Review: Invisible Sun – Black Cube

Welcome to the Acutality, Vislae. Shake off the Shadow and bathe once again in the light of the Invisible Sun.

Like we did when we first encountered the product known as the Black Cube, you may be wondering what nature of game is Invisible Sun exactly.  To quote Monte Cook Games (found on the product page in their webstore), ‘Invisible Sun is a roleplaying game of surreal fantasy. The player characters are Vislae—wielders of magical power—recently returned to their true home: the Actuality, a world that seems like a surreal dream to those of us toiling aimlessly in the boring, grey realm you and I falsely believe is the real world. These characters face incredible challenges, visit breathtaking places, and discover secrets so astonishing that the only ones who can cope with them are those who understand the truth that powers the universe: Magic.’ 

Entering the world of Invisible Sun is done first through the Black Cube. A forty-two pound box filled with treasures. The physical copy comes in at a hefty two hundred and fifty while the digital copy is an even hundred. I’ve heard comments, “That’s a pretty heavy starting price.” and some questions asked: Should I buy it? Is it worth it? So in this blog post/review I’m going to break it down to what comes in this box of goodies.

First, we’re going to talk about what is required to play the game. Four hardcover books, The Key, The Path, The Gate and The Way. Each book is filled with information, from character creation (the Key), to setting (the Path), to rules on spellcasting (the Way), to advanced rules and GM advice (the Gate), totalling over 600 pages of information. (I will expand more on this in a later post when I review the set.)

The Key: Character Creation and Session Zero
The Path: The Suns and Satyrine
The Way: Magic and it’s Many Forms
The Gate: Running Invisible Sun

Second is the hand, the Testament of Suns, a heavy resin-cast figure to use with the Path of Suns game board. With this, you use the Sooth Deck, a beautiful set of round cards, that have gorgeous artwork and are instrumental to game play as they change the nature of it. The Sooth Deck is very much inspired by the tarot and the theme of shifting fortune is steeped in its nature.  It can be used both as a mechanical influence or a narrative one, and is one of the most interesting parts of the game itself.  It goes on a nicely crafted playboard with the path of suns printed as well as a spot for the Testament to be placed for when a Sooth card goes there.

The Testament of Suns
The Sooth Deck: Invisible Sun’s winds of Fate

Then, you get four decks, roughly a thousand cards which are divided into Ephemeral Objects, Objects of Power, Incantations and a Spell Deck. They do not duplicate the text from the books and instead are closer in nature to the Numenera Cypher Decks (Ephemeral Objects) and Artifact decks (Objects of Power).  They are fantastic play aides, making it easy for characters to see their “playable” options or assets to a roll.

Incantations: Cypher-Like Spell Effects
Ephemera Objects: Similar to Cypher System Cyphers
Objects of Power: Similar to Cypher System Artifacts
Spell Deck: More Powerful Spell Effects

Next up is a GM’s notebook called The Guiding Hand, helps you plot out your campaign and take notes of the games as they progress.  It is very similar to the GM’s Notebook in function, but tailored specifically toward Invisible Sun. There are also Character Tomes, (the character sheets of Invisible Sun), with one for each order, Vance, Maker, Weaver, Geotic, and Apostate hold both the actual mechanical numbers of each character as well as act as a play aid and even look and feel different based on the type of Vislae you choose – a nice touch. A grimoire pad helps the player keep track of the magic that their Vislae knows.

The Guiding Hand: Invisible Sun’s GM Notbook for Vislae Campaigns

You get tokens, joy, despair, bene, bane and crux. A set of custom Invisible Sun Dice, (shiny Math Rocks, needs the more, all the more). An art book that has fantastic images in it to evoke the feel of the Invisible Sun. There are lots of setting pieces and ambiance handouts and secrets in envelopes to help work with immersion, two cloth maps (one of the Indigo Sun and the other of the Path of Suns,) and even five pregenerated characters. For those of you that are more visual in nature, we did an unboxing of a Black Cube that we purchased for this post.

So, you get a lot of things in this box, but that doesn’t really cover if it’s a good purchase in terms of value. Now, speaking as a DM, let’s go down the list of things you’d need to run a good game in Dungeons & Dragons (note that all prices are MSRP). Starting with the Player’s Handbook ($50), the Dungeon’s Master Guide ($50), and the Monster Manual ($50) you have the absolute basics. But if you are anything like us, and want more options and setting to get you started, you can simply add the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide for setting ($40), Xanathar’s Guide to Everything for player options ($50), and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes for bad guys for the players to knock down ($50). That’s $290 right there.  And there’s no adventures, bare minimal setting, and not even all the official player options. Now you don’t HAVE to have the last three, but they’re very helpful.  Even further, these are just books.  That total doesn’t cover anything like tokens (NPC or bestiary), props, playmats/battlemats, or dice. 

I can’t say that you should buy the Black Cube because honestly, I don’t know whether or not it interests you or your group. There is a 55 page free preview that gives you a bit of flavor for what it contains on the product page on the Monte Cook Games Webstore.  However I can state definitively that you’re getting a great deal of items for the price (let’s be honest – Josh and I have spent a lot more than $250 on gaming books, but this is our hobby… what we do). This post covers what’s in the Black Cube, and my next review, (probably next Friday) will cover the four introductory books in the Black Cube. After that, I will tackle the rest of the Invisible Sun supplements.  Happy gaming!

  • Joann Walles

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