Game: Path of Rage
Publisher: Louis Porter Jr Design
Review Dated: 5th, November 2003
Reviewer’s Rating: 5/10 [ Perfectly acceptable ]
Total Score: 5
Average Score: 5.00
I haven’t been kind to Haven: City of Violence and its supplements at all. I’ve been harsh but I stand by that. There’s a special sort of frustration served for RPGs that have a good idea but which only come close. I haven’t described the game as a piece of crap though. Since I’ve not been especially enamoured with Haven it is rather unfortunate that the book begins…
“So you’re are back for more…”
Unfortunately, that’s their typo, not mine. The introduction goes on…
“Just like an addict on crack, you couldn’t stay away from us. I knew the second that you picked the book up that you liked it and it would only get better from there.”
Hmm, perhaps not. I’ll tell you something, though, Path of Rage is an important step in the right direction for Haven: City of Violence. If Louis Porter Jr Design turn the setting into a neo-noir master genre piece then I’ll be especially happy. I’ll be a convert. I do need to be converted or, at the very least, I need to be educated. I had picked up the impression that Haven: City of Violence was primarily about, well, violence. Violence in a city called Haven controlled by gangs. The book’s lead author, Louis Porter Jr. himself, moves to correct me.
“The reason I am writing this is to conform some of the misconceptions that have been planted into your head in the recent months concerning the direction of Haven: City of Violence. Many people feel that Haven is a simple game about gangsters, killing cops and getting away with it. Some feel that this game is about lawmen trying to clean up a dirty and corrupt city. Others feel that this game is a piece of crap and quite frankly I don’t give a rat’s ass about them, so hell with them, Let me let you in on my little secret. It is more than that, a whole lore more. Let me explain.”
Good on him. Haven: City of Violence is clearly a labour of love (albeit one backed by a professional design company and Osseum) and it’s important to have that “to hell” attitude. It’ll keep the game hot. Oh, and the little secret? I’m not sure what it is. In a round about way we’re told that Haven is a “set five minutes in the future” sort of game. Technology is that little bit more advanced. There isn’t really an alternative theme suggested in the following paragraphs (just lots of inspirational films). The moral of the lengthy introduction is clearly “stay open to possibilities”.
The sourcebook doesn’t begin with more game mechanics or stats for unusual grenades. It begins with a graphic story of daily life for a Haven henchman and then gets into a tour of the city. It’s not an introductory story you should read if you don’t like violence – and there’s “worse” to come in. The sample character created in the book is steeped in sexual violence. Haven doesn’t pull any punches. That’s part of the game’s charm. Or, if you’re offended by that sort of plot, or just don’t fancy “tainting” your roleplaying escapism with it then stick clear of Haven.
Path of Rage is the main sourcebook for Haven: City of Violence. It adds a lot to the game. I think it’s a really boost to the setting. The addition of the supplement does just enough to bring the setting out from “not quite there” to “there”. Path of Rage does just enough to bring the city to life. The introductory story might have its gory moments but it also reinforces the atmosphere of the city. I had it in mind from reading the original book that going from one of the six regions wasn’t a subtle thing; that the quality of the houses, the people and even the cars changed drastically. It seems that this wasn’t a misconception that I’d gotten into my head. In addition to more information about the six regions the book looks at Haven as a whole, quoting some shocking crime statistics.
Haven likes to move into template limbo between chapters. This happens here in Path of Rage too. As the opening tour of the city fades but before chapter two begins there is a collection of ready to go NPC templates. There are stats for Special Operations to the Order of the Rose here.
Chapter Two is about the new mechanics. You’ve new benefits and drawbacks. Characters can be Big as Hell but Inept. There are new Special Abilities and Skills; you can be Heartless and trained in SCUBA. There are some more templates, hackers and reporters, then the expected wash of specialised skills. Fighting under water and napalm bombs can now enhance your City of Violence but not – one presumes – at the same time.
Chapter Three is for God only. That’s G.O.D. as the Game Operation Director. The secrets revealed here (after the caveat that everyone lies, even the author) are about the important NPCs mentioned in the tour of the city. Who’s a corrupt cop, which crime boss as a vigilante-esq son and which respected member of the city is actually a child abusing pervert. Really, it’s worth stressing, that Haven isn’t for the faint hearted.
This isn’t a brilliant book (although I do like the look of my collection of shiny white covered Haven products) but it is a better book. It’s a “better” book in the sense that it moves the RPG forward. That’s more than most supplements do. It’s a simple call really. If you’re a Haven fan you’ll really appreciate this book. If you wanted Haven to be better than it has been so far and are willing to stick with it then you’ll appreciate this book. If you hate Haven then you’re not likely to buy the supplement in the first place.