Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tommy's Take on tremulus playbooks I-III and cemetery expansion


tremulus was finally released recently, and you should totally run out and buy it. However, a number of expansions have also been released...such as three playbook sets and a cemetery expansion. What do those contain and are they worth your dough?

tremulus playbook set I: flexible thinkers

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This $5 PDF was free to Kickstarter backers above a certain level, and includes 5 new playbooks for your players to use:

The Adventurer - A man of action, whose Moves can give him options like constant Armor, bonus damage to attacks and acting using his Passion instead of his Reason (because he's a man of instinct and not book-smarts).

The Entertainer - An actor, musician, singer, dancer, what have you. The Entertainer may be wealthy and famous, or have a gift for manipulating other people. The one Entertainer we've seen in our games proved incredibly light on his feet, which was a huge boon for him.

The Handyman - A fixer. He may have a workshop that he builds things with, he can jury rig repairs and one Move humorously duplicates the idea of smacking something to make it work.

The Librarian - A thinker who can occasionally use their wits to their advantage in combat.

The Scientist - Generally far more reasonable than most, insulating them from mental distress...though one option makes The Scientist harder to relate to, but allows them to start with Lore points.

WHAT WORKS: A few nice, thematic options that stretch the field. Some of the Playbook tweaks make it even easier to get the end result you want, like a purely "rational" scientist versus one that's becoming a little more unhinged. The Handyman is another one that stands out.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: On one hand, The Entertainer seems to stand out more than the others (as being out of place here). On the other, it's the only one we've used thus far. If the aesthetics of tremulus didn't do it for you, then the hard to see, old-timey images in this set won't do you any favors, either.

CONCLUSION: The Adventurer, Librarian and Scientist all seem very suited for period Lovecraftian adventurer. $1 per playbook also seems to be a bit better than similar deals for similar games, though I haven't looked too closely. Good pick-up if you want some options just a step away from the standard playbooks.

tremulus playbook set II: on the fringes

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Same as above - $5 package of playbooks to expand your game, running the fine line of "acceptable society":

The Artist - Passion drives most of what the Artist does, and this can leave them vulnerable to shock, or make them off-putting to others.

The Criminal - Not generally a thug, the Criminal's Lore move allows them to formulate a Backup Plan, and other moves provide options like being sneaky or charming.

The Dreamer - No, this isn't just someone with their head in the clouds...The Dreamer can reach the actual Dreamlands! This can provide valuable insight at times.

The Drifter - A bonafide ramblin' man, who sometimes gets by on Luck as much as anything. Additionally, your Drifter may have witnessed a bit more in his day than most.

The Psychic - Full-blown having visions and communing with the spirit world.

WHAT WORKS: Some very oddball options for tremulus, stretching the boundaries further. We've used Drifter and Psychic both in play, so these are options proving popular over here.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The Psychic communing with spirits can get out of hand at times, and I would imagine from the reading that The Dreamer could get that way as well.

CONCLUSION: If you want more weirdness from your PCs in tremulus, this is a good step as especially The Dreamer and The Psychic are particularly oddball. Just watch out for them spending too much time using their Moves (which aren't even Lore moves, but which do have time constraints on them) as they can blow some of your mystery right off.

tremulus playbook set III: madmen

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Have you noticed a trend developing here? These entries have been a steady walk off the deep end, and the Madmen make the last set look normal.

The Chosen - No, not quite Buffy, or even Ash. The Chosen can be downright bizarre, perhaps touched by darkness in such a way that they now see in the dark or even breathe underwater.

The Escapee - You've lost your mind once, but you know there's crazy stuff out there. You may be hunted by the very things that led to your imprisonment, but you are powered by a desperate will now.

The Inventor - The Scientist and The Handyman pumped up to 11. More Frankenstein than Einstein.

The Sorcerer - You have a handful of magical effects on standby, and are more adept than most at casting rituals.

The Veteran - You experienced the horrors of war, but occasionally you still find glimpses of the man you once were, and unleash him against the darkness.

WHAT WORKS: One of the more unique sets (and the sets are usually pretty impressive). I particularly like the portrayals of The Veteran and The Escapee.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: Not a lot. I like the balance on The Inventor and Sorcerer more than I do The Dreamer and The Psychic, and the character options are among the most interesting.

CONCLUSION: If I were a player, I think I'd probably play The Veteran first and foremost above all of them, though The Escapee runs a close second. Probably my two favorite options among all the playbooks.

the cemetery (Ebon Eaves Expansion I)

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: This expansion is a little different than the others, running $10 instead of $5. On top of that, it only includes three Playbooks:

The Bereaved - Someone in mourning, needing a shoulder to lean on. Definitely NOT one to play in a one-on-one game, as a few of their moves rely on other people being present...namely, gaining Trust with others and using their Lore moves.

The Grave Digger - You can pick Moves that make him a perfectly nice guy...or you can make him a scuzzy graverobber instead.

The Mortician - Somebody's gotta prepare the bodies. The Mortician comforts folks who have just suffered tragedy, which can come in handy in a horror game.

So if it's $10 and only has three playbooks, what's the deal? The deal is that it adds more info based off of the Town Lore questions at the beginning of the game, effectively blowing up the information combinations by adding a whole other set of mysteries to the town (all kinda cemetery based).

WHAT WORKS: A slew of new options for town generation. Three new playbooks, each of which are interesting and unique in their own way, yet still tied to the cemetery setting.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The minor complaint that the cemetery results are tied to the Town Lore, so those results will be bound together regardless (though there are soooo many possible results that this becomes a very minor quibble).

CONCLUSION: Well worth it if you're looking for more than just a one shot game, as a third plot thread should get you rolling nicely. If you're just in it for the playbooks, though, that price tag might be a tad steep.