Posted on July 16, 2012 by Michael Holland
Available at RPGNow.com
Written by Matt McFarland
White Wolf Publishing
The moment a happy resident of the natural world becomes aware of the supernatural is a scene that we are all familiar with. Whether this scene appears in literature, graphic novel, television or film we have witnessed the human drama of a character who has realized they no longer understand the world they live in, they are not the top of the food chain and they are not safe. What will they do? How will they cope with these paradigm shattering revelations? Will they survive?
Falling Scales Chapter One takes players deep into this kind of scenario and fleshes it out into a chronicle for characters in the World of Darkness. The characters see something they were not meant to see and they have no choice but to confront this new reality. They are quickly swept up by a group which calls itself the Unmasked, a cult which takes in those who have been exposed to the truth. The Unmasked is run by a charismatic woman named Anna Christopher who is ruthless in supporting her cause to gather information about the supernatural so she can then expose it to the world. How far will she really go to achieve those goals? Or more importantly how far will the characters go before they hit their limits and what will they do when that happens?
“Courage and Will” is the theme which runs through this chronicle. Everyone is scared of the dark but due to circumstance the protagonists of this tale are being asked to venture into the darkness to see what is hiding there. Anna’s cult is a great tool for motivating characters to keep moving “Down the Rabbit Hole” (the mood of the chronicle) but ultimately they are on their own. Likewise when the Unmasked are revealed in all their depravity the characters will need to find it in themselves to face that threat as well.
An interesting twist on this tale is the introduction of a new Merit called Memetic Infection. The origin of this infection is unspecified and left to the devices of each storyteller for now but it has spread to most of the cult. When the troupe witnesses the supernatural and is exposed to members of the Unmasked they become infected as well. Infected characters develop the ability to subconsciously pick the supernatural out from the natural. As the character is further engaged by the supernatural the infection grows and the character develops resistances and some immunities. While this may seem like a boon there is more to the infection. Check out future installments in the chronicle to learn more.
This chronicle is an excellent starting point for new characters and troupes will find it to be a very interesting jumping off point for a chronicle. The only book which is necessary to use Falling Scales Chapter One is the World of Darkness Rulebook. That book will provide you with all the rules to play as well as ample source material to add flesh to the story. I also recommend a few books which I feel would add a lot of valuable source material to Falling Scales but they are by no means necessary. These include the World of Darkness Antagonists, World of Darkness Book of Spirits and World of Darkness Ghost Stories. The first provides a diverse selection of entities which troupes can investigate on the behest of the Unmasked. The second does the same with a focus on the spirit world. The third is a great tool for storytellers who really want to beef up the ghostly inhabitants of the chronicle.
Following this S.A.S. there is quite a bit of material for troupes which wish to continue the story. Falling Scales Chapter Two is still in production and will continue this story upon release. Already in print the Hunter the Vigil game line is the perfect place to find inspiration and source material.
Rating: Five out of Five Stars
Reviewed by Michael Holland