Wednesday, July 2, 2014

(Review) Secrets of Tibet

Everytime I walk into a game store, I'm reminded that it's no longer my Golden Age of Shopping, when I could walk up to any RPG display and need to make a decision as to which books I wanted, but how many in total.  I'm in the minority when compared to the CCG/Minis crowd, so special orders are the way to go. 

When I attempted to order Tales of the Sleepless City, with the impression that it was completely OOP through traditional channels, I threw Secrets of Tibet on the order well, just to insure that something would be coming in.  Here's a quick review of it.

Disclaimer:  Despite being a history and geography buff, I couldn't tell you much about Tibet before I picked up this book, and there was a good chance I would point to Nepal in error if I was given a map.

It was one of the early editions of Talislanta RPG (WotC?) that introduced campaign styles.  While differences in storytelling were always assumed, it was the first time in print that considerable effort was made to address it.  Gritty games, urban games, picturesque campaign that chew up scenery, whatever style you wanted to play, Tal was big enough to accomodate your needs. 

Jason Williams covered enough material in Secrets in Tibet, that I could imagine running multiple styles of CoC into the mountain kingdom.   A mystical forbidden kingdom?  Got it.  Gritty traditional game.  No problem.  A fantastical voyage into the Dreamlands?  Sure! A geo-political tramp with varying seasonings of pulp?  Bring it on?   A 20's version of the X-Files? The truth is somewhere...

The moment this clicked for me is when the new occupations were listed and varying types of Fighting Monks were introduced.   Just from some of the descriptions and bonuses listed, I immediately pictured scenes out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and even though that's not my thing, my first thought was "Pretty cool."  My second thought was, "It doesn't effect game play if I ignore this entirely and focus on an entirely different facet of the book."

It's either the sign of a good keeper to adapt material, or the sign of a good book to allow that to happen with ease.  Since I have no major desire to run anything in Tibet, I'll choose the latter.

Mr Williams wrote the original Mysteries of Tibet monograph, and it looks as if he did a nice job polishing it up and adding a bit more material.  A good portion of the book is the history of the land and the growth of the monasteries in a historical conext.    There's an excellent array of historical NPCs to choose from include the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas, a Nazi or two, and a few otherworldly fellows.   The scenarios in the back did not seem too exciting, although there is Dreamlands potential in one of them for those people so inclined.

I can say I learned a considerable amount about Tibet from this book.  The rules and descriptions are flexible enought for a number of campaigns, and I must say that I'm impressed enough with the book simply because I'm still reading it and finding ways to get my campaign into Asia for no good reason. 

On the Famous Gaming with Gnomies Five-Gnome Rating system, I give Secrets of Tibet  four gnomes.

Secrets of Tibet is 168 pages and retails for $27.95

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