(image borrowed from White Wolf's own Geist homepage)
If you've read anything about White Wolf's new game, Geist: The Sin-Eaters, you know by now that it is a "game about second chances." We'll see what exactly White Wolf is planning for Sin-Eaters and the world of Geist.
The First Glance
Picking up the book, you would have to notice the nice key effects on the cover. A quick glance might lead you to think that the book is washed out and just generally not exciting. You've got the title, a nice looking antique key, and lots of black. Pick it up, let the light shift over the cover, and you'll see that the colored key is just one in a large pattern of other keys, all slick to the touch compared to the background, all unique.
If there's a motif other than "second chances" to Geist, it's that of keys. Opening the cover and briefly flipping through the pages, you'll notice the page borders are an endless sea of keys. It's skull insignia on the spine has a key in the center of it. It gives a unique feel to this World of Darkness game.
Whoever was in charge of the production of the actual book must have loved the game and everything it stands for, as it's the nicest fatsplat I've held in my hands. The inside binding on the front and back covers is classy and mesmerizing to stare at. The text is the polar opposite of that found in Mage: The Awakening. It's very readable and offers some nice horrific art work. I can tell I won't need to be gritting my teeth trying to read thin cursive letters or faint golden ink. Much like Hunter: The Vigil, this book does not mess around.
The opening fiction is a welcome change as well. It's only four pages, and shifts focus several times so we end up with a lot of little character ideas and introductions. The only comment I'll make about the opening story is that Sin-Eaters (the characters the players will build and control) can be vicious, and should give the players a lot of freedom with their actions. There is real power there, just hinted at, but it sounds neat and unique from any other RP game (with the possible exception of the pieces I've read about Monsters and Other Childish Things).
The introduction does a good job of touching on "what is this game about?" I also enjoy the suggested inspirations. I've been holding back on reading too much about Geist before having a chance to go through the book on my own. I love the idea of coming back from the dead and having a Geist attached to you, giving you powers, but at this point I'm not really sure what a Sin-Eater does. WW sometimes has a problem with this in some of their games, and I'll have to see if this is a continuing factor as I learn more. I guess I never really approached death as something to learn more about or dwell on, but this introduction was interesting. I may have to look more into some of these suggestions.
Based on the introduction flavor, it looks like the characters may actually be jovial in their activities. Sin-Eaters actually have parties and gatherings that seem to have a carnivale feel to them with lots of drinking and lots of celebrating. I'm excited by this because WW's game that focuses most strongly on death looks to actually be its most light-hearted and upbeat. The Sin-Eaters gather because they've died once and have been given the trademark second chance. They know what it is to be without life, so they take every opportunity to be enjoy simply being alive.
The thing that really caught my eye in the lexicon was the existence of several different types of Sin-Eaters who weren't quite "with-it" compared to the average Sin-Eater. Sacrosancts, Vacants, and Wretcheds all seem to be characters potentially full of conflict and story development potential as they may be able to blend in with other Krewes when in fact they are extremely dangerous. They also seem to be a way to put forth a warning for the Sin-Eaters about what can happen if you're not careful.
Anyway, that's it for the First Glance review of Geist: The Sin-Eaters. Hope it was informative and interesting (or at least one - you decide!), and check back soon for the second part of my Geist: The Sin-Eaters review: Chapter 1 - At the Cemetery Gate.