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Victorian Lost
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Jason W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2012 23:21:37
At first blush, Victorian Lost looks sharp and period topical, a quality White Wolf is well-known for in publishing and equally significant in an online book. The combinations of quaint and practical to set mood, the shadowy, running-away-from-ourselves side to only before imagined progress, steampunk and the blurring of boundaries between mystical understanding and scientific illuminism, the expressed themes of trapped in paradox between identical worlds while gambling on the shaping rules, social mores, or both, of each and conflicted - not conflict, but conflicted - rather as if the dark drama one sees can never be understood without first finding inner peace, all find congruent expression from the first pages onward.

The Victorian ambience of imperial progress for it's own sake as the temptation that pairs with raising social standards, the fears of avoiding blame for self-corruption standing in stark contrast to the seeming chaos of real predatory behavior, dark dread of the unfamiliar, aloof fascination with the unknown, have often served as the perfect setting for stories concerning themes of the conspiratorial engineering of power, abduction from one's indentured status under dubious circumstance only to be supplanted in unfamiliar situations and settings, the constant need to be learning lessons only the respectable will respect in kind, and the struggle to find an adequate place for self-definition. This also serves as an excellent venue for the creation of new and, primarily, transient Entitlements which can provide backstory and motivations for a Changling, or that work as replacing the classic adventures seeking their fortunes who met in a tavern with story-specific reasoning for Changlings working at cross-purposes to others or investigating the truth behind stories of others doing so. For Storytellers and Players interested in crossover stories involving Prometheans, Victorian Lost provides many obvious and more than a few subtle places to include such constructs, with the adjunct possibilities of confusing the real nature of these beings and their role machinations, their political affiliations and social motivations, and what purposes such may serve other than as examples of creation, whether that happens to be on the end of a leash, at behest of a lash, or beholden only to Providence, with similar seeming qualities of experience Changlings may be struggling to master.

With tinkerers, ogres, and a medley of reasons why the Lost of Victorian society tend to imprison themselves at Court and within polite society, along with the tensions of repression and oppression that result from a variety of attitudes this tends to create - stacking the deck in the house's favor, so to speak, a consistent "gothic" flavor for storytelling emerges. An oft overlooked obvious in role-playing settings is the nature of how other people, generally and in a kingdom sense, respond to heroics and foils, although this seems well-covered in descriptions of setting. In Victorian Lost, the atmosphere being detailed is one in which many people who would otherwise, owing to tradition, or to the rural circumstances of many people's ancestries, be attending to small matters and personal affairs, now live among teeming throngs, immersed in a society saturated with other people's dramas on public display, the need for understanding one's circumstances tends to govern politeness. Inasmuch as this makes time spent in Arcadia seem similar to fascination with the macabre, self-absorption or the peculiar kind of self-loathing involved in invention, and the alienation potential in a commercial empire largely justifying it's activities by claiming its crown, mystery stories and social engineering involving the use of ambiguity are regularly suggested themes.

The source materials included with Victorian Lost are rather extensive in the book itself: two detailed settings for use, and a full-length story for use in one's chronicles, all themed and ready to include. Full descriptions of the various characters involved are also written out. This book is dense and tightly written, especially recommended to those who love steampunk, haginslam undercity, and dark turn-of-the-century kinds of stories and storytelling.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Victorian Lost
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Tome of the Watchtowers: A Guide to Paths
Publisher: White Wolf
by Jason W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/07/2012 01:50:46
Tome of the Watchtower, although it would seem to have a modestly good rating in the general community, is an exceptionally well-written book, particularly for those who are either familiar with a breadth of magick lore and history, or who would like to learn "traditional" magick rituals in a natural and unobtrusive way. While the actual content in gaming terms may require a certain amount of gamemaster ingenuity to include in a campaign or gamer background / storytelling to incorporate, the text of the book itself is written similarly to many stories concerning the use of magick and presents the basic structure of several enochian rites (with particular emphasis on group workings) just below the surface in the writing.

With that said, gamemasters might find Tome of the Watchtowers particularly useful in designing awakening stories and background material specific to each of the paths, as well as designing "destiny" links between players' backgrounds that can account for both why members of a cabal joined together and how their separate and individual goals in terms of story progress may have a tendency keep them together, regardless of their path and organizational affiliations. In this sense, the text presents a good balance between general magick principles and storytelling from a unified perspective and the more specific spin/tone/style that tends to go along with different kinds of practices as expressed through various traditional occult groups and solitary methods of attainment.

In a similar manner, gamemasters might find this book useful in designing either full-length campaigns or one-shot adventures that are themed for use in stories regarding seekings, recovering lost codices and spells, solving mysteries, and making peace between warring parties with cross-purposes, for example. Players may find the book useful in further developing character histories and motivations, planning their character's "career", or simply adding to their overall knowledge and background lore.

Being well-written, Tome of the Watchtowers is easy to ready, but it might be worth adding that the text is very idea-rich and content-dense, so for those less familiar with traditional magick rituals, this book may require a second read and considerable thought for best comprehension. That said, for readers who prefer a less active approach, the text is written in a manner likely to inspire your imagination if your focus is less upon game mechanics (which the book includes only lightly and summarily) and more upon game atmosphere.

All around, Tome of the Watchtowers definitely serves as a worthwhile contribution to the Mage legacy.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of the Watchtowers: A Guide to Paths
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