/Primordialism, but no such thing for Dynamism/Pattern, despite Pattern particularly being obviously the Technocracy.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Art of Mage the Ascension
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Beckett’s Vampire Folio 25: Death Has Many Faces
by DSC T. G. C. _. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2019 17:30:01

Beckett's Vampire Folios do a great job of distilling material from Beckett's Jyhad Diary into something that is easily useable by Storytellers. Each volume of the Foilo details the NPC's that appear in the corresponding chapter of the Diary. This product features necromancers of varies Clans and Bloodlines.

The Tabletop Gaming Club highly recommends this product to any storyteller wanting to feature events from Beckett's Jyahd Diary.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Beckett’s Vampire Folio 25: Death Has Many Faces
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Rio de Janeiro Noturno
by Gleiber S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2019 17:26:00

Rio de Janeiro Noturno! Muito bem escrito! Leitura fácil e agradável. Recomendo!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rio de Janeiro Noturno
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The Hunger Within
by Jeremy M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2019 16:54:10

The genius of this module is that while it follows the KISS principle impeccably, it offers great scope for customization and extension.

A novice Storyteller need only deal with a limited range of variables – a single adversary with a simple goal, based in an isolated location. Defeating the adversary requires the skills of a diverse but familiar range of character types who are well-represented by the pre-generated PCs. No possible scenario will ever cope with every combination of characters that a player group will come up with, but The Hunger Within does a fine job offering a role to many of the likelier concepts.

The setting is sufficiently well detailed that it might become the home base of the PC group, with history, demographics, economics and notable watering-holes all covered - and interestingly so. (I particularly enjoyed the historical background). It feels like a real and specific place, not an “everywheresville”. But with a little work, it could easily be transplanted to America’s eastern seaboard or Eastern Europe and the scenario would still work perfectly.

The scenario would also work well in other contemporary or near-contemporary horror/fantasy settings. It has a somewhat Cthulu-esque feel in any case, and a new Keeper looking for a start for his PC group may well find it ideal. It wouldn’t take a vast effort to use it in a Dresden Files or Buffy game either, either.

So, it’s flexible, adaptable and offers a “conventional” PC group lots for its different members to do. But it doesn’t have to stay simple; the background is rife for potential hooks for expansion, with the town’s past, the villain’s past, and the nature of the entity he’s associated with all ideal for exploration.

I also found it very atmospheric. Though it's contemporary, in my mind's eye, I pictured it in black and white, with lots of sinister fog, like a supernatural version of a Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes.

The writing style is clear and crisp, easy to follow and with a high “useful RPG stuff” to word count ratio.

Overall, it’s a model of how to write an introductory scenario. Excellent value and well worth a look.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Hunger Within
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Ephemeral Influence
by Kevin B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/11/2019 13:47:33

I thought this book was quite solid, fleshing out the influence rules from the core Chronicles of Darkness book in an easy to understand and evocative way.

The best parts of the book were the sections on general guidelines for influence use and the example influences. Those were worth the price of the book alone. I think the core rulebook for Chronicles would have been improved with a version of the general guidelines included here. The examples for influences are nice and varied and should be able to accomidate a wide variety of spirits and ghosts in a game.

The last section on Merits and Powers wasn't bad, but it was shorter than I was hoping for. That said, the author directly references already existing merits and powers for the various supernatural groups in other books that can be used for further influence control, which I thought was a particularly nice touch.

By my count there is: One Mortal merit One Vampire Discipline (five ranks) One Werewolf Rite, One Werewolf Gift (That can be used in five different ways) One mage Spell (With three variations)

All that said, the entire book is 43 pages, so it isn't light on content by any means. It just left me wanting more in the final section.

As far as some final thoughts: The layout is clear and easy to follow The art is good and fits the content The mechanical powers seem largely balanced and evocative

I would recommend Ephemeral Influence for anyone wanting to use Spirits or Ghosts in their Chronicles of Darkness game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ephemeral Influence
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the input! I was pondering putting in a bit more material for each splat, but it was meant to be more like a little 'bonus section' than the focus of the book, and I wanted to get it out there for several reasons. Still, I'll ponder coming up with a little addon or maybe expanding the book at a later time.
Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2019 22:36:05

I've been looking forward to reading this, as this line was Satyros Phil Brucato's baby, and he's very proud of it, and it should tell me a lot about his attitudes towards M20 (I've liked the Mage Revised books by him I've read, though this will be a line that he had nigh complete editorial control over, to my understanding).

And right out of the gate, I'm blown away by the fact that there's a map! And better, it has the White Tower, Mistridge and Doissetep on it, answering questions I've been wondering about for years, and making me feel truly stupid. Well, that's part of the point of this, to find all the things I've missed in Mage by coming to it so late (2001 was my first Mage game).

The introductory fiction is quite good, and I'll avoid spoilers other than that, like many Mage books, it involves an Awakening, though this one is a bit unusual. The only thing that bothered me was the font, and that's a matter of taste, but it made even the pleasant writing into a chore to read through for me. The intersticed art, however, by Greg and Tim Hildebrandt, was very good and very atmospheric.

The introduction itself is everything that I've come to expect from White Wolf over the years. It was appropriately dramatic, grabbed my attention and roughly laid out what else would be in the book, the sections being Magick (setting), Science (character creation) and Faith (rules) which I can't believe were chosen arbitrarily, but rather to highlight specific connotations, and I'm particularly amused by the fact that they ask us to have Faith in the rules.

On to Magick, beginning with Chapter 1: The Path of Thorns. It begins with a general overview of the Mage setting: what an Awakening is, Seekings, the Spheres, etc, but all in Renaissance terms, and considerably more god than in the modern books, fitting to the setting.

The chapter goes on to explain the general Mage concepts in character for the Renaissance, talking about Covenants and Crays (Chantries/Constructs and Nodes), Resonance and The Scourge (paradox), tass and companions. The coolest thing, though, which was lacking in Mage Revised, where I learned the game, was a list of "Major European Crays and Covenants" both the Council and the Daedaleans! This is great, it's just name, faction that owns it, and location, but that gives such a good picture of what's where and who's where that it seems essential now that it's been presented to me.

Chapter 2: The Mortal World, is a history. It's VERY Eurocentric, being told in character by a European to a European for a game set in Europe. But even so, there are a few nits to pick. For one thing, the world was precisely how large most people thought it was, Columbus was wrong in thinking it smaller, which is why he thought he'd made it to India. Rather, most people thought that the world was empty sea between Europe and Asia via the West. This particular nit is probably redundant, due to the language being likely a bit florid, but it's a personal pet peeve to give Columbus too much credit, so I couldn't help but point it out.

There's a bit of ahistorical references inside, though that's clearly for the benefit of the modern reader (there wasn't really a "Germany" during the Renaissance, and the word was used often to denote the modern region, which at the time was more accurately the Holy Roman Empire.) A few more nits to pick, because very little is said that is substantially wrong (making this one of the better researched history sections in an RPG book I've seen, though I'm not a Renaissance historian), but the number of people killed by the Inquisition seems high, though I don't know how the historical discussion has changed over time (I can find some references from the early 2000's indicating very low numbers, but the numbers do seem to be in some dispute, and I see numbers ranging from 1800 (Spanish Jews) to 40,000,000 (all of Europe, for almost 700 years) depending on what you include in the Inquisition, which era, and which historians you trust).

The mundane history closes on a strong note: a good timeline. It hits a lot of major events, including things that most people wouldn't think about (like the implementation of + and - to denote addition and subtraction) along with all the obvious ones, like the War of the Roses.

And then we get to the magical history, a huge part of what makes it a Mage book rather than a Renaissance history text, and they start at the beginning, with the roots of so very many magical traditions, including the Order of Reason, tracing back to ancient Egype vis Thothmes and Hatshepshut. The rest of the history is pretty solid with a detailed timeline, though there are a few unfortunate things, with terms like "Gypsy" left in, and I hope that Mage 20 does a better job with such groups.

Chapter 3: I feel like I'm getting a bit long winded, as I'm only just now getting to chapter 3. Now we're into the world of magick, and the part of the setting that makes Mage tick, and finishing off Book I: Magick. Then we get into Faith and Science, which will go much faster, because I'm not going to go into so much detail on reviewing game mechanics (though I'll note anything that jumps out at me) as I will setting and character.

This chapter includes a VERY detailed discourse on the Mists, which in the modern line are called the Umbra, and frankly, presents a far more coherent cosmology than Mage Revised does, making clear the various relationships and where different realms live (inasmuch as location makes sense) and what the Horizon actually is: the furthest reaches, where all the realms are carved out by magi. It even makes mention of some of the big ones: Horizon, Doissetep, Fors Collegis Murceris (all Hermetic), Helekar (Euthanatos) and Perseus Sanctum (Skyrigger). It then continues to the Fragmentum, the realms of the Spheres/Planets, and then down to the Underworld. As a curious aside, it's here that I realized that the word "entropy" used throughout the book and referring to a sphere, was first used in 1865, combining the English root "en" (meaning inside) and the Greek root "tropos" meaning change or transformation. Funny that it should be used in a Renaissance book, but I can assume that is for consistency with Mage: the Ascension.

When discussing the Void, there's the curious fact that the narrator, a Verbena, speaks casually of having lovers among the Skyriggers, a faction of the Order of Reason, which tells us many things about the War at the time, namely that the sides are more permeable than most mages wish to admit. And now I'm looking at that sentence and wondering when my hobby of historiography started asserting itself into reading about fictional worlds centuries before the games that I actually play take place...I suppose I could just write something like this out as a dissertation or excerpt from something from an in-character historian...

Moving on to Book II: Faith

Chapter 4 is Character, and it starts out as a fairly standard character creation section for a White Wolf book. I've never been a big fan of a strict "one tool per sphere" method of assigning foci, preferring instead holistically defined paradigms where how to do each individual effect has to be considered and must flow naturally. But I know that's rather hard (people with a stronger interest in philosophy or investment in a particular paradigm tend to do better with this) so this system is fine as long as it's optional, and it hasn't really gone away. Though previews of M20 indicate that this system is finally being toppled by a game mechanically defined holistic paradigm approach, which I very much approve of.

There's a nod in the direction of craft names, though throughout the run of the whole game this is something that comes and goes. The rest of the chapter continues to be fairly standard, a few different abilities are mentioned to match the time period, but nothing earth-shattering.

Chapter 5: the players, is another meaty one. Here we get to factions. The sections on the Ahl-i-Batin and Solificati are very nice, though the other Traditions don't really have much to add compared to their modern selves. This is unsurprising, because their modern selves evolved from these versions, after all. But the real joy of the chapter is in the Order of Reason getting a detailed description. They've changed so much more to the modern setting that this look into their origins is very well placed, describing the early Conventions with precisely the same care that the Traditions got. (Something, to note, which was entirely lacking in Mage: the Ascension Revised)

Chapter 6: The Storyteller, has advice on storytelling. The advice is generally solid, though nothing an experienced ST hasn't figured out on their own by that point. It does, however, have a bit on how magick works, and more importantly, how it feels and how Resonance works.

Book III: Science

Chapter 7: Rules, contains the rules. How success and failure work, damage, combat, etc. It also has an extended discussion of the Umbra and spirits.

Chapter 8, Magick Rules, is the heart of any Mage core book's mechanics. This is one of the better ones I've seen. It's got a long list of common effects and how to do them with spheres. Including a section titled "How do you do that?" which is going to be a title of an upcoming book is great. This section covers Shapechanging, permanent effects, creating wonders, necromancy, otherworldly travel, perception, summoning and warding, charms, possession, exorcism...it's truly excellent. And then it goes into "Roleplaying the Magician" another very good section that I recommend for all players. It discusses several paradigms and mystic tools, and then moves on to spells. This is the best magick rules section I've seen, though admittedly, it's only my third one to go through carefully.

Finally, we reach the Appendix. This consists of characters and wonders, spirits and machines, along with the mood resources that are usually discussed at the beginning in Revised books. It's notable that Ars Magica is still on the list at this point, before the WoD/ArsM break became complete.

And that's it. I think the review speaks for itself, but I'll just sum up with this: the Sorcerer's Crusade is an excellent book, and I'm tempted to try to run a game based on it, I just need players, time, and a bit of a plot to start from.

Honestly, other than M20 itself, this is the best core book for Mage, by a good amount.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade
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Castles and Covenants
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2019 22:16:11

Overall, this is an excellent book, with details on Covenants and strongholds for Mages of both the Traditions and the Order of Reason. It goes into detail on several locations for the Order of Reason, several for the Traditions (including earlier snapshops of Doissetep and Horizon than in Book of Chantries and Horizon: Stronghold of Hope) and some for others.

However, the book suffers from one absolutely severe flaw: the lack of Covenant creation rules. These rules were promised in Sorcerer's Crusade and even in the text on the back of the book, though they just aren't included, leaving the Book of Chantries as the most up-to-date Chantry creation rules for Mage.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
Castles and Covenants
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Book of Chantries
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2019 21:29:46

How do you even review a book like this? It's a classic. And yet, it just displays so many directions that the game didn't go in, and some that it did and then backtracked later. Porthos and Voormas having spheres at 6, for instance, has been removed finally in the 20th Anniversary Edition, but this is only the most obvious one.

The treatment of the Technocracy is typical of first edition: like they're lying about believing in science and are just barely less evil than the Nephandi.

Oh, and my favorite ridiculous bit was that if the Union took Doissetep they could cut the Taditions off from Forces magick, as though the Traditions could do it to the Union right now. But a close second is how often Mages are referred to having "Awakened" each other, like they can just do that.

However, overall, it's a classic for a reason: the book has a ton of flavor, numerous story hooks, and I love the point-buy system for building Chantries.



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[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Chantries
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The Endless Death, Volume One: Curses Writ in Blood
by Oliver S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2019 08:35:09

I honestly cannot praise this book enough. I am really pleased that I found this title and all my players have benifted as a result of this enjoyable, imaginative and profoundly interesting read. The expanded mechanics has improved my storytelling ability, it is poetically and beautifully writen, with the writers obviously having a vivid background knowledge of kindred lore. I now refer back to this book often, the detailed updates to even the most obscure clans and bloodlines (often the ones we enjoy playing) has been a tremendous asset to our chronicle for all people and characters involved as we continue to explore role playing. We would wholeheartedly reccomend this to anyone looking to expand on the flavor and versatility of your character in the World of Darkness setting(I'd been looking forward/hoping for any new material to emerge about the Mariners so was very exciting to see). In our opinion this is been one of the most useful books to come out for V20 in recent years so many thanks from my rpg group for this truely great addition!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Endless Death, Volume One: Curses Writ in Blood
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Creator Reply:
Thanks for the very kind words! The most encouraging thing to hear is that it's being used and enjoyed. If you appreciated the detail and attention to background there should be plenty for you in volume 2, which should be out around the end of February. - Sam
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