The Game: Glimpse the Beyond
The Publisher: Aegis Studios
Degree of Familiarity: None.
Books Required: Just the one.
I think I got this in a bundle, because I only have it in PDF. I also think there's a second edition now available, but that's not the one I have.
Anyway, Glimpse the Beyond is a game in which the world seems the same as ours, but there's magic(k) in it. I would be tempted to say that setup is cliche as hell, but really, I still find it compelling and I'm hardly the only one; there are dozens if not hundreds of games that have the same basic idea (including Chill, if you squint).
I am, however, not crazy about the artwork in this game.
Character creation is basic point allocation; you get X points to divvy up into various areas, and then 10 "General Points" that can be spent anywhere but aren't necessarily one-for-one. Simple enough. Let's skip ahead and look at some of the world-building stuff so I have more of sense of the game than "like real, but magick."
(Ugh, the art does not improve. There's a sexy nurse.)
We've got list of madnesses, that's pretty 90s.
The magick system seems to indicate that when you do magick, you're building the spell and giving it flavor based on your Affinity, which is pretty cool. Magick is, by default, ritual, though you can fast-cast. And then there's another scantily clad fantasy Everquest cosplayer art piece (thought this was a modern-day game, so why are the women dressed like that? The occasional menfolk in the art aren't, BTW).
OK, then a chapter on supernatural creatures...and the book ends. That's it. Where's the setting? OK, so this is just Witchcraft or Mage with some questionable art? Righty-ho-ho.
Well, in some ways that makes me life easier. Let's just think about concept, then.
I've been listening to a lot of murderfolk lately - Amigo the Devil, Dead South, and suchlike. I think I shall use the following as a character song:
The lyrics are about love, violence, and death. The video does this neat thing where the setting jumps but the performers keep doing what they're doing, which seems pretty magic(k)al. Hmm.
The book says that I can learn magick however; study, freak occurrence, whatever. So we'll say that Miguel Baez learned magick through time loop. His future self came back and started him learning magick, and his present-self has learned that sometimes future-Miguel just pops out of nowhere and says "eh, Miguel, you need to study up on banishing spells" and present-Miguel has learned that shit, he'd better, because he's gonna need to banish something.
I like the idea that Miguel isn't supernaturally or magickally inclined (at least, he didn't think so), but he's got a job that makes him meticulous and detail-oriented. Not sure what yet.
I get 15 points for Statistics, and I've got six of them. Stats indicate how many d6s I'd roll, then I take the highest die and add the Skill I'm using. That makes sense, I think. Well, I picture Miguel as being sharp, quick, and a smooth talker, so I want a high Intellect, Charisma, and Grace. I'll put 3 in each of the those, and 2 in the other 3 (but I'm probably gonna raise some of these with general points, I think).
18 points in Skills; now I gotta think about what Miguel does. Let's say he's an electrician. Not an engineer or anything fancy like that, he's the guy you'd call when you've got a short and you need your box rewired (I, myself, have zero knowledge of electronics, so there'd be some hand-waving here). I'll arrange my Skills thusly:
Close Combat 2
Linguistics 2 (side note: I hate it when games make me spend points on languages)
That's 18, so I'm definitely gonna need some more points here.
And now I get 12 points for Resilience...things. Wounds, Critical Wounds, Sanity, Critical Sanity, and Resolve. These start equal to various values, but then I get points for them, but I can increase the values of the things they're based on with General Points, and I can increase these with General Points. This is kinda bad design, I think; rather, it's not bad, but it does require me to keep some plates spinning while I make a character.
Well, my basics are thus: Wounds starts at 2, Critical Wounds at 1, Sanity at 2, Critical Sanity at 1, and Resolve at 2. I get 12 points, and Wounds and Sanity cost 2 while the others cost 1. Or, wait. Check this out. We get this:
That's like...those are opposites, right? Well, I'm gonna go with the first one. That means I'll put four each into Wounds and Sanity (raising them both by 2, taking them to 4, and therefore taking their Critical versions to 2), and putting two into Resolve (to 4) and one each into Critical Sanity and Wounds (to 3). Jesus.
OK, now we're over to General Points! (I gotta say, I'm not crazy about this game generally but at least this process is quick.) In addition to boosting the already-described traits, I can buy
Well, the pickings are pretty slim, but I'll take one level of Unlucky for 2 points, and I think I'll take a "Madness." I could get into why I don't think it's appropriate to list real mental illnesses and psychological disorders and then say "this happened because magic," but eh. I'm gonna take Insomnia as my "Madness", because I figure it'll be easy enough to play, and then hey, maybe Miguel can meet my character from Don't Rest Your Head.
So that gives me 15 General Points. Everything costs one-for-one, except Stats are 2-for-1. I want to look and see if any Boons jump out at me first.
OK, I'm gonna spend 4 points and buy Ally to represent my future self. Sounds good. Then I shall spend four points to raise Spirit to 3 and Will to 3 (which, in turns, ups my Sanity and Resolve by one, to 5). I have 7 points left. I'll buy Persuasion 2, Ritual Magick 2, and Stealth 1.
So, the only blank on my sheet is Affinity, which...seems pretty important. Let's see what I can find.
OK, it's not mentioned until the magick section, and it's basically just you pick whatever you want and if you can include it when you cast a spell, the GM can lower your difficulty. Well, that's nicely uncomplicated. Miguel's Affinity is Time.
Otherwise, let's just describe him a bit? Miguel is Mexican-American (first generation). He's a little on the heavy side, but he's in shape; he plays softball in the season. He's got black hair, brown eyes, and sleeve tattoos on both arms, but nothing above the collarbone (he promised his mom). Miguel has worked hard to lose his accent in English, or at least be able to - white people treat him differently if he talks like them. He's articulate and clever in both languages. He wears glasses to read, but hates them; he looks like his uncle Ricky when he wears them and Ricky is persona non grata in the family these days. Miguel has no idea how future-Miguel (who looks about 50, maybe?) got into magic or where the loop started, but he figures he'll find out.
And that's done! I have to say, I'm not terribly impressed with the game but I do like this character.