Categorized | RPGs

Chicago Workings RPG Review

Posted on April 21, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy

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Chicago Workings is a World of Darkness adventure released under the Storytelling Adventure System from White Wolf Publishing. Written by Will Hindmarch (with a little help from Ken Hite and Bill Bridges) this adventure puts the player characters in the middle of an ongoing conflict between rival architects. At first that doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but what if these two designers had access to mystical writings? These writings allowed them to build geometric grids of power within the city, forever altering the flow of magic and power.

The characters get involved when one of the designers, who they have befriended in his advanced age, is attacked by agents of the other. This propels the characters (hopefully) into action on behalf of their friend. Once involved they begin to discover just how deep this rivalry goes and for how long it has continued. The characters will learn some of the secrets of this feud and about the “Chicago Workings” document which has fueled matters from some time (the document has taught each of them just enough Sacred Geometry to be dangerous). What they do next is up to them…

Specifically, this product opens up with a bit of fiction by Kenneth Hite. The piece is a bit creepy and sets the tone for the adventure rather well. Plenty of hints regarding ghosts, mystic elements and Chicago’s dark history.

After the opening fiction, Chicago Workings has an overview of the feud between Burgess and Ellsworth (the rival architects whose feud has been raging for decades throughout the city), some interesting bits about Sacred Geometry and the Mystic Matrix that has been built throughout the years. Characters with occult leanings will no doubt be fascinated by this information and this could lead them to further investigations past this story. Also featured are detailed write-ups of the major Storyteller Characters that affect this story. There are notes on customizing these NPCs to better fit your game and even suggestions on using them against supernatural characters from Vampire or Werewolf. All-in-all, there is plenty of useful material for Storytellers to keep things interesting throughout this adventure.

After the detailed section of history and the breakdown of how Sacred Geometry works comes the section on specific Scenes of this adventure. There are three Acts, each with a few separate Scenes for the characters to explore. Included in several of the Scenes are handy maps of the locations the characters will be exploring and other notes. Each Scene is broken down with an Overview, Description, Storyteller Goals and Tips, Character Goals and a detailed breakdown of the major Action of the Scene (with notes on Failure, Success and Exceptional Success). The Scene wraps up with an Outcome telling the Storyteller what the characters should have learned and where they might go from here. This flow of detail, combined with the Scene Cards from the end of the product help the Storyteller maintain the flow of the adventure and keep everything in a handy set-up so details rarely get overlooked.

There is an Aftermath section at the end with a new Merit (Architectural Attunement) and some ideas for further adventures that the characters could have as a result of this story. Architectural Attunement looks really useful for characters with Occult leanings, but not-so-much for anyone else. Still, the adventure itself is the fun part of Chicago Workings, the new Merit is just a bonus.

While this adventure takes place in the city of Chicago, I don’t feel that the World of Darkness: Chicago book is required to make the adventure work. It could certainly be useful, especially in an ongoing game or if this adventure is used for one of the other World of Darkness game lines (I could see this adventure working especially well for Mage: the Awakening or Vampire: the Requiem). The other book mentioned at the beginning of the text is World of Darkness: Antagonists. This was used for some of the supernatural “effects” that the characters will have to deal with during the adventure. Everything a Storyteller needs is presented in the adventure, though, so having Antagonists is not necessary.

Chicago Workings is both a ghost story and an occult investigation. This is not a “difficult” adventure, but it could be challenging at times and should spark plenty of interaction between the player characters. Players looking for big action scenes won’t find too many of them in this adventure. Storytellers can certainly add in a few more Physical challenges should they find the need to spice things up a bit.

The dark moody artwork by Sam Araya and the design/layout by matt milberger combine add plenty of atmosphere to the story. The maps of the city and those of Burgess’ house are a nice addition, but too small to be of much practical use.

This could make a fun starting adventure for a group of characters. They would start to discover that the world around them can be a haunted, angry place with ghosts, magic and more. Even though they may resolve this particular mystery, others remain. Who wrote the original “Chicago Workings” document that started the feud? Are there other copies still out there? What about other cities? Has Sacred Geometry been used to alter them as well?

Look for Chicago Workings and other Storytelling Adventure System eBooks at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.

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One Response to “Chicago Workings RPG Review”

  1. Neuronphaserr says:

    Thanks for the solid review! Very detailed and gives a good sense of what you get. I’d be interested to hear a little more of a playtest review for something like this, but that’s just a nitpick. Great review!

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