Saturday, August 22, 2009

Geist: The Sin-Eaters Review Part 2: Chatper 1 - At the Cemetery Gate

Geist review part 2! Today we look at the first chapter of Geist: The Sin-Eaters. This chapter acts as a more complete introduction to the "fluff" or mostly story-related elements of playing a game of Geist. Confused that this is the second part of the review when I'm reviewing chapter 1? Of course you are! Check out the first part of my review, found here.

Chapter 1, At the Cemetery Gate, introduces more about the general concepts of Sin-Eaters. I can now confidently say I know what a Sin-Eater, along with his Krewe, actually does.

I would summarize the Sin-Eater's concept as two words "secretive" and "disorganized." Secretive because they are a secret society that even other supernaturals don't know about, and disorganized because their culture is, as the author describes it, "cannabilistic." It's a neat concept that SE culture (kulture? sorry) is unique to each krewe and geographic area. I'm now looking forward to reading the chapter that describes creating a krewe since the game seems to give the players and ST (story-teller, White Wolf's equivalent of a game master) a wide range of flavors for their unique group while still being in continuity to the overall world of Geist.

A Sin-Eater is an individual who has had at least a touch with death and pulled back to life with the help of a geist. A geist is a spirit/god/ghost that can be an archetype (like the mad surgeon or the lover scorned) or have more of an individual personality. The geist bonds itself to the actual soul of the SE and the two together have powers neither would have apart. Those powers are only hinted at here, but generally a SE sees ghosts constantly and interacts with them, can enter the underworld freely and interact with the bizarre/terrifying creatures that exist there, and can help a lingering ghost in the mortal world better than any other being of supernatural profession (much better than those pesky Hunters who, the book reminds us, can't even see the ghosts they're trying to battle. what. punks.)

This chapter goes into great detail explaining SE culture including krewes, parties, and the Twilight Network. I felt that, although it was all very informative, it was a little difficult to get through the details. The Twilight Network seemed to go on and on. I'm sure this information will be more valuable once a group began making a krewe and a ST was developing his story, but these sections often came off as thick blocks of text that could have been shortened.

A note here: If you know about Geist, you likely have heard about the next general nWoD release, Book of the Dead, due out in October. It looks like this will be the first and only supplement WW has planned for Geist.. What's more: this book is also considered a nWoD release as well, so it's not even a true supplement. With this in mind, the completeness of this first chapter is more welcomed since we probably won't see another book address the issues of the game unless Geist does very well and earns a real supplement somewhere down the line.

Sin-Eaters love to have parties, it says so right in the book. There are several types of gatherings a SE can attend, but not all are happy. The types are outlined, and I found the the idea of a market gathering very interesting. I'm a sucker for Fae markets, and if I do end up running a game of Geist, there will definitely be a death market for my players to visit.

The Twilight Network is a horse of a different color. The name conjures images on an online community, and it is that, in part. As anything with SE culture, it's incredibly disorganized, but universally an aspect of the SE zeitgeist (SO pleased I found a use for that word at least once here). Krewes and SE's use it to pass on messages and important information. It seemed standard stuff until the section that outlined the dangers of the TN. This was one of the best sections of this chapter as I love taking concepts that should be safe, taken for granted by my players, and then flipping them. Without getting too specific, the TN can't always be trusted.

This chapter also sheds some light on the other denizens of Geist as well as where SE's fit into the world of darkness as a whole. Lightning Round explanation of how other supernaturals view sin-eaters!

Nuisances that get in the way of my food, hey, wait, they could be food!
What's a Sin-Eater? Ghosts = kids' stuff.
I was using that ghost, thank you very much. Dick.
Hey, these guys are pretty goo... OHMYGODAGHOST!

*Kerberoi are neat. The picture in the book is terrifying with a bit of a Clive Barker feel to it, but mostly feels like an impossible creature. Basically these are found only in the underworld, and they serve the ancient and arcane laws written for those realms (written by who? great question). They're great because A. they are incredibly powerful and brutal in their enforcement of the law and B. no one (ghost or SE) knows even a small portion of the laws they enforce or if they're even breaking them. A Kerberoi is a ST's best friend and can act as Deus Ex Machina feared by SE's.

The first chapter of these core books usually fill me with equal parts dread and anticipation. I was more excited about Geist's first chapter than others because I wanted to know more about this unique concept. I found Sin-Eaters to be part ghostbuster, part ghost, part I don't know what. Their goal is to relieve the anguish of the lingering ghosts around them and may also act as immigration officials for things that are worse than ghosts from the Underworld and wreak havoc on the living. It's a complex game from what I've gathered in the first chapter. It's full of mysteries just waiting to be solved.

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