|Written by Harry Heckel, Phil Brucato and Jennifer Hartshorn|
|Cover Art: Doug Gregory|
This sourcebook is part of a new series on the art and craft of Storytelling. It is a guide for experienced and first-time Storytellers alike on how to infuse a Chronicle with the Romance of Death. It includes ready-to-run adventures based on the theme of "Tragic Romance"; storytelling tips on how to base a chronicle around a central theme; and legendary Wraiths known for their tragic lives and deaths.
"Better to Have Loved and Lost Than Never to Have Loved at All" For star-crossed lovers and creatures of passion, there is nothing sweeter than the bliss of true love, nor any greater pain than it's loss. In such a bleak and hopeless existance, the promise of love is one of the only beacons of hope in the face of Oblivion. The fiery passion of love denied form knows no bounds, and for those who choose to risk the pain of loss for the chance for a tender caress, life-in-death is endlessly bittersweet pain, a never ending void within that can only be filled by the beloved. Love Beyond Death includes: ready-to-run adventures based around the themes of tragic romance; ideas on how to integrate themes of romance into your existing chronicle.
Review of Love and Death, for Wraith: the Oblivion.
The ironic thing about the roleplaying industry is that once a core product comes out, a company generally stops taking chances. This isn't so strange; if the game was successful, then to some degree, the format worked (which is in itself a risky proposition). Why fix something that works?
Because that's how games stagnate. Companies, as a whole, need to push the edges of formats, offering sourcebooks and products that are more than the Complete Left Handed Blind Bard's Handbook or Saskatoon by Night. Generally, it's a more pleasing graphical format. The moment a consumer picks up the book, he knows that something's different. White Wolf proved this wonderfully with The Book of Nod, a book of prophesy and visions for their Vampire: The Masquerade product line. Lavishly illustated, well written, in a striking cover with an innovative size, it screamed, "Different!" and indeed, several people who could care less about White Wolf's products announced its arrival, unaware it was attached to the product line.
So as a fandom concerned with the quality of products, we need to pay careful attention to those books that take risks, lest the marketing schlubs force yet another cliche on us. One book to look out for is Love and Death, for Wraith. L&D, as a whole, discusses the role of Love in a game like Wraith. This in itself is unique, since most games give only lips service to romance (no pun intended), without looking at what is normally a HUGE part of our culture. Is Love what we're escaping from in roleplaying games, and other escapist pursuits? Sometimes, it certainly seems so.
L&D, as I've said, is an innovative book that starts with a simple premise. In Wraith, you play a character who has died. Chances are that you've left behind someone who cares for you. How does that factor into your new situation? Have you exhausted all the possible variations on love, including those that count the most, and that we tend to ignore? Filial love, for instance, can be both nurturing and parasitic. Just read Fall of the House of Usher, and you'll see what I mean.
Now what's said isn't terribly new to people who like to experiment in roleplaying. To the beginning storyteller who wants to get Beavis and Butthead to do Wuthering Heights, it's a boon. The book suggests several methods of bringing up the subject without "grossing" out the players. It also reccomends various strategies of "playing" on your players, or how to talk about the acceptable limits of a game. Even for an experienced Storyteller, it's a great refresher course on somethign that can get jaded really fast. All in all, an excellent primer for exploring Romantic and Gothic themes in your Wraith chronicles, and one of the best $10 buys avaliable from White Wolf in a LONG time.
More than this, though, it presents three storylines based around that premise. All have unique features that are easily adapted into any setting. One in particular has the morbid premise of a love triangle involving a Renegade freewoman, a Hierarchy social butterfly-turned-bitch, and their one, true love that's been turned into a Stygian lantern. Another deals with a scientist who's developed a sure-fire method for making someone a Wraith, and sticking a Quick in the Shadowlands temporarily. Needless to say, he needs to be pretected from a lot of people, including, perhaps, the player characters.