Friday, August 1, 2014

REVIEW: The Hate God, by Festus Caber

The Hate God sprang Athena from the mind of noted werewolf translator Festus Caber six months after the release of Coils of No Peace. Adder Entertainment had been on a roll ever since Sight of Slime but they trended in a Lovecraft direction. Caber brought a new boogie, still keeping a cosmic horror hell-is-everything-even-me brush but wielding strokes honed in his understudy, covering the underground autosegregation of Montevideo collage.

Do yourself a favor and dine on a full plate of Festus Caber if you've been too picky til now. Conan the Barbarian fought an ape and mostly didn't get killed but barely and he had all the benefits of getting made up in Texas. Festus Caber beat five racists with one of their own shoes to protect a piss-in at Berlin Wall. On vacation.

We'll come back to that word "collage" in a minute.

The Hate God is about the inevitable slide of every anxiety and inconvenience into body horror. It's about living yourself to death and the wheel the Inquisition broke you on and the machine of paper and the business transactions of praying. You meet the ultimate villain at the beginning of the module. You work for him. And he wants you to kill an optimism wizard.

In theory.

The first temple has a dedicant who perceives the decay and age of those around him and of his own body and faculties in real time, not the occasional collation of gradual change into a shift in perception but the constant churn, boil, and wither. He gives his life by the pint to save souls in stone. The Hate God has such wonders to bestow on you should you survive.

If you didn't want to stick your hand in the thresher to see it spray you would have bought seven pillows.

Caber had a habit at cons of playing one game, no matter how many games he played. Unless you played at more than one table you'd never know it, but if you drank with him and Sunday and he always drank on Sunday and only Sunday then he laid out what was REALLY going on. The big picture. HBO has a whole show about this and titties right now.

That's what his thesis is here. The guide to using the tables and dungeons in The Hate God is contemptuous of itself second only to anyone expecting an actual destination or denouement. This wasn't really an early sandbox because the conclusions were foregone and several tables floated between locations like cheat ghosts. There is a line between player punishers and fuck you gameplay and Caber comes down on the side of Astroglide here. It's not pointless deck-stacking though. If the party and the player of the second-to-last character to die don't figure out the real story - not what they did but what they made happen - then they'll put it together when the last player alive realizes the runner up just invented dynamite.

Hey fuck you. It's not a space ship. And if you've never staked a crypt of vampires with sticks of dynamite then Ants in the Pants is available at many shitty stores the world over.

The Hate God wants you to know the world moves and changes faster than your brief, petrified life. Not the other way around. Things seem constant because you're only looking at you. The only constant is Hate. This cosmology is also my favorite non-Tolkeinian explanation of traditional RPG elves and also why Drow are so boring so borrrringggg.

Aside from the ramgoblin that eats saving throws, which to be fair Caber lifted whole from A Tunnel #3, The Hate God's world isn't designed against players. It's designed to make the players turn the world against them.