What is that there, at
the foot of the Watchtower?
A man with a gun?
Let me start off by going on a bit of a tangent. I've ranted about this before in other reviews of World of Darkness books but I want to re-iterate on it, since the reason I picked this book up is tied to it. I hate supernatural Merits. I might even say they are the single biggest flaw in the Storyteller system. I'm not talking about stuff like "Unseen Sense," or whatever. I don't mind a balanced Merit! No, I am talking about things like Hunter: the Vigil's Endowments, or Second Sight's various psychic Merits. It just blows the mechanics out of the water; it is the worst sort of ad hoc rule system, because it compromises what has gone before. It is sad, because the wise use of ad hoc rules in the Storyteller system is one of its strengths-- like how the weird rules for combat are attached to Fighting Style Merits, so not everyone needs to learn the mechanics for Trip or Grapple. Supernatural Merits are poison in the well, though. See-- I like a "low magic, high weird" setting. That is how I run Oubliette. That means that the experience costs of the World of Darkness work for me. New dots x 5 for Attributes, new dots x 3 for Skills, new dots x 2 for Merits & new dots x 6 for Powers, that is how I roll. If it makes sense, if it is cool & serves the story, I'll let anyone take a Power, & I don't mind if they go out of order. You want to save up all your experience points & meditate every night until you have the 30 xp you need to spring for Auspex OOOO: Twilight Projection? Fine with me, if it works. The math on it means that Players are more likely to spend their experience on Skills & Merits rather than Attributes or Powers, & I'm comfortable with that. Except, well-- stupid Supernatual Merits. They take the most expensive category-- Powers-- & make them cost the same as the cheapest category. Ugh. For instance-- & I'm not saying this to place blame, since duh, who wouldn't want to go for the cheapest & most direct route?-- in the recent campaign, there is a character played by toughlad who has a magic eye. Fair enough, that is neat. What does he want it to do? See auras? Fine by me-- get Auspex OO: Aura Perceptions for 12 xp. Except, wait! The Merit Thaumatechnology OO: Devil's Eyes will do the same thing for 4 xp! So yeah. I hate it. A lot.
I picked this book up because of the rules for "Gutter Magic." I don't like the rules for Mage: The Awakening, while we're talking about things I don't like. I think it went too far straight straitjacketing players; the Spheres of the old Mage: the Ascension were its strength, & the new edition should have leaned on them more, not less. That said, I've never liked mages in the World of Darkness-- they haven't fit the way vampires & werewolves did. Anyhow, I'm interested, & the "Gutter Magic" system is another interesting take. I like some of the groupings, but ultimately, I'm just not interested. Really, I'm starting to think that the rules for Influences for various Spirits is the best way to go. Just pick something-- Hate, Birds, Ghosts-- & then rate that O to OOOOO. I am more & more admiring of stripped to basics systems, you know? This isn't a criticism of Witch Hunters but rather the thoughts it inspired in me as I read it.