Free Role Playing Game Supplement Review: Secret Societies aka All About Secret Societies in Fantasy

Secret Societies aka All About Secret Societies in Fantasy by John Josten is a free generic role playing game supplement published by Board Enterprises.

This is a sixteen page PDF that is available from RPGNow. One page is the front cover and around two-thirds of a page are ads for the publisher’s various websites and Patreon.

This begins with the Introduction, which explains that this supplement is about global or huge organisations that keep the majority of what they do secret, and the Table of Contents. There is then a brief piece on the Flentern Wiki (Flentern is the publisher’s game world); all the posts in this supplement have been published there but have been gathered together in this PDF.

Next are listings of various different conspiracies. These are classed as different types; Legends, Groups and a City. There is one City, three Legends and six Groups, each having a few paragraphs describing it.

Secret Societies aka All About Secret Societies in FantasyThe Sounding Board is a number of posts from the publisher’s blog that have been reprinted here.

How to Choose Your Enemies is on building organisations so that they are reasonably believable.

It’s Bigger Than You (Parties) covers adventuring parties as part of a larger organisation.

When it Really is that Dangerous covers threatening powerful parties by going after their associates.

How to Retcon without Looking Like You’re Retconning covers changing world history (in the author’s example, after a war designed as a teenager that made little sense) by having a secret objective behind the war.

What Does your (Fantasy) World Mean to Me considers what effect wars actually have on those not directly involved, such as losing sides being forced into other regions where they look for territory.

Two Birds – One Blog covers a secret society that the author created to explain why the value of precious metals – particularly gold – always remains constant and why alchemists didn’t go around turning lead into gold.

Next, Lifestyles of the Magical and Mundane considers those who actually are in a secret society and what effect it has on their lives, covering three societies as examples.

News of Flentern is a short timeline of incidents attributed to secret societies.

The Anglic Tower of Scaret relates to a fortification constructed for some foreign knights and problems that arose from them, with a copy of a proclamation.

Cross Purposes has the involvement of one secret society in a war.

What’s Missing explains that this supplement is the World Walker version, that has a number of subjects not covered. The full version, around triple the size, is available to Patreon supporters of a certain level.

In Conclusion finally has some wrapping up material.

The PDF is bookmarked but with only the major sections linked. Bookmarking could have been more thorough, although this is a short supplement. Navigation is okay at best.

The text maintains a two column format and there are a number of pieces of black and white stock art from several sources. Presentation is okay.

There is quite a lot of fairly disparate information around a common theme in this PDF, from overviews of groups to more detailed examples to theories behind constructing groups (and the author’s problems with real world depictions of secret societies; these do tend to make little sense to anyone who really thinks about them).

The groups and organisations covered could be given more detailed explanations by a GM, and the more theoretical articles could be used to construct and explain secret societies. To a degree, being a collection of material from different sources, the supplement does lack an overall coherence, just having a same general topic, but what is here is interesting. Secret Societies aka All About Secret Societies in Fantasy can be downloaded for free by clicking here.

 

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