October 13th, 2011


The heat is on

When I saw my acupuncturist last week, the diagnosis was "some heat, weak  spleen, deficient kidneys".  Somehow, between pushing myself slightly and not taking the right herbs I got more and more tired.  When I was tired at the weekend and didn't do anything, I blamed it on a mild bug.  I decided I needed a midweek 'weekend' to compensate and took yesterday off as leave, which was the right thing to do since Tai Chi on the night caused my lungs to announce their neglect and I had an  impromptu late-night physio session.   The thickness and colour told me it was heat (but not likely infected due to the ongoing oral antibiotics which seem to be doing nothing but making me more tired).

Yesterday I took no 14 and did a really good physio.  Then went for a walk and did some more.  At least I got out which was part of the point of the exercise and I do feel better.  Just a nasty reminder that I need to stay on top of my lungs of they suffer, and that 'recovering' from this down spell is going to be long and hard, especially while work constantly tempts me into doing more than is sensible.


Review: Inklings of Power

Inklings of Power (Ravencross Publishing, 2008)

This was the  first supplement to Lesser Shades of Evil, and is really a source guide for Angelion-focussed stories  - not that it's clear from the blurb.  It leaps straight into advanced mechanics, including 26 pages on mass combat and  finishing with small section on playing becoming Fell Lords.  The GM section starts with 8 pages of plot hooks then five options for end game scenarios.  The last section contains 21 pages about Corvus's home of the Dream Kingdom and a couple of smaller sections on two more fell kingdoms.  Curiously, nothing much on Thorn Rose, Ambose's prison, promised from the core book.

The look

The books printed on demand via lulu.com and is black and white (to reduce costs presumably) but in fact the cover is beautiful and the interior art varies from fantastic to just good - but always evocative and appropriate.  Unfortunately the printing quality does impinge slightly.

The good

The sections on Fell Lords and the Fell Kingdoms are fairly helpful to advanced players and to the ST, especially the former.  The  mechanics for mass warfare while not my favourite ever are actually fairly elegant and make sense.

The bad

If you are interested in playing a non-angelion story this book has very little for you.  Indeed, there is very little in here if you aren't playing a large campaign and seems largely aimed at those who want something epic. 

The core of the mass combat mechanics lies in giving units three key stats.... but nowhere does it say how these are derived.  Rather, it gives stats for quite a lot of 'standard' forces.  It seems to punish imaginative STs and players who produce other types of force.  There isn't anything really stated for unconventional combat either, although at least there is space for an ST to include it if inclined.

The ugly

My real beef with Inklings, having waited for it then waited to read it, is that it's dull.  It reads like someone took this really broad, deep game then took all worst bits and expanded on them. 

For a game that already has a complex system, I think starting with more options is a weak start, especially moving onto, in effect, Legendary abilities.  I also prefer Apocalypse's (the last book from W:tA) approach to war - the characters are just one small part so focus on what they are doing and let the war happen as a painting around them.  Even if the players are instigating the war and HAVE the power to make a huge difference themselves (something I happen to think not particularly fun), do you need mechanics for it?  It's not like they include much in the way of tactics, it's just number crunching.  Why not encourage the players to focus on the personal element of it, the confrontation between allies and enemies, the impact of committing 500,  5000, 50000 troops to die?

On the other hand, the plot hooks are a nice idea, too bad they are all fairly dry.  Meanwhile the "n returns" apocalypse scenarios are not sufficiently different that they need their own section - most of it is taken up with stats of their armies (see previous paragraph).  Finally, right at the end, we get the flavour, the Fell Kingdoms.  There are some good twists here, but any sign that Corvus might be the champion (as hinted at points in the core book) are fimly dropped in favour of 'he's mad'.  Moreover, the bulk of the descriptions is useless for setting a game, only useful for a place to invade or subvert.  There is at least scope for the Fell Kingdoms to be used for political settings amongst Fell Princes/Lords.

Overall, Inklings is disappointing book that I can't recommend despite loving the core.

Execution: 5 (almost a 4)
Ideas: 4