Book of Spirits (World of Darkness)

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Press:Psi White Wolf Publishing (May 30, 2007)
Author Name:Schaefer, Peter


A Settings Book Intended For Use In All The Wod Product Lines. 
Highly Anticipated.


Science Fiction & Fantasy,Gaming,World of Darkness,General

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Comment List (Total:5)

  •     Book of Spirits is a information tome and antagonist book meant for all games within the World of Darkness. To my knowledge, it should be useful in mortal, Vampire and definitely Mage games. I cannot say about Werewolf since I don't follow that, but the authors seem convinced that this will supplement not replace Werewolf books on spirits. References to Werewolf books in this one would seem to indicate that Werewolf books have more detailed and specific information on spirits than this. This book tends to be fairly general about spirits, establishing a level from which storytellers can build specifics.The introduction as usual sets out what the theme and mood of the book is, though the authors don't exactly do this directly. Rather, they point out that they decided to make the Shadow Realm a mad, dark reflection of an already dark setting. They claim that it should be 'easy enough' to make this spirit world a bit brighter, but personally, I find that this book follows a common method of the World of Darkness: the darkness is greater not because of what they put in but what they take out, and that is harder to counter. Anyway, the first chapter sort of continues with setting the theme and mood, as instead of going into specifics of the spirit world, it recounts stories of how ordinary mortals have been made contact with that world, and sometimes also how the material world has affected the spirit world. It is basically story hooks and background info, and it also establishes a minor theme of the book: including things from Werewolf and Mage that can be used in other games without the fine details from those games.The second chapter gets into the fine details. It defines the spirit setting. It begins by giving rules on how the spirit world and the material world affect each other, then moves into the points of direct contact between the worlds. Throughout this chapter and the next there are plot hook sub bars and three or four little descriptions of some specific thing for story use. There are locations, but also urban myth type rituals that may give some knowledge or access to the spirit world or other things. After contact are details on travelling and surviving as a mortal within the spirit world. Then comes a general description of the spirit world, various places unusual even there, and descriptions of what is found in the Shadow of urban areas and of natural ones. It is a huge chapter. This might be a good time to mention that White Wolf is no longer putting extensive bookmarks in their ebook versions, and if any book needed more than just chapter bookmarks, it's this one. Eventually, it gets to the fine details of spirits. This whole section is still conceptual, not game mechanic specific. It sets out the life cycle of spirits, defining why they live as they do. It is another long section, but White Wolf sum it up with the phrase "survival of the fittest". This is one area where I find it difficult to adapt to the setting. To me, the natural and therefore spirit worlds should define that phrase in the sense Darwin actually meant, that a creature that survived was fitter than one that got killed. White Wolf uses the phrase in the social darwinist/eugenicist style usually restricted to humans: kill others before they kill you. The spirit world is truly an ugly, brutal place.After this come two chapters on game mechanics. The third chapter is about merits, mostly for ordinary mortals, that allow them to interact with spirits. For some reason these new merits all have built-in drawbacks. It is a strange addition to the game, especially since the merits seem to mostly be about making it easier for spirits to torment those that have them before getting to the drawbacks. There seems to be little incentive for players to pick any of these new merits. The chapter also has an extensive collection of cursed items tainted by the spirit world and some new fetishes and rites for Werewolves. There is an optional new Discipline for Vampires, that gives them ability and incentive to deal with spirits. Also, while the rites are Werewolf-only, the fetishes can be used by anyone (anyone gullible, in one case).The fourth and final chapter at last sets out the game rules for spirits. This deals with everything: gaining and spending Essense, the use of Influences, and of course the Numina spirits have. The Numina listing is a mix of things from various previous games with new ones (I presume some are not in previous Werewolf books). Following that are many examples of the various types of spirits. Most of them are quite weak so that the storyteller can expand and adapt them, but a few are strong and good examples of developed spirits. That said, back in the intro it stated that weak spirits are still a big challenge for characters other than Werewolves or Mages. This section includes people that are ridden by spirits, from people as living fetters, to the types of roaming spirits that possess people, to the Claimed. The combinations are as usual quite strange and intriguing.
  •     Although it's met with mixed reactions, this book fills a much needed roll in the new World of Darkness. As the name might imply, it covers spirits... and all things related to them. Only instead of being focused on a particular gameline like, say Werewolf: the Forsaken, the information is much more general and can easily be applied to anything from mortals to vampires to changelings or any other monster. As such, gaming groups that don't have access to Werewolf or Mage (both of which already contain extensive information on spirits) will get just as much usage out of this book as those that do.The first chapter opens up with Invisible Lore, detailing how spirits interact with mortals and the mortal world, and how human perception color encounters with these alien beings and abstract representations of concepts. It includes a number of sample characters who, with only a little work or re-imagining, could easily be used as NPCs in any game. You've got people who have encounters with djinn, devils and even UFOs, a 'good ol' boy' who thinks he's communing with ghosts of former Klansmen and pagans who think they are paying homage to the Old Gods, monsters under the bed and Hermetic occult systems trying (unsuccessfully) to learn about the Shadow, and folks who inadvertently have become beacons to the spirit world. Even suggestions on how to incorporate tainted locations or use the material with Hedge Magicians from Second Sight. Very good stuff.Next it moves on to detailing the Shadow itself, and it's denizens. For those who don't have access to Werewolf or Mage, it fleshes out (and expands upon) the material from those books, explaining what the Shadow (spirit world) is, the Gauntlet that seperates the two worlds, Verges, Loci and Blights, and how the Shadow differs from the deepest wilderness to the heart of the urban jungle. Not only this, but it gives some sample locations to use in your games, and methods for mortals (and vampires, etc) to cross INTO the Shadow, and the dangers of doing so. Moreover, it also gives details on how to flesh out spirits and information on their predatory spirit-eat-spirit hierarchy. Great stuff for any game, but the most valuable part is that it includes information on how many supernaturals and their powers interact with the Shadow. That alone is a huge plus for the book.From this, we jump to a chapter crammed full of useful mechanics. The book includes several new Merits and a couple of Flaws for any games, be they mortal or supernatural, dealing with spirits and the spirit world. Werewolves and Mages aren't left out, and in fact, the former get a couple of new Rites and Fetishes, while the latter get some new Artifacts. Cool but not ground breaking. But for integrating Vampires... well, theres a whole new Discipline called Blood Tenebrous, designed specifically for interacting with the spirit world. Although it is assumed to be a rare Discipline that theoretically any Vampire could learn or develop, the book also mentions it would be appropriate for a Mekhet bloodline (which is not explored further). But the real juicy part here? A new type of Merit - Cursed Items. These are objects that have absorbed spiritual resonance over time, usually quite bad, and can create certain effects... always with some drawback. Think of the monkey's paw or bargains with the djinn and you've got the right idea. Again, very cool.The final chapter, which is probably the biggest in the book (and justifiably so), deals with spirits themselves. It contains detailed character creation rules for spirits, much moreso than Werewolf or Mage have given, including making them powerful appropriate to their rank and designing their bans, and the Numina. There's easily 60-75 Numina listed in the book, expanding greatly on previous material, so even Werewolf STs will get quite a bit of use out of this chapter. Moreover, theres also a 'spirit bestiary' detailing various things you can throw at your players. Of course this includes some things you'd expect... nature spirits, elementals, spirits of abstract concepts like gluttony and envy. But theres other stuff too. The Hammerbull was freaky, and the idea of elementals of void/nothingess was brilliant. It also includes a fair number of Claimed, mortals who have been taken over/possessed by spirits. And not just humans either, but also animals and inanimate objects. Alot of twists here.I think alot of people running Werewolf or Mage games might, understandably, be somewhat apprehensive about this book. Nonetheless, it greatly expands upon and clarifies the previous material on spirits, so Mages and especially Werewolves might get even MORE use out of this book than mortals, Vampires, Prometheans, etc. There are alot of twists and cool ideas that break outside of the box, so it'll keep them on their toes. Even so, the other game lines will still get alot of usage out of this book too. In fact, given that they are much more limited in their interactions with the spirit world, it may even make them that much more horrific. Pretty much anything you could ever want to do with spirits is covered in this book, and better still, theres alot of inspiration to use too. Its an essential book for any World of Darkness games.
  •     This is a really nice extension to World of Darkness, It's really recommended for NWoD:ers who like me, like horror tales then hero-tales.
  •     One of the complaints I had with Antagonists is that a section expanding on Ghosts and Spirits wasn't included. After seeing this book, I'm happy to see that Spirits got their own book.Simply put, this is a must have for WOD and this book works beautifully for any of the other games. There's new Merits for Mortals dealing with Spirits. For Vampire, a new Discipline is included so that they have a chance and opportunity to better interact and confront Spirits. For Werewolf and Mage who already have rules and powers for dealing with them, this book offers up new Imbued Items and Fetishes and the book provides a host of new Spirits for them to confront, new Numia and creation of new Spirits to tailor any Chronicle.
  •     This book is what you'd expect: advice and tools for using spirits in WoD, including a bestiary chapter. I think there's a good amount of crunch to it - Merits, Flaws, Numina, a vampiric Discipline - all related to spirits. Features systems for creating spirits as well, and the new Numina are cool and suitable for spirits as well as ghosts in many cases. This book brings me comfort as a Storyteller in dealing with the vast, alien world of Shadow.

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