85887[1]By Paco Garcia Jaen

I like to be surprised. I like new ideas, new concepts and new things. Unfortunately none of those things come often enough… though sometimes they do, and then it is nice!

Awakened is one of those products. It’s not perfect, but it is indeed very, very interesting!

So what’s all about?

Awakened starts with something having happened to the characters, even though they can’t remember what it is. Simply put, they wake up in a motel, away from home and not able to remember anything from the night before. Throughout the adventure, clues and flashbacks are presented to the players so they can start to remember what not just they have recently, but what connects them from their distant past.

Awakened is an adventure that can be slotted in pretty much any modern, non-fantasy game. Anything from 1920’s onwards would do, though some customisation will be necessary to bring the cars, decoration, etc to whatever timeline you decide to use. Although the book does tell you it can be adapted to a Cthulhu setting too, I found that a bit more farfetched and difficult to do, although it is indeed possible.

page-oneThe locations are given in a sandbox format, so you can go from one to the next and back as you please and find the clues and the items you need to find whenever is convenient for the adventure. The locations are well described, with plenty of details and illustrations for everyone to enjoy.

The book itself

This is a tricky one to write about. Overall I really love this book’s layout. The design is fantastic and I think this is one of the very few times when you see a publisher who is indeed not afraid of white spaces.

For starter about a third of every page is covered in a lovely leather texture where the designer has placed all the inserts, notes and some titles. The first of the character descriptions is not just a statblock, but they’re in a hand written font in an use notepad. giving it a truly bespoke feeling.

From the creative point of view, this book sets a fantastic example as to how role playing books should be laid.

However… the graphic artist who did the cut-outs in Photoshop or whatever software he/she used to, should find a few tutorials and learn properly. Jagged edges, non-transparent shadows and terrible borders. I am sorry to be so hard on this, but the work is amateurish and lets the rest of the book down very badly.

And yes, as I did in my previous article about book design, I will extend Three Fourteen Games an invitation to send me their books before they’re published for an art direction consultancy.

page-twoSo did I like it?

Hell yes! And I strongly recommend you get this book.

It has been well written, it is easy to follow, it is thorough, it is very thoughtful and full of good ideas and good points.

Despite the technical flaws, the book is terrific to look at. The plans for the motels and the rooms are axonometric 3D views of the buildings rather than the standard blueprint plan. Every clue and every bit the players need has an associated photograph ready to be used. Every book page featured in the game has been lovingly recreated for the players… Absolutely brilliant.

I did struggle a bit finding what the point of the end was, though. The players are left at an impasse, in which they find both their recent and distant past and who brings that event into their lives, but that’s it. There is no grand finale and there is no grand conclusion. This is only an issue if you play the adventure by itself. However if you play as a part of an on-going campaign, you can use it in a myriad of ways to help your grander story. Also there is an attempt to make it a supernatural event, but in reality is none of the sort, even if you could adapt it with very little effort.

If the graphics had a bit more of a professional finish to them, I would be more than happy to give this book 4 stars. As it stands and because of that, I have to take one star out and give 3. However if you don’t mind about the graphics, do take this as 4 stars.

Awakened is available from:

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