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World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle $17.99
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World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
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World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Michael B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/08/2016 10:28:29

I purchased this book over a year ago prior to going on deployment.

I love the Lovecraftian feel to this setting. Great unfathomable beings selfishly moving about time and space for it's own ends. You and the rest of your world are only a means to that inexplicable end. The only wisdom a character can gain is that she simply knows that she can't fully know what the God Machine is or its intents. It leaves players having to do the best they can to preserve themselves, their understanding, and all they hold near and dear with what little knowledge they can glean.

As a storyteller, you have the opportunity to really push your players to the edge of sanity and reason when dealing with the mechanations of the God Machine, and the threat this thing holds can play well into whatever CoD setting (Vampire, Werewolf, etc.) you're running. Anything and everything is possible when dealing with the God Machine.

Additionally the book gives a revamp to the rules which serves to enhance and streamline a lot of the gameplay.

The God-Machine Chronicle really reignited my passion for the CoD line. I look forward to seeing it further built upon.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Brian S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/01/2016 12:43:58

Great content, love the new rules. I think this is a good facelift for an already great game in my opinion. Can hardly wait to try it. The only problem I had was not with the product, but the delivery. The delivery company delivered the book nearly a block and a half away, to someone else. Took almost a week before the people who received the book by mistake to bring it to me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2016 09:08:15

Opening with some very strange e-mail correspondence (concerning the sort of crazy offers that most of us just delete without thought), The God-Machine Chronicle presents some of Onyx Path Publishing's radical ideas for the New World of Darkness. One thing they'd recognised was that many gamers wanted a little more guidance and support in cronicle creation, so there's the framework for a quite mind-blowing one... but there's more. They also had ideas for how the rules could be revised, updated and improved, and that's here as well. Originally, they had proposed a Second Edition to the core rulebook, but that had been rejected by the then owners of White Wolf, so they chose this way to present their game mechanics ideas. (The material has now been drawn together in their Chronicles of Darkness book, released after White Wolf changed hands, but that's another story... and another review!).

The Introduction lays out the chronicle framework, one that is almost too big to grasp. The concept is the stuff conspiracy theories are made of, a vast God-Machine most people are not even aware of, one that cannot be communicated with nor appeased or influenced, one that treats individual people as tools to be used or tossed aside, viewing them in the light of their usefulness... or potential to gum up the works. Supernatural beings are more likely to be aware of it, but are no more able to understand it than anyone else. It's a cosmic power and people have as much change of understanding it as a mouse running around some vast clockwork mechanism... one misstep and they risk being crushed by machinery that plain isn't interested that they are there. The overall feeling you are aiming at is of very small fish in an enormous fish tank. Things that the party do, or encounter, may in some way be connected with the God-Machine... and if they do, best beware! It's all about strange events, almost X-Files in flavour, things that it might be safer to ignore, pass by on the other side - but where's the fun in that? There are loads of ideas here to get your creative juices flowing.

Chapter 1: Building the God-Machine Chronicle provides the Storyteller with advice on how to go about setting up a chronicle based on these concepts. It starts off by talking about 'tiers' - the scope, the stage on which your story will be set. It may be local, regional, global or cosmic in scale, and this will dictate the places in which it happens and the magnitude of the consequences that result from events. Then there are sections on the length of adventures (or even the whole chronicle), how many characters will be best and even the 'rating' - think film classification - that your chronicle should have. It may be a game about personal horror, but it is the characters that should experience it, rather than their players. Talk with your group, consider who they are and how much detail is appropriate when, for example, describing a corpse. The discussion then moves on to look at the sort of stories you can tell and - critically - how you introduce them to your players. It's likely that realisation that the God-Machine is involved (indeed, that there is a God-Machine at all) will be slow in coming. There's advice on character creation (including building extensive backgrounds) and setting, then introduces the concept of Chronicle Tracks. Based on a common theme, a Track presents a series of adventures and the examples given make use of a sequence of 'Tales' which are provided in the next chapter, strung together over what could be years of play as the underlying truth unfolds. Example locations and NPCs to populate them round off the chapter.

In Chapter 2: Tales of the God-Machine, we find some 20 scenarios involving the God-Machine in some way or another. They can be run as one-offs, strung together using the Tracks suggestions in the previous chapter, or used in some other way that you have devised. Each one is introduced as if it is where you began your game (the Tracks provide transitions from one to another to aid in stringing them together, or you may prefer a more episodic game). Every one is the skeleton of good long-running adventure in its own right, or could be run more succinctly if that suits your needs. There is enough here for an inventive Storyteller to pick up and more or less run with it, whilst those not so happy running games on the fly might want to put in some preparation first. They are fascinating, compelling, fair make you want to rush out and gather up some players...

Next, Chapter 3: The Cogs in the Machine presents a collection of detailed NPCs for the Storyteller to use. Each is provided with a comprehensive backstory as well as a full stat block. Some are linked to the previous chapter's tales, others have suggestions as to where they might be best used... all, of course, may be slotted in wherever you feel they fit best. This chapter also presents some 'angels' - the spiritual servants of the God-Machine - again linked to specific tales but also crying out to be used in stories of your own imagining.

Finally, there's an appendiz entitled World of Darkness Rules Revisions. These are updates to the rules that can be used independent of The God-Machine Chronicle, and which are assumed in all future volumes published by Onyx Path. Note that if you are not interested in the storyline material in this book, there is a free God-Machine Rules Update download that contains all the new rules material, so that you do not need to buy this book unless you want all of it. Considerate. Starting with character creation, there are rules to devise aspirations, changes to vices and virtues, the concept of integrity and breaking points - the one thing that really makes your character freak and question what he's doing, and more. There are new merits that you can take, sample cults and gangs to join (or avoid), and the real biggie - Conditions. These are about consequences and rewards, and are based on what actually takes place in the game, remaining operational until resolution criteria are met. There are associated Tilts, shorter-lasting equivalents that take effect during combat as well. Discussions of extended actions and social manoeuvering follow, and revisions/extensions to the combat system. There are other hazards and sources of harm to contend with as well. And spirits. Don't forget them. This section ends with new equipment and artefacts... many of which spawn whole story ideas as you read about them. It's not a whole new game - you still need the core rulebook - but it certainly streamlines and hones the original game mechanics to a whole new level.

The concepts here are quite dizzying, overwhelming. The potential to create epic memorable tales with your group is clear. There are years of fun to be had. If you like the New World of Darkness, this is well worth a look.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Michael O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/22/2015 21:40:00

The introduction of The God Machine was a very good move, and it adds a depth and scope that transcends the game as it was, without ruining the feel, or the setting.

I just received my physical copy today, I went premium, and other than a few typos (and I don't really care about typographical errors if I can understand the message), and I love it.

I am a fan of White Wolf / Onyx Path, and while there are fans who dislike a number of things, I find that I have yet to be disappointed.

The scope of this New World of Darkness is enormous, and vast, and its only limitations are the imaginations of its players.

I've read the PDF of this piece, and reading the physical book is as thoug I am reading it the first time through... But what I love most is that I'll be able to seamlessly integrate it into my current chronicle, and add a depth of cold horror that underscores - not overshadows - the element of my Chronicle.

I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to add more substance to the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Jon L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/06/2015 16:46:25

This book gives you insight in the God-Machine a machine with higher dimensional powers or a supernatural machine that does has a plan for us all regardless if its rewarding or not. If its rewarding to you and the god-machine planned it than it was very rewarding for it. That's pretty much what I got out of it. The introduction to the god-machine and how it impacts the story. Along with updates to the game mechanics. However the game mechanics if want to integrate. The rules aren't complex or too difficult to integrate with 1st edition character of NWOD to 2nd edition. I think I could edit it to still make a good story with using the god-machine without all the mechanics updates. I still need Vampire Requiem 2nd edition and Werewolves the Forsaken 2nd Editions plus all the others to go along but the site says they are not out yet just the vampire and werewolf ones. Regardless the material from the god-machine and demons the descent has really good material to integrate into any New World of Darkness story the GMs make up or use. This was worth every penny and is very good books.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Mateusz J. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/28/2014 02:01:18

The good: Setting: excellent Rules update: needed.

The bad: Way how rules update is presented (need for old WoD corebook)

Print: First book I ordered in "standard" print and... well, meh. I guess I'll stick to premium for any future orders. It's not bad, it's just... below standard. There is full bleed - and that's a giant plus imo. Text is readable, but a little bit more of contrast would be nice. Illustrations - some look just fine (mostly simple ones, outlines without color fill), most look bad, as there is very noticeable banding/smearing present (nothing like that in premium color books I own). Paper is thin, so if there is a full page illu on one side of a page and text on another, page curls.

I guess standard color is a good option for a second copy (one that will be abused in backpack/on gaming table or used to make notes) or for books that you want to read but otherwise don't find as "important". If you're a collector, caring how book looks, standard color ain't a good option. There is a really, really big gap in quality between standard and premium.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Johnathan W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/23/2014 02:06:06

I was a little harsh to this title after my first read through. I've gone back and read it for a second time because even after being initially turned off by it there are some strong ideas in this book that stuck in my head. Mostly the organization of the "chronicle tracks" is a interesting idea and one I wouldn't mind seeing applied to a more detailed set of stories and settings. Some the social interaction rules I thought were clever as well. I guess I'm just not a nWoD fan but have come to appreciate the level of craft that went into making this book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/17/2013 08:40:14
http://www.teilzeithelden.de

Rezension: World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle

Seit seinem Erscheinen im Jahre 2005 bildet das World of Darkness Rulebook die Grundlage der (neuen) WoD und erfüllt dabei zwei Funktionen für die Spiellinie. Einmal enthält das Buch die Basisregeln des Storytelling Systems, auf denen alle weiteren Bücher rund um Vampire, Werwölfe Magier und viele mehr aufbauen. Zum Zweiten präsentiert es einen rudimentären, universellen Horror-Hintergrund, der sich auf die Perspektive gewöhnlicher Menschen konzentriert, die mit den in den Schatten dieser Welt verborgenen Schrecken konfrontiert werden.

Neben den die WoD prägenden übernatürlichen Kreaturen wurde diese Spielausrichtung in den Folgejahren, wenngleich fragmentarisch, mit weiterem Material unterstützt, dessen Schwerpunkte sich grob bei Geistern und der Monsterjagd verorten lassen. Spätestens mit der separaten Veröffentlichung von Hunter: The Vigil und Geist: The Sin-Eaters aber wurde die thematische Ausblutung in andere Spiellinien hinein offensichtlich.

Insoweit festigte sich der Eindruck, dass jene gemeinen Sterblichen neben den strahlenden übrigen Wesenheiten für Verlag wie Spielerschaft ein Schattendasein fristen und sich von gelegentlich hingeworfenen Tischresten wie urbanen Legenden nähren müssen. Zwar wird man nicht zum schlechten Imitat eines rumänischen Akzentes genötigt, doch besitzt so ein bibberndes Menschlein nun einmal nicht denselben Coole-Sau-Faktor wie der bleiche Graf Blutwurst mit dem langen Ledermantel.

The God-Machine Chronicle (GMC) nun bietet eine umfangreiche Ergänzung beider Ebenen des World of Darkness Rulebook. Beide Facetten des Buches stehen in nur indirektem Zusammenhang, also in erster Linie nebeneinander; den Hauptteil macht mit 150 Seiten die God-Machine Chronicle aus, ein neuer, in erster Linie für gewöhnliche, sterbliche Charaktere gedachter Chronik-Rahmen. Der umfangreiche Appendix enthält Regelüberarbeitungen und -ergänzungen des Storytelling-Basissystems und soll der Ausgangspunkt für zukünftige WoD-Publikationen sein. Ein vergleichbares Buch für Vampire: The Requiem soll bereits im Juli erscheinen – Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicles. Dankenswerterweise hat man sich dafür entschieden, das God Machine Rules Update, also den immerhin 104 Seiten umfassenden Regelteil, kostenlos zum Download zur Verfügung zu stellen – Besitzer des WoD-Regelbuchs können beim „NWoD 2.0 Regelpatch“ also bedenkenlos zugreifen: KLICK.

Erscheinungsbild Das GMC-PDF präsentiert sich gewohnt professionell und umfasst 252 im typischen WW-Layout engbeschriebene Seiten, deren Rahmen und Illustrationen in stimmungsvoll-düsterem Blau-Schwarz-Weiß gehalten sind. Verlinkte Seitenverweise innerhalb des Textes helfen dabei, die Zusammenhänge zwischen den einzelnen Modulen für den Leser transparent zu halten. Die enthaltenen Bilder pendeln im Wesentlichen zwischen den Polen „unheimlich“ und „surreal“ und transportieren damit punktgenau die Atmosphäre des Buches.

Inhalt God-Machine Chronicle Im kryptisch-mysteriösen Text Voice of the Angel (WoD-Rulebook, S. 26) liegt die Wurzel der God-Machine Chronicle. Die dort zum ersten Mal auftauchende Idee einer geheimnisvollen Gott-Maschine hat offenbar über die Jahre hinweg genug Neugier geweckt, um in einigen weiteren Büchern aufgegriffen und hier nun zu einem spielbaren Hintergrund ausgearbeitet zu werden. In der den Weg für das vorliegende Buch bereitenden God-Machine Chronicle Anthology sind diese Texte zusammengestellt und mit weiteren Kurzgeschichten rund um die Gott-Maschine ergänzt worden.

Knapp jenseits unserer Wahrnehmung und unseres Begriffsvermögens verbirgt sich eine unbegreifliche Entität, deren Einfluss jeglichen Aspekt der Schöpfung durchdringt, vielleicht sogar Raum und Zeit transzendiert: die Gott-Maschine. Das göttliche, doch fremdartig-kalte Wesen verfolgt einen innerhalb der Grenzen des menschlichen Verstandes nicht begreifbaren Plan, in dem Menschen und deren Lebenswirklichkeit nichts weiter als Zahnräder sind und die menschliche Selbstherrlichkeit zu einem kosmischen Aprilscherz wird. Die Welt gehorcht der klaren, kalten, aber unzugänglichen Logik der gewaltigen Maschine, die sie steuert. Doch zuweilen geschieht es, dass Menschen einen Blick auf das verborgene System erhaschen. Einige mögen sich, Kultisten nicht unähnlich, ihrer Verehrung verschreiben, andere versuchen verzweifelt, ihre Mechanik zu ergründen oder ihr Uhrwerk aufzuhalten...

Bereits die Einführung arbeitet den Umriss der zentralen inhaltlichen wie thematischen Aspekte einer Chronik, in der die Gott-Maschine eine definierende Rolle spielt, dicht und gehaltvoll heraus. Die konzeptionelle Grundlage fühlt sich fast so an, als hätte H. P. Lovecrafts kosmischer Horror mit den Fringe-Autoren außerehelichen Nachwuchs gezeugt. Der Schrecken erwächst nicht aus der Präsenz blutrünstiger menschlicher oder nichtmenschlicher Monster, sondern wird, Lovecrafts Kosmizismus ähnlich, von subtilerem, allumfassendem Grauen abgelöst. Das Universum bietet weder die Nestwärme des Religiösen noch die Sicherheit wissenschaftlich-rationaler Erfassbarkeit. Die entsetzliche Bedeutungslosigkeit des Individuums manifestiert sich hier allerdings nicht im Kontrast zu den Großen Alten jenseits der Schwelle, sondern darin, mit dem Unerklärlichen als Teil eines verborgenen Mechanismus konfrontiert zu werden; Probleme also, die sich auch mit einem Zweitkatana nicht ohne weiteres lösen lassen. Nicht Tentakel, sondern Zahnräder („das Maschinelle“) prangen als kennzeichnende Symbole über dem Hintergrund. Das im Deutschen gern Mystery genannte Genre-Zweig steuert dazu Undurchsichtigkeit, Geheimgesellschaften, Verschwörungstheorien und grenz-/pseudowissenschaftliche Motive wie Zeitreisen bei; die Projekte der Gott-Maschine sind rätselhaft, die Muster, die ihr Plan hinterlässt, schwer zu entziffern - ungefähr so wie die europäische Fiskalpolitik. Endgültige Antworten und Wahrheiten verspricht das Buch nicht – Unerklärbarkeit und Ambivalenz sollen ein fester Bestandteil der Gott-Maschine bleiben.

Auch wenn diese Grundideen fraglos auf den Schultern prominenter Eltern stehen, wirken sie doch in der Aufbereitung hinreichend frisch und reizvoll, um zur Erkundung anzuspornen. GMC entfernt sich vom klassischen Kreaturen-Horror wie auch den bereits von anderen WoD-Büchern ausgetretenen Pfaden. Der Hintergrund verfügt meines Erachtens über genug Kraft und Flexibilität, um der Sterblichen-Spielvariante ein klares Profil und eigenständige Identität zu verleihen. Dabei zeigt das Einführungskapitel schon eine große Vielfalt von Richtungen auf, in die sich Geschichten entwickeln könnten, so dass eine beträchtliche Bandbreite erzählerischen Potentials sichergestellt ist.

Unergründliche Mysterien gepaart mit Hilf- und Orientierungslosigkeit sind aber ein brisantes Thema für Rollenspiele, deren Geschichten ja gerade von den Aktivitäten der handelnden Charaktere ausgestaltet und mit Leben erfüllt werden. Cthulhu allerdings demonstriert seit mehr als 30 Jahren trotz geringer Charakterhalbwertzeit das Potential eines die Leidensfähigkeit austestenden Hintergrundes. Die TV-Serie Lost andererseits hat anschaulich gezeigt, wie frustrierend es sich gestalten kann, wenn Geheimnisse um ihrer selbst willen und ohne befriedigende Auflösung in den Raum geworfen werden. Die von der Gott-Maschine entworfenen Infrastrukturen haben der Natur der Sache nach Schwachpunkte und Sollbruchstellen, die zum Einfallstor spielerischer Aktivität werden können und sollen. Wie lassen sich diese Grundgedanken in interessanten Chroniken umsetzen?

Das folgende Kapitel, Building the God-Machine Chronicle, ist bei der Antwort auf diese Frage leider nur begrenzt hilfreich. Als wären die Autoren plötzlich vom thematischen Fokus zwei Schritte zurückgetreten, landet der Leser erst einmal in einem seichten Teich aus nebulösen Wortschwaden. Trotz vieler interessanter Beispiele, aus denen Handlungselemente entstehen können, backen die einrahmenden Texte so viele Allgemeinplätzchen, dass sie oftmals die Grenze zum Selbstverständlichen überschreiten.

Erst mit den Chronicle Tracks, die den Abschnitt abschließenden, beginnt das Buch, das Versprechen der imposanten Einführung einzulösen und den Hintergrund mit spielerischer Lebendigkeit auszufüllen. Sie verweisen nach vorn, zu den folgenden Kapiteln Tales of the God-Machine und The Cogs in the Machine. Diese Tales bestehen aus 20 offenen gehaltenen, aber in allen wesentlichen Aspekten skizzierten Geschichten. Die zugehörigen NSC-Beschreibungen (und einige mehr) finden sich bei den Cogs – insbesondere die Engel der Gott-Maschine, über die hier nichts weiter verraten werden soll. Die bereits erwähnten Chronicle Tracks knüpfen als konkrete Handreichung oder Beispiel umfangreiche Handlungsfäden durch die Szenarien.

Mit diesem Komplex von Erzählbausteinen spielt GMC seine Stärke aus. Wer die Rückkehr des aus Classic WoD Zeiten berüchtigten kanonischen Metaplots befürchtet hat, wird - hoffentlich angenehm – enttäuscht; ebenso, wer letztlich einen ins Allgemeine fliehenden Kampagnenhintergrund erwartet hat. GMC bietet einen überaus greifbaren, modular gestalteten Chronik-Baukasten, der die ganze Fülle des abgedeckten Themenkreises nutzt. Der besondere Wert der Einzelgeschichten liegt weniger darin, sie einzeln zu erspielen, auch wenn sie alle einen einfachen Einstieg ermöglichen. Erzähler und Spielrunden erhalten vielmehr einen breit ausgestatteten Baukasten kosmischen Horrors. Handlungsstränge, NSC – die Chronicle Tracks zeigen vielfältige Wege auf, um verschiedenen Präferenzen gerecht zu werden und aus den flexiblen Einzelelementen eine individuelle God Machine Chronicle zusammenzufügen.

World of Darkness Rules Update Die World of Darkness Rules Revisions sind umfang- und detailreich geraten; vieles darin scheint mir eher zu knapp als zu elegisch erörtert. In einigem lassen sich zwar Gedanken und Weiterführungen aus der jüngeren WoD-Publikationsgeschichte wiedererkennen, doch finde ich es angesichts der Vielzahl bisher schon veröffentlichter Optionen fast erstaunlich, dass das Update in weiten Teilen recht eigenständig wurde. Dass viele der neuen Regelelemente zusammenhängend und ineinandergreifend konstruiert sind, macht es schwieriger (aber keineswegs unmöglich), einzelne davon nach Gusto den Hausregeln hinzuzufügen. Andererseits zeugt das auch von der beträchtlichen Menge an Gehirnschmalz, die in das Gesamtpaket geflossen ist. Da das Update frei erhältlich ist, werde ich hier nur kurz die wichtigsten bzw. meiner Ansicht nach interessantesten Modifikationen hervorheben. Eine schlichte Aufzählung der Änderungen erscheint mir sinnfrei, und eine extensive Analyse würde den Rahmen dieses Artikels sprengen.

Die umfassende Bearbeitung und Ergänzung der Merits wie der Regeln zu Geistern auf der Grundlage zahlreicher, seit Erscheinen der Originalregeln veröffentlichter Bücher bildet nur die Spitze des Eisbergs. Innerhalb der Kampfregeln sind viele wichtige Stellschrauben des Systems betroffen. Waffen erhalten nun einen Initiativmodifikator, der die Schwierigkeit der Handhabung simuliert. Abgesehen von vielen anderen Details besteht ein weiterer, wesentlicher Schritt darin, Waffenschaden zu senken, aus dem Angriffswürfelpool zu entfernen und im Falle eines Treffers zu zusätzlichen automatischen Erfolgen zu machen. Es bleibt auszutesten, ob der von Waffen verursachte Schaden nun befriedigender erfasst wird.

Die grundlegenden Überarbeitungen des Regelsystems beginnen bereits bei der Erschaffung des Charakters. Charaktere wählen nun von Beginn an drei Aspirations (den Motivations aus WoD: Mirrors ähnlich), in die Zukunft gerichtete Charakterziele: eine hilfreiche Stütze, um den Charakter nicht nur statisch, sondern auch im Hinblick auf seine weitere Entwicklung auszuformen. Das weniger an der Psychologie als vielmehr der biblischen Vorlage orientierte Korsett von Tugenden und Lastern fällt der Schere zum Opfer. Spieler (und Spielleiter) sind gehalten, diese Charaktermerkmale individuell frei zu bestimmen und dabei den Rückfluss von Willenskraft im Auge zu behalten.

Sowohl die Moral wie auch die dazugehörige Hierarchie der Sünden müssen ihren Abschied nehmen; an ihre Stelle tritt die neue Schlüsseleigenschaft Integrity. Wo Moral den Maßstab universell gedachter Wertvorstellungen an Hand einer Gut-Böse-Dichotomie anlegte, repräsentiert Integrity in etwa geistige Stabilität, also die Verarbeitung potentiell traumatisierender Handlungen und Geschehnisse. Eine ähnliche Idee ergänzte Morality bereits in WoD: Dogs of War. Mit Hilfe von fünf Fragen ermitteln die Spieler während der Charaktererschaffung persönliche Breaking Points und definieren so ihre Belastungsgrenze. Das Erreichen dieses Punktes führt nicht mehr zu den allseits beliebten Geistesstörungen, sondern kann in sog. Conditions münden.

Das Spielkonzept Conditions formalisiert bestimmte Zustände, in denen sich Charaktere befinden können, mit dessen Auswirkungen und den Bedingungen, unter denen er endet. Permanente Zustände ersetzen die bisherigen Flaws; vorübergehende Zustände können durch den Verlust von Integrity, aber auch außergewöhnliche Erfolge und übernatürliche Kräfte ins Spiel kommen.

Darauf aufbauend findet im Bereich der Erfahrung ein Paradigmenwechsel statt. Abgesehen davon, dass die Erfahrungspunktekosten linear geworden sind, also nicht mehr progressiv steigen, werden Erfahrungsgewinn und persönliche Dramatik eng miteinander verbunden. Die Erfüllung einer Aspiration, die Auflösung einer Condition, selbstgewählte dramatische Fehlschläge – dies alles zahlt sich nun in Erfahrungspunkten aus. Weder ein Lernerfolg noch eine wie auch immer definierte Leistung, sondern die persönliche Geschichte eines Charakters rückt weiter in den Mittelpunkt.

Erfreulich erscheinen mir die Signale, Spielercharaktere weniger unter die Knute strikter Kategorien zu zwingen, als vielmehr Möglichkeiten zur Individualisierung ins System einzubinden und sie zu fördern. Zugleich ist eine deutliche Tendenz hin zu Systemen erkennbar, die abseits klassischer Regeltechnik dramatische Situationen und individuelle Charakterentwicklung abbilden. So sehr ich diese Fortentwicklung einerseits begrüße, habe ich Bedenken, dass das so gestaltete Regelkostüm auch an Stellen ins Spielgeschehen übergreift, wo die Formalisierung eher stört als dem Spiel nutzt.

Wo es beispielsweise um den Erfahrungsgewinn aus konkreten Spielsituationen oder Conditions geht, könnte der plötzliche Schwenk aus einer dichten Szene auf ein abstraktes Regelniveau manches Mal den Spielfluss auseinanderreißen. Sicherlich ist es auch eine Frage des Spielstiles, ob man auch dramatische Elemente geregelt wissen oder aber ganz dem rein rollenspielerischen Bereich überlassen möchte. Ganz grundsätzlich aber finde ich die neuen Spieloptionen spannend und erprobenswert – ich hatte eher ein erratierendes Reförmchen erwartet. Freilich war bisher nicht jede mutige Entscheidung aus dem Hause White Wolf auch notwendigerweise gut (Mage 3rd Edition, ich meine Dich). Endgültige Aussagen über Gewinn und Probleme durch die neuen Regeln werden sich erst am Spieltisch treffen lassen. Zumindest der Hausregelfundus dürfte um einige Optionen bereichert werden. Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis Berücksichtigt man, dass der kostenpflichtige Teil des Buches nur ca. 150 Seiten umfasst, stellt sich schon die Frage, ob der Preis für das nicht immer inhaltsreich aufbereitete Kampagnenmaterial gerechtfertigt ist. Andererseits fällt es mir schwer, dem Verlag faktisch einen Vorwurf dafür zu machen, einen wichtigen Teil des Buches zugleich gratis zur Verfügung gestellt zu haben. Daher möchte ich mich an dieser Stelle einer weiteren Wertung enthalten und das Urteil dem Leser überlassen. Fazit God-Machine Chronicle bietet einerseits einen neuen, primär für gewöhnliche, sterbliche Charaktere gedachten Chronik-Rahmen und andererseits allgemeine Regelüberarbeitungen und -ergänzungen des Storytelling-Basissystems. Der von kosmischem Horror geprägte Hintergrund zeigt eine Welt, die auf der Grundlage eines innerhalb der Grenzen des menschlichen Verstandes nicht begreifbaren Planes vom verborgenen Uhrwerk einer quasi-göttlichen Maschine gesteuert wird. Ambivalenz, Geheimgesellschaften und pseudowissenschaftliche Motive a la Fringe ergänzen die Plattform mit einer Dosis typischen Mystery-Zubehörs und stellen breites erzählerisches Potential sicher.

Trotz der durchscheinenden Genre-Vorbilder verfügt der Hintergrund meines Erachtens über genug Energie und Flexibilität, um der Sterblichen-Spielvariante ein klares Profil und eigenständige Identität zu verleihen. Mit der God-Machine Chronicle hat die World of Darkness als Horror-Setting für mehr oder weniger gewöhnliche Menschen erheblich zu den paranormalen Wesenheiten aufgeschlossen und einen deutlichen Schritt nach vorn getan.

Chronicle Tracks knüpfen als konkrete Hilfestellung oder Beispiel ausgedehnte Handlungsfäden durch 20 offen gehaltene, aber in allen wesentlichen Aspekten umrissene Stories und eine Vielzahl von NSC. Die Erzählkomponenten formen einen modular gestalteten Chronik-Baukasten, in dem sich die gesamte Breite des abgedeckten Genre-Territoriums widerspiegelt. Erzähler und Spielrunden erhalten ein breit ausgestattetes Kombinationssystem kosmischen Horrors aus flexiblen Ideen/Einzelbestandteilen, um verschiedenen Präferenzen Raum zu geben und eine individuelle God Machine Chronicle zu erschaffen.

Die umfangreichen World of Darkness Rules Revisions führen zahlreiche neue oder abgewandelte Regelkomponenten ein, die häufig ineinandergreifend konstruiert sind. Dabei rücken dem Eindruck nach die personalisierte Entwicklung eines Charakters und der dramatische Fluss der Geschichte weiter in den Mittelpunkt. Das System müht sich, jenseits klassischer Regeltechnik dramatische Situationen und individuelle Charakterentwicklung besser abzubilden. Spielercharaktere finden sich weniger im Korsett strikter Kategorien; Möglichkeiten zur Individualisierung werden stärker eingebunden und gefördert. Ein abrupter Schritt aus einer dichten Szene zurück auf die abstrakte Regelebene könnte allerdings den Spielfluss mehr behindern als ihm zu dienen. Diese Regelkomponenten haben daher meiner Ansicht nach auch das Potential, mit ihrer nach Beachtung verlangenden Formalisierung das Spielgeschehen zu stören.

Unsere Bewertung

Erscheinungsbild 4/5 Gewohnt professionell, passend-stimmungsvolle Illustrationen Inhalt 4/5 Reichhaltiger, modular gestalteten Chronik-Baukasten, fundamentale Regelbearbeitung Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis X/5 Die Frage, ob der kostenpflichtige Teil den Erwerb lohnt, soll offen bleiben. Gesamt 4/5 Vielfältiger Kampagnen-Baukasten zu kosmischem Horror, interessante neue Regeln



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/24/2013 06:30:20

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/05/24/tabletop-review-the-god-machine-chronicle-world-of-darkness/

With some many games getting new rules sets this year like Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu, Tunnels and Trolls, and so on, World of Darkness’ The God Machine Chronicle may have slipped past your radar, especially since it’s tucked away under a very peculiar name. There are two parts to The God Machine Chronicle. The first is 149 pages that reveal the God Machine and a corresponding twenty or so adventures and principal NPCs to go with it. The other 100 pages are a rules update to the New World Of Darkness as opposed to the OLD World of Darkness. Some of these rules are minor cosmetic changes, while some really change the way the game is played. If you’re ONLY interested in the changes to the core game rules, you can get those separately as a 104 page PDF for FREE. Yes that’s right – for free. Go right now and download it. You have no excuse not to. However, if you do choose to go that route, you are missing out on the most compelling and creepy adventure collection I’ve encountered since Chaosium first released Masks of Nyarlathotep and Horror on the Orient Express. Yes, The God Machine Chronicle is that amazing. Between this release and my beloved Mummy: The Curse, I think the Storyteller System has become THE frontrunner for our System of the Year award. Will it still be at the end of the year? Only time will tell…

So what IS The God Machine Chronicle? Well it’s hard to explain –partly because I don’t want to spoil the journey for those of you taking the time to read this and partly because the game goes out of its way NOT to define the God Machine. I know, for those of you who are long time White Wolf fans, the fact they managed to keep something nebulous and vague is either a miracle or a sign the apocalypse is at hand. For those that aren’t aware of what I mean, White Wolf, in the Old World of Darkness was notorious for pinning everything down, giving specific exact canon reasons for everything as soon as a mystery or group that was open to interpretation came into being. There was no sense of the unexplained and thus a lot of the potential for horror and mystery went out the window with it. I loved the settings and system but when you’re told every last detail about the Black Hand, Inconnu, Sabbat and so on AND these details are published repeatedly so that any player can get their hands on them easily, well, you couldn’t really establish a sense of foreboding or dread. It was more or less Chill from the POV of the monsters.

So what IS the God Machine? I know, didn’t we just ask that? Well the best way I can describe it is how I interpreted it, which is automatically wrong and yet completely correct for no being or even group of beings can truly fathom the God Machine. However, I’ll take a stab at it. First, take one part Hellraiser mythology distilled with the pure essence of Clive Barker – that being a strange machine-like god being (Leviathan) that is never fully described or understood, even by its own followers which are strange beings that occasionally offer a semblance of man (perhaps even once were human) but beat to a drum we can neither hear nor fathom. The Angels of the God Machine also are similar to the Cenobites of Barker’s mythology – but more their original form in The Hellbound Heart where their nature and purpose was never given any true depth, leaving you with a sense of “Why are they doing this?” and thus heightening the creep factor. Then take the mood and atmosphere of Call of Cthulhu where the players characters begin to realize that they are bit players in Existence itself and that in the shadows and underbelly of our planet lurk things our mind was not meant to understand. Things that neither bear us malice nor kindness. We are merely fleas to them and if the flea bites, well there are ways to get rid of it without passing a second thought on the subject. Feelings of helplessness, doom, and paranoia are commonplace amongst the PCs and the question becomes not, “Will the PCs win the day?” but, “How long can they stave off their own destruction?” or “How much of a difference can an ant colony make when someone decides they really want to kick it down or fry it with a magnifying glass?” Next add a portion of the Technocracy from Mage: The Awakening with its multiple factions severing a high purpose (in this case the God Machine) but with different groups interpreting the best way to achieve said goal in fundamentally different ways, perhaps even utterly contradictory to another. These would be the secret societies and cults that serve the God Machine, although in the case of this, said groups are sometimes PURPOSELY given orders that put each other in conflict. Indeed, for me, The God Machine felt very much like the early games of Mage we used to play run through a Black Dog set of glasses. Finally add a bit of comic books style magical realism. Think 90s Vertigo comics. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. ESPECIALLY Grant Morrison’s Animal Man. In this regard you have heroes and villains alike serving a higher purpose – oftentimes unaware that their actions are being subtly guided by a higher force that is able to manipulate reality in ways that would drive most people mad if they thought such a thing was truly possible. Add these four things together (maybe a little of 2001: A Space Odyssey for good measure) and you have the closest I can come to describing the God Machine. It’s not good or evil, lawful or chaotic. It simply runs according to its own plan – a plan that will never be even partially revealed to players or Storytellers and doing so would only be folly and an insult to the very concept of the God Machine.

Whew. That was one long paragraph. Basically the God Machine is the answer to most horror Storyteller/Keeper/GM’s dreams. It is a nigh omnipotent/omnipotent…thing that will never be fully described, shown or explained. This not only gives the Storyteller unparalleled freedom to shape the God Machine in whatever form he or she sees fit, but in trying to discern more about WHAT the God Machine IS, simply makes the God Machine pay more attention to the PCs, eventually bringing about their own demise or perhaps even causing them to become one with the Machine. A “cog” if you will. Note that the God Machine doesn’t have to be an antagonist to the PCs. In fact, you could run an entire campaign without the players ever encountering actual evidence of its existence. One adventure could have the PCs working for the machine (directly or indirectly) and the next having them be a roadblock in the Machine’s path. It’s so utterly flexible and because the God Machine’s plans are so alien they can’t be described or understood, even by the Storyteller, you have no worries regarding contradiction in its behavior or any shift you might need to do to the game’s mechanics in order to further the feel of the tale being told. In a sense, The God Machine Chronicle is a rules lawyering min/max’ers worst nightmare and a horror Storyteller’s pipe dream come true – a truly indescribable concept that won’t be bogged down by stats, mechanics, dice rolls or in canon descriptions. Now that doesn’t mean you won’t be rolling your d10s en masse like you always have with a Storyteller System game. Just that rules might change according to the God Machine’s whim.

The God Machine Chronicle gives us an introduction, three chapters and the Rules Appendix. The introduction runs twenty pages and it gives us the mood and theme of a world plagued/blessed by the God Machine. If your World of Darkness contains the God Machine then realize you have something that even supernatural characters are unaware of and should even fear. Sure you might be able to turn into a bat or cast some magic, but what happens if the God Machine throws a few angels at you or offers you the powers that give you the leg up in your every day in exchange for what feels like a rather mundane task. Would a vampire trade a month of not having the hunger in them for simply sticking three woodchucks in an old abandoned farmhouse. WHAT HARM COULD OCCUR FROM THAT? Conversely what do you do if you piss off the machine and suddenly you find that it’s not silver that causes you aggravated damage but cotton? So on and so forth. The core of the introduction is to make it clear that WW/OPP will not be fully fleshing out or defining the God Machine and the true joy/horror of experience a God Machine focused chronicle is that you will NEVER understand it fully and that should drive players and their characters nuts because THEY WANT TO KNOW and there is no actual answer. You’ve given multiple examples of those that fear the God Machine, those that serve it, those who have an intellectual curiosity about it and those that fight against it. In each category you have those that have justifiable reasons and those that are obviously in the wrong when looked at objectively. This contradiction only serves to muddy the water more and make the only certain about the God Machine is that nothing is for certain.

The intro also begins to define Infrastructure, which is the way the God Machine goes about its planning and projects. It gives you a bit of a flowchart in which to design the bizarre things that occur both because of and in spite of its actions. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Intro points out in no uncertain terms that the God Machine is not 100% omnipresent and omnipotent, because what fun is it in playing a game where the God Machine can do anything and stop any action the PCs take? It then becomes Storyteller vs Player and that never ends well. Instead think of the God Machine a la Cthulhu. Both are insanely powerful and SEEM unstoppable and all powerful in every way, but they don’t always win. Sure they probably will win the long game, but humans don’t think that far or in those terms. Both are also utterly alien to our thought process so trying to make them evil or 100% out to do terrible things to humanity just because is not only a disservice to those concepts, but also greatly ethnocentric on the part of the person writing/running those type of adventures because honestly, how often do YOU think about the microscopic bacteria you have on your skin every day?

Chapter 1 is “Building the God Machine Chronicle” and is all about the Storyteller’s role. How can you use the God Machine as a powerful unfathomable THING yet still give the PCs a chance to win and/or survive the adventure? You’ll find it here. The chapter also defines tiers (first seen in the nWoD’s version of Hunter) which are used to help a Storyteller craft their adventure. These tiers range from a local occurrence to a global event. You’re also given some rudimentary organizations that may work as antagonists for the tier you are using. It then goes into advice on how to run a God Machine adventure, chronicle or campaign. This is wonderful stuff for beginning and intermediate Storytellers and even long time veterans will pick up a few things along the way. By the end you should know what tale you want to tell, the number of sessions and adventures it will take to unfold and the right number of players to make it happen. They key is to remember that just because you are using the God Machine to not have it squash the characters instantly and utterly. Otherwise what’s the point of playing the game? The chapter ends with suggested story arcs for the Storyteller. It gives you several different overall themes and then creates a connection between multiple adventures that you’ll find in Chapter Two. It’s a bit odd to see the book talk about the adventures and ways to group them into a cohesive experience before you even read the adventures, but for once this does not feel like the typical bad layout and flow we’ve come to know with WoD publications, but rather a fine example of the disconnect and weirdness you’ll feel playing a God Machine chronicle. I really loved seeing how the premade adventures can fit into different themed story arcs and connect to other adventures in very different ways. Sure some connections are harder to justify than others, but the book acknowledges that. In the end, Chapter One will give you so many ideas of what to do with a God Machine, your head should be ready to burst from the adventures you want to run/write/play.

Chapter Two, “Tales of the God Machine,” is where all your adventures live. They aren’t grouped by Tier or any of the potential story arcs listed in Chapter One. They are also not listed in alphabetical order. They’re just kind of thrown together in no real order, which is fine as it fits the mood of the game but will make it hard for Storytellers to find the adventure they want to run without using post-it notes or Ctrl+F in a digital copy. There are twenty different adventures here. Now they’re not fully fleshed out to allow Storytellers the chance to modify them to their own vision. What is here is laid out wonderfully with seven different sections. You have the title and summary section which well, I don’t think I need to explain that to you. You have Infrastructure which lays out the overall story and why things are occurring in the way they are. You have Interchangeable Parts which shows how the characters fit into the story, the background they should probably have and how they can affect things. Blueprints gives insight into what the God Machine wants to happen and how it is going about achieving those goals in this instance. Linchpins are ways the God Machine is not infallible in these adventures and gives characters a way to defeat its Machinations. Methods gives you examples of ways to use your character sheet to get through the adventurer or at least advance the plot. Escalation gives you the climax of the adventure and the way things can unfold. The layout for these adventures is wonderful. Any Storyteller, regardless of experience, should be able to run one of these smoothly by following the format. It reminds me a lot of the Shadowrun Missions layout and while not as good as what Catalyst Game Labs does with those, they’re also single adventures while The God Machine Chronicle crams TWENTY DIFFERENT ONES into this chapter. I really hope this becomes the standard for how we see adventures laid out in World of Darkness adventures, albeit it a bit more fleshed out, because this format is so inviting to newcomers while extremely helpful to veterans as well. Awesome job.

The content of the adventures will vary based on what you want out of the God Machine. There are some adventures I fell instantly in love with and some I knew I would never use. The key is that ALL of them are well written and showcase the multifaceted nature of the God Machine. These things are weird, dark, exciting, freaky and most of all memorable. Obviously I don’t have room to review each adventure separately as we’ve just hit the 2,600 word mark but if you would like me to in another piece, by all means, I’ll consider it – just let me know. What you need to know is that all twenty adventures are worth reading even if you don’t play through them because of the insight you’ll gain regarding making God Machine based adventures of your own. I can’t think of the last time I’ve seen an adventure collection that blew me away this consistently. With a price tag of only $17.99, that means you are paying less than a dollar per adventure and that doesn’t even factor in the rules changes and the rest of the book. That alone should have you thrusting a fistful of money at Rich and his team demanding them to take it. I honestly can’t think of a better deal in gaming. Even if you don’t play games in the New World of Darkness. Even if you only play something like Earthdawn or Traveller, you should get this book just to read it. It is that well written and it’s an experience unlike any other. I can’t emphasize enough how this chapter alone is worth your money and the fact you’re getting so much more on top of it means I honestly can’t fathom why someone wouldn’t pick this up and more importantly, why they wouldn’t enjoy it.

Chapter Three is called “The Cogs in the Machine” and there’s not much to say here. This is a list of NPCs that work for or fight against the God Machine in a myriad of ways. Most of them are tied to specific adventures in Chapter Two, but a few are there just to have to write your own adventures around them. This chapter is what it is and the use you will get out of it pertains more or less to the use you get out of Chapter Two. In this chapter you’ll meet angels, mortals gone mad and a living oil rig.

Now we come to the Appendix which is where all the rule changes and revisions for the New World of Darkness can be found. It’s roughly a hundred pages long, which may be intimidating to some of you, especially those of you who already have the old rules memorized (along with probably half a dozen other RPG systems), but the good news is that most of the changes are small subtle ones. It does seem odd and ill-placed to tuck the rule changes in the back of an adventure collection where the rules are totally turned on their head and are far less tangible than they’ve ever been before, but think of it as a bonus. After all, you can get the rules for free in a separate PDF, so it’s not like they’re forcing you to purchase these if all you want to do is play a game of V:TR and you have no intention of ever touching the God Machine. So…a hundred pages of rule changes, revisions and clarifications. Man, how does one begin to cover all of that? We’ll try though by talking about the most important bits.

Character creation is mostly the same. The big thing you’ll see right away is that it doesn’t cost you two dots to purchase a level five Attribute, Skill or Merit. Awesome! I think a lot of people ignored this rule anyway though. Aspirations, Virtues and Vices are now more open ended instead of “pick from a list,” which allows for more creative freedom. They have added two new merits that can be obtained if a Player regularly plays his Virtue over his Vice or well…vice versa (no pun intended). I think this is a great idea and it rewards a player for playing his character instead of going, “Oh I got my Willpower bonus from one, better do the other now.” You’re basically trading a short term disadvantage for a long term bonus via a free two point Merit. I like that. Morality has been replaced by Integrity, which will probably split people down on the middle on whether they like it or not. I see the positive and negative in both although honestly, for most people they are close to the same in terms of real world concepts. What I do like is that Integrity is more akin to the Sanity aspect of other horror games and when you risk losing Integrity you also risk incurring a Breaking Point, which is when your character’s ability to understand and/or rationalize what is going on around them goes out the window along with the winged firebreathing sloth they just saw. Breaking Points replace the concept of Sin in the New World of Darkness which I greatly approve of. Breaking Points are tailored to specific characters and it also gets rid of a lot of the baggage that came with the term “Sin” as well as applying it. I mean, if you’re an unrepentant serial killer are you really going to “sin?” But I digress. Break Points gives both players and Storytellers an excuse/need to really flesh out a PC’s back story and also define what are their trigger stressors. It might be hard to do these at first, especially if you are new to tabletop game, but for those that enjoy the story aspect of role-playing over dice hucking, this is no doubt a welcome change from the old rules.

Experience Points gets a massive overhaul though. Character progression is now more linear and standardized instead of level that you want times X number = how many experience points you need to purchase it. That’s a big change because everything costs far less XP now that it used to. 1XP nets you a dot of a merit, Skill Speciality or Willpower point. 2XP is a dot of a skill. 3XP is a dot of Integrity and 4XP is a dot of an attribute. Crazy cheap, huh? However, this is balanced out by how you earn experience. Basically you now earn “Beats” and five Beats equals ONE Experience Point. You earn a Beat (or “Take a Beat” in actual game terms) in various ways. Through achieving an Aspiration, experiencing a Dramatic Failure, recognizing a specific plot point or having a significant character experience are just a few examples. I was surprised hitting a Breaking Point wasn’t one of the ways listed though. So people are either going to love or hate this. My big problem with the new Experience System is that it may be too nebulous for a lot of people to make work. In the hands of a person that really gets the new rule changes and also knows his players well, this will be quite a good change. In the hands of others though…the potential for this to be a train wreck is pretty obvious to anyone who reads this section.

Merit are given an entire list of what is now in the game. Some Merits are gone but that is because they were found redundant or reworked. Other than that, it’s pretty unchanged. The Sanctity of Merits section is well worth reading though. Flaws are replaced by Conditions though and are less permanent than the original concept. Conditions can go away if the circumstances are right. Longer lasting Conditions are known as Permanent Conditions. They also aren’t necessarily negative (99.99% are though) and unlike Flaws, they can be obtained through simple roleplaying. For example, a Breaking Point can cause a Condition but so can an exceptional success. The Conditions list is far smaller than the Merits one, but there is also a section on designing Conditions for your players and characters so it is more open ended and flexible.

One thing I DON’T care for is the concept of Soul Loss and the mechanics behind it. This is something I feel should be done through role-playing only. The rules and the mechanics are badly defined and there’s no actual description of how one moves from one stage to the next. So basically you have specific rules for each stage but absolutely no rules for how they occur. This is a wasted concept that didn’t need mechanics at all.

A lot of the die roll stuff such as Extended Actions, Dramatic Failures and the like make a lot of sense and honestly aren’t that different from how you’ve probably used the Storyteller system before. Really everything in these sections is just shoring up the slow subtle changes made over the past decade and putting them in one concrete block. The Social Maneuvering section is similar. It’s far more in-depth than in the past with these rules, adding more possibilities and explanations rather than changing how things work. The truth is, most people I know that play WoD games (both old and new) tend to role-play these out rather than roll-play them out, so I was surprised to see how long this section was but also glad to see that it very rarely made mention of dice rolling or specific mechanics.

Combat has some slight changes, but it’s mainly optional rules and expansions of what you already know. I don’t mean to underestimate the changes that are here, but most of it really is intuitive and has slowly been implemented over the last few years anyway. The combat summary chart is well done and helpful to players of all experience levels. Tilts are probably the thing that will be the most new or unheard of those, but that is only because they were introduced in Danse Macabre for Vampire: The Requiem and thus if you only play, say, Forsaken or Mummy, these are probably new to you. Basically Tilts are Combat specific Conditions. They can be either personal (broken arm, temporary blinded) or environmental (sandstorm, blizzard). Again, these are all thing you’ve probably done instinctively or made up rules for on the fly at some point, but it’s nice to have them grouped together in one spot.

For Ghosts and other Ephemeral beings, rules from various (sometimes contradictory) books are combined and unified into one system. There are seventeen pages of rules just for ghosts, spirits, angels and the like, so fans of using or playing ghosts will see their world change the most. To be honest though, with all the rules for Twilight, Wraiths and the like spread across multiple books, this was a long time coming. The book then ends with a collection of new pieces of equipment for characters of all walks of life to use.

All in all the rules changes aren’t huge ones and as always, Storytellers and their troupe of gamers can ignore the changes or stick to the old way of doing things. I’d say the vast majority of edits and replacements are for the better. The problem will be getting people to use and/or remember the changes, especially if they assumed The God Machine Chronicle was just well…God Machine related.

All in all, The God Machine Chronicle is incredible. The basic premise is fantastic and one of the best things to come out of the New World of Darkness. It’s been sitting untouched more or less since what, 2004 and it’s nice to see something come of it. The adventures are fantastic, easily the best collection I think I’ve ever see White Wolf/Onyx Path Publishing put out (but then, how often do they actually DO collections instead of individual adventures). I went into this expecting something I could take or leave, and I came away being more impressed by this book than anything else I’ve read since the start of the New World of Darkness save for Mummy. If you’re a fan of either WoD, you really should pick this up as you’ll enjoy the writing even if your friends want nothing to do with playing the adventures or concepts contained herein. Hell, even if you’re not a Storyteller System gamer, any horror games should pick this up and devour it as there is so much to enjoy here. The lessons and stories this book holds can be applied to anything from say, Don’t Look Back to All Flesh Must Be Eaten. The Rules Update isn’t as big a deal as some have made it out to be in either extreme. Story trumps rules after all. I can’t heartily recommend this enough and honestly, between this, Mummy and Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th Anniversary Edition I haven’t been this excited for the World of Darkness as a whole since the mid 1990s. Just an amazing job in every way and I would love to see another, albeit more fleshed out, adventure collective just like this one in the future.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/14/2013 15:56:21

http://ethericlabs.blogspot.de/2013/05/the-god-machine-chronicles-review.html

God Machine Chronicles presents an exciting and eerie new default setting for mortal games of New World of Darkness, plus provides sample stories to be used for chronicles, and a revision of the rules, offering some new concepts to aid in the collaborative storytelling experience. This is a must buy for anyone wanting to tell mortal games that touch on cosmic terror.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Nathan H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2013 21:46:26

The New World of Darkness finally stepping out of its predecessor's shadow here to become its own thing. Now they finally can stand shoulder to shoulder as equals since the NWoD isn't trying to fit a previous pattern. Instead it presents a world of cosmic horror played out on the personal level - in addition to one of the best social influence mechanics I've ever read.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Jose B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2013 09:09:04

An excellent expansion of the core new World of Darkness that updates the rules set. Included are new rules for Integrity (Morality) expanded Virtues & Vices, combat (now your damage is added as automatic successes!!) and many others, such as new updated rules for Social Maneuvering (social combat introduced in Danse Macabre). The book itself presents a full chronicle that can be played and a 120 page rules appendix that can be downloaded for free!! The artwork is the standard high quality stuff we come to expect from White Wolf. Overall, very happy with this purchase and cannot wait to try the new rules at my table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by John W.
Date Added: 05/02/2013 21:33:14

Here is what I could have done with out, the 40 or so pages giving me advice on how to run a NWoD game, I have the core rules and pretty much everything White Wolf and Onyx Path have put out. I have a pretty good idea how to run a game, so thanks for that. The 100 or so pages of rules update, also great, because if I even cared about that I would have gotten the free rules update, because it's free and wouldn't add to the page count. So out of a 250 page book over half of it is redundant or not wanted.

As for the God Machine Chronicle it's self I'm not to happy with how nebulous and vague it is. I was kind of thinking it would be set up like Time of Judgement, with each chapter being a different way the GM(God Machine (I'm lazy)) would interact with the world. The book page count wise was big enough to have a few different "truths" for what the GM is or isn't. On the up side I felt that the way you could flow from local to cosmic scale story wise was very well done and some of the scenarios were also well done. I think what I was looking for was a OWoD meta-plot in book form and less of the NWoD vagueness.

Hell I would have been more happy paying less and just getting the chapters that had to do with the GMC(God Machine Chronicle(still lazy)) as opposed to paying 17.99 for 140 or so pages of "this is what a rpg is" and the rules update, is a free pdf. I guess what I'm saying is the pdf of GMC lacks bang for it's buck, that's the bottom line.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by william p. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/01/2013 18:43:29

Did having to do extensive math to determine character advancement bother you? Look no more, God-Machine Chronicles has rules for flat XP costs.

Did you want rules for procuring services like bodyguards or private investigators with your social merits? God-Machine Chronicles has rules for that.

Did you want a default setting to drop mortal characters into and plenty of advice on how to run games within the context provided? God-Machine Chronicles has that.

God-Machine Chronicles has so much to offer every player and Storyteller of every World of Darkness game.

My only complaint is that a few editing artifacts from previous versions remain, and need to have an editor go through them and correct.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
World of Darkness: The God-Machine Chronicle
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Todd V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/01/2013 12:09:09

Buildings move on secret tracks at night. Complicated constructs of gears can be briefly glimpsed hovering over the Autobahn. Men emerge from graffiti tags to forcibly separate two Seattles.

If you have the World of Darkness core rulebook, this book is two-fifths of a major rules overhaul and rebalancing, and three-fifths a guidebook to running adventures centered around the God Machine, detailed in the popular core rulebook fiction about the Pain Prophet of New Delhi.

If you don't have the World of Darkness core rulebook, you will require the basics of the nWoD system to run the God Machine Chronicle, but so much is replaced, and in such thorough detail that the books need not be cross-referenced, that the Nightmare on Hill Manor free quickstart will effectively do fine to supply that; almost everything needed on the fly is in the God Machine Chronicle book.

The God Machine is universe as malfunctioning clockwork. There is some manner of gestalt entity, composed of worldly "infrastructure" (ranging from buildings to machines to organizations of people) and bizarre "angels" (which may be anything from spiritual beings in human form to lion-headed serpents or mirror-sculpted vultures), working to some grand design which requires countless occult plans that feed into each other, wheels within wheels. While the existential dread of Lovecraftian overgod stories is present, the book does a good job of presenting how players, even on smaller scales, can still achieve victories and thwart the overgod's plans. The overgod is explicitly fallible; many of the adventure hooks, indeed, are results of the God Machine's plans going awry and setting off unforeseen consequences.

The chronicle section of the book is organized into an excellent extended Introduction, packed with short but punchy story hooks; a strong chapter of general Storytelling advice; a chapter of individual, modular adventures divided between Local, Regional, Global and Cosmic scale; and a rogues' gallery chapter consisting of NPCs and antagonistic God Machine angels mostly provided to supplement the previous chapter's adventures. The adventures, which form the centerpiece of the prepared chronicle, largely continue the blue book line's theme of frightening mystery, and can largely be used even isolated from the overall God Machine concept; indeed, I felt the chronicle felt less immersive the more assumptions were made about how much the player characters knew about the God Machine and its workings and interconnections. The adventures are short to the point of largely being premises. Rather than full adventure paths to walk characters through, they're situations the players may find themselves caught up in. The scope of the Global and Cosmic scale adventures is sometimes harmed by this lack of detail; the This Is Hell adventure especially feels insubstantial and lacking necessary detail.

The remainder of the book is a large Appendix consisting, effectively, of the Storytelling System, second edition. The rules overhaul is mostly positive. The anachronistic Gothic Morality system, where mental illness was caused by being a bad person, is replaced by Integrity, which is a less strictly defined system gauging mental stability and loses the "derangements" of the previous system. Introduced are Conditions, which are somewhat overspecific and unwieldy, but tie into the new experience system and Integrity, and boil down to a more explicit form of hanging modifier. The new experience system provides a reason to make dramatic failures, vanishingly rare in the old system, more frequent; players can voluntarily exacerbate rolled failures into dramatic failures in exchange for experience currency. Merits from all over the World of Darkness, including certain supernatural abilities from Second Sight and miscellaneous Merits from other game line supplements, are presented with updated rules, notably getting rid of some overpowered mechanics like the multiple attacks granted by certain Fighting Style Merits. The Storytelling System update gives a full accounting of every mechanic updated, rather than cross-referencing the core rulebook and only printing that which is changed, massively cutting down on any need to jump between the two books.

Of note in the Appendix are the new rules presented for ephemera. The World of Darkness core rulebook has rules for ghosts. That was nice, but always felt to me insufficient to run the esoteric brushes with the supernatural the setting demanded; the rest of the book presented a setting much more varied than a series of ghost stories. The God Machine Chronicle unites the ghost rules with rules for spirits (animistic predators from beyond the veil) and God Machine angels. This addition finally gives the World of Darkness blue book a feeling of a good baseline to work from without having to purchase more specific monster books. The expanded presentation of Numen powers for the ephemera to use is also appreciated. Less useful is the new system for ephemeral manifestation, which keys into specifically defined Conditions and complicated enough that it is presented with a flowchart. Conditions really don't feel designed to be used this way, and it's all unwieldy and probably best elided. The manifestation rules weren't great in the original rulebook either, though, so perhaps that's a wash.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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