Is now revealed in glory!
& flies. & blood. &...
Alright, now we are cooking with gas & brimstone & hellfire. Changing Breeds has uses to me, but isn't thematically up my alley. & while I'm more of an angels, bloody swords, & dark crowns, I don't think anyone will argue that a few hints of sulfur in the air are misplaced in my interests of late. This is the new World of Darkness book on demons. Devils. Whatever you want to call them. In the old World of Darkness, there were promises-- years of promises-- that there would never be a "Demon: The Hellpukes" book. Well of course there was, but by that point I'd bowed out of paying attention to what was going in with the oWoD. This is much more appropriately placed-- a sourcebook, not a game line.
What do we have in here? Well, it opens with a nice piece of fiction, if you can believe it; an inverted "Footprints" splash page. Then we're in the guts. First obligatory discussions of "evil" & more to the point, "Evil." This dallies nicely with some mythologies & then starts laying out concretes. Flexible guide posts, more like-- you get a few rules on what makes a demon, most of which boils down to "you can't tell if it is lying to you." & we get some rules on the nature of demons-- the Vice being wedded to a Key. That is, if the demon is a demon of Wrath, okay. But it is a demon of the Vice Wrath with the Key of fire-- so it wants you to start fires to get revenge. It could just as easily be a demon with the Vice Greed & the Key fire-- start fires to collect insurance! Or the Vice Wrath & the Key of Alcohol or whatever. You've also got stuff like Secret Names & lists of Hierarchies, but you aren't left in the lurch; you get good story hooks (Secret Names are like infernal radio frequencies, no wait, they are like an attempt to codify a horrific first impression, no wait...) along with actual practical rules information (the more complete a codex of demons, the greater the "fluff," & it degrades with each failed use as you stop being able to distinguish between real devil names & just junk).
Then follows what players are looking for-- demon powers. More story hooks are given along with all of this as examples-- so when it talks about summoning a demon, it gives three pretty well fleshed out ideas. Then when it talks about making a deal with the devil, you get three more story hooks, each matching the three earlier summonings. So forth. Then come the laundry list of powers. My big disappointment is here: the balance of the powers costs might make sense to the story-- it is easier for a demon to make you pretty or smart than rich or famous, since the first only requires changing you & the latter requires changing the world. The problem is that just doesn't take into account the very real experience point costs of the game. I buy these products to play a game, ultimately. & a player who knows that he could go from a one to a five in an attribute for cheap when getting rich would require a deadly sacrifice is put into a bad place, decision-wise. Just a true story. I recommend keeping that secret from the PCs if you use these rules. The other let-down is the lay-out of the powers. Can't you help me out, White Wolf? I am a tool-box user. I want to strip out the nuts & bolts & use them to build my story. Please don't make my math any more complicated. & at least try for game balance?
The back part of the book has some more discussion on themes-- good discussion, unlike some of the more masturbatory stuff that can fill those sections. Then on to the NPCs. Some of them are okay. Others are kind of great. You've got your hungry dead, your "fallen angels," your pagan erinyes, your possessed folks. Oh, let me say this: thanks for not balking at using things that Dungeons & Dragons appropriated first. DnD doesn't own Pazuzu, & he's awesome. Don't be shy about stealing from the same mythology they do (I'll be the first to talk about how much I like the Fiendish Codices). Then it ends with, how do you spell it, L'Enfant Diabolique. You know how much I liked the Lucifuge in Hunter: the Vigil? Well, them, but evil. I will say this-- I had hoped to have some information on Hell itself, or themselves. No, nothing? & my parting thought? There was an advertisement for Armory Reloaded. As much as I hate to be the guy who buys the items books, it'll be full of rules to tinker with.