|Written by Brian Campbell|
|Cover Art: Kevin Murphy|
Like the best-selling Progenitors and Iteration-X sourcebooks, New World Order offers a brief but informative look at Technocracy agents. Book One examines the history, politics, and society within the Convetion as seen by a Man In Black himself. Book Two offers an array of gadgets, devices, tactics, agents and procedures, as well as a complete Construct, a safe house for the soldiers of the Order.
Capsule Review: "Buy. This. Book."
In depth review: Buy this book.
With the news of a 2nd Edition for Mage, I was cautiously elated. The game needs a massive reorganization on the level that Vampire and Werewolf received. Still, I was worried about the material as presented so far becoming invalid. If NWO is a sign of what we can expect from the second edition, invalidation of the past is a _good_ thing.
In short, this book _should_ have been twice as long, and labelled "The Technocracy." Indeed, our understadning of the Technocracy seems to be from the NWO point of view, which is what we expected. However, the strength of this book is the weakness of all the others in the "Technocracy" line; all the rest shrivel in comparison.
From its very premise, NWO gives a big nod to all of Anders' comments about what the Technocracy ought to be. For instance, they don't use "magick," "focus," "spheres," anything! The NWO has its own terminologywhich is internally consistent, presenting a provocative optional system. A Trad and a Techno could be at adjoining tables in a restaurant, chatting about their Craft, and neither would be aware of the others presence.
The NWO gave the world "vulgar" magick, rather than Dynamic, the old term. To quote from the book, "Magick is more than a crime -- it is an obscenity." On every page, some new snippet can be found that enhances the overall understanding of how the Technocracy functions. The writer, Brian Campbell (who I have a whole new regard for) obviously put a lot of thought into creating not only playable villains, but also villains people wanted to play. They can be snide, nasty, and cold, but dammit, they're RIGHT! The WoD _is_ going to hell in a henbasket, and only strength and unity of purpose will get us there.
The structure of the NWO is interesting, to say the least. The first part details the training of a MIB, from recruitment on, and we can easily get into the thought processes of the protagonist. This was a major flaw in the other Technocracy books. The people detailed therein didn't seem terribly realistic. They were talking for the sake of talking, and didn't seem like the kind of people the Technocracy wanted working for them. Not so here. The characters, despite their mundanity, are almost vibrant.
And now the "rotes" and "talismans," heretofore called "Proceedures" and "Gadgets." They're amazing. They really are. I once thought that a reliance on rotes would hurt the Technocracy. Hell, when they get writers this good making up their stuff, who needs on-the-fly decisions. My favorite proceedure is entitled, "The Red Button," as in, "My God! Don't press The Red Button!" It's a favorite means of bringing down the technotoys of the SoE. As for the gadgets...let's just say James Bond is a loyal tool of the Technocracy.
That's what amazes me with this product. Sure, it references 1984 every other page, models a lot on the Prisoner series (like ItX did with the Terminators), but here, it fits in very well, rather than feeling like a good concept shoehorned in the wrong place. Here, the Prisoner _makes_ sense! By far, the most commonly quoted source is none other than George Herbert Walker Bush, whose Newspeak is particularly chilling when established in the proper context.
One bit of warning: whoever designed the cover ought to be shot. It is utterly uninspiring, and does disservice to a book this good. After Progenitor and ItX, I wanted NWO to really shine. DOn't let the cover put you off. Me, I think I'll take a page out of the Sharper Image catalog and tape over it.
Oh, and BTW, the last card in the spread (I presume) is the King of Pattern. Interpretations?