Review: Chaosium, Inc – Gamemaster’s Companion (Nephilim)


Gamemaster’s Companion
Gamemaster’s Companion is a supplement for the modern occult fantasy game Nephilim (powered by Basic Roleplaying) written by¬†Shannon Appel, Adrian Czajkowski, Kenneth Hite, Ross Isaacs, Eric Rowe, Sam Shirley, Gregg Stafford, Ian Young and published by Chaosium.
By Aaron T. Huss

Learn more about Gamemaster’s Companion here
Purchase Gamemaster’s Companion here
Find other Nephilim products here

The Nephilim Gamemaster’s Companion is a handy guide for all Nephilim GMs looking to run full campaigns.¬† One shot adventures and small campaigns may not find it as useful, but to get fully absorbed into a campaign needs the right tools, and this is a great place to find them. The Gamemaster’s Companion, as is prevalent from the title, is a helpful guide for GMs looking to expand their Nephilim games. Player’s may get some use out of the artifacts section, but overall this book is meant for the GM only.

The Gamemaster’s Companion expands upon the material from the core rulebook by further delving into the alternate history of Nephilim, offering additional creatures and information associated with the elements, presenting a new set of mechanics for building artifacts and relics, and more importantly, a discussion on what Nephilim campaigns are composed of and providing a sample one. This last part of the book is possibly one of the most valuable given the intricate design of the Nephilim setting. After reading through this book, much of the content from the core rulebook really comes together in a “grand picture” sort of way depicting a possible campaign for your players.

CONTENT

The History is an all-era spanning timeline depicting an alternate earth where important events in time are given a Nephilim twist, starting with 4 billion years ago. These entries are short and the entire piece is given as an overview.

The Items of Power introduces the fluff and mechanics for creating artifacts, relics, and unique artifacts. These possibly powerful items come to life with rules for creation and use.

The Creatures introduces additional information about Elemental creatures in regards to summoning, controlling and combating them. Additionally, an expanded bestiary is included.

The Campaign Design is a lengthy discussion for GMs about different ways to design scenarios, campaigns and adversaries along with discussing the different types of themes common (or uncommon) to the Nephilim setting. Additionally, it introduces mechanics for doing these types of things using a standard Tarot deck.

The Campaign Setting is a sample, sandbox campaign setting placed within the San Francisco Bay area, introducing a number of antagonist groups and major locations.

OVERALL

Gamemaster’s Companion is an excellent read and a fantastic tool-kit for Nephilim GMs. It really helped to open my eyes to the potential of Nephilim and more importantly, what the game is really about. The full timeline is a nice bonus, although much of the information is essentially found throughout the various eras listed in the core rulebook and Chronicle of the Awakenings. However, having it presented here as a general overview of all the eras is a nice addition. The campaign design tools are really what sell this book.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
I wasn’t overly impressed with the publication of Gamemaster’s Companion, but at the same time wasn’t let down by anything inside. The timeline had a fair amount of white space and the thumbnail artwork was decent at best. The rest of the artwork within the book ranged from cool to seemingly out-of-place, or at least not fully fitting with the content. Other than that, the layout and formatting look great and the book overall follows the same quality level as before.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
The artifacts/relics and elemental creatures sections are the only new mechanics, although the Tarot card tool-kit could be considered one. The implementation of them all is fantastic and the information for creating artifacts is pretty cool. These are not your standard artifacts and can really be a plot point for any campaign. I also like how creating artifacts is difficult and should avoid being abused.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
A definite must-have for Nephilim GMs! The Gamemaster’s Companion has an amazing amount of campaign ideas throughout and even some that can be stripped down for basic adventures. If you are running a Nephilim campaign, this book has a number of great ideas to help steer the way and even presents a sample campaign location to get things started.

Overall: 9 out of 10
Books like this are an excellent addition to a GMs library. They provide a number of new ideas and tools for GMs to construct interesting and memorable campaigns while at the same time giving GMs a little more than what the players and their characters know about the setting itself. Although maybe not necessary for short adventures, campaigns can really benefit from the ideas presented herein.

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