Categorized | Fiction, RPGs

The Testament of Longinus Review

Posted on June 17, 2009 by spikexan

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Most players enjoy something tangible given to them in a game. It can be as simple as dice, poker chips, and a character sheet; nevertheless, the experience deepens when newspaper articles, photos, and varied memorabilia are also handed out. People are bound by their senses.

The more senses used during a game greatly intensifies the overall experience. Attack them all. While the Testament of Longinus (PDF $7.99) won’t smell like a centuries old text, it’s still a masterfully fun little addition to the World of Darkness (and you can always check-out an old book from the library to relate that old smell for your players). This psudo-document follows the story of a self-described “antichrist” as he moves from criminal to vampire to . . . something more.

I normally go over a game’s layout first, but I’ll tackle artwork first today. The reason is simple. The nature of this product permits it to have no artwork. While it is true that some holy texts do have classically rendered art plates within them, most don’t. The “no artwork” decision works perfectly for this little manifesto. I italicize that statement because the cover is still a piece of fantastic art. Its design reflects the soft aged leather of a forgotten book, obviously using the Bible as inspiration. I hope White Wolf offers a print run of this tidy little beast as most self-printing jobs will not do it justice. After all, this is billed as an “in-game prop.”

Layout still exists. A problem exists when creating these great little in-game props. With marketing woes, there has to be some indication of the copyright, authors, PDF ownership stamp, and so forth. The layout of this book permitted this to be a very minuscule distraction. The PDF has several blank pages, which were a little annoying to me. Overall, the positives outweighed the negatives when it came to the final product. The book looks and reads like a cross between the Bible and a journal of religious essays. The structure of the book lends perfectly to this.

Since the Testament of Longinus is pure text, it seems a bit unfair to judge its layout. Only through sheer incompetence would this project get messed up and White Wolf isn’t known for blanket failures like that.

One deeply amusing thing about reading this book is the journal portion of the book. In it, the writers critique the pseudo-religious text, bickering about the changes in authors and so forth. The writers did a fantastic job sounding like different authors, spanning across hundreds of years. In a sense, the journal portion of the book offers a rich review of the testament portion.

Fun, fun stuff.

Fans of White Wolf’s other prop titles like the Book of Nod will get the most from this product. On the flip side, it is also the rare kind of RPG accessory that can garnish the wrong kind of attention. Although it pains me to admit it, there are things in the book that could easily fuel the anti-rpg or Bible-beating community. For those who forget that it is pure fiction, the account of a horribly debauched criminal can become a case study of the kind of “ideals” gamers strive towards. Coupled with the unique treatment and layout of the book, it could be a conversation starter. A full reading of the book would discredit them right away, but full readings don’t always occur. I only mention this because I was one of those kids with worrisome parents. The Book of Nod caught all the wrong kinds of attention from them over ten years ago.

Defending one’s hobby can be a good thing though, especially when you’re prepared for it. The crowd that may not appreciate this book are those seeking out hard-game material. There is nothing in the book to stat out Longinus. No graphs. No weapons lists for Roman Centurions. This is pure fiction.

The material in the book can quickly put characters on a quest for the mystical Longinus. He’s another Caine, Christ, or Boogeyman. His story and accomplishments are envied by too many factions for this book not to have impact in most Vampire or even Hunter games. With the correct angle, it could even be brought into a fully different system. Who is to say a Delta Green cell wouldn’t want to find and destroy such a sanity-splitting tome?

All in all, I think this book is a great addition. I’d prefer it to be a print release just because it would feel closer to its intended purpose. My scores for this gaming prop are:

Layout: Five out of Five Dice
Artwork: Five out of Five Dice (Loved the worn look to the tome)
Writing: Four out of Five Dice (Mostly engaging)
Overall: Four (and a half) out of Five Dice (Might be too dry for some tastes)

Review by Todd Cash

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