Nocturne (EABA)

Nocturne (EABA)

From: Blacksburg Tactical Research Center

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Nocturne (EABA)is a new Role-playing Game Setting from Blacksburg Tactical Research Center.

From page #1.2: “If you open your mind for me, you won’t rely on open eyes to see. ”

First, let me say you can not go wrong with a gaming book that opens with a quote from one of the greatest bands of the 80s, Queensrÿche.

Once again, I delve into a unique Blacksburg Tactical Research Center (BTRC) world written for EABA. I have since reviewed two others – Age of Ruinand DarkMillennia. Nocturne is a markedly different setting from the others. First I will quote the RPGNow text that accompanies this product to get a perspective: “There is the material world, the world of the hereafter, and the world in between. Nocturne is the world in between, that both reflects and shapes the real and the divine.”

Nocturne is an EABA role playing game setting where reality is what you imagine it to be. It is a game of reality and legend, myth and mystery in the modern world. A world where dreams are as real as anything else, but only a chosen few can really explore them. To the average person – a Sleeper– the dream world is nothing more than an intangible place to sort out your subconscious thoughts. However, to others it is more. These Dreamersexplore the world of Nocturne. For these special people, Nocturne is tangible and can be dangerous. This is a campaign world that either can be a stand alone world or an overlay to another EABA campaign.

Content: In Nocturneyou play a Dreamer – one who can remember and manipulate their own dreams and enter the Nocturne world. They go into the dream world and among other things, encounter the Others – Dreamers with a strong hatred of men that lurk in the Nocturne. Sleepers are those normal mundane folks that are asleep and have dreams but do not actual Dream. And then there are the Wakers – those not sleeping and not normally seen in the Nocturne. The Introduction gives you that a little more about each type of person as well as the different aspects of the Nocturne (Pattern, Weave and Thread).

Dreamers are complex and rare individuals. The Adventurerschapter takes the reader into the journey of creating a Dreamer, from formulating their origins and background to choosing reinterpreted as well as new traits. It also introduces some new skills specific to Dreamers including Weaving, Threading, Creating, Projection and Invoking. These new skills are key to Nocturneand to a Dreamer. Otherwise, an Adventurer is a normal human in a modern mundane world.

There is something that all Dreamers are instinctually aware of. It is an event that some want to happen while others do not. What is it? No one really knows, but they call it the Awakening. Some relate it to a type of apocalypse or some ‘End of Days’ within Nocturne. All anyone knows is that there are factions within and without the Nocturne. Some want the Awakening to happen while others do not. In game terms, it is the core plot device to drive a campaign within Nocturne. It can be interpreted anyway the GM sees fit. This is one concept I like in games like this – an open-endedness that does not give too much information and gives the GM room to be creative.

From this point on, the PDF is primarily about the Nocturne and what you can encounter there as well as a short section on the Apocrypha. The character stat Fate plays a big part in traveling and manipulating the Nocturne. You can use Fate as per the normal rules of EABA but it is also used in entering the Nocturne and changing it with one of the new skills. Times passes as it does in the Materia (normal world). The Dreamer can enter the Nocturne where they stand or transport themselves to another place in the Nocturne. Everything in the normal world has its equivalent in the Nocturne, so you can appear in the same room and in the same building you are in now or you can appear in the middle of some desert formed by a Sleepers despair.

The Nocturne is that which is between Life (Materia) and the afterlife (Apocrypha). So not only are there Dreamers from the Materia going in and out, but there are also the spirits of dead Dreamers. The author spends a considerable amount of time on how one interacts within the Nocturne, how combat occurs, and what happens when one dies. Weaving is explained further in this chapter, as it is the primary way you manipulate the Nocturne. Also Threading, Creating, Projection, Invoking, and Traveling are explored a bit further.

After getting more of a feel for what the Nocturne is, the PDF delves into what is IN the Nocturne. From Entities (sentient beings originating from the Apocrypha) to Shadows to Bogeymen, there are several weird and sometimes nightmarish things to be encountered in the Nocturne. Following this is a section called Friends & Foes, and this primarily defines for the reader organizations and cadres formed by other Dreamers. These are the secret societies or Power Groups, formed by Dreamers to use their abilities for their own purposes. There are those working for the Awakening like the Mater Ecclesia (a secret branch of the Catholic Church who believe the Awakening is the Rapture), Anarchists (who believe the Awakening is the ultimate chaos), Pagans ( a group of mystics and Wiccans who believe that the Awakening will bring a new age of peace and prosperity), and the Enlightened (a group of people who believe the Awakening will bring about ‘global consciousness’).

There are also those that are working against the Awakening, like the Architects (a group of scholars and scientists who believe the Awakening is the ultimate blow to the human psyche), the Vikings (a collection of people who believe that the Awakening will release the power of the old gods), the Psilent Pservice (a general group name for all the different Dreamer groups that work for the world governments), and the Priesthood (a group of Dreamers who follow the “old ways”). Friends & Foes also includes sections on Allies & Enemies and the Others.

The Others were an off-shoot pre-human species of very powerful Dreamers in the early evolution of man who were competed into near extinction. There are some pure-blood Other that still exist, although they can not walk among us because they are very different from us. They interact with the rest of the world through the Nocturne. They do not walk among humans because due to evolution, humans are genetically coded to react violently to Others. There are also half-breed Others, who in most cases live near the full-breeds and sometimes serve them. This is one of those subtle nuances I like in a Greg Porter game. It is one of those nuggets that I either really like in the game or use in another game.

The Apocrypha is that area that lies on the other side of the Nocturne where the souls of the dead are drawn into and occasionally visit the Nocturne in the form of Shadows. This is the basic afterlife concept, with its own Hell and Heaven interpretation. There are Primal Forces identified for each – Lucifer and the Creator, respectively, and have their respective minions. It also integrates concepts of Reincarnation and the Abyss (the Nocturne well of human extreme negative emotion and desires), as well as a place called Valhalla (resting place of warriors and dead gods).

The PDF ends with an adventure, advice on campaigning, and a list of Nocturne personalities. All this of course is handy in getting a perspective and inspiration for the game.

System: Characters, if playing a pure-Nocturnegame, are normal human characters. If using Nocturneas an overlay, then you would use the character generation rules of that world, plus add in the additional traits and skills the Adventurers chapter supplies. The new skills relate to Dreaming and manipulating the Nocturne. Additionally, there are some minor rules additions like Cooperative Skill Use.

Supernatural powers and magic is handled through the either the new Threading skill (will-based skill that allows you to change how you or someone else appears in the Nocturne), Weaving (an awareness-based skill that allows you to change the nature of the Nocturne itself), Creating (will-based skill allowing you to create illusions within the Nocturne), Projection (will-based skill that allows you to project your will on others and manipulate things created by Threading skill), Invoking (a skill that allows you to summon a Nocturne “elemental” of sorts) or a Sorcery Skill as described in the core rulebook. As with the other skills, the Sorcery magic only occurs in the Nocturne.

From the website: “All Dreamers know that the Cycle is drawing to a conclusion, and there are many who are not content to simply observe, but want to shape the Cycle for their power and profit. And behind all are the Others, the first Dreamers, implacably hostile to humankind, and very much alive and scheming.”

Layout: The art is pretty good, but not on par with the art usually found in BTRC’s stuff. The layout itself is very similar to other EABA PDFs and easy to follow. I have said it before, Greg is a master PDFer. The clickable Table of Contents (which not everyone includes) is very handy and makes things easy to navigate through.

In conclusion, of all three EABA-verse PDF settings I have read, I feel this is my least favorite. It is very representative of Greg Porter’s imagination and ingenuity in game setting design. However, it is a little too “Acid-Trip” for me. Much in the same way I never liked Call of Cthulhu Dreamlands, this game world simply did not appeal to me as a stand alone world. I can see the potential as an overlay to another campaign, but not sure I would dedicate too much time in it. The world is part Nightmare in Elmstreetand part cyberpunk cyberspace. There was an old movie from the 80s that this game reminds me of – Dreamscape in 1984 with Dennis Quade. These Power Groups get into the meat and potatoes of what a Nocturnecampaign would entail – Intrigue, mysticism and factional loyalties. Between that and the bizarre world of Nocturne, I can see an interesting campaign developing.

For more details on Blacksburg Tactical Research Center and their new Roleplaying Game Setting “Nocturne (EABA)” check them out at their website

Nocturne (EABA)

From:Blacksburg Tactical Research Center

Type of Game:EABA Setting PDF

Written by:Greg Porter

Game Design by:Greg Porter

Developed by:Greg Porter

Cover Art by:Gun Legier

Additional Art by:George Edward Purdy, Gun Legier

Number of Pages:87

Game Components Included:Two PDFs – one greyscale and one full color

Game Components NotIncluded:EABA Core PDF book

Publisher Item Number: BTR 6106a

Retail Price:$ 8.50

Reviewed by: Ron McClung