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Torg Eternity - Nile Empire Sourcebook €18,97
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Andre B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/15/2022 12:23:22

My apologies this is yet another review that goes on for so long I literally have to redirect you to a blogger post for the whole thing.. but even if you don't have the patience to read the whole thing (I wouldn't blame you :) ) the fact that I'm willing to write such an extensive review should tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book and for that matter the torg eternity books in general.

While not as strong an entry as say the Living Land or Orrosh sourcebooks (both absolutely worth the purchase price and which should be your first purchases as far as torg eternity cosm sourcebooks - see also if you like my review of said books) the nile empire cosm sourcebook was an enjoyable read for me and a worthy addition to the torg eternity line of cosm sourcebooks though it can, and should , be viewed as a "partner book" to the even better "fires of ra" mega-length prepublished adventure set within the Nile Empire.. the fires of ra does a great job of highlighting and emphasizing just how nonsensically fun in true four color pulp comic over the top unbelievable non stop action style nile empire adventures can be, as well the fires of ra acts as a companion piece to the nile empire book in that it fills in a lot of the blanks on the amazons who deserve more than one page write-up they get in the nile empire book (no doubt because the writers knew it would be covered in greater detail in the fires of ra anyways).

Unfortunately the same criticism I had of Aysle applies here albeit less so.. as I mention in my Aysle review given the epic, heroic, nature of the Aysle cosm it practically demands a lot of "write up" and content which the torg eternity team simply couldn't fit into a book the same size as all the other torg eternity cosm books.. as well a number of stats are needed that are not included in the torg eternity version which makes the original 1990's Aysle sourcebook a practical requirement, not just a recommendation.

In the case of the torg eternity nile empire book possession of the original 1990's torg nile empire book is not so much required as it is helpful, if nothing else for the stats given for high lord Mobius's second in commands, the overgovernors ... but the same problem with Aysle applies to the nile empire albeit to a lesser degree... and in all fairness this was an issue I felt even the original 1990's nile empire book struggled with.. the heady mix of ancient Egyptian mythology coming to life in the form of miracles and the worship of Mobius as the literal pharaoh by a transformed Egypt-earth populace , mathematicians and engineers who practice their own ancient Egypt style form of magic, and four color pulp comics of the 1930's complete with costumed heroes and villains and gangs of mobsters that have their own agenda heavily influenced by the Indiana Jones movies that can and should serve as inspiration for how any nile empire adventure is run.. it's absolutely a campaign setting you can have a lot of fun with...

...the problem is this creates an intriguing atmosphere that's so broad in scope it needs and deserves a longer, more detailed write up than it gets in torg eternity (and to be fair even the 1990's original nile empire book too) ... I do find myself hoping that this can be addressed with say a "cairo torg eternity city-book" in the future that describes life in Cairo, Egypt in greater detail complete with a longer writeup of notable competing mob factions and their agendas and plans, pulp heroes and villains and expanded notes on the scheming plots of said villains, the schemes of overgovernor Wu Han, a detailed look at the various districts and areas within Cairo, a detailed write up of the inevitable tombs and pyramids within Egypt and the guardians, treasures and secrets inside and so forth (it gets a four page or so writeup in the nile empire which was fun to read but honestly it could really use a full length sourcebook in and by itself, a not unfamiliar concept for old school 1990 torg fans like myself who enjoyed the "Berlin", "los angeles" and "tokyo" city sourcebooks although unlike the 1990's books I would argue more attention should be paid to the cosm the city is in or influenced by)... pulling that off would really make the nile empire "pop" and truly bring it to life. This is done to a lesser degree in the still excellent and well worth the purchase price fires of ra but given the epic scope and length of the adventure and how much it covers the writers would have had to triple the price and length of that book to give say Cairo the write up I'm recommending.

Still that says something right there, that I liked the Nile Empire so much that I want and need more of it so, again well worth the purchase price.. I am now about to go into the truly extended part of the review where I cite all the parts I liked and all the parts that I felt could do with some improvement which understandably might make your eyes glaze over :) and you might not want to read the whole thing.. the takeaway is this.. buy both the nile empire sourcebook and the fires of ra, read both, run the fires of ra with your players and you'll have a blast.. seriously, fires of ra is a ton of fun (though see also my review of fires of ra and the blogger post in there , I have a lot of ideas if you're interested for areas where I felt the fires of ra could have used some more detail ) and the GM and players will thoroughly enjoy running through it but I would argue the nile empire cosm book is essential to being able to run fires of ra properly.

The introductory flavor text for the Nile Empire is a lot different than the original 1990's torg nile empire book which is a lot more "dark" in nature but to me perfectly highlights Mobius's dark, evil, sinister not to mention insane nature.. the introductory text here is much more lighthearted in nature which was a turn off for me at first until I realized that it perfectly illustrates the over the top , action packed, humorous nature of nile empire adventures ... the part about the two storm knights, hard boiled pan pacifica detective and martial artist Zhi and light hearted core earth realm runner Aiden laughing in the face of the predictably "corny" , as befits a four color pulp comic villain, Wu-Han's completely and utterly comic-style-villain behavior .. as one would expect from the nile empire given the very reality of the cosm.. totally made sense and gives the GM an important clue, that bad guys should be run in an at times corny and clichéd, totally over the top fashion that will make PC's roll their eyes and/or make sarcastic comments.. though I do have fond memories of the original 1990's torg campaign I ran with the nile empire "law of corny-ness", a home brewed world law where PC's found themselves resorting to the same clichés and dramatic " good always wins evil will never triumph" speeches complete with dramatic poses, wind blowing stylishly though their hair... obviously given players can and should be protective of their control over their beloved creation (the player's PC) I didn't flat out declare the PCs HAD to start doing this but I was very generous in awarding possibilities to players who went along with it simply stating the PC was feeling the urge to be "corny" thanks to the change in reality itself the PC found themselves in due to Nile Empire axioms and it was up to the player if the PC went along with it or not. Interested players who took me up on it made the campaign all the more fun for me as a GM and for other players who got into it (with real life eye rolling from players who weren't such a big fan of it but who weren't aggravated enough to drop out of the game in real life either) and I heartily suggest you introduce this as a home brewed world law in your own torg eternity nile empire games.

The introductory "Welcome to the Nile Empire" section does a great job of outlining how different the Nile Empire is from core earth and why given the highlights I've mentioned above as well as the focus on the "pulp powers" heroes and villains alike wield whether it be weird science technology or powers natively inherent to said PC's or NPC's as well as describing how the nile empire is like, and not like, the 1930's era America that it draws inspiration from in terms of social norms and structure, the new government under Mobius' rule and how said government is enforced, where pulp heroes and villains are concentrated (apparently mostly cairo and the gaza strip) and the response military and otherwise to the beleaguered regions of earth next to the nile empire Mobius is working on conquering terrified of his reality bombs (see below) .

The writers also made a good point of pointing out that just because the pulp comics of the 1930's pandered to the at the time racial and chauvinistic stereotypes at the time that can and should be an embarrassment to our modern sensibilities doesn't mean that the GM has to "faithfully reproduce" this prejudice ... and indeed it makes sense , the nile empire is in it's own way an alternate version of Earth so just because there was prejudice against non-Caucasian races in 1930's Earth doesn't mean that the Nile Empire version of Earth necessarily developed that way... which is something I would have a discussion with players first in case there's some die-hard historian in the group who demands to know why say for example the Caucasians in the nile empire aren't being racist towards "persons of color" or why husbands aren't threatening to beat wives who have the temerity to go out and join the workforce with paid employment .. these are often the same historian-players who indignantly defend their "good aligned PC's" evil actions by detailing how brutal medieval times were to the point where mercy and compassion were foreign and alien concepts.

To be clear as I mention in my review of the Ororsh torg eternity sourcebook most of the players I've gamed with.. especially my gaming group from the 1990's when Torg first edition came out.. would love the opportunity to have their PC's punch a racist or chauvinist NPC in the face in-game (note that I said IN GAME, obviously I'm not advocating real life violence against even the worst racists and or/chauvinists let's not stoop to their level) and given the literally horrific nature of Orrosh there's a lot of opportunity for real life evil there in the Earth countries Orrosh takes place in (my home country of the USA has plenty of evil too so please don't think I'm playing favorites - again I go into more detail on this in my orrosh book review) to result in some monstrosity that players in Orrosh can have the pleasure of defeating in-game and at least symbolically dealing a blow to the real life prejudices that sadly haunt our real-life earth existence as made painfully clear if you look at any of the major news headlines... but given the light hearted comic book nature of the Nile Empire as satisfying as it would be for a player to punch a racist Nazi pulp powered villain in the jaw, introducing real life prejudice in the game to me would be a jarring experience at odds with the light hearted tone and feel of the nile empire cosm... on the other hand as I mention in the Israel-Palestine conflict ideas I had below there's an opportunity to include real-world conflicts in the torg campaign to really "bring it to life" so to speak provided the GM and players are comfortable with that sort of real-world controversy...

...still, given the admittedly enjoyable mish-mash of things that's already taking place .. Egyptian deity worship, 1930's era American culture, four color pulp comic reality and over the top Indiana Jones style action... somehow I feel like throwing some Nazi in there snarling and being racist and anti-Semitic would somehow get lost given everything that's already taking place ... I could be wrong and a player playing say a Jewish PC who's already being oppressed under Mobius's rule since the Jewish PC is not free to practice his/her religious beliefs (along with fellow oppressed Muslims, Christians, and Bantu religious worshippers see below in that) might take great pleasure in punching a self proclaimed Nazi villain from the nile empire in the face.. sadly anti-Semitism is still very much a thing as our real world news headlines regarding attacks on Jewish synagogues by white supremacist power groups tells any observer. This does however beg the question as to whether or not the Jewish religion even exists on Mobius's home cosm of Terra, as well as the religions of Christianity and Islam or for that matter if the Jews were persecuted in Terra the same way they were here in real life earth during world war two, a question the GM would have to address if the GM wants to make Nazi pulp villains prejudiced in the same way real world Nazi’s were/are. If you go by the 1990's torg terra book these religions are listed as existing in Terra as well, and Hitler is described as the hate mongering racist that he was in our "real life" Earth although nothing is said about whether he fomented hatred towards the Jews of Germany in Terra.

Having said that the book does appear to have a personality conflict with itself... page 8 of the book states " While Torg Eternity encourages players to enjoy all the over-the-top action and drama of the 1930s pulps, we want to make it clear that this can be done without reinforcing racism, sexism, and other prejudices. If you use the archetypes of the period we urge you to make them nuanced, layered characters rather than damaging caricatures. You are not obligated to adhere to damaging stereotypes when playing any character." .. but page 80 of the book states " A 21st Century Core Earther feels as if they’ve journeyed back in time about 75 years. Although women and men do enjoy legal equality, they still have strict gender roles, and those who defy those roles are subject to derision and shame. Social mores

are very much "pre-60s." So which is it as far as women’s' rights are concerned? I suppose you could enforce the 1930's view that if children behaved badly it was the mother's fault as the "primary caregiver" for example but this really seems to fly in the face of what was mentioned on page 8 and honestly I felt uncomfortable even just typing that example "out loud"... I would amend what page 80 says to the following.. basically, men and women are equal in the nile empire, period, and while the social norms of the 1930's do apply they apply to both men and women equally.. for example both men and women would be openly ridiculed if it's clear they're engaging in intimate physical relations with someone before marriage and would be expected to at least do this in secret behind closed doors with it being a rather scandalous thing if it was exposed publicly (although obviously say your average bad guy NPC isn't going to care about social standards in the slightest in this area I would imagine nor are they going to care about the public's opinion of them... then again given that Mobius's shocktroopers are the everday police and enforcers of the nile empire perhaps even they are expected to at least "keep up appearances").

Likewise, given the average 1930's American was expected to be a devout Christian and the church was important, I would replace this with the Egyptian deity worship in the nile empire with great importance placed on at least giving the pretense of honoring the Egyptian deities (and pharaoh Mobius as well as their divine representative in the nile empire), attending routine Egyptian deity services of worship and so forth... note that's in reference to transplants coming in from Dr. Mobius's home cosm of Terra, in the case of transformed Egyptians it's much more simple - they're reverted back to a form of the Egyptian deity worship their long ago ancestors practiced at one point thanks to the nile empire axiom wash albeit with the twist that Mobius is the divine pharaoh selected by their deities.. the patriotism of your average 1930's American is already covered thanks to the near fanatical belief in Mobius your average Egyptian feels thanks to the nile empire axiom wash with transplants from Terra simply having felt that way all along anyways... I would imagine most of these social norms can be carried over to say the parts of Africa mentioned in the Nile Empire sourcebook that have transformed to Nile Empire reality although as the book mentions the fanatical devotion to Mobius that resulted due to the axiom wash (and weird science "pylons" Mobius used to boot) isn't the case in Nile Empire conquered areas outside of Egypt where they're more likely to go along with what Mobius says just because he's a power mad dictator who will kill them otherwise (as the book states his shocktroopers administrating and patrolling conquered areas of Africa are either transformed formerly core earth Egyptians or migrants from Mobius's home cosm Terra, fanatical followers of Mobius either way) . Of course violating any of those particular social norms (openly showing religious beliefs other than the official state religion and/or openly defying Mobius's rule) doesn't result in just being socially shamed, it results in being rounded up by shocktroopers and tossed in jail or an even worse fate.. as the nile empire book states Mobius runs a dictatorship being an evil kind of guy.

It's a bit of a head scratcher how an average citizen of the nile empire would react to a member of the LGBT population given that such a member of the population would face extreme prejudice in 1930's America yet as page 8 mentions it's best to forego prejudice entirely in the nile empire and, again, given the light hearted comic adventure nature of the realm it seems like a rather ugly thing introducing prejudice against the LGBT population in the Nile Empire.. given this is an area the writers have not addressed I would handle it the following way.. it's unusual (in other words the heterosexual population is far greater than the LGBT population) but not entirely unheard of.. so your average Nile Empire citizen might react with surprise at first when discovering someone is LGBT but then think about it, remember they've heard stories about someone who was LGBT and that person was an, to use nile empire speak " Okay guy / Okay gal " , shrug their shoulders and then continue speaking, the person's status as LGBT clearly not having much of an impact beyond the initial " that's unusual around here" reaction. Likewise while the average Nile Empire citizen might react with surprise at first when encountering say two married men or two married women given it's uncommon compared to the larger number of heterosexual married couples, they're going to stop, think about it, remember " Oh yeah I heard about a couple like that in the town next door.. didn't hear anything bad about them though" and then proceed to just treat the same-sex couple like everyone else, meaning that marriage between same-sex genders is legal in the nile empire although a same sex couple suspected of or who is engaging in pre-marital physical relations would endure the same social derision a heterosexual couple would face for not waiting until marriage. In my heart of hearts I would like to assume this (the lack of discrimination beyond the initial surprise) applies in all the nile empire conquered areas, a result of the axiom wash. Note also the writeup in the book of one of Mobius's overgovernors.. "when Natatiri is seducing men or women in order to achieve her goals, she manages to hide her true feelings." page 96

The Terra sourcebook was mentioned earlier on ... as I've mentioned in my other torg eternity reviews I really do feel like the torg eternity team should have drastically lowered the price of the original 1990's torg books to at most a few dollars per title treating them as additional "world building" supplemental role playing material that really should have been included (a simple copy and paste would have done the trick) in the revised torg eternity books not to mention stats for important NPC's included in the original 1990's torg books but left out of the torg eternity books as I note later on below.. having said that I would argue to really bring the nile empire to life that one not only pick up the 1990's torg nile empire book but also the terra book for the stats of several notable heroes (Dr. Frest, the Guardian and others) as well as their background stories and the background stories and stats for pulp villains that can be easily adapted and plunked into torg eternity, a detailed look at the alternate history of Terra compared to core earth, a more in depth look at Mobius's backstory after his resurrection and his activities in Terra (one interesting fact was Mobius never "conquered" terra in terms of setting up stelae and draining possibilities from it, essentially leaving his home cosm "alone" in favor of conquering other cosms instead), little details that really make the world building / role playing aspect pop like a detailed description of the life style of various lower, middle and upper class social stratas

( I really enjoyed that part in terms of how it "brings the world to life", for example the almost financially destitute lower class barely hanging on, the not quite so bad but still lower class , the upper class factory owner and so forth)

a detailed description of gear easily adapted to torg eternity, and what I consider to be a far better adaption of the law of morality in torg as opposed to the majority of people being more of a mixture of good and evil (your average citizen who isn't say a shocktrooper) and the detailed explanation as to how this works .. while the part about the majority of people being of "good" inclination admittedly wouldn't work on nile empire conquered Egypt lest the population promptly rise up against Mobius (so there the more murky "not clear cut good or evil" bit is necessary) , I loved the description-examples of say the good inclined reporter who has to report the truth in order to "save people" and "let them know" even if costs the reporter her job (a time honored but enjoyable cliché) versus the evil inclined teacher who freely gives out " F " grades even when the student presumably didn't deserve it because the teacher enjoys watching children cry... another situation in which the 1990's torg books really nail the world building/role playing concept in a way the torg eternity books simply don't have the "room" to do so due to their focus on "big picture" concepts... and while I understand the budgetary constraints the torg eternity team was working under (people might pay $20 for a pdf copy of a cosm sourcebook but ballooning the cost to $30 to get all that extra material in there might cost the torg eternity team sales) again I would argue the original 1990's torg books need to be deeply discounted in price and treated as optional but valuable supplemental material for interested torg GM's and players.

The sidebar on page 9 regarding the "power level" of heroes in the nile empire should be carefully expanded on by the GM to players lest you have disappointed players on your hands. .. the sidebar says Batman, Green Arrow and Daredevil would be examples of the appropriate "power level" of nile empire heroes as opposed to say spider man or wonder woman who would be far beyond the abilities of your average nile empire pulp hero (or villain)... however the depiction of Batman and Daredevil in the comics , and even Green Arrow in his famous TV show Arrow of the CW network, varies wildly to the point where it depicts all three heroes as far more powerful than your average starting nile empire hero.. explain to your players that due to game balance requirements, super powers or no they aren't going to necessarily be more powerful than say an extremely skilled core earth soldier with the appropriate perks making him or her tough to kill .. basically nile empire heroes start out being as powerful as the other PC's not more so.. given enough experience points nile empire pulp heroes can obviously level up and grow more powerful as time goes by but so will their fellow non nile empire PC's presumably such that the power levels are still the same.. basically the players should be thinking more of the "flavor" of the character they want to play... do they want to play a truly "heroic hero" , over the top in comic book style who lives for death defying moments in the fight against the forces of evil? Does the player enjoy being openly "corny" and "hamming it up" with overly melodramatic speeches? If so then Nile Empire is the way the player should go with a PC but more due to the role playing aspect than because the player is looking to "power game".

Despite the fact that the Nile Empire is a dictatorship it's worth keeping in mind that Mobius is described as being a "big picture" kind of guy who is primarily interested in beating other High Lords and conquering more of core earth and taking down those interfering storm knights and especially his hated opposition the Mystery Men (pulp heroes of the Nile Empire) ... his underlings certainly can and do enforce said dictatorship anyways but also openly or quietly compete with each other which basically explains in my opinion how the PC's can move around safely in conquered areas of the Nile Empire as long as they aren't brazenly defiant of Mobius's rule in public ...unless of course a situation arises where they have to do their job as heroes - Mobius is just one of many bad guys they have to fight after all - in which case the PC's will also have to deal with shocktrooper foes in addition to their other problems though as the fires of ra mega-adventure shows this isn't necessarily an overwhelming problem that can't be overcome the same way it might be in other cosms - the very nature of the nile empire means the PC's will likely overcome overwhelming odds on a routine basis and which is also mentioned in the axioms and world laws section of the nile empire sourcebook.

It's also interesting that while the nile empire sourcebook says the police handle facing off against criminals (said police obviously being transformed to persons who now see Mobius as "the law" in Egypt or the police chief and all dissenting officers presumably being replaced with people loyal to Mobius or at least afraid of him in nile empire conquered areas outside of Egypt) , in the fires of ra adventure the PC's are described as having to face off against shocktroopers in Egypt if they draw too much attention to themselves.. personally I'd explain it as the following.. the police handle "routine" lawbreakers and are the first line of offense against them but in the case of "extremely dangerous criminals" (the PC's would obviously qualify as would any fellow storm knight and/or known delphi council agent) the police either show up to confront the PC's but call in shocktrooper backup that arrives shortly thereafter.. or , the better option in my case, the police are ordered to leave dangerous situations like that alone completely and have "the military" (shocktroopers) brought in to handle it much like core earth's military being brought in instead of or alongside the police in particularly dangerous situations.. stats for a core earth police officer are given on page 266 of the torg eternity core rules which a GM could use for their nile empire version, but omit the ballistic vest , give them the truncheon described on pages 148-149 of the core rules and give them either a Mauser Pistol or an M1918 BAR rifle as described on page 148-149 of the core rules instead of the more modern firearm a core earth officer would have.

Of course it's entirely possible you'll have confused players who want to know what the police are doing in the nile empire and why they follow Mobius as well as presenting the PC's with a moral dilemma... do they attack and kill police officers who are simply doing their sworn duty and who genuinely see the PC's as the bad guys? The situation is sticky enough such that a GM might even consider avoiding sending police in completely especially given that, as pages 181-182 of the core rules makes clear (the PC's moment of crisis that allowed them to become possibility rated involving making a deliberate choice for good over evil and the storm knight's listed role of protecting innocents.. not to mention it's clear from reading the fires of ra , or the godbox or delphi council rising storm for that matter, published adventures that the writers clearly expect the PC's to unquestionably be the good guys in order for the adventures to function properly) there should never be any doubt that the PC's are the good guys... unless the GM feels like the players can handle the responsibility and will find some way to sneak away or defuse the situation without killing police officers.

The end notes at each warzone section come in very useful here and are greatly appreciated in terms of telling the GM what "typical" threats might be to PC storm knights in that particular warzone area as far as NPC's they'll have to overcome complete with stats.. one big drawback is that the masked marauder only has one set of stats (the nile empire pulp villain basically) and I do find myself hoping someone using the Torg Infiniverse license will come up with a mini-sourcebook of nile empire pulp comic book villains, or maybe a combination of pulp heroes (mystery men) and villains, who is the arch foe of whom and how each one feels about all the others which would be a huge asset to the Nile Empire setting. A lot of pulp villains are given in the fires of ra and fights with them prior to the fires of ra could conceivably make the fires of ra all the more fun to run when the players have to fight the same pulp villains they fought before but it's critically important that the GM go over the world laws described in this book including the law of inevitable return and how both PC's (as the introductory nile empire adventure in the "day one" pay what you want sourcebook makes clear .. grab it and don't feel guilty if you can only pay say one dollar or less the writers intend it as the gateway drug towards you buying more torg products :) ) and villains alike who are seemingly "killed" show up again and again with some unbelievable story as to how they survived ... warning players ahead of time that "death doesn't take .. normally" will hopefully help relive player frustration especially when you point out that in real life comic books heroes and villains always come back from the dead and that's just the nature of the nile empire (and I've found RPG players are often comic book fans as well so hopefully this will strike a chord with them).

At this point I feel like I'm in danger of exceeding the word count for this review so I will direct you to my blogger post below in case you want to read the rest of it but hopefully what I've written above will give you enough reasons to consider picking up the nile empire sourcebook which, again, especially in combination with the fires of ra adventure, is just plain fun.. a lot of wonderfully dramatic over the top fun.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Torg Eternity - Nile Empire Sourcebook
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