The Everlasting – Book of the Spirits

The Everlasting – Book of the Spirits

From: Visionary Entertainment, Inc.
Reviewed by:Ron McClung

The Everlasting: Book of the Spirits is a new Foundation Book from Visionary Entertainment, Inc..

By now, after reading through three books including this one, I feel so engulfed in this amazing world. The Book of the Spiritsis the next venture into the worlds and beings of the Everlasting.  In general, it is like the other books in the series – a stand-alone roleplaying game book complete with the same rules and background. This particular book delves into the worlds of the spirits, as its name implies – from gargoyles to possessed, from djinn to the great old ones. Although I thought the subject of spirits were covered inThe Book of the Unliving with the genos Dead Souls, apparently those at Visionary Entertainment felt that more spirits needed to be explored.

From page 5: “ Spirits in quick glimpses and behind half-dreams, welcome to the Secret World. – SCB ”

Content:  The core content that covers theEverlastinguniverse is the same text, reformatted.  From the orientation of the Secret World to the text on legend-making, it was all the same.  The major difference in this book is the genos that is described.

The primary supernatural species in this book areGargoyles(demonic-like beings of good that “devour sin”),Manitous (totem spirits) andThe Possessed(dream entities that possess and corrupt mortals).  These are the primary ones because they are presented in the most detail and are meant to be character races.  The books also contains sections on Astral Spirits, Dream Spirits, Djinn, Somnomancers (wizards of the Dreamworlds), and Leviathans (great old ones).

Before I get into each genos, however, I want to mention something I found strange.  For every book, thus far, there is a page at the beginning of every chapter that I would call ‘fluff’ – introductory text that prepares you for the chapter to come.  This protagonist creation chapter ofThe Book of Spirits, however, has something interesting and something I found somewhat out of place – a short lesson of the basics of numerology.  Why? It is interesting and not overly new age that I object but I just found it odd.

Chapter Four starts with a section on the history of gargoyles, from its origins in the name to their original stone purposes.  Bound by an ancient curse, gargoyles are “sin eaters,” meaning they are attracted to and feed on evildoer’s sin.  While the vampires are after blood, the gargoyle seeks out sin and not only feeds, but sometimes carries out a punishment for the sin.  They are truly living stone of some kind, but the type can vary from alabaster to jade, from marble to granite. They are beings of good and light, stemming from the Astral plane but now imprisoned in the stone bodies.  Their torment is the Abyss as they slowly are taken over by the sin they feed on. Gargoyles have their own form of martial arts called Karafan which utilizes their unique nature in hand-to-hand combat. Also in Chapter Five is another character option related to Gargoyles called the Sacred Ones – humans that are so great and have such a strong destiny, gargoyles are driven to protect and guide them.  

Chapter Five covers Manitous or animal spirits and lords of nature.  They are humans possessed by animal spirits or totems.  Two spirits embodied in one flesh, they collectively are the manitou.  They are able to shape shift to the totem animal and the instincts and abilities of the totem are manifested in the host. The chapter explains in detail how a manitou comes into being – through a process called the Joining or Enspiritment, as well as what happens when one dies. The torment of a manitou is animalism where the host slowly becomes more and more like the animal spirit and less human.  This chapter does present a rather lengthy list of totem choices for characters to play.

Chapter Six covers the dark species  known as the Possessed.  However, it takes an interesting and interestingly original approach to the concept, allowing it to be different from other entities like Dead Souls or Ghosts.  In this universe, the Possessed are actually human hosts to imprisoned ethereal creatures from the Dreamworlds (a plane like H.P. Lovecraft’s Deamlands).  These creatures are calledOchelum.  There are evil and good ochelum.  All are bound to this earth by earthly amulets called soul-prisons.  The torment of the Possessed is corruption – madness eventually overtakes those who are possessed.

The chapter on the Possessed also take it a step further and link ochelum to sandmen myths and legends.   It then details some aspects of the Dreamworlds including moon cheese, the cats of the Dreamworlds as well as other denizens, and the somnonancer.  Somnonancers are “waking worlders” who have gained complete dream control. 

From the back page #193:“ Do you believe in the Great Old Ones?”

Much ofThe Book of the Spirits is strongly influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft (HPL) and the Cthulhu mythos.  Of course the Great Old Ones (see below) are a direct influence but also the sections of the Dreamworlds and its nature (much like the Dreamlands, in some ways). It was influenced so much, they acknowledged it in a nod to Chaosium and their gameCall of Cthulhuon page 196.

Chapter Seven: The Abominations is the chapter that is most influenced by HPL.  Within these pages are the most vile and dark creatures of the spirit worlds.  If not directly borrowed from the Cthulhu Mythos, there are several creatures that are similar.  These are of course presented as NPC creatures and races and not something players can play.

The last chapter of genets or species is about the djinn – mysteries creatures of  half-earthly and half-spiritual beings.  Based in the Arabic mythical race, these creatures once ruled an ancient half-earthly/half-astral kingdom called Ubar.  They are also known as “neutral angels” with great power.  The text details a mysterious society of these creatures with a long history and dark secrets.  They draw their power from something called the Smokeless Flame or Thal.  It is their life force and energy.  They are primarily dwellers of the Reverie and look like humans when in the real world. The have multiple forms and their society is divided into many tribes.  There is an interesting link to something called the Elder Lords, the Necronomicon, and the djinn.  There is also interesting history between the djinn and King Solomon. The djinn are rich with vast history.

The rest of the book is like the other books, covering the other races in The Everlasting, describing the general concepts of the game universe like the Reverie, Magick, and detailing some advanced guidelines.  I ask you to reference my review ofThe Everlasting: Book of the Unliving for details on this.  It does add a few sections on other worlds related to the species in this book – including the Doomlands and the Dreamworlds.  In the Advanced Guidelines Chapter, there is a short section on djinn magick, giving you an option to create your own magick spells.  

One of the things I have failed to mention is that in all the books there is a race mentioned in the sections entitledThe Other Everlasting that is not actually covered in any of the four core books.  I only noticed this after going through all four books thoroughly.  I had seen it while reading through the first two and thought it would be covered elsewhere, but it apparently is not covered until theMagician’s Companion. Osirians are a special race apparently cloaked in mystery.  They are souls that transmigrate over humans lives, living, dying and being reborn, benefiting from the knowledge of many past lives.  

Layout: The layout has its own uniqueness about it, stylish and appropriate for the subject matter.  The art is on par with the other books, ranging from really impressive to so-so.

System: Nothing new is added to the system except more magic options. The magic system is so open-ended, however, that almost anything can be added to the magic system.

In conclusion,the folks at Visionary did it again.  Well done.  Probably the coolest thing about this that separates it from games like White Wolf is that it encourages you to form mixed parties.  Where in White Wolf, all I see is parties of Vampires or Werewolves, this gives the players a wide variety of species to choose from, especially if you get all four books.  Each species has their pro and cons and seem well balanced.  In my opinion, this game is by far one of the best alternatives to White Wolf.  Book of the Spirits definitely adds more uniqueness to the game universe and more variety  for players to choose from.  The depth of all the books is fantastic and well-thought out.  I compliment the authors once again.

For more details on Visionary Entertainment, Inc. and their new Foundation Book “The Everlasting: Book of the Spirits” check them out at their website and at all of your local game stores.

The Everlasting: Book of the Spirits
From: Visionary Entertainment, Inc.
Type of Game: Foundation Book
Written by: Steven Brown
Game Design by: Steve Brown
Developed by: Steve Brown
Cover Art by: Alan Rabinowitz
Additional Art by: Pamela Shanteau, Michael Eriquez, Steve Brown, Glenn Brewer, Michaela Eaves, Simon Hurst, Bradly MsDevitt, Raven Mimura, Toby Smallwood
Number of Pages: 318
Game Components Included: One Softback book
Retail Price: $ 29.95 (US)
Retail Price: $ 39.95 (Can)
Item Number: EV200
ISBN: 1-887385-01-3

Reviewed by: Ron McClung