Posted on December 10, 2012 by Megan
Available at RPGNow.com
The Zalozhniy Quartet provides resources necessary to running a complete campaign utilising the Night’s Black Agents concept and ruleset to the full. It’s not, however, something you can flip through and then run, like the game itself it requires thorough preparation and planning by the Director (GM) in advance, but will repay that effort by inspiring an epic and memorable experience for all involved.
Involving the core concept of the game – a vampire-led conspiracy across post-Cold War Europe – the book presents a detailed Conspyramid (the mechanic used to map the conspiracy player-character agents are combating) that spreads its tentacles from central Europe clear across to Baghdad. Resources provided include allies as well as enemies, locations in several cities, complete city details, maps and an almost bewildering array of events that you can throw at your characters… even some pre-generated ones, of particular use should someone fall by the wayside as the adventures proceed.
The really stand-out feature, however, is that whilst the campaign comes in four sections you can run them in any order! Each has links and leads to all of the other sections, plant the most appropriate clues depending on where you’d like to take the adventure next. Each segment also has an optional ‘capstone’ event that can be used as a climax to bring the campaign to a close, run this for the fourth section that you use once the characters have gathered all of the pieces. Yet, it is sectionalised enough that you will be able to run other non-related adventures interwoven with the ones herein if you so wish.
The whole campaign captures the feel inherent in the core rulebook excellently with plenty of scope for the characters to grow, develop, struggle as the experienced mercenary spies that they are supposed to be, complete with options presented based on the mode of game you have chosen to run. It’s very cinematic, with just about every angle you can possibly imagine from edge-of-the-seat chases and combats to tense surveillances, data intrusion, classic bluffs and human engineering, subtle baroque plotting to action-packed ‘gun-and-run’ adventure, with no less than two overarching plotlines weaving their way through the four well-focused stories of the individual sections.
There is a lot for the Director to keep track of, as well as a lot of preparation in defining actual locations and the details that make your alternate reality come alive for your players. Make that effort, though, and you will create together adventures that you will remember for years to come. If you and your players want intense cinematic adventure and the chance to defeat ancient conspiracy, evil horrors and the more everyday plots of Russian gangs and other undesirable elements, this is well worth delving into.
Review by Megan Robertson