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Heirs to the Mountains of Madness $1.49
Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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Heirs to the Mountains of  Madness
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Heirs to the Mountains of Madness
Publisher: White Wolf
by Shannon H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/29/2018 05:13:18

First off, I want to make a bit of a personal declaration, and I hope that you'll all bear with me on this while I try to keep it from turning into a personal rant atop a soap-box.

I don't write reviews for books/supplements/jumpstarts/etc. that I don't like.

I learned a long time ago back when I was co-running Ex Libris Nocturnis (it was a great site. Ask your parents.) that there is already a massive amount of negativity present throughout the internet without me adding to it. Now, fast forward fifteen years into the FUTURE from that point, and the negativity has multiplied exponentially. It's one thing to write about something that you have a personal, vested interest in - sexism is bad, national socialism is bad, homophobia is bad - and tell the world about the negative emotions that it stirs within you... but a GAME? A game should NEVER stir up vitriol inside of of you. If it does, close the book and walk away from the game. Don't take the time to write a nasty, negative review of something you don't like because it's just not your cup of tea, or because the author(s) who wrote it didn't happen to write the book that you wanted to read or have written for you.

There's no point. It does nothing but make the internet more negative.

I only write reviews of things that I feel positively about in this iteration of me.

Now, that being said? I REALLY DIG Heirs to the Mountains of Madness.

Now, let me be clear here... this is NOT a complete setting. This is NOT a collection of Rotes and Spells and Adjustments and Procedures. This is NOT a stand-alone book to just give you a whole lot of crunchy purple-flavored goodness that adapts Mage: the Ascension rules to use with it.

Heirs to the Mountains of Madness is a JUMPSTART for a Chronicle, or if you'd like, for something smaller if you're playing with people who have never played Mage: the Ascension before.

The jumpstart is written by Josh Heath, the mastermind behind High Level Games, and I'm proud to call him my friend. However, have no illusions about THAT, either... just because I'm your friend doesn't mean I'm going to make the sign of the cross over every single thing that you write and call it scripture. To DO THAT would make me an unreliable peer, and I'd like to think that Josh and I are peers at this point where this stuff is concerned.

First off, if you've got friends who THRIVE on tromping around Lovecraftian New England, then you're going to love this jumpstart. It is literally packed with little odes to H.P., and I can't offer you too many details other than that without spoiling things. The name dropping is seamless with the manner in which Josh sutures Mage: the Ascension with Lovecraft's weird fiction. The jumpstart itself is set up for use by either Technocratic or Tradition Magi, and the plot synopsis of what you're going to be doing, why you're going to be doing it, and what happens when you do it are quick and dirty without being at all wordy.

Here's the deal, guys and gals... if you PLAY Mage: the Ascension, you're SMART ENOUGH to know what to do with this thing. If you're using it to kick off a Chronicle, then God's speed to you. If you're using it to introduce new players familiar with Lovecraft (or Hell, even Call of Cthulhu) to Mage: the Ascension, then make sure you download a copy of the Quickstart Guide to accompany this jumstart and everyone at the table will be more than ready.

All you need after that is guacamole and some mood music. Boom.

After the initial setup of what's going on, Josh does what he does BEST, in my personal opinion: he gives you READY-TO-PLAY characters. You have no need to generate a ton of NPCs, because they're all here, they're all viable, and they're all logical to the story.

Another quick note here: For the record, these Magi are NOT "overpowered" or "statted-out too high." They're high-end Magi who can make things happen and, if necessary, really push back if they're pushed against. They're not supposed to be freshly generated Mage PC templated. They're NPCs. They do what the PCs CAN'T readily do FOR the ST. Just thought I'd interject that, because it seems to be important, and I've read a couple of things lately about how "Mage NPCs seem to be overpowered."

No more so than a Vampire Elder... but whatever.

Now, within these NPCs, there's one named Walter Gilman.

I'm not sure if Josh did this on purpose or not, but it's FREAKIN' HILAROUS, especially if you're a fan of Lovecraft's works. The stats on this cat are PERFECT, and the punch-line is funny while still being dreadfully serious... like you DO with Mage.

So... you get a PLOT, an OUTLINE for a story with conflict, intrigue, the potential for weird, Lovecraftian-inspired Talismans/Wonders, SIX really cool pre-generated NPCs, and a nice HOOK that proves the point that Mage: the Ascension is the PERFECT SETTING for cosmic horror and weird fiction. If your players are into the Lovecraft cosmology, you REALLY need to check this jumpstart out.

You can thank me later for the recommendation. I wouldn't steer you wrong.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heirs to the Mountains of Madness
Publisher: White Wolf
by Drew S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/26/2018 13:50:10

TL;DR: A stylish book made with the promise of jump starting a Mage game of Lovecraftian horror-mystery, but only makes use of some Mythos-inspired set dressing.

Heirs to the Mountains of Madness is a name filled with the promise of Lovecraftian horror- but instead, mostly relies on Lovecraftian references. In Providence, RI, a Technocratic Amalgam and Tradition Chantry have both gone dark to their respective larger organizations, fallen under the sway of an ill-omened book. Said book claims to depict the means of creating a Nephrandic Caul- as well as a means to reverse the process.

As a hook for a Mage game, that's totally workable! But it's using the surface most trappings of Lovecraft's works, rather than either attempting to set up cosmic nihilistic horror, or introducing creatures or phenomena beyond the ken of man or Mage. I was hoping to see things like the Zigg'raugglurr (fourth dimensional entities that do crazy time-and-space shenanigans), or locations where the laws of reality (consensual or otherwise) were implied to be breaking down, and how that might change the way Awakened Magic works.

(An exception to this is the Ecstatic Mage, Walter Gilman, who has been possessed / is being transformed / consumed by some kind of intelligent spore, which is brilliant and the sort of creepy thing I'd want more of in a book with this name and concept)

Additionally, the NPC stats of the Mages are kind of wonky and on the rather high side. Arete ranges mostly from 4 to 6, with every character at least one dot in almost every or actually every Sphere, as well as either Mastery in one or multiple Adept rankings. (Poor Walter Gilman, again a Cult of Ecstasy member, and the only Mage in the book with no dots of Time- although this looks like it might have been an editing error)

The book looks like a professional White Wolf product; good use of the template, generally well-chosen art. The only quibble I have in terms of style is with a real photo used for one of the character portraits, while line art is used for all the others; the difference jumps out and is kind of glaring.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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