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Truth Beyond Paradox
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Stéphane Z. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2020 06:26:02

I'd purchased this book a while ago, but hadn't taken the time to read the stories it contains. Finally taking a close look at the Mage 20 core book had me take a look at Everything Mage in general, and Truth Beyond Paradox in particular. First off, I think all short stories contained in this book are great, and are all well worth reading.

This book's contents are the following: Introduction by Satyros Brucato We Are the Shadows Cast by the Memory of Giants by Seanan McGuire A Secret Palace by J. F. High Well Played by Emily Jones Bound in Blue by S. J. Tucker & Ryan James Loyd Famished Road by Balogun Ojetade Life by Antonios Rave-N Galatis Nothing Important Happened Today by Scott Havens Wildfire Sky by Kris Millering The Girl Who Remembered Tomorrow by Bill Bridges Dabda by Travis Legge Sympathetic Magick by Stephen Michael DiPesa The Process by Shawn Connolly The Theogeneis Gimmick by Luna Lindsey Toxic by Tina Shelton The Long Game by R. S. Udell Gray Rising by Janine A. Southard A Firm Place to Stand by Sandra Damiana Buskirk

In no particular order, I loved "The Girl Who Remembered Tomorrow," by Bill Bridges, which is a nice shout out to some of his previous work on the Sons of Ether tradition book, published 20+ years ago. "We Are the Shadows Cast by the Memory of Giants" provides a really nice view of what it can be to follow the Order of Hermes as new member. Dabda is a great story about loss and the possible choices (and consequences!) that ensue for a mage. A Firm Place to Stand gives insight into some Technocratic groups, and how they strive to help humanity; how they themselves are evolving to better serve it. The Process is one of the stories that is the most explicit about the source material (Order of Hermes, Technocracy, etc.), but also provides a very interesting story about the main character and his relationship with the City, its spirit, and the people that inhabit it. The other stories are also great. Some, I'll need to re-read, because while I know I liked them, I also know I don't know how to feel after reading them (which, in my book, is a Good Thing).

To repeat what I said at the beginning: if you're a Mage: the Ascension fan, I think this book is really good. If you know nothing about M:tAs, it's OK. The stories are all really well written, and most are written in a way that it does not matter whether you know the universe or not. Even when some specific names are dropped, it does not hamper reading at all (I think). This book is worth reading, and I'll probably use some themes in the stories in my own chronicles (aspects of characters, or some of the more abstract descriptions, etc.).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Truth Beyond Paradox
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Masquerade of the Red Death Trilogy Complete
Publisher: White Wolf
by Stéphane Z. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2020 05:37:34

This is a series of books which takes inspiration in the Vampire: the Masquerade setting, but clearly takes liberties with it too. The books deal with a Kindred who calls himself the Red Death, and which is trying to somehow take over the (under)world.

First off, assuming you know nothing of the universe before reading the novels, you can mostly follow everything that is said in the story. The main characteristics of vampires, and the various "societies" are described with enough details to have an overall view of the vampiric society—albeit with some serious flaws wrt in-canon stories that would later be written in both game books and other novels.

Second, if you know the universe, you'll probably cringe at many things that are described. I know some people have an issue with vampires being able to basically throw fireballs at others. The supernatural power itself (ie, throwing fireballs) isn't an issue according to me. The fact that the vampires doing so are not frenzying more often as a result, however, is rather problematic. Even when we discover where this power comes from, this is highly problematic for a V:tM inspired book.

Finally, while I do like how sometimes Metuselah influence is described w.r.t. manipulating human populations and (much) younger vampires alike, in fine, I find there is little horror left, and in particular, there is little personal horror (contrary to some other V:tM players, I don't mind the "Indiana Jones" feel V:tM can sometimes have, jumping from country to country, but the horror of being a vampire, and the horror felt by humans being victims of vampires, should be present somehow). I do dislike some elements that seemd to have been added mostly to advertise for other books/games that were being sold at the time (namely, Mage: the Ascension).

To conclude: I read the three books rather quickly, which indicates that the story itselfs flows relatively easily. However I feel like the author had to shoehorn some portions of his story, which indicates (to me) that he may have felt constrained in how to tell some of the story, and at the same time, he did take liberties with the V:tM universe which creates cognitive dissonance for fans. You can read it, but be aware this is more of an alternate storyline/timeline thing than anything else.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Masquerade of the Red Death Trilogy Complete
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Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
Publisher: White Wolf
by Stéphane Z. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/14/2020 11:59:45

This book is a great synthesis of, well, 20 years of Vampire: the Masquerade. It is clearly aimed at people who already know the game, but is still accessible to regular players. However, it delves almost right in the game: this is not meant to be someone's first roleplaying game book (especially for a DM/ST). That being said, everything that made this game great is present in this book: the personal and existential horror, symbolized by both the slow loss of humanity of the player characters, and the wealth of antagonists, including the Ancient Ones... I mean, the Antediluvians, who lurk in the shadows, or maybe underneath the sea, or a big city or...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition
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