The release of the N.W.O. convention book is perhaps the surest sign of the return of the classic Mage: the Ascension line to me. I'm a big fan of both Mage lines from the world of darkness, and I was also a very big fan of the Technocracy as well. Having the NWO as a favorite convention, I welcomed (and secretly worried) about the release of this book. Was it going to be good? What if I've put up too many expectations on it that I'd be disappointed?
Now that I've had a chance to read through it, I'm glad that it wasn't a disappointment at all.
Anyway, onto the review:
For those familiar with the Revised-Era Tradition and Convention books, the NWO convention book retains the standard format. It's a familiar and welcoming thing to people who are coming back to M:tA like me, and still fairly accessible to those new to the game.
The book is divided into 6 main sections, which include a fiction Prologue and Epilogue, as well as an Introduction to the current state of the NWO given the events that have taken place since Revised left off, and a discussion of the convention's History, Organizational Structure and Methodoloties and finally the Assets of the New World Order.
The Introduction is a great piece, talking about the big picture and what the NWO is involved in given the shift in society. This is crucial in my mind to haul M:tAw out of the late 90's and into the present day. There's no doubt that the accelerated pace of adoption of technology and societal shifts over the past decade should impact a group so firmly entrenched in humanity as the NWO and it shows.
The History section is told through the lens of a lengthy academic paper written in-character with annotations from a superior. It's a big section, and details many of the pivotal moments in the formation of the NWO. I found the section to be pretty helpful in terms of appreciating the origins of the Convention, but I can't help but feel that it may have gone on just a little too long. The annotations and sidebars help in providing further information, and a presence of a group in the NWO focused on Gender Studies was a nice touch.
Division of Labor breaks down life in the NWO to digestible chunks. From the overall heirarchy to the the means by which they advance up the ranks, this chapter is the most useful to GMs who are looking to run a game which offers an in-depth look into NWO operatives. The Methodologies, or sub-groupings of the NWO are all excellently written, with each having a valid reason for their existence and their own specialties within the Convention. From old favorites like the Ivory Tower and the Operatives to the brand-spanking new Methodology focused on Information Technology called The Feed, each one is full of interesting hooks to make a character from.
Assets brings up a host of things, from interesting NPCs to a treatment of Data as Correspondence, complete with it's own chart for determining sympathy for Data Procedures. These Data Procedures replace Correspondence ones for NWO operatives, and it is surprisingly useful for the convention to have a focus shift towards an increasingly wired society. Interestingly it's not exactly exclusive to the technocracy, and the Virtual Adepts are also capable of taking this view of Correspondence on their own spells.
My favorite section of the Assets chapter is one that deals with the Technocracy's toys. From the Enlightened Smartphone to the iconic Mirrorshades, and the amusingly named Gun For The Job I get happy warm fuzzies at the idea of actually employing these devices on the field both as a player and a GM. The chapter also wraps up with several NWO Procedures.
As with the tradition / convention books, the NWO book wraps up with several sample characters, including a Processed Traditionalist, which I found to be a great angle to work with if I were to play.
Convention Book N.W.O. is an excellent way to kick off the return of Mage: the Ascension to active publication once more (though arguably the fact that the books are all available on PDF meant that they never really left.)
The New World Order has finally made it's long desired comeback and I think the fans are going to be very happy with what they're getting. Aside from a much-needed upgrade to a modern paradigm, the NWO convention book shows off all the neat details (and dirty secrets) of the faction, and more importantly makes me want to play it
Convention Book: N.W.O. is available from DriveThruRPG for $13.99 or roughly PHP 574.00
[5 of 5 Stars!]