So last night, we created 3 player characters and received our introduction to the world.
Monte Cook's take on this game is interesting. The world is modern day, and very normal, up until about a year ago. A force or set of beings, it is unclear of what it is or even if it is aware of humanity, attempted to undo the reality that we know, destroying the universe in its wake. This force is known as the Iconnu (the "n" missing from Inconnu is how they spell it in this title). The attempt failed, supposedly stopped by the "Awakened" which is a small percentage of humanity that is the most "human". It is not even clear how the Awakened stopped or impeded the attempt, but it is known that the Awakened and their very existence is the only thing staving off the end of the universe.
At the same time that this "attack" failed, the world was still changed. Nightmare zones of undeath, cataclysm, weirdness, etc. have erupted around the world, the largest of which is in the plains lands of the US, centralized in northeaster South Dakota. From these Nightmare zones come Nightmare waves, which alter reality as they land upon areas near the Nightmare zone. Also, the Iconnu have brought about agents to destroy the Awakened so that the attempt to destroy reality will succeed.
- Vampires - These are host humans that have been infused with human souls of murderers, molesters, the horrrible dregs of society. These beings actually have a struggle inside them between their two souls, of which the evil tends to win out.
- Werewolves - Like the Vampires, they two have two souls. One is the human host, the other a beastly spirit from another plane of existence.
- Demons - Not human at all, the Demons are few in numbers but are also the direct agents of the Iconnu. They work in subtle ways, infiltrating all ranks of civilization. More than any other, the Demons are responsible for discounting the claims of the Awakened that there is an apocalypse occurring, that there is a war here. They spin propaganda to keep the populace in check.
- Awakened - The humans that is keeping the Iconnu at bay, they are the pinnacle of humanity. Often gifted with superior skills, abilities, and prowess, these are a determined group that is actively trying to expose the Iconnu. Many of the Awakened still do not realize what they are, making them easy prey for the Iconnu. This is another goal for the Awakened, to find others and protect them while exposing the truth to them.
- Mages - With such changes in reality, Magic is once again a part of the world. Those that have practiced it and failed suddenly now succeed. These are humans, but don't necessarily have a specific side they work for. Most mages are with the Iconnu, but that is for varying reasons, as chances are they don't know the whole truth.
All of these types can be played as characters. There are no race/class combos, as you simply pick a type and that is what you are. You can play a Demon or other agent, but must find a reason for being one of the "good" guys. Such as a Demon that does not want this reality to be destroyed, because he has found the pleasures in this world far greater than any other existence it has known.
We chose the following:
Mage - Not like standard d20, this mage is just like the mage system, warped into a d20 system. It is very confusing at first, but the sheer flexibility inherent to the Mage system makes this impossible to avoid. The nice part is that you can decide to use Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma for your casting statistic, allowing for great flexibility in your build.
Awakened - Gotta have one right? Kind of like a fighter/rogue sort of class, but with no set abilities save tons of skill points and bonus feats. All of the rogue abilities and fighter type abilities are represented by feats, which means that you don't have to get backstab, but you can.
Werewolf - This is the class that seems the most pigeon-holed, as it basicly works like a berserker in D&D, but with rights, which are more like very limiting psionic powers. It is a little bit odd, but for someone that wants to simply be able to rip limbs off and go berserk in a fight, hey it works.
System difference that we have noticed:
- You start with 4 hit dice at first level.
- You start with only one level worth of skill points (but get skill themes which sort of makes up for that).
- Armor does not add to your defense rating, in fact it reduces it but gives damage reduction (i.e. 5/- ).
- Magic is totally different from any d20 system I have used, but works most like a psionicist that has base components to a power, that can be swapped in and out at varying costs to create new powers.
- Demons are bad ass! Really, they are very tempting to play from an ability and power standpoint, but who wants to be a bad guy at heart that simply rationalized a reason for being good.
- You start out with very high stats, but then again we realized that Monte Cook's name is on the book, so that probably is necessary.
- Level advancement can be handled in multiple ways as laid out in the book, but if you go the standard xp route, you need more of it than standard to advance (not sure why yet).
- Rather than having several feats like "Nimble: gives +2 to tumble and +2 to sleight of hand" there is one called Skilled, which gives you +2 to any two skills. Duh, how simple was that.
- There are tons of new skills and/or new uses for skills that just aren't usual for D&D, like "Computer Use" or "Disable Device used to disable an electric fence".
- The book is written in the Monte Cook style, with lots of weird and usually humorous references, such as "Sample cravings for a Demon: Salt, Alcohol, Ham, Horse Urine, Puppies, Antifreeze."
All in all, it definitely has potential. The setting can lend to investigation, run and gun (aka hack and slash), exploring, save-the-world, who-gives-at-rats-ass, or pretty much anything. I won't actually play the game until October sometime, so I will have to wait and see how it goes. Post back when I have more.