Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Free Hump Day - A Nightmare at Hill Manor

Today marks the second entry into my ongoing Free Hump Day column wherein I shine a light on something I think worth clicking to download for the low low price of the amount of time it takes to click to download. Last week's entry examined the innovative and complete package of a game with Lady Blackbird - a Star Wars/Firefly/Steampunk mash up setting with a lite-but-packed-with-dice-rolling-and-fun-economy-play game engine. This week I'll be looking at another full package of a product.

Whereas Lady Blackbird is built from the ground up and feels like an indie game, this week's entry, the newest quick start, A Nightmare at Hill Manor, from White Wolf's World of Darkness line, comes from one of the biggest heavy hitters of the industry, and it's quite the interesting product indeed.

If you had a chance to stop by Free RPG Day this year or checked out my coverage of it, you may have been quite surprised as I was to find that White Wolf's offering was a huge meaty product that could easily be sold as a ten dollar starter book and adventure. I'm a huge fan of White Wolf's quick starts as they've made (I believe) one for each of their New World of Darkness lines as well as Exalted and Scion. They give all the basic rules needed to play and then throw in a cool scenario for good measure.

With this new quick start, which I didn't actually think would be anything new exactly since White Wolf has gone away from making printed products and is moving almost completely toward a digital/Print on Demand format, we get the biggest entry into the quickstart collection yet. Other than some optional rules add-ons, you get pretty much the entire blue book (the general World of Darkness starter book as you can see below with the Amazon link) in about 25 pages. That seems like a lot of space to devot to the rules in a quick start, but don't worry, the thing weighs in at a hefty 64 pages.

The art and pre-made characters look to be a lot of fun, but even greater is the adventure itself - A Nightmare at Hill Manor. If you're wondering, the game is at the mortals level a.k.a. humans without any supernatural template such as vampires or changelings added on top. This makes the product a perfect starting point for any group new to the mechanics and tone of the New World of Darkness before adding on all the complexities of one of the so-called "fatsplats" like Werewolf: The Foresaken or Mage: The Awakening.

I love the various New World of Darkness lines, but I'm ashamed to admit that I don't really have any play experience with them. I spend a lot of time reading the various books and adventures because they've got some of craziest horror and weird fantasy hooks out there. A Nightmare at Hill Manor seems tailor made for my group to learn the ropes before diving into one of the more complex lines (of which I already own many to choose from - I'm addicted!). One of the really neat things about the mortals of the World of Darkness is that before you can make a group of Prometheans, Hunters, or Sin-Eaters, you have to have mortals first. I see no reason why, if the players love their pregenerated hero, they couldn't just transform them into one of the supernaturals. I'd love to take two or three groups, run them through this adventure, and then have each one take the pregenerated characters and turn them into a different type of supernatural just to see what they do with all the different possibilities.

I own two copies of the base blue book for the New World of Darkness. I can't help it, it's a disease. Regardless, I still intend to keep my hard copy of A Nightmare at Hill Manor nearby if we ever play a game as another copy of the base rules for the table as a reference. I'll also note that if you haven't seen the SAS adventure format the White Wolf uses for their current games, it's really a neat thing that is worth checking out. It presents information in a clear, quick format that makes things much easier on the Story Teller.

White Wolf has been epic in their shift to digital publication. Check out or to see their huge listing of products available electronically, both for Old and New Worlds of Darkness. If you like what you see here with A Nightmare at Hill Manor, the next step, if you want to play with supernatural player characters, is to decide on one of the following demos or quick starts: Vampire: The Requiem, Werewolf: The Foresaken, Mage: The Awakening, Changeling: The Lost, Promethean: The Created, Hunter: The Vigil, or Geist: The Sin-Eaters. Take a look at the rules and adventure, and how the pregenerated characters work. Then go from there! Finally, I should point out that the art, other than the cover of the quick start, is from other New World of Darkness books, not the quick start itself. I just wanted to show that it's a terrible and cool place to adventure.


  1. Thanks for your kind attention! :D

    I was eager to see what you guys were going to be putting forward with the general nWoD quick start for FRPGD, and you guys (obviously) blew me away with the product. Top notch!


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