2017. augusztus 1., kedd

[The Outer Presence] A Green Jewel They Must Possess, Reviewed

See also: my review of the main book for The Outer Presence and of the scenario His Flesh Becomes My Key. Disclaimer: the author provided a review copy of this product.

A Green Jewel They Must Possess

A Green Jewel... is a hard-boiled occult detective story. It's heavy on tropes, and works best if both the GM and the players are versed in pulp & horror, and are ready to immerse themselves in this world of unaussprachlichen Kulten and other mind-bending kosmische conspiracies.

The scenario probably takes 1-2 sessions to play through. In a nutshell, the characters are assumed to be Investigators who come in contact with the adventure's centerpiece, which is, obviously, THE Green Jewel They (that is, everybody) Must Possess. It might seem like a MacGuffin type of device, but let's just say it comes with a couple of strings attached, which are not obvious at first glance. And those who end up possessing it by the end of the scenario are in for a surprise.

The investigation leads the players to several locations. I actually really like how they are described, as each comes with plenty of small details that make them interesting. This is in true pulp spirit. You have to be able to catch your players' attention (or creep them out) with weird, unusual set pieces.

The Outer Presence line takes a minimalist approach when it comes to PCs. The players basically just have to show up, with a bare character concept and maybe a name, without much preparation, then roll on a table to generate some additional background information. His Flesh Becomes My Key provided characters with random paranormal/extrasensory abilities, while Green Jewel gives them a "character subplot" of a more mundane nature ("out of rehab", "owes money to the mob", etc.). The PCs' relationship to the main NPC is randomized as well.

Maybe tables like this should be collected into a single volume "Outer Presence Companion" of sorts? To be used to enhance other quick, out-of-the-box contemporary occult investigation adventures. The GM can take the "Companion", and insert or ignore the "character modules" as fit for the story.

I mentioned in my review of His Flesh..., that the scenario is presented without an initial overview, so the GM (unlike the players), has to read and prep it before the game session, make notes of timelines/NPCs. Although, when compared to His Flesh..., Green Jewel comes over as more organized and easier to follow. And the scenario in the main book comes with an overview and background description as well. But this style of presentation is a conscious choice by the author, Venger Satanis, to turn the scenario into a suspense / mystery short story. In my opinion, it lowers the usefulness of the product as a tool, but, I have to admit, it does add to the atmosphere!

Altogether, I find the whole Outer Presence line quite good, and recommend it to fans of grim, pulpy horror.

The green orb, as seen in "Heavy Metal"...

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