Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Day Dark As Night by Carl Bowen

I bought A Day Dark As Night at Half-Priced books on Touhy for $1.00 off of the spinner rack. The low price that the store has, and the huge number of books, continues to tell me that epublications have a long way to come till I'm reading them in anything resembling a normal pattern.

Part of this just strikes me as odd though because if these various media industries haven't seen what's happening with the music industry, to start off with, and they think charging people the same thing for a trade paperback as for an ebook by a first time out author... well, truly the drugs are in need of passing.

Anyway, off that stand onto the Exalted stand.

I know some people who don't like anime. I'm not one of them. I find there there are a lot of interesting bits out there and that much of it doesn't try to fold itself into the standards as many block buster movies do in terms of being so formulaic. Now on one hand, that means we get some great series but on the other, it means we get some thing that could've been great series but ended up in some strange location where even the original author is shrugging his shoulders in trying to explain what happened. I try not to judge the whole of anime by what I've seen of it, because much like Hollywood is finding out with CGI and other methods over here, movie making magic doesn't necessarily have to be just one type of story.

But back to Exalted. The high energy and action vibe I get from some of my favorite anime is something I 'get' from Exalted. It's a role playing game where you're coming back from the dead, from a past life, from betrayals that are deep and hidden. It's one where upon your return, you are blessed with vast powers, the powers of a demi-god, or perhaps even greater. The setting, monsters, foes, allies, sourcebooks, region books, and other bits, all point towards an awesome experience.

Unless someone else is running it, even more so than 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, I tend to stay away and must ask for assistance when it is my turn to make a character. See, I've always found it a bit too over the top in terms of how the system runs. and whenever I look at say, despite several fans of the system, many admit that its highly crunch and that it takes a certain... willingness to run as is. Add on that its probably got as much errata as 4th ed... well, you can see why I might want to read the fiction line but avoid the game itself.

But why read the book, even for $1.00? Part of the epic scope of the setting, is in the naming. Take one of the villains of the setting, Adorjan, the Silent Wind. I dig that. How about the Witness of Lingering Shadows? How about one of the main characters, Harmonious Jade? Her love interest, Disciple of the Seven Forbidden Wisdoms? Very inspiring, especially if you're going for over the top names. Perfect for D&D Death Knights who've given up their old titles, ancient monks who no longer have standard names, or the arrogant player character's who feel that to name oneself in such a fashion is the top of the list.

It's also got a pretty standard storyline that can easily be snagged. While out for revenge, the characters learn that their enemies have made allies of powerful undead who are seeking to unleash a demonic entity into the world and unless they can stop them, more villages and towns will be wiped from the face of the world. This requires them to dig into the ancient vaults of their home city, pit themselves against the corrupt politicians and police, and try to determine where the entity that works the cities will stands and exactly ow powerful is he. And what exactly is stored in those old vaults anyway? Why were they constructed as they were? Were all the rituals performed correctly? Are there any secrets buried down there?  Along the way they must deal with old friends and rivals who have their own stake in the happenings of the city.

A Day Dark as Night has a lot of high action going on and while it has a few heavy handed bits and a few cop out sections, as an introduction to the bones of the setting, it provides enough details to showcase how powerful the Exalted are as well as how much they're needed and indeed, how much they don't know about the world in which they've risen.