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M20 Gods & Monsters $14.99 $7.50
Average Rating:4.2 / 5
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M20 Gods & Monsters
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M20 Gods & Monsters
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Terry R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/13/2019 17:27:09

Gods and Monsters fills a number of gaps left in the line up for M20 like Companions, Familiars, spirit-forms, god-heads, and a fair number of Bygones. There are still considerable holes not yet filled but Technocracy Reloaded and Book of the Fallen but a book they have to come out in some

Good parts:

  • Every creature is illustrated
  • The rules for roll-your-own entities are remarkably thorough and cover "sentient cell phone" through "embodiment of an island in the form of a dragon". Which says something.
  • The crossover rules are exceptional and do a remarkably good job of allowing a storyteller to introduce other lines very quickly without buying a 600 page X20 book.
  • Entities are introduced along either a theme or in a family. The section on Yaruba through Afro-Caribbean through Louisianna voodoo is reasonably fleshed out and doesn't have just one example for a given idea.
  • Stats for "normies" are given such as for kids and the old. Sometimes it's useful to know how many health levels a teenager has and such.
  • Areas undercovered by other urban fantasy games are well covered. Characters break most forms of normativity in relationship types, identities, and such.
  • Some of the points of view are very angry and the points of that rage are easy for for an ST to incorporate.
  • Soe vague prior systems are really tightened up or explained. God-forms were often presented as being whatever a viewer's culture expected, but this can get super messy when items don't quite line up.

Bad parts:

  • The art just doesn't pop like other books. None of the illustrations besides the cover and some of the chapter openers are on par with the quality and imagination in other books. They feel like rough drafts. This may be due to budget and I get that but the bar is high and I don't think that bar is met.
  • The points of view are confusing. Mage usually has say three voices. The "systems" voice which explains systems and maybe behind the scenes stuff, the "book author" voice which explains the setting in a somewhat clinical or impersonal way, and "character" voices which bring the emotion to the party. And those parts blur like when describing djinn. In Lost Traditions, djinni are described as cruel and lazy where in this book humans are blamed for everything. Likewise, the hatred of outsiders for some of the Pac Rim entities is either racism or xenophobia in a modern gaming context. If the justification is "colonialism", sure, but I feel that opens the door to a lot of things, again, which is fine, but it felt messy in many points.
  • Some of the descriptions simply went on too long. One avatar type got an entire page where others were a 1/3rd of a page and just if not moreso interesting.
  • No advice is given to the storyteller as to how to run stories with cultures outside their own. There's some explanation in the core rule book but I really think it'd make sense to re-iterate it here.
  • There are errors and some holes. Some things are simply not explained like the Size, Rage, and Gnosis traits. There are some typographic errors. It's a lot of stuff and almost impossible to get right. It's sad that revisions would be so hard so thanks White Wolf.

Overall: Get it. It's $15 and it's 225 pages of rules, entities, and art. That's less than ten cents a page and that's at full price. If somehow that's not good enough, wait for it to go on sale. It's way better than what you could get for $15 on the ST Vault or a used book store.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
M20 Gods & Monsters
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Akaki K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/13/2019 03:38:39

It's okay.

Book is interesting, but not outstanding. To me, book splits into two part - human characters 17-77pg (why are these in book called Gods and Monster I'll never know), and actual gods and monsters. The human part of the book is garbage. Aiming to please the current guardians of social fashion, a book supposedly about Traditions drives SJW meter over 9000. Why is such a theme central in Gods and Monsters fantasy book I'll never know. I paid to see see Gods and Monsters, not page upon page of short bio's.

The monster part is incomparably better, the creators finally diverged from the standard European variety that is already famous enough. Still feel the book missed a lot for greater censorship and lack of space (due staffing half of it with bio's). But still, this part of the book is pretty good, especially if you're not into reading side material on myth and folklore.

My greatest beef is with the art. The art has lost cartoony, glossy feeling of the M20, but went in different direction with illustrations that look like unedited drawings. Yeah, it's in color but most of the painitngs are just not high quality and lack details. though, there are some hidden gems like 196 or 167 (loved it). In understand the want to give it a gloomy, serious look. But if you want to show a charcater, please do so - half formed blob is not enough.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
M20 Gods & Monsters
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Van W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/10/2019 22:15:04

Gods and Monsters: originally a stretch goal for the M20 kickstarter, this book is a giant collection of nearly every kind of non-mage NPC you could want for a Mage game.

As is usual for Mage: the Ascension supplements, there are tantalizing hints of forking metaplot paths (The Enlightened Shock Corps has been canceled!), new material expanding concepts that haven't been explored since 1991 (Avatar types, new paradox spirits), new story expansions and concepts to disagree thoroughly with, and some lovely art here and there.

I'm specifically pleased to see a mention (though not a full writeup) of the alien Zigg as well as a character creation engine for companion/bygone/familiar characters.

There were a few things that I wish weren't in the book however. The more horrific monsters can be pretty grotesque, and I wish this book didn't have long passages discussing mages who were slavers. Besides mundane slavery, the book also depicts Djinns as a people broken by colonial exploitation by a Persian faction of mages. I thought this was a pretty weird choice that wasn't necessary. Djinn-binding humans could have been portrayed as having found a way to fight back against envious blaspheming spirits oppressing humanity instead of portraying Islam's prophet as the instigator of a exploitative war against a fully sapient people.

In summary, although this book has the kind of flaws and controversies that any and all Mage: the Ascension books would have, this is the kind of book every world of darkness line should have specifically so Storytellers don't have to write-up every NPC themselves. Any book that cuts down on the extensive prep time that White Wolf/Onyx Path games tend to need is worth its weight in tass.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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