A monster and a drug for Esoteric Enterprises

The Consumer

The Consumer is “something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It’s covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth… no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote.” (William Gibson)

When the Consumer points its universal control at you, save against machines or roll a d12 and suffer one of the next effects.

Roll 1d12

  1. Make a new character, randomize it as much as possible. Your actual character no longer exists. But you keep your identity and equipment. Those who didn’t witness your transmogrification will never really believe that you are who you claim to be.
  2. “Every thought that advances through the greased tunnels of my brain carries with it its own hungry negation.” (Michael Gira). Mechanically, swap Intelligence and Wisdom. Also, lose your next action.
  3. Reverse your stats (3 becomes 18, 4 becomes 17, &c. 1 or 2 become 18, though.)
  4. You are teleported to a previous location, (randomly?) determined by your referee.
  5. Your sex is randomly changed. Re-roll your Charisma and Constitution to further represent the change.
  6. Roll a die: An odd result means you lose a permanente point of Grit; an even result means you lose a permanent point of Flesh.
  7. All further saves against machines you make, are rolled at -1.
  8. You are turned off. All your rolls for the rest of the day are made with a penalization of -1 or -2 (your referee will tell you which each time).
  9. You remain motionless, like a paused VHS tape, for 1d4 rounds.
  10. When you make an attack, roll twice and use the worse result; if you fail the attack, it was simply because you glitched back a few steps and attacked the air.
  11. Roll 1d16* and compare your result with Shocking Wounds (p. 45).
  12. Your memory is erased, replaced by a centipede’s. Your referee will explain this to you.

*Roll 1d8 and 1d6. If the d6 gives an even result, add 8 to the result on the d8.

All other stats are not important, come up with something, it can be a fat man who trolls people via Twitter or perhaps and old lady with cats.

Black Coca

Sold in every corner and every Walmart in the city, when this product by the Black Coke Company is inhaled, you acquire the spook power Creature of the Night (p. 64) for the next 8 hours. After the effect ends, make a save against poison or lose 1 permanent point of Flesh and suffer 1d4 Flesh damage from your new total.

Undead creatures who inhale black coca acquire the power permanently and are immune to Flesh poisoning.

This blog entry was sponsored by The Incubus Club. This blog entry was not sponsored by Esoteric Enterprises but you should get it anyway because it’s goddamn good!

Emmy Allen’s Esoteric Enterprises, a first approach

Note: This is not as much a review as it is an abstract of my first impressions after having read the entire game, and some recollections of the original blog entries. Also, I’m writing directly on English, not in Spanish and then translating. I thought it was important to mention it.

Esoteric Enterprises (EE) is the brand new offering by Emmy Allen (of The Gardens of Ynn, The Stygian Library, and Wolf-Packs & Winter Snow fame), and none of the hottest titles out there right now (seriously, go get it!)

EE is a game about “the underworlds of organised crime and the esoteric”; setting-wise, it’s similar to some World of Darkness universes, to wit, Orpheus and Hunter the Vigil (as Emmy states on the introduction,) but also Unknown Armies. This means it’s a game set in the modern day world, but also that the world, although similar to ours, it’s not exactly the same; in the game world there are monsters, magick, and weird things, like some Lovecraftian creatures, a few Changeling the Dreaming things, but most taken from D&D, everything with a dark twist, of course.

System-wise, being part of the Old-School Renaissance, it’s obviously based, at least to some extent, both on Moldvay’s Basic and Cook’s & Marsh’s Expert sets, and also Lamentations of the Flame Princess, to the extent that EE includes LotFP’s streamlined Skill System, with its own set of skills (Charm, Contacts, Forensics, Technology, Vandalism, and several more).

As for its original systems, EE contains a great deal of wounds management: each type caused by bullets and explosives, knives and claws, hammers and punches, fire and acid, electricity and cold weather, poison and diseases. Each type containing their own effects, all horrible and painful (this game is not for the faint of heart: here, some examples: “You’ve been squashed into a pulpy mess, so there’s really barely anything left to bury or reanimate,” “Your organs are shutting down one by one. You’re a Dead Man Walking. Plus, you spend the next round vomiting everywhere, and lose your chance to act”… yes, this is a game where characters die, and easily, unless they are smart).

The are rules for ageing, attribute loss, breaking equipment, cave-ins, escaping bonds, being left alone in the dark, hacking, shape-shifting, drugs, torture, mental damage and a bunch more things. It’s very complete as well as flexible for the referee to implement ad hoc rules when he need resolving something not covered by the book.

Cash & Downtime covers what the characters do in their free time between adventures, and how they spend their gold… I mean, their dollars. There are also systems to manage medical experiments, monsters as player characters (called spooks), spellcasting, running heists, and a great deal of gamemastering information.

One of its best features are the chapters called Rolling up the undercity and Rolling up the occult underworld, which allows you to create the underworld with just a bunch of dice rolls, including locations, tunnels, cults (like the worshippers of Amanita Muscaria, don’t you love it!?), factions and more. Much more.

There are many things I left out, but in conclusion I can say that Esoteric Enterprises is an excellent game and setting, full of ideas. You can run it as body-horror drama, supernatural noir, dark fantasy or urban grimdark. With it, you can run a campaign based on The X-Files, The Invisibles, Neonomicon, Hellblazer, Hellraiser, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Lost Boys, Tokyo Gore Police, and some Cronenberg nightmares.

“Are you sure there aren’t any flaws?”

Well, there are a few typos, but nothing too annoying.

“Anything else?”

Well. It’s illustrated with photographs, which are kind of ugly. Remember that cyberpunk game which used photos instead or drawings, and how weird it looked? Well, here happens the same. I would have prefered public domain illustrations, like other of Emmy Allen’s works, but this is not something to hold against the game, let’s be honest and remember that indie games rely heavily on stock art, but you can’t find many modern day stock artwork, so it’s photos.

I have to tell you, though, that despise the pictures, you should try it, it’s a great game and when you are on the table, it’s the emergent story what counts, not the book’s illustrations. Oh! And I made some random tables.

Ugly picture, right?