Welcome to a belated day two of our look at some of the tomes in Adamant Entertainment’s Imperial Age series! Since this one is another no-chapter-deliniation title, I’ll be giving a basic overview rather than anything big like normal.
Classic Creatures: Some very iconic Victorian-era monsters can be found within this tome. Mr. Hyde (an 8th-level Tough Hero), the Invisible Man (an 8th-level Smart Hero with a unique invisibility power), and even Dracula (a 16th-level Charismatic Hero/Strong Hero/Dedicated Hero) can be found within. One interesting example that I really like would be Frankenstein’s monster. Unlike the awakened flesh golem I expected, they made him into a unique giant. Brownie points for creativity. I must, however, disagree with their Dracula…he’s probably at least 20th level, since he is THE iconic vampire.
The Living Dead: There are many undead as well. A mummy known as Pharos, various vampires, and a few forlorn spirits of street urchins wronged by society. These are less exciting, but I can see a lot of them getting use in a Van Helsing-style campaign running around slaying them.
Demons and Foul Beings: Spring-Heeled Jack is one of the creatures in here that have their basis in real-world lore rather than a novel or story from the time. The writers also gave an add-on to the demonic machinations from Menace Manual and Urban Arcana in the form of the demonic locomotive and demonic submarine. There is also a “marsh devil”. This creature isn’t an actual devil, instead a sapient plant monster that derives energy from the swamp itself. There is one full-fledged demon, though; that is the desecration demon, a demon that anyone desecrating a church risks summoning. Not so sure on the desecration demon at first glance..it’s a demon that only appears when someone desecrates a church. You’d think the dukes of hell would realize “hey…that’s really not that big a portfolio. Dude, get a day job, like haunting murderers or something.”
Human Horrors: There are actually human characters in here as well. Most are Telepaths or Mages, but there are two major exceptions. One is Yasmeen the assassin, a belly dancer-attired upper-par assassin (a 10th-level Fast Hero/Infiltrator/Martial Artist). The other is the real-life terror known as Jack the Ripper. There are two main versions provided, the Scientist (a 6th-level Smart Ordinary) and the Butcher (a 10th-level maniac Strong Hero/Fast Hero). There are also vampire and cultist options for the Ripper presented, but not given stats outright. This is one thing I love about this book; each monster has several variations to let you pick and choose, usually having fantasy, occult adventure, and science explanations for each (for instance, Spring-Heeled Jack can be either an otherworldly demon or a steampunk vigilante with a primitive flamethrower and steam-powered jet boots).
Random Roundup: The rest of the creatures are mostly scattered from genre to genre. For instance, there are beastmen ala Doctor Moreau (three options are presented; these are the beastmen being made from scientific experiments, made from magical experiments, or being natural creatures in a fantasy world), with “engine rats” (4th-level ratmen Tough Ordinaries) being the example species fully fleshed out. Pygmies and the Phantom of the Opera are some other more random examples (although the Phantom, a 10th level Fast Hero/Charismatic Hero, might moreso qualify under “Classic Creatures”…oh well). The biggest random example are the Martians. They are the only extraterrestrials present, with their type being the octopus-like creatures from H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds. They even get stats for their tripod assault craft, which have a really nasty 3d10 damage heat ray. There is another nice option here of a fantasy version of the Martians; in this type of game, they are like the Mindflayers, and have crossed over from another dimension.
Yeah, there are some appendix materials as well. The first is a rage talent tree for the Tough Hero. It’s…okay, I guess, but I prefer my version from the Arkadenverse setting. Of course, I may be biased. 😛 The second appendix is for horror rules. This adds three new saves: fear saves, panic saves, and madness saves. I am not really a fan of using these types of rules, but if you play a Cthulhu-style d20 Modern, it could be very, very useful. It’s very well-thought out, all three parts. All are extensively covered, from just what really pushes your buttons in a panic save to just how depraved your mind can get with madness save failures. What I CAN see being used are the disorder effects. These are not tied directly to the horror rules so tight you cannot use them on their own merit. Amnesia, depression, obsession phobias, sociopathy…all have game rules here. Toughening is the only one that I cannot see getting too much use elsewhere, since it directly needs the madness rules. There are also some feats that bolster characters against panic, fear, or madness saves.
See my previous Imperial Age review. It’s the same here.
This is a great book. This is a book that I can see being used in Victorian England, ’20s urban slums, or even modern horror adventures. It’s that versatile with a few clicks of the brain. The stats are clear-cut, the various options instead of a single thread for one campaign style are great, and I cannot find much fault at all with it. 10/10.