Falling Scales: Chapter One
Publisher: White Wolf
Cost: $9.99 ($6.99 PDF)
Release Date: 03/22/2012
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
It’s been a while since I’ve seen an adventure for World of Darkness 2.0. Lately it’s either been supplements for just Vampire: The Requiem like Strange, Dead Love or the focus has been on “The Onyx Path” aka the Old World of Darkness and its 20th anniversary. After reviewing Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition and Dust to Dust, it was interesting to come back to the New World of Darkness, even if technically the new WoD is now the old WoD as the old WoD has a new edition and supplements coming out for it. Man, this must the equivalent of OSR for White Wolf fans, eh?
Unlike the majority of White Wolf adventures, where you play as a supernatural beastie of some sort, in Falling Scales, you’re playing as a run of the mill human getting their first taste of the supernatural. Now you can modify the adventure to play as a vampire, werewolf, mage, hunter and so on, but it does take a bit of work and it also won’t be as effective. If you do choose to go this route, the adventure even gives tips and ideas for how to convert the adventure, which is a nice little touch.
The adventure follows the idea that the players are a group of mortals (They don’t necessarily have to know each other) who come into contact with the supernatural when the encounter an Aswang (Pilipino vampire like creature) feeding on a human. This encounter in turn causes them to be noticed by a group known as The Unmasked. The Unmasked present themselves akin to the Watchers from Highlander (or Buffy I guess if you want a derivative…) as they are mortal men and women who study the movements, behaviors and actions of the supernatural. Your characters can then make allies or enemies of them based on their actions. There are a total of ten possible scenes that can occur with the adventure, although some scenes can be adventure length in and of themselves depending on the group (or Storyteller’s)’s actions. I was quite thrilled that the adventure could actually be a min-campaign of its own if played right. That’s pretty impressive for a thirty-six page document. The adventure even has a detailed flowchart to help you with the order the many scenes can unfold in.
There aren’t a lot of monsters in Falling Scales as it’s meant to be an introduction to the World of Darkness. That said, the creatures that the PCs will encounter are pretty frightening for mundane joes. The aforementioned Aswang is pretty creepy, but there’s a malevolent pyrokinetic ghost that will make for an exceptionally creepy experience. Perhaps the creepiest bit of all is that the true core of the adventure – a supernatural virus that will be spread to the characters throughout this Chronicle. This disease, known as the “Mimetic Infection,” helps average mortals to not only realize when something isn’t right but when monsters are actually in their presence. It’s actually a free four stage merit the players will get. Instead of spending experience point to raise the merit’s rank, situational triggers automatically will raise the merit. Of course as the merit grows more powerful, the characters aren’t quite everyday humans anymore, but that’s part of the point of the chronicle. The Mimetic Infection is optional, so if you don’t want player characters to be hit with it, you don’t have to. Of course so much of the adventure is devoted to the rules and description for the Mimetic Infection, so I won’t blame you if you feel obligated for using it.
Falling Scales is the first of a four part chronicle, but you can easily play this piece on its own as a stand-alone. It’ll be interesting to see where the next three chapters of the chronicle come out…as well as when they finally get released. All in all though, this adventure is exceptionally well done. The Unmasked are given an amazing amount of detail and back story and all of the major NPCs (and antagonists) are incredibly fleshed out. There is more character development and background in this one adventure than I’ve seen in some campaigns or sourcebooks. I was very impressed by how much detail all the little things that are usually glossed over received. Now this doesn’t mean the adventure was perfect. There was little errors, both factual and typographical , in Falling Scales. Perhaps the most obvious is with the character Anna Christopher. In her biography, it gives her Virtue and Vice as Hope and Pride respectively. Then on the next page it gives them as Charity and Sloth. Depending on which is correct will dramatically change how some Storytellers run her. These errors are minor quibbles though, and they don’t take away from an otherwise excellent adventure.
One last note, Falling Scales: Chapter One is in Landscape rather than Portrait. The reason behind this, according to White Wolf, is to make it easier to use on tablets and other devices. However on both tablets I read this on, it actually made viewing the PDF in default mode WORSE rather than easier. This is because the default view is to have the PDF fit in portrait form and there’s no rotational option. So if you have something like an iPad or a Kindle Fire, just double tap the screen to increase the size and it should make the piece read like a normal portrait PDF – just one that is extra wide.
Overall, I really enjoyed Falling Scales and for those sticking with the “new” World of Darkness even while the “Onyx Path” is in full swing, this is an excellent adventure for those looking for something other than yet another Supernatural creature oriented campaign.