Monday, June 15, 2009

Unhallowed Metropolis

Unhallowed Metropolis from New Dark Age through Eos Press combines a neo-Victorian future with an Undead Plague and Tesla-powered technology. Everyone lives in fortress cities, on rations and under ash laden skies, fearful of ghouls, zombies, and vampires, and even their recently deceased relatives rising again. Outside, the undead roams the countryside, sent out from the mysterious Sepulchres, possible headquarters for undead lords. This is a horror RPG inspired by Dracula, Frankenstein, and Jekyll & Hyde, with an emphasis on the Victorian way of death and the anatomy of the undead. Character options include Aristocrats, Dhampir (romantic half-vampires), Mourners (female undead killers), Criminals, Doctors, and Undertaker (professional monster hunters), all looking their best in the game’s “Gasmask Chic.” The latter also being the name for the book’s excellent artwork.

Unfortunately, Unhallowed Metropolis suffers from too few character options; an imbalance between social and combat skills (too many of the latter), and between high and low class characters (how do you bring them together?); and lethally clunky mechanics, which make doing anything even moderately difficult, actually very hard. Re-rolls are allowed, but only so many before a character suffers from Corruption, which with a hard resolution system demanding re-rolls, comes too soon. Also, outside of the undead, the setting is underwritten. More information should have been included about the mundane facts of this setting. Although it demands more options, better rules, an expanded background, and an index, Unhallowed Metropolis should demand the attention of both devotees of Victoriana and the undead.

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