" Some of those stories have scarred me. "
Title: Fall from Grace by White Wolf
Format: High-Level Powers Hunter Sourcebook
Reviewing Monkey: Genghis Kong
The Hype: The complete sourcebook for the highest level of power available to the Imbued, for Hunter: the Reckoning. Fall from Grace details Level Five Edges and the pitfalls of being an Extremist. Is it a valuable supplement to guide the veteran Hunter, or an unnecessary block of text which only bogs down game play? Funny you should ask….
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Drama: As with the vast majority of White Wolf supplements, "story" is the key word. Five of the seven sections are flavor prose, written to show how Extremists (Hunters with the maximum 10 points in their primary Virtue) view the world and interact with it. Contrary to what one might think, each section follows characters vastly different from one another, and is written in a style which holds the reader's attention with plot movement, while imparting valuable information on the thought processes of these champions of the Messengers. The opening text of the book is further journal prose from Fyodor (the prophetic author of Hunter: Apocrypha, discussed in earlier Hunter supplements), while the opening fiction depicts the second confrontation of Wendell Delburton (better known as Crusader17 from previous Hunter books) and Beatrice Tremblay (aka Oracle171), and Crusader's ascension to Divine patronage. The following three chapters each follow a specific type of extremist-the Independents, who are those forging their own path as Hunters, the Divine, or those Hunters who become direct vessels for the Messengers who Imbued them, and the Corrupt, or those who sell their souls for power. You couldn't ask for greater drama than the tales written in this supplement, and the stories themselves would have been worth reading outside the supplement as stand-alone works. 5 out of 5.
Layout and Presentation: The supplement is laid out as all Hunter sourcebooks are, starting out with opening fiction and leading to a table of contents, a brief introductory chapter explaining the purpose of the book and the content of individual chapters (as well as the ever-helpful "Source Material" section describing books and films in the vein of the story), with three chapters of prose illustrating the point of the supplement and a final chapter of game and Storyteller material, followed by a handful of bios of notorious Hunters. It is simple to navigate and requires only a brief flip-through for quick reference. The artwork is of strong quality, with a few notable exceptions (nothing will ever make me like Drew Tucker's art!) but with a majority of detailed (and visceral) images by artists Stephen Eidson, Kieran Yanner, and Steve Prescott (love those spiky demons!). There is nothing particularly good about the borders and typesetting, nor nothing particularly bad-they simply are, and are brushed aside by the eyes, which is generally the purpose of borders and typesetting to begin with (and why Pauline Benney is good at her job). 3.5 out of 5.
Playability: Level 5 Edges. The term alone piques the interest of a Hunter enthusiast, and why shouldn't it? They are the highest level of Edges in existence, and there is no set way to get them-ten points in a Virtue is still only enough to buy a Level 4 Edge, and that alone is a Herculean labor. Ascending to Level 5 Edges, it follows, seems an almost Sisyphean task, impossible by the terms set forth in the Hunter core book save by the bending of rules by a Storyteller. Fall from Grace details how gaining these Edges is possible, which makes the task no easier for a given player character. While informative to the extreme and brilliant in its execution, the subject matter tackled by Fall from Grace is almost intentionally unplayable, as any Hunter with Level 5 Edges is not only a powerhouse beyond reckoning but a force of nature; a being whose thoughts and actions are far from human, and certainly not a character suitable for continued tabletop play. The book itself repeatedly advises that such characters be retired, either becoming NPCs or receiving the long kiss goodnight and going out in a final act of sacrifice. The book makes for fantastic NPC creation and certainly works in the short-term for a player character, but such Hunters are ultimately doomed to retirement as game-imbalanced. This is, of course, the point of the sourcebook, which doesn't bother those of us out to gather together information (and did I mention revelations about the nature of the Messengers?), but doesn't take the sting out of the blow against players looking to make their already-powerful Hunter characters even more über. 3 out of 5.
Desired Content: One opens Fall from Grace expecting a vast store of information on Level 5 Edges, the nature of Extremist Hunters, and how to play a character so far removed from base humanity. In this arena, there are no disappointments, but rather rewards beyond measure. Not only does Fall from Grace deliver the goods on how Extremist Hunters act and how they obtain their Level 5 Edges, but it details two different types of Extremists beyond those known previously (referred to in the text as "Independents")-Divine Hunters, who have been blessed by the Messengers with the direct power of the holy, and Corrupt Hunters, who have been contacted by darker powers and do their vile bidding in exchange for abilities beyond that of any other Hunter. The text is original and gripping, and even ties up a few loose ends in the ongoing Hunter metaplot, so dedicated followers of the game (like this sick little monkey at the keyboard) have other reasons for reading. It even alludes to the upcoming Demon, the Fallen release. The only thing missing? Hunter-net posts! There's only one in the entire book. Still, if you can look past that, you'll see this particular section deserves a 4.5 out of 5.
|How badass is too badass? Fall from Grace will gladly tell you, though you may not like what you see. Psychotic obsessives, religious fanatics, demonic disciples bent on homicidal vengeance and rage disassociation… if you want Level 5 Edges, these are your contemporaries. It's a long, hard road into Hell, and you'd better not piss off the wrong people along the way, or Rigger111 will have your number.|
The Good: Fantastic prose, valuable information, and good and evil in a steel-cage lucha for your soul.
The Bad: Not enough Hunter-net, and Drew Tucker's… "art."
The Overall Ugly: Gritty imagery you can't get out of your head. Some of those stories have scarred me.
What it's Worth: Market. Get it before it goes out of print.