Friday, July 26, 2013

The Book of Vile Darkness: Part What the . . .


After wading through the asinine logic in the last entry I've found the first interesting section of the book: Evil Acts. Ideally this section would feature a mechanic to help discern a person's alignment on the good to evil axis. Unfortunately what we get is a list of acts that Monte Cook feels are evil in a black and white world; as usual, he uses a system of faulty premises to compile the list and includes some acts that are not evil, such as greed, which he assumes is so evil that ". . . it hardly seems worth mentioning . . ." (pg 9). Really?

Fuck me running Monte.

For a man who has been involved in the industry for 14 years when this book was published your logic about objective evil is coming out like a first year philosophy hack. Greed isn't intrinsically evil. But far more importantly, by this logic every adventurer who steps outside his door in search of loot is committing an evil act by simply following that great adventuring motto: "Save the girl, slay the dragon, loot the treasure."

Anyway, next we come to Monte's list of evil fetishes and addictions. Here he equates alcoholism, drug addiction with cannibalism and psychopathy. To be perfectly honest this list is such a statement on his own hang ups about sex and social mores that I really can't be bothered with it. Suffice it to say that the list should be shorted from eight items to five: cannibalism, sadism, psychopathy, necrophilia, and bestiality (though the example he uses when it comes to bestiality really isn't evil it's just misdirected love created by lycanthropy).

The next section is titled Vile Gods, save your time and skip this section as they're so poorly crafted that you could come up with better dark gods on the fly.

Of the Vile Races and Cultures presented in the book I can not honestly give an answer for why he wasted his time. The Vashar have an okay story but really there isn't a place for them in most games as they're just evil humans. Why he chose to make them a race instead of a nation I'll never understand. And the Jerren are just as bad. Save yourself the headache of introducing them as a separate race and run them as a nation. You'll get far more millage out of them.  

The villain section presents some broad strokes that if you had never read a book or seen a movie might be useful for you, otherwise skip.

The Malign Sites (pg. 21-22) are worth reading though Monte never went far enough with them. There is a clear influence of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play at work here and my suggestion would be to go to the original source instead of fooling with this derivative slag.

Now the section on possession is actually pretty neat. Far too many game mechanics at play here (more the system's fault I think than Monte's) but the main kernel of the idea is good and the section is worth reading. I'm using the main crux and dropping the rest (really, the possessed creature gets a save every god damned round? How are you ever supposed to set up interesting situations like that?).

The Sacrifice rules and reward system are complete crap.

The section on Curses is going into my game -- especially the Alternative Curses (pg 28).

The Diseases are okay though again you can see the influence of Warhammer Fantasy Role Play with things such as Warp Touch (pg 31).

It is at this point that we come to one of the biggest missed opportunity for some amazing game fodder in the Other Aspects of Evil section. Here Monte pulls from a variety of sources and screws them all up. The Calling (pg 32) would be far better if it were a single powerful evil creature began to pull all the other evil creatures to it and lead a crusade against the good nations of the world - hell you're already emulating Warhammer throughout the rest of the book you might as well pull the best stuff too. Dark Speech and Dark Chant are forced though you can adjust them to make them work for you if you've the time. Hivemind (pg 34) would be far better if it weren't just vermin.

The Lingering Effects of Evil (pg 35) section is worthless, Heroes of Horror did it far better and without anywhere near the page count.

When it comes to Chapter 3 the only part worth reading is pages 41 - 46 starting with the section tilted Drugs. Otherwise this chapter is mostly a waste.

Chapter 4 is a waste of ink.

Chapter 5 has some interesting prestige classes but you don't really need them in your game unless you're running an evil campaign.

In Chapter 6 read only pages 117-122 starting with the section titled Artifacts. Anything else in this section should be set on fire and ignored as it's predicated on his asinine logic. But if you press me to find some good spells in the previous pages of Chapter 6, I can only recommend the following spells: Aberrate (pg 84), Bestow Greater Curse (pg 85), Charnel Fire (87), Consume Likeness (pg 89), and Eternity of Torture (pg 93). There are some other spells that might tempt you to use them but most of this section is just filler (No Light [pg 100], really Monte? Why not just use fucking Darkness).

Chapter 7 is worth reading from beginning to end. There are a plethora of vile lords of darkness and evil that you can set up as major villains in your campaign. Keep in mind that most of this section is a rehash of previous material publish on the Demon Lords and Arch-devils so don't expect anything that will make this a must own.

Chapter 8: I'm not a huge fan. There are some interesting monsters sprinkled in here and there, but most of these guys just come across as filler.

At the very end of the book we get an appendix which is essentially about running an evil campaign. Now let me tell you that if you're going to be playing in the world Monte Cook created using his fucked up logic then any party that isn't questing to eradicate evil is already an evil party in the view of this book. So it should come as no surprise to find that the appendix recommends you run an evil party essentially as you would a good party.

Fuck no.

Just.
         Fuck.
                       No.

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