Posted on September 24, 2004 by Flames
Written by Micah Skaritka, Dav Harnish and Frank Nolan, The Apophis Consortium, Ltd. (AP00100)
“The reputable nature of humanity has never been fundamentally important, until the truth was discovered.”
So Obsidian begins its underlying premise, written as if it were a great, literary work. The philosophy is blunt and unrepentant. Humans are born as parasites in the universe of “The Sheol.” Daemons, pre-humanity, originate as harmless creatures. Greed, perversion, hate and corruption, all byproducts of human evolution, warp a delicate balance of co-existence within the “The Sheol.” These negative energies turn the daemons into the archetypes we think of today. God, or “The Divinity” in Obsidian’s universe, then separates the warped plane from Earth into nine Circles in an attempt to prevent the darkness from spreading.
To ease the transition from historical background to the far-reaching future, Obsidian uses a first-person narrative technique. When the apocalypse occurs as Hell’s circles cross portals to Earth, you feel as if you understand not only why it happened, but why it had to happen. Once breached, humanity begins building a citadel known as “The Zone.” It is here where politics, money and power, science, technology, mystic prowess and corporations merge into a vast society defending itself from the daemon-ridden world. It is also here, set in 2299, where the game is primarily played.
What Obsidian does well is recognize itself as a complex gaming system. Like a teacher instructing their students, Obsidian begins each new section by addressing the first-time or inexperienced gamer. While some may find this approach to be rudimentary, this method is essential to this book given the extensive detail that Obsidian’s developers provide. Obsidian takes one step further by ensuring that the reader understands its terminology through glossaries and reference points. Definitions are mandatory here, as the terms ring familiar with religious and occult undertones. As you progress through the book, you will find yourself appreciating this careful attention to detail. Sections that you may have previously glanced through, you will read and reread. The Obsidian universe is one that is so well-created and well-written, that it is essential to know your limits both as a Narrator and as a player before you even begin.
To draw the reader into its universe, Obsidian’s creators employ a variety of techniques. Mixed within the stats, attributes, and powers, are real-play examples as well as a variety of short fiction. The stand-alone fiction enhances the storyline, and gives the reader a better feel for character development. A variety of artists that blend the futuristic with the fantastical are also employed here. One such artist, R.K. Post, does an excellent job representing characters through an old-fashioned press style. Post leaves no detail left unnoticed, from the use of drug paraphernalia to the saliva dripping from a set of razor-sharp teeth. The only thing Obsidian does not offer its readers within the book is a soundtrack to listen to as you read. Most assuredly, the music would sound as if the words on each page could express their own emotions. Dark. Contriving. Climatic. Base. Intelligent. Possible.
Obsidian is a game that allows you to forget you live in today’s world. From the moment you open this book, you will believe. Whether you are inside the Zone, fighting for your own survival, or a daemon unknown with powers that will leave your victims forever breathless, Obsidian’s message is clear. A black future is coming, and we humans have created it. It is Obsidian, the Age of Judgement.
Reviewer: Monica Valentinelli
Look for Obsidian: the Age of Judgement books at Noble Knight Games.