Part setting book, part treatise on some of the weirder ideas covered by Invisible Sun, The Path is our fourth and final book in the Black Cube. Full of fantastical ideas for any Invisible Sun game, The Path attempts to describe a surreal world in terms that we denizens of Shadow can understand. It does a moderately good job, though even after reading the book a second time, I still think there are some things I’m going to need to “sleep on”.
The first portion of this book talks about a broad mixture of topics, from things like metaphysics to discussion and rules about character death and how that is not the end of their stories. I will not lie, the discussion of metaphysics hurt my head a bit, though it left no doubt in my mind of the potency of Monte Cook’s imagination if I’d had any (I didn’t). Characters playing ghosts are a thing in Invisible Sun and they can come back from the Pale once more (or perhaps they never really left). Also included is a discussion of spirits, angels, demons, and otherwise, gods, and then the predominant “peoples” in the Actuality under the Indigo Sun. Following this is a somewhat bizarre discussion of Viruses in Invisible Sun that you need to read. Telling you will not do justice to the bizarreness of some of them.
The next section goes over the Path of Suns. Dealing both with the light-side and the Nightside paths, it describes some of those environments, some of the people, particularly the Wardens, and some of the locations you might find as you visit. Additionally, it gives some sample encounters a group of players may run across. The descriptions are all evocative and it is particularly interesting how different each of these environments are. The only complaint I have with this section is: I need more. As someone who is new to surrealist style settings, I would absolutely love more description, more example locations, more example encounters. Personally, I riff off of things (as we’ve said before). Give me something to start with, and I’m golden. I would absolutely pay for another setting book like the Path or Secrets of Silent Streets (which we’ll cover in another post) that dealt with the Path of Suns at large. No doubt about it.
Third is a section on the City of Satyrine under the Indigo Sun. This is the default location for the setting, a mishmash of people (Vislae and not), wondrous places, strange creatures, and varied motivations. To be completely honest? I love it. It’s something of a dream world part fancy, part horror, part weird all rolled into one. It reminds me very much of what I first felt for Planscape and Numenera when Monte Cook released both of those settings. They both struck a very similar chord in me, something that I knew I wanted to play around in. Each district of the 17 in Satyrine is detailed out in this chapter (except Fartown – which gets its own). Each entry gives a broad overview of the district and how its feel is different than the others, a list of some few locations in that district to help give a GM some flavor, as well as some NPCs in that district. At the end of this chapter, there are several pages with additional encounter examples that could occur anywhere in the city to help spark a GM’s imagination.
The next section details the district of Fartown, where the vast majority of the Vislae live. Not that you cannot find Vislae in other districts, both living and visiting there, but that most of them, for many reasons, end up here. As bizarre as Satyrine is, Fartown takes that and in the common Shadow parlance “turns it up to an 11”. Some of the locations are detailed here as well as some of the people that you will find in Fartown. As Satyrine is the default setting of the game, it deserves quite a bit more detail and you get that detail in spades in Secrets of Silent Streets, another Invisible Sun sourcebook.
The next section deals with organizations. Starting with the obvious, the Vancian order, the Order of the Makers, the Order of Goetica, and the Weaver cells, it moves on to some of the other groups one can find in Satyrine. From the Shadow rescuers, the Hindassa, to the self-serving Third Hand, to the newly re-invigorated Order of Honed Thought, it arms a GM with quite a few groups that the PCs might interact with both for good and for ill. Finally, there is a small bestiary with an additional listing of powerful NPCs that can be found in Satyrine and used as “movers and shakers”.
As we come to the close of our exploration of the Black Cube, I want to emphasize once again the vast amount of material actually inside this product. It is easily the densest roleplaying product we have ever purchased. Aside from that, however, it is a truly unique setting with an exciting philosophy of character creation and narrative drive. We have enjoyed running it, and I look forward to playing in a campaign with Joann soon. We whole-heartedly recommend purchasing this if you can get your hands on it. Let your mind be carried away into the Actuality as you wake up from the Shadow. You’ll be glad you did. Happy gaming!
- Josh Walles