Children of Lilith
Reviewed by Josh Roby
Six out of Seven Fatimas
Children of Lilith
by Jason P. Prince and Jim Cotsios
Page count: 96
The plot arc of Tribe 8 begins with a bang, a brat, and undoubtable success. This is the book I will forever go to to see what it is to play Tribe 8. This will be the benchmark off of which later Cycle books will be judged by. It is, in a word, amazing.
The Year of Lilith
A quick note:
This section will contain spoilers. Lots of them. The big spoilers. The ones that will ruin being a player in this cycle. If you won't be weaving this cycle or do not yet know who will be weaving it, skip down to Game Design and let me promise you you'll enjoy the plot.
Children of Lilith centers around the appearance and short life of Lilith the Liberator, Fatima of the Fallen. That's right, you read correctly: Fatima of the Fallen. Also: Short Life. See, I'm giving secrets away already. Let's go through this a little slower, Quest by Quest:
The Player Characters receive visions and omens prodding them to the loud prophet Jonhur the Chosen. The Doomsayer informs them that they are the chosen ones -- a nice, ego-boosting way to begin any cycle -- and will accompany him into the Outlands to witness the unfolding of the first chapter of the Prophecy of Joshua. The journey through the Outlands is appropriately terrifying, with Squat raids, questionable hunting, and a Z'bri citadel to circumvent. With the cries of following Z'bri behind them, the PCs arrive in the deserted Joshuan village of Mahgog. Jonhur frantically tells the party to begin digging at the base of a Joshuan chapel, and the power of Dream begins to set the world to wavering. Just as the Z'bri come over the town walls, Lilith bursts from the ground and leads the PCs in some major ass-kicking. The Z'bri vanquished, Lilith heals the party of their wounds and accompanies them back to Hom to fulfill Her destiny.
"Gift of Lilith"
The PCs have witness the rise of Lilith and have brought a new Fatima back to Hom -- heady stuff, but it gets better. When they arrive they are met with the suspicion one would expect from Fallen, and are thrust into the uncertain position of Lilith's prophets. Do they side with Lilith, or do they join the doubtful? A faction of the Fallen become Lilith's fanatical followers and name themselves the Children of Lilith. Even as Hom is up in arms over the Fatima come to rule over them, the Tera Shebans respond in aghast horror at 'The Lilith Heresy' and send in the Black Owls, spies set on enforcing an inquisition on the Fallen. Events are hurried and confusing, a heady mix of intrigue and uncertainty, until a force of Joanites and Tera Shebans comes across the Fallen Bridge to take the Fallen into custody. Lilith leads the Fallen against them, beating them from Hom's shores. She then makes an appearance at the Liberation Festival, declaring as Her protectorate the Fallen, Hom, and Haven -- an island She raises from the Great River, set to provide the Eighth Tribe with enough farmland to sustain themselves.
Three movements run simultaneously in this quest, creating an intriguing dance of plot elements. A Z'bri assassin stalks Hom, possessing unlucky Fallen to commit his crimes through them. Sent to kill Kymber, he instead finds her lover and murders him instead. Hal and the PCs mistakenly suspect the rumors of shadowy stalkers and end up capturing one of the Tera Sheban Black Owls. Now aware of the Inquisition, the PCs join a Herite attack on the Black Owls' base of operations. Due to Herite overenthusiasm and betrayal, the stronghold is rocked by Keeper explosives and the PCs barely get away with their lives and the knowledge that the assassin is set to attack again -- before the sun rises. The party rushes back to Hom, bursting in on the target Hal, and saving the Lightbringer from Terasheban 'justice'.
"The Last Days"
And now, as if all the prior events weren't enough, everything the PCs thought they knew is turned on its head. As the Nation's forces, led by Tera Sheba and Joan themselves, prepare to march on Hom and judge Lilith, the PCs find Jonhur a broken, bleeding, blinded mess -- at his own hands. Plagued by nightmares and dire omens, he beseeches the PCs to stop Lilith before the enraged Fatima destroys all hope for the Eighth Tribe and tears the Prophecy of Joshua to shreds in Her own ravaging anger. When the PCs arrive at Lilith's palace on Haven, the raging Fatima is subdued, and reveals -- get this -- that She is not a Fatima, but a puppet of Dahlia set to play a trick on the Fallen and teach them a lesson. Tera Sheba and Joan arrive with Their armies, and Z'bri monstrosities land on Haven, intent on destroying Lilith for the crusades She has led against Hl'kar. Lilith, however, falls silent and motionless. Tera Sheba gives Her verdict of death just as the Z'bri pour into the palace. A three-way fight ensues between Fallen, Tribal and Z'bri, ending when Lilith re-animates of Her own accord, vanquishes the Z'bri, and turns on Tera Sheba. The PCs or Joan intervene, Lilith's spear striking down the Warrior. Tera Sheba strides forward and cleaves Lilith almost in two with Her great axe. Before She can strike again, Joan rises and tears the axe away, scoops up Lilith's dying body, and flies to Her Watchtower, abandoning Tera Sheba.
Hot Damn! And if you think that's not enough action, consider that I had to leave most of it out -- I didn't even touch on the Institute, the Dahlian Festival, the Magdalites arriving in Hom or Lilith's Crusades into Hl'kar. Most of these are in the form of 'Hooks,' prompts to inspire the Weaver to add more details to the Year of Lilith. There is easily enough material in this little 96 page book to play Tribe 8 for well over a year of regular gaming. Full, rich and varied, Children of Lilith has to be one of the tightest game supplements I have ever seen, and genuinely puts the PCs into a world, not just a series of plot elements.
The panalopy of details in Children of Lilith is second only to the ingenious design of the game, primed to sweep the characters into action and gathering all their disparate motivations and applying the bundled force to the enigma of Lillith. Many campaign books offer the Weaver a plot, NPCs, adversaries and keen treasures to acquire, but they rarely include viable means to get the PCs involved in the action of the story. In Children of Lilith, drawing the PCs into the action is an intrinsic part of the plot. Who else will stand next to Lilith as her strongest supporters, or fight against her as her greatest detractors, as the ones who were there at her very birth? By making the PCs agents of destiny and tying them intrinsically to the figure of Lilith, the game ensures that they will keep hopping throughout the events of the plot.
For all my enthusiasm, I must say, however, that the plot the characters are so involved in is not the most flexible of things. Children of Lilith does make a few assumptions that could have been avoided, or at least better accomodated. The first, of course, is the characters' support of Lilith. The book more or less assumes that the characters will fall behind Lilith as the new Fatima of the Fallen, and while a savvy Weaver can certainly manipulate events to that point, some character concepts, such as rabid Herites, would be difficult to bend to Lilith's vision of the Eighth Tribe's future. Speaking of Herites, this quarter of the population of Hom also gets an incredibly bad rap throughout this book. Herites stand for freedom and understanding, recognition of greater truths and are visionaries just as much as the Lightbringers and Doomsayers. Children of Lilith paints them as reactionary terrorists and rabble rousers and little else. Even the inclusion of one respectible Herite would have gone great lengths towards a better portrayal.
If you want to play Tribe 8 -- even if you don't want to play this cycle specifically -- buy this book. This book will show you what it is to play in the world of Tribe 8, what a Tribe 8 cycle should feel like, and what issues and concerns matter most to the Fallen, and how they play out in specific terms.
Take a good look at how Children of Lilith is put together, and you may very well learn something that will help you put together your own cycles. Take a page from Lilith and make your cycles as impressive as this cycle. It's doubtful you could do better.