On May 6, 2000 the sun, stars and moon all vanished from the heavens, leaving only total darkness for just over 24 hours. Humanity panicked all over the world, riots erupted in the major cities and thousands of people died in the violence that followed. Many more people committed suicide during the panic, but the greatest change was something completely unseen and went unnoticed for almost five years. It was a strange new world that the sun shone down upon when it returned. A world of inhuman monsters that hid within the guises of normal people and even more deadly creatures from another world. It was the dawn of the age of Nightbane!
The Nightbane are a race of beings that come from a dark realm that lies just on the other side of any household mirror. Actually, to call the Nightbane the race that lives there is not quite right. Actually, it is the Nightlords who dwell in that strange lightless world and the Nightbane are the bastard offspring of a Nightlord mating with a human. Over the centuries, many Nightbane have been reported and it was these poor souls that were most often convicted of witchcraft or demon worshiping in the far less kind and understanding society of the Middle Ages. As the world became gentler, these poor beings were often found in the freak shows of the traveling circus or carnivals. Yet as the year 2000 grew near, they became increasingly less public in their activities. The primary reason for this was the various governments who would take them captive to study in secret, hoping to learn how these strange beings came from or to use the paranormal abilities they possessed for weapons and espionage. In the later half of the 20th century, most of the Nightbane remained hiding in fear of their true nature being discovered. Not so after Dark Day.
Dark Day was a carefully organized assault on the Earth by the Nightlords. They caused the strange events to happen and many of them slipped into our world under the cover of the darkness they created. The Nightlords had waited for years; perhaps centuries for all their agents to be in place so that they could take control of all the world governments and most of the major corporations in one fell swoop. But they made a small mistake in all their careful plans. They forgot about the children they had spawned during the past twenty or thirty years. They didn't expect the Nightbane to stand against them and protect the very humans who had mistreated them for all those centuries.
The nature of Evil:
The Nightlords are a race of beings that has no standard shape. Each one has a different form, but all can "hide" by taking on something called a Facade, or human form. These vile shape shifters spent the years after Dark Day to spread panic and get their own people elected into public office. After that, there was no longer a need for secrecy. They controlled 90% of the media and used this control to blame the very people who were fighting them for the terrible events that occurred by their hands.
The heroic underdogs:
During Dark Day, hundreds, if not thousands, of Nightbane became aware of their real nature. Oh, there have always been that many on the planet, the greater majority of Nightbane lived their entire lives without ever Becoming. That is what the transition is called by the Nightbane. In the past, there were so few around that an older Nightbane would easily find those who had just changed and guide them in how to use their powers and how to remain hidden. The change is generally brought on during adolescence and it is often a gradual thing. But often a time of stress or need will force the change, a car accident victim, a terrified child, a soldier at war as the enemy charges, etc. Dark Day was one of those times and nearly all Nightbane who were on the planet transformed to their true selves. The change brought not only great new powers but also an understanding of who and what they really were. Better yet, it made then aware of the invasion that the Nightlords launched. Having been abandoned by the Nightlords as outsiders, the Nightbane fought against the greater evil in defense of humans while the Nightlords turned the very beings they strove to protect against them.
The common enemy:
The world of Nightbane looks very much like our own. The sun shines, the radios play, men and women go to and from work at the prescribed times and everything seems to be working smoothly. Yet monsters stalk the streets during the night and only the Nightbane will stand against them. The primary antagonists of this game are, of course, the Nightlords. But there are many other dark creatures that have moved through history with humans. Vampires are one of these races. When the Nightlords came, the vamps no longer strove to hide their numbers as they had for thousands of years. After all, their crimes could and would be blamed on the Nightbane by the media.
The game itself:
Although his game uses the same basic rules as the rest of the Palladium Books games, it does take a bit longer to make a character than normal. The primary reason for this is due to the nature of the Nightbane themselves. No two Nightbane are exactly alike. Granted, they all have certain common abilities, but the true form of each one is different from all the others. The first half of the book is spent telling the history of the Nightbane and the events that brought the game world into being. In this area, there are detailed charts and random tables for creating a Nightbane character. Since the game takes place in modern times (the near future, about 2010), there are many more skills and abilities that a character can learn.
Dark Day also caused magic to become re-discovered. There are spell casters (who can be Nightbane or human) and psychics in the world again. Some say that there always have been, but now there are a great many more and they no longer bother to hide themselves. These powerful beings work both for and against the Nightlords.
The vampires are a nice touch to this game. They are pretty much exactly the same as those described in Rifts World Book 1: The Vampire Kingdoms, and all the stats about these creatures are reprinted in this volume. The Vampires consider Earth to be their feeding ground and fight both the Nightlords and the Nightbane in order to preserve their foothold on humanity. Tell ya what, guys, that's a sure fire way to lose a war. In Nightbane, the vampire race is open to be used by players, just as they are in the Rifts game.
Although Nightbane is an entirely new game system, it was created in such a manner that it can be used with Beyond the Supernatural, Heroes Unlimited, Rifts, and can be adapted to fit in with any game in the Palladiums Books system. However, most gamers now use Beyond as a supplement to Nightbane, instead of the other way around. I always thought that was kind of amusing.
As a fan of the great horror films, I found myself drawn to this game, if for no other reason than to learn a little more about it. Last year, Kevin sent me an autographed copy as part of the annual Christmas Grab Bag special that Palladium books has. He always manages to stick something like that into my order each year. I have to say, this one was well worth the time.
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