Welcome back to our new feature, Storytellers Vault review, in which we take a look at various books our creators group is reviewing. We will be hosting various reviews of non-group works in the future as well.
1) Progenitors Crash Cart, Volume 2 by Shannon W. Hennessy - Matthew 7/10
The Progenitors Crash Cart took an interesting approach when organizing and presenting this book. All of the book spirals out from a single spindling point. This point is the fully fleshed out character Dr. Evan Grillard. The first chapter of the book covers the Doctor's history, current situation and a full character sheet. The following chapter after that covers in much greater details about organizations and the forces surrounding the Doctor and the city around him. The final go into merits, gear and rotes that would be used by progenitors. But all finding ways to connect back to this central npc. It was a fresh approach and the book makes it easy to base a story or even a campaign off the information presented just using this book.
From werewolf biker gang to an entrenched Verbena covenant. Even a mention of a nearby Black Spiral Hive. But to learn more pick up the book for yourself and give it a read. I should start this part with I'm not a good judge of art by any means. But, as much as I like this book I need to say, the art felt off. I like the art and the text, they seemed to having a jarring effect put together in this book. However, this is just my opinion. This supplement is useful in the hands of a Storyteller. It has great detail and plenty of ideas to pull from. Resonance granted for by this review is Bad Medicine.
2) Progenitors Crash Cart, Issue 2 - Josh 8/10
First up: full disclosure. Shannon and I have done work together and I admire him as a person and a creator. That said, I really enjoyed Crash Cart Vol 2 for the reasons my fellow reviewers have mentioned. By starting with a character, and moving into deeper elements of the world being built this book actually flips the normal style of approach to the World of Darkness, and it works. It works in a way that sort of makes me step out and wonder how to present books I do in the future.
Satyros Brucato does a wonderful job when he is at the helm of Mage, but it is always interesting to see another writer’s take on a topic, particularly when they are also doing the design and layout guidance. It’s like approaching the same spell from different paradigms, and it works. I’m very happy to have purchased a copy of this book and I would heartily recommend it to those that are interested in Mage and the Technocracy in particular.
3) Progenitors Crash Cart, Issue 2 - Emma 9/10
Despite its name, I found this book to be very much usable on its own!
Mostly for Storytellers, of which I am, I think this is one of the few Mage books that managed to be a great starting point for a couple of scenarios, be it directly for mage, or for other lines such as vampire which I'm far more familiar with.
I do not want to spoil its contents details, my apologies. Centered around one character's particular work and goals, the players can very much be their students or colleagues, as there are hints of other similar structures elsewhere (a subsidiary in another State? yas!), or investigate the events and rumors surrounding their existence, or plain antagonists to any other game. The author tackles tastefully one very specific American issue: healthcare and the opiod crisis, and the choice of Tampa, Florida isn't a coincidence, imho. I would have appreciated slightly more digging in that, but storytellers are free to do it on their own, so the choice is appreciated.
The powers described in this supplement are very fitting to the theme of the characters involved and would very much be useful to any Mage ST, and the relationship to the rest of the WoD cast is fueled enough to run on its own.
I believe this is a great product that can be easily tweaked to your personal chronicle or setting, and perhaps slightly toned down for those who play with more realism, or for players who aren't playing extremely experienced mages, or kept as it for a more epic over the top feel in terms of power level.
The unique aspect of this book relies on how it is presented with the character first, then the branches out. I found that very immersive and interesting.
The art placement and choices are quite fitting, including the hand drawn pieces that would have needed just a little digital clean up, but it's just nitpicking. I would have enjoyed a clickable table of contents but it is not much of a hinder in a 22p book.
4) Progenitors Crash Cart, Issue 2 - Sebastian
This book, primarily about a single character and his activity in the region, is a fun read. The author presented a web of usable personalities and motives which could be easily adaptable to our games. The presentation, layout, and uses of the game rules were all used very well. I might place more importance than others on layout. Perhaps it is superficial of me, but I like to feel like I am reading a Mage (or whatever other game when referring to other documents) supplement. This didn't disappoint.
The specific thing I liked about this short book was that all of the information was relevant to the characters and events. Yes, "flavor text" is great, but is a distraction when it isn't relevant. Same goes for entries like new powers, new items (Artifacts, etc), and other extensions of rules mechanics. This book made use of everything the author put into it.
The only thing I didn't care for really only comes down to how we all play the game differently and enjoy different aspects of it. The characters involved seemed a little too powerful or heavy-handed. They could work as masterminds for a larger chronicle based upon the actions of the Doctor and his associates, but the book just scratched the surface for potential stories like that. Similarly, if scaled down, I could see them as being very fun elements for characters to directly interact with. I really love crossovers, but in this case I would likely adapt this book to just slightly reduce the amount of "heavy hitters" from each of the supernaturals present.
Overall: fun ideas, absolutely could see using it in my games, but would reduce the power levels of provided characters
This book can be found here, on the Vault.
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