I'll probably be adding more to this review as time goes on and I have a chance to organize the notes I took (yes I literally took notes the product is that good :) ) ... but basically this is an absolute must-read for anyone who's a fan of Torg Eternity and I would go so far as to argue it's an absolutely essential purchase if you're going to be gaming in the Torg Eternity setting ... and given that the author has generously made it a pay what you want title purchasing it is an absolute no-brainer. I am guilty of paying less than the suggested price between a combination of university expenses for the two kids (it's pricey... very, very pricey) and my guilty desire to get a hold of this book but I will absolutely be making a note to myself to purchase another copy of this at the price I should have paid in the first place... years from now when the kids are out of school.. when it probably won't do the poor author any good :( ... but if you can afford the asking price it is absolutely, positively worth it.
Here's the reason I'm gushing with praise after having read the whole thing (and you get a LOT for your money, even when you leave out the table of contents and cover page it's roughly 160 pages of high quality material) ... I'm a long time fan of Torg from waaaaay back when they first released the game in the 1990's and I am thoroughly enjoying the updated version that Ulisses Spiele has released ... but (and this is something I will be addressing when I finally get around to reviewing the Torg Eternity cosm sourcebooks I am currently in the process of reading) ... given the page limits the publisher has to deal with in order to make the books financially viable (I'm guessing anyways) ... there's a lot of good quality content in the "official" Torg Eternity sourcebooks, a lot of "meat and bones" to give any gamesmaster worth their salt all the tools they need to run a viable, fun game... but then you have the people like me who are overly needy and demanding and want more :)
I'm going to talk about a completely different publisher and product here and I will explain why I am doing that afterwards... the Iron Kingdoms campaign setting was originally released for the third edition version of Dungeons and Dragons... the Iron Kingdoms World Guide book was 402 pages long, and maybe at most 2 percent of that dealt with crunchy rules oriented type stuff... the rest was just pure campaign setting, a lovingly detailed rendition of what the Iron Kingdoms world was like, the countries within it and the details of the cities within, the organizations, long entries on the legal system and barter and trade.. I freaking loved that book. Not all RPG'ers are like me, so very, very focused on the role playing, immersing yourself in the campaign world side of things ... there are players who are more interested in treating the RPG like a video game of sorts instead and there's nothing wrong with that at all, there are a million different ways to approach an RPG and a million different RPG groups that find that particular way that works for them.
But if you're someone who's looking for that "immersion" part .. a detailed account of exactly WHAT'S going on in the world of Torg Eternity that focuses less on "crunchy rules stuff" and more on that sort of loving detail (which I'm sure the Torg Eternity writers would have included if it wasn't for the fact that it would probably balloon their page count to something crazy like 300 pages instead of 160 for a Torg Eternity cosm sourcebook - which as mentioned is something the publisher probably cannot afford to do and still make a profit) ... then this is the book for you. I fell in love with the writer's exposition of exactly how the various intelligence agencies in different countries reacted to the invaders and the interaction between all of them and the invading cosms... which of course meant that the writer had to go into detail about how the invaders have affected the politics of Earth as well as the efforts of various intelligence agencies (think America's CIA only bigger ) to deal with Earth in a wartime setting with invaders from other dimensions literally transforming parts of Earth into "their turf"... and it's a fascinating read.
Having said that the part at the end that is "crunchy" in a sense in that it gives you a well written "mission generator" for intelligence agencies that provides a tremendously helpful starting point for a gamesmaster looking to create adventures for his players was also well done in my opinion.... I know there are gamesmasters who will literally create adventures "on the fly" making things up on the spot if the players "jump" in some totally different direction the gamesmaster wasn't anticipating and in a situation like that this would be tremendously helpful for such a gamesmaster to quickly flip through... personally I prefer a gamesmaster who tells his players " guys I really wasn't expecting you to go in this direction.. I can write something up for it but we need to call it a night and meet back next week when I have something for you" (assuming you are blessed with a GM who has that sort of spare time in the first place and it's completely understandable if the GM does not) but even in a situation like that this gives a GM like that an excellent starting point. There's some fun rules in there too for new gear and new perks which are well suited to intelligence agencies which were also very well written in my opinion but to me the best part was that "world immersion" that the author so expertly crafted ... what's going on politically in the world of Torg Eternity.
In my ignorance I had to look up what the "Torg Infiniverse Exchange" logo meant on the cover... if I understand correctly, the publisher of Torg Eternity has made the very wise decision of letting writers outside of the publisher (Ulisses Spiele ) write stuff for Torg Eternity ... honestly I think this book is so good it should have been included as an official Torg Eternity product and in the highly unlikely event Ulisses Spiele is reading this :) (not so much that they don't care and more so because they are busy cranking out a ton of material for Torg Eternity, which I applaud them for.. I've only read a few titles but super impressed at what I've read so far) ... guys you need to officially hire the author on to write other books for you, I'm serious :) ..
If I typed every single thing here that the author mentions in his book this review would drag on even longer than it already has (and apologies for that I know it's a gigantic wall of text) but some things that really caught my eye
The Shield of Atlas, the mercenary organization that is more interesting in profiting off the possibility wars than they are in saving the world and the hilarious (in my opinion) reference to Shield from a large publisher of comic books I shall not name here for fear of copyright infringement but it's still funny as all heck :) .. particularly the flying headquarters/combat air vehicles they use courtesy of their alliance with a wierd science Nile Empire bad guy/genius (which shows right there just how mercenary they are to begin with) ..
the long game the Cyberpapacy is playing to win the hearts and minds of the parts of Earth they haven't claimed by transforming it to their reality/dimension yet ... well written, fascinating stuff that melds perfectly with how politics would work in "real life Earth" if a sneaky yet undeniably evil presence that the Cyberpapacy was in play
the Federation of Saladin ... I was delighted to see writing about Islam-dominant countries that goes beyond the Hollywood trope of "they're all terrorists who want to blow up the USA and convenient bad guys we can plop into our storyline because we're too lazy to come up with a more nuanced bad guy instead"... yes the writer addressed the terrorist factions (and if you know anything about Islam these terrorists are NOT Muslims in any sense of the word no matter how much they insist they are - it's a perversion of the faith, just as twisted as the "holy crusades" centuries ago with the looting, pillaging and so forth that no right minded Christian would ever in a million years view as a Christian thing - yet it was touted as a "Christian " thing back then despite being the complete opposite of it ) .. but the writer also includes the Muslims who are doing their best to control the terrorist factions who want to take control of the Federation of Saladin and who are far more concerned about rescuing the Muslim populations who have been endangered by the Possibility Wars
an extremely in depth look at the Delphi Council , more detailed than what you'd find in the Torg Living Land sourcebook (which contains most of the Delphi Council "official" info from Ulisses Spiele as far as I can tell) that reads as a finely written love letter to the Delphi Council in Torg Eternity... really good stuff
- the Earth Defense Force , founded in part over a misunderstanding that is both cosmicly funny and also tragic... fans of the original Torg books from the 1990's are very familiar with Quinn Sebastian... as Ulisses Spiele has officially established, Quinn survived the possiblity wars detailed in the 1990's and "jumped infiniverses" over to the one detailed in Torg Eternity taking place today in the 2019's onwards or what have you (not sure what year it's officially supposed to be - I suspect Ulisses Spiele have deliberately left this vague so Torg Eternity GM's can set it in whatever year they like but it's probably going to be a modern one that takes into account the technology of today) .. and has been lending his expertise from having fought through his version of the possiblity wars to the defenders of earth in this infiniverse.. basically, the unconquered parts of Japan, China and Korea got wind of this.. but not the entire story, all they know is that Quinn is from another dimension... just like (to them anyways) the dimensional invaders... now they're convinced the Delphi Counci is compromised and have founded their own "Earth Defense Force", convinced they are now humanity's only hope. Beyond the funny/tragic part the Earth Defense Force is enormously well written too.
And just because I've given you highlights from the book doesn't mean I've completely given away the book's contents either (and I hope the author will forgive me for taking the liberty of doing so).. the reason I mention these things is to get you hooked on the fascinating concepts in this book so that you'll actually buy it and read about those concepts in greater detail which this book absolutely does ... in addition to going into far greater detail into these (and other) agencies , the author also talks about the interaction (often hostile or at least a "cold war" sort of situation though there are other instances where they ally with each other too ) of all these agencies in various "fields of operation" .... different regions of earth , both the areas conquered by the dimensional areas and the areas that are still (so far) free.. and it's a fantastic read.
If you've made it to the end of this long review thank you for reading all of that :) .. and I honestly hope I have convinced you by now to buy this book... to the author, you've truly crafted a work of art here in my humble opinion.