Today we talk about Esoterrorists.
Taken from the memories, here I am talking with you about this game, published by Pelgranes Press back in 2006, translated and localized in Italy in 2008 through Janus Design.
But what prompted me to recover the first born of GUMSHOE? The answer is simple. In recent times this system has made a comeback thanks to many role-playing games that have chosen to use it.
But let's get to know the GUMSHOE system a little better.
GUMSHOE system in the world of role playing
When we talk about the system GUMSHOE, let's talk about the "creature" born from the mind of Robin D. Laws, a famous playwright and writer of Canadian descent.
Without wishing to be exaggerated, I want to state that this rulebook is just perfect for investigative adventures. Why am I so sure of the above? To answer this, I will ask you another question and tell you a lived game story.
How many times have you been stranded during a role-playing game because, due to a failure in the roll of the dice, the characters had nothing on which to base their investigations. In short, let's face it, a situation similar to that of the television series The Defenders, where if the organization of "The Hand" had not attacked them, the former would never have been able to dig a spider out of the hole.
Here it happened to me too. We were trying to take on a preconceived adventure for Pulp Cthulhu and we began to turn and turn at random for a session and a half until the master decided to drop as deus ex-machina and move the adventure to the set place with a trick worthy of a low-key z-series film. Normal administration when the adventure crashes!
Well, with the system GUMSHOE you will always be able to collect all the clues necessary for the continuation of the investigation. But you don't have to think that it ended up like this. Not that since you have the right clue then everything is downhill… Obviously you can, by spending investigation points, retrieve additional information. I don't know about you, but sometimes I enjoy disseminating clues from the most disparate, and not always all clues are actually useful to the investigation, so my players often hate me.
In short, to be clear, the best definition of the system in question is the following:
[…] The goal of each Trail of Cthulhu scenario is to solve a mystery and compare the entity (or entities) of the Myths behind it. The confrontation must remain in doubt, and generic skills can fail as a result. But for the story to be satisfactory at the end of it, a confrontation must be reached and for this reason the investigative skills must succeed [...]Kenneth Hite "In the footsteps of Cthulhu"
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Esoterrorists an analysis with modern eyes
But today, after so many years, as it is Esoterrorists?
This game is the first to make use of the aforementioned system and has structural limitations which, in its first edition, were very evident. It wasn't quite refined. Many also complained that the game was too simple in the fights and that these did not have any thickness. Even the opponents were few and almost nothing "explained".
Realize that I, to look for new possible antagonists, I went to buy a second game, with the same system in order to have a variability of creatures, monsters and anything else that could be useful to the game. The manual in question was What are you afraid of which I hope to be able to tell you about in the future.
So was it cool? Yes it sure was. It was a breath of fresh air. But is that enough for the RPG world right now? Maybe not much.
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What is Esoterrorists talking about?
Now I would like to spend a few words to explain the setting of the game to you.
The world is what we live in, but there is a global network of terrorists who try to attack the planet via monsters and horrible entities that come from every parallel world and tear the fabric of reality itself. And you characters belong to the Ordo Veritas, elite investigators, called to try to block this planetary conspiracy. Your enemies can be the most disparate: from cannibals who live in the depths of the forests, to financial sharks, passing through mad prophets of doom, to entire government organizations.
And do you know which is the worst? That you, unlike them, have a code of ethics that you cannot violate, except on the specific order of your superior who entrusts you with the missions.
Does this seem like a banal incipit? No more than many others I've seen born over the years. Let's say that this was the progenitor and perhaps even if not appreciated by everyone, it should at least be respected.
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Conclusions on Esoterrorists
When I first read Esoterrorists the first thing that came to mind was a television series from many years ago. It was called Poltergeist: The Legacy. I assure you no connection with the film of the 80s of the last century, but the incipit of the series is Esoterrorists in its pure state and therefore how not to fall in love with it?
In fact, I lose everything to this game and years later I will continue to play and replay it like many other role-playing games localized and translated by the late Janus Design. And who knows, if in a short time, he does not recover his courage in both hands and start a new fast campaign. It would be a valid experience to understand if, after years, this game can still have its say.