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To the Flame (Promethean) RPG Review

Posted on December 17, 2008 by GRIM


Available at RPGNow.com

Introduction
To the Flame is one of White Wolfs PDF based ‘adventure packs’ and another in the line of White Wolf’s relatively mature and developed products, specifically for the PDF market. This has been established in a line of products now, so I’ll spend less time praising and talking up the initiative they’ve taken on tailoring to the PDF market and concentrate a little more specifically on this particular product.

To the Flame is intended for Promethean, though, with a bit of work, it could be made to fit a crossover scenario, particularly a hunter based group. While the motivations of some of the ‘bad guys’ might need a little tweaking, as would the introduction, it should – otherwise – work fine.

Overview
There’s a town being terrorised by a monster, the same monster it was once terrorised by in the past. A ‘local’ Promethean wants to address the problem and deal with it, but to do that he needs help, using his abilities to draw the player group to him and negotiate with them over a pint or two to help him with the problem. Unbeknownst to him, or the player group, another party of ‘investigators’ is on the scene and also looking into the monster, though they may be up to something else at the same time. As to the creature itself, it seems to exist only to cause havoc and destruction. The group are left with a binary choice of what to do, but whichever path they choose, somebody is going to be boned.

Artwork
The artwork is patchwork and piecemeal, lacking overall cohesion. While the layout is simple and readable it lacks any real flare and just comes across as somewhat boring. As with almost all the other recent White Wolf products, especially within the nWoD, I find the graphic design, font choice and so forth to be lacking, especially compared with previous efforts.

Writing
The booklet is written concisely and well, though the story is a little hackneyed and – despite best efforts to make a non-linear story path and to provide a relatively free-form organisational structure – linear. Meeting a stranger in a bar and being given a quest is such an old plothook that Neanderthals considered it long past due for retirement and it’s a bit annoying to find it here. Alright, doing it for comedy or postmodern ironicism can be OK, but really, an inn-based mission start? In a White Wolf game?

The monster of the piece, Moth, also lacks any real sense for being there or doing what it’s doing. It really seems to exist only as a McGuffin, a hook to get the players into the moral dilemma of the main scenario and, as such, leaves the story quite weak. Reducing it in many ways to a ‘Monster of the Week’ episode.

Rules
The characters are all statted up and read to use, there’s a few new interpretations and bits and pieces that may prove useful elsewhere, such as a community that is ‘hardened’ to weirdness and so less affected by the game-destroying mechanics of Disquiet, then there’s some new powers and effects held both by the monster and by some other antagonists which could easily be used recurrently by other adversaries in other circumstances.

Conclusion
A deeply average adventure but one that’s open enough for use in other nWoD games with the nature of the antagonists and their powers providing a little more longevity to what would otherwise be a throwaway product.

Upsides
* Extremely well organised.
* Self-contained.
* Screen formatted.

Downsides
* A railroad with two forks is still a railroad.
* Uninspired plotline.
* ‘You meet a guy in a bar, he gives you a quest…’

Score
Style 3
Substance 4
Overall 3.5

Review by James ‘Grim’ Desborough

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